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Sitting in Judgement of Abbott’s First Year

The first anniversary of an Abbott led government is almost upon us. What yardstick do we use to judge its performance? For me there is only one. That being that all governments exist to serve the people and by extension the common good. In this respect the current government is a wretched failure.

Tony Abbott as leader has, probably because of his natural disposition toward negativity, failed to ignite the imagination of the Australian people. He has tried to adapt his pugilistic depressive personality characteristics to leadership, and it simply hasn’t worked for him. Abbott has never been a popular politician. He is universally perceived as a revengeful vulgar liar, and untrustworthy. His disposition towards saying anything that suits him with an expectancy that he should be believed has done nothing but reinforce people’s aversion of him. It may have been a special brand of hate politics that won him victory but once in power people expect governance not vindictiveness. All of this is reinforced in a preferred PM status of just 30%.

Judging Abbott’s first year to date is made somewhat easy (if based on a criteria of common good fairness) because it has, or will, impact on so many vulnerable people.

First and foremost in the public’s mind has been the blatant lying. All of which is well documented and authenticated. So much so that Abbott and those of the same ilk, his ministers, cannot deny it.

However, Abbott tries to do so with a stoic stony faced indignation which takes a certain type of megalomania. And it’s his self-righteousness, the inability to concede another view in the face of contrary evidence that earns the wrath of people.

‘‘Why is the Prime Minister lying and why is he lying about lying?’’
Bill Shorten.

The Hocky/Abbott Budget is still craving legitimacy weeks after its presentation. Even genuine dyed in the wool LNP voters (41% of them thought it unfair) were taken with its broken promises and its dishonesty. Its ideological assault on the poor, young folk, pensioners, education and the sick in favor of the rich and privileged alienated people.

If ever a budget characterised a government’s values and philosophical intent it was this one. It’s called serfdom. A master servant philosophy of another time. All in the face of growing world inequality that learned social commentators and researchers believe together with climate change will be the two greatest problems facing the world.

The Government has sought to justify its actions by insisting that the budget is in crisis. That they have inherited a Labor debt and deficit disaster beyond the electorate’s comprehension. Whilst everyone acknowledges the need for fiscal responsibility commentators and economists have dismissed the notion of a pending disaster as scare tactics.

Abbott came to power on the back of an orchestrated media campaign by the Murdoch press, his own negativity and Labor’s leadership dysfunction. Not because the Conservatives were a new shining example of fresh democracy with policies to match. The fact is that surveys suggested that people were comfortable with Labor policies just not the leadership.

Abbott viewed if differently opting for no policies other than his unpopular PPL scheme. He saw an opportunity to paint the political landscape in pessimistic depressive terms. Blaming everything on everybody else and pretending only he had the answers. He lied by omission during the election campaign preferring to dump his IPA inspired policies on an unsuspecting electorate when the electorate had settled. He thought they would be compliant. He was wrong.

And so we are approaching the first anniversary of a government that seems to be putting its foot in the political mire on a daily basis. It is a government that has failed to spell out a narrative for Australia’s future other that saying it will be built on coal. We have a Prime Minister for undoing rather than doing. A person who has failed to represent us internationally. One who imbues on the Australian political scene a dour negativity when what we need is inspiration.

It raises this question.

Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science? So oblivious of the needs of women and gay people. So out of touch with a modern pluralist society. And such a perverted liar?

They are a Government on the nose, contemptuous of any view other than their own. Simply playing politics as if it were some sort of plaything dedicated to improving the lot of big business and the privileged. Oblivious to the common good. It’s easy to understand why so many Australians have disengaged from politics.

In short they are a government bogged down trying to justify an ultra-right wing political ideology to an electorate whose only desire is for government for the common good.


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  1. DanDark

    I did not read it john
    It’s all so depressing now, we know he is a dud
    And we are paying, women and kids the most
    I will take this chance to say bye, as I am about to cut my internet off
    House and food are essential to survive
    It’s been great to converse with you over the recent time
    I have learnt heaps off this site 🙂

  2. John Lord

    I have learnt heaps off this site

    Then you should stay.

  3. David Stephens

    Thought provoking piece in the tradition of hard-hitting journalism going back a couple of centuries. Psych angle on Abbott is one I had not heard but which opens up some possibilities. Disappointing to see the number of literals and typoes, though. Willing to do copy edits, Michael! Quick turn-around for small fee!

  4. Kaye Lee

    Bill Wright, a priest and church historian, who was vice-rector at St Patrick’s whilst Tony was there said :

    “From the start, Tony was a controversial figure at the seminary. Whilst some seemed to admire him, others found him “just too formidable to talk to unless to agree; overbearing and opiniated. Tony is inclined to score points, to skate over or hold back any reservations he might have about his case.”

    Nothing has changed.

    Seminary similarity

  5. DanDark

    It costs money sadly to have internet
    Nothing in life is for free, tones says
    And the rest of them, on a daily basis now
    Yea they win, I lose loll ”
    That’s a life 🙂

  6. Anomander

    I am constantly dumbfounded at the fact Abbott seems to garner 30% of approval from the people surveyed.

    He is such a detestable, despicable, mendacious, untrustworthy and unlikeable character, I can’t comprehend how any person could believe in him, let alone attest he is doing a good job running our nation for the betterment of the populace.

    This fact speaks volumes to how disinterested or self-absorbed the voting public have become, which is a major concern for the state of our democracy and our future.

    Considering we potentially have another two years of this divisive neoliberalist agenda, I wonder what state our country will be in when he is finally tossed out on his ear. It will take decades for successive governments to overcome the societal harm and the economic damage; if that will even be possible.

  7. paloma

    John, you really have articulated the anger that many people feel right now, me included, but I think enough has been paid in main stream media to Abbott the personality (either good or bad) and not enough to the policy and works of this government. How can we talk about these issues without mentioning the figure head?

    We should not be tempted into an American style politic where one guy has his finger on the button with his hair slicked back for the cameras (or his speedos filled with socks). Those who do not agree with Coalition policy need no convincing that Abbott is an arse. Those that support him are either proud of his ‘works’ as they financially asst them or ignorant enough to believe the lies about how good it all is for them financially and socially (i.e. stop the boats is protecting the bogan life style).

    I wish and hope for a cold serious look at the systemic failure of the Liberal Party ethos, and the corporate ethos that parallels, it to materialise in the news. Words written without men and just on the philosophical merit of their ideas. It may be a eulogy.

    What is it that they and their sympathisers really think of human rights?

    Is is more important to make money than to make lives better in the everyday?

  8. geoffreyengland

    Well done John. Some very penetrating views and some gorgeous turns of phrase. “Vulgar liar” being amongst my favourites. Not had cause to use the word “vulgar” in many years but it is inspired in this case.
    His vanity is something you have not pointed out and his avarice is well documented.
    He is simply a rent seeker, a grasping, smarmy, creep with the morals of a sewer rat, and his religion is of the kind that The Christ railed against…the white washed tombs full of foul decay, despite being clean on the outside.
    If he truly believes his faith is real, (something I personally doubt) then he will surely know he will burn in the fire of damnation for all time.

  9. Margaret-Rose Stringer

    @John Lord: I think your article was written without a lot of pausing for inspiration: you simply sat down and pounded on the keys, venting your rage and frustration, and good on you ! But your writing it usually better than this: perhaps another check-through before sending, next time …? Still, the message is there, loud and clear; and the content not to be argued with.
    @David Stephens: nota bene. 🙂
    @Anomander: I totally agree. The fact that there are so many rusted-on Liberal supporters is what makes us fearful of next election day.
    @paloma: yes, indeed. Abbott’s Cabinet comprises people of his persuasion, after all. All of them are ruthless bastards who sincerely believe themselves entitled to rule – and it was one of them who told us that the age of entitlement is over ! Those same rusted-on Liberal supporters must be of like mind … It does appear beyond doubt that the entire Liberal philosophy needs to be dismantled. Your wish for “a cold serious look at the systemic failure of the Liberal Party ethos, and the corporate ethos that parallels it” deserves to be granted; so the only questions that remain are by whom and in what medium ?

