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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?

Charity Begins At Home Or We Need To Talk About Harriet

School Counsellor’s Office. Mr and Mrs White enter.

Counsellor: Ah, thanks for coming in.

Mr White: We’re really glad you called.

Mrs White: We’ve been really worried about Harriet.

Counsellor: I understand, but really, it’s nothing to worry about.

Mr. White: Yes, but some of the things she’s been doing. She keeps taking her younger brother’s toys and insisting that he shouldn’t have them until he’s earned them. I mean, I do appreciate a work ethic, but…

Mrs White: But he is only two. And then there was what she said when she saw that the government was helping farmers with the drought.

Mr White: Yes, she insisted that we shouldn’t be giving charity to people who didn’t come from the same house as we did. I said that they were in need and she just said that they didn’t have the same surname so why should we help them. And she locked one of her friends in the cupboard because she didn’t come in the right door.

Mrs White: We’ve been asking her for the key for months now, but she insists that the friend has to stay in the cupboard so none of her other friends come in by the wrong door.

Counsellor: So she does have friends?

Mr White: Well, not so many since she had her thirteenth birthday and told them that they had to make a large donation to sit at the table with her.

Counsellor: Yes, well, I can see how this may seem like a real worry to you. However, I’m just throwing this out there, but have you ever considered that she might be…

Mr White: Go on!

Counsellor: A Liberal!

Mrs White: No, she can’t be. I mean what sort of…

Mr White: Not our daughter surely. I mean, she can’t be. She’s female.

Counsellor: Now I know that you may need some time to adjust to the idea but believe it or not, there are female Liberals. It’s just that they’re much more likely to be hidden away than the type you see in the media, but female Liberals are more common than you might think.

Mrs White: But what makes you think that she’s a Liberal?

Counsellor: Well, one of her teachers noticed that she kept blaming everyone else whenever she made a mistake. By itself that wouldn’t be unusual but then we noticed her complete lack of empathy and her inability to make a consistent argument for anything. For example, when she was doing group activities, she’d insist that she’d done all the work and then when the marks were in, she’d loudly declare that this shouldn’t go on her report because the other students had done it. Classic Liberal behaviour.

Mr White: Is it… Is it something to do with the way we raised her?

Counsellor: Now, you mustn’t blame yourselves. Sometimes these things just happen and because we live in a tolerant society she’ll be able to lead a relatively normal life. Of course, she’ll never be able to make a meaningful commitment or trust any of her friends, but apart from that, she’ll be able to function just like a normal person.

Mrs White: Is there anything we should be doing? Like is there any treatment or help available.

Counsellor: I think the main thing is just continuing to be supportive and remembering when attempts to install herself as head of the household, that it’s the condition and nothing that you should blame her for.

Mr White: So there’s no cure or…

Counsellor: Well, there are people trying a radical new therapy. Apparently if you give Liberals lots and lots of money and keep telling that they’re the adults, they behave politely and only lash out at things like renewable energy or unemployed people.

Mr White: How much money?

Counsellor: All of it, but I only mentioned that to say that people are trying to help. I don’t know if there’s any scientific validity behind the therapy.

Mrs White: But the lack of science wouldn’t matter, would it? I mean, if she’s really a Liberal…

Counsellor: The main thing is not to over-react. As unbelievable as it may seem, there are lots of Liberals out there and if you can just steer clear of certain topics, you might never even be aware that they’re any different from you or me.

Mr White: Is there some sort of support group? Malcolm Fraser inspired a lot of people by showing that you could make an almost complete recovery from being a Liberal.

Counsellor: That’s what I mean. You shouldn’t talk about recovery. You should just respect her choices.

Mrs White: So it is a choice thing?

Counsellor: Look, I’m not an expert. We do have someone at the school who’s very good at understanding they way Liberals think and he’ll be able to give you some strategies for getting Liberals to do what you want.

Mr White: Who’s that?

Counsellor: The school chaplain.

 

 

Seldom has a government looked more ridiculous. More compromised. Incompetent. Less trustworthy.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever, wrote George Orwell, foreseeing, our Border Protection policy, in the news this week as Australian War Memorial Director, Brendan Nelson proposes the creation of a type of shrine or monument to paramilitary thugs; the weaponising of compassion to enable us to deny our own innate humanity.

Similarly highlighted this week is the tender loving care our government lavishes on loan sharks, insurance touts, embezzlers and other predators in “the financial advice industry” at the expense of “ordinary hardworking Australians”. Yet nothing shows our open, transparent, democratic, government so clearly as its suppression of criticism; dissent.

Group hugs must surely break out all round at Sunday’s news, that the Coalition has pressured the UN to excise from its expert report on irrigation, a critique of the government’s $13 billion failure to restore our Murray-Darling river system.

The “Australia chapter” is now cut from the UN report “Does Improved Irrigation Technology Save Water?” published online by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Down the memory hole it goes; extinguished.

Water allocations to irrigators will in fact increase an extra 605 GL under innovative “on-farm efficiency: schemes but nothing may distract us from the government’s carefully orchestrated inquisition into usury and other money-lending malfeasance this week in Melbourne, an antipodean Malleus Maleficarum, which can turn grown men to water.

Banks Behaving Badly-or Business as Usual, a spell-binding, live-streaming, morality play, stars Royal Commissioner, The Honourable Kenneth Madison Hayne, QC, AO, as Grand Inquisitor, brilliantly assisted by Ms Rowena (shock and) Orr, QC.

The show, so much better than anything Labor had planned, government ministers keep telling us, continues its blockbuster run, as a hand-picked cast of spivs, charlatans and rogues and other financial advisers show open contempt for corporate cop, ASIC, and expose Coalition nobbling. Yet mystery shrouds this week’s show. Where are the big guns?

Conspicuous by their absence, possibly in witness protection, as secure as if in Monash fox-holes, are any CEOs.

Schadenfreude seizes the nation. Outrage. The drama has our full attention. True. Bonkers Brendan Nelson does his best to distract with his proposal to honour Border Force; to extend The Australian War Memorial to commemorate those brave souls who served in the war on compassion; our nation’s glorious battle with innocents; those compelled by cruel fate to seek asylum by any means. Some troops, he says, even jumped into the water to save people from drowning.

