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Jobs And Growth, That’s What It’s All About…

Ya put the Right job in, ya take the Left job out

Ya put the Right job in, and ya shake it all about.

Ya put the Right mob in, ya take the Left mob out

Ya put the Right mob in, and ya shake it all about

Ya put the Coal job in, you take the wind job out

Ya put the Coal job in, and ya shake it all about

Oh, the Hockey Pockey…

Social media is fond of reminding everyone of Tony Abbott’s pre-election commitment:

“…and the commitment that I’ve been giving to the Australian people is that there’ll be no surprises and no excuses under a Coalition government.”

However, I can’t see how anyone can have a problem with this. Abbott and the Keystone Cabinet certainly haven’t surprised me, and if they’ve surprised you then I suggest you weren’t paying attention. Clearly, anyone promising to abolish the carbon “tax” – a tax that was an enormous tax on “everything”, raise no other taxes, not cut spending AND deliver a Budget surplus either had no grip on reality or was prepared to tell whatever lies needed to get elected. Upon reflection, I’m not sure that’s an either or propositon and perhaps I should have said, “and”!

And as for the “no excuses” bit, I’m with them on that too.

There’s certainly no excuses for their ineptitude.

However, that still leaves the rather concerning thing that they’re all about jobs and growth and security. In fact, it seems to be all they’re about. In case, you haven’t seen an interview with a member of the government lately, it goes something like this:

Interviewer: So, can you explain the blowout in the NBN and the fact that not only will it inferior to Labor’s plan but end up costing more?

Liberal MP: Look, we’re concerned with jobs and growth and we make no apology about that.

Interviewer: But surely this demonstrates that you’re original concept was flawed…

Liberal MP: Thanks for bringing up your concerns about IS, and we’re currently considering whether to respond to the US’s request that we help them bomb Syria because they lack the air power to finish the job.

Interviewer: Putting Syria to one side, aren’t you concerned about the leaks from Cabinet?

Liberal MP: No, we’re concerned about jobs and growth and while you Canberra types start making mischief by suggesting that we have divisions, it’s just nonsense and we’re all one big happy family, including those that I’d like to throw out of Cabinet for their treachery. Jobs and growth.

Interviewer: But surely…

Liberal MP: If you’d stop interrupting, I’d answer the question and explain what we’re doing to keep you safe. Jobs and growth are equally important, but not as important as keeping people safe. And we make no excuses for keeping people safe, even if we have to jail every unionist, environmentalist, protester, illegal immigrant, terrorist sympathiser and non-card carrrying member of the Liberal Party to do it.

Interviewer: On the subject of jobs, a number of people at the Williamstown shipping yard are about to lose theirs.

Liberal MP: Ah, that’s nothing to do with us. That’s a private decision from a private company that’s nothing to do with the government of the day. But I think it’s probably Labor’s fault.

Anyway, the quarterly growth figure was released to day, and the economy grew by 0.2% in the June quarter, which if repeated for the next three quarters would give us a growth figure of less than one percent.

All I can say is, thank god, growth is one of the government’s main priorities. Imagine what a mess we’d be in if they ranked it lower than the environment.

(Ok, before some pedant points out that you can’t extrapolate the growth figure for one quarter and turn it into a full year’s figure, I’m happy to acknowledge that, providing you acknowledge that it’s much, much less ridiculous than extrapoluting the growth in government debt under Labor all the way to 2050!)


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  1. Clean livin

    Let’s be reasonable here.

    The Abbott Government has created jobs. Unfortunately. No where near enough.
    The Abbott Government has created growth. Look at the National Debt!
    the Abbott Government has stopped the boats. But we cannot verify that, as it is an operational matter.
    The Abbott Government is protecting us from “illegals”, however the Border Farce could be a problem.
    They have kept their promise not to cut pensions. (Well, the feral Senate did, anyway!)
    Any other broken promises were all Labors fault, and will remain so………

  2. lefturnahead

    Good piece and very funny to boot.””

  3. keerti

    What would be really interesting would be if they could tell us their plans to grow the economy in a situation where the finite resources that prop up the economy are becoming less wanted worldwide, where the worlds population is projected to level out and even decrease, and where increasing droughts will change our ability to grow crops. Perhaps some version of Soylent Green?