  10. Lost2

    I received an email which describes what Tony and his bunch really are
    Post Tortoises, read the following it all makes sense.
    An elderly farmer was in the Emergency Ward having stitches put in his hand,

    due to an accident with a piece of machinery.
    The doctor carrying out the procedure struck up a conversation with the old man.
    Eventually the topic got around to politicians and their role as our leaders.
    The old farmer said, “Well, you know, most politicians are ‘Post Tortoises’.”
    Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him, what a ‘Post Tortoise’ was?
    The old farmer said, “When you’re driving down a country road and you come
    across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that’s a post tortoise.”
    The old farmer, seeing the puzzled look on the doctor’s face, continued to explain.
    “You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there,
    he doesn’t know what to do while he’s up there, he’s elevated beyond his ability to function,

    and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there to begin with.”

    ………Best explanation I’ve heard yet !!!!!

  11. John Armour

    Whilst everyone acknowledges the need for fiscal responsibility…

    That’s an expression that just rolls off the tongue John but can you explain what you mean by it ?

    Somehow I don’t think I’m part of “everyone”.

  12. Brendan Kelly

    Well expressed, John. It is evidential that Abbott has form on negativity, overbearing arrogance and disregard for those less than his equal (in his eyes). I wonder, however, if such a body as the IPA hadn’t existed, what sort of policies he’d develop. I can hear an echo of Pauline Hansen’s “I don’t like that!” in his approach to science, welfare and access to education on a broad scale. I’d suggest he is a hollow man, if he were not so full of himself. He gives the impression that he is devoid of imagination and creative thought. A true puppet.

    Although we in Australia do not directly elect our Commander In Chief, our Nation’s Leader, the Government seems to be manufactured in the mould of our Prime Minister. We were lead to believe we, all of us, were voting for Abbott, but then this is just a reflection of the way in which both the major parties have adopted the American “Presidential” style of federal campaigning, In terms of moulding, quite a few of the Front Bench didn’t demonstrate the characteristics they now do while in opposition. Joe Hockey was quite jovial and personable before he became Treasurer. Morrison was milder and they kept Cormann in a closet somewhere.

    Someone, or a bunch of some ones, decided the type of Government they wanted to see in Australia and orchestrated the whole thing. They saw in Abbott the pugilist to lead the crew and told the other aspirants that if they wanted in, they’d have to toughen up. Julie Bishop, of course, got her place because they owed her and she knows better than most where the coalitions skeletons are hidden.

    Abbott never had the common good in mind, I doubt it has ever entered his mind, the results of the LNP being elected reflect the will of those who put them in power, and made Tony the lead actor. In terms of the Australian public in general, Abbott and his crew have failed to deliver good governance but if gongs are handed out for actors giving a great rendition of their role, Abbott deserves an Oscar.

  13. Dan Rowden

    “Vulgar” – perhaps the most perfect word to describe Abbott. I think one could spend a good hour at and not come up with a better one.

    Actually, I may have to adjust that view a tad. I just went there and searched “vulgar”. That’s a pretty fine list ….

  14. DanDark

    John I wasn’t being critical, I might have been misunderstood
    but now that Clive has sided with Tones, we are stuffed, no carbon tax,
    and thats just the start, cos clive reckons Tones is a nice bloke now, has changed his tune
    from short while ago, he was the LNP’s enemy, so now he is Tones new frenemy
    No wonder I am depressed, not in literal sense, just in DOG help us sense 🙂

  15. Peter F

    Thanks John, you are correct about Abbott: every time I hear ‘Debt and Deficit Disaster’ I think ‘Litany of Liberal Lies’.

    My apologies, but I seem to have been reduced to Abbott’s level.

  16. Lawrence Winder

    “Vulger.” The word almost loses meaning because of the totality of the filth this party has mired itself in.
    Their cruelty, vindictiveness, dishonesty, anti-intellectualism and appallingly bad grace were there for all to see from the day Gillard took office.
    Their calling of Labor a dysfunctional rabble, leaving a mess, destroying parliament and everything else was a lie and just a projection of their own actual mentality.
    They did no policy framework development and the increasing shambles of their governance being now exhibited is because they really never understand the ramifications of the IPA’s right-wing free-market insanity they lazily adopted and are thoughtlessly implementing. I have never witnessed such dross in parliament.

  17. Hugh Webster

    I think Lost2 got it right, he’s a Post Tortoise !

  18. Anomander

    Tip of the iceberg I fear Dan.

    BHP, Rio, the banks and ALL the huge multinationals now engage in exactly the same practices. And we have a government not just permitting it, but actively encouraging the practice. It’s almost like they are so blinded by their neoliberalist ideology they can’t see the damage being wrought upon our future income – or perhaps it is simply that they don’t care.

    You only have to look at their intention to water down the financial advice regulations, elimination of the carbon and mining taxes, and willingly promoting trade treaties that are sure to further erode our capacity to impose taxes and restrictions on these corporate behemoths.

  19. Don Winther

    I was thinking of getting into Politics because I’m sick of working for a living but now I think Mining is the only way to go. I want to be a big fat greedy bastard.

  20. Kerri

    An excellent article summing up the many problems the electorate has with this cuckoo Government.
    A thought keeps coming back to me every time someone mentions the cuts to social welfare, that the ultimate plan is to shy from helping those worse off until they (the serfs) help each other thereby leaving more for us ( the masters) we need to rid ourselves of this stain of a Government before the inevitable damage gets too deep.

  21. Kerri

    Dont leave dan dark? Can u access internet via your local library??
    You are one of the commenters that I always read and enjoy!

  22. Wayne Turner

    A budget based on LIES,non-stopping lying,insulting leaders of other countries,and non-stop excuses are PROMISING of “no excuses”.Sums up this pathetic mob.

    0 for their almost 1st year.

  23. Doug Evans

    Abbott and his band of hateful sidekicks are a disgrace. Even if they become a one term blot on our political landscape we still have three years of their carnage to endure. On the bright side they are not getting it all their own way. Their first budget is in tatters raising the question of whether or not there will be a second ‘horror’ budget next year, further cementing their unpopularity. The really important elements of the Clean Energy legislation (CEFC, AREnA) look as though they will endure as does the RET. No-one in government or the MSM seems to be able to fully evaluate the meaning of the loss if the price on carbon. Thanks to Labor’s insistence carbon price was always set too low to drive meaningful change and when linked to the global carbon market was going to come much lower (hence the Greens’ insistence on the fixed price period). The carbon price hasn’t been and was never going to be the major element of this legislation driving the clean energy transformation. Axing the tax will have very little effect on the rate of growth of our carbon emissions.

    The media with their unshakeable fixation on THE CARBON TAX have taken to repeating that without the (very small) stick of our ETS we are without any mechanism for driving down emissions. Not sure why they ignore the (somewhat larger) carrot that is the combination of RET and CEFC.

    For those of you who (like me) love to hate Greg Hunt, Mark Kenny ( a journalist for whom I normally have no respect at all) has written a very interesting speculative piece for Fairfax on who wins and who loses from Palmer’s carbon tax machinations The article bears strongly on assessment of what matters and what doesn’t in the wash up of Abbott’s shock and awe onslaught on our climate policy. It is worth reading and reflecting on, not least because it reveals tensions within the government around this issue. Similarly I found Lenore Taylor’s piece on the background leading to Palmer’s stunning appearance beside Al Gore pretty interesting also. It also explains why Gore having agreed to appear with Palmer still looked so very uncomfortable about being there.

    Abbott is appalling and will no doubt do plenty of damage but he is not getting all his own way. With any luck this will be the dominant theme of his one term government.

  24. Sir ScotchMistery

    In terms of the public feeling currently on display, I am of the opinion that this may well be wrong.

    I have been involved in politics at one level or another for years, and for the first time in a long, long time, we are seeing people so angry that they are engaging. Think of what happened at Indi, and what in my view is beginning to happen even more.