By Monday, the plot of Banks Behaving Badly includes dead people, knowingly being charged for financial advice; The CBA pockets $118 million for advice it doesn’t provide; NAB bribes people – its innovative “Introducer Program” -pays commissions to unqualified “spotters” – no financial expertise necessary- for home loan referrals, a subplot which includes forged payslips to settle loans, and envelopes stuffed with cash. The Introducer nets NAB $24 billion in loans.

(Former banking lobbyist, Scott Morrison’s tough new fines are capped at less than 1 per cent of that. Offenders will be brought to account, thunders former Goldman Sachs banker Turnbull. NAB is laughing all the way to the bank.)

Fee for no service turns out to be a nice little earner also. AMP’s head of financial advice, Anthony Regan, says he’s lost count of how many rip-offs; how many thousands of customers are charged fees for services they don’t receive. Lives are destroyed by bad advice; or when advisers’ financial ineptitude is compounded by avarice and duplicity.

It’s bad timing, however, for government by and for the banks, a Coalition which has to sell the electorate the last $35 billion of its $80 billion tax cut package, a gift of $13.2  billion in savings to our big four banks over the next ten years.

Even worse, its big business pals are no help. In the parallel universe where senate enquiries are held, Business Council of Australia’s CEO, Jennifer Westacott is asked, this week, by The Greens’ Lee Rhiannon.

“Can you give us an example of another country where tax cuts have resulted in wage rises?” 

Westacott wimps out. She’ll “take that question on notice”, despite the claim’s being a central plank of the BCA and the government’s campaign for the past two years. But let’s be fair. There’s too much business bashing around these days, as Westacott often wails. Above all, even the BCA can’t provide evidence that doesn’t exist.

Examples abound, however, from Canada or from The UK where, despite ten years’ company tax cuts, real wages continue to decline. The National Bank conducts one of Australia’s largest business surveys only to report that a mere 8 per cent of businesses would give workers a significant wage rise if they received a company tax cut.

One-in-five say they don’t need a tax cut to secure their company’s future. But who needs research in an age of neoliberal faith? The Coalition takes heart in the recent dismissal of The White House Chaplain, Jesuit Patrick Conroy who has held the job for seven years.  No reason has been given for Father Conroy’s sacking. Nor is it needed. In a Trumpian universe, it’s heresy to frown upon trickle-down or laugh at the Laffer Curve or even just express dissent.

Best explanation, reports The New York Times, is that the priest is being punished for his prayer last November, at the opening of a debate on the Republican tax bill. Conroy asked God to make sure that the members’ efforts “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Amen. Fairness is the last thing our government needs in its agile, innovative business-friendly zeitgeist but former Xenophon team member, now the more prosaic Centre Alliance, Sterling Griff, (a name that conjures confidence) is quick to remind listeners of government trumpet ABC Radio National that some top BCA companies pay no tax.

Australia’s effective company tax rate is 12% already. He warns his audience, moreover, where cuts will come from.

“It’s hard to see how a reduction in corporate tax is not going to lead to a reduction in public services like health and education.”

“The economic case for these company tax cuts never stacked up. The benefits were largely to foreign shareholders, with a huge long-term revenue cost to the budget,” says The Australia Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist when the Coalition withdraws the tax cut legislation it fails to get through the senate last month.

“It’s a tactical retreat” explains former HealthGuard and HBF Insurance companies’ general manager, Mathias Cormann.

Desperate to stop the rot, Malcolm Turnbull mounts a type of apology for his government’s howling down the very idea of a Royal Commission into banks, an opposition it kept up for two whole years. His government would have been “better off politically” to have called the Royal Commission, “several years ago”, he calls in from Berlin, Monday.

Not that he’s accepting any responsibility (Westminster or otherwise) for any malfeasance that his government has effectively enabled by its two years of spirited opposition, evasion and delay,

“The responsibility for wrongdoing lies with the people who did the wrongs. Let’s be clear about that,” he says, hopefully.

It is too little, too late and will do nothing to appease his critics who rue his dreadful political judgement; nor those who ask why his government protects wealthy banks and big businesses, while hounding and gouging the poor.

ASIC’s official boast is that it’s “Australia’s integrated corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator”. The Coalition hypes the regulator’s powers. Two years ago, Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed that,

“ASIC has the powers of a royal commission and, in fact, it has greater powers than a royal commission.”

But just in case, penalties will now be increased; jail time provided for some offences, a hollow response that overlooks the core problem. ASIC has neither the will nor the resources to act. It’s launched but one criminal case in ten years.

As this week’s testimony shows, ASIC’s the financial sector’s family pet, lying doggo or sitting up and begging to play fetch or rolling over to have its tummy tickled. Of course there’s a weasel-word for it. In ASIC- speak it “negotiated” rather than prosecuted misconduct cases which is why it’s brought only criminal prosecution in ten years.

Does Hayne’s royal command performance have more power? While a royal commission can refer suspected offences to the Director of Public Prosecutions who can then prosecute, in practice, criminal prosecutions rarely result from recommendations of either a royal commission or a parliamentary inquiry.

Key to the commission’s power are its terms of reference. Here is a huge weakness. Its terms of reference dictate that it is not required to look at anything the commissioner believes “has been, is being, or will be, sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation or a criminal or civil proceeding”.

In other words, it will ignore the findings of at least 38 other inquiries held into banking and financial services since 2010. Sensational, shocking as it may be, the misconduct Hayne has revealed, so far, is but the latest scandalous chapter in a long series of instalments, all of which have also exposed ASIC as a Clayton’s corporate regulator; a paper tiger.

When The CBA ruined many clients with bad financial advice a 2014 Senate inquiry criticised ASIC for being “too slow to act, lack[ing] transparency and … too trusting of the big end of town”. The verdict still applies today.

In the meantime, by popular demand, – and the instigation of The Nationals helped by The Greens and with the late support of Labor, the show must go on.  And on. Talk abounds of an extended season. Yet can it fix anything?

Crusty Justice Hayne’s superbly orchestrated production is in danger of being upstaged by its own lurid revelations of the graft, fraud, usury, collusion, extortion, embezzlement, cheating, lying and bare-faced robbery integral to our banking system; as a series of wretched pin-striped small fry from the big four take turns to spill their guts.

Equally distracting are the sideshows. A stampede to steal the glory includes the two-bob populist Pauline Hanson, even though it was her hapless former colleague, Rod Culleton, a bankrupted WA farmer who campaigned for a royal commission. Perhaps she’s getting confused with her repeated calls for a Royal Commission into Islam.

Also confused is Hanson’s new pal, Tony Abbott who channels the Queen of Hearts. “Off with their heads”.

