What a week! Australia’s newly sworn in ScoMo-government wastes no time in destroying our progressive taxation system, one of the last vestiges of Aussie egalitarianism which the neoliberal toxin has virtually annihilated.
ScoMo & Co’s dodgy promises dupe Jacqui Lambie and crypto-Liberal duo Griff ‘n Rex from the Adelaide Hills into voting to kill the quaint old notion that each Australian should taxed according to his or her means. Benito Dutton’s Home Affairs Despotism admits to already using new laws to steal press freedom from under our noses and spy on the ABC.
But Mum’s the word – unless you want an AFP or ASIO operative ransacking your bedroom drawers or forcing QANTAS to tell where you’ve been travelling and what your stated travel purpose is, especially if you visit Afghanistan and you work for the ABC.
Economic Management has never been better thanks to ten years’ Liberal DNA at work, but Philip Lowe, Governor of our Reserve Bank, warns government that monetary policy can go only do so much. He almost begs the Coalition to forget its surplus fetish; even borrow to start investing in infrastructure building – instead of endlessly talking about it. Or we are staring down an economic recession, which is what we’ve been suffering for years if you look at per capita recession.
Lowe also warns how wage stagnation threatens social cohesion but ScoMo & Co just point to Trump’s US miracle. The myth that Trump’s tax cuts have promoted trickle-down prosperity is repeated ad nauseam in our mainstream media.
The 2017 Tax and Jobs Act – the Trump administration’s one hit wonder in terms of enacted legislation – constitutes the biggest corporate tax cut in US history, but in the end, workers enjoy almost no benefit. But no-one can tell ScoMo.
He should read the report of the six-month investigation,by Peter Cary and Allan Holmes, from the Center for Public Integrity, a not-for-profit news agency based in Washington DC. But Morrison is a faith-based politician. He believes in the Laffer Curve and the magic of trickle-down.
At trickle-down HQ, it rains on Trump’s parade. Exposes his bald spot. His half-arsed military jamboree or A Salute to America, features ancient Abrams tanks, retired in 1957, replete with peeling paint as they rust atop their Heavy Equipment transporters. Russian commentators piss themselves laughing at “Putin’s America” while Trump boasts “we took over airports in 1788”, a howler, the Covfefe-in-Chief blames on the rain, and a defective Teleprompter. It will all be the fake media’s fault.
Many Americans are unhappy as Kleptocrat-in-Chief Trump pilfers $2.5m from a cash-strapped National Parks to help pay for his folly. But it’s just petty cash; Trump’s oxymoron (his administration) is cutting Parks’ budget half a billion dollars in 2019 – and again in 2020. His brazen conversion of a national holiday into yet another episode of the Donald Trump Show, a reality TV presidency, sponsored by the US taxpayer, also produces howls of righteous outrage.
“Trump is creating a spectacle of tanks & missiles on the National Mall where the great protests for civil & human rights have been held at a time when 140 million Americans are poor & low income. He thinks this is the sign of strength, but it’s a damn narcissistic travesty,” tweets The Rev William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. If only folks could kick back and relax; get with the vibe of the show. It’s unpatriotic to be so critical.
While no-one is prepared to allow 60 tonne tanks to trash the asphalt as they did in George H. W. Bush’s 1991 National Victory Celebration, F-22 Raptors and a B-2 stealth bomber roar over the Washington monument, the reflecting pool and the Lincoln memorial. “Great country” Trump says. “For Americans nothing is impossible.” An honest president, perhaps?
Tanks but no tanks? Later in his 47 minute harangue, Trump, a five times draft dodger whose bone spur excuse has long been exposed, is heard exhorting young Americans to join the military. At a starting salary of $20,000, you’d have to be in it for the safe working conditions, the healthy outdoor lifestyle, not to mention the travel and career opportunities.
Ronald Reagan airport is forced to close for two hours just to satisfy Trump’s ego. It’s poetic justice. Named after the only former president to rival Trump in fiscal incompetence, Reagan cut taxes for the ultra rich, while – like Morrison and Trump – he repeated the mantra that such contractionary measures would miraculously “grow the economy”.
In one term in office, Reagan took the US from being the world’s largest net creditor of $140.9bn to owing $532.5bn – the world’s largest debtor nation, a place it has kept ever since. In eight years, inequality took off while, as in Australia, average incomes stagnated, although the top one per cent saw their incomes rise ten-fold, compared to everyone else.
A millionaire paying $700,000 in tax in the seventies would pay $350,000 in the eighties. The economy withered. With their extra income, the rich funded think tanks, hired economists and lobbied politicians to change laws.
In 1960, business supplied 24 percent of federal revenues. By 1980, the figure had fallen to 12 percent. A vicious cycle flourished where wealth begat more wealth and more power; a cycle which ScoMo’s tax cuts will reproduce here.
What could be a more fitting emblem for the nation, its 45th president and tribute to moribund Neoliberalism than the damp squibs and obsolete tanks on trailers of Trump’s Independence Day Parade, a moth-eaten, flea-circus?