    People are so angry they are saying “enough” and beginning the process of banding together and going out looking for a candidate capable of representing them, exactly as happened in Indi, in throwing Mirabella out, as a rusted on old liberal hack, without the vision or the understanding to grasp just how disenfranchised the electorate felt, and replacing her with Kathy McGowan, a woman cast in a the mould of a reformer, exactly as the group who found her, supported her and then led the push to elect her, in an electorate which was LNP when (other) dinosaurs ruled the planet.

    I think it took Abbott et al to make the electorate aware of just how little respect those we elect as “leaders” have for us, as paymasters, electors and decision makers in the political pie.

  25. Wayne Turner

    “Better to be comfortable with Labor policies just not the leadership.Than uncomfortable with the Liberal parties policies and leadership”.

  26. Wayne Turner

    Sadly,the public were warned and there was plenty of evidence of what these Libs were going to be like Eg: Tony Abbott and these Libs LIED before the election on the state of our economy (NO “budget emergency” and NO “debt crisis”),and Tony Abbott even admitted that he’s is a LIAR!


    I think the public are more of a problem than these Libs.They got us these Libs..

  27. John Lord

    I agree Douglas. Mark Kenny’s article throws up all sorts of theories, conclusions, conspiracies and analysis. Where does the signpost point ?

  28. Mike Wilkinson

    It seems that we all agree, that this government, this party need to be crushed, wiped off the political landscape of Australia.
    My concern is that the perception is that only one other party could form government. In my opinion Labor has drifted way to far to the right and if allowed to take government again because there is no other party they will have no reason to swing back to the left and become “Labor” again.
    I have voted labor all my life but no more. They need a shock, a metaphorical cattle prod to herd them back to labor values. Offshore processing of asylum seekers was the last straw for me.
    I think the shock that is required is for the Greens to become a much larger force in the house. I’m trying to imagine a house where Greens and Labor are equal in numbers and the Libs decimated. The bipartite system of government has let us down badly, a truly tripartite system would be interesting. A Green / Labor coalition to form government would be revolutionary, a Green government in its own right would be a miracle. It might be what is needed to shake things up and get us back on track.
    I’d be interested to hear others thoughts on this, so many here are politically astute and write admirably well.

  29. mars08

    Maybe Australia is the perfect democracy…

    “…As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    ~H. L. Mencken

  30. Yolz

    As i said on my FB post. Whoever voted for Abbot, you should be proud of yourselves (sarcasm)! He is now attacking the elderly..whats next? The disabled? Get rid of this jerk!

  31. Yolz

    *Abbott, see it shows how much i hate him! Misspelt his name! Lol

  32. Yolz

    Spellcheck American? I think!

  33. abbienoiraude

    Writings like John Lord, leading to comments by Kaye Lee and Anomander are reassuring and relieving.
    Reassuring in their clarity of truth of the way things are in our Government.
    Relieving in knowing I am not alone.

    I do know several people who ‘voted for Tony Abbott’ even though I told them they weren’t here. They were in fact voting for the National Party noddy who thus far has not answered my emails to him re ‘changes in pensions’. They are very quiet now, but still stick to the slogan of ‘debt and deficit mess’.

    I worry, though, if there were a DD election will the fear factor be just as enticing for those needed to vote for the LNP yet again? Will the hatred for all things ‘Labor’ ( the ‘unions/workers’) and Green (‘mad and bad and locking up forests’) still win? In the area where I live, I fear it would.

    Thank you all for giving me hope that others have the wherewithall to continue the good fight.
    I know of which you speak.
    I am slowly going through our very tight (DSP/Carer) budget to find savings so that we will hold onto our little home and pay the bills still. I can’t find many. I found $5 a month saving, but the internet is a must have for we in our little stay in contact with far flung children, to pay our bills online ( thereby saving petrol), and to contact services when and if needed.
    I hope you too will find the pennies to stay connected online for, like in the olden days when the phone was a necessity ( and our past Govt recognised it by giving pensioners a little supplement to help with its cost), so now is the internet.
    If I had the means I would pay for your connection to stay in tact. But then again, that is why I would never be ‘rich’ …I would always give away what I could.
    Good luck and know there are others like you out here.

  34. Trevor

    John Lord.
    So many sentiments describing the truth of this derelict, decietful, despotic, deliberate, Government of Deniers led by Abbott the three word sloganeering one dimensional deluded embarrasment of a PM

    I have not seen so many nails hammered home in the one article for some time. Thanks mate.

    And still the question remains of how do Australians rescue there Parliment( perhaps for the first time) from the present craven Political Classes.

    How do we enact a proper Particiatory Parlimentary Democracy where the polititians DO Not rule the Parliment.

    Where Political Parties no longer control the Parliment as through some right of Passage these politician Actually work under a system which makes them accountable to the Parliment and the Electorate.
    Export Abbott not Refugees

  35. John Kelly

    John, this is a comprehensive description of nearly 10 months of incompetence and deliberate deception. That someone had the audacity to suggest at the beginning that, “the adults were back in charge” is a testimony to everything that is backward and exclusive within the Liberal party and its support base.

  36. mars08

    John Lord:

    …We have a Prime Minister for undoing rather than doing. A person who has failed to represent us internationally. One who imbues on the Australian political scene a dour negativity when what we need is inspiration.

    And THAT is the true horror of Abbott’s legacy. He and his sleazy mob have set the bar so low that it’s almost certain the next PM (LNP or Labor) will be elected simply on the basis that they are not Tony Abbott. I fear that the electorate will grab at anything that is slightly less rancid than young Tony. So… a shift from the utterly rotten to the less rotten. That’s hardly cause for celebration, is it?

  37. corvus boreus

    Let me be perfectly clear with three simple words.
    Well done the strayan bogan sub-moronic lick-spittles who voted in this disaster, I honestly hope you are suffering even worse consequences than the rest of us.

  38. Dan Rowden

    For those who don’t get Labor emails blasts:

    It’s been a weird week in Parliament. There’s been lying about lying, gagging of gags and Warren Truss is Deputy Prime Minister. Here’s the #5and5 from Anything But the Budget Week.


    Bill Shorten really put Tony Abbott under the spotlight during every Question Time this week. Day after day Bill asked the PM questions he just couldn’t answer. The reality is, all of Tony Abbott’s broken promises and lies are in his own budget papers and no matter how hard he tries, the PM can’t run away from them.

    Early on Tuesday morning great news came out of Doha. The World Heritage Committee rejected Tony Abbott’s attempt to delist 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian wilderness from the World Heritage List. In just seven minutes the World Heritage Committee threw the proposal out, with one member calling it “feeble”.

    Labor MPs made sure Tony Abbott didn’t get away with his cost of living argument this week. In speech after speech Labor MPs stood up to Tony Abbott’s $6000 cut to families, $4000 cut to pensioners and $1600 cut to self-funded retirees. Tony Abbott can’t keep claiming he’s cutting cost of living for families, while at the same time taking thousands of dollars off struggling families in his budget.

    Anthony Albanese won his seven month infrastructure battle with the Government this week, forcing it to undertake cost-benefit analyses on major infrastructure projects. It took 29 amendments to make it happen, and now hopefully Albo will stop drawing on whiteboards and making train noises.
    Finally, on Monday Wayne Swan got so sick of Tony Abbott lying and then lying about lying that he got himself kicked out of Parliament. When asked to withdraw calling Tony Abbott a liar by the Speaker, Swanny replied: “I withdraw, but he’s still a liar.” This got him booted out for a mandatory 24 hours.

    Freedom of the press suffered a serious blow this week when an Egyptian court handed down a seven year sentence to Australian journalist Peter Greste. In the hours following the sentence it was good to see all sides of politics and the media coming together in support of Peter, a respected journalist who was simply doing his job. Our thoughts are with the Greste family during this difficult time.

