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Tag Archives: 2013 Federal Election

In defence of Pauline

A probably unpopular take on the return of the female redhead who challenges our parliament and how we see ourselves as Australians.

Ms Hanson would have got in anyway. The changes to the senate rules didn’t make her return any more likely.  What made it inevitable was the failed economic and social policies of state and federal governments that led the same anti-modern voters who elected Ms Hanson 20 years ago to come full circle.

Brief History
After Ms Hanson was ‘betrayed’ by her own party apparatchiks, these voters tried minor parties.  They muddled about trying to find a voice that reflected their own thoughts. Suddenly Tony Abbott gave them true hope that Australia would return to the halcyon and mythical days of the 1950’s, when men were Men… and White. Then he got the sack, and was replaced with an urbane do-nothing who was completely clueless about what was going on below the executive floor, let alone at the bar in the country pub.

The last few months under Turnbull gave voters time to think. Time to realise that maybe they’d been conned. For years, many of these voters have bought the ‘aspirational’ market-will-provide line trotted out by the LNP… It’s only recently that people are actually figuring out that trickle-down doesn’t work; but don’t yet understand what happened. People voted to stop the boats, and then lost the farm.

This time, just as last time, Pauline Hanson has attracted groups with an axe to grind. The Socialist Alliance, Animal Justice Party, and other groups on the Left are just as guilty of this sin.  It should not call into question the legitimacy of Ms Hanson as a representative, or the legitimacy of those who voted for her.

E-con 101
We are in the midst of another labour-force revolution, coupled with major shifts in social identity. Types and terms of employment are in flux; and so far, no one has any clear answers on how we can transition from where we are into the future. That scares most people. For people who have missed out on a promised life of stability; and who feel marginalised and under siege by changing labour, cultural and social norms, it is terrifying.

Hanson appeals to people who cannot cope with contemporary life, let alone the future; different cultures or skin colour are not really the issue. When pressed only the true believers have problems with race and sexuality.  For the majority, those things are an obvious symptom that they can use to define their position. The real problems come from change, from different ways of thinking, the rise of technology and change in labour, the shifting sands of meaning, being unable to trust the local newspaper (if you still have one).

If you read the One Nation website, it is an almost incoherent rant. It is filled with the confused and bitter ramblings of everyday people, who have no comprehension of the policy and economics that have led to their current condition. This is a group of people who have no particular political, economic or social ideology.  They thought our society was still based on the True-Blue, Fair-Go, rustic simplicity represented by the 1950s. Now they have awoken post GFC to discover that the new century is a complex and frightening place, and they want someone to blame.

We need to accept, despite how they express their concerns; people do have valid reasons to be concerned.  In the last 20 years Australia has become one of the least protected markets in the world.  However, the prosperity promised as result of these changes never arrived. Instead services and businesses have shrunk and vanished. Lives have been whittled away by neo-liberal economics and globalisation from the Right; and shifts in worldview and social justice from the Left.  This is a group of people who are no longer at the centre of Australia’s life, and they have been left to fend for themselves without any help to transition or understand the change.  They feel justifiably marginalised…

…as an intermission, I suggest you all take a moment to watch THIS and then come back.

Peoples is People
Supporters of Ms Hanson don’t see themselves as racist or homophobic; just as their mirrors on the Left probably don’t see themselves as social fascists.  They are just humans who are uncomfortable with diversity, and don’t know how to express themselves. The intellectual Left has had decades sitting in ivory towers to reform language to accommodate diversity.  For most in regional Australia or outer city suburbs, casual sexism and racism is a way of demonstrating affection.  Labelling a person as racist, sexist or homophobic doesn’t make them so, it only shames… and then angers them. But, again, they do not know how to express their confusion.  Pauline Hanson gives them voice. She is representative of the views of thousands of Australians.  The difference is that she is happy to take money from David Koch to air these grievances in public, rather than just bitching into a pot of Four X.

These Australians (and they exist on the Left as well) don’t care about facts, they just know how they feel. They don’t want to think about consequences, or geopolitics, or climate change, or complexity; they want things to be simple, and they don’t want to have to change. They don’t want to think about policy, they just want government to take care of them; and they will give their vote to anyone who promises to do that. Last election it was Tony, this time it’s Pauline.

The saddest thing about all this reaction to Ms Hanson, is that it didn’t have to be this way. Pro-environment sentiment in the bush is at an all-time high.  The Greens candidate Jeremy Buckingham has large support for his pro-farm stance. The Greens and ALP could have gone into the regions and actually spoken to these people.
If they had heard their grievances, and took them seriously enough to have the lengthy conversations needed to bring understanding, then the past two elections would have been very different.

A classic example of this is renewable energy. Regional and outer suburban manufacturing is collapsing.  Ironically, if a ‘jobs and growth’ argument for renewable energy and action on climate change had been prosecuted more effectively, it’s likely we would be a lot further along to reaching our emissions target.  Instead we are facing the prospect of a Royal Commission into climate science.  All because no one bothered to address the dog-whistling from the Liberals, and actually explain the issues and opportunities.

The shrill and uncompromising front presented by angry voters is just that; a front. However, while anti-corporate ranting is accepted without question; too often intellectual and urbane progressives have not bothered to engage with the people Ms Hanson represents, purely because of their views on social policy.

Which is unfortunate, as those views are rarely concrete, and more often simple, easy targets for confusion and anger: It’s a lot easier to blame an immigrant (or a corporation) than unravel the economic and policy choices responsible for ones current state. If anyone took the time to talk, they’d find reasonable, if uninformed people who are willing to give up acting on social prejudice for better work opportunities and better services.

As seen by the non-partisan cooperation between progressive greens groups and conservative farmers in the Liverpool plains or The Great Barrier Reef, on many levels Ms Hanson’s supporters are natural allies against the destructive aspects of corporate neo-liberalism.  If the socially and economically just future we all claim to wish for is to become a reality, complaining about Pauline Hanson isn’t going to help.

If the elections of 2010 and 2013 should have taught us anything, it is that mud-slinging and ignoring citizens only further fractures our society; with serious deleterious effects on our economy, civil society and democracy. If progressive, intellectual, inclusive citizens are truly concerned about what’s happening in regional Australia; then they need to stop criticising and start having conversations.

Will you have to swallow your own prejudices?  Yes.

Will you have to work with people you do not like? Yes.

Will it be hard work?

Yes, democracy is hard work; anyone who tells you different is selling something.

 

Day to Day Politics: On the eve of the last election.

Saturday 23 April 2016   -72

Author’s note: On the eve of the last election I was forced to confront the reality that the party I supported couldn’t win. This is what I wrote:

I am still no further advanced in answering the question “who will win the election?” I think my mind is still in cause and effect mode. Thoughts of consequence invade me. So I ask the reader to indulge me for a little longer.

I have always thought that at the centre of any political philosophy should be the common good. In saying this my thoughts often drift toward a better way of doing politics and the term commongoodism is central to my internal debate. It sounds idealistic, this common good and it may not in itself be suited to all political persuasions but it is worthy of examination. Conservatives for example may never be able to overcome their dislike of equality. It is probably more acceptable to the left than the right. But politics after all is about ideas and compromise. I ask myself if the isms of left and right have gone past their used by dates? Many questions arise. Do they suffer from the tiredness of longevity? Is there a possibility that a new politic could emerge from the ashes of this election. Can a society deeply entrenched in political negativity and malaise, rise with a renewed interest in the common good, and still retain the essential ingredients of a vigorous democracy where a wide ranging common good test could be applied to all policy. Even have a caveat placed on it.

Have left and right so fused into each other that they no longer form a demarcation of ideas? Could the ideologies of the two somehow come together to form this commongoodism? Who would decide the common good? How could one define it? Could capitalism embrace the common good or would it need a work over? Could conservatism which empathises individual responsibility and opportunity embrace it? What would common good values be? Some might even say there is no such thing. That’s all a bit like political scrambled eggs I know but they are the sort of philosophical questions I ask myself on my daily walks. You see that although I still value my leftish views I do really believe that modern political thought and practice needs to move beyond self-interest and the attainment of power for its own sake. And not just nationally but internationally. But particularly in Australia where politics no longer meets the needs or aspirations of the people and is held in such low esteem that politicians are barely relevant.

I have long felt that the political establishment has taken ownership of a system that should serve the people but instead serves itself. It is self-indulgent, shows no respect for the people it serves and lacks transparency. These thoughts I know challenge established political thinking. They may even be controversial, but politics, as we currently practice it has no future as I see it.

There I have finished my dummy spit, my dose of idealistic medicine.

10 AM Friday.

Now I will answer the question.

Who will win tomorrows election?

Well it won’t be Labor and here are three reasons why.

Firstly, despite the growing influence of the Fifth Estate the mainstream media still packs an enormous punch. In advertising the success of one’s spend is measured by the resulting sales. The media can measure its influence in the polls. Labor has been the victim of the most concerted gutter attack ever thrust upon an Australian political party. And from all sections of the media, although one in particular, News Corp, has gone well beyond the realm of impartiality. Labor has been drowned in an avalanche of lies, repugnant bile, half-truths and omissions. The media has lost its objectivity and news reporting in general has become so biased that it no longer pretends to disguise it. The MSM has forsaken truth, justice and respectability in its pursuit to protect privilege. They print and tell lies with such reprehensible consistency that a gullible and politically undiscerning Australian public has never really challenged. As a famous business man once said, “I spend a lot of money on advertising and I know for certain that half of it works”.

The Fifth Estate (including me) has attempted to counter these nefarious attacks but in my view it is three years away from reaching its full potential. Having said that I plead some degree of ignorance, and I must say, I am absolutely astounded at how many people participate in social media and the voice it gives them. However in three years’ time its ability to influence the younger generation will have risen exponentially. Added to that will be a declining older generation.

Secondly, Tony Abbott has been a man who has adopted an American Republican style shock and awe approach in his pursuit of power. Main stream media has hailed him the most effective opposition leader in Australian political history. This is solely based on his parties standing in the polls and says nothing about the manner in which he lies and distorts to bring about this standing. Perhaps they should rethink the criteria they use.  On a daily basis and in the parliament he has sought to abuse, disrupt proceedings and tell untruths that normal men would not. His gutter style negativity has set a new benchmark for the behaviour of future opposition leaders. Luckily though, he may be the only one of his characterless ilk, and future opposition leaders may be more affable. However, the consistency of his negativity has had an effect on an electorate in a state of comatose.

