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One Armed Bandits steal Tassie election; Cash loses plot and Joyce finds paternity a grey area

And it is money that has come out of the pockets of some of the poorest people. It is money that comes from human hardship. These machines are located in pubs and clubs in areas of economic disadvantage deliberately. And that is why we have fought so hard, so hard, to get poker machines out of pubs and clubs in Tasmania. We know they are lethal and toxic machines. Rebecca White Tasmanian Labor leader

Like rabbits caught in the headlights of a juggernaut of pro-pokie Liberal Mad-men, Tasmanians vote, Saturday, mostly to do as they are told. It’s a win for pokies’ owners by pokies’ owners. Bugger the people. Yet it’s not the crushing victory being sold on mainstream media. What is clear by Sunday is the Liberals will stay in power.

Premier Will Hodgman’s government wins 13 of the 25 state lower house seats on Saturday, a loss of two, or down 0.8 %, but still enough for his Liberal Party to govern in its own right in a large late surge over the last month.

Labor’s vote is up 5.4% with 84% of the vote counted Sunday. The Hare-Clark, Robson system means that several seats remain in doubt in contests between candidates from the same party. What is not in doubt is the size of the Liberal war chest which some say is ten times Labor’s. Did wealthy Liberals donors help the party buy its victory?

Bedazzled by bill-boards, newspapers and TV screens, in a saturation ad blitzkrieg, voters succumb to sentimental slogans such as “love your local” and fear of paternalism, the dreaded spectre of Labor-Green despotism.

And the jobs’ lies. “I’ll have to go to the mainland for a hospitality career if Labor gets in,” whinges a teenager on the radio, a model of self-pitying misery and entitlement, already a perfect fit for any career in customer service.

Bad news, kid, the “hospitality industry” is rife with wage theft and exploitation. Better you should stay at school.

“Whether it’s a big, small or medium business, the most common worker is young, unskilled or a migrant so really it’s a hotpot for exploitation. When you put all these things in the mix, people aren’t aware of their rights — people are desperate to work, and it’s a recipe for exploitation,” says Shine Lawyers employment law expert, Will Barsby.

When it comes to wages, Tasmanian workers share the predicament of all Australia’s workers. Wage earners’ share of the national pie has shrunk dramatically to the lowest point since the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) began recording this data in 1959.

Roy Morgan reports that our workforce is 13,410,000 comprised of employed and unemployed, up a whopping 518,000 on a year ago, a context omitted in Scott Morrison’s misleading claim that “2017 was a year of extraordinary jobs growth in Australia, over 400,000 jobs created in the year”.

1.312 million Australians were unemployed (9.8% of the workforce); an increase of 126,000 (up 0.6%) on a year ago, but Morrison chooses to hide this from us in the hope we are all mugs. ScoMo or Michaelia Cash never talk about numbers of unemployed.

Furthermore, despite Liberal shills on ABC and mainstream media who pretend there is some miraculous recovery happening ,Tasmanians are in fact more likely to be out of work or underemployed than workers in any other state.

Tasmania’s unemployment rate is 10.7% while 11.5% of the workforce is under-employment 11.5%. 22.2%, or one in five, Tassie workers have either no work or not enough. Abolishing pokies is not going to cost 5000 jobs – as claimed by Hodgman’s Liberals – when there are only 370 workers in the industry – or about 1000 in gambling overall. And other jobs are likely to be created as a result of money not spent gambling.

The new gaming laws will bring a windfall for casinos reports The Australia Institute, cutting their taxes in half if they are put on the Federal group rate. Taxes for pubs and clubs, on the other hand, will rise by $10 million. Yet, in a typically caring, sharing, token concession to pokies’ toxicity, taxpayers will contribute an extra $1.7 million to the Community Support Levy to counter the costs of problem gambling. The casinos are the big winners while the punter loses out yet again.

The Liberals’ big Tasmania vision is not solution, either, for unlucky punters. Population growth is at its highest rate since the GFC, but that doesn’t “grow” jobs. Nor is it a state economic windfall. It’s the structure of the population that counts. Each year Tasmania has fewer young and more older people compared to the rest of Australia, even when population “booms”.