Tin-pot general of the monkey pod rebels, Abbott is pumped. He’s led his peacock peloton and mobile media squad coal revival cycle tour through the Latrobe Valley of death-by-coal-fire, his latest sortie in his “no sniping or undermining” war of revenge by attrition on Turnbull. He’s just back from the $100 million Monash Centre he had built in France.

He goes off like a frog in a sock. “Sack ASIC”, he shrieks, despite his own role as ASIC’s chief nobbler.

Abbott’s government snatched $120 million, a cut of 200 workers, from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, a pillaging which left the watchdog unable to do very much at all effectively, let alone chase up the banks. Instead, the corporate regulator would get banks to self-report. What could possibly go wrong?

At the same time, in July 2014, Mattias Cormann attempted to weaken Labor’s Future of Financial Advice legislation (FOFA) which sought to ensure that advisers acted in their customers’ best interests, amendments put up by the banks but lost only when two cross-benchers voted them down.

ASIC hit the panic button. It complained that all advisers would be caught on the hop. It would do nothing, it said until July 1 2015 – two whole years after the new law was supposed to apply.

This, the corporate regulator supported Cormann, giving advisers two extra years in which to charge commissions and evade their duty to put the clients first. This week has seen how AMP flouted the FOFA law with impunity.

“Through AMP’s dealings with ASIC regarding the extent and nature of its fee-for-no-service conduct, AMP adopted an attitude toward the regulator that was not forthright or honest, and demonstrated a deliberate attempt to mislead,” Ms Orr sums up Friday.

AMP and its advice businesses misled the regulator 20 times from 2015 to 2017 about the nature and extent of its fees-for-no-service practice.”

The Coalition is responsible. It can’t pretend now that it merely got the timing wrong. Surely. But that’s just what it does.

Time to chuck a U-turn. Not far from Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, in the Reichstag’s shadow, Monday, Turnbull grabs the Coalition handbrake; burns rubber in a tyre-shredding U-turn. The government’s been driving the wrong way up a one-way street for two years but a quick U turn will fix it. Memo: Get updated talking points to Kelly O’Dwyer.

Facing overwhelming evidence that its concerted opposition to a Royal Commission into the banks was palpably not in the public interest, a willful misreading, if not contemptuous defiance, of public opinion in defence of the top end of town, the PM and his minions hastily abandon their epic, sandbagged, campaign to defend their banking mates.

Seldom has a government looked more ridiculous. Or more compromised. More incompetent. Less trustworthy.

Tragically, Terry McMaster, of Dover Financial, a pillar of the financial advice industry, oxymoron of the week, is taken ill, mid-sentence – but quickly recovers sufficient self-possession to sit bolt upright in his ambulance stretcher like some grandee being ferried up above the masses upon a palanquin. He’s excused from further participation in Hayne’s show.

But not before he’s been able to defend hiring advisers who were under investigation and later sanctioned for serious breaches. At least, he makes some incoherent response. Perhaps he’s just choking.

McMaster’s also questioned on Dover contracts which purport to give client protection yet which, in fact, attempt to indemnify Dover advisers from accusations of bad conduct. Doubtless ASIC plans to catch up with him on that, too.

Dover is the only big financial advisory group to decline to assist the Royal Commission. It has not supplied adequate documentation. Yet McMaster has dramatically collapsed in the attempt. His clients will wish him a speedy recovery.

You can’t fault the performances. The Royal Commission into crony capitalism is an orchestrated confession of wrongdoing; a lavish smorgasbord of malfeasance even if the grubby money-grubbers of the “wealth industry” themselves, are cynical, untrustworthy, grossly overpaid, self-interested spivs who’d sell their own grandmothers.

The formidable Rowena Orr, QC, continues to impress as she leads a brilliant supporting cast in homage to the English theatrical tradition of personifying justice as a Judge, a trend since Respublica, the mid-15th Century, morality play which has the body politic under insidious, deceptive attack from Avarice, Indolence, Oppression and Adulation.

By Monday, however, our political masters are back on song, a Hallelujah chorus of shock, surprise and outrage, the necessary ritual disclaimer and distancing which will enable them to snatch the whip hand back from Hayne.

“I have to say I have been surprised. I have to admit some of the revelations in recent times, I have been surprised.”

Mathias Cormann tells Sky News, Australia’s Fox News of government spin, while Matt Canavan, Minister for Coal, is “shocked“. Kelly O’Dwyer is “appalled” in a in a duet with Barrie Cassidy on Insiders. At the Self-Managed Super Fund expo in Melbourne on Friday, (no irony in the venue?) the assistant treasurer is back on stage and on song.

“The royal commission has highlighted in the most profound way, some of the devastating personal consequences that have resulted from corporate misconduct in the financial services sector,” she says.

“The government did get the timing wrong.”

That’s it, then. Just dud timing. Could happen to any government bank protection racket. As Helen Razer notes in Crikey, not one MP is surprised, or shocked, or appalled, or devastated enough to call out a scandal when they see one.

As Bob Katter fears, Karen Middleton reports, the real problem remains. Banks will continue to transfer loans between them, unilaterally dictate and then change the terms, downgrade property values and then foreclose without negotiation, seize and offload the properties at fire-sale prices, leaving borrowers still owing them the difference.

And it’s all perfectly legal.

Routed by the sheer force of numbers, rubbery figures, lies, impersonation and other evidence of illegality elicited from bankers so far, by beak of the week, Justice Hayne and his crack team of silks so far, Monday, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull beats a retreat on his quixotic Coalition forces’ foolhardy ideological charge against Labor and The Greens’ impregnable position; that there be a Royal Commission into Banking. It’s also a retreat from credibility and legitimacy.

News of the PM’s surrender from Berlin where he commends John Howard’s Pacific Solution (2001); lecture Germany on how to deal with refugees as he fills in time before opening yet another monument to John Monash and to honour his government’s militarisation of history and fetishising of war.

Some may admire his chutzpah. Germany took in a million Syrian refugees. The nonsense that border control helps build a multicultural society is insulting; demeaning to any audience. But it’s all designed for domestic consumption.

Turnbull makes no apology for his government’s enabling of what clearly amounts to a banking oligarchy; helping our new robber barons hold the country to ransom, destroying careers, wrecking families and ruining the lives of thousands.

“It was a poor political decision“, is the best the former merchant banker can manage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The List Of Strange Bedfellows – If You’ll Pardon The Expression.