  4. Kaye Lee

    I find Matthias Cormann infuriating. He was just on 7:30 report and, in his usual fashion, regardless of what was asked he said what he wanted to say and it always ended up being about Labor.

    A reminder of what Joe said…..


    Just a broader question. Should you win the election, at what stage will you own the economy and at what stage will it no longer be Labor’s fault?


    We will own the economy from day one, whether it’s Labor’s fault or not. I’m not afraid to accept responsibility and I’m not afraid to be accountable. We will own it from day one. We will be responsible for the Australian economy.

  5. rossleighbrisbane

    And yes, I wrote this piece BEFORE the Matthias “Girly Man” Corman interview!
    Al Capone was destroyed by income tax evasion; perhaps I should get them with copyright infringements!

  6. paul walter

    “Jobs and growth”, eh?

    Not by the look of economic figures just released. Two years of adversarial, confrontationalist government with profligate wastage the main feature, crypto-corruption and the economy rigged to suit vested interests regardless of harm to the economy itself and look where we are heading.

    The complácent and lazy Australian People will have decades to repent their unconsidered election of Abbott a while back. And what do you make of a People so stupid they still haven’t worked out Murdoch after fifty years?

  7. Sue Darmody

    This is too true to be funny. The interview script is sooooo spot on.

  8. Bronte ALLAN

    What “jobs” & “growth”? All this lying inept bunch of right wing, flat earth, tea party, conservative idiots can do is just recite the “captain’s” (??) mantra! Meanwhile, we have hundreds of thousands of jobless, nowhere near enough jobs for all, our politicians “enjoy” the highest salaries & perks in the world, we have just been “awarded” the title of the world’s most expensive country! So much for “jobs” & “growth”! Recession, look out here we come!

  9. corvus boreus

    Jobs and growth.
    Lifters and leaners.
    Knights and dames.
    Clumsy and wrong.

  10. Möbius Ecko

    Per capita GDP is actually negative. Basically only government spending on Defence kept us out of negative growth.

    Imagine instead if that 4% increase in government spending had been on infrastructure (not just some on toll roads only that benefit big business), public school buildings, housing insulation and the like plus giving every low income earner a one off cash injection in hand to spend.

  11. Möbius Ecko

    Hockey as Shadow Treasurer foretells his future failure as Treasurer. This one appearance by Hockey at the Press Club should have been enough for the people NOT to vote L-NP under Abbott. Despite all the transpicuous signs being given by the L-NP opposition many voted for them anyway and they are now suffering the consequences of that blind decision, and it looks like worse is to come.

  12. Denis Bright in Brisbane

    Thanks to Rossleigh for his response to Australia’s poor economic growth performance. The rhetoric about jobs and growth is just the current communication mantra from the LNP. Tomorrow, it might be more from the war on terror in Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan with the claim that it will keep our suburbs safe. The electorate wants more daring responses to this nonsense. The communication strategies used by the LNP are open to everyone. Unlike Rossleigh, progressive opponents of the current government are way too cautious. In Canning, disadvantaged precincts around Armadale are waiting for some positive alternatives as Labor’s primary vote slipped by up to 16% in some booths in 2013.

  13. Adrianne Haddow

    The jobs are for the Chinese workers imported under ChAFTA and the 457 visa holders.
    The growth is the ever lengthening Pinnochio noses on all the lying ministers’ faces.
    The security is for the 1% of non-tax paying or tax avoiding “elite”, certainly not for the pensioners, students, un-employed youth and the middle aged workers made redundant thanks to the global market.

    Life style that was envied by the world, only country to survive the GFC with economy intact, fantastic beaches, excellent farming produce.

    Then came Tiny Tony and his wrecking ball government.

    Now we live in the world’s biggest quarry.

  14. Neil of Sydney

    Then came Tiny Tony and his wrecking ball government.

    No, the economic numbers in 2007 were the best for a generation. You have to go back to the 1970’s to find unemployment with a number 4 in front of it. But people wanted Rudd and that was the wrecking ball.

    Will we lose our AAA rating? Most probably. Will the budget ever return to surplus? Most probably not.

    The ALP is the party of destruction. Unfortunately for the Coalition they usually get elected after the ALP has trashed the joint.

    Look at what the ALP did to our car industry. In 2006, 25% of cars were made in Australia. In 2013 only 10% of cars were made in Australia. You cannot have a local industry in anything with 10% of the market.