Will Hodgman has had a population push since 2014. Yet Tasmania has always gained more people over 45 and lost more younger, working, fertile, 19-39 year olds due, mainly, to the state’s lack of employment opportunities.

Older folk create jobs and actively contribute to society and economy, but they also will create increasing demand for government services, such as pensions and healthcare, areas in which Liberals have a poor track record.

The Government has made sweeping job cuts in health, reports ABC Fact check with the Treasurer stating publicly that while the Tasmanian Health Organisations gained 80 full-time equivalent staff, the Health Department shed 200 positions between June 2014 and March 2016.

But bosses and government never gull young people, it’s always unions and greenies who are out to con you.

“Labor and the Greens think you’re stupid. What’s next? Don’t let them tell you what to do”.

This richly allusive Liberal rhetorical campaign gem shrewdly taps Tasmanians’ memory of the unpopularity of its last Labor-Greens coalition cabinet of 2010, a coalition which psephologist, William Bowe, dubs an electoral disaster.

Be it inertia, bewilderment, blind panic, cynical manipulation, disinformation or a toxic cocktail of the lot, in the end, voters elect Will Hodgman’s Libs, a shady cabal of big business, big gambling and Big W, in a result which will further erode Tasmanians’ control of their own lives, expand state power, boost gun-power and feed the canker of poker machine blight, introduced to the Apple Isle by Ray Groom’s, 1993 Liberal government.

Can Tasmania, our most beautiful, most wondrous state, Australia’s own Serendip, now be rotten at the core?

Ministry of Truth, our ABC in its Insiders cosy Sunday hack-chat-show, a forum which artfully evades the real issues, or real depth, says the Liberals win as Tasmanians flock to sunny uplands of neoliberal prosperity. Hodgman’s Liberals, they say, deliver an “economic upturn” a myth based on the island state’s property boom, or bubble.

It’s a tall story which can only grow taller, as the federal Liberals’ spin doctor army toils to turn the result into a vindication of the Turnbull government’s futile attempts to revive neoliberalism’s corpse; its corporate tax cut payola to its donors, and austerity budgeting, a campaign of calculated impoverishment of innocent and vulnerable victims of its policies, which daily widens the gulf of economic inequality, in its war on the poor and elderly.

By Monday, Tassie’s results will become a sign of upturn number 365 in the Turnbull government’s popularity. There is always a reboot, a recovery around every corner.

Yet, apart from real estate sales, any other economic upturn is hard to find. So why the sudden turnaround? A month ago, polls had the two parties neck and neck, on 34% of the vote, but in more recent polls Liberals soar an alarming 12 %. in a shocking corruption of the popular will, which, William Bowe, worries, means,

The election could join federal Labor’s mining tax debacle in 2010 as a cautionary tale about the dangers of taking on deep-pocketed interests in an election campaign.

A key issue at stake is many Tasmanians’ opposition to Federal Hotels’ pokies monopoly. Federal owns all 3500 machines (plus Wrest Point Casino, some luxury wilderness accommodation and the Henry James Hotel). Labor and The Greens’ want to remove pokies from all pubs and clubs by 2023. But end the firm’s half-billion dollar revenue stream?

Also not sitting well with voters is Federal’s breath-taking, back-flipping duplicity. Anti-pokers veteran, Pat Caplice sums up Federal’s hypocrisy.

“The clubs and hotels pushed for pokies back in the ’80s. Federal opposed it totally, used all the arguments about dependency they now deny. Then, when it was being debated in 1993, there was a huge backflip, within days, and Federal itself was gifted a monopoly licence.”

Saturday’s election result ushers in a new “gaming” agreement, an industry euphemism for ripping off unwary, vulnerable, punters. The state will revoke Federal Hotels’ monopoly and gift licences to pokies pubs, in a move which will result in cashed-up Federal and Woolworths buying up dozens of pubs, allowing Woolworths a 30-40% stake in gambling in the state. The result is guaranteed to increase personal misery and social breakdown.

