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Tag Archives: Abbott Government

Bloody Fair Dinkum Power, Where The Hell Are You?

To me, the great thing that Scott Morrison had going for him as Treasurer was his capacity to be boring. Let’s be real, one only has to use the words “fiscal”, “nominal expenditure”, “Gross Domestic Product” and “Consumer Price Index” in the same paragraph and not only does it seem like one knows what one is doing, but most sane people are too bored to pay much attention. Certainly I don’t want the person doing my tax to sound too interesting; it makes me worried that they’re up to something.

I expected this boredom bonus to carry over once he became PM, giving Scottie a little bit of a honeymoon period, where we were comparatively content that – unlike erratic Abbott or flashy Turnbulll – we had a boringly safe pair of hands on the tiller, sailing us through the calm waters till there’s a change of government. Unfortunately, for the Liberal Party, it seems as though he’s chosen to spend his honeymoon at the Ettamogah Pub, that fictious chaotic hotel which was turned into a reality by some enterprising businessmen. Similarly, Scott seems to want to turn us into the ficticious fifties Australia where we were all fair dinkum and there was a fair go for all… so long as you were an Anglo-saxon male.

I could overlook his use of the phrases “fair dinkum power” and “a fair go for those who have a go” if I thought they’d just slipped out in the way that your offensive uncle’s views slip out at Christmas after a few drinks. Unfortunately, they both seem to be a carefully crafted slogan and part of a marketing campaign. As such, it makes his “where the bloody hell are you campaign” for tourism seem like the epitome of good taste and intelligent marketing. While “jobs and growth” was bad enough, at least they were three words I’d heard in normal conversation this century. Stone the bloody crows, I’m waiting for him to casually drop “sheilas” into an interview about women in the Liberal Party or to tell us that the unemployment figures are just “bonza”. Yes, I’m fair dinkum about that!

“Fair dinkum power” is rather like their plan for jobs and growth. If we get fair dinkum power, it’ll be both reliable and cheaper. What’s the plan for achieving this? How do we get it? Just like jobs and growth, it’ll happen when our plan is put into place so it won’t be happening straight away, but it will happen. Similarly, I can cure your cold. Just pay me ten bucks and if your cold doesn’t clear up in the next four weeks, I”ll give you your money back. Yes, “fair dinkum power” is something that won’t occur until after the election, and it’ll only happen if you re=elect the Liberals. If you don’t, well there won’t be any fair dinkum power…. at least not for them.

The worst part of Scott Morrison is that he’s starting to get to the point where Tony Abbott is looking good. I know, I know, it’s a big call. But some of Tony’s worst captain’s calls were harmless things like knighting a duke. Yes, we all felt that Tony was like a kid playing with matches; Scott seems to be lighting them and trying to land them in the can of petrol.

Perhaps the best comparison for Scott would be Billy McMahon, a man once described as “a despicable bastard” and a “contemptible little squirt” but that was by other Liberals, Menzies and Sir Paul Hasluck. McMahon may be best remembered for his surprsingly accurate assessment of the situation when he told voters that after looking at the facts, they should vote Labor. He quickly corrected himself, but he may have been better to have stuck with his original statement.

Whatever, I suspect that the best move for the Coalition would be to go to the polls now and limit the damage. Over the next few months, I see one or more of the following things happening.

  1. The people of Wentworth grow to appreciate having an Independent who actually stands for something. They also realise that the Liberals won’t be in power after the next election and they might get more bribes from Labor if Phelps is the member, because there’s no incentive for a Labor government to do anything to help a sitting Liberal, but helping an Independent look good is one more seat the Liberals have to spend campaign funds winning back
  2. The National Party could change leaders. Even if they don’t go the full Barnaby, they may feel that they need a change because the current one has been there almost a year and they want to look like a major party.
  3. Scott Morrison will float an idea because a radio shock jock seems to think it’s a good thing. He will later get into more trouble by insisting that it’s just an idea and nothing is definite and it’s a great idea because Alan likes it and it’s just an idea and it’s worth discussing but don’t tell me there’s anything wrong with it because we don’t want to talk about it. (See the moving of the Israeli Embassy for a prototype. Even Turnbull who was sent to discuss it with Indonesia, wasn’t meant to discuss it!)
  4. Someone may actually notice the irony in outgoing minister, Simon Birmingham’s press release expressing his pride at being the longest serving Education Minister since Brendan Nelson. He was there for slightly less than three years, which is longer than your average PM, but not quite long enough to make it from one election to the next.
  5. There may be questions about whether the neo-nazis are being expelled from the National Party because they were too left wing for some in the NSW branch.
  6. Tony Abbott will say something that reminds people of why we got rid of him.
  7. Scott Morrison will say something that makes us wonder whether getting rid of Tony was really such a great idea.

Now, I’m not saying all these things will happen in the next six months. However, I suspect that if the Liberals haven’t acknowledged the trouncing they had in Wentworth, then there’s little hope for them. Yes, it’s true they can turn it around. They have in the past. But that required them to actually have a look in the mirror and say, “What are we doing wrong and how could we fix it?” While many of you may not have liked what they did, the point is that it worked electorally for them in a number of elections. For this one, they seem like a football side who are behind at three-quarter time deciding that they’ve won from this position before so there’s really no need do anything differently – they don’t even acknowledge that they may need to try harder.

Still, I can understand why they wouldn’t want to take a look in the mirror. I mean, would you if you were going to see a reflection like that?

Scott Morrison Tells Us That The Bell Hasn’t Rung…

It was strangely ironic when Scottie told us last Saturday, “we will stand up for what we believe until the bell rings – the bell hasn’t rung.”

It was ironic because I’d been thinking that if the current government was a boxing match, the referee would surely have stopped the fight. I mean, when you have one boxer staggering around, not sure who he’s fighting, it’s clearly time to get the doctors to check him…

Although, on that basis, Abbott would have been gone years ago.

Of course, the trouble with the Liberals is that they don’t stand up for what they believe. Ok, they have a few times, but it’s been electoral suicide. Take Fightback ’93 as an example! Or Workchoices 2007, if you’re not that old.

In 1993, I wrote that the Liberals couldn’t work out what the lesson from Hewson’s loss in the unloosable election was. Ok, I wrote it on a bit of paper so I can’t find exactly what I wrote, but that simply means that – like the Liberals – I can pretend and nobody can call me out. Anyway, I remember writing that the Liberals couldn’t work out whether elections were about offering up a vision of an alternative future and if that vision was rejected, well, that’s democracy and we should change what we offer OR we take a stand on what we believe and we keep arguing for that until we bring the people along with us.

In the aftermath of ’93, they tended to explode and say things like, “We told them what we’d do and that was a mistake. We’ll never do that again!”

Ok, I’m not quoting directly, but if you want to search for quotes, I’ll bet you can find someone saying something pretty close… Actually, when I think about it, that’s pretty close to an accurate reflection of everything they’ve done since.

But back to the present…

There seems to be a strange view about the Wentworth by-election which goes something like this:

“No, we don’t need to reconsider our policies in light of the result because this is all down to one simple thing. It was a very, very silly thing to remove Malcolm as leader and that was all his fault, so we don’t need to think that maybe it was all about the policies and nobody gave a tinker’s cuss about Malcolm because clearly this was because everyone loved Malcolm but not because he seemed to want policies more in touch with the majority of Australia than the rest of us: it was personal. He was trying to push the party to the left so we got rid of him because people didn’t want that but unfortunately people didn’t realise that they didn’t want it and got angry because we got rid of this man because, well, he quit, we didn’t get rid of him…Sorry, what was the question?”

Yes, when Scott Morrison said, “This wasn’t unexpected,” on Saturday night, I had to wonder why wasn’t it? And not just because he used a double negative instead of saying, “This was expected.” I mean, yes, if I have three glasses of scotch, finish off the bottle of wine, see how many times I can spin around and then try to climb onto a table and dance, when I fall over and do some damage, the line, “This wasn’t unexpected,” may be true for anyone that witnessed the previous ten minutes, but the people who asked me to babysit an hour or two before, would be thinking that, while the end damage wasn’t unexpected, the drinking and twirling wasn’t something that they factored in before they entrusted their child to me.

Ok, nobody, would be silly enough to let me babysit. Unless they voted Liberal where they entrusted the whole country to Scott Morrison. To be fair, at the last election they thought they were entrustring it to Malcolm, but at the previous one, they were giving Tony Abbott the keys to the Lodge…

Actually, Tony never made it to the Lodge owing to some renovations. Scott emulated John Howard and announced that he needs to be based in Sydney owing to his young family, Fair enough, I suppose, but one really shouldn’t put one’s hand up for a caretaker role and then expect to be able to work from home.

Whatever, the Wentworth by-election does make it clear that we have an entire government with about as much self-awareness as Donald Trump on LSD… Actually, Trump may have more self-awareness after dropping acid…

The Liberals have lost one of their safest seats, but they conclude it was only because they removed Turnbull as PM and they did that when he called a spill after Peter Dutton was counting the numbers and threatening to challenge. Then, after losing, Dutton’s backers assured everybody that they had the numbers. However, owing to the Finance Minister’s inability to count, the Treasurer slipped by and emerged victorious. Turnbull then did as he promised and left Parliament, leaving an unwinnable by-election because the Liberals only held it by a margin of 17%, so you’d hardly expect that not to be down to Turnbull’s personal following. No, that’s the explanation and we don’t need to consider changing any policies because Wentworth is out of step because they’re all well-off and not like the rest of Australia. No, we don’t need to change any policies…

Oh, have we mentioned we’re bringing eleven children from Nauru for health reasons. Not a change of policy. We’ve always been nice guys where people’s health is concerned…

No, there’ll be no change of policy on anything else.To quote Tony Abbott from 2014 after a few little hiccups: “Good government starts today.”

I must go and check the news to see if the rumours of a Bishop challenge are true.That’s Julie, by the way. Bronwyn’s left Parliament and she’d make a terrible PM…

Although, when I think about it, the Liberals seem to think that’s a prerequisite for the job!

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Day to Day Politics: Pie in the sky politics.

Friday April 1 2016

1 The now Abbott/Turnbull Government spent three years in opposition before coming to power in 2013 on the back of Labor leadership dysfunction. During this time Abbott spent an inordinate amount of time being negative, opposing everything.

‘Oppose’, that’s what oppositions do, he said.

Policy groundwork was neglected on the grounds that simply being in office would correct things. When the Australian people gifted them with government it became immediately apparent that, despite the most educated bunch of ministers in Australia’s history, they were policy deficient.

It dogged Abbott for the better part of his tenure. So much so that his leadership was challenged. He survived and made the most astonishing statement that ‘Good Government starts tomorrow.’ In doing so he made a public confession that he had governed badly.

