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Speak boldly

The editorial in the Age today suggests that “the Abbott government is cynically moving to de-legitimise certain institutions that perform vital roles in the democratic life of this nation.”

This latest reprehensible attempt to silence the Human Rights Commission is, as Penny Wong points out, part of a wider pattern of behaviour.

This is a Government that seeks to intimidate people who don’t agree with their policies and to silence independent voices.

Within hours of being sworn in, the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release, announcing three departmental secretaries had had their contracts terminated and the Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson would be stood down next year.

Dr Don Russell lost his job as head of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research; Blair Comley was the head of the Resources, Energy and Tourism Department; and Andrew Metcalfe, a former Immigration Department chief, was sacked as head of the Agriculture Department.

AusAID was integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and its director-general Peter Baxter resigned.

“AusAID has been delivering an aid program that eradicates poverty in the world’s poorest communities, while DFAT’s objective is to promote and protect Australia’s national economic and political interests.”

The head of Infrastructure Australia, Michael Deegan, stepped down in February 2014 after he lashed out against the Abbott government for eroding the advisory body’s independence.

Infrastructure Australia disagreed about the priorities being pushed by government. For example, they had listed Sydney’s WestConnex motorway as an ”early stage” project, despite Premier Barry O’Farrell’s and Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s determination to proceed with the project.

”Grand announcements, ‘funding commitments’, glossy brochures, and project websites do not change the reasons (why some projects had not progressed on his organisation’s priority list.),” Mr Deegan said in an email. ”Many proposals lack merit.”

Infrastructure Australia was required to report to the federal government on how climate change would affect federal infrastructure policy. It was set up to assess infrastructure investments on their productivity merits instead of their vote-buying potential. As climate change could inflict damage worth $9billion annually to Australia’s infrastructure by 2020, it makes sense for our infrastructure advisory body to think about how to bring those costs down.

But the Abbott government expunged this instruction as part of its rewrite of Infrastructure Australia’s mandate. This is despite infrastructure co-ordinator Michael Deegan’s warning that rising sea levels and heat stress are among climate impacts threatening ‘‘a significant proportion of Australia’s existing infrastructure assets … and adaptation will require changes to the scope and mix of infrastructure investment’’.

Mr Deegan also noted that ‘‘a significant proportion of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the various infrastructure sectors, notably energy and transport’’.

No wonder he had to go, along with the Climate Commission and the Climate Change Authority.

Talking about global warming is a death sentence to funding.

The CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have had their funding slashed with hundreds of jobs lost and research programmes abandoned. With no Minister for Science to point out the value of research it is seen as an avenue to save money and control the areas being studied.

As a direct consequence of the $111 million budget cut, the organisation will lose 489 researchers and support staff by mid-2015. Another 300 positions will be cut after an internal restructure. The union estimates CSIRO is set to shrink by about 20 per cent over two years.

In August, management confirmed eight infectious disease researchers at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, the country’s only facility for researching live samples of deadly diseases such as Ebola, would lose their jobs.

Eight staff have left the Aspendale laboratory, which focuses on marine and atmospheric research, since the budget was handed down in May. Those leaving Aspendale include senior scientist Paul Fraser, who has taken a voluntary redundancy. Dr Fraser, head of oceans and atmosphere, has been honoured by NASA and also helped establish one of the world’s two most important climate research centres at Cape Grim in Tasmania.

Water research also appears to have been targeted. The office of water science research and the national water commission will be abolished, while the sustainable rural water use and infrastructure program’s budget has had a $400 million trim.

At CSIRO’s largest Victorian site, in Clayton, 15 staff have left or are in the process of leaving. The laboratory, home to research areas including advanced materials, nanotechnology, energy, mining and minerals work, had already lost staff under Labor’s efficiency drive. Among them was organic chemist San Thang, who was made redundant in September. It came as Dr Thang and two colleagues were nominated as frontrunners for the illustrious Nobel Prize in chemistry. Dr Thang has been made an honorary fellow – an unpaid position allowing him to both continue his work and to supervise PhD students.