Sorry, but I’m off to New Zealand in a couple of days and this may be my last post for a couple of weeks. The trouble is that I’m having difficulty working out which of the interesting potential targets to write about. I’ve started to compile a list.

  1. Peter Dutton calls asylum seekers, “Armani refugees” and tells us all that they’re not fleeing war but are, in fact, economic refugees. How then have they been judged to be worthy of asylum? Surely this is a failure of his government to identify them and send them back.
  2. The “No” Campaign expresses outrage that people are being sent one text message urging them to vote “Yes”, labelling it an invasion of privacy. Cory Bernardi announces his intention to robocall a million homes with a two-minute recording of him speaking, which he then follows with a survey of voting intentions. I suspect that he’ll achieve a 100% “No” vote with his survey, as nobody else would listen to him for three minutes. Actually I suspect that he’d get close to 100% if the question was are you my wife or a paid supporter?
  3. Tony Abbott has a column in the paper telling us that Australians don’t like being told what to do and think and the fact that the “Yes” campaign is trying to influence us could backfire. Leaving aside the obvious point that the “No” campaign is also telling us what to think, this could be a valid point. Abbott follows it up, however, by telling the NRL that they shouldn’t have Macklemore at the Grand Final. Apparently, only ex-PMs are allowed to tell us what to do… And only if they aren’t members of the Labor Party.
  4. Malcolm Turnbull goes on “The Project” and gloats that Waleed Aly was wrong about suggesting that Australians couldn’t conduct a civil debate on marriage equality. When Waleed says hang on and points out that there’s been violence and bullying and some really nasty comments, Turnbull bristles and tells him that this has only been from a minority and most people have been ok. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that anybody was suggesting that the majority of people would conduct themselves badly; it was always about the minority.
  5. Tony Abbott, a free enterprise champion, suggests bringing in the army to take over gas supplies.
  6. Malcolm Roberts argues that a) he believed that he was never a British citizen and b) that he attempted to renounce any claim by sending of an email headed “Am I Still A British Citizen?” This is akin to arguing that I’m not guilty of bigamy because I never believed that I was married and sending off an email with the words, “Has the divorce come through yet?”
  7. Andrew Bolt. Almost anything he says about the Liberal Party/Churches/big companies when compared to anything he says about the Left/Bill Shorten/The Greens/companies that aren’t doing what he thinks that they should.
  8. Turnbull tells us we have a gas problem. Then he tells us it’s Labor’s fault because they should have done something about it four years ago even though, nobody in his government has done anything about it in the past four years. Then he tells us that it’s worse than he thought. Then he tells us he’s solved it becasue the gas supplies have agreed to sell to Australian companies for only a little bit more than what they’re selling to overseas companies.

The list goes on…

I have a plane to catch.

See you in a week or so!

Day to Day Politics: Abbott admits to being an idiot.

Tuesday April 26 2016   – 69

In a revealing third essay for Quadrant Magazine Tony Abbott admits some of his failings. I haven’t read his work and because I think he is the greatest liar to have ever walked the corridors of Parliament house, I probably won’t.

Adam Gartrell in a critique for Fairfax Abbott admits to making errors and unnecessary enemies. He lists his expensive paid parental leave scheme (PPL) proposal and his decision to abolish the debt ceiling together with his decision on Knighthoods as major blunders.

He stands by his policies on same-sex marriage, climate change, asylum seekers and national security.

He still thinks that the 2014 budget was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It is commendable that people, especially politicians, admit error. However in Abbott’s case he is simply trying to perpetuate an image of himself contrary to that of those with independent political judgement.

Of his budget he says that there was a “moral purpose” to returning the budget to surplus because it would have allowed the government to create a better society. How offensive is that to those he was expecting to pay for his better society? It was a budget that might have been called “the unfair immoral purpose of inequality”.

The question that arises is this, “a better society for who?” This budget was universally judged as the most unfair ever. If he was looking to a better society then it would not be the rich who would create it.

The utter dumbness of his PPL, his blindness on Climate Change, his infiltration of our schools with Christian Chaplains, and his stupidity on Knighthoods will be cemented in the political history of Australia as amongst the most injudicious ever.

If it were in him he would have listed his ability to lie in all circumstances as his biggest sin but that might be too much to expect. He wasn’t stopping boats he was turning them back.

Instead he says he should have done more media, particularly more long-form interviews so voters could see more of his personality. Personality, I’m lost for words so I will move on.

Two other things he regrets are not proceeding with changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination act and curtailing MP’s entitlements.

Leaving aside his attitude toward women I think I will leave it there least I say what I think. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression of me.

Well one last thought. It’s this. How could you possibly on the one hand admit that as a leader you made many monumental errors of leadership and on the other wonder why your party sacked you? And on top of that harbour thoughts of returning to the job.

It takes a certain kind of arrogance to think that way.

My thought for the day.

“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”.

 

Day to Day Politics: With 17 backflips Turnbull qualifies for the Olympic diving team

Friday 15 April 2016

We can thank Malcolm Turnbull, for ridding his party, and the nation, of the combatant pugilist Abbott. He was rewarded for his effort with election winning polls and a personal popularity rating the envy of any celebrity. Initially with charismatic personality, he seduced and beguiled his way into the hearts of those who wanted nothing more than to see the back of Abbott and some who didn’t.

The punters welcomed, for the time being at least, his sense of reason, fairness, discretion and natural charm, even if these characteristics seemed out-of-place in a party so demonstrably right-wing.

After 7 months of what can only be described as waffle, it has become apparent that he is not the leader people thought he was. I have written hundreds of words, no, literally thousands, about his individual policy backflips but I have never collated them together.

Ben Elthan in his piece for New Matilda does just that and when viewed in their totality it becomes obvious the backflips are worthy of a gold medal. How a new leader could possibly backflip on so many issues is beyond understanding. Well except to suggest that he is incompetent and controlled by the right-wing of his party. Anyway, here is the list, you be the judge. You can read Ben’s piece on New Matilda. But first, here are the backflips Ben writes about:

1) Marriage equality

2) Climate policy

3) Raising the GST

4) Income tax cuts

5) Company tax cuts

6) Capital Gains Tax

7) Simplified tax returns

8) Funding for the Gonski schools reforms

9) University fee deregulation

10) International carbon permits for Direct Action

11) Safe Schools

12) Section 35P of the ASIO Act

13) An Australian republic

14) Tax disclosure

15) The “effects test” for competition law

16) The early budget

17) Income tax for the state.

