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Interest rate hike upstaged by Dutts’ and Barilaro’s Circus

“Marxist” teachers are teaching our kids “absolute leftwing rubbish.” NSW Senator, Hollie Hughes, Shadow Minister for denying climate change and promoting fossil fuels, moonlighting as Opposition national curriculum cop, reads from the Republican playbook’s false alarmism about critical race theory and gender whispering being taught in schools. The Coalition sideshow is pumping now Dutton’s obsessed with vetting what goes on in the classroom because it works for right-wing politicians in the US.

Marx? No one’s sure if she’s talking about Groucho, Harpo or Karl. Having lost the plot long before it lost power, the opposition will struggle to hold Labour, or anyone else to account, but at least it can do some public good by holding itself up to ridicule.

Dutton’s on a week’s leave so “Lying Cow” Linda Reynolds tries a bit of biting self-satire with her “targets with teeth”, a way of talking about quotas without mentioning the “Q” word. “Inaction is not a strategy”, she tells Sky News, a refreshing insight from a former minister in a government which gave new meaning to inaction, inertia and ineptitude.

Reynolds’ best gag, however, is her claim that her government “did more for women than any other”. This is the same government that helped push Australia further and further down the greasy pole of the Global Gender Gap Index.

Standout performer in the well-contested absolute rubbish arena, however, goes to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s top tipster, Phil Lowe. Phil’s RBA has a patchy track record but to our right-wing media controlled by vested interests, he’s some type of High Priest instead of an investor-class shill who can fiddle the till by printing money.

Phil’s out and about peddling the lie that we’re in a wage-price spiral. Given real prices have been going backwards for a decade it’s not strong on logic but it meets the Reserve Bank brief which is for its CEO to come out as required to beat down wages, in the name of “stability”. Hiking interest rates does, however, leads to joblessness which neoliberal governments love to use to suppress wages – even if it is utterly at odds with the RBA’s other goal of full employment.

Although not counted in the CPI, mortgage payments and rents are nudged up by interest rates which now rise every time the banksters and usurers’ pals on the RBA Board attend their monthly meetings. Real estate values fall as the cost of borrowing goes up, while a price-profit spiral beggars the poor and threatens the wealth of our investor class.

Our celebrity media does its best. Even our ABC repeats the old gag that it’s a wage-price spiral. Blames selfish low-paid workers for daring to get a pay “rise” below inflation.

Inexcusable, however, is Phil Lowe’s cameo appearance on ABC 7:30, jaw-boning the lie that wages rises equals inflation which is easily kept in check by raising interest rates. In reality, none of this is true. But he’s a performer in a circus where illusion is everything.

Phil’s got a great sense of humour, too. All those years he’s been dog-whistling wage rises and now he turns around and blames inflation on greedy workers asking for enough pay to buy groceries and pay the power bill. And look how he stooged us all with his “No rate rise before 2024.” What a crack-up. Especially to those who borrowed big on the strength of his prediction and now face job losses. You’re a funny man, Phil, even if you’re full of bullshit. All you care about is protecting investors’ profits. And your board is a dud.

Five out of nine RBA board “business leader” members have no qualifications whatsoever in setting monetary policy, the bank’s core business. Overseas, reserve banks attract the top echelon, the experts who write the textbooks. Luckily, Phil’s RBA minutes are secret.

It’s impossible to find out how the RBA reaches its decisions. Or makes so many mistakes. Like the National Cabinet, there’s no record of who said what. But it all ends up costing a fortune – not just Phil’s million-dollar salary but in unemployment growth.

Keeping the cash rate too high in the four years before the pandemic cost us 270,000 jobs, reckon Dr Zac Gross and Dr Andrew Leigh, our assistant Treasurer, in fresh research out this month. Dr Gross notes, for perspective, that closing down coal mining tomorrow would cost only 38,100 jobs. Lowe is on ABC 7:30, however, telling tired old lies about our inflation being a wage-price spiral when it’s driven by profits and price-gouging.

