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It’s all about me

By 2353NM

At the risk of earning a Godwin Award in the first sentence, according to those who staffed his office, Hitler was a kind and paternal man. Apparently Goebbels was kind to his family as are no doubt most of the world’s leaders today.

However, the same people who make sure they are kind to their staff, helpful for their friends and make sure they have a positive influence in their children’s lives can make the lives of people more distant from their immediate family absolutely horrific. It is history that Hitler and Goebbels were two of the leaders of a regime that murdered millions of people based on racial stereotypes, plunged the world into the second World War and left their country far worse off than when they came to power. It could be argued that there are leaders of a number of countries who are committing similar atrocities today. It is always good, however, to remember that one person’s ‘freedom fighter’ is another person’s ‘terrorist’.

A few months ago, SBS screened a documentary from the UK titled Troll Hunters. The narrator of the documentary is a young woman (Em Ford) who owns an internet beauty blog, giving other young women tips on how to dress according to the current trends and apply makeup. Like a lot of young people, Ford at times suffers from acne and part of the make-up tips she shares on the internet are methods to hide acne. Em Ford’s blog is located here. Unfortunately, and probably unsurprisingly, some of the comments Ford receives on her blog, YouTube videos and so on are less than complementary on her appearance, personality and taste in clothes and fashion. Some of those who comment are persistent, insulting and use copious amounts of foul language. So she sets out in this documentary to find her ‘nemesis’ and call that person to account.

So the search begins. Trolling is basically illegal, as it is using a ‘carriage service’ to harass and cause harm. As you would expect, most ‘professional’ trolls don’t leave much information behind to identify them, however there are people who can sometimes discover the identity of the ‘troller’.

Here’s the spoiler alert as the end of the documentary is the relevant section for the purposes of this article.

While Ford doesn’t find ‘her troll’, with help she locates a troll who was uploading pornography to the social media feeds of a woman who was a former British Conservative Party MP. Ford and the former MP confront the man outside his house and as you would expect the former MP has some interesting observations on the man’s behaviour and can express those views with an interesting variety of language. By arrangement, Ford interviews the ‘troller’ who is not sorry for what he’s done and, despite meeting his victim, doesn’t believe she is real. It appears there is a disconnect with the reality that every ‘cyber person’ with a social media account is somehow related to a real person with a right to be treated with courtesy and respect. He admits he uploads pornography to people’s social media accounts for the fun of it! He also gets a (perverse) victory out of being blocked from someone’s social media accounts.

Let’s put that into perspective. The ‘troller’ enjoys that he can apply increasing pressure to selected victims by use of words, pictures and so on which invokes potentially a police complaint (for which there is little or any evidence available for a conviction) and certainly blocking from the victim’s social media feeds. When this happens, the ‘troller’ believes they are victorious against a ‘cyber-person’ who has no basis in real life and probably moves on to harass someone else.

So how does this relate to Australian politics? Despite what you think of their policies, it is evident that Malcolm Turnbull loves his family (including the often mentioned and photographed grandson, Jack), as Tony Abbott loves his wife and daughters and Bill Shorten loves his ‘blended’ family. It’s probably fair to suggest that Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, Sam Dastyari and George Brandis love their families as well. In each case, it would be pretty certain that each politician would do whatever it takes to look after their family and have a pretty good stab at teaching children not to steal or cheat, as well as giving them the skills to ‘play nicely with others’.

So why would the same people act so differently when it comes to running the country? Dutton, in response to leaked reports of over 2,000 cases of abuse and humiliation of refugees (supposedly) in our care on Nauru, claimed there was nothing new to see here when it was first reported; and subsequently claimed he was the victim because he was being verballed by the media. This is despite evidence showing that Dutton had been given extensive briefings about the actions of the contractors he employs on our behalf. Dutton was attempting to shift the blame to everyone but himself and the government for the problem caused by his government’s unbending harshness as discussed by The Guardian here a few weeks ago. Maybe it is a coping mechanism. Assuming Dutton’s claim of a ‘fit up’ are true, Dutton claims there are a number of exaggerated and made up claims (by inference not all the leaked claims are incorrect), and there are obviously some incidents that bring discredit to Australia and Australians. According to his website, Dutton has a family. Even one case where a person is treated less than well is one too many and diametrically different to the care and love Dutton probably shows to his family.

The Sam Dastyari donation issue is equally as instructive here. Fairfax media reported:

It is worth noting Dastyari had broken no law, no regulation, nor even a norm in Australian politics. Technically he had not even taken a donation, but a gift. He had even properly declared the gift. He was determined to ride out the scandal.