Deplorable government continued unabated to the point where it was no longer tenable. So he was replaced with the more affable personality of Malcolm Turnbull. People’s expectations (including mine) was that a new era of public discourse might come to fruition. It didn’t because Turnbull was unable to be his own man. To get the job he had sold his soul to the extremists of his party. Bequeathed on us was a centre left leader under the control of the right.

He promised a new economic debate centered on tax reform saying that everything was on the table. We quickly found that the menu was so good that everything was gobbled up by the extremes of economic obesity.

The latest addition to the menu is a proposal to allow the states to impose their own income tax to fund schools and health. You won’t mind if we continue to fund the private schools will you?

Yesterday I listened to his interview with Fran Kelly and I was left with the unmistakable impression that this was yet another policy cockup. They haven’t done their homework. It is but a blatant attempt to pass the buck.

For some time now the government has been saying that to repair the budget, cuts have to be made. That cutting expenditure was the answer. Revenue was not the problem. Yet during the interview with Kelly whilst trying to justify his proposal he said:

‘It’s not an attempt to raise taxes but there is a revenue problem’.

There may be some merit in his proposal but can anyone seriously persuade me that the states over time won’t raise taxes to accommodate their needs. Turnbull insists that the State Tax plan isn’t about raising taxes but it is, in fact, the very point of the exercise.

This is simply a handball job. The economic mess the Coalition has made for itself could be fixed if they would put their ideology aside for five minutes, govern for the common good, and take note of the recommendations of CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. (See their report ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ laid the basis for economic recovery).

Has anyone considered the individual social inequality this will cause? Or state to state inequality for that matter. Or why would we even need a Federal Government.

What we are experiencing is simply ‘thought bubble on the run politics’. And from a man who should know better. And all because the Abbott/Turnbull Government has placed political egotism and ideology before sound policy development.

Further evidence of this government’s dysfunction was identified when the Treasurer soon after Turnbull’s announced his grand plan appeared to be at odds with his Prime Minister. The best one can say about their relationship is ‘it’s complicated’.

2 For me it’s odds on that the proposal will be rejected with some saving grace for the PM. However, we are no further advanced. A budget is looming in a matter of weeks. A budget that if the Treasurer is true to his word that spending is the only means of repairing the budget, should be a shocker. It has to be if he is fair dinkum. And what about the billions still there from the 2014 that is still stuck in the Senate? He can’t continue to leave it on the books, surely.

It’s hard to believe just how badly this Government is playing the political game.

3 Peta Credlin is to appear on Sky News as an election commentator. They apparently wanted her to join with Bolt to give the channel objectivity.

4 Billionaire retailer Jerry Harvey, the man who views the world through the prism of his own cash registers, reckons we need a two tier wage system where cheap labour is plentiful.

‘Australia doesn’t have cheap labour. Many overseas workers would be prepared to move here for a much better life and half the money Australians earn … I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff‘ he said.

5 Conversely, I was reading the daily Morgan Report and would you believe the Fair Work Ombudsman did a nationwide investigation into the fast-food sector and found that nearly half (47 per cent) of 565 spot-checked employers have not been paying their staff correctly, with workers being paid as low as $6 per hour compared to the statutory minimum of $17.25 per hour.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation found that in nearly one-third of cases, the flat hourly rate paid by the employer to its workers was not enough to cover hours attracting penalty rates and loadings, resulting in underpayments for which an employer could be ordered to compensate the underpaid worker, and fined for breach of the applicable Industrial Award.

Royal Commission anyone?

6 Just when we thought Donald Trump couldn’t go any lower, he does.

Trump was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to define his ‘pro-life’ stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

‘Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle?’ asked Matthews, during the taping of a town hall event.

‘The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,’ said Trump.

‘For the woman?’ Matthews said.

‘Yeah, there has to be some form’ Trump replied.

‘Ten cents, 10 years, what?’ Matthews asked again, pressing.

‘That I don’t know,’ said Trump.

My Thought for the day.

At some time in the human narrative ... in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But thats men for you’.


Day to Day Politics: Random thoughts on many things.

Monday 29 February 2016

1 Tony Abbott said he wore his 2014 Budget like a ‘Badge of Honor’. Veteran economics journalist Ross Gittens put it this way at the time:

The first and biggest reason the government is having to modify or abandon so many of its measures is the budget’s blatant unfairness. In 40 years of budget-watching I’ve seen plenty of unfair budgets, but never one as bad as this’.

2 I do wish writers, even those on this blog would use the term ‘Abbott/Turnbull’ government.

3 And I do wish that writers would empathise the fact that the Abbott/Turnbull government has been in power for two and a half years.

4 Are the often outlandish statements from the likes of Cory Bernardi, George Christiansen and others about the Safe Schools programme just a forerunner of what we might expect in the plebiscite debate on marriage equality?

Some of what they are saying isn’t even in the programme.

This plebiscite might unearth, without quality leadership, some unwanted social disharmony.

Turnbull is only pursuing his expensive $160m plebiscite as a delaying tactic to satisfy the right of his party — extreme Liberals like Christensen. The fact is, if he were a strong leader, Turnbull would allow a free vote in the parliament on marriage equality next week.

5 I notice ‘The Fixer’ is saying that he is responsible for the defence policy announced last week.

6 Roy and The Fixer are helping police with their enquiries. Found this on Facebook. Can’t name the source.

‘My sources tell me the AFP is acting on a complaint made by the Federal Court that, at the least, Brough, in collusion with Ashby and Harmers Workplace Lawyers, set out to to subvert the court process.

How Harmers has gotten away with its patently false claims in the Originating Document beggars belief. They said they had a sworn, detailed affidavit of Slipper romping indecently with another male when they simply did not. It was total bullshit, but included the precise details of a lurid sick mind.’

7 How could George Pell possibly not have known about the child abuse happening all around him? Those who say there is some sort of vendetta against him are wrong. All they want is for him to tell the truth.

8 My reference to George Christianson and penis tucking yesterday seems to have gone over the heads of those who read my posts. George is indeed an obese man.

An observation.

It is the misinformed who shout the loudest. The rest of us are content with the truth we enquired about.

9 Thank goodness the latest series of ‘House of Cards’ commences Friday. Back to some reality at last.

10 To quote Paul Kelly: ‘Malcolm is starting to sound like Tony Abbott’.

11 There are some truly some excellent comments on my post yesterday. We are blessed to have some who make a virtue of responding.

12 Changes to Media Rules. This is how Fairfax puts it. Whatever the outcome Murdoch will be the big winner.

‘The reach rule currently prohibits television networks from broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population. The two out of three rule bans media proprietors from controlling a newspaper, television and radio station in the same market. Scrapping the two out of three rule is the more controversial change because of concerns about media diversity. Labor MPs are concerned about the change because it could allow a proprietor such as Rupert Murdoch to extend his control in major markets’.

13 Talking about Fairfax, if ever there was an illustration of how journalistic standards have slipped it has to be Paul Sheehan’s recent story ‘Louise’. It was just an unsubstantiated Islamophobia beat-up in an area in which he has substantial form. How he is still in a job is the bigger mystery.

14 John Howard says he shudders at the thought of Donald Trump becoming America’s next President:

‘In part, his success is emblematic of people’s frustration with political correctness. What people like is he seems to call it as it is’.

Does he mean that he agrees with the manner in which he conducts his public discourse?

15 The conservative objection to political correctness it seems to me is in large part sour grapes. I don’t see the right or the extreme right not having a voice or indeed the capacity to use it. What I hear is an incoherent voice that cannot get its point across.

16 Did you know that current wages growth at 2.2% is the lowest ever recorded?

17 Someone emailed this to me without leaving a name:

‘If the Catholic Church was a corporation, or a charity, it would be shut down and its assets sold off. All Catholics are now disenfranchised apologists for an organisation that has utterly betrayed their faith and the god they love. Pity the faithful. They don’t deserve the harm the men within the church have inflicted on them. A new reformation is needed. A revolution in thinking is required’.

18 The Prime Minister was out and about yesterday spruiking his scare campaign against Labor’s Negative Gearing policy. There was not a hint of the explaining he said he would do.

19 Sydney radio station 2GB is conducting a Poll on this question:

‘If you voted Liberal in the last election, who’s your preferred Prime Minister now?’ At 4pm yesterday the count was 96% for Abbott and 4% for Turnbull.

20 Donald Trump has the support of the KKK and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Only in America.

My thought for the day

‘There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind’.


Day to Day Politics: Captain Turnbull batting on a sticky wicket.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Having replaced Abbott as captain of the Australian side Malcolm Turnbull finds himself on a sticky wicket. He promised much as the side’s new leader but on Friday, when commenting on the other side’s policy on negative gearing looked as though he had been hit ‘to leg’. In fact he talked decidedly like the previous captain. Maybe the protector he was using was too small or something, and it was affecting his concentration.

The other team looked as though they, given the advantage of batting first, have out played the incumbents with a solid opening partnership. They have runs on the board hitting opening bowler Gunna Morrison for six on a number of occasions.

He gave a few interviews after his opening spell but the consensus in the press box was that he was bowling without a plan. He wasn’t on a length and too many were going down leg side. Mind you all the sledging from opener Bowen after three consecutive sixes in the first over of the day didn’t help.

It ended with Turnbull having to bring himself on. He spent what seemed an eternity discussing what positions the new members of the team should field in. The other opener Bill Shorten complained to the umps about time-wasting, shouting ‘less talk and more action’. Turnbull responded by saying it takes time to get a plan right.

Wicketkeeper Pyne adjusted his box shouting, in indignation. ‘Don’t forget the Double Dissolution, Mal’. Shorten’s opening partner Albanese was heard to mumble that Pyne should be dropped or that he should at least get a manager because he has been handling himself too long.

The current state of play indicates a subtle but significant shift in how the game is being played. The Opposition captain is on the back foot firmly behind the ball, playing a flamboyant innings, prepared to have a go early. Turnbull doesn’t like it either when the yobbos in Bay 13 keep reminding him that his sides been out of form for the better part of two and a half years. And the government’s bowling has been off-line. If fact, its bowlers have been no-balled a few times for bowling wide of the crease.

I mean, when you’re bowling on a green top, why on earth would you bowl so much spin? Poor form, that.

At the close of play on the second day the Opposition has the Government by the short and curlies. For how long is anyone’s guess.

So let’s see if we can analyse the match thus far, remembering this is a five test series leading into September.

Despite replacing many ageing, out of form players who had seemingly lost touch with the modern game ages ago, captain Turnbull seems determined to take the game back to the quaint days of W.C. Grace.