In addition to the budget cuts, CSIRO also lost about $4 million indirectly when the government folded the Australian Climate Change Science Program into the new National Environmental Science Program.

A further 175 government bodies were cut in the last MYEFO, building on previous decisions to defund agencies in the 2014-15 budget, “taking the total reduction in the number of government bodies since the election to 251″.

Two groups whose funding ceased were the Biosecurity Advisory Council and the National Biosecurity Committee Stakeholder Engagement Consultative Group. In light of the recent outbreak of Hepatitis A due to contaminated imported berries one wonders who is advising Barnaby on how to proceed.

Other bodies to be disbanded included the Diabetes Advisory Group and the Alcohol and Drug Council of Australia. This is unbelievably short term thinking as the cost of these problems to our society are astronomic.

The Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) Joint Working Group to Provide Advice on Students with Disability was also disbanded which fits in with George Brandis’ decision to replace the Human Rights Commissioner for the Disabled, Graeme Innes, with the IPA’s Tim Wilson – Commissioner for bigots and presumably the “anonymous source” quoted in the government attack on Gillian Triggs.

Reading through the list of bodies that have been axed makes me wonder who the hell is looking after these crucial advisory roles.

The Prime Minister for Women has watered down gender reporting while the Minister Assisting assures us that, whilst she likes women, she also likes men so couldn’t possibly be a feminist – a view shared by the highest placed woman in our government, Julie Bishop, who tells us that “it’s only a downward spiral once you’ve cast yourself as a victim.”

Righto. Domestic violence, workplace discrimination and sexual harassment are our own fault and we should stop whinging….is that the message?

The Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs promptly cut over half a billion in funding from Indigenous programmes and disbanded the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, replacing them with Gerard Henderson’s son-in-law Warren Mundine.

Speaking of Gerard Henderson, he was appointed Chairman of the panel tasked with awarding the PM’s non-fiction Literary Awards. He chose to give the history award to “a poorly sourced anti-union tome” which was described as a rudimentary, badly-structured book full of hearsay by another panel member. But it fed into Abbott’s anti-union agenda.

From the outset, Abbott has spent many millions of dollars in a frenzied attack on unions seeking to demonise and undermine the only group with the power to present a collective voice in bargaining to protect workers’ rights.

In December, the Abbott government reintroduced legislation to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, despite 82% of the sector believing it was important to keep the charity regulator.

ACNC Advisory Board Chair and Productivity Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald said: “…the key beneficiaries of the repeal of the ACNC are really only those organisations who do not want independent public accountability or transparency but which seek to continue to receive large benefits from the Australian community.”

Unsurprisingly, it was George Pell who told Kevin Andrews to get rid of the watchdog. Scott Morrison appears to have recently backed away from the idea calling it a low priority while he gets his “family package” together.

Huge cuts to the funding of the ABC, questionable board appointments, and threats to journalists that they will be jailed if they report on “special operations”, are all designed to muzzle the watchdogs.

Whether it’s scientists, charities, Aborigines, people with disabilities, refugees, unions, feminists, preventative health groups, Muslims, infrastructure specialists, journalists, public servants, or even colleagues….Abbott does not want to hear from us unless it’s to agree.

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

The Abbott government may not want to pay for advice but that sure as hell isn’t going to stop me from giving them some.

May Gillian Trigg’s strength and defiance be an example to us all and may we all raise our collective voices to defend those who this government would mute.

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  1. FreeThinker

    A chilling article Kaye.

    All this seems to add further evidence to the proposition that Abbott’s belief system in the exercise of power, is that it is ‘Position position position ‘ that really matters, and governance is really all about Tony and his ideological mates.

    Abbott is in this for what Tony can get out of it. As Prime Minister, his aspirations for the Australian people are very limited indeed.

    Thus he is about not so much achieving a change of government, than rather about achieving major regime change in this country Disturbingly, in the last 18 months, this has been his steady accomplishment, at the expense of an open, fairer and more tolerant society.