    Last week Tony Abbott said he wouldn’t cut cleaners’ pay and working conditions. This week the Government introduced legislation that did just that. Labor amended the legislation to protect cleaners and the Government caved in. What the Government hid from the Parliament was that Eric Abetz was secretly finding another way to make his cuts. This fight isn’t over.
    The government moved more than ten gag motions this week to stop MPs from debating parts of the budget. Given that even the Ministers keep getting details wrong, I’m still not sure whether the Government’s priority was to try to shut Labor up or avoid the embarrassment of having its own people speak. The classic was the “Direct Action” policy debate, which was shut down after only one Government backbencher had spoken.

    How much will Tony Abbott’s unfair budget cost an average single-income family with two kids? At the same time Tony Abbott is claiming a win for cost of living, he’s hitting families by up to $6000. It was just odd seeing Tony Abbott try to complain about cost of living issues without it actually clicking in his head that the pain he’s inflicting is around 10 times greater than even his claims.
    For years now there’s been two visa classes for people to have their parents join them from overseas. One has a long waiting period and a standard visa fee, the other has a short waiting period but costs more than $50,000. The Government has abolished new applications for the affordable visa. So now if you can’t afford $50,000 you can’t have your parents join you. There’s more on this to come.

    The House of Reps isn’t sitting for the next fortnight, so the #5and5 will be back in two weeks.

    ‘til then,

    Tony [Burke]

  39. Barry Tucker

    The worst possible solution is to re-elect a Labor government. It will re-install what Abbott has undone, it will eventually get tossed out, the Libs will get back in and the whole silly circus will repeat itself, ad infinitum …

    I am trying to interest people in another solution: The Third Party, not unlike the Aust Democrats, a middle-of-the-road party to genuinely govern for all interests, not sections.

    For more information: The Third Party’s beliefs and core values

  40. wam moir

    good one dan clive’s assessment of the rabbott as a ‘good bloke’ reminds me of gerry harvey;’s ‘abbutt is a good bloke gillard is not a good bloke’.
    Sadly it is surely gillard’s miscalculation to not follow up misogyny, rudd’s ego and shorten’s capitulation that gave us such a frightened amoral christian whose ignorance is an advantage for the lobbyists, whose fear of research validates his beliefs relating to ‘dole bludging’, ‘pensioner going to the doctor when mildly unwell rather than ‘serious ailment’ and the poor buying smokes (not cigars) and alcohol, at the pokies, whose lack of internet understanding results in copper, whose ability to believes his true lies and his difficulty with language has make him a laughing stock in the non controlled media missing in Australia but found overseas.
    Can anyone imagine the ABC doing “Abbott on your bike”????? But what a laugh that would be!!!!!!

  41. Andrew Chambers

    OK we spend endless hours confirming the fact that Tony and the vanguard of the newly ignorant, righteous and demented are running our country into the ground.
    When will it be enough?
    How many more of these dangerous and deluded people do we have to have in charge of our destiny, our country?
    We do not live in a democracy, because if we did the wise, wonderful, witty people here (of all disposition) would be discussing the matter at hand, deliberating and ultimately deciding an outcome. Simply done, cheaply done, quickly done and the best part of it all is it’s open and transparent. All you need is the agreed mandate; resident, +18 and the means to vote.
    Given the enormous democratic freedom of our dollars, I’d be going down that path as goodness knows we need some reason to keep banks and for better or worse their reach is now universal, there’s really no way you can function without a bank account in our contemporary society.
    So let’s harness it, move on from our infantile desire to be “led” and take up the honor and responsibility of democratic choice on every and all issues while turning over the management of our governments to the very best and well paid candidates we can.
    It’s a no brainer people, parliament only ever came into being because the forum grew too big, we now live in the world of mass communications, instant and ubiquitous (there are still plenty of free access points if you really try {but not forever if we leave these vultures in power}).
    WE do not live in a democracy, but we can

  42. Phil

    His head is very punchable.

  43. Lucy Donoghue

    An excellent article. After nearly a year this LNP government has done nothing to assist the poorest – the nearly a million on Newstart which is 40% below the poverty line and hasn’t had a real increase in 20 years. Those who can’t get work have to live on this. They’re still waiting for Abbott’s promised million new jobs. As well 60,000 single parents and their children in poverty on Newstart. Real, terrible poverty in Australia, the go hungry homeless sort. It’s appalling that urgent assistance hasn’t been given to these groups. Fancy a government reducing tens of thousands of its own children to poverty. I’m profoundly sorry that I had to see this in my lifetime.

  44. Trisha

    Great article. Only one point on which I disagree. People are more engaged than ever. The lying, cheating and stealing that this government is involved in has angered ordinary (usually complacent) Australians to the point of action.

  45. Dan Rowden


    […]a middle-of-the-road party to genuinely govern for all interests, not sections.

    In what sense it is possible to govern for interests that are inherently in direct competition?

  46. Dan Rowden


    An excellent article. After nearly a year this LNP government has done nothing to assist the poorest – the nearly a million on Newstart which is 40% below the poverty line and hasn’t had a real increase in 20 years.

    True enough, but for how many of those years was a Labor Government in a place of power to effect change? The political “crime” in relation to such matters does not rest with the Coalition, but with Labor.

  47. Andrew Chambers

    Hi Dan,

    “In what sense it is possible to govern for interests that are inherently in direct competition?”

    Isn’t every issue that needs to be decided a competition between those that agree with proposition and those that don’t?
    A democratic decision, 50%+1 decides the matter. So long as we survive the decision there’s no wrong choice because good government comes from a happy minority, and they’ll stay that way as long as things don’t get any worse.

    In a democracy the decision is never final and it’s easy enough to fix a mistake, you just vote again.

    What he have now doesn’t make for good government. Neither party is attached or attentive to the majority of this nation. Power and control is just too big a business to let justice, fairness and honesty get in the way. It’s very much the time to realise that this is an outmoded way of conducting business. That it is very detrimental to the economy, to society and, currently, everything if the brutes from LNP central have their way.

    Australia is so much better than the leaders we’ve had to choose, so why keep just making the same choice with a different coloured pen?

    In a country that can vote by the hundreds of thousands for a chef or an entertainer surely we can get it together and turn this shambles into nation we can be proud of? (and i do trust that the vast majority of Australians are actually good hearted people.)

    So long winded, I know, but where you see adversity I see opportunity and a chance at freedom. It’s a choice we have to make and I realise that the world will be a different place without a circus at the centre of our media.

    You just wanted to balance the argument, yep, Labor is just as bad. End of that story.

    Time to evolve.

    We do not live in a democracy, but we can.

    Have a good one.

  48. John Armour

    Whilst everyone acknowledges the need for fiscal responsibility…

    You probably dismissed my earlier question as a puzzling nit-pik at a self-evident truth.

    It was however anything but, as it goes to the core of your analysis of Abbott’s approaching first year in office: the question of how he got elected.

    One of the reasons Labor lost lost so badly was the widespread belief that it had left us with a fiscal mess and a huge debt that the nation would have to pay back.

    The Abbott opposition was able to get away with this by exploiting a deeply ingrained belief, a “self-evident truth”, that government has to be “fiscally responsible”.

    The actual truth is, “fiscal responsibility” is a meaningless term in the context of a government that is sovereign in its own currency, as Australia is. The government has no fiscal constraints. Various neo-liberal economists have attempted to quantify “fiscal responsibility”and identify the threshhold of catastrophe, when the stock of deficits, the debt, becomes unsustainable.

    It’s a fool’s errand because, armed with a knowledge of how the monetary system actually works, it is obvious that it is as pointless as the search for an un-holy grail. It doesn’t exist.

    You correctly point out that commentatrors have dismissed the notion that we have a fiscal crisis, but that’s based on an equally false premise that the debt is not a problem because it’s small. The “self-evident truth” is still there, like a pile of smoldering embers the RFS neglected to extinguish after a bush fire, to flare up again at the first puff of political opportunism.

    We can play semantics and extend the notion of fiscal responsibility to perhaps include notions of “waste”, but fiscal responsibility is a term exclusively used in the context of the size of deficits. And it was Labor’s deficit/debt that did it in, in the hands of a basically ignorant electorate.