2 During this week I wrote at length about the need for a Royal Commission into the financial sector. I think those who have so stridently opposed one underestimate public opinion on this one and are already into scare campaign mood. In reality the banks are about as popular as politicians. Here are a couple of small examples of why one is needed.

If one is looking for reasons to justify a Royal Commission into banking here is a small but significant one. The cash rate is 2%. The bank card rate on credit is 21% or there about. A 19% differential.

Here is another: Why is it, if you try to get a $10k personal loan unsecured at around 8% you have a 50/50 chance of being knocked back,  but banks can’t give you a $10k credit card at 20% quick enough.

Here are some bigger ones:

The fact is that on the evidence thus far our major banks are probably (should I use the word allegedly) guilty of insurance fraud, rate fixing and dodgy financial planning practices. They have no conscience when it comes to profit.

The objection to a Royal Commission brings into focus just what sort of democracy we are, or want to be. Are we one where the people are represented by the government of the day or some sort of corporatocracy where the government is just a political appendage of large corporations?

3 A factor we don’t consider when trying to analyse polling is the undecided factor. Lee Mullin. A Facebook friend sent me this:

“As most of the polls have the parties coming together it makes Morgan the standout as they are bucking the trend of the others. With the election getting ever closer, the polls start to take on more significance. I would love to know how they are dealing with the undecideds are they extrapolating them into the numbers or are they excluding them from the numbers and of course what are the raw figures on the undecideds. As that is where the election will be won and lost”.

4 Not often I would agree with the PM but on this he has my wholehearted support:

“I think as we all know, and I say this as a former mediocre rugby player, AFL is the most exciting football code”.

5 Waleed Aly wrote an interesting article this week in which he used a metaphor “The planets are beginning to fall into place for Labor” to explain how the growing discomfort with societal inequality in its many forms was giving Labor a narrative to really differentiate itself with the Conservatives.

They ranged from the wilful horror of Trump, to the right’s defence of the banking sector, into the unfairness of the Coalition’s monetary policy, the fact that major companies and individuals don’t pay tax, and the Panama papers. Notwithstanding the fact that the rich are becoming disproportionately wealthier year by year.

I have written on this subject on this blog before about inequality previously.

Aly is correct though. Both in Australia and overseas there is an acceptance that big business and right-wing governments are cheating. That the ordinary citizen’s rights are not being represented by government. The opposite is true. Governments are representing the interests of the privileged, the rich and big business. Labor has a chance to get back to its grass-roots and represent the common good of the people. I hope they grasp it.

My thought for the day.

“We must have the courage to ask of our young that they should go beyond desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial but greatness. That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of evil minds”.

PS: My worst fears have come to fruition. Yes I am regretfully sorry to inform you that Barnaby Joyce is Prime Minister.

Day to Day Politics: ‘Remembering Abbott’s Past’ – 51 Reasons why he should move on.

Wednesday March 30 2016.

Leaders rarely go with good grace. Almost always they feel they have been hard done by. Tony Abbott has joined a long list who stubbornly cling to the past in the hope that they might reinvent a future. Abbott was never a popular leader. He fell into the Prime Minister’s job without the any attributes of leadership.

Here a just a few examples of why he was never suited for the job.

‘Do you really think my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was Peter as opposed to Peta?” Mr Abbott asked the ABC’s Lyndal Curtis.’

My words

Do you really think I would be attacking the Prime Minister in the manner I do if her name was James and not Julia.

‘I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms.’

The Guardian has judged him as ‘politically incorrect to the point of dementia.’

New Statesman said Abbott represents ‘politics at its most crass, exploitative and disturbing’

UK Labour MP Paul Flynn called him ’a bigoted airhead.’

The LA Times called itself ’scandalised by his prejudices.’

The Sydney Morning Herald said ‘Tony Abbott had plumbed new lows in government decency.’

Le Monde thinks he is ‘sexist and vulgar.’

The influential Huffington Post said ‘he is simply an idiot.’

In the midst of the New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell’s resignation over a bottle of wine a reporter asked a seemingly legitimate question about corruption on the conservative side of politics in that state. The (then) Prime Minister’s reaction was indeed unrepresentative of the highest office in the land. His anger at the mere suggestion of corruption from his side of politics was palpable. Lest we forget.

But then his ability to feign indignation is only surpassed by that of Christopher Pyne. The fact that the journalist in question was a young lady, who he addressed as Madam, did nothing to dim his reputation for misogyny.

You can watch the video here.

There are those who say that blogs of the ilk for which I write are simply going through an exercise in character assassination. Not so. I was never a Howard hater like many people. Hating people is repugnant to me. However I do believe that Tony Abbott was demonstrably unfit for the highest office in the land and therefore open to the most severe examination.

There are three reasons. Firstly he was arguably the worst liar to have ever walked the halls of parliament. A liar by his own admission and by evidence. Secondly he is a luddite of the highest order. Anyone who cannot comprehend science and is dismissive of technology belongs in another time and is intellectually unsuited for leadership in the complex word of today. Lest we forget that he appointed Malcolm Turnbull as the then opposition spokesperson to destroy the NBN. Thirdly he is a characterless man of little personal political morality which has been on display throughout his career. He is and always has been an unpopular gutter politician of the worst kind. Lest we forget.

It is said that when opposition leaders ascend to the highest office they are judged by their performance in it. That their past misdemeanours are of little relevance. I cannot subscribe to that. Lest we forget.

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.

But one should not use the aforementioned language without substantiating one’s claims. So, lest we forget these indiscretions from his past.

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 the year 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 ever came 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 to 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.

His lying and nasty ill-founded comments continued unabated further empathising his unsuitability for the job. Take this for example:

When Tony Abbott said this what did you think?

‘You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school’.

‘There will be no change to school funding under the government I lead’.

Then he said the Coalition would deliver on its education election promises, not on what some people ‘thought’ it was going to do.

Now some time back Tony Abbott told us that the best way to understand the truth of what he was saying was to have it in writing. Otherwise what he was saying was just idle chatter for an audience.

So now I’m a little confused. You see now he is saying that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant.

I know what I thought and I know what I’m thinking now. Lying deceptive bastard. Lest we forget.

Another example:

When asked in parliament in February 2013 whether he stood by his statement of ‘no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS’ made the night before the election, Mr Abbott responded:

‘Of course I stand by all the commitments that this government made prior to the election. If there is one lesson that members opposite should have learnt from the experience of the previous term of parliament it is that you cannot say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.’