    As a political narcisisist with limited life experience, as you so accurately pointed out yesterday Kaye, Abbott believes surrounding himself with henchmen, will permit him to consolidate his ‘positional’ authority as Prime Minister, and this will enable him to better exercise his whims: his need for on-going admiration, his penchant for cycling and other outdoor sports, and his preparedness to utter statements which perhaps he sincerely ‘believes’ at the particular time and in a particular context, but which for the Australian people, have a truth shelf-life of perhaps just a few minutes only.

    How wrong he is !

    Today, Abbott was called a pathological liar today during parliamentary Question Time, which Madame Chair deemed unparliamentary language, ( despite its accuracy ), and Shorten referred to him as Australia’s worst Prime Minister.

    Let’s hope he will be gone soon, though other members of his political coterie also want significant regime change for this nation, that promises to benefit not the majority of Australians, but just the wealthiest one percent.

  2. Lee

    I really do wonder what kind of world these idiots think they are leaving for their children. Do they think it will be like the fictional Panem where all the beautiful people will remain protected in some secure community and all the peasants will live in complete anarchy outside of the walls?

  3. Jexpat

    “Do they think it will be like the fictional Panem where all the beautiful people will remain protected in some secure community and all the peasants will live in complete anarchy outside of the walls?”

    In my experience that’s precisely how most of them think. Even if it’s an utter and complete fantasy based on their hopes of winning the lottery.

  4. JohnB

    Thanks for yet another well researched and written article Kaye.
    The pattern of behavior of this Abbott government marks it as the most dangerous government Australia has had to suffer since federation.
    Apart from the LNP perpetrators of this fraud on the Australian people, the blame must be shared by those whose wealth supports the leeching LNP and the corrupted 4th estate who enabled the election of Abbott’s inept and treasonous LNP.
    Professional journalists working within MSM should hang their head in shame – they did not do the job entrusted in them – to investigate, analyse policy offerings and deliver truthful reports.
    Instead they joined media “show business”, pandering to their corporate employers with a display of self promotional ideological groupthink.
    They turned Australian politics into entertainment – a Punch and Judy show with no respect for facts, where Labor were always cast as the villains – more about the reporters promoting themselves as “personalities”, becoming part of the news rather than reporting it factually.

    Only the 5th estate shouted out the truth – but they of course were ignored by the “professionals” in MSM.
    Inconvenient truths indeed.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Go Penny Wong!!!!!

  6. Kaye Lee

    From DanDark’s very relevant link….

    “Democracy is not guaranteed by parliament, nor yet the government, far less by the prime minister’s office. Its security and its necessary freedoms reside in the hand of the people. A strong government respects – even if it does not agree with – the different opinions and arguments of other bodies, groups and individuals as the touchstone of our democracy.

    In delivering us News Corp World, Tony Abbott has revealed himself as not a leader but a follower, and the ideas he follows are those of a world in which freedom is a privilege of the powerful, not the right of all; where truth must be convenient or it is to be crushed, and where the strong seek to punish the weak, and when challenged, destroy those, like Gillian Triggs, who will not bend their testimony to power.

    We should expect more. We must expect more. Because if we do not, we will go somewhere far darker than the hells of Manus Island and Nauru. We will have become them.”

  7. olddavey

    Australia’s own Daesh.

  8. Pingback: Speak boldly February 26, 2015 Written by: Kaye Lee | winstonclose

  9. John Lord

    Half of the NDIS board is also on the chopping block.

  10. Kaye Lee

    As was the entire NBNco board – rightly or wrongly I cannot say but the new lot don’t seem to be making any progress

  11. paul walter

    Today had another grim example. This involves the starving of funds to public broadcasting, with NITV news and current affairs set to be slashed. Doing it now, before peole wake up to it.

  12. Mike

    When he’s finally booted, what the …. will he do? “Gee I can’t wait”
    I reckon he’ll flee to Canada

  13. Kaye Lee

    I can’t see him being on demand for the speaking tour or for corporate boards to be clamouring for his involvement. I would suggest that he will have a taxpayer funded office and car which will have nothing to do except book his sporting events.