Since the election date was announced he has portrayed himself as a different person. An indifferent public has been fooled by this chameleon disguise. He is simply a politician who climbs from the gutter to spread his pessimism everywhere. David Marr uses these words to sum up the character of this would be Prime Minister:

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change … He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power it’s been a waste of time”.

On the other hand, John Hewson described him as lazy and indolent.

Thirdly, this where the truth hurts. My Party can at times be its own worst enemy. For the six years it has been in power it has governed well. Despite the enormous difficulty of minority governance. This is indisputable when you look closely at its economic record, the legalisation passed in the Parliament and the reforms from within a minority framework.

Its problems though have not originated from everyday governance. In this sense it has been no better or worse than any other. Rather its problems stem from personality conflict and the pursuit of power.

Politics by its very nature is confrontational and uneasy with those who pursue power for powers sake, or those who think they have some sort of ownership on righteousness.

Labor had two formidable intellects in Rudd and Gillard. In fact, combined they would total the entire opposition front bench. This clash of personalities supplemented by an inability to sell its policies has for six years damaged Labor immeasurably.

And this is the main reason why Labor will lose. Not because they haven’t governed well. But because life is about perceptions, not what is, but what it appears to be. We have painted a picture of dysfunction. Rightly or wrongly that is the perception.

In conclusion, if you are a praying person I suggest you get on your knees and ask that Abbott not be elected tomorrow night.

And in the aftermath, if we stand still in the midst of these challenging and changing times we will stagnate. We simply must move on and confront those oblivious to the common good with all the resources at our disposal.

My thought for the day.

‘I think acceptance and embracement of change is one key aspect of what we try to define as wisdom’.

 

Please Leave My Aunty Alone Mr Murdoch

Image from abc.net.au

Image from abc.net.au

The alarm at 6am every morning awakens me to the ABC news. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. Before I retired I listened to AM on my way to work. I have an ipad now and what a remarkable instrument of technology it is. I read what attracts me on the ABC web site. Then I paste a couple of thoughts into Facebook, peruse THE AIMN and other blogs. Lastly I do a quick headline appraisal of the Fairfax, Murdoch press and some American sites.

My wife and I are avid viewers of the ABC. On the political front we watch Insiders, Media Watch, Q&A, 7.30 and The Drum. For News we are in the habit of watching Channel 10 5PM nightly news before switching to The Drum, ABC news at 7 and then 7.30.

From that you might conclude that I am biased toward the ABC. You would be correct. I am attracted to a lot of other ABC programs. There are flirtations with other channels such as Sevens Sunday News and programs that feature music or entertainment in particular.

I am attracted to the ABC for two reasons. Firstly in relation to News and Current Affairs it is unsurpassed. Be it the written word or visual media. Secondly their programing (in the main) avoids an American influence. I might even be the only Australian who has never watched an American sit com. I have been part of and watched the Americanisation of Australia all my life and frankly I detest it.

Oh sorry, there is a third. It’s called, an alternative. Let’s take a look at them. In my news reading my alternative is either the Murdoch Press or Fairfax. I was once an avid reader of The Age. Even to the point where to miss a day would result in me thinking that my day had been greatly devalued. It is no longer the world class paper it was. With writers like Henderson, Costello and Vanstone and the influence of the large lady, it has taken a turn to the right. The Herald Sun is Australia’s largest selling newspaper but to call it a newspaper is tantamount to calling a toilet roll a glossy magazine. Their top 10 stories usually includes 6 of a sporting nature.

Personally I think that all Murdoch newspapers are where the truth goes to die.

Similarly the visual media offers very little in quality balanced Current Affairs. There is Meet the Press (A News Ltd production.) Or The Bolt Report where his dreadful journalism is transformed into visual bile. Where even people like Henderson are taken aback by his blatantly loaded biased questions.

I haven’t mentioned talkback radio because where I live we don’t receive Melbourne radio. However, when we lived in Melbourne I listened to Jon Faine. Melbourne Radio is fortunately devoid of the hatred of the likes of Jones and Hadley.

In short I don’t always agree with what I read see or hear on the ABC but for me it is overwhelmingly the fairest and most balanced of all Australian mainstream media.

The ABC has periodically had to withstand attacks from individuals and vested interests. (I remember Keating and Hawke saying it was biased when it suited them.) None however as brazen as the current one. I have read many articles on the subject in support of the ABC. And they are to be commended for doing so.

However, none address motive.

This current attack was started by the Australian Newspaper (known in the trade as the official newsletter of the Liberal Party) a couple of weeks ago. It centred on a perceived bias the ABC allegedly has. Personally I struggle with that perception. Under their charter they are obliged to give a balanced view. Even when the force of evidence is heavily weighted to one side.

Fancy the most biased media outlet in Australia complaining about the bias of another.

At one stage they were so hysterical they were arguing that the ABC should not be promoting Twitter and Facebook on its on line sites while at the same time featuring a social media share button on every story on the page.

Then The Australian came into procession of a leaked document revealing the salaries of a number of ABC staff members and wet themselves with delight. They produced story after story about no one else’s business. In the end we found that collectively a few ABC employees got a combined annual salary equal to what Kyle Sandilands earns in one year.

In the last election the ABC gave limited coverage to the Labor Party in terms of policies where it could be argued that they were competent but battered them in terms of politics where they were abysmal. Climate change is another example of the Charter working against Labor. 98% of the world’s scientists say it is real yet the ABC has to give equal billing to those who say it is not. How silly is that?
I even take issue with the frequency of appearance of Peter Reith on The Drum. He must be the most nauseatingly biased former politician ever. And when Q&A can’t get enough right wing audience members they go to the Christian Hillsong Church for bums on seats.

The attack was quickly taken up by Bolt with cries of outrageous bias while at the same time ignoring his and his Masters behavior during the recent election. In Australian political history there has been nothing like the bias shown by the Murdoch Press. How is it possible to accuse the ABC of bias when two outlets own 85% of the print media and three of the four TV channels are commercial?

Unashamedly the attack was then taken up by the government. It accused the ABC of poor judgement in doing a joint story with The Guardian about phone tapping in Indonesia. Unprecedented were the words used to describe Tony Abbotts attack on the independent broadcaster. Others joined in. Cory Bernardi went on AM and to show their fairness the ABC gave him an undeserving 15 minutes of which Fran Bailey took the Tea Party sympathizer apart. The speaker Bronwyn Bishop had her say in the party room. Why was the speaker even involved in the debate if she is independent and unbiased? Malcolm Turnbull and Ian McDonald then followed suit.

So why all the dislike of Aunty? After all it is a much loved, trusted, and well run institution which in some areas is technologically streets ahead of its commercial rivals.

In fact it could be argued that Aunty is very much woven into the fabric of Australian culture.

Is it because conservatives don’t like successful public enterprises? Like the Clean Energy Finance Corp. It is making around $200 million a year. It got a stay of execution last Tuesday. What sort of Government would ditch a company making that sort of profit? Ideology gone mad I would suggest.

Bernardi insists that the ABC should take advertising. He seems to overlook the fact that it is the lack of revenue from this source that is killing print media. That and deplorable content. And he wants Aunty to also take a slice. On top of that he reckons we should pay for online content. When Fran Kelly asked if we should pay twice he didn’t answer. He did indicate though that there was virtue in commercial media because it was ‘’funded by advertising revenues”, while “the ABC is funded by the taxpayers”. Bernardi’s main gripe seemed to be that the ABC was encroaching on online media space again ignoring the fact that Aunty just happens to be light years ahead of the commercial outlets. And they don’t like that of course.

A recent study found that among Australian adults, 64 percent regard ABC radio programs as “good” while only 51 percent give a “good” rating to commercial radio. (The “bad” ratings are 11 percent for the ABC, 35 percent for commercial radio.) The contrast for television is even higher – 78 percent “good” for the ABC comparing with 44 percent for commercial stations.

Similar differences are found for trust. For coverage of the recent election campaign, the ABC was highly trusted, followed by the Fairfax media, and the Murdoch media came a very poor third.

The IPA (The right wing think tank) is influential in Coalition ranks and has the same aim as Murdoch. They both want to see the ABC defunded or commercialised. In doing so they want to eliminate what they see as left wing political bias and increase their own.

It is estimated that editorially Murdoch gave the conservatives about 30 million dollars’ worth of free advertising in the last election. Now he wants his pound of flesh. We have seen the first salvo shot at the ABC. I wonder what they will take aim at next.

As it stands the Prime Minister is making a mess of everything he touches at the moment so it may not be politicly astute to bury the ABC just yet but I’m sure it’s in his head to do so.

But I also think there will be an uprising when he tries it.

This statement by ABC Managing Director Mark Scott pretty much sums it up:

“We have come under concentrated attack from News Corp,” he said. “Some aspects seem quite obsessed by us and I think there are some who have an ideological opposition to public broadcasting. I think there are some who think they would make more money if the ABC wasn’t what it is today.”

To quote Amanda Meade of The Guardian:

With those remarks Scott got to the heart of the issue. The newspaper is ideologically opposed to a public broadcaster. It believes the ABC is taxpayer-funded competition for an already stretched commercial media, and has expanded far beyond its original remit with ABC Online, digital channels, a 24-hour news channel and an overseas channel, Australia Network, which should – News Corp believes – rightly be run by Sky News.

There are three areas of motive. The competition motive. The power motive or the ideological motive. One or all could be at play here but because Murdoch spends $25 million annually to prop up The Australian I think I will settle on a mixture of all three.

It is not often we see two entities, a government and a commercial news outlet the size of News Corp, combine to manufacture a reason for the demise of a government independent body.

Then again Tony owes him one.

It Goes to the Character of the Man

Tony Abbott Boxing.

Photo: The Courier Mail

Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so devoid of character? So lacking in the qualities of leadership? So deficient in empathy of social conscience? So ignorant of technology and science? So oblivious of the needs of women and same gender people? So out of touch with a modern pluralist society? And worst of all an unmitigated liar.

A Christian man who once had a calling to the Priesthood but now sees lying as a political truth. A Prime Minister who believes that truth is anything you persuade people to believe.