He was still saying the same thing some time later.

Convicted of lying by his own words I would have thought. And not a word of protest from the main stream media at the time.

Something truly remarkable had happened in Australian politics. The Australian Prime Minister who was as opposition leader a person devoid of character, was now attempting a personality conversion to rival nothing hitherto seen in an Australian leader. During his tenure as opposition leader he used colourful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld. Lest we forget.

Then a few months into his term of office we were expected to believe that he had transformed into a mild-mannered, cultured man of some distinction. Walking the global stage as a gentleman with noble intent.

We were expected to put to one side the old Tony Abbott and embrace the new one with unbridled fondness. Lest we forget.

Well I am all for self-improvement. I like to think I have practiced it all my life. But in this instance I was not be conned with his nonsense.

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

Regardless of what political persuasion you are I believe we like to see character in our leaders. Now how do we describe character?

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

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

Lest we forget.

It is however, it’s the area of truth that shows the worst aspects of his character. The future of this country is of vital importance. Given his performance of late he would do well to consider these words.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. It was always easy to understand what Abbott said because he only ever spoke in slogans. The difficulty was always knowing what he means.

‘As he spoke I expected the very essence of truth but his words came from the beginning of a smirk, or was it just a sneer of deception.’

John Lord

If politics is fundamentally about ideas it is also about leadership. In this piece I have deliberately steered clear of policy argument in order to concentrate on character. On numerous occasions I have invited people on Facebook to list five attributes of Tony Abbott that warranted his election as Prime Minister of Australia. I have never received a reply. And when you look at the aforementioned list, is it any wonder. He is simply bereft of any character at all. He has been described as the mad monk and many other things but essentially he is a repugnant gutter politician of the worst kind.

My thought for the day.

‘It is better to be comforted with the truth than be controlled by lies.’

John Lord

Author’s note.

The phrase ‘lest we forget’ is generally used as a mark of respect for those who have died in war. It does however have other meanings. One of which is a warning against lying and the perils of self-pride, exaggeration and bad leadership that eventually leads to an inevitable decline in power. It is in that context that I use it.

Day to Day Politics: Reducing tax for those who don’t pay any.

Thursday 24 March 2016

1 My headline doesn’t make any sense but then not much does with the Abbott/Turnbull Governments. The tax office tells us that a third of large privately owned businesses didn’t pay any tax in 2013-14. It went out of its way to say that a degree of legitimacy may have been involved.

Really. Let me repeat that. ‘A third of large privately owned businesses didn’t pay tax’.

So my answer to that is that if it was legitimate under existing rules, then change the bloody rules. How on earth, in an election campaign, which will also involve a budget, can you expect people to accept tax cuts for businesses who don’t pay any?

In addition we have dozens of multi nationals who don’t pay together with hundreds of public companies who don’t pay either. They of course aren’t breaking any laws because business only salutes the God of capitalism. The CFMEU might be continuously in court for good reason but it makes one wonder how many tax evaders should be fronting the courts.

It may be the case that if companies paid their fair share of tax the budget might be brought back to surplus.

Let’s face it. Giving Australia’s most wealthy companies a tax cut is simply unjustifiable on many levels. And he might face a revolt from the State Premiers.

Jay Weatherill:

‘If the commonwealth is to pursue cuts to company tax when we think the first call on the nation’s resources should be health and education funding, then they should expect a fierce campaign to be run against them during the federal election.’

Conversely, it is a time to get tough with our tax laws and get rid of the unfair tax breaks. Then we could start on unfair subsidies.

Speaking of courts read this from Bernard Keane:

‘The rich irony of yesterday is that while the Prime Minister was declaring that he was prepared to go to an election on the issue of “criminality in the building and construction industry”, the CEO of the Australian Stock Exchange, Elmer Funke Kupper was resigning in response to allegations relating to a massive bribe to the head of the Cambodian regime, Hun Sen. And then there are the continuing revelations about the scandalous behaviour of the Commonwealth Bank in relation to insurance, and the open clash between business figures and the head of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over toxic corporate cultures’.

2 The Safe Schools program continues to draw headlines. Cory Bernardi sends an email to a concerned mother.

The point he makes about links in his email is a furphy. Anyone with any internet experience will attest to the fact that if you type in the words boy-girl into Google you are likely to be taken to the most outrageous pornography. I’m sure Cory and George have taken a peek otherwise they are relying on hearsay.

What is missed in all this nonsense from the Bernardi/Christensen camp is that the schools involved could select in whole, or different elements of the program relevant to individual needs? The right often argues for more independence for schools. Here was an opportunity. Having said all that I read yesterday that the program will be defunded in 2017.

3 In an effort to place a demarcation line between him and Abbot the Prime Minister will retain the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Abbott of course sought to abolish the two agencies in line with his belief that Climate Change was a Socialist plot. Regardless of motive this is a good decision.

He might further try to differentiate himself from Abbott by reinstating some of the health and education spending cuts in the 2014 Budget.

4 Tuesday’s Essential Poll came in at 50/50. The combined major Polls have the parties neck and neck.

5 Every day I write my opinions on a variety of subjects. They are my own thoughts based on my political philosophy, many individual and collective influences, and my world view based on 75 years of a living experience.

On some Facebook pages it’s astonishing just how many on the right of politics swear blind they never read would never contemplate reading my work, so abhorrent it is to them. Then they go on to opine about it.

Whatever intelligence I might have affords me no understanding of this.

It is an endless fascination as to how people can have an opinion of something they have never read.

6 Senator Eric Abetz a rabid supporter of Tony Abbott now reckons Turnbull is showing leadership and has a plan for Australia’s future. Begs the question as to why he’s been hiding it for so long and is reluctant to share it.

7 Presidential aspirants respond to Brussels.

Donald Trump.

‘We have to be very careful in the US, we have to be very vigilant as to who we let in this country’.

‘If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding’.

You have to get the information from people.’

 He means waterboarding.

If I were being tortured I would disclose whatever people wanted to know. I would even embellish with all the believable creative flair I could muster. I would become the world’s greatest story-teller, or bullshitter.

Ted Cruz:

‘Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighbourhoods.’

‘We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al-Qaida or Isis presence.’

‘We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods before they become radicalized. We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy Isis.’