However, there’s talk that he might chance his arm and change the line-up for the next match. ‘Too many leaners and not enough lifters’, he was reminded. Of course, the Murdoch press is playing ball supporting the Captain despite a longing for the previous captain’s deleterious leadership style.

On the other hand, social media has stumped a few batters by chucking a lot of fast positive commentary at a government deemed to be under-performing. This bloody underarm stuff is “simply unbecoming” said the editor of The AIMN.

One spectator on the square leg boundary was heard to say to Dutton, whose head was not taking kindly to the sun. ‘When will you recognise that it’s time to concentrate on the finer points of the game and consider traditional fair play?’ Even the umpires have chatted to him about his ball tampering.

The fact is, the Government has been caught behind and need to play ball with the umpiring public. At the rate Turnbull is scoring he is unlikely to captain the side in the next test, and there is talk about the composition of the team including some new arrivals.

Some are saying that Joyce should be dropped on the grounds that the vice captaincy requires a degree of fitness for the position. He always appears out of breath.

Another on the back foot, as it were, is Cormann, who it is said is always short of a length and is finding it difficult to run between the wickets. Too many cigars while waiting to bat must be detrimental to one’s health. He always seems to be full of puff.

Dutton was well out of his crease batting at third drop and stumped several times when he wouldn’t give an undertaking that his team would play by the rules, instead opting to never allow juniors a chance to play on his turf.

Meanwhile the rich and privileged in the members pavilion could be seen clapping his every shot. It’s fair to say that the Government has been creamed on every economic announcement by the opposition. Gunna Morrison looked like he was acting as a reluctant runner for the injured opener. It’s a pity they couldn’t have used the 12th man. He is known to be up to speed on economics.

Well, they did get rid of the Carbon Tax but the entire team still seems to be confused by the difference between weather and climate which doesn’t go well for the quality of future pitches.

You might say the spectators have been hit for six on this one. Maybe it’s time to bring on the quicks. A bit of bodyline or Direct Action of the right sort, that’s what’s needed.

After bowling a few maiden overs there can be no doubt Turnbull has copped one in the box over his inability to get his side moving. The protector needs something like speedos to keep it in place otherwise everything hangs loose.

It’s been a balls-up all round and the Turnbull has been no balled four times during the current over while trying to get his point across. He reckons its all the talk from the batsmen that affecting his concentration. He’s asked the umpire to stop everyone talking saying there’s too much of it.

Fact is, the lack of policy has been comprehensively hit to square leg and team mascot Wyatt Roy was seen chasing after it with a view to retrieving it because he’s not guaranteed of a second knock.

Leader Turnbull nicked one to slips over the latest job figures. Reminds me of something Merve Hugh’s said to a spectator at fine leg at the G after dropping a catch; ‘Fkn hopeless’. It seems that because of budgetary constraints he will be powerless to give those unable to win a place on team Australia any assistance. Instead he wants them all to field in slips and repeat the word plebiscite while waiting. If they drop one he can blame it on Labor for bowling too many short pitched deliveries.

Turnbull’s team are appallingly bad sports. Hypocrisy abounds. It’s a pity the opposition can’t appeal to the third umpire. Once upon a time it was a gentleman’s game and we played by traditional rules, but captain Turnbull seems to have let it all roll into the gutter. He has replaced everything our beloved game stands for with Lillee white lies. All the video replays confirm it. When a captain says something he should stick with it.

I think for the last six months he has just been batting with the breeze or must have been hit with a bouncer while not wearing a helmet. Concussion set in and when he recovered he realised that there are real known facts in the world and that one’s word does matter.

When I found out about all the lies, any respect I had for the new captain of Team Australia went to the boundry. My God, I felt like I had just copped one in the nuts from Malcolm Marshall I was so distressed. Bloody hypocrite. No wonder, a captain who bats at 10 isn’t a cricketer’s arsehole. No wonder he’s on a pair.

Then during the lunch break he was complaining about the cost of living (or was it lifestyle?) pressures on the players and spruiked that it was perfectly OK to receive expenses even if they were given to the spouses. Nothing worse than a bloody all-rounder who can only bowl arm balls.

Then after lunch he brings on his slowest bowler Greg Hunt to bowl ‘Chinaman’ deliveries. In a recorded interview before play he was quoted as saying that he was stumped as to why the game had never appealed to environmentalists.

Goodness knows he is good at bowling spin on sticky wickets. Hunt was on a hat-trick but the umpire dismissed his third appeal on the basis of an obstructed view – something to do with an indirect action.

Anyway, at the close of play Turnbull’s team Australia has shown little desire to get on with the game. He gives the impression he would rather be sipping a Merlot in the members. The team treasurer is still saying the team budget will be presented in May. They just needed to talk more about it.

After a long drawn out final session, the captain of team Australia looks intent on a draw of sorts. He doesn’t seem to have the spectators on side. His captaincy shows little of the innovation, transparency and flamboyancy he promised. In fact the team is in disarray, the pitch is deteriorating, and he shows little inclination to arrest his and his teams appalling governance of the game. Some say his vision is effecting his batting.

At the after play drinks one player in the opposition was heard to say: ‘That bloody Turnbull must have been born with two dicks. He couldn’t be that stupid playing with one.’

Anyway, who’s for a game of backyard cricket? Pitches will be going cheap according to the man with it all.

My thought for the day.

‘It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.’


Day to Day Politics: Forces that drove Tony Abbott to stay in parliament

Thursday 28 January 2016

I don’t normally read The Australian newspaper because it’s behind a firewall and it’s owned by Murdoch. But mainly because of its bias and poor journalism. Here is an example. My comments are in italics.

Greg Sheridan THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 26, 2016

Tony Abbott agonised over whether to stay in parliament or to leave. He got a lot of conflicting advice. The case for leaving was substantial.

No politician in modern Australia, at least since Malcolm Fraser in 1975, has been subjected to such sustained, vitriolic and personalised abuse as Abbott.

When you look at the abuse handed out by Tony Abbott. Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and others to Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her tenure you have to wonder at the objectivity of such a statement. There was hardly a day in the Parliament in which Abbott didn’t label her a liar. Even members of his own party, at times shook their heads in shame at the sexism. Anyone with any sense of perspective would find this statement just so totality biased as to be deliberately misleading.

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If he left politics, this would subside. The former prime minister is a strong and resilient person, but this kind of abuse takes its toll not only on the person ­directly affected but also on their family. It is also the case that the sooner he left, the sooner it was likely his record of substantial, perhaps historic, achievement would be reassessed.

Could you please repeat that? I’m really struggling.

No other prime minister could have stopped the boats.

The catalyst in stopping the boats was Kevin Rudd’s deal with Papua New Guinea. And we know the boats didn’t completely stop. He was paying people smugglers to turn them back.

The Abbott prime ministership prevented Australia from being engulfed in a tidal wave of uncontrolled, illegal immigration, as Europe has seen.

He was a Prime Minister who demonised those legally seeking asylum. A Prime Minister who tossed the subject around like a political football extracting from it every ounce of political mileage, never once seeking a regional solution .And look at his legacy of allowing innocent people to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives without recourse to the law.

Then there were the free-trade agreements, the abolition of the carbon and mining taxes, the attempt to address the growing budget contradiction.

The abolition of the Carbon Tax is looked on by the rest of the world as a dreadful decision. One that left our nation in the embarrassing position of taking a laughable policy to the Paris talks. A policy that will have to be seriously reconsidered in the near future if we are to seriously address the climate issue.

Addressing the budget contradiction. So his answer was to almost double the debt. A strange way of addressing a problem he described as a debt crisis of monumental proportion.

All of this will be reassessed and revalued more quickly if ­Abbott is outside parliament. Moreover, while he stays in politics almost everything he says will be misinterpreted by a lazy media through a leadership prism.

Yes they might, in the same way The Australian hounded Julia Gillard. You can speculate as much as you want as to the motives of him staying. May I suggest though, that a good place to start might be his historical political behaviour? It makes for good profiling.

In some measure, the same problem afflicts Malcolm Turnbull. Everything he says is freighted by foolish commentators as somehow containing some secret anti-Abbott significance.

Lenore Taylor got it right when she said:

‘The public liked Turnbull because he seemed different to Abbott, but his colleagues voted for him because they were eventually persuaded he would be – in essence – pretty much the same’.

Then there were the purely personal considerations. First, the miserable prospect of sitting mute as a backbencher in Canberra. Also, political life affects family life. It is extraordinarily difficult to be an attentive husband and father with weeks away in Canberra, and more weeks away interstate and overseas in the constant travel of political leadership.

It is something they have lived with all their married life. He is after all a career politician who has had little experience outside it. His wife seemed to accept her position. Except for one daughter they have all moved on. If sitting on the backbench was indeed a miserable prospect then why do it. What other motive could he possibly have?

Abbott had been prime minister for two years, party leader for six and before that a minister for a decade. It’s a long record of service. No one could reasonably ask him for more.

Who is? The fact is that he lost his job because his party felt he wasn’t up to it.

And, if he had the slightest interest in making money he would make much more outside of parliament than in. His parliamentary pension as a former prime minister would be substantially more than his salary as a backbencher.

On top of that he would be free to earn money in the private sector. He has enough close supporters in business to guarantee a board appointment or two. He could give lucrative speeches on the US conservative speakers’ circuit. He could write newspaper columns, the odd book, perhaps do some TV. There is always a consultancy or two on offer.

I seem to recall that he took time off from his job as an MP (with pay) to write a book. And isn’t he now making a few quid on the speaker’s circuit now. This gets worse the more I read.

But Abbott has never been motivated by money. He always wanted to give his family a decent life, but had no interest in trying to pile up money.

This is downright dishonest.

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We know that this feeling is universal, because it’s exactly how Tony Abbott felt, after losing 40 per cent of his income in 2007 when the Howard government lost power and he went back to a basic backbench salary.

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he said at the time.

“You don’t just lose power … you certainly lose income as well, and if you are reliant on your parliamentary salary for your daily living, obviously it makes a big difference.”

Mr Abbott was notoriously knocked-around by his change of circumstance, which obliged him to take out a $700,000 mortgage on his northern beaches home, and fostered a period of gloom and introspection in which he remained mired for more than a year.

When Kevin Rudd announced a salary freeze for all politicians in early 2008 – a decision greeted with bipartisan loathing around the corridors – Mr Abbott remarked that it was “all very well for politicians who have other sources of income or who have very high income from their spouses”.

Mr Abbott’s spouse, of course, works in the child care sector, which is notoriously under … oh, stop me if I’m repeating myself.

He was not the only one to complain; quite a few former Howard ministers felt the sting of their reduced circumstances, and discreet approaches were even made to the new Labor Government to fiddle things so that shadow ministers might be paid more.

