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My Thoughts on the Week that Was

Saturday 17 October

1 Cambodian officials say one of the refugees who arrived in Phnom Penh from Nauru in June has quit Cambodia and returned to Myanmar. The Rohingya Muslim man in his early 20s had been given refugee status on the basis of a fear of returning to Myanmar, where Rohingya say they have long been persecuted in the majority Buddhist government country.

keating2 Paul Keating has come out of the shadows to back a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, describing it as the “unfinished business of the nation” and suggesting it could precede Indigenous recognition in the constitution.

And the former prime minister also says he would back any move by Malcolm Turnbull to revive the minimalist model for an Australian republic that both men crafted in the early 1990s, conceding this might be the “last and best opportunity” to secure the model.

Bring him back, insults and all.

3 Abyan, the Somali refugee who fell pregnant after allegedly being raped on Nauru has been secretly flown back to Nauru in what looks like an extraordinary attempt to avoid Australian law. Ruthless bastards.

The Minister needs to explain why immediately.

4 This week’s Crikey BludgerTrack poll aggregate has Labor bridging the gap on the back of a weak result for the Coalition from Newspoll. 51.2-48.8.

In a redistribution Joel Fitzgibbon will lose his seat of Hunter in NSW but is guaranteed another.

5 The innovation minister, Christopher Pyne, has told crossbench senators the government will only provide extra assistance for the car industry if they back down on their opposition to cuts to family tax benefits paid to low income families. The style of government hasn’t changed.

Sunday 18 October

aust car1 Amazing to think that Australia is one of only 13 countries in the world who can build a motor vehicle from start to finish but will stop doing so within 12 months. The impact on jobs will be enormous. Have we planned for it? What is the future of jobs? I will be writing about it soon.

2 Voters across the board have high expectations of Turnbull, and crucially, they want him to act. It means he is already behind the eight ball. However Turnbull’s strategy seems to be to make no commitments and announce no policies while speaking in vague platitudes with a velvet fog voice while smiling a lot.

An observation:

“Instantaneous gratification is a byproduct of greed be it for materialisms sake or for power itself”.

3 The PM says the 23-year-old Somali woman Abyan, who was brought to Australia and moved to Sydney’s Villawood detention centre this week an abortion, was returned to the island because she decided against it. She says she wanted some counselling before committing.

Two observations:

‘Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it’.

“The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation“.

Monday 19 0ctober

1 There is a “strong moral case” to proceed with Adani’s $16 billion coal mine, Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg claimed on Sunday. There is also a higher moral principle not to. If coal is good for humanity then the sun the wind and the sea are better.

gough2 The term “must read” is often used but rarely satisfying phrase. However I can recommend a “must read” you should not miss. A four part series on THE AIMN coinciding with the 40th Anniversary of the dismissal of Gough Whitlam and his government, to be published 8,9,10 and 11 November. More to come, but it’s electrifying.

3 Gerard Henderson on Insiders was of the opinion that Bill Shorten had done little wrong in his dealings with Theiss. Never thought I would find myself agreeing with him. But it’s still a bad look.

4 Where did all the voters go, and why?

Mysteriously, 3.3 million eligible voters went missing at the last election. That is a whopping 15% more than the previous one.

There is something fundamentally wrong when, despite a huge recruitment drive by the Australian Electoral Commission, 1.22 million citizens failed to enrol to vote, and 400,000, or one third of the non-registrants, were aged 18 to 24. Additionally, 760,000 House of Representatives ballots were informal – about 6 percent – up more than 0.3 percent from the 2010 election.

Who carried the loss? Our democracy did.

5 Remiss of me not to mention Albo’s put down of Chrissy Pyne during Question Time last week. The Government was suggesting he was claiming responsibility for all infrastructure for the past few years. Much laughter prevailed until Albo to a “point of order” “The only hole you’ve dug is the one for the former PM”. That shut them up.