“Ya radge orange barmpot” (lustful or mad orange idiot), as Trump is called in Turnberry, another of his financially troubled international golf-courses, by hospitable yet canny local Scots, is spared further derision from Russia, Iran, North Korea and others when explosive memos from Sir Kim Darrouch, British Ambassador to Washington, are leaked. Kim warns London that an “inept and uniquely dysfunctional” Trump regime means “real risks are on the horizon”.
Risk of war with Iran is confirmed when news emerges of the truth behind Trump’s recent piking on his missile strike. Tehran is laughing at his backdown. “Iran was ready to retaliate on an unbelievable scale,” an Iranian journalist tells investigative journalist Reese Erlich in a phone interview. “After the first U.S. missile launch, Trump wouldn’t be able to control the consequences, not only in the Persian Gulf but from Saudi Arabia to Israel.”
A risk on the home horizon for Trumpista Morrison is Plots and Prayers, Niki Savva’s book-length gossip and hearsay column with some direct testimony on Turnbull’s coup. ScoMo’s reputation for deceit and disloyalty is revived while Labor waves the “absolute arsehole’s” taxation bill through even though it spells the end of Australia as we know it.
“We prayed that righteousness would exalt the nation … righteousness would mean the right person had won” Stuart Robert, fellow evangelical, god-botherer tells Niki Savva of a brief moment of quiet piety in Plots and Prayers, a methodical, detailed demolition of whatever may remain of ScoMo’s pretensions to honesty, integrity and decency.
Or popularity. “Morrison’s an absolute arsehole” shrieks Michael Keenan, gazumping talk of Weirdo-ScoMo’s flaws by a dozen senior Liberal MPs trashing party show ponies, tipping stayers and picking winners, as they lunch long at Guy Rossi’s top-noshery Garum in WA’s Westin Hotel in April 2018. Say what you really think, Mickey. Don’t hold back.
Keenan set the gold standard for arseholes as the Human Services Minister, who reminded the ABC that the automatic debt notice process is “reasonable, lawful and fair”. The department sent more than 900,000 debt letters to individuals during the period 1 July 2016 to 31 October 2018. Over 2000 people died after receiving Centrelink robo-debt notices.
Slurs flow as freely as the vino as our MPs repair to the Westin’s well-stocked cellar. Niki Savva knows how to set a scene. A dozen MPs on the turps can be jolly unkind. “Arsehole” almost becomes a term of endearment. Yet, oddly, Niki omits all mention of Keenan’s controversial 2015 gun-lobby meeting from which gun-control advocates were excluded, an act of bastardry any arsehole would be proud of – if not quite up to the master Morrison’s gold standard.
Red tape must be cut from gun regulation. It’s far too hard for an arsehole to acquire an arsenal. True, sporting shooters do tend to lose a lot of guns. The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) admits its members are targeted by organised criminals. But that’s all about awareness; education. In over 12 years shooters “hadn’t learned properly” about appropriate firearm handling, use and storage. But Keenan was keen on winding back gun control.
Expect to hear more “in this space” from our congestion-busting, red-tape cutting, freedom-loving Prime Minister.
Our gun lobbyists are big political givers so there’s nothing odd about a Justice Minister excluding unions, public health groups, domestic violence advocates, politicians and other spoilsports who support gun control in Australia. Since 2011, gun lobbyists have donated $1.7 million towards the best independent, democratic and objective decision-making money can buy. Mad Bob Katter’s party has done the best; netting a cool $808,000 but, then, Bob does have Robert Nioa as son-in-law.
In 2017, Robert Nioa, CEO of NIOA won a contract to supply over thirty different munitions to Australia’s military. The contract is valued at $95 million and has an option to extend it to 15 years. Katter’s donations come mainly from Nioa and The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA) dedicated to unwinding our gun laws. Nioa is a SIFA Director. But the group of MPs at Garum have other MPs – not our local NRA, the over-powerful gun lobby in their sights.
The Liberals indulge in the time-honoured bonding ritual of back-stabbing absent fellow MPs for having leaders’ batons in their knapsacks. A cleansing Margaret River Cloudburst Chardonnay or a big red Vanya Cabernet Sauvignon helps.
As always, talk turns to who would lead if then-leader, malfunction Mal, fell under a bus or into the gap between the platform and the track of his beloved public railway train? Keenan, who has held Justice, Human Services and Digital Transformation among other portfolios says his former Immigration Minister boss, Morrison treats him like a school boy. If the cap fits? Fellow sandgroper Christian Porter’s thought of the day is that Orifice Morrison is “not a team player”.
Hold that thought, Mr Porter. Cormann has seen Dutton up close now, he says – a disturbing image – and “Dutton’s better”. No-one’s touching that. Everyone in the parliamentary party knows that the pair are soul-mates. Cormann doesn’t tell, but Savva knows ScoMo shouted at him. Didn’t try it twice, brags Mathias full of testosteronic machismo. Quickly sketched is a portrait of a Liberal Party bullying culture which reaches all the way to the top.