  15. Adrianne Haddow

    Neil of Sydney, you’re right I’m wrong.

    You must be right because you are of the right, and are always right, and that means you can always blame the Labour party or the Greens or the Senate for anything negative happening in the Australian economy.

    I live in a city that used to build ships. Yesterday 400 workers were told to prepare for unemployment, unless another contract comes in soon. It won’t, because most of the ships are being built in China, brought up to sailing standard by Australian engineers in Singapore, to ply the Australian coast.

    We used to build trains, last year workers were met at the gates by security staff to be told their employment was no longer required. The Japanese now have that gig.

    The port that used to bring revenue, to the tune of billions into this country, is now leased to the Chinese for the next 99 years.

    Meanwhile the growth in government approval for coal mines and CSG operations ( for foreign companies) is destroying the food, wine and horse stud industries ( more lost revenue sources) in what used to be a verdant, beautiful valley but is now a series of open cut mines.

    Unemployment in my city and surrounds is the highest in Australia.

    So Neil, forgive me for not sharing your faith in Tiny Tony and his wrecking ball government.

  16. SirJohn Ward

    Remembering the Universal Declaration
    By Mary Gaudron
    And Australia’s human rights record

    Shut the detention centres down, says Mary Gaudron.
    If, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I am knocking on the gates right now. I had intended to speak about Jessie Street the internationalist. I had intended to do some research on the topic. But unfortunately, life got out of control once more. What I do know about Jessie Street the internationalist is that which Madame President Burgmann recalled at the beginning of this lunch. She was an adviser to Bert Evatt – I should call him the Honourable Herbert V Evatt – at the San Francisco Conference in 1945, which established the United Nations. That conference wrote the UN Charter, but it also did something else. It wrote what is arguably the most important document ever reduced to writing, whether on paper, papyrus, velum or tablets of stone; namely, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not officially adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations until December 1948, but its drafting was completed in December 1945. Its 60th birthday was celebrated with some considerable fanfare in Europe last December. It would not surprise me, however, if the events passed unnoticed here in Australia. The lack of surprise, if that was the case, makes it all the more amazing that Jessie Street should have been committed to an international solution to the problems we faced here and in many other countries, and that she should have been committed to the idea of an international declaration of human rights.
    Although, at the time of the Declaration’s drafting, Australia had many men and women in many theatres of war throughout the world, Australia in 1945 in general was somewhat less than truly international in its outlook. England was home. Australia’s involvement in the war, announced in 1939, was announced on the basis that England had declared war and in consequence Australia was also at war. Well, 30 years later – that is, in 1975 – the notion that Australia’s laws could be shaped by international conventions was fairly revolutionary. As a general rule, at that stage, the federal parliament only ratified treaties that it believed it could implement within its enumerated heads of legislative power. If it did otherwise implement them, it ratified them with something that became known as ‘ Australia, the federal state clause’.
    I recollect that in 1972, in the equal pay case, I argued on instructions from the two-man government – the wife of one of whom I see sitting over there – that Australia had not ratified the International Labour Organisation’s convention on equal pay because the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had not granted equal pay to women. I argued, with some force, about which now I think I should have perhaps had some embarrassment, that it was the fault of the Arbitration Commission that Australia could not honour its international obligations and that the secondary consideration, of course, was that women didn’t have equal pay.
    Equal pay, the ILO convention on equal pay which featured so importantly in that case, is just one aspect of the earlier 1945 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 23(2) simply provided that everyone has the right to ‘equal pay for equal work’. It is truly bizarre is that, although Australians, notably Dr Evatt and Jessie Street, should play such a significant role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration, it took so long for Australia to put into effect any of the obligations by which it was at least normatively bound from 1948 and earlier.
    The principle of equal pay, which maybe, maybe not, came about in 1972, was not the only key provision in the Declaration of Human Rights. Of far greater significance was, and is, Article 7. Let me read to you:
    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
    That must have been a pretty radical idea in 1945. We know now that Australian Aborigines are still far less than equal, and in 1945 they were considerably less than equal before the law. And I am here to tell you that, at that stage, the law afforded them no protection at all. It was not until 1975 that the passage of the Racial Discrimination Act and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination was implemented in Australia. The Act’s implementation was not based on that convention and it was not based on Article 7 of the Universal Declaration. It was based on the 1967 Constitutional amendment, which simply did two things. It provided that the Commonwealth parliament had the power to legislate with respect to people of various races, including the Aboriginal race, and it provided that Aboriginal people could be counted as citizens. Australian Aborigines were citizens of this country, if not the equivalent; that is to say, they were British subjects by virtue of and from the moment of their birth. It is a disgrace that we should have failed to recognise and treated them so poorly and so shamefully for so many years.