Last Friday though, the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, piled on, pointing to quotes in Chinese media suggesting that Dastyari had advocated China’s position on the South China Sea dispute, a position contrary not only to Australia’s stance, but that of our key ally, the United States.

‘Cash for comment’, said the PM.

The claimed difference between this ‘gift’ and other ‘gifts’ and donations is that Dastyari is supposed to have publicly contradicted the ALP’s policy on the current South China Sea issue where China is apparently attempting to exert more influence than it currently does.

Dastyari fell on his sword early in September and resigned from the position of Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate. Turnbull’s ‘cash for comment’ claim is full of faux outrage. If Turnbull is claiming that Dastyari’s opinion was changed by around $6,500 (in two individual ‘gifts’), it is worth asking why Turnbull and his Liberal Party colleagues’ opinions are not influenced by the 89.56% (or $9,315,505) of ‘non-individual’ donations above the reportable ‘cap’ received during 2014/5 by the Liberal Party. The Nationals seemingly are more resilient to being influenced by ‘non-individual’ donations — 100% of their donations (above the reportable ‘cap’) were not from individuals; the ALP comes in at 90.22% and the Greens rate the least affected, if you can call 89.19% of their donations coming from ‘non-individuals’ as significantly better than 100%, 90.22% or 89.56%! Fairfax reported:

There is still a large portion of donations in the system falling below the $12,800 threshold required for disclosure, many of which would be small contributions from individuals. Labor’s figures include all donations above $1000 as they have put in practice their proposal to legislate a lower threshold.

For the purpose of this analysis, Fairfax Media also counted only the AEC “donation” category and not financial benefits reported as “other receipt”.

So it is debatable if the million or so dollars in Liberal Party income from Parakeelia, the provider of the customer relationship software mandated for use by Liberal Party politicians, wholly owned by the Liberal Party and funded by parliamentary services electoral office budgets (aka your and my taxes) is included in these figures — it could have been listed as a dividend.

Dastyari has done some good by focussing the national headlines onto the donation issue for close to a week and weathering the storm of faux outrage generated by Turnbull and a few of his ministers. Should donation reform be on the agenda? Almost certainly, yes it should. But the major political parties are so reliant on the donations received from ‘non-individuals’ there is probably no real appetite by the politicians to really do anything as they rely on the funding to the political parties to gain and retain their seats.

It’s not the first time that political donations have undone a political career. Former Premier of New South Wales Barrie O’Farrell’s career fell apart over a bottle of (supposedly quite nice and definitely expensive) wine. O’Farrell did try to limit donations to individuals in New South Wales, but the law was overruled by the High Court.

The interest in political donations here is similar to the interest in refugees on Nauru as well as ‘trollers’ on the internet. There is a disconnect between our reality and theirs.

Em Ford’s interview with the ‘troller’ shocked her — not for what you would assume but for the reason that firstly the male ‘troller’ was an articulate person who seemed to be a normal member of society who just couldn’t understand that behind each website blog (such as this one), YouTube channel or social media account was a person who has probably tried their best, with feelings and an expectation that people should treat each other with respect, recognising that at times people have a right to express different experiences and values politely. The ‘troller’ just didn’t ‘get it’.

If you meet Peter Dutton (or Scott Morrison, the previous Immigration Minister responsible for the indefinite and proven — in PNG at least — illegal detention of refugees who asked Australia for protection and a safe home), you would probably find a person who treats you with respect. They both also have families and you would have to imagine they would do anything to protect their family from hurt and keep them safe. It seems they just don’t ‘get it’. Refugees are people who by circumstance have been forced to leave their homes and livelihood. They are families as well and deserve to be treated as well as the families of Dutton or Morrison.

Turnbull attacks Dastyari over donations of around $6,500, claiming that the cash influenced his opinion, while saying nothing about the almost $10million the Liberal and National Parties received from ‘non-individuals’ in 2014/15 (later figures are not available). It stands to reason that Turnbull just doesn’t ‘get it’. Somewhere around $10million would purchase a lot more influence than $6,500 or thereabouts. Is Turnbull upholding a principle or ‘playing the man’ for political gain?