Garum takes its name from the salty, sauce originally made from fermented fish guts. Much favoured in ancient Greek, Roman, Carthaginian and Byzantine cooking, it’s the perfect condiment for contemporary politics. The arsehole anecdote is later faithfully relayed to Niki Savva whose husband, Vincent Woolcock, is a veteran Liberal adviser of forty years’ service. Naturally, it is not implied that the pair ever share salacious political gossip, titbits or juicy morsels.
Savva clarified her independence as she launched Road to Ruin, her account of Abbott’s brief but disastrous term as PM.
“I never tell Vincent what I’m writing, she says. He didn’t see a single word of my manuscript.” Vincent is acquitted. But Plots and Prayers’ insights, like those of Road to Ruin, are a tribute to Savva’s access to pliant Liberal Party sources.
Savva quickly establishes Morrison’s low peer approval, high distrust and his spectacular dishonesty. A News Corp Liberal, her richly alliterative Plots and Prayers is a type of swingeing director’s cut of ScoMo & Co’s coup of August 2017. So far, Morrison’s only response is that it’s ancient history. No-one’s interested in that. Even if it does show who he really is – a ruthlessly ambitious, double-crossing liar who will say anything to anyone to get what he wants.
How good is News Corp? Rudd reckons it’s a political party and a cancer on our democracy. QED. If not exalting the messiah from the shire, or killing Bill or Albo via Setka, Savva’s News Corp certainly boosts ScoMo’s political fortunes.
Re-iterating the trickle-down fantasy, a myth which helps Liberals make a virtue out of selfish greed, is News Corp. The trickle-down dream helps divert attention from the flow of wealth from labour to capital, as increasingly underemployed and underpaid workers find their wages buy less as the cost of living rises in an increasingly divided society. News Corp leads Australia’s mainstream media chorus this week in crowing about ScoMo’s “stimulus” victory.
Stimulus? Propagandists to Morrison’s inept, agenda-less, policy-free regime, Murdoch’s media help perpetuate the lie that tax cuts and the virtuous pursuit of a budget surplus, (both contractionary measures) will not shrink the economy at all but, instead, by the miracle of the trickle-down tooth-fairy will somehow stimulate our tanking economy. So what if nowhere in the world, least of all in the US, is there proof that tax cuts stimulate wage growth or productivity?
Catastrophe of the week is ScoMo’s Unfair Go, the Coalition’s pyrrhic victory over reason, common sense and social contract; its subsidy of the rich, ironically entitled Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill 2019. Yet you’d have little clue of the real nature of the bill from its coverage in the press.
As Crikey’s Bernard Keane calculates, 227 print and online media sources tackle the most profound change to our tax system in decades, but only 25 provide any analysis of the fiscal and equity impacts of the package – and six of these are rubbish; specious arguments that would kid us middle – not high-income earners are the major beneficiaries.
Our MSM simplify and select. Coverage is confined, says Keane “to a race call” of who voted for what – along with details of how much you can expect to get. It’s the broader, simpler, picture that suits our new streamlined media where veteran journalists with fine-honed analytical skills and independent insights are an endangered species. Instead, tabloid infotainment masquerades as news, especially on ABC 24, as newsrooms compete to keep it cheap, light and fluffy.
No-one really challenges ScoMo’s incredible farrago of lies about his role in deposing Turnbull. Savva’s book will help expose the truth. Yet Morrison’s myth of his immaculate conception as leader – like his tax cut recovery are all part of his fabulist-politics. Keep the story simple. And the myths large. Perceptions not facts that matter most in politics.
Morrison’s politics most closely parallel those of his mentor Donald Trump but it remains to be seen whether the imported model will enjoy quite the same degree of success. Savva’s book is evidence of the PM’s low status and limited authority over his parliamentary party.
But unlike Trump, Morrison must deal with the Dutton, his nemesis, who daily exercises his excessive powers – a monster created by Turnbull against the best advice, solely to appease a right wing which under ScoMo will still call the shots.
The excitement of a $1080 tax rebate will quickly subside even for the minority of Australian workers who receive it. The Morrison government now faces the challenge of no agenda, no real policy and the prospect of an imminent internal battle over religious freedom. ScoMo cannot sit on Ruddock’s report forever. Whatever bill is produced, it can be guaranteed, it won’t placate the right who seek laws to discriminate or those others who seek freedom from discrimination.
Conservatives are also urging IR reform, code for even lower wages and worse conditions, at a time when the economy, if not the dictates of humanity, demand a decent living wage and a fairer system. Then there’s a slew of problems and challenges shelved, a voice to parliament, the NDIS, the NBN lemon and the vacuum in energy and environment.
And it is environment, in the form of the Murray Darling Basin rorts and a nine billion dollar scandal at least, which is fast shaping to drown all other problems faced by a recycled proven failure, an inept government in bed with Big Cotton, Big Banks and all the other business barons from the top end of town who need only frown or pout and it goes to water.
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