    Article 7 was not of course concerned solely with the rights of people of different races. There was no 1967 amendment to the Constitution allowing for the federal government to legislate for the equal rights of women. But their protection languished, not withstanding the presence of Article 6, which says that everyone ‘has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law’. That position did not change till 1973. By then, some of the more adventurous thinkers were putting forward a proposition which much earlier had been advanced by Dr Wilfred Jenks as President of the International Labour Organisation. He had argued that the federal clause was a ban and that the federal government could legislate pursuant to its external affairs power to implement the treaties it had ratified. By 1983 that view was in the ascendancy, and Senator Susan Ryan took steps to ensure the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and in 1983 she shepherded through the parliament the Sex Discrimination Act. Let me interpolate here Susan, just this much as an aside. It is my great delight that it was and remains called the Sex Discrimination Act. When I was growing up, nouns had gender and people had sex. Now it is the other way around.
    It was almost 35 years to the day after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human rights that Australia had at least embraced the notion of equality in its laws. Now the importance of those two pieces of legislation, the Racial Discrimination Act and the Sex Discrimination Act, can never be minimised. They are not Constitutional enactments. The parliament can repeal or revoke them any day it wants to. But they’re all that we have in this country to ensure we are anything like a fair and equal society. Let me amend that. Apart from the little-used, less often thought of, Section 117 of the Constitution that was explored in a case called Street – he being one of the descendants of Jessie Street – and the Queensland Bar Association. They are all that we’ve got. Section 117 provides that a resident of one state shall not in another state be subject to any discrimination in the other state on account of his or her residency of the other state.
    Those two pieces of anti-discrimination legislation are all that we have got. It is not an accident that, in the context of the 10-point Wik plan – hands up those who remember the 10-point Wik plan that has almost disappeared from our consciousness – our Aboriginal leaders insisted that the Racial Discrimination Act could not be amended. The Racial Discrimination Act is the bedrock foundation upon which native title lies.
    No I do not want to enter this debate. I know and I understand the reason why someone should argue for a constitutionally enshrined bill of rights, and particularly a bill of rights that replicates and guarantees rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration. But let me tell you about a little job I had in Belarus. The international trade union movement complained to the International Labour Organisation that the independent union movement of Belarus was being discriminated against and that its members were being persecuted. The government of Belarus pointed to what was undoubtedly the most beautiful constitution I’ve ever seen. The constitution enshrined the equal rights of everyone. It guaranteed at least every right in the Universal Declaration and then some. For example, it guaranteed the rights of trade unions and trade unionists. So seriously did Belarus take its international obligations, that it had the public holiday for International Women’s Day.
    Quite naturally, in the face of the allegation that it was treating its trade unionists a little less than properly, it pointed to its beautiful constitution. ‘How can it be’, they said. ‘Look, we’ve enshrined all these rights in the constitution and in addition we have enshrined every international norm. So it’s just not possible.’ Well indeed it was possible. It was possible for one reason and one reason only. There was nothing in its constitution which permitted citizens to approach the courts in the protection of their constitutional rights. That could be done only by the prosecutor-general – he was the man giving the trade unionists a moderately bad time – the president or the chief justice. But the chief justice would only do so after the trade unionists had served their time in prison. I mentioned the situation in Belarus because the Universal Declaration recognises there is no protection of human rights without the rule of law.
    Let me read you some of the articles that relate to the rule of law:
    Article 8: Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
    Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
    Article 11: Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
    Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