    What do you think would be the consequences for an Abbott-style government that had nothing to offer but a scare campaign based on an a lie if say 10% of the electorate, that component with no rusted-on tribal loyalties, knew that the whole notion of “fiscal responsibility” was a nonsense ?

    Everybody knows that Abbott lies, but the biggest lie of all flies under the radar.

    Apart from that, I really enjoyed your article.

  49. Doug Evans

    Andrew Chambers
    Unfortunately the Australian electoral system is heavily weighted towards retaining the dominance of ALP and L+NP. The combination of mandatory voting and mandatory distribution of preferences means that in the Federal Lower House irrespective of whether you voted for one of the ‘old’ parties or not your vote will in almost all cases end up allocated to one or the other of them. This means for example that by agreement between the coalition partners it is possible for the National Party which got 4.29% of the vote to hold nine seats while The Greens with 8.65% of the vote only elected one representative to the Lower House. With 45.55% of the vote the Coalition took 60% of the Seats in the Lower House while Labor with 33.38% captured 36.66% of the seats. To illustrate just how heavily the system is weighted against alternatives to the ‘old parties’ The Greens with 8.65% of the vote got 0.66% of the seats. PUP with 5.49% of the vote got 0.66%, Katter with 1.04% of the vote got 0.66% and independents with 1.38% of the vote got 1.32%. Total non ALP-non L+NP vote 16.56%. Total non ALP-non L+NP seats 3.33%. A breakdown of seats reflecting the breakdown of votes would have been as follows: L+NP 68 seats, ALP 55 seats, Greens 13 seats, PUP 8 seats, Others 6 seats.

    These figures show just how biased our electoral system is towards the ‘old’ parties whose decline is at the heart of our electoral crisis. Proportional representation like we have in the senate and/or optional distribution of preferences would help but unfortunately the only people who can change the system to make it fairer are those who currently benefit from its bias. So this won’t change. For this reason I think that inventing new micro-parties as Barry Tucker advocates above is a complete waste of time and energy. The obstacle to reform does not lie in manifestos or policy platforms but in the electoral machinery that distributes power.

  50. RalphG

    <"The actual truth is, “fiscal responsibility” is a meaningless term in the context of a government that is sovereign in its own currency, as Australia is. The government has no fiscal constraints."

    I’m going to play the Devil’s advocate here.

    Just because the government has a virtually limitless supply of Australian dollars it doesn’t mean that it should attempt to spend them all. The government could increase the old-age pension to $1,000,000 per year but would this be responsible in a fiscal sense?

    One of Joe Hockey’s favourtite sayings is “we must learn to live within our means”. This too could be dismissed as being a meaningless statement but as a nation we don’t have unlimited means. The government is limited to the resources that are available and what is for sale in the currency that it issues but I don’t think that’s what Joe had in mind.

    The thing about both statements is that while they can, and perhaps do, have meaning, they are usually rendered meaningless because of a lack of understanding of what the real limits are.

  51. Kaye Lee

    What I take from this whole exercise is that decisions should be made on the basis of prioritising resource allocation (real resources like materials and labour) to deliver the society we want. Money is really just a construct and the dollar cost to the government of anything is basically irrelevant (within sane limits eg the million dollar pension which would have an inflationary effect).

    Transferring debt to the private sector makes it harder to control. Private companies can go bankrupt. Private companies also have an obligation to maximise profit with one easy way to do that by avoiding taxes as we have just seen with mining company Glencore making a $15 billion profit and paying no tax through aggressive avoidance measures whilst taking advantage of the billions in subsidies handed out by the government.

    Privatisation leads to cutting of unprofitable services, reduced revenue to the government from profitable assets, and a worsening of income inequality as big companies maximise revenue to shareholders rather than the government distributing profits for the common good.

    I have grown to detest the word surplus.

  52. Monique

    I agree with all the points John Lord made except that, “so many Australians have disengaged from politics”. I get the impression this government and its budget have motivated people to rail and rally in protest against them. There are anti-government websites, facebook pages, open letters and organised marches the like of which I suspect we’ve never seen before.

  53. RalphG

    Kaye Lee, old habits indeed do die hard.

    “Money is really just a construct and the dollar cost to the government of anything is basically irrelevant”

    “Privatisation leads to cutting of unprofitable services, reduced revenue to the government from profitable assets”

    In a fiat money system, the term “revenue” has no meaning for the issuer of the currency.

  54. abbienoiraude

    @Andrew Chambers:

    “…because good government comes from a happy minority, and they’ll stay that way as long as things don’t get any worse.”

    Soppy as it seems ( for under this Govt the stress is personal for me) I nearly cried at that statement.

    I wonder if it’s possible to get to that point? Maybe as I have previously written “Leadership” is what is missing. Leadership ( as with being a dog’s pack leader, or a horses partner) comes with calm assertiveness. It is not bullying, or forcing, or threatening, or making the ‘followers’ fearful. Those who follow through fear are like women in abusive relationships. They are always looking for a way out and one day they will run or turn on you. Leadership is a true sense of trust and respect. You don’t have to like the ‘leader’ as such, buy you sure as hell have to trust that they have your best interests at heart.

    Abbott is missing in action on all fronts. He is not a leader, not a trustworthy person, and cannot be respected. That has to be earned…that is why we voters can watch those other ‘leaders’ in opposition and see if we can trust and respect. If not then democracy becomes weakened and wasted.

  55. mars08

    John Lord’s last para:

    In short they are a government bogged down trying to justify an ultra-right wing political ideology to an electorate whose only desire is for government for the common good.

    Oh really?

    Seems to me that short-term self-interest is the main motivation. Howard maintained his supporter’s loyalty by keeping them content and comfortable. He pandered to their bigotry and provided them with the illusion of material wealth. When Howard wavered from that illusion of affluence and “threatened” their comfort… the electorate turned on him.

    I put it to you that huge slabs of voters don’t give a damn about the common good. If this government had been more cautious and attacked only a few vulnerable, powerless groups in the budget (rather than their blitzkrieg assault)… they would have cruised through.

  56. John Armour

    The thing about both statements is that while they can, and perhaps do, have meaning, they are usually rendered meaningless because of a lack of understanding of what the real limits are.

    That’s quite true Ralph. It’s also got to do with context. We know that Hockey isn’t talking about the more sophisticated concept of real resources. He only ever talks about “taxpayer’s dollars”.

    Oddly, about an hour earlier I was making this exact point about real resources vs financial resources on Kaye Lees article The Truth Trashers.

  57. John Armour

    I have grown to detest the word surplus.

    The Ministry of Truth won’t be pleased to hear that, Kaye Lee.

    Off to the re-education facility for you I’m afraid.

  58. Kaye Lee


    The funny part is that I do much better when I educate myself (from reliable sources). I failed chemistry two years in a row at university. I later did it correspondence in the days before online (giving up my holidays to do the prac work) and I got 100% in the exam. I like to read and organise the information in the way that suits my brain.

  59. Andrew Chambers

    Hi Doug Evans,
    Couldn’t agree with you more. The system is inherently biased toward dominance by the two parties, for the two parties.
    There’s a fundamental crisis within our system of representative government, it, to a greater extent, isn’t.
    There are exceptions and this goes to abbienoiraude’s point on leadership. People like Nick Zenephon demonstrate that there are leaders who do to their best according to their ability and resource to represent the electorate and the people the serve.
    Our issue is one simply of taking back democratic control of the means of government so that we can support the good and the wise..
    We have the mechanisms, every communication innovation since the telegraph has been heralded as a path back toward the democratic right to receive information then to act upon a right of reply, vote.
    What we have is not an evolutionary step forward merely a technological fix for times when the forum’s only way of function was through the written and spoken word delivered by hand or horse.
    We concede our right to vote on every issue as the bargain for representation. It’s no god given right to be a politician. There is no degree course or educational achievement required, you can nominate for the cost of the process.
    So how is it not possible for you and I to sit at our computer, watch TV, listen to radio, read our paper and talk with our friends and not be able to join the conversation?
    I listen to the individual wisdom and brilliance of strangers every day. There’s no problem we can’t fix if left unhindered.
    Imagine if you can, for a moment, a public service department headed by someone we choose every three years. Norman Swan as the Director for Health? I’ll let you add your dream team of nominees for department heads.
    Then we might just get the leadership we need and deserve, someone we can either support or remove (should they turn out to be Tony Abbot or any other egomaniac more intent on their prestige than the well being of the nation)
    It’s really pretty simple. 55 cents a vote and we could have a live and interactive system of government, democracy, as old as Greece and as contemporary as today. The promise I grew up with, knowing always that the representative sham was only ever a fix until the forum was reborn.
    It is, so let’s consider that as a possibility rather than consign ourselves fatalistically to the certainty that we have government by dumb and dumber.
    This isn’t about revolutionary acts, this is evolution and return to a greater state of being.
    WE do not live in a democracy, but we can.
    Thanks for your time and considerations, enjoy your weekend.