The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we can be are at an end. Our country is at stake’

Bernie Sanders:

‘We offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this barbaric attack and to the people of Brussels who were the target of another cowardly attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. We stand with our European allies to offer any necessary assistance in these difficult times.’

Today’s attack is a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy Isis. This type of barbarism cannot be allowed to continue.’

Hillary Clinton called the attacks ‘deeply distressing’ but said closed borders were not the answer, and the ‘dream of a whole, free Europe … should not be walked away from’.

She opposed torture. Security officials ‘do not need to resort to torture, but they are going to need more help’, she said.

Same old black and white solutions to highly complex problems.

Bernie Sanders came closest to the answer with this sentence:

‘Today’s attack is a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy Isis.’

 An observation.

 It is only when the world seriously combines its international strengths, be they monetary or military, with a commonly sought desire to rid itself of this threat to world security will the problem be resolved. To do so would require the laying aside of deep-seated, often historical grievances. But it has to be done.

My thought for the day.

‘Any meaningful resolution to the problems in the Middle East (and elsewhere for that matter) cannot be resolved without the transformation of the minds of men and consideration of the effect religion, any religion, has on people’.

PS. I am away until Tuesday.

 

Day to Day Politics: A letter to the editor, from Morrie Moneyweather.

Wednesday March 16 2016

Author’s Note: From time to time we receive letters from people. Morrie hasn’t written for a while so given our policy of openness I thought I would share his latest effort.

Dear Lord.

I sword I would never write to this blog again after the way I was treated last time but events of the past few days have left me angry. That old fart John Lord who writes for yous needs another kick up the arse.

He really has become embrassassing. I mean that article criticizing Americia’s great white hope, Donald Trump was pretty crook but this time I’m going to forget my breading, my manners, and my education and tell the old prick what I think of him.

I mean there is just no limit to how far he will stoop, no gutter to low to slide into, no sewer to murky for him to loose himself in.

I mean I’m not sure what’s the biggest. His immature heart he wares on his sleeve or the chip he has on both his shoulders.

We had a great leader in Tony Abbott. If you don’t think so look at these remarkable insights.

‘There is a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.’

‘Bad bosses, like bad fathers and husbands, should be tolerated because they do more good than harm.’

‘We have to get this straight: euthanasia is not about the right to die, it is about the right to kill.’’

‘Abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.’

‘We just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice.’

What a remakable man he was.

How fortunate the country was when the opportunity arose to give a better man a chance to lead.

And all Lord does is criticise. Ask yourself this question.

Has Australia ever, so wisely, elected a man so positive about the countries future and expressed it so clearly? I mean there’s never bean a better time to be an Australian.

Malcolm is a person with truth and transparency. So sensitive to those who cannot help themselves. So willing to endorse and foster equality. So knoweggible of technology and science. So aware to the needs of women.

That’s why women like him as there Prime minster. So adeptt at policy formation and its implementation. So on top of good communication. So diplomatic, so ambassadorial, so sensitive, in his attitude toward others. So accomdating of those who desires equality.

And in touch with a modern pluralist society. A man so sophisticated in deep worldly acumen and discernment, yet religiously motivated.

What Lord wrote yesterday was just unadulterated crap. That’s the word Tony used to describe Climate Change. Malcolm agrees with him that it’s all a socialist plot. So much so that he intends to impliment the Direct Action plan that Tony invented. It’s just the best plan ever and we all share the cost. Why should business pay all the time? They have enough tax to pay.

Just like the NBN. Malcolm invented that too. I can’t work out what people are complaining about. It’s fast enough for me to follow. You would reckon people would be grateful for all the education the Internet provides. I know my son Miles and his classmates in year 12 at Melbourne Grammar do. I mean the amount of homework Miles does every night with his bedroom door locked is astonishing.

Now another thing. All this talk about Peta and Tony has got to stop. She was never in Foreign Affairs anyway. That Nikki Savva has a lot to answer for starting all those rumours.

John Lord just keeps hurling insults every day. Never a fact to back up his lying. Just wild claims about anything that suits him. I mean he thinks he has some sort of influence over people.

Fancy saying that Malcolm doesn’t have a plan. His words have a wiff of effluence about them. His plan is to stay in power so that the rich can support the poor with whatever is left over after all our expenses are catered for. After all there are a lot of costs associated with being rich.

And, don’t let me get started on that bloody safe schools program. If the kids can’t take a bit of bullying then they should just change schools. Miles gets bullied about our family wealth every day. Doesn’t worry him.

Now when Peter Dutton says if Labor is elected the stock market will crash and the economy will collapse and we will have a recession you have to believe him. After all he was a policeman.

I don’t mind telling you that with that sort of insight he should be treasurer.

So after you have all red this I expect yous to pick up your game and start printing the facts about things instead of all the commo clap trap yous print. How about printing the truth like the right does.

Yours Faithfully.

Morrie Moneyweather.

Toorak.

As usual me piece was proof read by Miles mates in the Melbourne Gramma final year English class.

My thought for the day.

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

And another thought

‘Good grammar is vitality important but is secondary to the expression of a valid well-constructed point of view’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

1 Tuesday’s Newspoll sees both Labor and the Coalition on 50/50 confirming that the poll a fortnight ago wasn’t a rogue one. There is no doubt the polls are tightening.

The Morgan Poll remains virtually unchanged with the Coalition on 53% and Labor on 47%

Essential is also unchanged from last week at 50/50.

This leaves the risk averse Malcolm Turnbull with a dilemma. Does he go to an election in July or wait until August/September?

If he chooses July it has to be following a budget where he said he will reveal his Tax Reform Policy. A policy that must be so diluted by now that there will be little to present. It will also be a budget, if savings are the objective that hits social services, health and education hard. Other areas won’t give them the required savings for budget repair.

Whichever way you look at it he cannot deliver an election year budget full of goodies. Having said that, any budget delivered immediately before an election campaign wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

If he elects to wait then he risks a further deterioration in the polls. Now if it were me I would, given I have nothing to lose, take it up to the right-wing of the Party. Shirtfront them. Even a little headbutting wouldn’t go astray.

Tell them that if they want to win it’s my way or the bush. Grow some balls and be your own man, Malcolm.

The honeymoon, however, does appear to be well and truly over with Turnbull’s performance rating slumping to 44% – a fall of 16 points since November. He does, however, remain preferred PM with 55% to Bill Shorten 21%

2 Whilst I understand the ABC’s desire to have a diversity of views on its panel, for the life of me, given his past, I cannot understand how having Alan Jones opining about the Catholic Church, boys, and morality, was appropriate.