It never happened, of course. Governments are bastards like that, don’t you find?

The arguments for staying essentially boiled down to duty. His supporters had invested so much hope in him.

If he left, it was as if conservatives would be admitting that none of their number could ever serve in the highest office. It would be a great victory for the Left if their lynch mobs had chased him out of town. As a nation we are not blessed with a super abundance of politicians of the first rank. We can’t afford to lightly throw them away.

If Abbott stayed in politics, he would signal an intent to advocate the broad political values that have motivated him all his life. And, in the long run, he helps the government a great deal by staying.

By staying, indeed he would advocate the political values he aspires to. The problem is that they are not the same as the leaders. Therein lays the problem. The Coalition now has what the public wanted. A less feral leader but he is controlled by Abbott’s men.

You might also countenance the thought that he has little experience at doing anything else.

Turnbull went through a dark night of the soul when he lost the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2009. He initially decided to leave politics and resign at the next federal election, but then changed his mind. As the next few years rolled by, his presence was actually a very big plus for the then Abbott opposition.

Correct. He often had to step in and demonstrate that there were some in the party that could be reasonable when Abbot continuously showed his ugly side.

It showed voters of a ‘small l’ liberal persuasion that they had a place in the Liberal Party. It helped stop the party from leaking votes to the centre.

How gratuitously silly is that statement. Robert Menzies would turn in his grave at the thought that any of today’s Liberal members even understood the term.

The Liberal Party has no serious competitor on the right of politics at the moment and therefore no imminent prospect of leaking votes to the Right.

But the centre right is always in danger of fracturing, just as it has in most Western nations, just as we see so many effluxions of right-wing populism in Queensland.

A coalition that can accommodate a Tony Abbott as well as a Malcolm Turnbull is inherently much stronger, and seems much broader than either factional Labor or sectarian Green politics, no matter that each man might find such coexistence disagreeable at times.

He is and will be in the run up to the election a thorn in Turnbull’s side. And an intentional thorn at that. It is naïve in the extreme to think otherwise.

Turnbull and Abbott are both grown-ups, both volunteers. We pay them to give us good government. We expect them to manage things between them well.

We pay for good Government and expect it from day one. Tony Abbott said that we would get it 12 months after the ball had been bounced. Even then it didn’t happen. We are still waiting for Turnbull to stop talking about it and start delivering. By the time the election comes around the electorate will be entitled to ask whether the Coalition can ever deliver on it.

Abbott is no Kevin Rudd. He is not motivated by revenge or any delusion of return to the prime ministership. His decision to stay in parliament is the latest episode in a lifetime of doing what he thinks is right.

After reading this last paragraph I am thinking I will give Tony the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it isn’t him who is deluded. It’s Bill Sheridan.

My thought for the day

‘Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity’.


Day to Day Politics. Abbott’s gone: ‘Lest we forget’

Tuesday December 8

1 All this silly talk about Abbott staying on with the view to regaining the leadership should stop.

He lost the leadership of the nation for one very good reason. He had not the ‘character’ that leadership requires.

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 politics, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven

Trying to convert a lifetime of negativity into motivating inspirational leadership was a bridge to far. To say the least he was totality uninspiring. In fact I can think of no other person in Australian public life who has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than Tony Abbott.

None of these events are in chronological order. They are just as they came to mind and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile.

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

2 He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.

3 He did the same when the Queen visited.

4 He could not help but play politics with the death of an Australian icon in Margaret Whitlam.

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

6 He refused a pair whilst the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on bereavement leave following the death of her father.

7 Then there were the callous and inappropriate remarks he made to Bernie Banton.

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

9 Referred to a woman Chairperson as “Chairthing”.

10 He was accused of assaulting a woman at University, and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself.

11 Another woman 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 corroborate her story.

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

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

14 And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match.

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

16 He was ejected from the House of reps 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.

17 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.

18 Abused Nicola Roxon after turning up late for a debate.

19 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 and a left cross. Something that I found mentally disturbing and worrying . After all, at the time this was the man who could be our next Prime Minister.

20 Together with Pyne he was seen running from the House of Reps to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.

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

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

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

24 And in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the catholic Cardinal George Pell.

25 During the Republic referendum he told many outrageous untruths.

26 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?”

27 His almost daily visits as opposition leader to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the carbon tax. 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.

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

29 Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal tent embassy at Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.

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

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

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

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

33 We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden.

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

35 His “dying of shame” comment.

36 His “lack of experience in raising children” comment.

37 His “make an honest women of herself” comment.

38 His “no doesn’t mean no” comment.

Then of course there were these Tonyisms. Similar ones have continued into his Prime Ministership.

Lest we forget.

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

40 ‘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:

41 ‘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:

42 ‘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’.

43 ‘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’.

44 ‘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’.

45 ‘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:

46 ‘Gillard won’t lie down and die’.

On climate change:

47 ‘Climate change is absolute crap’.

48 ‘If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax’.

On homosexuality:

49 ‘I’d probably … I feel a bit threatened’

50 ‘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:

51 ‘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’.

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

53 ‘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:

54 ‘That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?’

The list is by no means complete and I am sure readers could add many more to it. His ludicrous statement about our navy’s problems with navigation and blatantly lying about turning boats around as opposed to turning them back. Lest we forget.

2 The news that Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union organiser John Lomax and his right hand man are to be charged with blackmail will have a negative effect on Bill Shorten and the Labor Party. Whilst I generally support unionism, I cannot support rogue ones such as the CFMEU. Why Labor does is totality beyond me.

In an effort to offset the damage Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unveiled his party’s policy on combating union corruption, a package of measures he says will improve governance and transparency.

3 The Prime Minister has released his innovation statement. In doing so he has reinstated science to its rightful position. One that Abbott had devalued for reasons of capitalistic advantage. It is to be hoped that the country might now see a new era where political parties see the value of thoughtful progressive thinking. One where innovation might also be applied to the new economy and renewable energy.

Labor had already announced much of Turnbull’s policy but incumbency gives government ten times the coverage.

4 Warren Truss has asserted the National party’s demand for a greater share of cabinet positions as the deputy prime minister pushed back at criticism of his secret talks with Liberal defector Ian Macfarlane.

The leader of the junior Coalition partner addressed the media alongside Macfarlane in Queensland on Monday and stressed the need for Turnbull to deal with the cabinet proportion issue “in due course”.

It seems they are determined to make their leader look weak. No love lost there.

An observation

‘The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved’.


“It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who don’t”.


The Right Wing Horror Story

Before, during and after the implosion of the Abbott government, commentators have blamed this political failure on a ‘lack of narrative’. The media’s narrative of this ‘lack of narrative’ is a story about a good government who has many great ideas, but just can’t sell them to the untrusting, fickle, inattentive electorate. As someone who is studying political narrative, I can assure you these commentators have got it all wrong. The Abbott government, and the right-wing political class including the right-wing media, have a very obvious narrative to those who know what they’re looking for. Their narrative clearly describes their policies. Their narrative has been consistent across many generations of right-wingers. The snake-oil-salesmen in the Liberal Party are coherently telling this story. The problem is not, therefore, a missing narrative. The problem for the government is that voters, in the majority, do not like the story they are trying to sell. Turnbull is now trying to polish the same story, covering it in glitter. But we all know turds can’t be polished, and under eye-catching-glitter they’re still stinky turds.

Perhaps rather than telling us the Abbott government lacked a narrative, journalists could have done a better job of scrutinising the Abbott government narrative. It would have been really helpful if this had happened BEFORE ABBOTT WAS ELECTED. Anyhow, just like one of those brain twister images where you think you’re looking at a black and white twirl, but when you squint you can see a monster staring back at you, once you see the right-wing narrative, you can’t un-see it. Once you know the story, you see it everywhere. It haunts you. The right-wing story is scary. In fact, I would go as far as saying it’s a horror story.

The right wing narrative can fittingly be summed up with the tag line of a BMW advertisement: Life is not a race… said those who lost. In this narrative, the hero are those who in their mind have won the race. The race to get wealthy. The race to inherit wealth. The race for power. The race to afford a BMW. The race to climb the ladder and the race to kick the ladder away so other racers can’t climb up behind. These people live their life by the concept of dog eat dog. They see themselves as heroes for eating a dog before it eats them. No matter how advantaged they are in the race before the starting gun goes off, these right-wingers always see their own success as something they have won through merit. Not luck. Not privilege. Just because they’re born winners. And they are therefore the heroes in their right-wing narrative. But they are also the victims. Because in their scary little minds, and their narrow little worlds, they think they’re being dragged down in their quest to win the race of life by their story’s villain. I think by now you can guess who the villain is. Yep, you’ve guessed it. The weak. The poor. The sick. The uneducated. The vulnerable. The ones who think life isn’t a race because they lost. And of course, left-wingers who want to help these ‘losers’ are also part of the problem. Right-wingers think they’re the victims of these do-gooder-lefties who believe everyone in a community has a responsibility to care for everyone else. So in a nutshell the story is about right-wing heroes defending their victimised selves against the villainous losers and the losers who want to help the losers who don’t realise life is a race and that right-wingers have won the race. Get it?

Now you see the story, you realise how worn out it is. The Abbott/Hockey budget told this story, with the winners nicknamed the ‘lifters’ and of course the losers the ‘leaners’. Abbott and his government colleagues all share the values in this story. Turnbull, a filthy rich merchant banker who believes in the power of a free market to ensure the heroes keep getting richer and aren’t made into victims by villainous governments and their un-free redistribution of wealth to weak losers. Workers organising into unions to demand a fair share of capitalist profit are, in the right-wing narrative, the villains who should just shut up and worship the heroes who gave them a job in the first place. Miranda Devine has told the same story when this weekend she victim-blamed ‘unsuitable women’ for the abuse they suffer since they choose to have relationships with ‘feckless men’. Everything is the fault of the weak. The abused. The ones asking for help. You see the same story in this article describing the behaviour of Conservative politicians in the UK who join clubs of rich young men who burn money in front of homeless people.

The right wing narrative is a scary story about a community I would never choose to live in. I was not brought up to blame the disadvantaged for their predicament. And nor will I bring up my child to think our societies’ problems are the fault of the vulnerable, the disabled, the sick, the mentally ill, the poor and the abused. The rejection of the Abbott government has, I hope, proved that the majority of Australians, like me, reject this story and don’t believe that life is a race. I hope so. But either way, next time someone says the Liberal government is missing a narrative, just remember the narrative is there. It’s just not a very nice story and they know this so they do their best to keep it hidden. Don’t let them get away with it. You know the story. Call it out whenever you see it.