  60. greg toland

    I would like to think that People out there agree with our sentiments about One Term Two faced Tony , You have to acknowledge what a Brazen Liar He has Proven to be Time and Time again, All our Comments about Him would Be Looked at and Yet He Carries on as If Some People think he is a Good Guy , I have not witnessed one Person say anything Good about Him and that includes Murdoch . The Best we can do is to Highlight His gross Incompetence on all matters and that Includes calling The Socceroo captain “Mike” instead of “Mile” But that’s small potatoes Palmer is crowing about Making a Deal with Him , REALLY How can anyone Trust this Man with his Incredible track record of Deceit , Then again maybe Palmer Can’t be trusted either, My Tip is Morrisons next Move will be Gunboats and No one needs to Know about the Casualtys . Seriously we are witnessing the Worst PM and Government in our Lifetime , Keep On Complaining

  61. John Lord

    John Armour. Thanks for all your comments. Digesting them all. I used the term fiscal responsibility as in meaning “good economic management” which I think would be most peoples understanding.

  62. Kaye Lee

    I agree that the collective wisdom I hear every day is awesome. We have…or should I say HAD…. advisory bodies that have done great work in informing us of social problems and how to address them now and prepare for the future. I also hear people with imagination combined with practicality who suggest reforms that seem so sensible. I read what our scientists are doing and I am amazed with the possibilities.

    And we are being constrained by ignorant people with no imagination, no empathy, no vision, no understanding, no integrity. We can and must do so much better.

  63. abbienoiraude

    Someone asked who are the people who support, enjoy and laud Abbott.
    I couldn’t find many but when visiting “The Drum” to read a piece ( I don’t often go there), I read the comments section and with it came the slap in the face with a wet fish experience of a Abbott love-in. It was gobsmacking in its ignorance and depressing in its consistency.
    There they are, out and loud and proud and very wrong…how to educate those particular voters??

  64. Barry Tucker

    Strangely, Doug Evans argues against his own argument. Of course the two major parties will not reform the system or make it fairer because that would disadvantage them. The only way to get change is for minor parties to force their way to the top, either by themselves or in a coalition of like minds.

    Evans overlooks the fact that the Australian Democrats introduced and amended a lot of legislation (look up their legislative history on their website) and could have forced changes to the system if they had chosen to.

    Minor parties have made and continue to make a difference to the sharing of power. The influence of the Greens and PUP is growing. Who knows what may happen in the future?

    The fact is, our chaotic system of government by ideological flip-flops is not going to end until some party with guts forces through the necessary changes.

  65. Ray Butler

    I understand the need for secrecy and even lies around matters of National Security and military plans and tech, it isn’t so much that the people cannot be trusted to deal with it appropriately but more that enemies can exploit the information to our detriment. But can happen is a case of leaders not trusting the ability of the people to rationalise required action; if people need to do something but telling the full truth about it may slow the process down or even stop it, then for their own sake you lie to them.

    But by way of substantial observation and logical deduction I do not think that is the case with Abbott; in his case he knows the direction he has for the country isn’t in the best interests of the planet or the people, most of his policies serve the economic elite in some way or another, where he justifies that fact by telling us it is all to strengthen the economy, but in reality a strong economy is redundant if social progress and environmental sustainability isn’t the focus of that benefit.

    So lies are fine if you can rationalise their intent, but when intent is anything short of the best interests of the people across the board that is where a leader breaks trust.

  66. Mike Wilkinson

    Andrew, wouldn’t it be lovely to have the ancient Athenian practice of ostracism available to us as well? 🙂
    Though it might have meant Julia in the wilderness 4 years ago I bet Abbott, Morrison et al wouldn’t have been long joining her 😉

  67. mars08

    So lies are fine if you can rationalise their intent, but when intent is anything short of the best interests of the people across the board that is where a leader breaks trust.

    So… tell me… who gets to decide what is in “the best interests of the people across the board”? And at what point do these lies become a vital part of the democratic process?

  68. RalphG

    “I used the term fiscal responsibility as in meaning “good economic management” which I think would be most peoples understanding.”

    So “fiscal responsibility” equals “good economic management”. Sorry John but you have merely exchanged one undefined term for another and in the process assumed that most people understand what you mean by either one.

    I’ll hazard a guess and say most people understand that fiscal responsibility and good economic management means that the government should get the budget back into surplus and learn to live within it means.

    The problem is that “most people” are not always right.

  69. John Armour


    I’d like to have seen some engagement (in your ‘beliefs and core values’ document) with the sorts of issues John Kelly has been wrestling with here over the last week in his 2 articles “Do Taxes Fund Spending” and “The Ridiculous Debt and Deficit Scam”.

    Failing to do this just hobbles you to the same neo-liberal ball and chain all the other parties seem to enjoy dragging around.

    Without the heavy artillery that Modern Monetary Theory gives you, your best-laid-plans will be shot down in flames for want of funding: “where’s the money going to come from ?”

    Australians will be encouraged to SAVE MONEY. Reasons why they cannot save will be examined and addressed where possible

    An understanding of MMT would’ve had you deleting these lines from your platform, unless you meant saving to pay down household debt. MMT would’ve also explained how private sector saving is made possible: through deficits, and only through deficits.

    Have you ever heard of the Paradox of Thrift ? Perhaps you believe saving provides the resources for investment. It doesn’t. It’s the other way around. Saving is a two edged sword.

    Perhaps also, if you were to engage with MMT, you’d be less enthusiastic about encouraging people to take out private medical insurance.

  70. Andrew Chambers

    Hi Mike,
    and a functioning International Court of Justice. To hold the likes of Howodd, Gush and Bliar accountable for the disaster they’ve wrought on our world.
    The libs aren’t at all responsible for the consequences of war, boat people, instead they inflict inhumanity on the victims. Congratulations Australia we are now world class sadistic bullies, courtesy of a government that “represents” us?
    Not in my name

  71. Dan Rowden

    John and Ralph,

    Can you point to the equivalent of a “MMT for Dummies”? When it comes to economics I’m of the view that it’s virtually impossible to put two economists in the same room and get agreement. There appears to be extremely well credentialed opponents of MMT. How is the average person who has no training in the smoke and mirrors chaos that constitutes economics, supposed to know who’s full of shit and who isn’t?

  72. Mike Wilkinson

    Nor in mine!

  73. John Armour

    You might find this helpful:

    Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

    And this is really funny:

    Real Dollars and Funny Money

    If you want a generous helping of political snark and local context (as I do) with your MMT then you can’t go past Bill Mitchell’s blog.

    This is a good place to start:

    Deficit Spending 101

  74. RalphG

    In addition to the references provided by John there is also Warren Mosler’s
    The Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds Of Economic Policy

    For some reason the “Real Dollars and Funny Money” link gives a “Page Not Found” error. The site itself looks to be a really good resource. Thanks John!

  75. Bacchus

    “Real Dollars and Funny Money” link gives a “Page Not Found” error.

    The last ‘l’ is missing from the URL Ralph – try:

    Real Dollars and Funny Money

  76. John Lord

    Ralph G

    Since 1945, significant budget surpluses have been achieved only rarely: once by Ben Chifley, three times by Bob Hawke, and eight times by John Howard, who shared another with Rudd, who was elected during the 2007-08 fiscal year. That is, the Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon and Fraser governments managed only a few, small surpluses. So much for Fiscal management.