No one asks Lowe about the massive debt his bank helped create over the last few years, ostensibly, to get us through the pandemic by throttling back interest rates whilst printing money, a nifty trick known as quantitative easing. Pioneered by the Japanese in the 1990s, it didn’t work for Japan either but it’s a sure-fire way to devalue assets and elevate Australian household debt to around $2.5 trillion, a record 120% of GDP.

Household debt as a proportion of disposable income is at a historic high; all of which is oddly dissonant with Lowe’s mantra that we’re all cashed up at home. Sitting on an extra $240 billion because we couldn’t go out and spend during lockdown.

“We have a big potential problem courtesy of the way we have run our housing system, for not just the last decade but for the last at least three decades,” says Chris Martin, UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre Senior Researcher.

Martin’s concerned policies such as low-interest rates, negative gearing and capital gains tax discount encourage punters to take on more debt, particularly to purchase investment properties. The latter two benefit the top ten percent and drive up house prices, argues The Australia Institute’s Matt Grudnoff.

Never to be upstaged, there’s a Barilaro of laughs in the Big Top of Politics Oz. The former deputy Premier of NSW will still call Australia home after being forced out of a cushy new $500,000 post in New York, a fabulously public-spirited boondoggle he set up for himself. Shit happens, Tony Abbott says, but now Bruz is Perrottet’s unflushable turd.

Where would we be without Barra? John “Save the Brumby” Barilaro, rips up his ticket to ride in a boilover at the starting gate in the Dom Perignon New York Stakes, a race identical to the Berejiklian event run last year. He’s forced, Barilaro says, by The Media, out of the saddle of firm favourite, New York under syndicate instructions.

Given that his rival, top hoop, Jenny West, won Berejiklian’s race only to be disqualified afterwards, like Dancer’s Image in the 1968 Kentucky Derby, “Bruz ” thought he was unbackable. Whilst an inquiry learns that West was “overqualified”, that wouldn’t help her.

The rules are changed after the start as Amy Brown, CEO of Investment NSW explains, to eliminate West, in a late “change in government policy to convert the roles into statutory officers appointed by a minister”. No wonder Barilaro feels ripped off. His sense of injury is no doubt assuaged as Ms Brown explains the Investment NSW process.

“We give it to God and pray and pray and pray, and he will work out his purposes.”

Our showbiz-MPs, with their performative rorts, ugly skulduggery and shagadelic sleaze-baggery, work hard on their show routines, while they cook the books and the planet. Say what you may about the light on the hill, or the deep twilight of a captured state; the venality, corruption and deceit, our politics is still show business for ugly people.

But we’ll have no appearance-shaming here, given the peculiar potency of our defamation law to silence criticism and dissent. Giovanni Barilaro is a winsome, over-achiever of inestimable talent and a natural crowd-puller. A stud muffin. True, he’s the Barnaby Joyce of NSW politics because he’s so divisive. But you can’t pull all of the people all of the time.

He hasn’t won over Barnaby. Barilaro is “grating and pushy” Joyce says.

Politics, of course, is also a means to wield power for its own sake in every possible way, as it is for the incredible sulk, False-Messiah Morrison, a man who heard voices and saw a vision in an eagle photo, telling him he was chosen by God to lead us out of the wilderness. He is now in witness protection, surely, after driving his Liberals into a mountain.

Morrison’s means included disinformation, weaponisation of asylum seekers, and the stacking of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the ABC, The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and other bodies. Labor promises its federal ICAC by the year’s end, while it says that the AAT, a fabulously well-paid dumping ground for failed Liberal politicians and retired party apparatchiks. will have to be disbanded and rebuilt fit for purpose.

Former family joinery artisan, a man who knows all about opening doors, deputy NSW Premier, National Party star, Barilaro is a barrel of laughs as he handcrafts his own plum job in The Big Apple. But he’s not just a funny man.

John’s public-spirited, humble and self-reflective, too. Two years ago, he pulled out of preselection for the Nationals’ ticket in the Eden-Monaro federal byelection. Why?

“In politics, ego can quickly skew decisions … In this time of self-contemplation, it is clear I can do more as NSW Deputy Premier,” he promises, selflessly.