The real problem here is that there is a disconnect. At what point do people just become numbers, or customers, political enemies or voters? It stands to reason that everyone has people they care about more than the person sitting in the car beside them in the traffic jam, however those who make the decisions in Australia seem to forget that they and their loved ones are a very small proportion of the 24 million plus people who live in Australia or the 7 billion plus people who inhabit the earth. While their job is not to ‘tuck each individual into bed each night’, those who are placed in positions of power need to remember that they are dealing with people’s lives, and act accordingly. Clearly, the Coalition government isn’t. Are they any better than the anonymous ‘troller’ who posts pornography to people’s social media accounts for the fun of it, or those past and present world leaders who carry out genocide for some warped idea of racial purity, without a care in the world about how the victims feel?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. seaworks

    Donations are for charities.
    Payments to politicians or parties are bribes.

  2. Möbius Ecko

    That’s it seaworks and I wish the MSM would start calling them that every time payments to political parties and politicians is mentioned. But then again the MSM also donates to political parties, one in particular. No conflict there.

    And that title photo is so apt to the title. With Turnbull everything is about him and that picture illustrates it perfectly.

  3. kerri

    Excellent article and spot on!

  4. diannaart

    The disconnect between some people and the feelings of others, is ubiquitous. To care only for one’s immediate family makes good sense from primitive times. Not so much now, though. We may like to think the Scott Morrisons of this world are sociopaths – but if they are capable of empathy for their immediate friends and family, a rethink is required. This narrow form of thinking may also be revealed in by persistent denial of anthropologically influenced climate change or, for example, in earlier times, dumping waste into rivers was difficult to stop and still continues surreptitiously.

    These people, the Duttons, Morrrisons, Abbotts, Christensens, Hansons, racists, bigots et al, truly believe they are caring individuals who know how to create a better world for themselves and by default for everyone else, if the hoi-polloi would just learn to do things as they are told. There is no reasoning with these people they do not feel guilt towards the misery of others outside their clique.

    I have no idea how to deal with them other than working around them with the support of other like minded people. Given the Labor party won’t deal with the Greens any time soon… I keep hoping that the narrow minded types will contract a virus endemic to their own and become extinct. Failing that, we who spend much of our energy caring about freakin’ everything, need to learn to get on with our lives as best we can.

  5. lawrencewinder

    An article that points directly to what ails Oz.

  6. Jack Straw

    To describe the overnight Bombing in Syria as “Unfortunate” is to define Turnballshitartist’s sensibilities. He hasn’t a clue!

  7. helvityni

    To become the country’s PM, seems to be every narcissist’s dream, we had Rudd, then Abbott and now Turnbull… What about us, where do we fit in this picture. Like those kids in that photo, just a bit of scenery, background, I’m afraid.

    Good one, Ad Astra.

  8. Jack Straw

    I remember thinking when I first saw Turnbull during the Constitution debacle. He sounded full of himself.My first impression of him was that he was a pumped up wanker. That view still holds….

  9. king1394

    If you seek election to public office, it costs money. If you hope for success, it will probably cost a huge amount of money. It is all very well to wring our collective hands over the sources of funding for politics and the possibilities of kickbacks for donors but how else is money to be obtained for political action? Ever been to a demonstration where buckets are passed around for donations to pay for the PA system, and the costs of printing? Thankfully no one thinks anyone is being bribed in this instance, but if a inadequate amount of money is collected, someone, some group, has to make up the short fall.

    Having just been a supporter of a group running for Council, I’ve seen the costs first hand. A fundraiser or two got most of the money we needed for corflutes, brochures, advertising in the local papers, how-to-vote materials but individuals contributed personally by running cars, opening their homes for meetings, using their telephones and home printers …
    The more money you can access, the better chance you have to get your message out.

    What we are really talking about is unfairness where certain interests are able to push their message and their preferred candidates with ease because they have deep pockets. Unless we can agree to major changes in the way that elections are run, with limits on spending rather than donations, the ability to attract the donations from the well-off will continue to underpin electoral success and government power.

  10. 2353

    King1394 – you’re correct about the money required to gain a seat in any level of government at present. And if the ‘arms race’ doesn’t stop you’ll need to be a millionaire and be representing a political group with deep pockets to be elected – look at Trump and Clinton.

    laurencewinder and kerri – thanks.

    diannaart – as the virus probably isn’t going to happen, surely Plan B is for the ALP and the Greens to point out that the Coalition Government is exactly that. How do we get around the disconnect whereby a progressive coalition is horrid to consider (as repeatedly rammed down our throats by the LNP during the last election campaign) while a conservative coalition is a wonderful thing. Either coalitions are good – or they aren’t and its time the ALP stopped being spooked by the prospect.

