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Karma

Karma is that feeling when you drive past someone beside the road obviously getting a ticket soon after they weaved around you and others on a busy highway. Others would call the feeling poetic justice or note that the situation was rather ironic. Either way, it is a feeling of someone getting their just punishment for a real or imagined transgression. If you ask why it doesn’t happen more often, it’s a good question. This blog site deals with politics in a couple of thousand words rather than presentation of a theorem in tens of thousands of words, so keep searching (and if you find anything perhaps a link in the comments for the rest of us would be appreciated).

Politicians usually aren’t around long enough to be publicly affected by karma. So far 2018 has been good for us who drive by the (usually unmarked) police car giving your dangerous driver a bit of summary justice. The obvious one to start with is the accidental disposal of a locked filing cabinet at a second-hand shop in Canberra. First of all, kudos to the purchaser of the filing cabinets for realising what they had and giving it to the ABC. The ABC should also be congratulated for keeping the identity of the donor confidential, as the donor has done nothing wrong here. They legitimately acquired some property (admittedly more than they bargained for) and dealt with it as they saw fit. The poetic justice evident in this situation is that we all now have some information from ‘secret’ cabinet files to pillory various politicians while they still have ‘skin in the game’. Waleed Aly, writing for Fairfax media discusses why we should be holding those that have been found to be responsible for making decisions against recommendations to account here and it’s worth a read.

The ABC published a directory of information they felt should be in the public realm gleaned from the material in the filing cabinets and subsequently allowed ASIO into some of their newsrooms to ‘secure’ the files pending negotiations on their return to Turnbull’s own Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet who admitted the filing cabinet should be in their custody. One suspects the ABC demonstrated considerable discretion in what it actually did publish, as well as balance in some embarrassing stories on the last ALP Government as well as the Abbott/Turnbull Government. While embarrassing to those who like keeping secrets, especially given that an Australian delegation was in Indonesia the same week discussing Australia’s expertise in securing confidential information, by the end of the year it will probably be fodder for the ‘what happened in 2018’ television programs, and that’s about it.

Also to be considered as probable fodder for the end of year retrospectives is the actions of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission judges launching legal action in their own court over a NSW Government directive that the Commission will move from a heritage building in Sydney City to Parramatta. The Government is suggesting

the commission has no power to stop the move because it is not an industrial matter and beyond commission powers

and while the Public Service Association lodged a notice in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission at the beginning of February suggesting

They have gone back on their word given in 2016 that they wouldn’t undertake a move without consultation of the affected workers.

Possibly the first legal argument is if the judges can hear the dispute in the first place! It does have the potential to become very legalistic and messy poetic justice to the Government that promises but doesn’t deliver consultation with its employees.

You would have to expect that there was some discussion on inviting ‘traditional’ marriage advocate Tony Abbott to his sister’s marriage to her long-term partner. The karma for the rest of us is seeing news footage of a smiling (or is it grimacing) Abbott at the event and wondering how he can maintain the position that same sex marriage is an abomination while his sister’s same sex marriage should be celebrated. In a similar way, Barnaby Joyce being upset by publicity when his personal life choices vary significantly from his public pronouncements that marriage is a life time commitment between a man and woman to the exclusion of all others at the time of the same sex marriage debate is also an example of poetic justice.

The punitive actions of the Abbott/Turnbull Government in relation to those that rely to a greater or lesser extent on some form of government assistance is well known. It is a continuing narrative that the ‘lazy’ and ‘leaners’ of our society are the only ones on ‘welfare’ and all of them are attempting to rort the system to avoid becoming productive members of the community.

One of the more punitive measures is the targeted introduction of the cashless welfare card, which allows access to the 80% of the individual’s assistance payment they cannot take in cash. The claim (and there is considerable evidence to suggest that the reasoning is false: here in a Fairfax masthead and here in The Guardian) is that restricting access to cash changes behaviours by restricting access to drugs and alcohol amongst the unemployed. The system uses the electronic payment system and there is access to a website to check balances and obtain other information. The card has rolled out in a number of areas across Australia where there is a ‘high need’ to change behaviour according to the Coalition. Pity a number of those areas have relatively poor communications which limits the uptake of the equipment, such as smartphones, needed to use the website to manage the accounts.

The devil is in the detail. The cashless welfare card relies on technology to work, so when the power or communications goes out the card doesn’t work, as those who the card was inflicted on in the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory recently found out to their detriment.

On the Tiwi Islands, around two hours ferry-ride north of Darwin, 2,000 mainly Aboriginal residents spent three days this week with no access to fuel, internet, or phones after a Telstra tower was damaged.