For the entirety of his time as Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott was proclaimed by the media (Murdoch in particular) as the most effective ever. I have never understood this. For three years his sole intention was to bring down a government. He lied continuously while at the same time creating shock and awe throughout the community. His negativity became legendary. Hardly a day passed without his accusing the government of telling the most awful fibs while at the same time perpetuating his own. On a daily basis he used sexism, misogyny, bullying, confusion, saturation, populism, diversion, racism, character assassination, panic mongering and even the re writing of history if it suited him.

And the media said he was effective. Well if they mean by that, that he was negatively effective then perhaps I have to concede he was. On the other hand if they mean he was effectively presenting himself as an alternative prime minister then I would have to disagree entirely. As opposition leader he did nothing to advance the country and the result of six years in opposition has not produced one major worthwhile policy. In fact he has become the Prime Minister for undoing. Not doing.

During his tenure as opposition leader when I was often in conflict with those of the opposite persuasion about the character of Tony Abbot, I would often ask his supporters to list five characteristics they thought he had that would make him a worthy leader. In five tries I never received a reply.

You see character as a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of a presidential campaign, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.

Abbott has none of these. He is and always has been a gutter politician of the worst kind. A repeat offender. He is a man who has failed to articulate a narrative for Australia’s future. Someone of such little virtue that he places the occupation of the lodge higher than the service of his people.

He is a man of loyalty to institutions. To the church and the monarchy. To people of wealth and influence. He lacks reformist zeal for the common good. He is, however, intent on undoing the good that others have done. His purpose in life seems to be (as was Howard’s) the maintenance of authority. A self righteous man who shows little aptitude for diplomacy.

All in all a man with a litany of lies and nonsensical ill-founded statements behind him. Of discriminatory declarations against women. Of disrespect for the conventions of Parliament. A man of slogans. A Luddite of technology. A denier of science. A right to rule elitist with no altruistic values.

It is indeed sad that the Australian public has entrusted the country’s future to a man of such little virtue.

Commentators of the political world have said that he has not yet switched from Opposition Leader to Prime Minister. How appallingly and ignorantly naive of them. Here we have a man with the deepest of neo conservative values. Values of rusted on negativity. Of Tea Party mentality surrounded by acolytes of little intellectual capacity. An inarticulate street fighter who would rather have a fight than a feed. Do they honestly expect him to overnight become a person of dignity and trust? A leader with aplomb, self-confidence and composure. Someone cool with grace and style. His only thought the common good of his fellow citizens.

Sorry we are talking about Tony the pugilist. It’s not going to happen. He is what he is. A liar. Just ask him. He said he is.

Watching him on Monday during question time empathised this point. The personality of the pugilist was wanting to escape the confines of Prime Ministerial nicety but was trapped inside. You can see it in his interviews. The same stress of being locked into conformist comportment. Trying to be dignified when in reality you want to smack someone in the face.

The most damming indictment he made against Labor when in office was that they were dysfunctional and that they lied. They broke a core promise.

Now he stands accused of the same thing which only goes to show that he has little judgment and little character.

He came to power after six years of negative behaviour and no policy development.

As Ross Gittens puts it.

‘’It’s as if Tony Abbott believes returning the Liberals to power will, of itself, solve most of our problems. Everything was fine when we last had a Liberal government, so restore the Libs and everything will be fine again.’’

Letter to the Editor: “Morrie Hits Back”

LETTERS

Image by Keybridge Communications

Editor’s note:

Last week, with my permission John Lord published a letter from Morrie Moneyworthy. It is fair to say that it drew a number of derogatory remarks. Again in the interest of balance I thought we should give Morrie a right of reply.

A letter to the editor.

All those comments were just what I would have expected from the left wing latte sipping loonies of the proletariat. The chardonnay drinking Bolsheviks without any intelligence. All they could do was criticise a few grammamatical errors. Nothing better to do.

The thing is, you commies don’t understand the fundamentals of conservatism. The free market and capitalism. Conservatives (LNP) believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. We believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals unhindered by government regulations. Just before I go on. I read that piece by John Lord: “Why are the Right so Feral”.  (https://theaimn.com/2013/05/21/why-are-theright-so-feral/).

Fair dinkum. He wouldn’t know shit from clay. I’d suggest he gets himself a manager. It’s obvious he’s been handing himself too long.

Surely it’s clear to everyone that we need to be free to pursue wealth. I mean I needed the freedom to accept my inheritance. The same with Gina. There will always be haves and have nots. Even Jesus said that. And Ronald Regan said. If we keep giving more money to the rich, everyone will have more money. It’s called tickle down economics. The poor will just have to wait a little longer to see it work.

Conservatives were born to control capitol. Labour comes after capital. Not everyone can be effluent. Had we had less regulation and let market forces have their way we wouldn’t have had a Global Financial Crisis. Now look at the mess Tony has to get the world out of

Oh and another thing.

I didn’t appreciate all the sarcastic remarks from that women Kaye Lee. I can only say that good manners is a basic tenant of conservatism. So she needn’t worry about what people think of her if she only knew how little they did.

Now where was I? Yes? There is no inequity in society. It’s just that some deserve more than others. We were born to rule. If we don’t have poor people who’s going to do the work.

That’s why I admire Christopher Pyne. It talks a lot of courage to change one’s mind and do what’s best for the country. The audacity to suggest that he told a lie before the election is ludicrous. I mean two many educated people can be dangerous for society. They might all want to be wealthy.

Well I don’t mind wealthy people so long as they aren’t as wealthy as me. If that makes sense.

It’s like my friend Wyatt Roy (I’ve always loved his name. It gives me the erps) said. ‘’Baby Boomers should stay in work longer. We are sick and tired of our generation propping them up’’

In Tony Abbott we have just what this country needs. An undoer. And there’s so much to undo that there will be little time left for doing anything else. That’s what conservatives value most. At this point in time we need an undoer, not a doer. That’s what Tony is.

And while it’s on my mind. I do hope Tony has the good sense to appoint a man as our next Governor General. I mean, fair dinkum, that sheila should resign now. Fancy supporting gay marriage and and a republic. Its bad enough being overrun by Asians and Muslims without giving in to poofters and Republicans. I truly don’t know what’s become of the Lucky Country.

He should appoint John Howard. He would make an excellent GG. Someone needs to saddle up against all these things. Just think, I mean really think about the contribution the Queen has made to our country. And I’m sure Charles will keep up the good work. When we see him.

I will finish with a few comments about the nasty things said with regard to my last letter.

I wont be writing again because I get the impression I am not welcome on this blog. I am at a loss to understand why because all I bring is wisdom and unbiased opinion.

carol sheridan

Surely that is not someone’s REAL thoughts???

I can only speak the truth Carol. There is no need to be so bloody cruel. I have feelings you know. Even if I am wealthy. I think you are so mean that if I paid you a compliment you would probably ask for a receipt.

Jessica

Hilarious! So terrifying that this is how some people actually think – and that they’re running the joint! ‘Morrie’ should post this as a note of support on some LNP Facebook pages and see how many likes and ‘hear, hear’s and ‘bravo, old chap’s he can get!

You’re disrespect is just revolting.

I think you’re that dumb that you must be three bricks short of a load or not the full two bobs worth. Either that or your three sanwhiches short of a picnic.


mludowyk

This has to be a joke – no-one can be that stupid and arrogant, unless they are members of the Liberal Party.

Well, whatever your name is. I could describe you as a pain in the neck but I have a much lower opinion of you.

There were over seventy comments regarding my letter on this blog last week. All of them in such poor taste that I feel I cannot avail myself to share my wisdom with you again. I can only hope and pray that someday the working classes will come to their senses and show their appreciation for the effluence we share.

Morrie Moneyworthy. Malvern.

To have the right to set the political agenda

mandate

Earlier this week I posted this comment on Facebook:

“To claim that you have a policy mandate when almost half of the population voted against you is an absurdity”

When someone questioned as to why I felt the conservatives didn’t have a mandate, I followed up with this:

“If you called an election on one explicit policy and everyone knew that it was specifically about that policy and you won. I would say you had a mandate. When in an election there are a multitude of policies I hardly think everyone would agree with all that party’s policies. Even if you voted for that party. Therefore it is ludicrous to claim a mandate on every one of them.”

In a private message a person asked for more information. I was pressed to think more deeply. I looked up many dictionary and other mandate definitions. They all spoke in general terms about a mandate being the concept of a government having a legitimate mandate to govern via the fair winning of a democratic election as a central idea of representative democracy.

I couldn’t disagree with any of that. It was not how I had always interpreted what a mandate was. In fact I could find nothing supported my take on the subject. Then I came across this:

“Elections, especially ones with a large margin of victory, are often said to give the newly elected government or elected official an implicit mandate to put into effect certain policies”.

It was on this basis that I made my original statement and how I had always viewed the substance of a mandate. The last NSW election was a prime example of a mandate. An overwhelming victory in terms of numbers is a mandate.

But in essence the word ‘’Mandate’’ is not derived from any particular institution, doctrine, law or constitution. It may have its grounding in philosophy, history or political morality. In those rare moments where it is legitimate it is more to do with how governments govern rather than any authority to do so.

The final primary vote in the recent federal election was closer than first thought.

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

It is therefore preposterous for the Prime Minister to claim a mandate to do anything other than govern. Prior to and during the election Labor’s policies were always irresistibly popular with the electorate. Essential polls and surveys showed that major reforms like Gonski, the NBN, NDIS, the carbon tax, gay marriage and others always had community support.

The contradiction was that people had no intention of voting Labor.

Yet even now, many weeks after the election these major reforms are being hotly debated. The Prime Minister is showing a complete disregard for science and is pretending he believes in climate change when he doesn’t. He is shunning the public’s will on the question of gay marriage.

Against public opinion he intends proceeding with his Luddite attitude on broadband. On top of that education and Disability Insurance are being downgraded.

Further complicating the notion of a mandate is a contradiction in terms. The House of review, the Senate has never recognised so called mandates instead usually acting in the interests of a minority party holding the balance of power. Therefore, a mandate cannot be a mandate unless it is honored by the Senate which is highly unlikely.

There is also the argument that if oppositions receive a sizable vote they too have received a mandate from their electors.