  14. mars08

    We should all be worried about the dreadfully low standard this mob has set… for govt policy and ministerial actions. The bar has be set frightfully low.

    I fear that future governments will expect to get away with some very bad behaviour without punishment from the electorate.

  15. Annie B

    @ mars08.

    Well at least, if the bar has been set so low – the only option is to rise above it – upwards and onwards.

    I doubt very much that Labor would entertain sinking any lower ?? … They have been handed an opportunity on a silver platter …….

    I only hope and pray they realise that !!

  16. John Fraser

    <

    Abbott is standing beside Bishop (and presumably the other one), Cockey and Pyne ………… without doubt everyone else in Australia has deserted him.

    The Abbott party backbench was looking for a new man …………. they are still stuck with a Newman.

    Abbotts just a turd waiting to be flushed …… and if Turnbull won't do it the Australian voter will do it in the biggest flush the liberal party has ever seen.

    Great list for reference purposes.

    Thanks Kay Lee.

  17. RosemaryJ36

    How I wish that this nightmare could be over but how we can speed up the process is unclear.

  18. Helene Teece

    Down with Abbott and his bunch of Thacher / Tea Party reactionary conservatives. Do not be confused, these people are not liberals, they are far right neo conservatives and fanatical zealots. Governing (?) Australia ? How did this happen ? They must have been lying low, hatching this rubbish for years, hidden away from mainstream Australian political thought, closeted up together breeding and hatching the down fall of our social fabric as we know it and when the time seemed right to them they sprang it on us and really expected us to allow them to continue with their wanton destruction of all our ancestors have fought so hard to achieve for us. How little they know or understand Australians !!

  19. Annie B

    @ Helen Teece ….

    Agree … and all it took was for Australian voters ( probably somewhat bewildered at the time, because of the back stabbing that went on in Labor ) … to make ONE mistake. … Which they / we the voters, did.

    I don’t think we will make that mistake again. …. at least I hope not.

    Not one of this Government, especially the big wigs up front, is a true Aussies’ bootlace.

  20. DanDark

    Tony and Co’s first mistake was underestimating us as a fair and compassionate people still
    Their second mistake was underestimating the push back they have endured,
    they were so sure fired cocky that they could implement their “plan” through their Trojan horse, first through the front door, and when that didn’t work they went through the back door, (moved a few deck chairs around)
    and now the door has slammed in their faces, and they are all in the dark as what to do next,
    No plan B obviously…

    On abc24 tonight, “A MP has said “Malcom Turnbull has the numbers to contest Tony now”
    but its whether he has the balls is another thing, but the end is nigh for Phony Tony 🙂
    Its a wonder Rotten Rupert hasn’t chucked his sixpence in on Twitter yet,
    it will come I am sure, the old fart cant help himself 🙂

  21. John Fraser

    <

    Kaye Lee & The AIMN

    ""A role was raised that related to international affairs."

    Can I offer you a "roll" ? ………… woops sorry, I meant "role", I sometimes get so carried away with trying to screw people.

    Can I offer you a roll …. do not think of it as an inducement, because I have lost confidence in you.

    But if you would like an "international roll" ….. i'm thinking Paris, Anaheim or Orlando.

    Now don't be put off by the name of this organisation I can assure you it has been keeping children happy for over 5 decades.

    Here's the directions to the one in Florida :

    https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Walt+Disney+World+Resort/@28.385234,-81.563874,17z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0xa71e391fd01cf1a0

  22. ianmac

    Kaye Lee, thanks….not from just myself,but from so many to whom you give voice and true expression in the very dark days of this radically repressive regime.. Your commentary and coverage across such a wide and encompassing ideological attack against the Australian public and those who would hold our ideals as an admirable worldview and presence in this present age of corporate piracy and outright neocon bastardry is such a heartening boost to the confidence and hopes of all of us uneducated swill and optimistic political retards. See what you can do just in yer pyjamas? You rock and roll in this egregious epoch!!!
    Sooooooooooo luvs yer work. 😉

  23. stephentardrew

    The opposition should spread the video of Penny Wrong far and wide.