    I’ve never met any of the current Federal Ministers but suspect they are not sociopaths and do have genuine care and concern for their loved ones. It’s a pity they don’t show that side of their personality to us mug punters.

  11. Steve Laing -

    That is it king1394! And in the internet world, mass communication is significantly cheaper than it has ever been.

    I recently stood for our local council (primarily for personal research reasons), and as part of that was given a list of all the electors in the ward, and their address. Whilst there has clearly been a head nod to technology in that the information was provided on a thumb drive in an excel file, it would have been far more useful if they’d sent a list of email addresses.

    I didn’t have the funds for a leaflet campaign, but sending out an email with links to a website, or Facebook page, would have not been expensive. Interestingly the winner was the only one who sent out a leaflet. Part of his platform was a call for greater transparency, which was amusing given he totally failed to reveal that he is a local property developer… Money definitely talked in that election!

  12. diannaart


    If the comments (ad nauseam) left by Trish & Cornie are indicative of opinion over at Labor HQ – a progressive coalition remains a dream.

  13. E White

    I don’t believe that being loving to yoour family is in itself an indicator of character. Family members are an extension of a person’s ego, so loving them is loving yourself. Besides, they are likelyto reciprocate. Genuine loving is caring for others without hope of reward but simply because they are fellow humans. This principle separates the genuine from the pretenders.

  14. helvityni

    Am I going blind, I do not see any comments here by Trish or Cornie..?

  15. Carol Taylor

    Steve Laing, good for you for giving local Council a go. If it’s any consolation, imagine how often this property developer will have to declare a pecuniary interest during town planning issues. One person I was on Council with was a RE agent and they were out of the chamber more often than there were in it.

    2353, a very well thought out article. I agree about the disconnect between politicians and their ‘caring’ about the community. A problem with all political parties but the Liberal Party in particular is the inability to imagine anything outside their own experience – this being particularly evident during the election when eg. Turnbull was proudly espousing the virtues of negatively gearing a house for a 2 year old. One cannot legislate for those whose lives are outside of your reality.

  16. 2353

    @ diannaart – I agree, it does seem a long way away before ALP HQ will change their tune. Blind obedience to a particular ideology is not a good thing in my opinion. It doesn’t really matter if the ideology is that promoted by Bernardi, Hanson, ISIS or the ALP. Compromise usually works much better.

    @ Carol Taylor – Thanks and I agree. Along with a complete change to the political donation process, the parties need to diversify away from the do Uni degree, join a MP as a staffer, run for a safe seat and get elected career path.

  17. diannaart

    Thanks 2353

    Everything is binary to those who can only see in black & white, no matter which political affinity.


    This is not an insult to those who have Colour Vision Deficiency and such afflicted can see some colours anyway.


    I think Trish banned her commentary here as well……

  18. Steve Laing -

    Is this a toys and pram scenario we are encountering? 😉

    I too am worried about this binary perspective that some people have. It is quite exhausting!

  19. diannaart

    Using the colour analogy, yet again, like trying to explain the colour of the sky to a non-colour seeing entity.

    A non-colour seeing entity which is not the slightest bit interested in the sky or what a colour is.

    That is just so depressing, I may well blast my few remaining neurons and listen to 30 seconds of Trump…

  20. wam

    hypocrisy is not just the province of pollies., ministers and journalists! (mens rea)
    Trolls like ford’s are dangerous and should be prosecuted, as should facebook bullies as both are guilty of uploading vicious material(18c?) but most of the ‘trolls’ are like me trying to give the point of view that opinions are based on knowledge and if that knowledge is ‘what you have been told’ your opinion has the sheep-like bleat of belief which cannot be changed and is categorized as ‘not’ an opinion.
    Religious posts people are usually the most offended by ‘what you have been told’ references because their ‘told’ opinions are simply right and, worse, immutably right. Andrews springs to mind, even before the rabbott, as the least able politician with no personal opinions just intereferring beliefs.
    not for us steve emails sent ‘tick the box’ is modern day crap.
    You could have trolled a few facebook accounts especially those with similar beliefs?

  21. Steve Laing -

    Hi wam – yeah, I suspect I could although I think to be able to target the electors in particular wards would only be possible through Facebooks paid advertising (and if those accounts were willing to share the appropriate details re. addresses). I’d have like to have been able to simply send out emails to say that my views were available via and if they were interested they could look them up. We get bombarded with enough crap already, so just letting those who might be interested know would be enough for me. Turnout at the last local elections here was about 40%. I wonder what it would be for state and national elections if voting wasn’t compulsory…

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