I think it is fairly conclusive that Labor did not lose the election because of policy unpopularity. On the contrary, their policies were so popular the conservatives (in the absence of policies of their own) adopted many of them.

Labor lost the election for two reasons. Firstly because there was a perception of dysfunction. And secondly because Murdoch ordered it so.

In winning the election the conservatives have the right to set the political agenda. They do not have a mandate to do any more.

New governments who attempt to introduce policies that they did not make public during an election campaign are said to not have a legitimate mandate to implement such policies.

Here is a list of policy direction from the LNP so far. Decide for yourself if they have an overwhelming mandate:

  • The abandonment of a market based carbon reduction scheme that is working in favour of a more expensive less effective Direct Action scheme. The abandonment of Australia’s responsibilities in not sending a minister to the UN Climate Summit.
  • The abolition of a science ministry and the general downgrading of science and its importance to society. Including the sacking of 1500 scientists from the CSIRO.
  • An Orwellian approach to asylum seeker policy that has led to a conspiracy of silence taking away the people’s right to be informed. And in doing so debasing foreign policy along the way.
  • Taking up a more expensive and slower broadband infrastructure project in spite of the people’s demonstrable desire for a fibre solution.
  • Despite majority public support for equality in marriage. A High Court challenge is issued immediately after the ACT passes legalisation. And they said it wasn’t a priority.
  • The downgrading of women in government. We have fewer female ministers than Afghanistan.
  • The possibility of selling of University HECS debt.
  • The repeal of the so-called Bolt laws pertaining to the Racial Discrimination Act. One wonders who he will target first.
  • The taking from the less well-off in society to give superannuation breaks to the better-off and to finance a Parental Leave scheme for women on large incomes.
  • The immoral withdrawal of overseas aid that will affect the lives of many thousands of children.
  • The public was, according to all the polls and surveys during the election campaign greatly in favour of education reform and the introduction of an NDIS. Now the government is talking of downgrading both.

There are probably many more policy directions yet to be announced by the Abbott Government. But these will suffice for now.

The question remains: What is a mandate? Well you decide. For me it is only legitimate when all cards are on the table and the party who wins, wins with such a majority that its mandate cannot be denied. And in those rare moments where it is legitimate it is more to do with how governments govern rather than any authority to do so.

Where Did All the Voters Go? And Why?

aust-votes

Indeed, where did they go? Mysteriously 3.3 million eligible voters went missing at the last election. That is a whopping 15% more than the previous one.

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

Who carried the loss? Our democracy did.

Unlike the US and the UK who both have voluntary systems, we have a compulsory one. We shouldn’t need to entice voters to the polling booth. But something has changed. It seems that in increasing numbers our citizens are walking away from their obligation.

Are they just morons who we should ignore anyway or are there other reasons? I don’t in the least subscribe to the moronic theory. I believe that most of these people made a conscious decision not to vote because they have become disenchanted with the system. Who can blame them?

In 2010 93% of eligible people voted. In the US about 60% of the population vote. In the UK it is about 65%

What would happen if the lost voters returned? Recent analysis of the election result suggests that fifteen of the Coalition’s new seats are held on very thin margins. Eleven seats have margins of less than 4000 voters. In essence the election was a lot tighter than first thought. Effectively this means that it would only take about 30,000 people to change their vote to change the government.

Answering the ‘if’ question may be complex. But simply put, it lays in a worldwide dissatisfaction with the practice of traditional Western politics. Left vs right. People who once saw politics as tough but with an ability to compromise now see it as tough but indecent. It is now an institution of power that drives self-interest and ignores the common good. If we look around the world, wealth has become the measure of success and the rich are becoming weather at an alarming rate. And in the history of this nation the rich have never been more openly brazen.

Something will have to break or in the future there will be a revolution. Even Americans no longer believe the dream that has been instilled in them since birth. That they all have an equal opportunity of success. It simply doesn’t exist.

Before going further we need to establish why Labor lost the election and I don’t propose to elaborate on this point. They lost firstly because of infighting over leadership and the perception of dysfunction. Secondly they lost because of a dominated right wing media which was under instructions to get rid of them and thirdly because the then opposition had the most negatively persuasive liar of a leader the country has ever known.

There is no doubt that the Australian political system is in need of repair but it is not beyond it. Labor has taken a small but important first step in allowing a greater say in the election of its leader however, it has a reform mountain to climb.

Besides internal party reform that fully engages its members, it needs to look at ways of opening our democracy to new ways of doing politics. Ways that engage those that are in a political malaise so that they feel part of the decision making process.

Like fixed terms, the genuine reform of question time with an independent speaker. They need to promote the principle of transparency. Advocate things like no advertising in the final month of an election campaign and policies and costing submitted in the same time frame. And you can add reform of the senate into the mix. And perhaps some form of citizen initiated referendum.

It has to raise itself above and overcome its preoccupation with faction power struggles. Struggles that preoccupy and erode the ability to be creative. In a future world dependant on innovation it will be ideas that determine government. Not the pursuit of power for powers sake.

If the Labor party is to convince the lost voters who have left our democracy to return (and I am assuming that most would be Labor) it has to turn its ideology on its head, re-examine it and reintroduce it as an enlightened opposite to the tea party politics that conservatism has descended into. It must turn its attention to the young and have the courage to ask of them that they should go beyond personal desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial but greatness in the name of altruism. That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of right wing political indoctrination.

It might even advocate lowering the voting age to sixteen. An article I read recently suggested the teaching of politics from year 8 with eligibility to vote being automatic if you were on the school roll. Debates would be part of the curriculum and voting (from 16 -18) would be supervised on the school grounds. With an ageing population the young would then not feel disenfranchised. Now that’s radical thinking. The sort of thing that commands respect. And it might also ensure voters for life.

Why did the voters leave?

How has democracy worldwide become such a basket case? Unequivocally it can be traced to a second rate Hollywood actor, a bad haircut and in Australia a small bald headed man of little virtue. They all had one thing in common. This can be observed in this statement. (Paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich”

Since Margaret Thatcher made that statement and the subsequent reins of the three, unregulated capitalism has insinuated its ugliness on Western Society and now we have an absurdly evil growth in corporate and individual wealth and an encroaching destruction of the middle and lower classes.

These three have done democracy a great disservice.

Where once bi partisanship flourished in proud democracies it has been replaced with the politics of hatred and extremism. Where compromise gets in the way of power and power rules the world.

3.3 Million Australians have tuned out of politics because of the destabilisation of leadership. Corruption on both sides and the negativity and lies of Tony Abbott. The propaganda of a right wing monopoly owned media and the exploitation of its parliament by Abbott.

Somehow the lost voters must be given a reason to return. A reason that is valid and worthwhile. A reason that serves the collective and engages people in the process. A politic for the social good of all. One that rewards personal initiative but at the same time recognises the basic human right of equality of opportunity.

A robust but decent political system that is honest, decent, and transparent. Where respect is the order of the day. Where ideas of foresight surpass the politics of greed and disrespect. Where truth, respect, civility and trust are part of vigorous debate and not just uninvited words in the process.

“The right to vote is the gift our democracy gives. If political parties (and media barons for that matter) choose by their actions to destroy the people’s faith in its principles and conventions then they are in fact destroying the very thing that enables them to exist.

The misuse of free speech may have contributed to the decline of our democracy but it is free speech that might ultimately save it.

Afterthoughts of an Abbott Victory

afterthoughts

Many issues arise from the aftermath of the recent election. None more important than the political apathy that grips the electorate.

There is something fundamentally wrong when, despite a huge recruitment drive by the Australian Electoral Commission, 1.22 million citizens failed to enrol to vote and 400,000, or one-third of the non-registrants, were aged 18 to 24.

Additionally, 760,000 House of Representative’s ballots were informal – about 6 percent, – up more than 0.3 percent from the 2010 election.

It would appear that a large portion of eligible voters no longer have any interest, or confidence in the institution of our parliament, or politics in general for that matter and have succumbed to the Abbott negativity and Labor’s infighting.

One can hardly blame them given the events of the past three years. It has done great damage to our democracy.

The big challenge for both parties should be to engage more people in the process. I use the word should because I fear the right of politics has little interest in doing so.

But the wipe-out of the Labor Party as predicted by the pollsters did not occur and it highlighted the implausibility of polling small samples in individual seats. Just another thing that needs to be addressed before the next election.

The irregularities that enable single interest individuals to gain seats in the Upper House also need to be looked into as a matter of urgency. Some interested parties have already put forward some ideas and these need to be debated.

Now that the dust has settled we can take a dispassionate look at the election results. The fact is that Labor did not suffer the resounding defeat that many commentators have suggested.

The landslide argument doesn’t stand up in light of the figures. The figures simply do not support the assumption.

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

This, of course, puts paid to any thoughts the Prime Minister might have of a double dissolution for whatever reason. It would be too risky. Remember Bob Hawke tried that in 1984 and went close to losing to Peacock.

Added to all this is the fact that the first preference vote of just 75% for old parties in the House of Representatives was the lowest since World War II. Could this be the new normal?

The final count also suggests that the Murdoch influence (having thrown as much smut and crass images at Labor as possible) may have been vital when you consider the reality of how tight the actual contest was. It might, however, also mean that Social Media may have played an important role in preventing the anticipated landslide.

What does the immediate future hold?

Other factors are beginning to emerge that give some insight into what an Abbott government might look like and behave.

For example, after three years of the well-known slogan of ‘’stop the boats’’ being thrust in our faces, the strategy now appears to be, to take the issue from the front pages and the nightly news and turn it into an Army operational issue. By making the boats invisible. Perhaps like co2.

When governments deliberately suppress information on the pretext of national interest. One would think that the free press might be outraged. After all access to information is their lifeblood. Thus far in Australia, it would appear that the mainstream media has succumbed to the will of government secrecy.

As Annabel Crabb put it.

‘’My best guess is that the removal of boat arrivals from the daily news, and the deletion of their struggles at sea from the national ledger, are calculated to deprive the people aboard those boats of the last hope they had; a vocal contingent of Australian citizens who still looked at them and felt sorry’’

Or I might suggest it’s that if they turn a boat around and it’s a stuff up then no one will know.