Political Realities, Leadership Change and why Democracy won

Democracy There are those on the left who desperately wanted Tony Abbott to be Prime Minister at the next election. They rightly saw his unpopularity as Labor’s best asset. I thought that there was a greater imperative. As a believer in representative democracy first and foremost I felt that our political system would be better served if he was given the boot.

There is no individual in Australian political history who has done more to damage the conventions and institutions of our democracy, and indeed the Parliament itself, than the former Prime Minister. Personally, I hope he leaves politics altogether and takes the stench of his confrontational politics with him.

Abbott in both his tenure as Opposition Leader and Prime Minister had a breathtaking, pungent absurdity about him. A Christian man of unchristian demeanor.

Australia has never elected a person more unsuited to the highest office. He was a Luddite with little appreciation of science, the needs of women, and was out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

In hindsight the Australian people have learnt a valuable lesson. In future they should check out the credentials and character of the leader of the party they support. It was an experiment we cannot afford to have again.

The election of Malcolm Turnbull provides an opportunity to wipe the plate of democracy clean. Debate will now be able to take place without the negative pugilistic dog eat dog style of Abbott. It can still be assertive and robust but at the same time conducted with intellect and decorum. Given his sense of superiority (already displayed during question time) and ego don’t inhibit him perhaps his panache and wit might insinuate itself on the house and generally raise the standard of discourse.

Whatever you think of Turnbull’s policies, and he has many detractors in his own ranks, there is no doubt that he is a tough competitor with a formidable mind. One who can debate with true elasticity of intelligence and skill.

He will be a daunting opponent for Shorten and Labor. It is, however, an opportunity for Shorten to rise to the occasion and Labor supporters should challenge the party to also rise above itself.

Already the early polls are suggesting a resurgence of Coalition support. If Turnbull plays his cards correctly he will take many advantages into the next election campaign.

A ministerial reshuffle that rids itself of ministers with a perception of nastiness like Dutton should go over well with the public. As will a more refined and decent political language that no longer reflects Abbott’s crassness and sneering sloganeering.

Unlike Abbott who thought he was above the independent senators and the Greens, I believe Turnbull will seek to take them into his confidence to get legislation passed.

A major advantage he has is that the public are sick and tired of revolving door leadership. If my calculations or indeed my memory serve me correctly we haven’t elected a PM who has served a full term since 2004. That’s about a decade ago.

Unless he stuffs up in a major way the electorate will be reluctant to change again. Continuity of governance with the pursuit of ideology for the sake of it is not what the people want. Added to that is the fact that Turnbull is not beholding to the media. He has in the past told Murdoch, Bolt and Jones where to go.

During the Republic Referendum I worked assiduously for the Australian Republic Movement. I came to admire Turnbull’s capacity to present his case in the face of Howard’s rat pack that included Tony Abbott and Nick Minchen. Turnbull’s account of the The Reluctant Republic still resonates with me.

But if there is much to like about Turnbull there is equally as much to dislike. There can be no doubt that he has prostituted himself to gain power. All of those things that set him apart from the conservative wing of his party he seems to have been willing to capitulate on, and in so doing displayed an hypocrisy unworthy of him. He has spent the first week defending Abbott’s policies.

“No more Captains calls” he said. Then without even swearing a new Cabinet, he prostitutes himself (again) by reneging on his previously respected and long held beliefs on climate change. He then does a deal worth $4 billion with the Nationals and at the same time outrageously sells out the Murray Darling Scheme.

In his initial comments after becoming PM he made a big pitch about the future of innovation, science and technology. He would therefore know that a large part of our future is tied up in renewable energy. That the jobs of the future are in the technology sector, as is our economic future which makes his decision to stick with Abbott’s policy on climate change all the more disappointing. Conservatives around the world acknowledge these points, why can’t ours.

He has at this early stage left himself open to the charge that he is not his own man but rather a captive of the conservative right. It can arguably be said that the policies remain the same and an abrasive Prime Minister has been replaced with an eloquent but no less deceptive one. How he will prosecute the case for a Republic is unknown. It will be odd that we have a Monarchist Government led by a Republican Prime Minister.

Even the hypocrisy he shows on same-sex marriage has the smell of betrayal.

It is of course far too early to judge him but based on his immediate decisions it is obvious that he had to do deals to get the job.

For me his willingness to betray long held beliefs and principles has been nothing short of pathetic. I predict however that the general public will overlook it for what they will perceive as better attention to the economy.

As for the Leader of the Opposition. well according to the polls Bill Shorten is about as popular as Abbott was. He carts a lot of baggage that he will carry into the next election.

There is now no point in holding back on policies and allowing Turnbull to make all the running. He should in some way adopt the Whitlam approach, create a narrative, and release policy showing an innovative futuristic approach to economic issues and government. But above all Labor must attract the younger generations. It is the under 50s that will determine who governs.

Having said all that, if the polls continue in an upward trajectory Turnbull would be well justified in going to an early election. The next month will see Turnbull stamping his authority on the party and his leadership. He has the charisma to sell them and the public is in a buying mood. I can only hope that Bill also has something to sell.


The slide away from democracy

In 2004, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that lays out seven ‘essential elements’ of democracy, including:

  • • Separation and balance of power
  • • Independence of the judiciary
  • • A pluralistic system of political parties and organisations
  • • Respect for the rule of law
  • • Accountability and transparency
  • • Free, independent and pluralistic media
  • • Respect for human and political rights; e.g., freedoms of association and expression; the right to vote and to stand in elections

Checks and balances – such as independent statutory watchdogs, our independent court system, the rule of law, press freedom, and the ability of non-government organisations to speak freely – are vital to the health of our democracy and for protecting human rights, particularly in the absence of a constitutional or legislative bill of rights.

Since taking office, the government has actively undermined these protections.

Gillian Triggs submitted the AHRC report on children in detention to the government in November 2014. In December the government cut funding to the commission by 30%. By February they were demanding her resignation.

In February 2014, the head of Infrastructure Australia, Michael Deegan, slammed the government for plans to overhaul the organisation that he said “would damage independence and transparency in infrastructure funding.”

The Business Council of Australia expressed similar concerns.

“The BCA is concerned the bill in its current form provides for ministerial powers that could be used to prevent Infrastructure Australia from assessing certain classes of projects and which require the publication of project evaluations only under direction by the minister,” Ms Westacott said.

Two weeks later, Deegan resigned.

Today we hear that the chair of the Abbott government’s climate change advice agency, Bernie Fraser, has resigned without explanation.

“It is understood Mr Fraser had a difficult relationship with Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Fairfax Media understands Mr Fraser announced his decision on Tuesday after an all-day meeting of the authority. Many of his colleagues are believed to be deeply saddened by his departure. He is not believed to have quit due to personal problems such as a health issue.”

Government interference was also apparent in their directive ordering the independent Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop investing in wind and small-scale solar projects.

In the days before the election, Howard and Costello both advised Joe Hockey to keep Martin Parkinson as head of Treasury. But that call was ignored by Mr Abbott, who announced Dr Parkinson’s resignation in his first official act after being sworn in.

”You’ve got to understand that incoming governments do very much want to place their stamp on the economic policy of the country and that is exactly what we are doing,” Mr Abbott said.

”We are placing our stamp on the economic policy of the country and let there be no doubt, let there be no doubt, that Australia’s policy direction changed very substantially back in September.”

We have seen the exodus of basically every executive at NBNco over the last few years. At Delimiter, they ask the question “One wonders, one really does wonder, why so many executives signed up to help build the company but then quit so soon after. Could it be the complete and utter politicisation of the project, perhaps?”

Since Michael Pezullo took over as head of the Immigration Department last October, there had been 15 transfers to other departments by executives and another three senior bureaucrats had retired by mid-May.

Pezzullo told Senate Estimates that departing executives had told him they simply did not fit in with Immigration’s new direction under the Abbott government. He said that a number of his veteran senior bureaucrats had told him during “very sensitive” discussions that the Immigration Department they had joined was different to the one that was emerging under the reform now under way and that it was time for them to go.

Staff numbers at the ATO have been slashed by well over 2,500. Experienced staff are being made redundant and replaced by lower skilled new people.

About 450 Tax Office middle managers slated for redundancies will walk away with golden handshakes worth just under $90,000 each on average – an estimated $40 million in payouts as the ATO opts for a cheaper workforce. The latest cuts come after at least 780 executive level public servants were made redundant during the 2014-2015 financial year

Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan told the workforce in his regular bulletin that entry-level tax officials were to be hired.

The Australian Services Union, says the tax office, which has endured a torrent of criticism directed at its ability to collect the nation’s revenue, was getting rid of its most experienced and capable tax professionals, which seems counterproductive as it has been shown that every $1 spent by the ATO on investigation returns $6.

Even the courts are being sidelined.

Migration and counter-terrorism laws are granting extraordinary powers to be exercised at the personal discretion of ministers with court scrutiny curtailed. In a recent hearing into legislation that sought to restrict court review of asylum seeker decisions, Senator Ian Macdonald said the government “doesn’t want to be beholden to the High Court who will pick every comma in the wrong place”.

Legislation has been introduced to ensure there are no consequences under Australian law if the government fails to comply with international human rights law.

Likewise, the government is seeking to strip citizens of the right to contest development decisions on environmental grounds, labelling court action to uphold our laws as vigilante litigation.

A combination of funding cuts, changes to funding agreements and intimidation has been used to stifle advocacy by the NGO sector.

Funding can no longer be used for advocacy and no-gag clauses were removed from contracts. The threat of funding cuts has created a climate in which organisations are reluctant to speak out for fear of moving to the top of the list for the next round of cuts. Charity status is also under threat for political advocacy, unless you are a right wing think tank.

The ABC has had government interference in its programming and press freedom is being curtailed by new anti-terrorism laws that threaten up to 10 years’ jail for journalists and others who disclose information about operations the Attorney-General has deemed “special intelligence operations”. Journalists attempting to pierce the secrecy around the harm being done to asylum seekers have repeatedly been referred to the federal police in attempts to uncover confidential sources and whistleblowers.

Increasingly, the AFP and ADF are being employed in politically driven pursuits, with police raids being filmed and requests being made for a list of national security related things to announce and for bombing runs to be started before the byelection. We have seen the transformation of immigration and customs into a paramilitary force and the use of the Navy to deter asylum seekers.

Executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Hugh de Kretser, sums it up well.

“This undemocratic slide is deeply concerning. We need political and community leadership to respond; to create a climate in which the independence of institutions is protected; where the separation of powers and the rule of law are understood and respected; where freedom of information, not secrecy, is the standard; where NGO advocacy is valued, even when it is uncomfortable for government.”