A day later, his text to Deputy PM Michael McCormack takes another tack.

“The Nats had a chance to create history, to change momentum, and you had a candidate that was prepared to risk everything to make it happen”.

Barilaro is right the first time. Do more? He games the game of mates. Takes jobs for the boys to a new dimension with his DIY, $500,000 a year plus $100,000 perks, New York-based gig as Senior Trade Commissioner to the Americas. What does such a Trade Commissioner do? He does lunch. And he does dinner, too, on the taxpayer dollar.

But always in style. Amy Brown, CEO of Investment NSW, advises a parliamentary committee of inquiry that the fit-out for a New York office for Barilaro cost $AU 1.3 million.

Oddly not in the news is that Austrade, the federal government department for wining and dining prospective investors and carpet-baggers, already has a Trade and Investment Commissioner in its very capable General Manager for The Americas, Tony Davis.

An engineer with computer science qualifications, Tony is a highly experienced businessman whose career has spanned three decades leading highly complex Industrial, Energy, Aerospace and Defence domestic and international organisations, whose career includes a former CEO of Rolls Royce Royce Power Systems AG.

Barilaro has a TAFE Certificate IV in Real Estate. But heaps of experience, as Kate Carnell tells those still watching ABC’s The Drum, where the former ACT Liberal Chief Minister and pharmacist, gets a regular spot to barrack for the blue team, now hyper partisans peddling disinformation are deemed to supply balance on our ABC. In Carnell’s view, it must be just bad luck Barra has not one but two separate inquiries into the scandal. Or is it now three?

Joe Aston’s not amused. The AFR’s most trenchant critic of poseurs is agape.

“A person labouring under the Dunning-Kruger effect is like a gruesome traffic accident: repulsive but impossible not to stare at.”

Not so funny is former Investment NSW deputy secretary, Jenny West’s story. The senior public servant is told the job is hers, only to hear, subsequently, that the offer is rescinded. Later she pens a forty-five-page letter to get a few things off her chest. West fronts the state parliamentary inquiry, 11 July, in an appearance, she requests, be kept private. Tragically, this is overruled by the Greens Senator chairing the committee.

It will take all of forty-five pages to chronicle Barilaro’s byzantine, self-promotion, self-demotion and the metamorphosis of his New York post; a statutory appointment, then a public service process. NSW Libs love a game of musical desks, Twister, or pass the parcel. But it won’t end well for the Premier. Barra-gate may bring Dominic Perrottet’s demise. Guardian Essential’s latest poll shows support for the Liberals is now below 40%.

In the end, politics can also be an old black ram tupping your white ewe, as Iago tells Brabantio, which, despite the racism of Shakespeare’s day, is not a bad way of portraying what is done to innocent Australians every day, by the powerful in their determination to have their way. And not just in NSW.

Barilaro may bring Perrottet down, while Dutton’s opposition can only further disgrace itself and the Liberal brand of expediency, deceit, self-aggrandisement and naked self-interest. Meanwhile, the RBA is exposed as an accomplice in the redistribution of wealth from labour to capital that has disgraced our politics since Neoliberalism took hold of Hawke and Keating.

It is to be hoped that the new Labor government has the bottle for long-overdue reform, not just of the RBA but of the corruption, the venality and degeneracy of our politics itself.

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  1. Terence Mills

    According to a recent Four Corners program it seems that the main issue Hollie Hughes is taking to our parliament is a fervent support for vaping, preferably with nicotine supplements.

    The program suggested that she was promoting the interests of Philip Morris and British American Tobacco in their joint quest to get our young people hooked on nicotine.

    How do these people get into our parliament : was she another captain’s pick ?

  2. New England Cocky

    An excellent article David, thank you.

    PS edit: Paragraph 6: “Given real WAGES have been going backwards for a decade”. Prices continue to go through the roof as they have throughout the COALition misgovernment period.

  3. GL

    Ah well, Porkilarro can always fall back on his two rich real estate and developer mates for a nice job that involves absolutely, hands on jar that contains his heart, nothing to do with lobbying in any way shape or form. His Tafe Cert. 4 Real Estate guarantees him to be the bestest candidate for the job.