When you consider other actions taken as being sworn in it is easy to see that the intent of this government is to be low key, very conservative and wherever possible avoid scrutiny. After being in the face of every Australian for three years there now seems to be a reluctance by Tony Abbott to reveal his face. Mr Abbott has scaled back his media appearances since he came to power and promised to deliver “a government that’s about the substance of getting things done, not about the theatre of putting things on the front page”.

This, of course, begs the question. What about transparency and the people’s right to know.

It also creates a conundrum for the mainstream media. After all, they have made an enormous contribution to his instalment as Prime Minister. Now he doesn’t want to talk with them. How they will react is anyone’s guess. My guess is that they will protect him.

The mid-year budget update seems to have been placed in the secrets drawer and won’t be revealed until the journalists are in their January sleep mode. Ministers now have to seek approval from Abbott’s office before appearing on television or giving interviews.

There is, of course, this frenetic attempt to put things in a conservative framework.

Usually, we would have a new Prime Minister on the front foot outlining his agenda for the next three years. Instead, we have a lot of symbolism like swearing one’s oath to the queen with your personal Bible. We have the image of a ‘’boys own’’ club.

Then there have been the sackings of some econocrats whose only crime was to believe in science. A lot of noise about scrapping the carbon tax which may occur in time to welcome other countries implementation of it.

Of course, there is the hiding of the boats and a delay on a final decision on broadband pending a couple of inquiries that could even recommend a continuation of Labor’s policy.

And of course, we had the destruction of science. In the past few days, Christopher Pyne has indicated a return to the old conservative attitudes of university education. And of course, there is much that will be looked into.

But where is the grand plan?

Where are the policies that will take Australia forward into a prosperous future?

There were no policies during the election and it appears they have none now. It seems they will implement those policies of Labor’s that had popular support. But probably framed in their own image.

But do they have any ideas of their own? What is Abbott’s vision for the country? Is it just a return to Howard’s relaxed state of political bliss? And please don’t give me this crap that he has only been in power for a short time. He has had four years to put together a positive agenda.

Could it be that he spent so much of that time being negative that positive thoughts became dead, buried and cremated?

As Ross Gittens puts it.

‘’It’s as if Tony Abbott believes returning the Liberals to power will, of itself, solve most of our problems. Everything was fine when we last had a Liberal government, so restore the Libs and everything will be fine again.’’

Why Labor Lost

Image courtesy of fbider.com

Image courtesy of fbider.com

Firstly

The truth of the matter is that my Party is at times its own worst enemy. For the six years Labor has been in power it governed well in spite of the enormous inconvenience of minority governance. This is indisputable when you look closely at its economic record, the legalisation passed and reformist policy from within a minority framework.

Its problems though did not originate from everyday governance. In this sense, it has been no better or worse than any other government.

Rather its problems stemmed from personality conflict and the pursuit of power. Politics by its very nature is confrontational and uneasy with those with ego who pursue power for power’s sake or those who think they have some sort of ownership of righteousness.

Labor had two formidable intellects in Rudd and Gillard. In fact, combined they would total much of the opposition front bench’s intellectual capacity.

It is one thing to replace a leader but a different thing when the leader happens to be the Prime Minister who the voters perceive they have elected.

Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing so it is easy to say that Rudd should never have been replaced. That Rudd undermined the 2007 election campaign and continued to undermine Julia Gillard for most of her tenure. He never showed the grace in defeat that Turnbull displayed.

So we had two leaders of sagacious intellect. One a ubiquitous narcissist, who couldn’t listen and who couldn’t delegate. On the other hand, we had a woman of immense policy capacity (and history will judge her that way) but would be hard pressed to sell a Collingwood Guernsey to a rabid supporter.

Minority government has enormous, day to day difficulties without having one’s leadership frequently undermined. And we can speculate about a myriad of other possibilities but it won’t change the fact that ego destroyed any chance Labor had of winning the 2013 election.

This is the main reason why Labor lost. Not because they didn’t govern well. As Tanya Plibersek said 10/10 for governance and 0/10 for behaviour.

But because life is about perceptions, not what is, but what it appears to be. We painted a picture of irrational decision making, of dysfunction and murderous disloyalty. Rightly or wrongly that is the perception. In other words, we committed political suicide.

Secondly.

There are of course other factors that contributed to our downfall.

Despite the growing influence of the Fifth Estate the Main Stream Media still packs an enormous punch. In advertising, the success of one’s spend is measured by the resulting sales. The media can measure its influence in the Polls.

Labor was the victim of the most concerted gutter attack ever insinuated upon an Australian political party, from all sections of the media, although one, in particular, News Corp, has gone well beyond the realm of impartiality.

Labor was drowned in an avalanche of lies, repugnant bile, half-truths and omissions. The media lost its objectivity and news reporting. It became so biased that it no longer pretended to disguise it.

The MSM has forsaken truth, justice and respectability in its pursuit of the protection of privilege. They printed and told lies with such reprehensible consistency that a gullible and politically undiscerning Australian public never really challenged it.

As a famous businessman once said.’’ I spend a lot of money on advertising and I know for certain that half of it works’’ Clive Palmer has won a seat because he had the money to promote himself. He proved the power of persuasion with money.

The Fifth Estate (including me) attempted to counter these nefarious attacks but in my view, we are three years away from reaching full potential.

Having said that I plead some degree of ignorance, and I must say, I am absolutely astounded at how many people participate in social media and the voice it gives them.

However, in three years’ time, its ability to influence the younger generation will have risen exponentially. Added to that will be a declining older generation.

Thirdly.

Tony Abbott successfully adopted an American Republican-style shock and awe approach in his pursuit of power. Mainstream media hailed him the most effective opposition leader in Australian political history.

This was solely based on his parties standing in the polls and said nothing about the manner in which he lied and distorted facts and science to bring about this standing.

Perhaps they should rethink the criteria they use.

On a daily basis and in the parliament he sought to abuse, disrupt proceedings and tell untruths that normal men would not.

His gutter style negativity set a new benchmark for the behaviour of future opposition leaders. Luckily though, he may be the only one of his characterless ilk, and future opposition leaders may be more affable.

However, the consistency of his negativity had an effect on an electorate in a state of comatose. From the time the election date was announced he portrayed himself as a different person. An indifferent public was fooled by this chameleon disguise. He was and still is by his own admission a liar.

David Marr used these words, to sum up, the character of this would be Prime Minister.

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change.”

“He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power, it’s been a waste of time.”

How one appraisers the reasons for Labor’s loss might differ from individual to individual and there will undoubtedly be many thousands of words written on the subject. For me, it can be rather succinctly summed up in a sentence or two.

A political party, union of workers, sporting team or board of directors is only as good as the total sum of its parts. A good leader facilitates, emboldens and inspires the team, but a leader with self-interested ambition can destroy it all.

This is the first in a series. Next week Labor reform.

Your vote might just be worth something after all

News.com.au have published an excellent and timely article, Federal Election promises, cuts and what they mean for you bySarah Michael, which briefly examines Kevin Rudd’s and Tony Abbott’s election promises and how they would affect the average voter. The article deserves exposure. It doesn’t appear to be receiving a great deal by the looks of the Most Read Stories section of news.com where it hasn’t even entered the Top Ten even though it was published some seven hours ago. It is doubtful too, that hundreds of thousands of social media users will know the article exists because of the huge (and justified) anti-Murdoch sentiment: people – again justifiably – are deserting his tabloids in their droves.

Subsequently, for those thousands of readers of this site, I have reproduced the bulk of the article below. Here is what you will get with your vote:

If you have school-aged children…

Under Labor, you would receive the Schoolkids Bonus of $410 a year for each child in primary school and $820 a year for each child in secondary school. But your family would only be eligible for these payments if you receive benefits such as Family Tax Benefit Part A.

Labor would also introduce 137 new trade training centres to 225 schools across Australia.

Labor would also spend $8 million on programs to tackle homophobic bullying in schools.

The Coalition would axe the Schoolkids Bonus. But it would match Labor school funding dollar-for-dollar over the next four years.

If you have children in after-school care…

Labor would give $450 million in extra funding to up to 500 schools, so they can introduce or expand on after-school care services.

If you’re a TAFE student…

Labor would seek an agreement from the states and territories guaranteeing no further TAFE cuts. If the states refused to guarantee funding for TAFE, the Commonwealth would fund TAFEs directly.

If you want to go to university…

And you are from a disadvantaged background, Labor would give $50 million in funding to 17 higher education institutions to boost participation.

If you’re an apprentice…

Labor would boost the completion payment under the Tools For Your Trade initiative from $1500 to $2000. But Labor has already scrapped $3000 full-time and $1500 part-time incentives for employers of workers who undertake a ‘nonpriority’ qualification. The incentives remain in place if the qualifications lead to occupations on the National Skills Needs List or in the aged, child or disability care sectors, or if they are enrolled nurses.

The Coalition would maintain the scrapping of these incentives. The Coalition would also provide apprentices with a Trade Support Loan of up to $20,000 over four years during your apprenticeship. It will be repayable at the same income threshold for university students who receive FEE-HELP loans (currently $51,309).

If you’re a low-income earner…

And you earn less than $19,400, from 2015-16 you would not need to file a tax return because Labor intends to increase the tax-free threshold.

The Coalition would abolish the low-income super contribution, which pays people who earn $37,000 or less per year up to $500 each financial year to help save for their retirement.

If you’re unemployed…

Labor would spend $35 million over three years to provide about 8900 disadvantaged jobseekers with simulated work experience and training in employability skills such as language, literacy and numeracy.

The Coalition would give people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and are on Newstart or Youth Allowance a $2500 Job Commitment Bonus if they get a job and remain off welfare for one year. People would receive a further $4000 if they remain off welfare for two years.

The Coalition will also provide up to $6000 for long-term unemployed job seekers if they moved to a regional area for a job, or $3000 if they moved to a metropolitan area.

If you work in the public service…

Labor would increase the public service efficiency dividend from 1.25 to 2.25 percent for three years, a move unions say could cost more than 5000 jobs. The dividend is an annual funding reduction for Commonwealth government agencies, designed to reduce operating costs and lift efficiency.

The Coalition would reduce jobs by 12,000. It says the jobs would be lost through natural attrition.