Tuesday 20 October

1 Malcolm Turnbull’s popularity is not in the least surprising. John Howard once remarked that the Australian electorate was less inclined toward ideology than it once was. What they are saying is that they just want a decent leader. One in whom they can trust. After the revolving door leadership of the past few years that’s what they see in Turnbull.

The IPSOS Poll shows the TPP in favor of the Coalition 53/47. With the Election 12 months away it is but a reflection on the current thinking of the population. The onus is still on the PM to show he has policies that would warrant his popularity.

The Morgan Poll followed up with Coalition leading 56/44.

An analysis of the last election result suggests that fifteen of the Coalition’s new seats are held on very thin margins. Eleven seats have margins of less than 4000 voters. In essence, the election was a lot tighter than was first suggested. Theoretically, this means that it would only take about 30,000 people to change their vote to change the government.

2 Peter Dutton is a former policeman. Whilst I have great respect for the force, he is one of those you would not like to meet at the end of a dark ally. The secrecy surrounding all things to do with border protection and asylum seekers is so draconian that it is often impossible to know where the truth lay. However, in the case of the women on Nauru seeking an abortion, I don’t think it is with the Government. Whatever happened to compassion?

3 NBN Co expects the national broadband network to be rolled out to an extra 7.5 million premises in the next three years. However, chairman Ziggy Switkowski says that achieving the target of making the network accessible to more than 11 million homes by 2020 would be an “heroic outcome” given the current state of the rollout. The Australian Government is confident that the rollout will be completed by 2020. It raises the question as to why they would come out with that schedule if the chairman thought it would be heroic.

4 The following is a comment on my post for THE AIMN last week on the Future of Faith.

“Everywhere that religion is stronger you will find an accompanying increase in the amount of social problems — murder, divorce, abortion, infant mortality, sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy. All these problems are more common in religious societies and less common in atheist (or less religious) ones. What is most surprising is that these are exactly the things religion claims to help.”

I can attest to the veracity of this statement based on USA research.

5 If we look around the world, wealth has become the measure of success and the rich are becoming wealthier at an alarming rate. The top one percent will soon own 99 percent.

An observation:

“In the history of Australia the rich have never been so openly brazen.”

Wednesday 21 October

1 What are we to make of people like Michael Lawler and Kathy Jackson? Only the investigation into his affairs and her trial will tell us but the stench of corruption hangs oppressively in the air. Yet another example of the need for a national ICAC.

2 It has to be said that the proposed overhaul to the financial services sector arising from the David Murray inquiry will be welcomed by the electorate. Excessive credit fees will be banned. More efficient superannuation. Safer banks. Lifting standards in financial advice. Innovative finance to be encouraged.

3 The difference in style and substance between Turnbull and Abbott is daily becoming more obvious. 4 I’m eagerly awaiting the proposed new rules to Question Time.

5 Tuesday’s Essential Poll has the Coalition on 51% and Labor on 49%. Makes the IPOS figures a touch fragile.

This is Bob Ellis’s take on the IPOS Poll:

They ring with machines those at home on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and willing to talk to a machine. Seventy thousand are not, fifteen hundred are, and the seven million without landlines or out of the house are not rung at all.

And a lot of octogenarians are.

This accounts for the figures, 30 percent for Labor, 45 for the Coalition, which Fairfax published today. The idea that 800,000 voters went from Shorten to Turnbull after Shorten attacked his opponent’s tax-dodging wealth is unlikely, since few swinging voters like tax-dodgers any more than they like queue-jumpers.

So the probable figure for Labor is 51.5 or 52; but the publication of Ipsos, which has never got anything right (its method predicted Rudd, Swan, Clare, Burke, Bowen and Dreyfus would lose their seats) puts wind in the sails of the early-election desperates who do not want Turnbull’s despoliation of the Solomons and rorting, in tens of millions, of the tax laws better known.