It is up to us all to fight for our democracy and to demand transparency and accountability from those who would seek to rule rather than represent.

liberal democracy

The sooner Tony Abbott goes the better

boy2 Abbott’s decision to simply change the mix of asylum seekers we take rather than increase the overall total again places him on the wrong side of public opinion. It is an unsympathetic, lukewarm response to a problem of enormous humane proportion and as such required a response that in another time have might have been filled with the Australian compassion I grew up with.

But of course had he agreed to take Syrians who had escaped by boat would have placed him in an invidious position. Australia deserves better than Tony Abbott. He is a combative PM who uses language with an inference that leadership is about being tough above all else. There are those on the left who want him around for the next election. I want him to go without delay.


My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 29 August

1 I have reluctantly taken the decision to no longer refer to Tony Abbott as “Prime Minister” in my writing. I say reluctant because I generally believe in respect for the position itself. However the performance of this excuse for a national leader is so appallingly bad that I refuse to acknowledge his prime minister ship. I shall in future refer to him as Abbott.

2 Friday’s Reachtel poll has Labor on 53 and the Coalition on 47. Shorten 10 points ahead as preferred PM.

3 As of 9pm Friday night the Australian Border Force story had not made an appearance on the Herald Sun’s online edition. And little coverage in Saturday’s Australian. You have to love the Murdoch Press.

Midday Thoughts

I still can’t get it out of my head that a Liberal, or any other Government for that matter, would deliberately try to bring about circumstances specifically designed to cower people for political purposes. But then it is the same mob who were trying to bring about the downfall of the democratically elected Gillard Government by blackmailing the speaker of the house.

Tony Windsor is correct:

“I’ve got no doubt that some of these people in Abbott’s government hope that something goes wrong domestically. That they can taunt a Muslim into doing something so that they can say that we’re the only ones that can protect you, the Labor party are too weak to protect you, vote for us,” he said, adding, “I think that’s an extraordinary agenda to go to an election on.”

John Barker said:

When asked to explain the Australian Border Force’s (intended) actions in Melbourne yesterday, Minister Dutton responded that he did not comment on “on-street operations”.

I replied:

“Was he in the gutter when he said it”.

abf Sunday 30 August

1 “Obviously it was a mistake” Abbott dismissively said about Operation Fortitude. Not a word of regret. On the contrary he reckons us critics should be ashamed of ourselves. We are all just hyperventilating. If he thinks Australia will accept his explanation he is sadly mistaken. And like the ABC I thought heads might roll. And why hasn’t Dutton made a statement.

2 People really do need to understand this. Abbott is governing not for the electorate that installed him as prime minister but for the far-right numbers that installed him as party leader.

3 When next you hear Abbott, Hockey, Hunt and others claim that every Australian received $550 of their Electricity bill as a result of the abolition of the carbon tax read this.

The claim: Treasurer Joe Hockey says that Treasury documents show “that electricity prices have come down $550 per household as a result of us abolishing the carbon tax”.

The verdict: The documents, dated up to February 2015, contain predictions that household savings – not electricity savings – will be $550 over 2014-15. The ACCC’s most recent estimates for annual savings on electricity bills – which are based on the actual savings passed on by companies to consumers – range between $100 and $200 depending on which state or territory the household is located. Hockey’s claim is wrong.

They are lying.

An observation:

“People often argue from within the limitations of their understanding and when their factual evidence is scant, they revert to an expression of their feelings”.

Monday 31 August

1 Will Commissioner Heydon recuse himself today? I think on the evidence available he should. Should the Commission be wound up? Yes it should because it and the others were witch hunts in the first place. However I believe that all incriminating evidence should be handed to the AFP, ASIC, the Fair Work Commission and the Australian Crime Commission. They should have handled any allegations in the first place.

bolt report 2 I forced myself to watch the “Bolt Report” for its entirety yesterday. I learnt a number of things: 1) Tony Windsor said something he didn’t. 2) The Border police did nothing wrong. 3) The ABC deliberately placed on screen an offending tweet. 4) The ABC is biased and he isn’t. 5) Abbott’s office did not request that the U.S. Request our involvement in Syria. 6) Abbott is doing a wonderful job although he may be sacked if they don’t retain Canning. 7) I got a lesson in the art of misrepresentation. 8) Unions have no right to protect the jobs of its members. 9) Everyone else is wrong and he is right. Just ask him. Conclusion: Thank God he rates so poorly.

It’s interesting what can be learnt from a man who was leaked classified information by the Howard Government and then proceeded to do a hatchet job on Andrew Wilkie during the Iraq War.

3 Two comments from Insiders: Firstly from Lenore Taylor; “20 Years on we will look at today’s policy making and ‘say How could they have gotten it so horribly wrong?'” And two, Philip Coorey related the following from a Government Minister: “We can hide the PM in Canning but not in a general election”.

4 Minister Dutton refusing to comment on “operational street matters”. He was in the gutter when he said it. He was sacked as Heath Minister for incompetence and is proving to be just as incompetent in Immigration. And you can add the following to his performance.

5 Cambodia will not take any more refugees from Nauru other than the four agreed too at a cost $10 million each. Yet another example of the incompetence of Abbott and his Ministers.

An observation:

“We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?”

An Afternoon Thought:

Heydon has considered all the submissions and has dismissed them. Notwithstanding the implications immediately and the legalities to follow it has to be said that whatever the outcome the RC will be forever tarnished with a perception of bias.

Tuesday 1 September

Dyson Heydon in making a decision on the man/women in the street, perception of bias has handed down a decision that actually ignores it, and instead focuses on his own character. On that point he may in fact be correct. I for one would not doubt his integrity. Nor do I for one minute believe that people who have committed a crime shouldn’t be prosecuted.

But in making his decision he has chosen to ignore the perception of bias”. Surely, as a man interested in public life he would have been aware that there had been much criticism surrounding Abbott instigating Royal Commissions that had been described as highly political in all sections of the media.

He would even have been aware that the Royal Commission into Pink Bats was preceded by 13 others and the findings it concluded were little different, and that the conclusion most people reached was that it was activated for political reasons.

He would also be aware that a very lengthy cross examination of Julia Gillard yielded nothing after a witch hunt by the Liberal Party and the Murdoch Press lasting 20 years.

It must also have entered his mind that the allegations against Craig Thompson and Cathy Jackson came about, not from Royal Commissions, but normal law enforcement agencies.

Additionally, it must have also occurred to him that the matters being handled by him could easily have been handled by the same agencies.

So the point I am making is that with all this information it had to be apparent to him that his was not a normal RC but a highly sensitive politically charged one. Surely he couldn’t have been blind to all this. The accusations that Abbott had initiated the commission for his own political gain were widespread.

As I see it he has made a judgement on his own reputation and character rather than one that addressed the perception of bias” which it fundamentally should have.

Wednesday 1 September

1 Abbott is now openly saying that the Royal Commission is an inquiry into the Labor Party. Unnamed Ministers are calling for Hockey’s head. Sinodinos is giving lectures about loyalty and Dutton who apparently was ill over the weekend and couldn’t talk to the media about Border Farce is whipping the troops into line.

He reckons Fairfax is carrying out a Jihad (notice the use of terrorist language) against the Government which prompted me to wonder how he would describe the Murdoch Presses attacks on Labor. It would be funny if it were not so serious. No wonder only 16% of the population have any faith in politicians.

2 The best friend the Workers ever had seem to have little to say on the 711 slave wage scandal. Abbott and Small Business Minister, Bruce Billson should be deploring this revelation but I suspect they think it’s an ABC plot to destroy the Government.

3 Speaking of the Governor General, Peter Cosgrove must be the most inactive publicly shy one we have ever had.

4 I wonder if those who supported the abolition of the Carbon Tax actually understand that whereas polluters were paying to fix the problem it’s now their taxes that are.

5 It has been asked of me. Why didn’t you (particularly when I was younger) get into politics? My answer is simple. I don’t do the porkies thing very well.

6 You have to be a bit desperate when you need to hold a press conference to axe a non-existent tax.

7 Tuesdays Essential Poll has Labor back on 52% and the Coalition on 48 %

Thursday 3 September

1 I turned on News 24 to find Hockey doing a press conference on the latest GDP figures. I quickly assumed, the way Hockey was speaking, that they must have come in at market expectations. Further on the language wasn’t right and I realised he was spinning. Fancy allowing myself to fall for that I thought.

In fact the figure of 0.2 per cent showed a marked deterioration from the 0.9 in the March quarter. The market expected 0.4.

Along with the first quarter GDP in 2013, it was the weakest growth since early 2011, which was affected by the severe floods in Queensland, and the equal second weakest since the Global Financial Crisis-affected contraction in December 2008.

In nominal terms — with the effects of inflation excluded — GDP growth was 1.8 per cent, the weakest figure since 1962.

In other words this is a disaster. It makes Hockey’s projected growth figures in the budget look silly. Which is what they were in the first place.

Ask Costello and Howard. They thought so. “There is no risk of recession in Australia,” Hockey said. Time will tell.

2 A cruise line is standing by accusations it was advised to sack Australian staff because they were too expensive. Abbott says the company is telling lies. The spokesman for the company says “I don’t tell lies” Should make for an interesting Senate Inquiry. As to the lying. Well who would you believe?

Friday 4 September

1 How were you governed in August?

A Wastes $55 million including $15 million on relocating four refugees to Cambodia before the deal to resettle refugees from Nauru collapses – 30 August 2015

B. Oversees botched Border Force announcement that they would stopping people for visa checks in the Melbourne CBD – 28 August 2015

C. Splurges $10 million to rename Border Force – 26 August 2015

D Cuts $10 million from a grant to support sufferers of an incurable disease – 26 August 2015

E Breaks an election promise to “make no changes to the GST” by extending it to purchases made online – 21 August 2015

F Spends over $20 million on an advertising campaign to sell it’s free trade agreement with China – 19 August 2015

G Tries to introduce laws to stop citizens exercising their legal rights to stop big developments that damage the environment – 19 August 2015

2 Abbott suffers yet another foot in mouth moment comparing ISIS with the Nazis. They might be cruel bastards but if I were Jewish I would feel insulted by his words. But I wouldn’t be the least surprised. It was a poor comparison both in scale and sensibility.

3 What will our answer be when called upon to assist a growing refugee problem greater than our own? I fear our captain has already spoken.

An observation:

“Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths”.

Midday thoughts

1 The New York Times today got stuck into Australia’s Asylum Seeker Policy calling it unconscionable”. It urged European nations struggling with a tide of migrants not to follow suit.

2 Murdoch spends a month in Australia and decides the best remedy for what ails the nation is a snap poll that would reinforce Abbott’s right to govern. Have a majority in the Senate and get on with his policies to make Australia a better place.