If you’re applying for a 457 visa…

From next month fees will rise to more than $1000. The cost for a family of four applying to the scheme will go from $450 to $5050.

Both Labor and the Coalition would do this.

If you’re a small-business owner…

Labor says it would cut the red tape by administering paid parental leave through Centrelink for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

Labor would give an upfront tax deduction for small businesses when they buy equipment and assets worth up to $10,000.

Labor would also reduce GST reporting requirements from four times a year to just once a year for businesses with a turnover of less than $20 million a year.

Labor would also extend the free small business superannuation clearing house to businesses with less than 100 employees from July 1, 2014.

The Coalition would spend $6 million to create a Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman. It would also spend $3 million to improve access for small businesses to Commonwealth contracts. It would also spend $1 billion to cut red tape including changing superannuation payment methods.

The Coalition would also spend $1 million to extend unfair contract protections so they cover small businesses as well as consumers.

But the Coalition would axe a $6500 instant asset write off for small businesses with turnover less than $2 million.

It would also axe a tax-loss carry-forward scheme, which allows businesses to claim losses of up to $1 million against tax they have paid in the previous two years.

If you work in manufacturing…

Labor would invest $35.6 million to assist about 6800 new and existing manufacturing workers in upskilling for hi-tech manufacturing.

The Coalition would introduce a $50 million manufacturing transition grant program over two years. Grants would be available to communities, business and stakeholders to help them transition to competitive industries.

It would also restore funding to Export Market Development Grants starting with an initial $50 million boost.

If you work in health or community services…

Labor would spend $30.6 million to support more than 5800 workers to be upskilled in sectors such as disability services, aged care and childhood education.

If you work in the car industry…

Labor would give a $500 million boost to the car industry funding to the end of the decade and $300 million a year beyond 2020. If you work for Toyota, Labor would contribute $23.6 million towards Toyota’s $123 million investment in its local manufacturing operations. The government would also pay $1 million this financial year and $1.4 million per year from 2014 to 2017 in assistance to Ford Australia workers.

The Coalition would cut $500 million from the Automotive Transformation Scheme and would launch a Productivity Commission review into public funding for the Australian car industry.

If you’re working and studying…

Labor would defer and review the introduction of a $2000 cap on tax deductions for self-education expenses.

The Coalition has called on Labor to scrap the cap completely but has not committed to doing the same thing.

If you work for defence…

Labor would introduce measures so all families of Australian Defence Force personnel would be able to receive reimbursement for gap expenses when visiting a general practitioner.

The Coalition would also reimburse ADF families for out of pocket GP expenses. The Coalition would return defence spending to 2 percent of GDP from the current level of 1.59 percent within a decade.

If you don’t like the carbon tax…

Labor would terminate a fixed carbon price from next July. Families would save an average of $380 in the first year, plus the household assistance package linked to the carbon tax would remain in place. Labor would instead introduce an emissions trading scheme with a floating carbon price of about $6 a tonne.

The Coalition would axe the carbon tax. It would instead establish an Emissions Reduction Fund of $3 billion to allocate money in response to emission reduction tenders to projects designed to reduce carbon emissions.

If you’re in a same-sex relationship…

And want to get married, Labor would introduce a Bill into the Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage within 100 days of being re-elected.

If you use the internet…

Labor would roll out the National Broadband Network which aims for speeds of 1000 megabits per second by 2021.

The Coalition broadband would aim for at least 25-100 Mbps by 2016 and 50-100 Mbps by 2019.

If you’re planning on having a baby…

You are eligible to receive Labor’s current paid parental leave. This is 18 weeks’ pay at the rate of the national minimum wage.

The Coalition would give mothers who give birth after July 2015 six months’ leave on full pay, capped at $75,000.

If you are a victim of terrorism…

The Coalition would provide assistance to Australians and their families who have been victims of terrorism overseas since September 10, 2001, up to a maximum of $75,000. Currently, this assistance would be available for future victims but is not available for existing victims.

If you are an Indigenous Australian…

Labor promises a large number of measures under its Closing the Gap policy, including

$777 million over three years to continue the National Partnership Agreement for health and

$1.5 billion to provide job seekers in remote communities with local support.

The Coalition would spend $10 million to fund four trial sites for jobs training for Indigenous Australians.

It would also provide up to $45 million to support the GenerationOne employment model, creating job opportunities for up to 5000 indigenous Australians. The Coalition would also establish a Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

If you plan on buying a car…

Labor would axe the fringe benefits tax break employees receive for buying cars through salary sacrifice.

The Coalition would abandon these planned changes.

If you have a disability…

Labor would invest more than $14 billion for disability services over seven years for DisabilityCare.

The Coalition has also committed to implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

If you require aged care…

Labor would invest $3.7 billion in aged care reform over five years, including more than 40,000 extra home care packages.

If you’re a victim of assault…

… that is sexual assault or domestic violence related, Labor would spend $31.2 million to support victims.

If you have health issues…

Labor would spend $50 million to improve care for stroke sufferers, $10.5 million on emergency asthma training, $3.2 million funding for Arthritis Australia, $21 million for family mental health services and $30 million for STI and blood borne virus prevention.

The Coalition would increase mental health spending by $430 million, spend $35 million to help find a cure for type 1 diabetes and provide a further $200 million over five years for dementia research.

If you have private health insurance…

The Coalition would “fully restore” the private health insurance rebate. The 30 percent rebate is currently means-tested for individuals earning more than $83,000 and families earning more than $166,000. Singles earning more than $129,000 and families earning over $258,000 receive no rebate.

The Coalition would also scrap the means test but has not said when they would do this.

If you’re a senior…

The Coalition would index eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. This would allow more self-funded retirees to access the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at the concessional rate.

If you run a company…

The Coalition would cut the company tax rate by 1.5 percent from 1 July 2015. But if you run one of the 3200 biggest companies in Australia, the Coalition would impose a 1.5 percent levy to pay for part of its Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

If you’re a smoker…

Labor would increase the smoking tax so a pack of 20 cigarettes would cost you an extra $5.25 by the end of 2016.

The Coalition would increase the smoking tax by the same amount.

If you pay super…

The Coalition will delay increases to the super guarantee. This means it will be frozen at its current rate of 9.25 percent until July 1, 2016, when it will increase to 9.5 percent.

If you’re anything like me, after reading that you’re probably picking yourself up from the floor!  A Murdoch article that actually makes Labor look good! Now we just have to get the message across.

Your vote might just be worth something after all.

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Some reasons why the Libs don’t want you to vote for the Greens

If anybody wants to know what the Coalition plan to do in Government then they need look no further than the Coalition Speakers notes 1 July 2012 for an insight of the frightening world they would hope to thrust upon us. It looks at all the topical issues including Border Protection, Communications and Broadband, Employment and Workplace Relations, Foreign Affairs, Heath Higher Education, Indigenous Australians, Multiculturalism, Population, Superannuation and Youth.

But typical of any Coalition document it focuses more on attacking the other major parties than how and what should be done. The ‘hows’ and ‘whats’ are nothing more than a bit of chest thumping. There is much more passion in their criticisms of both the Government and the Greens than there is in beating their own drum. Just the usual scare tactics, you might say.

What struck me the most about the document was their rabid hatred for everything the Greens stand for. The Greens are not my party of choice, but after reading the document I’m convinced that they stand for much more than I gave them any credit for. And if anything, I’m more determined to vote against a party that opposes – or condemns –  what the Greens want for our society.

I’ve made a list of some of the reasons why the Libs don’t want you to vote for the Greens. Upon reading them, you might also ponder how much the Liberals must be out of touch with the modern, progressive Australian. Here’s the list of what the Coalition fear:

The Greens believe in legalising same sex marriages.

The Greens believe in reintroduction of voluntary euthanasia laws in the NT & ACT.

The Greens support holding a plebiscite for an Australian Republic.The Greens will legalise the use of cannabis for specified medical purposes.

The Greens moved a private members bill entitled Anti-Terrorism Reform Bill 2009 to relax terrorism laws and calls for amendments to the Criminal Code and Crimes Act.

The Bill calls for greater freedom of expression and association, freedom from arbitrary detention, legal due process and privacy.

The Greens will repeal the sedition laws and will repeal mandatory sentencing legislation.

The Greens will prohibit the use of electroshock weapons and Tasers.

The Greens want an open door refugee and asylum seeker policy.They have said that they want to increase the number of refugees and asylum seekers Australia takes, but they haven’t said by how much; they also want to decrease the number of skilled migrants and increase the number of family reunion migrants.

Abolition of mandatory detention of illegal immigrants.

Restore Australia’s migration zone to match Australia’s territory and accept responsibility for processing all asylum seekers who seek protection in that zone.

Allow illegal immigrants unrestricted movement in and about reception centres.

Immediately grant illegal immigrants an asylum application visa (AAV) and move them into community reception centres after medical and security checks are satisfied or after 14 days.

Allow illegal immigrants with AAVs the right to work, travel, income support and access to ongoing educational and medical services anywhere in Australia while their claims are being assessed.

Ensure that refusal of an AAV is reviewable by the Administration Appeals Tribunal and that the illegal immigrant is housed in a facility close to an urban area.

Closing Australian ports and territorial waters to nuclear powered vessels and create nuclear free zones, municipalities and ports;

Prohibit mineral exploration, mining, extraction of petroleum and gas in terrestrial and marine nature conservation reserves.

Ban the exploration, mining and export of uranium and the storage of low-grade domestic nuclear waste in a remote location in Australia.

The Greens want a commonly agreed national benchmark to measure poverty and reform the social security system to ensure an adequate income for all.

The Greens will increase the number of marine reserves and implement a national framework for managing recreational and charter fishing.

The Greens will introduce an Oceans Act and establish a statutory National Oceans Authority to coordinate the sustainability of ocean uses. The Authority will report to the Parliament and enforce cosystem-based regional management plans and targets.

The Greens have called for a treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders that recognises prior occupation and have sovereignty enshrined into the constitution.

The Greens will pursue the conclusion of a multilateral convention based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and enact its provisions into Australian Law.

The Greens believe in the full restoration of the Racial Discrimination Act in the NT and ending the federal intervention into indigenous communities regardless of any consequences.