The single shop in Wurrumiyanga, on Bathurst Island, could not process non-cash sales, leaving many without food.

Residents told the ABC that most people in the community were reliant on Centrelink’s “basics card”, and everything from fuel to power must be pre-paid.

There is currently no alternative system in place for when the communication lines that fuel the cards go down, and the community is wholly reliant on repair crews coming from the mainland.

The Coalition Federal Ministers who signed this system off as fair and equitable are clearly delusional that the system in its current form benefits anyone but their own politically motivated ‘lifters and leaners’ narrative, rather than any sense of care and concern for those who need our help. Any adverse publicity on the Government is clearly karma.

Over the last 20 or so years, the outer suburbs of or larger towns and cities have been filled with large homes on small blocks of land. Colloquially, they have been named McMansions. Generally, these homes have been constructed with little concern for the cold in southern Australia or the heat of northern Australia. Part of the reason McMansions are so popular is that mechanical forms of heating and cooling technology are becoming cheaper, making it more likely for homeowners to consider ‘split system’ or ducted air conditioning to address the deficiencies of their home’s environmental design.

It didn’t have to be like that. People’s homes can be designed to suit the environment and it’s not hard, neither does it require considerable technology. Look at the typical Queenslander or the double brick homes in southern NSW or Victoria — they were designed and built to be in sympathy with their environment. For a number of years, reforms such as the ‘stars’ system were implemented to increase the efficiency of homes and appliances. Major appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators and so on were required to become more efficient over time, leading to the ‘3 star’ rated appliance from 2000 typically earning a less efficient rating in 2010.

Efficiency standards for new appliances have been basically frozen in Australia since the Abbott government took office in 2013. The situation is worse for new residential buildings, with standards largely unchanged since 2010 — excluding a modest improvement in NSW last July — and unlikely to be revised before 2022.

The current six-star minimum energy rating imposed on new homes in most states and territories was already unambitious at its introduction.

As Fairfax Media reported on the construction of CSR House in late 2012, an eight-star rated house built in western Sydney showed how — for about $15,000 more — a new home could be designed to cut heating and cooling needs by half compared with conventional ones.

“The real tragedy of housing and buildings in Australia is they haven’t kept pace with global trends and opportunities,” Rob Sindel, managing director of CSR, says. He estimates most of Australia’s 9 million homes would have just a one-star rating.

“People are getting these horrendous energy bills and are saying, ‘my God!’. Exactly what we thought would play out, has played out.”

As suggested, energy efficiency is not expensive in comparison to the continued expenditure on air conditioning inefficiently designed space. It is also worth noting that progress on energy efficiency ceased around the time some extremely conservative governments were elected at a state and federal level. These governments, who are now feeling the effects of power failures despite a ‘gold plated’ system, are blaming the replacement of inefficient and polluting coal fired power plants with renewables rather than their collective failure to act over the past 5 to 10 years. Most certainly another case of poetic justice.

Unfortunately, it always costs someone something when others observe, inwardly smile and think that karma is a bugger. It is a pretty sure bet that one or a number of probably fairly low ranking public servants will face some unwanted attention over the dispatch of the filing cabinet to the second-hand shop without opening it. The NSW Government might have saved itself a whole world of hurt by discussing the relocation of the Industrial Relations Commission, rather than dictating it. Abbott’s double standards should not have been the centre of attention at his sister’s wedding. By the same token, Joyce’s estranged wife and daughters don’t deserve the publicity that Joyce has recently forced on them.

Those on cashless benefit cards should not have to go without if the technology fails (remembering if you present a credit or debit card and the technology fails, a merchant usually has a backup paper-based option). Even if the failure wasn’t envisaged, clearly there was no effort put into some emergency relief for those on the Tiwi Islands. Clearly we are all paying for the inaction of various conservative governments over a number of years for the current level of power prices, while those that cause the problem are madly telling us there is ‘nothing to see here — look over there’.

Obviously mistakes happen. It is how the mistakes are rectified that demonstrates the character of those who are in charge at the time. Abbott’s double standard is writ large by his attempted triple pike with a twist explanation on why he could argue that same sex marriage is abhorrent — except when his family is involved. It is telling that the Coalition Government apparently did nothing when some people in what is allegedly a first world country couldn’t get food or electricity because their government-mandated and politically-motivated only acceptable payment method failed.

And lastly, that there is so little action on low hanging fruit such as building and appliance efficiency demonstrates the current government’s lack of care or concern with meeting emissions standards they agreed to in the Paris Accord. While the effect on your and my bank balance when we get a power bill might be horrific, the probable irreversible changes to our environment as a result of inaction is criminal. Not only is it Abbott and Turnbull’s failure — we are all to blame for allowing them to gamble with our environment and lifestyle.