Meanwhile, the pro-pokie promotion create a ruckus that sucks the oxygen out of many other areas of debate.

Protecting what remains of The Tarkine is a huge political issue. Speciality timber logging permits granted in 2014 by Hodgman’s government reduce the area’s reserve to five per cent of its former area. Liberal candidate for Braddon, Adam Brooks’, media release reads “Only the Liberals would stop a Tarkine National Park”.

The Liberal election pledge is an indictment of the party’s senseless environmental vandalism; its contempt for Aboriginal cultural heritage, history and the legacy of shell middens, stone quarries, hut depressions, seal hides and rock carvings that remain and its failure to consult with local Aboriginal people.

17 coupes are still being logged while the 4WD fraternity, bush-bash on expensive temporary road mats. In Hobart, around two thousand people protest the abuse of the unique wilderness, in a gathering led by the Bob Brown Foundation. The group calls for permanent protection for the 447,000 hectares of the Tarkine.

One-armed bandits backers make such a racket they drown out late news that the 45th Tasmanian premier, William Edward Felix Hodgman, promises the quaintly termed sporting shooters and farmers, a hard-nosed gun lobby, an easing of gun control laws, extending licences from five to ten years and permitting automatic weapons.

But if it’s a victory for guns and money, it’s also another stage in the ascent of the corporate oligarchy Woolworths, which, Guy Rundle writes, will wield power over Tasmanians “from controlling prices to suppliers, to selling them their food back as consumers, and taking the cash of people who never quite make it to the shops.”

At the same time, Tasmanians surrender their own say in their own affairs, as Hodgman’s big government proposes major projects legislation and a state-wide planning scheme which shuts out community input.

Tasmania, fruit of the fruit machine, rolls with the dice, as the state’s obscenely powerful gambling lobby pours millions of dollars into Liberal party campaign coffers, vastly outspending the Labor Party. Some estimate a Liberal war chest up to ten times larger. We may never know. The state has the nation’s slackest campaign donation disclosure rules.

What is unique – and refreshing about the Tassie election campaign is the respect between the Liberal and Labor leaders, a tradition that is dead, buried and cremated in federal politics this week when Michaelia Cash suddenly threatens to name young women in Bill Shorten’s office – about whom there have been rumours “for many, many years.” The idea that she should “slut-shame” nineteen women working in Shorten’s office is bizarre, wrong and a sign of an ugly decline in federal politics.

Worse, Cash makes it clear that she proposes to name names and then Shorten will have to prove his innocence. It’s a perversion of legal process and a cheap, demeaning stunt. Worse, it plumbs new depths in character assassination as political strategy.

And it’s part of Liberal team plan: Peter Dutton is soon off the leash on 2GB attacking loose, louche, philandering Bill and two-timing Tony Burke.

“I think we’ve sat here taking a morals lecture from Bill Shorten in relation to Barnaby Joyce over the last few weeks and people know that there’s a history of problems in Bill Shorten’s personal life, Tony Burke’s personal life. And to be lectured by the Labor Party really sticks in the craw.”

As is Dutton’s wont, he is undeterred by being factually incorrect and totally out of order. Labor scrupulously abstained from criticising Barnaby Joyce’s affair with his staffer Vicki Campion.

It was, in fact, Malcolm Turnbull who took it upon himself to deliver a finger-wagging moralising, which was backed up with what can only have been a National to Liberal Party hand-ball leaking of the name of a woman who is bringing case of sexual harassment or serious misconduct against Joyce to the National Party – from whom we have heard nothing further.

Above all it’s not Joyce’s dangerous liaisons that are the critical issue – not his fidelity or his personal morality but how he could create or cause to be created not one but three jobs for his (non-partner) paramour Vicki Campion. And his boondoggle inland rail. Plus his Murray Darling basin water for rich cotton irrigator National party mates scandal.

As the week closes, it is clear that the Coalition’s mud-slinging will continue as part of the Kill Bill strategy – but also as a splendid diversion from any alleged peculation, nepotism or misuse of public funds including travel allowances, a net which seems to be closing rapidly on Julie Bishop, whose non-partner, David Panton, is somehow able to travel at taxpayers’ expense.