The Greens will repeal amendments to the NT’s land Rights Act as they believe the amendments disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Want to abolish SES funding for private schools, which would discourage private investment in education and create more dependency on taxpayer funding to fund school education.Impose new federal controls on where new non-government schools can be built or how many students they could enroll, which would severely limit parental choice.

Want Commonwealth funding for private schools kept at 2003/04 levels, which would see many schools be forced to close or sack teachers in order to stay open.Oppose performance payments for teachers.

Believe that education unions are the appropriate industrial representatives in all educational matters.

And finally …

Will increase Youth Allowance to the level of a living wage, irrespective of the cost to taxpayers

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No Rudd challenge? That’s the news, apparently

Photo from theaustralian.com.au

Photo from theaustralian.com.au

“Labor’s crippling leadership stand-off is showing no signs of resolution with the former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, still refusing to challenge and Julia Gillard hardening her resolve to stay put.”   The Age, 18th June, 2013

Of course, with someone else so clearly more popular, you’d think a Rudd challenge was inevitable, but no, it looks like the status quo will prevail until the election. No challenge. And this may be the reason for the lack of clearly stated policies, the use of a few motherhood statements and certain backbenchers breaking ranks. Whatever, the odds are that Abbott will lead the Liberals into the next election with Turnbull still refusing to challenge in spite of  having a leader whose policy on climate change, gay marriage and the republic are so radically different from his own.

I could say that someone told me confidentially that Turnbull is counting the numbers, but not being one of the Canberra crowd, people may want to know who. They may even ask if my source had give me reliable information in the past. And I’d have to confess that they hadn’t.

But as I write this the Labor caucus is meeting. I guess that they’ll have a spill. I guess Rudd will stand this time. I guess he would have stood if he thought he’d be elected unopposed. I guess these things would sound more convincing if I used a phrase like, “the word is” or “I have it on good authority”,  instead of “I guess”.

Ah well, my source says that Kevin will be the next ambassador to the US. Or the UN. but that’s only if one of the parties wins the election. He wasn’t sure which.

 

An invitation to Tony Abbott

Three months out from the federal election Tony Abbott must be very frustrated. He has only three months to tell us what he will do as Prime Minister but the mainstream media (MSM) cruelly refuse to hand him the microphone. He must be wondering why they’re not interested in asking him those little things about policies, plans, visions. I’m sure he has many. I’m sure he wants to tell us what they are.

If the MSM refuse to show him some courtesy then he has one alternative: the independent media. We would love to accommodate him. We’d love to ask him those questions that the MSM so rudely ignore.

Tony, we’re here to your rescue. Among the social and independent media your policies, plans and visions will reach an audience of hundreds of thousands of news hungry readers. At least those readers will be privileged to hear first hand what to expect from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

So we invite you to speak to us.

I know that political parties keep a very sharp eye on political blog sites so I know that someone in the Coalition will be alerted to this post. Could that person please inform Tony Abbott that we want to speak to him? He could always get in touch with us here at The AIMN and following on from that we can arrange an interview with the independent media groups. It will provide Tony with the best opportunity to proudly announce what he has, to date, been robbed from doing: answering questions.

We, and only we, are interested in revealing Prime Minister Abbott to the electorate prior to the election. And I’m sure that Tony Abbott is desperate for the electorate to know more about him. How can he hope to promote himself through a lazy, uninterested, incompetent mainstream media?

By talking to our keen ears we can hear of – and propagate – the election-winning policies that are currently being stifled by the media. At last he’ll find an audience to hear him out.

Hence, Mr Abbott, we offer this invitation to you to come and talk to us.

Allay the fears of many undecided voters who have not had the opportunity to learn what you stand for, especially given there is a possibility that you might control both houses of Parliament. Some people are petrified at this prospect and the devastation you might create because of your inane personality, your reliance on Catholicism and the simplistic minds of your shadow cabinet. You can dispel those fears, which is something the MSM have not given you the opportunity to do.

Your vision is worthless without public support and yes, we are here to support you.

But let’s cut to the chase. Talk to us, on more than anything, about the Institute of Public Affairs; that free market right wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and closely aligned to the Liberal Party. There are rumours in the electorate that every one of your policies, plans or visions has been generated from the influence this think tank has over your party. And while the MSM are not interested to discuss this issue with you, we are.

In an article by the IPA titled Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia the authors suggest that:

“If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal Party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigour when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.”

It is the essence of that last sentence that particularly grates people and the following list gives people the wrong impression of the havoc you might cause. Here’s your chance to undo it. A chance denied by the MSM.

1.   Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
2.   Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3.   Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4.   Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5.   Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
6.   Repeal the renewable energy target
7.   Return income taxing powers to the states
8.   Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
9.   Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
10. Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
11.  Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
12.  Repeal the National Curriculum
13.  Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
14.  Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
15.  Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
16.  Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
17.  End local content requirements for Australian television stations
18.  Eliminate family tax benefits
19.  Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20. Means-test Medicare
21. End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
22. Introduce voluntary voting
23. End mandatory disclosures on political donations
24. End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
25. End public funding to political parties
26. Remove anti-dumping laws
27. Eliminate media ownership restrictions
28. Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30. Cease subsidising the car industry
31. Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
32. Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
34. End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
35. Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
36. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
37. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
38. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
39. Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
40. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
41. Repeal the alcopops tax
42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams

43. Repeal the mining tax
44. Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
45. Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
46. Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
47. Cease funding the Australia Network
48. Privatise Australia Post
49. Privatise Medibank
50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51. Privatise SBS
52. Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
53. Repeal the Fair Work Act
54. Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
55. Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
56. Abolish the Baby Bonus
57. Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
58. Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
59. Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
60. Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
61. Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
62. End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
63. Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
64. End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
65. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
66. Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
67. Means test tertiary student loans
68. Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
69. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
70. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
71. Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
72. Privatise the CSIRO
73. Defund Harmony Day
74. Close the Office for Youth
75. Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

Of course, some of those have very little bearing on the electorate. But some have a massive impact. You have been denied the opportunity to discuss these issues with the MSM while we in the independent media have been screaming for you to have a say. So come along and meet with us. Let us be the microphone that blasts your message across Australia. I doubt you’ll never get another chance.

We’d love to chat with you about the above, plus much more. You might even take this as an opportunity to re-affirm that WorkChoices is dead in the water. Put our minds at ease. You can only do this through bypassing the MSM.

My thanks go to John Lord whose article “Public apathy and 75 ideas to make you shudder” inspired this invitation to Tony Abbott.

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Haters want to hate

NDISParliamentIt’s clear Australian voters aren’t rational, but do they have to be so blatantly mindless as well? When I say voters, I’m currently referring in this context to the people recently polled by ReachTEL and whose responses contributed to this headline on News.com:

“Voters trust Opposition Leader Tony Abbott most to deliver NDIS, poll reveals”

I had to read this a couple of times before I believed what I was seeing. The figures in the article state that 57% of the poll’s respondents trust Tony Abbott to deliver the NDIS, more so than they trust Julia Gillard. Surely, even someone completely rusted onto the Liberal party, even Peta Credlin, even Gina Rinehart, even Rupert Murdoch, even Alan Jones, even Tony Abbott himself must see the inanity in this poll result. The NDIS is Labor’s policy. It was the work of Bill Shorten, and only with Julia Gillard’s support did it have any hope in hell in getting a name, let alone being successfully implemented. Tony Abbott supported Labor’s NDIS policy after many months of non-commitment, only after it became obvious that if he didn’t, he would be seen as the scrooge we all know him to be. But just because he supported it, does not mean he gives a crap about it. He never raised such a scheme as even an idea when he was in government for many years. And when the policy did finally pass the lower house, much to the joy of the Labor MPs who worked tirelessly to make it happen, Tony Abbott and his team weren’t even there to see it happen. Because they couldn’t bear to be seen celebrating a policy win by the Labor government. A Labor government policy. So on what far off planet do these voters live if they think Abbott would be the better person to deliver a policy that was designed and successfully passed through the Parliament by Gillard’s Labor government?

At this point I’m pretty much ready to say to Australian voters, wake the f*ck up. Could you really be so misinformed by the Murdoch, Fairfax and ABC press, so out of touch with the policy platforms of the two major parties, and so ready to hate everything Julia Gillard does, that even when her government successfully implements a policy of huge national significance, you give Abbott the credit?

Perhaps this isn’t just a sign of an electorate that is completely uninterested with the roles played by the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in delivering the landmark NDIS policy. Perhaps it’s a sign of just how disengaged ordinary voters are from, well, political reality.

I guess it’s these same voters who haven’t twigged that the Carbon Price is designed to save them and future generations of their family from the effects of climate change. It’s these same voters who refuse to equate Murdoch’s campaign to bring down the Gillard government with an agenda to destroy the NBN, a technology that puts his Foxtel profits at risk. It’s also these same voters who don’t understand that Gina Rinehart hates the Mining Tax not because she wants to make enough money to keep employing more workers, but because she doesn’t want to pay tax on her super profits. Because she wants to keep the money from the sale of Australia’s resources for herself. These voters are probably willing to support policies that they do understand, such as the Gonski school funding, but they’re still not willing to give Gillard the credit for designing and delivering such policies. Gillard is damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t.

The other truly frustrating part of this whole messed up situation is that Abbott supporters never have anything nice to say about Abbott. They only have bile to spew at Gillard. Ad astra is right, propaganda directed at the Gillard government is spreading hatred throughout the electorate. This hatred is making the electorate crazy. Here’s a challenge for any Abbott supporters who come across this post and decide to make a comment. Please tell us why you support Abbott, without mentioning Labor or Gillard. I dare you.

Tony Abbott in The Lodge: it’s still ‘never’

The polls suggest that Tony Abbott is close to getting his little grubby hands on the keys to The Lodge. The keys, then, will be in the wrong hands.

In January we posted an article written by John Lord and myself (80/20) titled ‘Never’ with the argument of why Tony Abbott should not make it to The Lodge. We are committed to keeping him out. Hence, we have decided to re-run that post at regular intervals between now and the election as we attract new readers and hopefully, have our message widely spread.

An Abbott in the Lodge – Never

David Marr’s quarterly essay “Political Animal” gives an engrossing, even gripping insight into the persona of the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. I made many observations as I read it and I cannot of course comment on everything. I must say though (given Tony Abbot’s statement that he finds gays intimidating) that I was a little bemused at how Marr even got to interview him. They apparently spent some time together which must have been excruciatingly uncomfortable for the Opposition leader. And given that Mr Abbott only allowed him to use one quote I should think he probably wasted his time. Another thing that took my attention was the influence of Catholicism in his private and political decision making. He apparently finds it difficult to make decisions without referral to his faith.