What do you think?

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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14 comments

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  1. diannaart

    Karma is that feeling when you drive past someone beside the road obviously getting a ticket soon after they weaved around you and others on a busy highway. Others would call the feeling poetic justice or note that the situation was rather ironic. Either way, it is a feeling of someone getting their just punishment for a real or imagined transgression.

    Karma or schadenfreude?

    Karma may be a good or bad event as a result of someone’s behaviour.

    Whereas, schadenfreude is taking amusement in the misfortune of another, not necessarily whether it is deserved, but the best schadenfreude is usually indulged, when the self-entitled get their comeuppance.

    See:

    (from Wiki)

    Karma means action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual. Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering.

    Schadenfreude is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.

    So far GOOD karma appears to be losing out to bad, if the 1% keep on winning at the expense of the rest of us.

  2. etnorb

    What a good article which raises many of the questions that these “ideas” (sic) have raised! Especially this so-called “cashless” welfare card”, what a disaster this has proven to be, not that we will ever hear ANY Liberal pollies admit it!

  3. Mark Needham

    Cashless welfare card, and I have to sign/provide drivers licence, sign the book, when I buy my wine here in Rockhampton. Why, and for what purpose, I do not know. I reckon, that I do not care, just that someone buying a carton of scotch, just pays his money, no book, no signature…diddly squat. Can play pass the bottle for a week, Hey!

    Cheers orecchione,
    Mark Needham

  4. Jack Russell

    The only purpose of the cashless welfare card (or any other government ideas) is to make squillions for the carpetbaggers behind it, and it’s as plain as the nose on your face. Anyone who claims differently is lying, or mentally deficient.

  5. diannaart

    The following link is to FB – “No Cashless Welfare Card”

    List of senators phone numbers to lodge complaint.

  6. paul walter

    Yes. It is out of 1984. Tragic straight-jacket.

  7. Zathras

    “The Cashless Welfare Card programme is really a LNP rort for the benefit of the Liberal and National Parties and their members, donors and supporters. Indue Pty Ltd, the corporation awarded the contract to manage the Welfare Card programme and to operate its underlying systems, is a corporation owned by Liberal and National Party members and that donates to various Liberal and National Party branches around Australia.

    The former chairman of Indue is none other than former LNP MP Larry Anthony who is the son of former Liberal Country Party Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anthony.

    Anthony now holds his shares in Indue in his corporate family trust managed by Illalangi Pty Ltd. Other companies now owned by Larry Anthony, or by the corporate trustee of his family trust, Illalangi Pty Ltd, work under ‘sub’ contracts for Indue itself and make their profits from dealings with Indue in the course of Indue performing its contracts with the LNP Government. These corporations are SAS Consulting Group Pty Ltd – a political lobbying group that counts Indue as a client – and Unidap Solutions Pty Ltd – a digital IT services corporation that provides Indue, as well as the current LNP Government directly, with various IT services. Larry Anthony is also current president of the National Party of Australia, that is, the ‘N’ in ‘LNP’.”

    Indue are paid $10,000 per card to administer the system. That sounds a bit high to me.
    It also seems like a source of potential corruption and a way to launder taxpayer money into Liberal and National Party coffers.

    Crime statistics have shown a large increase in robbery and violent crime in the areas where the card has been introduced. Funny that.

    As for Karma perhaps we should adopt the LNP rationale that “if I do something bad to somebody Karma means that they must have had it coming”.

  8. paul walter

    Karma is what happens to you while you are waiting for it to happen to someone else.

  9. Andy P

    ” I think Not only is it Abbott and Turnbull’s failure — we are all to blame for allowing them to gamble with our environment and lifestyle”. I don’t agree. When the LNP were voted in, it was on the back of the many believing a certain course of action would or would not be taken. Turnbull has back-flipped on just about everything he said he believed in and promised. One minute climate change was something that needed urgent attention; but when in government it was suddenly relegated to being something of a low priority. The LNP were voted in on lies; therefore we were misinformed regarding the governments real agenda and voted on the basis of what we expected or were promised would be delivered. We did not intentionally gamble with anything, but instead, were mislead into believing we were voting for something other than what was delivered. We can only make our choices on the back of what was expected, ergo, we are not to blame, as what we got is not what we voted for. If our current situation is one that was built on the back of disingenuous bullshit we are not complicit. We can only vote for or against something and be held accountable if we were first properly informed, and then voted for bad policy being fully aware of the expected outcomes. We can only make choices on the information provided; if that information is based on lies I fail to see how we are responsible. Leave the blame where it belongs; squarely at the feet of the coalition.

