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Tag Archives: 2013 Federal Election

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’.

 

 94 total views

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.’’

 152 total views

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.’’

 50 total views

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.

 84 total views

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 by Sarah 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

“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.

 

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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

It’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.

 

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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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Up The Opinion Polls

If we are to take the latest Fairfax Poll at face value and try to analyse the sudden voter turnaround it conjures up a number of possibilities. Those on the right might argue that’s its all the bad news that has confronted Labor since Christmas. One writer lists the following.

Craig Thomson finally got arrested. Other union identities (Williamson, etc) going through their own court proceedings, legal issues, etc. In NSW, two senior former ALP ministers, Eddie Obeid and Ian McFarlane, are in ICAC accused of defrauding NSW of $75 million. Nova Perris “captains pick” looked tokenistic. Long-standing Senator Trish Crossin dumped in the trash through no fault of her own. Makes Gillard look ruthless. PM announces longest election-campaign in the nation’s history. If nothing else, it seemed “weird”. Two senior ministers resign days later. This terrible timing is a strong indicator that they had no idea Gillard was about to announce election-date. Suggestive of secretive and dysfunctional cabinet. Treasurer Swan finally admits that the surplus he promised 200 times won’t be delivered.

If we accept these as legitimate reasons (and they are) then we also need to look at what the electorate is prepared to reject in order to strike a balance. So if this poll is correct it also means (given the margins involved) that the electorate has overwhelming rejected every government policy. Let’s go through them at the same time remembering that the Coalition has none. Well other than a maternity leave policy that economists say is unaffordable. Considering this point is important if we are to understand voting intentions. Otherwise the voter is being asked to make a decision based on incomplete information. If this is so, how seriously do we take this poll? Is it actually saying that the electorate fundamentally rejects all of the following policies in favour of Mr Abbott’s unknown ones? That none has any merit and that they don’t care what his policies are. They will accept them anyway. I think not.

They overwhelmingly reject the need for a price on carbon. This in spite of the fact that it is bedded down and working well. They are prepared for the opposition to rip it up in favour of a plan that economists and environmentalists say will not work. And they are even prepared to go to a double dissolution.

They overwhelmingly reject the need for a broadband network of the standard the government is building and would be happy with a Mickey Mouse network that the experts say is inferior.

They overwhelmingly reject the need for a better and more equal education system for their children and think that the Gonski report is not worthy of implementation despite it receiving loud applause from academics and the public. Remember the Coalition had said they are happy with the current system.

They overwhelmingly reject the need for an NDIS and are happy with the status quo. Again this policy has received widespread community support. The Coalition while supporting it say it is not in their immediate plans.

They would overwhelmingly forgo any possibility that gay folk would ever achieve marriage equality.

They would overwhelmingly forgo any possibility that Australia might ever become a republic with its own head of state. Not even a plebiscite.

They overwhelmingly think it’s fine for families to lose their school hand outs that help to pay for school fees etc.

They overwhelmingly accept that a large portion of the population (3.6 million and mainly women) will have their taxes increased.

They overwhelmingly say that they are not interested in a 3% increase in their superannuation.

They overwhelming think its fine for the Opposition to rip up the Murray Darling agreement.

They overwhelmingly reject the Government’s handling of the economy which most observers believe to be amongst the best in the world. If not the best.

They overwhelmingly want to get rid of the mining tax despite it having the potential, repeat, potential to spread the wealth of the nation.

They overwhelmingly could not care less that between 13,000 and 20,000 public servants will lose their jobs.

So they have decided overwhelmingly to reject all this even without an Opposition card on the table.

Now I could probably go on and some might also add some other policy areas but these suffice to make my point.

And of course we have a judge finding that members of a political party (The LNP) conspired with James Ashby to use the courts to bring a false claim against the speaker of the house with the eventual intent of bringing down the government. Do I take it that this means nothing to the electorate?

Or do I argue that the average punter has not yet had enough information to make a considered judgement and the ramifications of what a vote for the coalition might mean in real terms? Is the poll seriously suggesting that the electorate has already overwhelmingly rejected all of these policies? That none are worth a pinch? Could it mean that they don’t care and they simply dislike a women in The Lodge and are prepared to forgo any policy at all? It could also mean that the bias of the press and the media in general has been extremely persuasive. And how does one explain the turn a round in the popularity of Tony Abbott from one the most disliked opposition leaders ever, to being more popular than the Prime Minister? You simply cannot.

So all this is strange. There was a Morgan Poll after Christmas that showed the government one percentage point behind the opposition. Was it so far out as to be worthless? On the Café Whisper’s blog in the piece There’s something odd about the Nielson Poll the writer lists in chronological order the political events since Christmas and suggests that there is nothing out of the ordinary that might be a reason for Labor’s demise in the polls. I agree, except that the manner in which the media reported them demonstrated a bias that colours the public’s perception of both the Prime Minister and her Government. The resignation of two ministers was but one example. The media response to this was a complete and utter disgrace and the ABC were at the forefront. And of course there is the ever present Rudd challenge that has developed into some sort of media fetish. Every article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but there is little of it and they are full of unsupported statements. It has reached the point in this country where the media believes its own unsubstantiated bullshit. It has gone from reporting news to making it and in the process prostituted itself.

Could it be that opinion polls are about a perception in time and not a reality of it? Going by this one, hundreds of thousands of people came back from their Christmas holidays after giving much of their time to deep thoughts on the political process and decided that Tony was a good bloke after all. If I were a swinging voter how could I reasonably be expected to say who I might vote for? I would inclined to say: “More info please”.

Opinion polls are now the news. Bring on the next one. WHOOPS, sorry I said that.

And an afterthought. Why not simply ask this question: “How to you think the Coalition’s policies stack up against the governments?” That might confuse the punters.

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