What did catch my eye was this short paragraph: “Josh Gordon of the Sunday Age saw the parallels early. Like the Republicans in the US the Coalition’s new strategy appears to be to block, discredit, confuse, attack and hamper at every opportunity.” Do we see any similarities here? Well of course. On a daily basis the negativity of Abbott spreads like rust through the community. He seeks to confuse with the most outlandish statements. Hardly a day passes without referring to the Prime minister as a liar while at the same time telling the most outrageous ones himself. And with a straight face I might add. He seeks to hamper (as do the Republicans) all legislation with a pre-determined NO. Often without even reading it. Abbott has (as have Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan) taken lying and the frequency of it to a level in political discourse we have never experienced.

In the US the Republicans with all this propaganda have sought to create a fictional President who is the opposite to the one known outside the States. Twenty five per cent of the population still believe he is a Muslim and a large percentage still believe he was born outside the States even though the facts prove otherwise. Such is the power of the right-wing media (Fox News) and an accumulation of feral shock jocks. The GOP (the Republicans – the “Grand Old Party”) is even accused of deliberately not passing bills in order to make the economy worse.

In Australia, for two years the Prime Minister has been demonised by a right wing (Murdoch) news media pack intent on creating a false profile and bringing her down at the first opportunity. She has had thrown at her the most vile misogynist ravings un-befitting of the fourth estate but the tabloids and the shock jocks seem to thrive on it.

At this point (since we are talking in part about truth) let me say that I would describe myself as progressive social democrat. Centre-left on some issues and further left on others. I confess this so as not to be accused later of any preconceived bias. I am the originator of this quote “to be a true democrat one has to concede that your opponents have as much right to win as does your side”; I wrote that prior to the advent of this nefarious thing called neo conservatism or neo capitalism. I wrote it at a time when the political divide (despite the ideological differences) had some respect for the common good; when we in Australia admired America’s bi-partisan approach to its politics. The decline of bi-partisan politics and the rise of neo conservatism can be traced back to a third rate actor and a women with a bad hair-do. And in time respect for public office has gone out the window.

Regardless of what political persuasion you are I believe we like to see character in our leaders. Now how do we describe character. I came across this in the New York Times; it is a direct reference to Mitt Romney, however, it suffices as a general observation:

“Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of a presidential campaign, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibers from which it is woven.”

When looked in isolation the lies and indiscretions of Tony Abbott, his problems with women and even his negativity could perhaps all be written off as just Tony being Tony. Or that’s just politics. However my focus here is on character and whether Mr Abbott has enough of it to be the leader of our nation. My contention is that because we are looking at a litany of instances of lying, deception and bad behaviour over a long period of time he simply doesn’t have the essence of character which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership.

The evidence for this assertion follows. None of these events are in chronological order. They are just as they come to mind and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile.

When the President of the US visited he broke long standing conventions by politicising his speech as Opposition leader.

He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.

He did the same when the Queen visited.

He would not allow pairs (another long standing convention) so that the Minister for the Arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley; an Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personnel friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs.

More recently he refused a pair whilst the Prime Minister was on bereavement leave following the death of her father.

At university he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election.

Referred to a women Chairperson as “Chairthing”.

He was accused of assaulting a women at university and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself.

Another women accuses him of throwing punches at her. And hitting either side of a wall she was standing against. He says it never happened but others corroborated her story.

He threatens to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed with him on a women’s right to an abortion.

In 1978 a young teacher by the name of Peter Woof bought assault charges against Abbott. He punched him in the face. It never went anywhere. Abbott was represented by a legal team of six and the young man could not afford to defend himself.

And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match? Yes, he did.

He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence.

And let’s not forget the role he played also in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. After One Nation shocked the Coalition by winning 11 seats in Queensland in June 1998, Abbott was determined to dig up every piece of dirt he could on Hanson. In his own words, on her demise he boasts this was:

“All my doing, for better or for worse. It has got Tony Abbott’s fingerprints on it and no-one else’s.”

Yes, even after saying that, he still lies about its existence.

He was ejected from the House of Representatives once in obscure circumstances. Hansard is unclear why but it is alleged that he physically threatened Graham Edwards. Edwards lost both his legs in Vietnam.

In 2000 he was ejected from the House along with six others. Philip Coorey reports that he was headed toward the Labor back benches ready to thump a member who had heckled him.

Abused Nicola Roxon after he had turned up late for a debate.

Then there was the interview with Mark Riley where he had a brain fade that seemed like it would never end. I thought he was deciding between a right hook or a left cross. Something that I found mentally disturbing and worrying at the same time. After all this was the man who could be our next Prime Minister.

Together with Christopher Pyne seen running from the House of Representatives to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.

Being the first Opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it.

The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript?

The interview with Kerry O’Brien where he admitted that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth.

And in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the Catholic Archbishop George Pell.

During the Republic Referendum he told many outrageous untruths.

His famous “Climate change is crap” comment and later saying that he was speaking to an audience. This of course elicited the question: “Is that what you always do?”

His almost daily visits to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the ‘carbon tax’ (a scare campaign best described as fraudulent). None of which have come to fruition. His blatant lying often repudiated by the management of the businesses. The most notable being the CEO of BHP and their decision not to proceed with the Olympic Dam mine. Whole towns being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc.

And of course there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so in Parliament the next day.

Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy near Old Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.

He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised.

And of course there is also the lie about asylum seekers being illegal.

Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die.

And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 per cent.

I think I have exhausted it all but I cannot be sure. Oh wait.

We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden. I used to think that John Howard was a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work, but in comparison to Tony Abbott he appears as kind, caring and compassionate as Mother Teresa. Tony Abbott is far, far more mean-spirited. He demonstrates this in the way he ignores human misery and the way he belittles those who are suffering from it. He is, in a nutshell, nasty to the core. Stories surface that he’s been inherently nasty for as long as people have known him, but it wasn’t until 2005 that I first took notice of his extreme level of nastiness and lack of compassion for human misery when it was hoisted onto the national stage. It came only hours after the NSW Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, had attempted suicide. The Age reported at the time that:

The day after Mr Brogden was found unconscious in his electorate office with self-inflicted wounds, Mr Abbott publicly joked at two separate Liberal Party functions about the disgraced leader’s career-wrecking behaviour . . . Mr Abbott was asked at a fund-raising lunch about a particular health reform proposal and reportedly answered: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.”

Nasty. To the core. And to a mate.

He also claimed that Bernie Banton was a mate. Not that he acted like one.

When Abbott was the Minister for Health, the dying asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton obtained a petition containing 17,000 signatures of those who supported the listing of the mesothelioma drug Alimta on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This petition was to be presented in person to Tony Abbott. If it wasn’t disrespectful enough to snub the petition, then his verbal response certainly was.

Yesterday, Mr Abbott was quick to dismiss the petition.  “It was a stunt,” Mr Abbott said on the Nine Network.

“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.”

He loves making fun of dying people. Does he expect we’ll all laugh along with him?

He even has a go at deceased people. Margaret Whitlam wasn’t even in the grave before Tony Abbott used her death to score cheap political points.

The death of Margaret Whitlam caused such an outpouring of saddened fondness that comments by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, linking her passing with the sins of the Whitlam government appear to have struck an extremely wrong note.

He said she was a ”woman of style and substance” and ”a marvellous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime minister”.

”There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam Government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Abbott said.

Nasty. To the core.

If politics is fundamentally about ideas it is also about leadership. In this piece I have deliberately steered clear of policy argument in order to concentrate on character. On three occasions I have invited people on Facebook to list five attributes of Tony Abbott that would warrant his election as Prime Minister of Australia. I have never received a reply. And when you look at the aforementioned list is it any wonder. He is simply bereft of any character at all. He has been described as the Mad Monk and many other things but essentially he is a repugnant gutter politician of the worst kind. In following the American Republican party’s example his shock and awe tactics associated with perpetual crisis has done nothing but degenerate the standard of Australian politics and the Parliament generally. In the public eye he is most effective in attack dog mode. However he is found wanting when he needs to defend himself and simply reverts to stuttering hesitation and lies. Or just walking out on press conferences when he stumbles over tough questions. This is particularly noticeable when he tries to explain the complexity of policy detail.

The future of this country is of vital importance. So much so that its leadership should never be entrusted to a politician of such little virtue and character. A man who has failed to articulate a narrative for Australia’s future other than a personal desire to occupy The Lodge. Given his performance of late he would do well to consider these words: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. It’s easy to understand what Abbott says because he only speaks in slogans. The difficulty is knowing what he means.

I have used this line in one of my short stories and it aptly sums up the character of Honourable Leader of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition.

As he spoke, truth came from the beginning of a smile or was it just a sneer of deception.

Please note, this was written prior to the Prime Minister’s now famous ‘sexist speech’ and does not include these snippets of Tonyisms.

His dying of shame comment.

His “lack of experience in raising children” comment.

His “make an honest women of herself ” comment.

His “no doesn’t mean no” comment.

  1. “Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.”

  2. “These people aren’t so much seeking asylum, they’re seeking permanent residency. If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers”.

On rights at work:

  1. “If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband . . . you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss”.

On women:

  1. “The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience”.

  2. “I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons”.

  3. “I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak”.

  4. “What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year . . .”

On Julia Gillard:

  1. “Gillard won’t lie down and die”.

On climate change:

  1. “Climate change is absolute crap”.

  2. “If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax”.

On homosexuality:

  1. “I’d probably . . . I feel a bit threatened”.

  2. “If you’d asked me for advice I would have said to have – adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about all of these things . . . “

On Indigenous Australia:

  1. “Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage”.

  2. ‘”Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that . . .”

  3. “There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done”.

On Nicola Roxon:

16: “That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?”

I could go on. History is filled with examples of how low this man is; of how nasty he is.

I fear that we may not yet have seen the full extent of his nastiness. We might have to wait – God forbid – for the day he ever becomes Prime Minister.

It’ll be nasty for all of us.

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