  10. Reside

    The Western understanding of the law of karma is really far out there. This article sees at the apparent inconsistency of this Western version of karma law by asking “why it doesn’t happen more often”. Think it through please, the gravity law operates perfectly in the physical world at all times so why not the law of karma? The answer of the difference between physical world law and the law of karma is that karma is not time-bound. Action of today and consequence to action can appear in some future lifetime, in the next incarnation. To judge any karma is your Western nonsense.

  11. Roswell

    Reside, we in the West are too impatient. We want them to pay the price in this incarnation.

  12. Matters Not

    Zathras re:

    The Cashless Welfare Card programme is really a LNP rort for the benefit of the Liberal and National Parties and their members, donors and supporters. Indue Pty Ltd, the corporation awarded the contract to manage the Welfare Card programme and to operate its underlying systems, is a corporation owned by Liberal and National Party members and that donates to various Liberal and National Party branches around Australia. …

    The former chairman of Indue is none other than former LNP MP Larry Anthony who is the son of former Liberal Country Party Deputy Prime Minister Doug Anthony.

    Anthony now holds his shares in Indue in his corporate family trust managed by Illalangi Pty Ltd.

    Hilarious! So wrong on so many counts. Here’s a few ‘truths’ to think about – and with links.

    Larry Anthony was never Chairman of Indue. Anthony was formerly a director of Indue between 2005 and 2013, according to records from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic). On the Board but never the Chair. Further:

    Indue said Anthony held no shares in the company at any point in its history.

    “Indue is wholly owned by financial institutions, all of which have their heritage in the mutual and credit union sector,” the company told Guardian Australia earlier this month.

    “At no time has any individual (or through any controlled entities) owned shares in Indue Ltd or any of its subsidiaries.”

    … About our owners

    Indue is wholly owned by financial institutions, all of which have their heritage in the mutual and credit union sector.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/30/larry-anthony-calls-for-investigation-of-national-party-presidents-lobbying-firm

    https://indue.com.au/about-us/

    I’ll come back to SAS at another time and illuminate its origins including its strong links to the ALP.

  13. Reside

    Roswell, to pay the price of karma fully is to transcend binding mind. This you call enlightenment. Your impatient is your wish to see your polticitans enlightened is your good karma. This is my happiness for you.

  14. Matters Not

    Yes there is he belief that Larry Anthony via SAS Consulting Group receives payments that are channelled to the National Party. A very, long, long bow. Here’s some background and it begins with a funeral in mid 2017.

    was on display as a cast of Labor luminaries, including former prime minister Paul Keating, former leader Kim Beazley and current leader Bill Shorten, …

    Other mourners at St Stephens Cathedral included former Queensland Premiers Peter Beattie and Campbell Newman, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey, former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan, former Australian Workers Union secretary Bill Ludwig and businesswoman Sarina Russo.

    Opposition leader Bill Shorten … said the Sicilian-born former MP encapsulated the best of the Labor party – clever, compassionate, brash and bold.

    He was loved not just because he was an honourable member, but because he was an honourable man,” Mr Shorten told more than 1000 mourners at the Catholic service.

    “I’m here on behalf of our movement to say goodbye. I thank his family for lending him to us.”

    The man being lauded was Con Sciacca – a Labor heavyweight of some standing. But there’s more.

    “I thought the personality is so big, he’ll win all these people [over], which he did,” Mr Keating said outside the service. “He had a big heart. He loved people, no matter where they were and what their issues were.”

    Mr Sciacca continued to mentor the next generation of Labor leaders, including Mr Shorten and Ms Palaszczuk, after he left politics and returned to his legal practice and political consultancy, SAS Group, which he co-founded with Mr Santoro and former Liberal MP Larry Anthony.

    Get that re this great Labor man and his connections to SAS: political consultancy, SAS Group, which he co-founded with Mr Santoro and former Liberal MP Larry Anthony. Perhaps SAS refers to Sciacca, Anthony and Santoro. Sciacca (Labor), Anthony (National) and Santoro (Liberal.) That Sciacca would aid and abet the funding of the National Party, or that Santoro would also be a party to that diversion is just ridiculous.

    http://www.afr.com/news/politics/labor-veteran-with-a-big-heart-con-sciacca-farewelled-20170629-gx1qbi

    But never mind – the fake news is out and about and there’s little chance that anything will change that. People believe what they want to believe. And SAS is a National Party source of funds.

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