  77. Doug Evans

    Andrew Chambers
    “Our issue is one simply of taking back democratic control of the means of government so that we can support the good and the wise..”
    Nothing about this proposition sounds simple to me. How is this to be achieved?
    “We have the mechanisms, every communication innovation since the telegraph has been heralded as a path back toward the democratic right to receive information then to act upon a right of reply, vote.”
    Seems to me we have the technology but the mechanisms (electoral rules, regulations and structures) we need to employ this technology in pursuit of ‘taking back democratic control of the means of government are either lacking or set up to hinder (not help) this ambition.
    “So how is it not possible for you and I to sit at our computer, watch TV, listen to radio, read our paper and talk with our friends and not be able to join the conversation?”
    We can, and do but as we both know joining the conversation is not enough. People like you and I ‘join the conversation’ every day (with each other) but those in power (and our fellow citizens who need to be convinced) are not listening.
    Despite what you say there is no mechanism available to us to force any of them to take notice.
    We both know that the electoral system is structured to maximize the likelihood of the two ‘old’ parties retaining their power duopoly.
    This minimizes the possibilities for minor parties to establish themselves and begin to gain traction.
    We both know that the existing power duopoly controls changes to the electoral system which can only be made via legislation (which needs a majority in the house) or by government regulation.
    We both know that neither ALP nor L+NP will support changes that would dilute their hold on power.
    “This isn’t about revolutionary acts, this is evolution…”
    Sorry Andrew but ‘revolutionary acts’ are about the only possible path towards driving change on any useful timescale.
    We certainly don’t have time to wait for ‘evolution’.

  78. Doug Evans

    Barry Tucker
    I understand why you commented as you did. I should have refrained from commenting on formation of micro-parties. I can see I need to explain myself a bit better. To me the crucial issue here is time. I come to this discussion from a background of six years of climate change activism. From my perspective the time it takes to drive change is paramount. I don’t need to say anything more about this in relation to global warming. Everyone here understands the need for urgent action there. The same urgency applies to a wide range of environmental parameters to our continued existence and thriving in addition to the climate crisis. For example water supply and quality, air quality, the proliferation of toxic chemicals in the environment and food chain, soil degradation/loss of productive land. Gross over fishing leading to the depletion and destruction of aquatic ecosystems etc etc. Within two or three decades (I suspect within the lifetime of my forty year old son) any or all of these will become critical. The form and disposition of our cities, the nature of our transportation infrastructure and our agricultural production systems all bear strongly on our ability to deal with the challenges ahead. I spent six years writing weekly about all of the above and feel I have some grasp of what lies ahead and the need for urgent change in respect of these issues. I have only rudimentary knowledge of economics but I understand something of the relationship between the current neo-liberal fetishism and the rapidly widening inequality gaps worldwide and I suspect the same urgency applies in respect of major economic change also.

    That’s enough to illustrate my point. Simply put – TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE – there is not a moment to lose. Now let’s focus on Australia, our tired cynical and corrupt power duopoly and the severely biased electoral system we saddled ourselves with in (I guess) 1901. Remembering that time is precious consider the struggle that The Greens have had first to become established then to begin to wield power. How many decades has this taken? Do you think you will somehow do it more quickly? Really? In light of all of the above how do you justify re-inventing the wheel (yet again) in the knowledge that it will almost certainly be at least a decade before any of the really excellent policies that I’m sure your program embodies even get to be heard (let alone effect any change) in any elected assembly. Think of the myriad of micro-parties Sex Party, Pirates, Socialist Alliance, Adrian Whitehead’s Climate Party, The Democrats and so on. If you really feel the urge to engage join the Party that best fits your aspirations, roll your sleeves up and get on with it. We don’t have the luxury of the time required for the alternative you suggest.

  79. darrel nay

    Even at the family level, if decisions are made democratically, the minority will be disenfranchised. We are taught that a policy supported by 51% of the people is worth implementing. Surely if 49% of people disagree then disharmony will ensue. It has been said that democracy is two wolves and a sheep sitting down for dinner. I think consensus is the way forward. Some will say that this is a recipe for stagnation but I would suggest that we have lost the skills to identify and reach agreement. I would argue that we need to find leaders who are adept at finding the middle-ground rather than leaders who continually act against the will of so many of their fellow Australians. The thing about consensus is that it breeds consensus – wouldn’t it be awesome if we didn’t have to spend so much time being consumed by the Hegellian Dialectic. Governments were instituted by the people and so they need to serve the people – not just most of the people.

  80. John Armour

    That is, the Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon and Fraser governments managed only a few, small surpluses. So much for Fiscal management

    I’ve been looking for the irony John, but I think you really mean it !

  81. Kaye Lee

    john lord,

    The thing we have to get our head around is that surpluses are just a word – an accounting term that is not a desirable goal within itself. Surpluses happen sometimes but they are not something to aim fiscal policy towards. “Fiscal management” has nothing to do with surpluses except in a populist way.

  82. corvus boreus

    Nod just a nod but a bow for the clarity of your posts.
    For your thoughts at 6:29, the first thing I intuitively leap to is an independent commision of inquiry with frames of reference to enable prosecition of the illegal and spotlight the unethical with recommendations for reform. Just the exposure of the levels of distortion of the electorates wishes and corruption of the legislative processes, as well as the personal enrichment might light a general societal bonfire for positive reform.
    Re your 7:17 post, with regard to the state of the oceans, especially the Pacific, there is also the factor of the influx of particulate plastics into the oceanic life. From “nano micro-beads” in cosmetics,through shopping bags to chemical drums and such, it is both a serious source of physical pollution for pelagic life, particularly those with lungs and gills, and a chemical influx that turns to carbonic acid, bad for almost all life.
    Add to this the liquid petrochemicals, and metals and gross nutrient entering the benthic layer, particularly the continental shelves.
    Sorry if I intensify any worry or negativity, it’s just thoughts of another reason for urgent change at many levels of mutual human existence on this living planet.
    Positive projections for you and those around you.

  83. Kaye Lee

    Here is what I see to be our next goal. I am a teacher and I have long despaired about various different group’s ability to pass their message on…to teach others at a level they can comprehend. Many of my family are teachers and we watched in pain during the election campaign. They pay millions to advertising people…they should ask teachers how to frame the message. We know how to get teenagers to understand stuff at a period of their life when everything is happening and lots of things are more fun than maths.

    Here’s my take on the message. We should decide on the society we want with protection for our vulnerable, encouragement for our young, and dignity for our elderly. For all groups, we must strive to offer choices – we are all capable of different things. After we agree on that (in broad terms) we work towards achieving it. It is far easier to have control over government actions than private enterprise so we have public ownership of utilities and essential services and regulations to control corporate greed.

    The only cost consideration about anything is the physical resources of materials and labour so we need the experts to tell us how best to utilise these finite resources.

    Forget governments and money and budgets and accounting terms. Decide the society we want and we can work out how to do it.

  84. RalphG

    John Lord, I am unable to discern what you meant by “So much for Fiscal management”.

    Perhaps you misunderstood what I meant or maybe I just wasn’t clear enough. So to clarify: I do not believe that a budget surplus should be the goal of the government.

  85. John Lord

    Sorry Ralph. Yes we are both on the same page. My apologies.

  86. John Armour

    Sorry Ralph. Yes we are both on the same page. My apologies.

    Well I’m glad about that John. Looks like I misunderstood too.

    I was just about to start an essay on the sectoral balances that would’ve taken me way past my bedtime!

    Because Australia rarely runs an external surplus (last one was when Gough was PM) the budget should always be in deficit. Under these circumstances the only other reason for a surplus is if the household sector spends more than it earns, that is, goes into debt.

    That’s what happened in the Howard years.