The situation is clarified late in the week when Bishop changes her mind; agrees the two have been partners for six months. At least that’s cleared that up. Will Panton now repay his trip to the UN or any other trips he took with her prior to that period? At least it’s not “a grey area” as Barnaby Joyce calls his paternity.

A new tune to add to his brilliant riffs on playing the innocent victim, Joyce tells media that everyone assumed he was the father of Vikki Campion’s child. He may not be. The Daily Tele never asked, despite there being an email from the paper to Joyce asking that very question according to Fairfax.

Now it seems Barnaby and non-partner Vikki were mostly geographically apart with some togetherness during the putative conception date of the unborn child, whom Barnaby, nobly, says he will love anyway. And no. He has no intention of taking any paternity test. Perhaps it may turn out to be an immaculate conception.

In Tassie this week, the Liberals win by throwing buckets of their sponsors, the gambling mob’s – (wrongly dignified as an industry)- money at advertising promoting fear and loathing of Labor, while, in the senate, Michaelia Cash dishes the dirt as a diversion from her own alleged collusion with the AFP to contact media to help her conduct a witch hunt in an illegal raid on the Melbourne office of the AWU, a union Michael Keenan says gave a donation to Bill Shorten’s campaign – as it is perfectly entitled to do.

The AWU has not yet been charged with a single criminal offence. Probably because none has been committed. In the meantime, politicians from Tasmanian to the nation’s capital compete this week, as Hamlet almost says, stewing in corruption, honeying and making love – while tipping buckets of excrement over their opponents in a debauched, degenerate, parody of a competitive party political system which was once based however loosely around policies and reasoned argument and rational rebuttal.

The nation moves beyond policy, principle or even the fan-club of identity politics to savage character assassination, innuendo and vituperative personal attack. Each day we draw closer to the politics of Trump’s USA, the nation our PM wishes to sedulously ape and not only in tax cuts for corporations but in health and welfare, too.


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  1. Aortic

    Mr. Wilkie will not be pleased. I have said it ad nauseum, ad infinitum till I am making myself ill, a system of publicly funded elctions must be worked out. If not the perception at least will be that the usual insidious forces are at work to push their particular barrow, injurious in the extreme to the so called ” democracy” all western democracies are suppose to be representing us the punters. So there.

  2. paul walter

    All I can say is, they must be either idiots or gullible down there.

  3. Christopher

    Thank you Binoy. Terrible times for us all. Pokies are a blight on us all. My own pub is a woolworths one. They weren’t interested in pubs before they got the pokies. Now they own most of them in Cairns. I see the mainly indigenous kids being ‘cared for’ by one of the older kids under a tree across from the carpark, in full view of woolies’ irresponsible gaming staff, while the mums and dads lose what little money they have dreaming of the jackpot.

    I see the same kids lining up with 60 cent bottles of pop and, if they’re lucky, some potato chips. And, I know that’s the only meal they’re going to have that night.

    Aortic, you are correct. We must fund the elections, stop any media advertising and ban political donations. Our very lives depend on it as we witness homeless people dying from the cold in the UK while their government does nothing to help. This is what comes around in the end…

  4. Keitha Granville

    Limited spending on campaigns MUST be brought in, both locally and federally. The playing field is so far out of whack, an independent candidate has no chance of outdoing the parties.
    We did well on Saturday in spite of the massive Liberal campaign, to come back from 7 seats (less than half the Liberals, to 9 which is over two thirds. Not bad for a first time leader, Rebecca White. We will get there next time.

  5. iggy648

    Seasonally adjusted hours worked January to January increased by about 26 million. This means each of the 392,000 new people in the workforce got an average of about 15 hours work per week.

  6. Freethinker

    Living in Tasmania, IMO people have plenty time to chose between improvement on the health care and education or poker machines and deterioration of the environment including wood chipping and bad managed aquaculture for salmon production.
    For the last 3 years we have bombarded with the critical situation in the major hospitals, with education and the pollution on the sea bed.
    We have improvements on the building industry but not because the state government but because the crazy prices of real estate in the main land which caused a lot of people moving or investing here.
    In any case this only produced part time jobs.
    I do not believe that the result here was because the media supporting the Liberals, the main propaganda was the support poker machines, which you can see in all the pubs, clubs, etc .
    People were well informed and have spoken with their vote in the same manner that voted for Abbott, ON, etc.