    What an excellent series of questions Fraser could not avoid answering by stating the facts.

    Penny Wong completely undermined the whole vile economic narrative of this corrupt government.

  24. Robyn Oyeniyi

    Kaye, someone said you are something along the lines of a wonder and a gem the other day. I so agree. Great article.

  25. DanDark

    Stephen T its all over face book ) Tony Burke has it up on his account
    Penny Wong for PM…..
    I just luv “electronic graffiti” 🙂

  26. Mercurial

    Chrissy Pyne reckons we have more important things to worry about than the ‘beltway’ issues of Gillian Triggs and the HRC. Well if human rights are not important things for ordinary people to worry about, I pity this country.

  27. John Fraser

    <

    "Speak boldly"

    ABBOTTS GOING TO HAVE TO BRING OUT HIS DAUGHTERS NEXT !

    On SBS World News Abbotts sister and partner have just given Abbott the seal of approval.

    Margies doing her job.

    I wonder if Abbott will drag out his parents to try and save his arse.

  28. paul walter

    Pyne may wish it would go away, but it won’t.

    It has been an object lesson in what depths politicians will sink to to eliminate those who may be capable of offering an inconvenient alternative viewpoint to one held by them.

    With Brandis its almost like an episode of “Judge John Deed”.

  29. Lee

    @ John Fraser
    The depth of the excrement will be determined by how many women he parades.

  30. Kaye Lee

    “So long as Abbott is preoccupied with appealing to the 30 per cent of the voters who live on the conservative side of the Liberal party, he will continue to antagonise the other 70 per cent of the country. It’s about the shortest of short-term survival. It’s no way to win an election. It’s no way to run a country.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tony-abbott-clutching-at-straws-in-attempt-to-protect-remaining-support-base-20150226-13owou.html

  31. Möbius Ecko

    More talk of an Abbott spill this morning with Channel 7 saying they have a scoop in Turnbull now having the numbers to oust Abbott.

    This has come about in something I have raised previously in Abbott asking several members to give him a set time, either six months or to the end of the year, that is apart from the SA members he promised an open submarine tender to, which he reneged on the very day of the spill when it was defeated.

    Seems I was partly wrong on one front in Abbott asking some for six months, it appears that was until the middle of the year, and it’s his now baulking on that promise that is the cause of the current leadership spill talk. The footage I saw this morning of a couple of Liberals being door stop interviewed outside parliament house showed that these men were under the distinct impression Abbott had told them to give him until the middle of the year, yet since the spill Abbott has been denying there has been any timeframe put on his leadership outside of the next election.

    Personally I hope Abbott isn’t ousted as I’m confident that with him as the head of the Liberals at the next election they will be wiped out. I saw it this morning as he yet again engaged in a stunt in the Cyclone Marcia aftermath. Talking to people, patting their backs, shaking their hands and saying a series of slogans strung together to sound like a sentence. All so obviously stage managed for Abbott and nothing to do with the plight of cyclone victims.

    Most of the people are no longer falling for this as it’s all that Abbott has and has ever done. Stage managed stunts and slogans. That he has to frequently do this outside of an election and as PM of the country says more to the people about how bad he is as PM than any of of his frequent stuff ups.

  32. Awabakal

    I doubt that Malcolm Turnbull is the leader that the Liberals dream him to be. They are fashioning a leader in their image and the result is not Turnbull.
    The man does not even have the conviction to tap Abbott on the top of the head and tell him it is time to roll over. And, fortunately for Australia, Turnbull is not the answer. He knows that and he knows that he will be wearing the egg of a failed reelection of the Liberal-National Party. Lucy wants to be in the Lodge, her excitement to be Dame Lucy is wriggling out of her skin. Malcolm, not so sure he wants to be leading this rabble unless they bring it to him wrapped in the finest and promise him solid gold support, which will not happen with the likes of Dutton, Pyne, Brandis, Cormann plotting dark rebellion and a poisonous party room before 2016/17.