    Well, if Australia was tardy in implementing or giving effect to Article 7 of the Universal Declaration, it was more than ingenious in recognising the rule of law. The genius of the Australian Constitution lies in a little subsection called section 75(5). Its terms are probably meaningless to those of you non-lawyers who are present here today. It gives the High Court original jurisdiction in which any person, citizen or non citizen seeks mandamus, prohibition or an injunction against an officer of the Commonwealth. As a result of that tiny little subsection, ministers of the federal government, federal public servants, their agents and others acting on their behalf may be compelled to perform their Constitutional and legal duty and may be restrained from acting in excess of their constitutional or legal power. The section, like lamingtons and Australian Rules Football, is all our own; our own peculiar genius. Not surprisingly, governments of both sides have sought from time to time to cut down the operation of that little subsection; and equally not surprisingly, High Court has resisted their attempts every time. That little subsection is quite unique. It has no equivalent, as far as I know, in any other Constitution. Certainly it has no equivalent in the United States of America. And it is only because America hasn’t got that equivalent provision that we have that legal black hole known as Guantanamo Bay.
    The last time I ventured into the debate about Guantanamo Bay, I was quite rightly dismissed as an armchair critic. Let me not argue the point; but I can still read and I can tell you that the indefinite detention without trial before a properly constituted and independent tribunal is a breach of several of the provisions of the Declaration of Human Rights. I won’t go through all of those provisions, but let’s start with ‘Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’; ‘Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’; ‘Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile’. What else is incarceration in Guantanamo Bay? ‘Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal’; ‘Article 28: Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realised’.
    In dismissing my criticisms of Guantanamo Bay, the Attorney General quiet correctly said that it was the courts of the United States that would decide if David Hicks’ detention was lawful and it is true. At this stage they are four years too late in doing so. There is no point in my doing anything more because I’m sure you all know the United Nations and the European Union have both called for the closure, the immediate closure, of Guantanamo Bay.
    Now I have mentioned Guantanamo Bay and David Hicks for another reason. It is true that today in far too many places, human right abuses occur on a large scale. Human rights abuses are often driven in those places by political, ethnic or religious differences. In the case of white Australia, human rights abuses also occur, and they occur at individual levels. The victims of those abuses are usually the most vulnerable. As a general rule the authorities don’t interfere with nice middle class men and women like us. They pick on the difficult people. They pick on the non-conformists, the troublemakers, the dissidents, and as often as not they pick on the mentally ill and the mentally disabled.
    We now know of the most serious violations of the rights of Christine Rau and Mrs Solon. So far as I know, no compensation has yet been provided. But let me hazard a guess that the damages must be enormous. I read in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, which I always understood to be a journal of record, that two men, nameless and unidentified, have been in immigration detention for three and five years, respectively. How much more vulnerable can you be than to lack a name and an identity? Today, the Herald reported that the Commonwealth government has settled the claim of a child who had been severely traumatised as a result of the two years he spent in immigration detention. According to the Herald, this was settled after a 63-day hearing in the Supreme Court. For that there will not be any change out of a million dollars, I promise you. Moreover, it is said that the damages aspect would be in the order of a million dollars.
    Now I have been round this town long enough to know that abuses occur not only because people are vulnerable; they occur as often as not because good people do nothing, and as often as not good people know nothing. Detention centres are set apart and isolated from the mainstream of society, and deliberately so; so that you will not know what is going on. But it cannot be denied that, if abuses can occur, they will occur.
    For that reason, I am not going to talk about Guantanamo Bay any more today. I am going to take this occasion to remind you or perhaps acquaint you with the terms of Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It says simply: ‘Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.’ Not a word about detention centres there. And because of that, I think today is an appropriate occasion to call for the immediate closure of immigration detention centres. At least there is a better than respectable argument that we should do it on economic grounds, if we won’t do it because of the terms of Article 14, if we can’t do it out of fellow feelings with other human beings.

    This is an edited text of Mary Gaudron’s address to the annual lunch of the Jessie Street Trust held in the Strangers’ Dining Room in the Parliament House, Sydney, on 3 March 2006. Mary Gaudron QC was the first female Judge of the High Court of Australia and served as Justice from 1987 to 2003. She was Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission from 1974 to 1980 and Chairman of the New South Wales Legal Services Commission from 1979 to 1980. She was appointed Solicitor-General of New South Wales in 1981 and held this office until her appointment to the bench in 1987. She is currently a Judge with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Administrative Tribunal and the member of a panel of external and independent experts who have been appointed by the Secretary-General to explore ways to redesign the system of administration of justice at the United Nations.

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