The caveats in this Ipsos report are significant. The margin of error in NSW, we are told, is 4.6 percent; in Queensland 6 percent; in South Australia 8.9 percent; in WA 8 percent; in Victoria 4.6 percent; but, overall, in all the nation, only 2.6 percent.

How can this be? How can the overall be lower than the lowest, less than two thirds of the lowest of the states? Is fraud involved here? Perish the thought. And the 5 percent who are ‘uncommitted’ (that is, uncommitted about Turnbull) were redistributed 3 to 2 in his favour.

One must be suspicious of the other figures, therefore, that are to do with strength, openness to ideas, trustworthiness and so on.

And — oh yes — the margin of error among 18-24 year olds is 7.9 percent (!); among 25-39 year olds 5:5 percent; among 40-54 year olds 4:9 percent; and among the over-55s 4:2 percent. If only half of these error-margins leaned Labor’s way — that is, 3.9 percent, 2.25 percent, 2.45 percent, 2.45 percent and 2:1 percent — its vote would be not 47 percent but 49.3 percent. If it went two thirds Labor’s way it would be 50.2.

Is it right therefore that Fairfax print the headlines it has? Don’t think so.

Looks pretty dodgy to me.

Or perhaps you disagree.

Thursday 22 October

1 The Essential survey on “Institutional Trust” showed the following:

State Police 68% AFP 67% ABC 55% Reserve Bank 51% Charities 49% Environmental Groups 42% Local Councils 40% Public Service 38% State Parliament 32% Federal Parliament 32% Religious Organisations 30% Business Groups 30% Trade Unions 27% Political Parties 19%.

Tony Abbott certainly didn’t enhance the bottom line. And to think that the church was once so well respected.

2 The revisions to Question Time are hardly newsworthy. There is still no compunction on anyone to tell the truth. Let alone answer the question. It is devoid of wit, humor, words of intelligence and those with the eloquence and debating skills to give them meaning. Mostly it embraces a maleness that believes in conflict as a means of political supremacy over and above the pursuit of excellence in argument.

justin3 Canada has rid itself of its own Abbott. His replacement Justin Trudeau is sure to turn his countries Environmental policies upside down further illustrating just how backward we are. We still have a PM who knows what he should do but is being told what to do by the extreme right of his party. Come November we might well be the laughing stock of the world.

4 A former Australian prime minister is on a list of “alleged pedophiles” that Liberal senator Bill Heffernan claims forms part of a police document.

This from a notorious nutter who once accused a well-respected former high court judge of picking up boys for sex and then had to apologise.

5 The Jackson Lawler saga reads like a work of criminal fiction except that it’s all true.

6 According to the Climate Council solar panels with home battery storage could be the cheapest way to get electricity within three years. The advance in battery technology has been nothing short of remarkable. Turnbull shouts innovation and technology at every opportunity so long as it’s not associated with renewable energy. Coal is still God’s gift to humanity.

An observation.

“We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”.

7 Now Joe Hockey says he wanted to tax the rich all along. It wasn’t what he told us when he was the treasurer. “The last thing you would want to do to people relying on investment income is to hit them with a new tax” he said.

8 The Government has finally backed down on its unfair Family tax benefits proposals. Whether the new proposals are any fairer is yet to be determined. One thing is for certain they will have some harsh consequences for families – including for single parents and grandparent carers. If they cannot get Labor on board the Senate may again reject them.

An observation.

“The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can”.

9 Lastly the Labor Party gained concessions on the Free Trade agreements. Many words spoken about an inevitable outcome.

Friday 23 October

1 Train wreck interview. When asked on Sky News about the proposed changes to Family Tax benefit B, the new Social Services Minister Christian Porter got in a muddle.

Speers: Labor asked today will grandparents raising a 15 year old child will… be $2,500 a year worse off, will they?

Porter answered: Errr, well, that depends on their capacity to access childcare and re-enter the workforce.

Mr Porter, 15 year-old children aren’t going to childcare.

Is Mr Porter seriously suggesting a 70 year old grandparent carer go back to work to make up for the Government’s cuts to his family payments?

