The past nine days of the electoral campaign have been interesting to say the least, and apart from a disgraceful display of partisan media publishing or broadcasting their anti-Labor and pro-Liberal rhetoric, we are now gaining a clearer picture on policy rather than media noise.
What we are now witnessing is a desperate Prime Minister saying anything he chooses to try and dig himself out of several holes of his making, namely the major one is his captains pick of Ms Catherine Deves to stand for the Federal seat of Warringah in Sydney, when Ms Deves had already held shocking transphobic views which crossed the line from extremism into the realm of ultra-extremism and zealotry. .
Mr Morrison is also trying to dig himself out of another hole he made for himself, namely stating he would appoint as a new Health Minister Ms Anne Ruston, should he form government. Ms Ruston has a recent history of publicly stating on the record it was one day the Morrison Government’s objective to place everyone, which by virtue of her words would include aged pensioners, on the Indue Card. In case you have been living on Mars for the past five years, the Indue Card is a debit card in which the Federal Government retains a discretion as to how the beneficiaries of social welfare and pensions spend their money. What is wrong with that you say? Everything, it is well and truly crossing the boundaries of ‘1984 Big Brother’ style domination as to how people should live their lives. On 18 April 2022 Mr Morrison proclaimed (after having earlier forgotten how much people on JobSeeker are paid) a further term of Morrison Government would not reduce Medicare funding, once again because Ms Ruston’s prior commentary was “Medicare is not sustainable.”
Here it is!
“We’re seeking, as I said, to put all income management onto the universal platform… which is the cashless debit card.”
— Van Badham (@vanbadham) April 19, 2022
Given Mr Morrison’s history of telling lies which I set out in Part 1 of my article ‘Scott Morrison’s Lies, Character and Incompetence’, in which I set out in detail the lies (it is not an exhaustive list) Mr Morrison has told over the years, it’s hard to accept him as an honest person. So, forgive me for the incertitude in which I hold any words that emanate from Mr Morrison’s mouth, but I couldn’t trust Mr Morrison for as far as I can spit, and that isn’t very far at all!
I would like, if I may, to commence with the topic of Medicare, a universal public health scheme introduced by Mr Hawke, to restore the provision of universal healthcare which Mr Whitlam had established as Medibank, only for Mr Fraser to privatise Medibank as a private health insurance scheme.
As you may well be aware, Senator Ruston told the Senate in December 2014 that:
“Everybody would like to think that we could go on in life with universal healthcare, with universal education and with all these wonderful things that over the last 20 [actually it is 30 years but who’s counting hey, Anne?] years Australians have come to accept as a given. Unfortunately, the credit card is maxed out .”
In March 2015 (after the Abbott Government was attempting to make reforms to the Medicare legislation after abandoning the highly contentious co-payment) Senator Ruston told the Senate:
“Medicare in its current form is not sustainable into the future and without some changes being made… we do need to seek some alternatives for how we are going to make Medicare sustainable into the future.”
After Mr Albanese and Mr Chalmers had called out Senator Ruston’s previous statements, and rightly forewarned the electorate her proposed appointment to the health portfolio would lead to further cuts to Medicare, Senator Ruston then strangely responded the strength of the Australian economy (it’s a gross misuse of the word ‘strength’ or ‘strong’ to describe our economy) and her current position was not reflected in remarks she made 7 years ago. There are several matters wrong with Senator Ruston’s response, but I shall get out of the way the simple matter first. Over the course of the last 7 years Senator Ruston has never corrected the record, whether in the Senate or before the media, that she had disabused herself from these previous strongly held opinions. The next issue is the economy, which I have already stated herein my protestations about using the word strong to describe our economy, as it is not strong at all, indeed it is now hamstrung by the Morrison Government with an eye watering national debt of almost $1Trillion.
The interest payments on that debt will exceed the diminished Medicare funding and money spent on the PBS. A further increase of debt by $380 billion is expected in the next three years. When related to GDP, this represents an increase from 22% in 2019 to 41% in 2022 and 53% in 2025. This increase over six years is larger than that over the previous 11 years. The increase in Commonwealth debt is largely due to a recurrent deficit. The Commonwealth’s total net operating deficits are estimated at $525 billion over the six years beginning with 2019/20. Because of our national debt we are now in a weakened position to respond to another crisis beyond the current pandemic. Also, it raises the nation’s economic risk profile. It leaves Australia more vulnerable to future adverse shocks. More tangible is the drag on economic growth and the loss of public policy opportunities that would otherwise have been available. The outlook for interest rates has recently shifted towards higher interest rates in the near term. As existing public debt is refinanced interest expense will rise sharply and crowd out other government expenditures. In addition, the Morrison Government moved too much of the onus of discretionary debt onto all the states.
The current national debt will crowd out other government expenditures and given Mr Dutton wants us to fight aliens in space I hold strong doubts universal health cover would rate highly in the Morrison Government’s future expenditure plans. Beyond the parlous state of affairs we are facing regarding national debt, there is also the Liberal Party’s prior behaviour regarding Medicare funding which does not instil any other emotion than fear into our psyche. This is the almost 38-year history of the Coalition’s attitude towards Medicare:
- 1983: the Coalition in opposition opposed the Medicare legislation and threatened to dismantle it upon being re-elected.
- 1993: the Coalition in opposition went to 4 elections (1984,1987, 1990 and 1993) promising to dismantle Medicare.