I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

the week that was

Two things I have trouble with involving the Abbott Government … all right, three!

Negativity-21 OK, I know it’s obvious, but I want to know why Justice Heydon can say that there was absolutely no reason for him to disqualify himself for accepting an invitation to be the guest speaker because – as he points out in his sixty seven page justification – it doesn’t demonstrate that he agrees with the politics of the organisation where he’s going to speak.

So there’s no problem with him accepting the invitation. Got it! Except now the question is why he felt that he had to change his mind about speaking there. It might be perceived as bias. But now his ruling on apprehended bias is that a “rational” person wouldn’t see it as bias.

I guess, from that, one could infer from that as Heydon decided to change his mind about speaking then he isn’t a “rational” person.

We also learn that Justice Heydon is famous for not reading emails.

Which seems a clear link to the Liberals who have a reluctance to read anything (as Kaye Lee pointed out in “Less Shovels And More Reading” a few days ago).

While not reading emails or anything going to their office has been a popular pastime for Liberals since Peter Reith and the children overboard fiasco, I suspect that it may become popular for unionists in the coming days.

“Sorry, Justice Heydon, but I’m well-known among my colleagues for not reading emails, opening letters, checking bank statements or anything else you wish to question me about. I wasn’t aware of any of this and I don’t see how any rational person would expect me to keep track of what I’ve been doing when – as a union leader – everyone knows that I’m a bludger who never does anything but wage war on those poor multinationals who are providing jobs for Australians as part of their charity program.”

But I’m more concerned about the Fairfax “jihad”.

Yep, that’s right. Minister for Not Reading Press Releases, Mr Peter Mutton told everyone that Fairfax were waging a “jihad” against the Abbott Government. Which if you look up almost any definition of the word, is a wee bit confusing. For a start, surely they need to be Muslims to wage a “jihad”. Although Waheed Aly does occasionally write a column for them, so perhaps he’s converted Amanda Vanstone and Peter Reith to the cause. And Paul Sheehan. None of those columnists ever show the Abbott Government in a positive light.

Yes, yes, I know. Allowing such people to give you their thoughts does make the Abbott Government look bad. Anyway, the Petester wasn’t finished, obviously concerned that he didn’t have anyone at “hello”. Or “jihad” for that matter.

PETER DUTTON: I think it would be helpful if some of the commentators in the area, in this space of politics, started reporting on the incidents, as opposed to being players themselves.

I think there’s a huge move by Fairfax at the moment to try and bring the Government down, that’s fair enough. But they aren’t, they aren’t….

They aren’t supposed to be political players, they’re supposed to be objective reporters of the news and I think many of them have morphed into frustrated politicians themselves.

Yes, they should get back to simple reporting of incidents the way the Murdoch Press does. Then we can see simple reporting of incidents like the fabulous: “We Need Tony” or “Kick This Mob Out”!

Although I seem to remember that we were told that News Limited were a private organisation and that they were allowed to be biased. Fairfax, on the other hand (sorry Andrew Hastie but that wasn’t directed at you!), should stick to reporting the facts because, well, they’re being “helped by the ABC” according to Pete the Insignificant.

But I find it strange that he thinks that “commentators” should stick to reporting “incidents”. I thought the whole idea of commentators was to commentate, but I’ve always been a bit funny about words and their meanings. You know, I’m one of those that thought that when Abbott said that there was no difference between him and Rudd on Education, I thought that meant that he was saying that he’d implement the same policy, not that they both had a university degree. Or that no cuts meant that he wasn’t going to reduce the funds to pensioners, not that he wasn’t going to take a knife to them.

Still to be fair, all our Minister for Operational Matters actually said was that “it’d be helpful” if they stuck to reporting incidents. Objectively. You know, factual reporting. Using last Friday’s events maybe he’d be happy with something like this appearing in Fairfax.

“Operation Fortitude was called off when a clumsy worded press release caused people to compare the Abbott Government with Hitler and Stalin and to make comparisons between the Border Force’s black uniform with the Nazi SS. The press release wasn’t read by the Minister’s Office because they don’t have anything to do with the day to day operational matters, so they didn’t think that it was worth reading something sent to them. The Prime Minister assured us that he knew nothing.”

Yeah, that should make him happy.

That, and a decision by the media to stop reporting that there’s disharmony in the Liberal Party, because it’s not really news. People leaking. As Dutton himself told us, people could have a pretty good idea who was doing the leaking, and they’re doing it for their own ambitions and they should be sacked. But there’s no disharmony, and any attempt to report disharmony is just due to the Labor/Green/ABC/Fairfax/socialist/Jewish/alien/Islam/foreign/World Trade Centre conspiracy to bring down the natural rulers by refusing to mention that all they think about is Jobs and Growth And Security, and if you think about something often enough, then it happens. We all know that, we’ve all seen “Field of Dreams” and we know that if we build it they will come.

Mm, perhaps I should apply for a job as Tony Abbott’s speechwriter.


They don’t instil confidence any more than they display it

In 2012 Tony Abbott said “Imagine the reaction, for instance, had the Howard government sought to gag naval personnel after ‘children overboard’. But the principle of free speech badly needs reaffirmation now, because of the current government’s attempts to bully critics into silence.”

Yes, he truly said that!

This from the man who has been so highly critical of the ABC and the Guardian for revealing allegations of animal abuse in live exports, abuse of asylum seekers by naval and security personnel , spying on foreign leaders, and the payment of people smugglers by our government. Q&A has evoked hysterical overreaction and government interference with the independence of the national broadcaster.

This from the man who has silenced his own Ministers. He has gagged the public service, journalists, border force personnel, and all people who deal with asylum seekers under threat of gaol time. He has defunded the Freedom of Information Office which is now run by one man working from home. Whole departments no longer answer requests from the media. Reports paid for by us are not released. Advice that does not support the government’s political view is rejected. The phrases “operational matter” and “commercial in confidence” are flung around with gay abandon to stop stakeholders from having any input and the public from having information.

If you are so sure you are right, why keep information secret?

The Abbott government tells us that the adults are in charge but they have veiled their governing in secrecy and reacted ferociously to any criticism. Instead of confidently answering legitimate concerns, they dismiss, attack or ridicule the questioner.

When Obama spoke about the need to protect the Great Barrier Reef our Treasurer responded that Obama “hasn’t had great success” so far with his own plans to cut carbon emissions. Julie Bishop inferred that he didn’t know what he was talking about.

When the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, suggested that bushfires would get worse due to climate change and that Direct Action was a very expensive way to address it, Tony Abbott said she was “talking through her hat”.

When Gillian Triggs produced the Forgotten Children Report, she was mercilessly attacked as a partisan hack and her resignation was sought by the Attorney General.

“The Human Rights Commission, in my view, is an important national institution, but it has to be like Caesar’s wife, it must both be and be seen to be above partisan politics,” Senator Brandis said.

One wonders if he feels the same about Dyson Heydon and the TURC.

When Sarah Hansen-Young expressed alarm at allegations in a submission to a Senate inquiry that she was spied on by security guards at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru, Peter Dutton slammed her as an attention-seeking “embarrassment to our country” with a record of making unsubstantiated claims that inevitably were proved to be wrong. We are still waiting for his apology.

When the Mackay Conservation Group were successful in court action delaying the approval of the Adani mine, they were labelled as traitors and called every name under the sun, my favourite being “vigilante litigants” – an oxymoron from the moron who holds the position of our highest legal officer in the country and who is now seeking to take away the right of citizens to object to developments on environmental grounds.

When East Timor sought to take the Australian government to court for bugging their parliamentary offices to gain commercial advantage for a private company, George Brandis authorised ASIO officers to raid the offices of East Timor’s lawyer and confiscated the passport of the key witness. This landed Australia in the dock at the International Court of Justice and dealt a serious blow to Australia’s global reputation as a nation that respects the rule of law.

When Tanya Plibersek drew attention to the plight of displaced people in Syria, suggesting we should be providing humanitarian aid, our Foreign Minister accused her of advocating for a “terrorists’ picnic” in Syria.

When the Labor Party sought to ensure that there would be mandatory labour market testing for developments under the Chinese Free Trade Agreement, they were called “racist” and “xenophobes”.

When they questioned the legality of stripping citizenship, Abbott accused them of “rolling out a red carpet for terrorists” whilst refusing to make public the legal advice he had received.

When his own colleagues complain about the excessive control by the unelected Peta Credlin, Abbott calls them sexist.

They even refuse to debate in Parliament the decision to go to war.

Calm confidence is something we should expect from our leader. It is their job to reassure us that everything is under control.

But misplaced confidence can be a very destructive thing.

An increasing trend towards secrecy and virulent attacks on anyone who dares to question does not instil confidence any more than it displays it.

Bravado is no replacement for convincing argument that can bear scrutiny.

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday August 22

1 The process is more important than the individual. That is why Dyson Heydon must step down. When arguing that it puts the future of the commission in doubt people forget that the findings to date could have always been pursued through existing law enforcement bodies. That’s what made it a political witch hunt in the first place. Abbott wanted a show trial and wasn’t concerned with the cost.

After watching the proceedings yesterday, and if I were a betting man I would take odds on him stepping down. The loser in the public eye will be the PM for appointing him. And the pity is that the CFMEU might escape the justice it deserves.

2 So it now looks as though Abbott has conceded to a plebiscite for Marriage Equality. He can still delay it, if he wins, for his full term. And of course it’s non-binding. What if it were closer than expected? I can hear the words now. Well, er, um.

3 It is an endless source of fascination to me just how “terrorism” raises its ugly head when the Abbott Government is in trouble.

Midday thoughts

1 The former SAS soldier standing as the Liberal Party’s prize recruit in the key federal by-election for Canning was the officer in command of a troop being investigated for chopping the hands off dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The investigation is ongoing so people should not draw any conclusions. It has been said that Captain Hastie was elsewhere on the battlefield when the incident happened and therefore was not responsible.

backflip 2 There are a lot of captain’s calls, much backpedaling, substantial lying, many backflips with lots of catchphrases and slogans but there is little substance and absolutely no leadership.

3 Which leads me into what former colleagues think. John Howard said “My concern is growth is not picking up quite as much in Australia”. He feared the country had entered a “new paradigm” of “sub-par growth. Peter Costello agreed: “Our economy is growing slower than the long- term average. Letting these average tax rates ratchet up higher and higher is not helping it”. Peter Reith named the solution, and the problem: “Of course the only real answer is bold economic reform but as the party room meets this week, whether spoken or not, the issue on the minds of MPs will be leadership“.

Sunday 23 August

What is Ideology?