  7. helvityni

    I can’t understand why the Greens did so badly in Tassie, the home state of Bob Brown….?

  8. Kaye Lee

    It is astonishing, or perhaps not, that Peter Dutton wants to talk about other people’s failed marriages.

    Dutton married his first wife when he was 22 years of age; however, the marriage ended after a few months. He then had a daughter with another woman out of wedlock the year before he married his current wife, all of which is not remarkable except for the hypocrisy of the slurs he casts on others.

  9. Freethinker

    helvityni March 5, 2018 at 9:45 am
    I can’t understand why the Greens did so badly in Tassie, the home state of Bob Brown….?

    Because the Greens are “lefties” that stopped our logging and wood chip jobs, are trying to stop aquaculture and now like to create a nanny sate not allowing us to gambling or have our guns.”

    That it is the mentality here helvityni. and embarrassment for the rest of us.

  10. Alpo

    I understand your frustration about Tasmania, David. But don’t forget, in this country there is some kind of general pattern (only occasionally broken up or down) whereby a new Government tends to be given a second-term opportunity. Potentially to be sent to opposition at the third and final election if they don’t deliver. This is the One, Two… OUT! Pattern. The Tasmanian Liberal Government went down in their primary vote, which suggests that the next election may well be their OUT! election. The same in NSW. The Liberals have got their One, Two elections and they have been going down, also down in the opinion polls currently…. this suggests that the next NSW election may be the Liberals OUT! turn.

    In the meantime, let’s keep working hard, bloody hard for the construction of a solid Social Democracy in Australia and the removal of the bankrupt Neoliberalism.

  11. helvityni

    ….progressive New Zealanders are happy to have a feisty young woman like Jacinda in the country’s top job; Aussies do not even like the like idea of the anti gambling Rebecca as their Premier, and Tasmania is after all only a State amongst many others…

    We got a long way to go before we get our own Trudeau, Macron or Ardern to lead Australia….

  12. Ross

    The United Nations is closed to the public during the high-level meetings of the General Assembly and the general debate in September. so how did Asbestos take her handbag there?

  13. Jexpat

    Not sure what Labor’s ‘strategists’ expected when they based their campaign narrative on pokies….

    Even old blind Charlie could have seen this one coming.

  14. johno

    Alpo…I hope SA breaks the one two pattern.

  15. helvityni

    “So Tasmania has a new government. Yes, I know the Libs are still in office at 1 Salamanca Place and Will Hodgman is still premier. But the real government, the one run by the pokie industry under the Federal Group and the Farrell family has now been confirmed as the successor of the dynasty of rent seekers who actually manage the Apple Isle.

    It was ever thus.”

    Mango MacCallum on Menadue’s blog

  16. Freethinker

    Well, there is some stir in the news, quote:
    If Malcolm Turnbull hits 30 Newspolls trailing Labor, he will have to explain why he shouldn’t go as prime minister, Tony Abbott has warned.
    “I never made the polls the be all and the end all, I never turned the poll into the ultimate test of leadership,” Abbott told 2GB radio on Monday.

    “It was the prime minister who set this test and I guess if he fails the test it will be the prime minister who will have to explain why the test was right for one and not right for the other.

    “It will be up to him to tell us all why the test doesn’t apply in his case,”

  17. Jon Chesterson

    ‘Hamlet’s’ Tasman highlights of Liberal electoral disinformation & corruption: spins reminiscent of Turnbull, Dutton, Cash & Co…

    A clear and magnificent summary of tragedy and comedy, tale and woe. Will the beacon of South Australia succumb to the ‘dark force’ down under as Turnbull stashes more shit on our dinner table.

  18. Freethinker

    This head news in The Guardian shows very well their agenda:
    “Tasmanian election: how the Greens helped dash Labor’s hopes of victory.”