2 Liberal National MP Warren Entsch has presented Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with a proposition for a fresh parliamentary vote on same-sex marriage.

Under the new plan, Mr Entsch wants politicians to vote on amending the Marriage Act before the next election, but only ratify the outcome if it is supported by a “Yes” vote in a plebiscite that followed. It seems to me to be a complicated way of achieving an outcome that has been consistently endorsed in poll after poll, year after year. And spending around 150 million to confirm it is just a tad expensive. How about we choose 150 hospitals most in need and give them a million each.

Turnbull’s problem is that he has been compelled to embrace a formula to deal with the issue that he did not support while Tony Abbott was in charge. A problem wholly owned by the extreme right of his party.

Quote Senator Fierravanti-Wells

“I reject the assertion that those who argue for the retention of the definition of marriage are somehow homophobic, bigoted or are opposing equal rights. It is about maintaining a tradition—a tradition that has been the bedrock of our communities, our society and the world as we know it.’’

From an article in THE AIMN in which Kaye Lee addresses her assertions.

3 Australia has fallen outside the top 10 clean countries in an annual global corruption index, prompting calls for a federal body with a broader reach than the NSW Independent Commission against Corruption. There can, in reality, be only one reason why politicians refuse to submit themselves to scrutiny.

4 The Labor Party needs to rid itself of an outdated socialist objective and invest in a social philosophical common good instead. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.

Midday thoughts.

1 As bad as it was, Senator Eric Abetz’s offensive ‘Negro’ jibe to describe the conservative African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, during a radio interview on Thursday wasn’t offensive enough to win my new weekly ‘Bad Mouth’ award. It must surely go to Benjamin Netanyahu who distorted history with his claim that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was the one who planted the idea of the extermination of European Jewry in Adolf Hitler’s mind.

Week That Was_68

And this is the week that was.

Leave you with this thought:

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth enables human progress’.



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  1. Mercurial

    Why is it we heard almost nothing of the NBN while Abbott was PM?

  2. totaram

    “Why is it we heard almost nothing of the NBN while Abbott was PM?”

    Because Malcolm Turnbull had already ensured it would be a complete dud. Mission accomplished!

  3. Roswell

    Many thanks, John, for another great weekly wrap up.

    You’ve got me interested in the Whitlam article soon to be published.

  4. Michael Taylor

    Hate to tease you, Roswell, but the Whitlam article is as John says . . . A MUST READ.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    I notice the first anniversary of his death was completely ignored by the MSM.

  6. paul walter

    Well, it’s a beautiful summary but for one glaring error- from who I am not sure.

    “Labor nees to rid itself of an outdated socialist objective and invest in a social philosophical common good instead. And recognise that the elimination of social inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.”

    That the elimination of social inequality is oppositional to socialism is one of the most contradictory binaries I’ve ever come across.

    Surely socialism and the elimination of social inequality are complementary, not oppositional?

  7. John Lord

    Paul I extracted that from one of my pieces on democracy. In isolation I take your point. I was more talking about how people perceive socialism.

  8. paul walter

    Thanks John.

  9. i have a nugget of pure green

    switched on Insiders, saw Gerard, Switched off Insiders.

  10. Terry2

    Switched on The Verdict , saw that Anne Henderson was not on; left it on but gained no insights (again).

    What is it about the Henderson family and our media : is it the Australian version of the Kardashian phenomena ? If so, will somebody get pregnant soon or bare their bum ?

    Sorry if I’ve spoiled your brekkie.

  11. stephengb2014

    Very good John – As always

  12. diannaart

    “In the history of Australia the rich have never been so openly brazen.”

    Love the placement of this all too true truism prior to commentary on narcissists:

    Wednesday 21 October

    1 What are we to make of people like Michael Lawler and Kathy Jackson?

    Seems the more brazen the greedy the less they are outed and shamed – although Auntie did very well this time.

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