    There is something not right about Cormann, something underlying but I have not twigged it yet.

  33. Lee

    The ideology won’t change but at least Malcolm will behave with more dignity and more appropriate to the position.

  34. mars08

    Annie B:

    Well at least, if the bar has been set so low – the only option is to rise above it – upwards and onwards.

    I doubt very much that Labor would entertain sinking any lower ?

    My fear is that future governments will be able to get away with raising the bar only SLIGHTLY… and still look much better than the current sleazy, cruel, fanatical mob…

  35. JohnB

    As Möbius Ecko said:”… I saw it this morning as he yet again engaged in a stunt in the Cyclone Marcia aftermath. Talking to people, patting their backs, shaking their hands and saying a series of slogans strung together to sound like a sentence. All so obviously stage managed for Abbott and nothing to do with the plight of cyclone victims….”

    I wonder if anybody asked Abbott if climate change may be a factor in more frequent and powerful tropical cyclones/floods, and if he would be intending to put a temporary tax levy on to help those who lost their houses and crops?

    Maybe the new Tony could backflip on those issue too.

  36. Win jeavons

    Who remembers “last one out ,turn out the lights” ? This is far worse. It will soon be the case that the true heroes will be those insulted, vilified and punished by this gang of mendacious thugs , who seem to think politics is an opportunity for self promotion and self enrichment, and the rest be damned! How could any decent human tolerate their greed and intolerance ?

  37. bilko

    It is UNCONCEIVABLE that there is not a single COALITION MEMBER to stand up and say what this government is doing is wrong, even Hitler had his opponents and he was running a dictatorship. A room full of yes men/women with not a backbone amoungst them. Abbott is stupid enough and vengefull enough to say stuff them all and have parliament dissolved consequently none of his so call mates will get the PMship. Such bliss but I am not holding my breath.

  38. gangey1959

    I watched Professor Triggs the other night.
    Talk about grace under fire. she was magnificent.
    Penny Wong was pretty impressive too.
    WHEN they get booted, and I hope that is sooner rather than later, for the countries’ sake, my fervent wish is that as many criminal charges as possible can be filed against as many of the corrupt politicians we have currently in Canberra serving ‘our’ interests.
    Starting with tony abbott, both for his citizenship issues, and for impersonating a human being.
    Personally, Vote 1 TRIGGS for President. NONE of the men currently in Parliament are fit to lick her shoes.
    (Ms Wong can be her 2IC.)
    A DD cannot happen quickly enough.

  39. mars08

    Some words from that old gunslinging war-horse, Theodore Roosevelt:

    “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

  40. mars08

    “In every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the People.”
    ~Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926)

  41. mars08

    “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ~George Orwell

  42. Kaye Lee

    I remember during the election campaign someone tweeting that the North Korean Press were more critical of Kim Jong-un than the Australian press was of Tony Abbott.

  43. totaram

    “:I remember during the election campaign someone tweeting that the North Korean Press were more critical of Kim Jong-un than the Australian press was of Tony Abbott.”

    Please dig out all the originals and publicize them as far and wide as possible. That should be real kick in the bum for the MSM, who talk about “freedom of expression” and all that. They need to be exposed for what they really are.

  44. Kaye Lee

    I looked for the original and what I came up with was a pre-election comment by me here. I don’t think I made it up though.

    Kaye Lee
    August 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm Edit
    The North Korean press hold Kim Jong Un to more account than Murdoch press does to the Coalition.

    https://theaimn.com/john-lords-election-diary-update-no-10/

    (It’s kinda spooky when you google and come up with yourself as a result – does that mean I am repeating myself – repeating myself – Madam Speaker, Madam Speaker, Madam Speaker, let me make this absolutely crystal clear Madam Speaker)

  45. Pingback: i was reading this

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