    Seems to me that Ben Raue is another journalists that is not closing any door in the media in case that Murdoch has a well paid job.
    The Guardian is losing credibility day by day.

  19. Joseph Carli

    The Guardian lost it for me when that editor with the serious eyebrows left (Kath’ Divine ?) and Leone Taylor and K. Murphy took over.

  20. Matters Not

    Directors of companies have a fiduciary duty. In simple terms, they are legally obliged to act in the best interests of the beneficiary – in this case the shareholders. Surely the ALP would know that and therefore would have expected the kitchen sink to be thrown. The actions taken by the ‘pokie’ interests was not only legal but can also be seen to be obligatory.

    Want change? Then – change the law. Don’t like multi-nationals avoiding tax in Australia? Then – change the law. Don’t like X Y or Z. The change the law – because we are a sovereign nation as some politicians keep reminding us. It’s not rocket science. Until then – stop howling at the moon.

  21. Glenn Barry

    Wonderful analysis David, you wield the scalpel with particular dexterity

    It’s incredibly pleasing to see that the rise in corporate power and influence of politics continues unabated, we will all be so much better off when they control everything and they’re consuming us, we’ll be the fresh food people, not like soylent green at all

  22. Oliver

    Unsure why you are so derogatory regarding hospitality employees, it’s a multi billion dollar industry that enploys 100’s of thousands … it’s attitudes like this that are killing standards in Australia…where it is seen as a second rate job that the unskilled can do. I spent 3 years in Switzerland getting a diploma in hotel management only to be looked down upon by ignorant customers who have no idea.

  23. wam

    The pokies slid out of nsw into qld, victoria and south australia to the detriment of those states they are under control of the pub and clubs lobby which is the equivalent of the nra.

    When the libs get control in SA we will see, within a couple of weeks, the notefeeders will be activated in every machine.

    Then they will have caught up with the nt for misery.

    The dibrandsimkims have talked the alk and it apes the swaggering sound of the rabbott.

    Billy has jumped at last and in my facebook he showed the grins a paddle I hope he gives di’s boys a whack on the arse.

    ps A rabbottian shared a post
    not all muslims are terrorists
    not a priests are pedophiles
    but all greens are %@@^@&.
    I try to tel them a different story but then I see di’s boys and my heart isn’t in it.
    Is the G women better than the Australian or the ABC or nothing???

  24. ace Jones

    So now its fashionable to boast the Beetrooter’s child is a bastard , goodness me bastards must be a genetic Joyce flaw, runs in the family apparently!

  25. Freethinker

    Just when we think that we heard all we have this on the news:
    ” The Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, has declared he has a mandate for about 200 policies that were released to interest groups and not made available for public scrutiny during the state election campaign.”
    ” In his first press conference since being comfortably returned to power in Saturday’s poll, the premier said the remaining 200 policies would be made public soon. Asked if he believed the government had a mandate to deliver all of them, he said “yes”.

    Please explain, how he can claim mandate when the policies were not made public?

  26. Kronomex

    As a friend of mine (and many others no doubt) said after Hodgman was, gag, choke, voted back in, “The LNP, the best party money can buy.”

    Tasmanian LNP: 300 promises made and about 10% honoured.

  27. New England Cocky

    “Perhaps it may turn out to be an immaculate conception.”

    More likely it was a well conceived mortal strategy to guarantee a comfortable future for self and long desired future child living on the Parliamentary pension and perks plus the remainder of the family fortune after the divorce settlement takes over 70% but possibly leaving two “grazing properties” within the Santos CSG leases, by a person in a declining profession having a need to impress a father figure given that she is estranged from her own father due to differences of political opinion.

    Every small town working class girl knows the routine; put out a line and spin it as Papal Roulette, bait with little fat pussy and attract a Red Octopus onto the hook … QED; especially when said Octopus apparently cannot count to ten!!! First Rule of Adultery is know how to count!!!

    Oh; and only Tamworth business persons believe that employing somebody having few morals is a good investment of about $1,000 PER DAY in Parliamentary salary and allowances.

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