- 2013: the Abbott Government floats the idea of a $5.00 tax to visit your GP.
- 2014: the Abbott Government cuts $1.7Billion in funding for Medicare and proposes a $7.00 tax to visit your GP, and they moved to privatise Medicare.
- 2015: the Abbott Government cuts almost $1Billion from Medicare’s funding and continues to pursue the proposal to privatise Medicare.
- 2019: the Morrison Government cuts bulk billing in suburban communities.
- 2021: the Morrison Government rushed through sneaky changes that will see cuts for vital surgeries.
In relation to the period of 2014 to 2021 Mr Morrison was either a Federal Minister or Prime Minister when these cuts were made to Medicare’s budget. As I said earlier, the incertitude of any reliability in Mr Morrison’s words is at zero on the gauge, and Senator Ruston presided over these cuts being made when she was in the Senate from 2015 until the present day. As I opined in my article dated 28 March 2022, we are saying goodbye to Medicare if the Morrison Government are elected to a further term of government. Neither Mr Morrison nor Senator Ruston will change their spots.
Now, the Orwellian nightmare of the Indue Card, as I stated above it is a government-controlled debit card which determines where the beneficiaries of a pension or social security may spend their money. The whole notion of the Indue Card is repugnant to the very foundations of a democracy, as it quarantines at least 80% of a person’s income support payment and cannot be used to withdraw cash. It is not only demeaning to those people who must use it but is also a tremendous overreach of government intervention in the public’s rights to live out their daily lives, and this is a proposal from the holier than thou overlords of smaller government.
Today (19 April 2022) Mr Morrison claimed it was all a lie about his government’s intention to expand the use of the card to all aged pensioners. The only problem with Mr Morrison claiming something is lie is, well, firstly he has an irrefutable history of lying to us, and there is plenty of prior evidence of words and conduct which suggests otherwise. On 6 February 2020 Senator Ruston is reported as saying the Morrison Government hoped to one day make a national rollout of the card (Source: The Guardian, 6 February 2020). The card was already being trialled at this time in certain regions of Australia, and the feedback about the Indue Card was not favourable from the users, and businesses and banks would not say they supported the card. Indeed, amendments to the act passed in 2020 made several significant changes including lifting existing trial participation caps and entrenching the program on an ongoing basis. The Prime Minister, Mr Morrison also reportedly said the results from the trial were commending [the card] for wider application (Source: ABC online article 23 March 2022). In November 2021, the Morrison Government paid to the payments firm Indue the sum of $26Million to extend its contract with the government for a further two years (Source: The Guardian, 4 November 2021).
ALP have undertaken to ditch the cashless debit card.
Why won't the LNP?
— Dr Sheep Person aka Underclass Prole (@noplaceforsheep) April 19, 2022
It seems the most sensible way the Morrison Government can dispel fears about expanding the Indue Card on a national level is to scrap it entirely; an invitation which Mr Albanese made to Mr Morrison today. Currently, at the time of writing this article, and notwithstanding Mr Albanese’s sensible proposal, the Morrison Government has not agreed to scrap the Indue Card. Given they wasted $5.5Billion on breaking the submarine contract, $26Million would be a trifling amount of waste for Mr Morrison.
🧵1/ INDUE- Cashless Debit Card
"A card by any other name would control as much"
📺A video showing the both the Liberal & National party support for a nationwide Cashless Debit Card
📖A small thread to provide background/context for this crucial issue.#Auspol #AlboForPM pic.twitter.com/dWY47iXmbm
— @AusPolMate (@AusPolMate) February 24, 2022
I will not need to spend much time in addressing Mr Morrison’s own goal in making Ms Katherine Deves his ‘captains pick’ as the Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Warringah. Mr Morrison has caused a civil war to break out in the NSW branch of the Liberal Party ever since he intervened in their preselection processes for candidates to stand for lower and upper houses of the Federal Parliament.
Ms Deves commentary about transgender people is now associated with denigrating a marginalised group as sex offenders, labelling them mutilated and comparing them the Stolen Generations (Source Crikey 19 April 2022). Ms Deves comments are simply appalling, not just for transgender members of our country, but also for the wider LGBTQIA community.
Mr Morrison has refused to disendorse Ms Deves. Firstly, if Mr Morrison did disendorse Ms Deves that would be Mr Morrison admitting he was wrong, and we all know Mr Morrison never accepts blame for his own mistakes. Secondly, it is not as though Mr Morrison was oblivious to Ms Deves views, because Ms Deves comments would have already been known to the members of the NSW branch of the Liberal Party. However, there is an even deeper concern which arises from Mr Morrison’s ‘captains pick’, and that is that her views accord with Mr Morrison’s personal beliefs about the LGBTQIA community. Remember, Mr Morrison walked out of the House of Representatives on the day same sex marriage was passed in a bipartisan vote of the Turnbull Government and the Labor Party opposition. By steadfastly standing by Ms Deves, and his previous exit from the same sex marriage vote, Mr Morrison just appears to harbour beliefs which are contrary to the interests of the LGBTQIA community, and it seems his spots have not changed since the same sex marriage vote.
Perhaps Mr Albanese’s comments today best describe the outcomes of Mr Morrison’s ‘captains picks’, as Mr Albanese said the last ‘captains pick’ was Mr Craig Kelly. We all know how well that ‘captains pick’ worked out.
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