  4. David Tyler

    NEC, thank you. I see China is now buying a lot more coal from Russia. ScoMo’s attacks on China, or firing shots to please the US State Department is working out well. Such a brilliant idea, also, to privatise electricity in most states and then get the heartless bastards who run Australia’s multinational energy oligopoly to help design the system so that an essential service is just another boondoggle – but one where the generator and the “gentailer” tell the government what the price will be. While giving the fat cats of global corporation every opportunity to game the system.

  5. David Tyler

    GL, there’s a bit of a scandal brewing over Barilaro’s job at Coronation, a $ensational property developer run by a couple of very colourful characters of some notoreity in NSW.

    After a fortnight of intense scrutiny about his controversial selection to a $500,000-a-year job as US trade commissioner and accusations from his former Coalition colleagues that Barilaro’s self-interest had triumphed over “political optics,” the former deputy premier relinquished the prized position.

    “With his New York job vanishing, attention has turned to whether the former MP still has a role in the property development industry.

    According to his current LinkedIn profile, Barilaro is still “Executive Director” at Coronation Property, following his hiring in February, less than two months after he quit parliament on December 31.

    After being offered his new job at Coronation, Barilaro sought advice from the NSW parliamentary ethics adviser John Evans, indicating the full-time paid gig would require him to “engage” with NSW and local government officials, adding he had no contact or official dealings with his prospective new employer during his last two years of ministerial office.”

  6. David Tyler

    Terence, I am sure that Miracle Morrison is a big promoter of Ms Hughes, whose advocacy of Big Tobacco is an extension of $ussan Ley’s landmark ruling that the Environment Minister and by extension, governments owe nothing to the young. Dutts could create a Responsible Vaping Shadow Ministry. On another note, I can assure you vaping is a growing problem in our schools.

  7. Harry Lime

    Thanks David,I look forward to your articles,you’re on some sort of run at the moment,long may it continue.
    Despite all the questionable utterances from our economic sages,It’s looking more and more like neoliberalism is on the point of self destruction.It’s been a very profitable ride for those immoral charlatans and their political sock puppets,but the climate crisis that they have so studiously avoided is about to bring down the entire house of cards.
    Bullet head Dutton may as well stay on leave where he is less offensive,and Shifty Gianni remains an unmade man.Both suffer from a seriously misplaced,bloated self regard.We can ,with a good deal of confidence,expect their prospects to accelerate into oblivion
    Fabulous Phil, of ‘rate whisperer’ fame,has upped the ante by becoming a ‘rate shouter’,and like all professional economists,can move from one immutable truth to the next,and completely different immutable truth without turning a hair.
    Hollie Golightly?…The Liberal Party bulges at the seams with these contemptible morons.Learned any lessons?..Not likely.
    One silver lining in this omnishambles might be Real Estate shills will have their passenger status rescinded,and get a ‘real’ job.Workforce beckons.

  8. GL


    The Spud’s head is more like an evil mutant cannon ball.

  9. wam

    A great read, Mr Tyler,
    Sadly the business of government contains, overtime, pressures of corruption that is hard to resist. None of the parties can avoid the arrogance of time spent with lackeys and lickspittles (queensland?).
    There is no doubt that pollies, opinion journalists and bankers use statistics to lie by telling a truth. More often the figures are used to confuse the readers, listeners and watchers into creating their own lies which quickly become truth and then slide into the belief category from where it is almost impossible to expose the lie.
    Labor should clean its own house from corruption before probing the previous owners’ errors and recommending to the commission ps Linda could have been referring to her party’s part in creating the Teal women?

  10. totaram

    As pointed out, we need to connect the dots. To entice our youth in the schools away from the attractions of Marxism we need to offer them a seductive alternative. Might that be “vaping”, with the “vapes” containing all manner of lovely substances like nicotine? Think about it dear reader. Ms Hollie- go-lightly is absolutely on the mark, not by her own diligence and ingenuity, no doubt, but with the aid of the usual “lobbyists” perhaps?