Ideology is a word that seems to get tossed around a lot. But what exactly does it mean? Let’s stop for a moment and see if we can’t put some substance to this rhetoric, starting with a few possible definitions:

  1. The body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
  2. Such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.
  3. Philosophy: The study of the nature and origin of ideas.
  4. Theorising of a visionary or impractical nature.

Morning Thoughts

1 The word “lying” (in political terms) has been replaced with the more subtle reference of “overstatement”.

2 A Plebiscite on marriage equality at a cost of $100 million will be the most expensive exercise ever to confirm what current polling already tells us.

ml 3 Mark Latham is the Jekyll and Hyde of Australian politics. One day intellectually brilliant, the other a downright grubby individual.

4 To say that you have to live in the immediate proximity of a development that has environment implications you disagree with in order to protest it, is simply nonsensical.

5 The Government is having little success in getting its revised Paid Parental Scheme through the parliament. Has anyone considered the implication on the budget?

Monday 24 August

In proposing tax cuts at the next election Joe Hockey said:

“We are undeterred in our mission to pinpoint government waste; to stop spending money where it doesn’t need to be spent”.

Might I suggest that:

  1. He could save $100 million by doing away with a plebiscite on Marriage Equality and he dispose with the 15% tax discount on Superannuation for high income earners. There’s two for starters. Continuing on the subject of tax. So Hockey wants the rich to pay less tax at a time when revenues are declining. And he planes to offset them with spending cuts but won’t say where. Cuts in spending of the size required to fund tax cuts could only come from areas like health or education.
  2. Hockey’s second budget, delivered in May, predicted a deficit of $35.1bn this financial year. This would be followed by deficits of $25.8bn in 2016-17, $14.4bn in 2017-18 and $6.9bn in 2018-19, and these figures assume the passage of contentious budget savings that are stalled in the Senate and unlikely to pass. On top of that the growth projections in the budget are considered by both Howard and Costello to be fanciful .

The man’s bonkers. Whatever happened to the disastrous debt and deficit crisis? If it did exist why did he add $100 billion to it?

nbn Tuesday 25 August

1 The LNP continues to make a meal of the NBN rollout with a cost blowout of $15b since last estimate in December 2013.The budget had already blown out considerably (after having blown out to $41 billion, twice what the Coalition insisted their less-ambitious version of the NBN would cost before the 2013 election) and that NBN Co are going to have to find the money from either greater debt or private equity. Yes, they were telling lies all along.

And the revised rollout of the network will end up being 20 per cent fiber-to-the-premises, 38 per cent fiber-to-the-node, 34 per cent HFC, 5 per cent fixed wireless and 3 per cent satellite.

Fiber to the house is the rolled gold connection and MPs will have to explain to their electorates why some are getting it and some are not. Are you in a marginal seat?

Mr. Turnbull owns the problem.

2 This week’s Morgan Poll has Labor at 54.5 and the Coalition at 45.5 Newspoll today is 54/46 in favor of Labor with Shorten preferred PM 40/35

3 What is good Government? In my view:

“Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions. When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government. It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair ‘’reward for the fruits of their labour and the wealth of the country. And above all it should be answerable to the people”.

4 Wow, now we find the Ombudsman is about to investigate the AFP about their refusal to investigate Bronwyn Bishops expenses claims. And the CFMEU to face criminal charges. Truth and justice at work.

5 And to top it off Dyson Heydon has delayed his decision again.

Wednesday 26 August

1 Poor Aunty copping it again. Given the amount of tweets they show, weekly on the ABC I’m surprised they don’t fall foul more often. One of the downsides to new technology is that it gives license to the nutters. I should think that Turnbull would have more serious things to worry about. Like why are we getting inferior broadband technology? And the PM thinks Q&A is out of control. He should know.

2 Pauline Hansen endorsing Scott Morison for PM. Now why is anyone surprised? They have a lot in common, after all.

3 Police in three states are investigating the most senior leaders of the CFMEU for allegations ranging from receiving secret commissions to blackmail. GOOD.

4 Tuesday’s Essential Poll has Labor on 51% and the Coalition on 49%

5 After all the Government’s huffing and puffing over the Adani Mine failure the Government admits it stuffed up, was incompetent, and the court documents confirm it. Green vigilantes indeed. What an abysmal lot they are.

6 Another one of those unedifying Abbott statements.

“We all know back in the 60s Aboriginal people didn’t have much money, they didn’t always receive the respect they deserve but they were in the real economy and they did have pride”.

Fact is that most were virtual slave laborers and worked for food and lodging. “In the real economy”. Really!

7 The Prime Minister yesterday confirmed that everyone can expect a tax cut promise at the next election. Remember those promises at the last. No I won’t bore you. And the money is in the magician’s hat with the bunny.

8 Tony Abbott to keep low profile in Canning by-election. He should face up to it.

pf Thursday 27 August

1 Peter FitzSimons gave an excellent, even brilliant speech at the National Press Club. It was passionate, and at times hilariously funny. He did warn however that an Australian Republic with our own head of state would be impossible as long as Abbott was in power. Joe Hockey is also a supporter together with many other politicians on both sides of the ideological divide.

My piece on this subject for THE AIMN

Also posted my thoughts on how we are being governed.

2 Dyson Heydon will independently decide on his independence on Friday. No one independent of the commission of course will do so. The shit will hit the fan either way.

3 At the National Reform Summit former Treasury boss Martin Parkinson said we are “sleepwalking into a real mess”, a recession in fact. The way Hockey is handling things he is probably right. Why is it political parties cannot govern for the long term instead of prioritizing their own incumbency?

4 So now it appears Tony Abbott is cynically manipulating and misrepresenting the US alliance and increasing the risk to Australian military personnel with negligible strategic gain to create a political distraction to save himself. He says it was a request from Obama. Negative response from them. You be the judge.

5 Simply astonishing the way in which this Government conceals the truth. They released two reports late last Friday that were damaging to its Climate policy.

The two reports showed that the Prime Minister has misled the public on the cost of larger cuts to emissions and that the Government’s current direct action policy is a high cost alternative. They also showed electricity greenhouse emissions have once again started to rise.

6 A Reachtel poll published in the West Australian newspaper on Tuesday found the contest between Mr. Hastie and Labor candidate Matt Keogh was neck and neck, predicting a swing of nearly 12 percentage points to Labor in Canning.

The three pretenders to Abbott’s throne, Bishop, Turnbull and Morrison will appear in the electorate but because of his unpopularity he will not.

7 Greg Hunt is not far behind the PM when it comes to telling lies. Where he differs is that he uses omission to justify his untruths. Now he says the Q&A Abbott tweet wasn’t an accident. He reckons the ABC did it deliberately.

Midday thoughts

1 I don’t think there is any doubt that the PM’s Office underhandedly requested that Washington request an expanded role for us in Syria. He then acted as though they did so formerly, so as to make himself seem important. He won’t answer the question and Washington won’t confirm it. He really is just an out of touch man masquerading as a Prime Minister. Perhaps it’s more about a certain by-election.

2 I suspect Julia Gillard supported gay marriage all the time and was just cementing support from Catholic Union leader Joe de Bruyn who was very powerful at the time. He is vigorously anti-gay.

3 One of the follies of Australian Politics is that every time an issue arises that is a little controversial the reason put forward for not being able to deal with it is that there are always more pressing ones. Goodness, how did we ever raise our children?

Friday 28 August

1 Commissioner Heydon has delayed his decision on himself until Monday. New information has arisen suggesting that he may have been tipped off. I think he may be in trouble. It has now escalated into a problem of not only the commissioner’s credibility but the commission itself. Abbott needs to show some leadership. OMG, did I say that?

2 The decision by the ABS to place “No religion” at the top of the religious area on the census form is a good one. Having it at the bottom encouraged people to tick one of the above before getting to it. A change in holy orders as someone said.

3 Judith Sloan on The Drum last night was in one of her sarcastic negative moods about everything. Particularly on the subject of ethical investment. Like coal mines.

Midday thoughts

1 Goodness me. All Labor wants in the Free Trade Agreement with China is that Australians will be guaranteed first crack at the jobs. There are grave doubts that it does. If the PM is the best friend our workers have ever had then you would think he would give this guarantee.

2 While American politicians are in the pocket of the NRA gun law reform will never happen. They well may be the most technologically advanced country in the world, arguably they are the most morally backward.

3 Germany prepares to accept up to 800,000 refugees this year. Australia Australia . . . yes . . . well . . . um . . . er . . . we . . . Australia . . . we stopped the boats!

4 The PM holds a press conference and attributes high attendance at NT State School, Bamaga to the Governments “school attendance officers”. It was a highlight of the week and gained national coverage.

But the head of the school’s P&C and husband of the school’s principal, Richard McLean, said the remote attendance officers were not a key reason so many kids were coming to class. It was the community who put in the hard work and not the Government. They deserve the praise.

And this is the week that was. Leave you with this thought.

“Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact”

Just as I was about to post a headline this caught my eye and . . .


. . . I couldn’t believe it!

All that I have written this week about Tony Abbott and his obnoxious Government, means little when compared with this headline in the Melbourne Age:

“Australian Border Force to patrol Melbourne CBD as part of anti-social behavior operation’’… ‘’The center of Melbourne will be swamped with police on Friday and Saturday night”.

For the first time officers from the federal government’s new paramilitary unit will join transport officials and police to target crime among people “travelling to, from and around the CBD”, in a measure dubbed Operation Fortitude.

I was unaware that the city I grew up in and nominated as the best in the world had degenerated to the point that our existing crime authorities could not cope. Yes I am familiar with the problems of King Street and other Night Club areas but to have armed paramilitary personal patrolling our streets with dubious purpose is contrary to the society I grew up in.

The Australian Border Force was formed, contentiously to keep, unwanted arrivals from reaching our shores. Millions of dollars have been spent on it to create an image of additional authority and it has now taken to the streets in an effort to keep the population in a constant state of crisis. The Australian Border Force, officers have substantially greater powers than either customs or immigration officials. They are permitted to carry guns and have powers to detain.

“The benefit to society of these sorts of approaches seems to me to be much much less than the damage to which it does to a society by instilling fear, “I don’t want to live in a community where you walk around with the fear that people will stop you with a threat you’ll be jailed or mishandled if you don’t comply” (Julian Burnside).

There is only one person responsible for this. It is Tony Abbott. Since his rise to power he has systematically set about depriving us of freedom, our privacy and our right to know, He defaults to National Security whenever he is in trouble. Are my fellow citizens so gullible not to see his shock and awe tactics? His making you feel you are under threat when you are not. Dividing us rather than uniting us.

Malcolm Fraser said he was a dangerous man. He was right.

Consider this:

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you”.