    Also (under these circumstances…external deficits) a surplus always presages a recession. The inevitable Howard recession was buried by the GFC and Rudd’s brilliant intervention. Just a pity Labor didn’t have the guts to follow through and ignore the ignorant taunts from the LNP.

  87. RalphG

    Mobius, maybe that’s so that he can be told what to say!

  88. RalphG

    John Lord, no apologies necessary and thank you for clarifying.

  89. Möbius Ecko

    RalphG PC is Peter Credlin, our real PM. And that’s exactly what the earpiece is for. Abbott cannot be trusted not to brain fart or put his foot into it so must be micromanaged every step of the way.

  90. abbienoiraude

    Jesus, John Amour, ( accepting that I will, as usual, be ignored, overlooked for the more clever men on the thread) I have to say I have waited a handful of years to hear, read, these words.
    Thank you.

    ” The inevitable Howard recession was buried by the GFC and Rudd’s brilliant intervention. Just a pity Labor didn’t have the guts to follow through and ignore the ignorant taunts from the LNP.”

    (May I add, ‘ignore the ignorant taunts from within the Labor Party itself as well…with the help of the MSM aka Murdoch”).


  91. corvus boreus

    Please, accept that this man, although not claiming to be clever, never ignores or overlooks your comments, although I often do not acknowledge the wisdom of your words, which very often exceed my own capacity.
    Time constraints and reluctance to dominate the forum sometimes restrain responses.
    Your soundness of heart and mind, and your truth of intention, always ring through in your comments.
    Respect and regards.

  92. Ray Butler

    Mars08 That’s the thing; Democracy isn’t all that great on its own, people who have no idea of what practicality and efficiency are will vote for ridiculous things, you need some kind of process in the formulation of options, a balance of ethical and economical. Who decides this? Currently if you are rich enough you decide the direction of humanity, experts and peer review be damned, I think a third grader can do a better job at the moral direction of humanity than those of economic ambition.

  93. Ray Butler

    But I do think the formulation of options can be done in a more Democratic way; with the current level of communications technology, as far as online media and social forums, what the government and their private sector puppet masters don’t want us to know is how far we can expand the potential of Democracy.

    The Republic style government basically stands as an appeaser between Democratic society and Capitalist society, the People and the Wealth, but as it is, and pretty much has always been, the wealth really runs the show, and previously this has been due to the inherent impracticality of Democracy, communications were never before good enough for people spread far and wide to really get involved in the development of solutions, and this has served the Capitalist society well because an entire country of people working on ideas is impossible to adequately influence toward their agenda, but a few big-wigs down in Canberra however…

  94. John Lord

    Ralph G
    Further explanation. My comment about the surpluses should not have contained the last sentence. I had cut it from an exchange I was having with someone else on another blog who was arguing that the LNP delivered regular surpluses. We are indeed as one on the matter.

  95. John Armour

    Thanks Abbie, I enjoyed saying that.

    With enthusiastic endorsement of corvus’ sentiments.

  96. Margaret-Rose Stringer

    @ abbienoiraude
    They are not for educating: they are rusted-on Liberal supporters to whom nothing makes a difference and anyone attempting detailed, rational arguments is met with a barrage of mindless invective.
    You can’t make headway against that kind of weather.

  97. Mike Wilkinson

    “We can, and do but as we both know joining the conversation is not enough. People like you and I ‘join the conversation’ every day (with each other) but those in power (and our fellow citizens who need to be convinced) are not listening.”

    I think the problem here is that for the vast majority of people economics cannot be made entertaining” :/ In todays society unless it is entertaining people tune out.

  98. Andrew Chambers

    Hi Doug and Mike,

    I’m in some agreement on all your points in response.

    The political duopoly has a firm grasp on the reins of power but it is contestable.

    Revolution will never work, just look around you. The relationship between Government and Police has become entwined in dependency, similarly the Armed Forces. To go up against the guys with guns is a no win situation. Had the Russian evolution gone that way we’d still be commemorating a series of slaughters with the tyrants or someone from the armed forces in charge.

    Their only mandate for parliamentary power is one based on the inability of the forum (nation / electorate) to be informed, to hold discussion, deliberate, then vote to decide any given matter. We rightly have democratic aspirations beyond a parliament.

    Your point on that body having to disband itself is also true and it is achievable. A possible path forward is to elect a series of independent candidates who are simply a representative from the electorate. Independent business franchisees hosting a forum like this, subjects across all the areas of current debate and a poll for each.

    You simply make a choice after the allotted time, 30 days?, spend 55c and make a deposit to your representative, Yes account or No account, the one with the biggest balance is the choice carried by the representative to the house.

    No mandate other than to be there to receive the vote after dissipating as much information into an organised forum as possible. One vote like everybody else. Nothing special, just a job that, unlike our current political class, earns a living directly out of delivering good government, 55c a time.

    As to Mike’s point about making Economics interesting (it is because without it society ends as we know it…), seriously, there are likely to be hundreds of subjects so dry and esoteric only a few percent of the population will ever be interested. Democracy is a numbers game, any vote will have a random number of participants but what always remains consist is the ratio of 50%+1, a majority of any poll carries the issue. That’s the beauty of democracy; it always delivers a result and there will always be consequence. Apathy, disinterest whatever it is that keeps people dumb and silent is a choice also, with consequence. Sometimes it’ll be bad, like choosing Abbot and the LNP, and as it gets worse, the angrier and more purposeful people are likely to become, pushing forth another poll.

    So really it doesn’t matter how dry the economics, or evasive and so full of bullshit as the national security and surveillance legislation is, there will be a forum and quorum who will make a choice. You could be a part of that, as and when you chose, but for the most part trust that there’s enough good people just as likely to make the right decision as you.

    WE do not live in a Democracy, but we can.

    Have a lovely evening gents.

  99. Ray Butler

    I think all the Republic needs to be is a mechanism that translates economic strength into social progress and environmental sustainability, but with the communications technology we have we can expand Democracy into social media so that all citizens have an opportunity to contribute to direction of society, as long as their ideas stand up to some measure of ethics and practicality, so all the Republic would need to be is to appropriately measure that balance of ethic/practicality.

    Sovereign nations, in my opinion, are not really sovereign unless they are as Democratic as it is reasonable for them to be, I think Australia can be more so Democratic than we are, we are more a Capitalist society with a bit of Democracy as a feature where it should be the other way around. The economic elite would love for us to believe they are best suited to rule, but we all know they only really measure success according to their own bottom-line, wealth doesn’t inherently translate to credibility in deciding the direction of humanity, although it certainly does so despite the fact.

  100. Mike Wilkinson

    Yup Ray! We are Australia Corp. at the moment. No doubt about it. The front bench is the board of directors and Abbott is chairman. It’s a frightening thought isn’t… especially as we appear to be a subsidiary of several other corporations. 😉

  101. corvus boreus

    FIRESALE(a moonsday morning haiku)
    Open for bizness!
    Tony sez it’s got to go!
    Straya’s up for sale!*
    *Imagine attendant bow-tied, candy-striped suited hawkers, posing bikini babes, wacky flailing-arm inflatable tube-dudes and an angry looking elephant with a ribbon around it’s neck.
    PS bless the edit. Thank you Michael Taylor et al. 🙂

  102. Mike Lokes

    It appears that the lies go on and are let slide by almost without comment by the media. The latest is that Mr. Abbott is stating that he was voted in as Prime Minister by the people and only the people can sack him. My understanding, feel free to correct me, is that this is entirely untrue. the people have no decision as to who is Prime Minister. Their only decision is who will represent them in their electorate. Like many I am fed up with the continual twisting of the meaning of things which is coming from this government and have lost all faith in the political process.

  103. Hyper Bollocks

    Kevin Rudd trotted that crap out when it suited him too. Trouble is there’s an argument that can be made for the notion. It’s not an especially strong argument, but it’s there, and it is most certainly not peculiar to Abbott. In fact the only political thing peculiar to Abbott is the extent to which he engages in political manipulation. Politicians are salespeople, and their product is basically themselves. This is why they’ll happily tell you soaking your hand in a bowl of dishwashing liquid is doing you good.

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