    The profit motive moves in wonderous ways.

  11. Harry Lime

    In other encouraging news,the permanently dishevelled and serial oaf,Bojo Tosspot, is currently overseeing the disintergration of his alleged ‘government’.Shades of our very own recently pantsed Liar.
    To round out the good news,Mick Gatto of underworld repute, has retained the very unChristian Porter in a defamation case against the ABC no less.Proves one of two things…Mick has a great sense of humour..or no fucking brains.

  12. Harry Lime

    GL,…he’s not that smart.

  13. David Tyler

    Harry Lime, Thank you In the period Neoliberalism has been mugged by reality. Historically, neoliberalism has a very poor track record over a variety of measures especially inequality. Six years ago Martin Jacques noted,

    1948-1972, every section of the American population experienced very similar and sizable increases in their standard of living; between 1972-2013, the bottom 10% experienced falling real income while the top 10% did far better than everyone else. In the US, the median real income for full-time male workers is now lower than it was four decades ago: the income of the bottom 90% of the population has stagnated for over 30 years.

    A not so dissimilar picture is true of the UK. And the problem has grown more serious since the financial crisis. On average, between 65-70% of households in 25 high-income economies experienced stagnant or falling real incomes between 2005 and 2014.

    Crikey’s Bernard Keane offers a salutary reminder, however that the dominant model here is crony capitalism.
    “The business community in Australia are fair-weather neoliberals whose only real commitment is to “reform” that suits them, and many politicians are no better.”

  14. David Tyler

    Wam, thanks. Putting its own house in order? Of course. I’m wary of the both sides fallacy. It’s near relative is “whataboutism” where a flaw of your opponents somehow cancels a flaw of your own. And it’s got its work cut out just fixing the legacy of incompetence and especially the crippling of the public service with funding cuts and by a policy of contracting out.

    One simple example will suffice. The Coalition were resolutely opposed to a federal ICAC. They finally resorted to putting up a Clayton’s model with no teeth and then baited Labor for stalling progress on a piece of legislation which would set up a model whereby corrupt politicians would never be brought to book. Yet Labor is committed to a Federal ICAC with the appropriate powers to hold bad actors to account. It will be ready by December, even though Mark Dreyfus has asked for an extension. Albo wants to honour his party’s election promise.

  15. wam

    Thanks, true there is no flaw in investigating and protecting those Labor who are innocent of the LNP errors that I am suggesting Albo should send to the commission.
    Conflicts of interest and corrupt dealing was rife in the LNP and should be sent to the commissioner. For honesty and integrity the ALP must be free from those faults.
    Albo must be open and honest in re-invigorating the Parliament to avoid the tricks that brought scummo down.
    The Qld labor jackie trad supports a clear air policy?.
    To even remotely fix the last 10 years of damage, our labor will need at least another term.
    That will take hard, honest effort.
    ps In my town it is east to mix with past and present pollies. I made the observation personally, letters and facebook replies that corruption will end if they published their diary each month showing with whom they had meetings, where, how long and the results. They were horrified at the suggestion. Wonder why?

  16. David Tyler

    wam, MPs open diaries? It’s a good idea. Yet, in both Queensland and NSW, ministers are required to release the details of their diaries — who they met or spoke to, and when the conversations took place. These may accessed every month through government websites.

    This could be adopted by the federal government. An effective lobbyist register would be essential, too.

    A research paper by the Centre for Public Integrity (CPI) October 2021 shows the regulation of lobbyists in Australia is falling short of international standards, including requirements in the UK and Canada. It also found it was falling behind the standards set by the Australian National Audit Office and the OECD.

    “MPs are paid to represent their electorates but in actual fact spend more time speaking with lobbyists than their constituents,” CPI director Geoffrey Watson SC said.

    “The public has a right to know who is lobbying our members of parliament and federal government, and whose interests they represent.”

    Release the diaries: why Crikey is calling for federal ministers to open the books

    The genuine federal integrity commission which Mark Dreyfus is tasked with completing by December will be a big step forward, too.

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