3 A Royal Commission into the banks and the financial advice industry is long overdue. Conservative governments are loathe to investigate the big end of town for ideological reasons. Last night’s Four Corners program should ensure one is implemented. It also highlights the need for a national ICAC.

4 Nancy Reagan has passed away. I don’t carry fond memories of her. The one I do recall was her simplistic naïve answer to America’s drug problem: ‘Just say no’.

5 I have read many political books in my lifetime both biographical and scholarly. My favourite in terms of insight into how government works has always been Don Watson’s masterly study of Paul Keating; ‘Recollections of a Bleeding Heart’. Yesterday I began reading the book of the moment – Nikki Savva’s ‘Road to Ruin’. It gives promise of an insight into all that is wrong with the way we are governed.

6 The IPA gains a voice in the Senate with the selection of 28-year-old James Paterson to the top of the Liberal Victorian ticket. Paterson has strong libertarian views on issues like free speech. Together with the right, the IPA have had a victory.

7 In the words of former Opposition Leader Dr John Hewson, speaking about Tony Abbott:

‘I suffered from his disloyalty because he was a constant channel from my office to John Howard’.

‘He did go down in history as probably the most effective leader of the opposition in the sense that he made negativity an art form, but from the point of view of good government and reform processes and so on, it was a pretty disastrous period’.

 My thought for the day.

‘We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence’.

PS. I’m 80 pages in to ‘Road to Ruin’. My conclusion: If all is true and I have no doubt it is, Tony Abbott is guilty of not seeking help for the lady in question.

 

Day to Day Politics: For Christ’s sake tell the truth.

Friday 4 March 2016

It is said that in war ‘truth’ is the first causality. Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we perform. In fact lying as we understand it is an unavoidable part of human nature. Therefore it’s worth spending time thinking about it.

Whilst it might be true that truth is the first causality of war, I would contend that over the past ten or twenty years it has become a major causality of our public discourse. If I were asked to pinpoint it I would date it at around, or post, Ronald Reagan’s appointment as president of the US.

It was a period that saw the beginning of the Religious Right’s involvement in Politics and of Neo Conservatism.

In the last US election Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan took lying to an unparalleled level. Fact finders alerted the public to 2019 lies by Romney alone. I watched the first Presidential debate and became fascinated with how Romney could present fiction as fact. It is my contention that President Obama lost the first debate not because he was of his game, or that he was unprepared, but rather he was taken by surprise by the wilful lies that Romney was telling.

Political lying in Australia since Tony Abbott’s appointment as opposition leader reached unprecedented levels and insinuated itself into our public dialogue, including the media. So much so that it is now almost impossible for the average punter to know just who is telling the truth.

Which brings me to my point. What resources does the average punter have to accessing the truth? If we have the time we can do some research? Look up the facts presented by fact checkers. Pay for FOI documents. Who has time for all that?

The truth is that in the absence of readily identifiable evidence we all use what is generally called ‘the pub test or common sense test.’ In other words we digest all the available information and ask ourselves the question ’is it plausible?’ Does what I am being told have the ring of truth about it. We make judgements based on our life’s experience. Unless your personal bias clouds the ’Pub test’ your inner conscience dictates your judgement.

Two observations.

‘I don’t judge people but I do form my own opinion of course’.

‘Life is about perception, not what is but what we perceive it to be’.

Let’s take two current items currently making headlines.

Firstly, there is a National Security leak. There is nothing more serious politically. The story appears in The Australian Newspaper which is a known supporter of former Prime Minister Abbott. The journalist in question, Greg Sheridan is also a personal friend of Abbott. Abbott is also quoted in the piece thus giving the leak credibility. To adhere one’s own words to a leaked document is dangerous.

Everyone knows that our former Prime Minister is a liar. He might even be the worst in our political history. He is certainly the worst this nation has ever seen. Many of our most respected journalists and media commentators have said so. He has even admitted he is a liar himself.

The evidence is so abundant, so overwhelmingly copious that it is beyond contradiction. It is fair to say that in general the populace accepted his lying as a fact. I and many others have listed them, quoted them, itemised, analysed them and exposed them in crystal clarity. Even members of his own party have accepted that he is a liar of nefarious intent.

And his sheer indifference to the fact that he lies together with his lack of conscience about it I found sickening. The list is as long as a toilet roll.

Secondly, Cardinal George Pell gives evidence at the Royal Commission into Child Abuse. Despite at all times being but a breath away from all the vile conduct of the church, the suicides, molesting, families destroyed, he denies everything and blames everyone else pleading that he was told nothing.

In the first instance, the leak, an investigation is being carried out. Leaks of course are not uncommon in politics. John Howard famously leaked to Andrew Bolt at the time of the Iraq war to discredit the outspoken Andrew Wilke. It wasn’t successful because Wilke had too much integrity.

History shows that enquiries reveal nothing. I therefore in the absence of hard evidence I conclude that my common sense tells me that Abbott is still upset with losing the Prime Ministership and is intent on undermining Turnbull’s position. The same as Rudd did to Gillard.

In the case of Pell I conclude, again in the absence of proof, that he could not possibly have been that close to the action, and not be aware of the unmitigated evil being carried out. Time and time again he pleads ignorance. I didn’t know I wasn’t told. Even when he pleads the greyness of the context of the time I deduce that time doesn’t diminish the crime.

An observation.

‘The standards we walk past are the standards we accept’.

Despite a tendency inherited biologically by all to lie. Truth in politics and society in general matters enormously. It is not a trivial matter in any democracy. Our whole system is based on the assumption that truth prevails over all else and that it is the people who judge its veracity.

Without truth the people cannot give informed accent to office and democracy fails. There are ethical obligations of integrity and coherence upon which society depends. Our leaders when they lie fail the highest standards of social morality.

At this time in our history we are experiencing a toxic tide of leadership mistrust. No other politician has contributed to it more than Tony Abbott. Is he the most dishonest, the most cynical and pathologically perverted liar to ever lead our nation?

Pell may indeed be found to be the worst religious liar this country has seen. A blight on the very essence of the teaching of Christ.

I will leave you to ponder the question. Use your common sense and ask yourself is what they are saying plausible. It’s the pub test.

Two thoughts for the day.

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that enables human progress’.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: The Evil Priest

Wednesday 2 March 2016

1 Cardinal Pell in giving evidence to the Royal Commission into the abuse of children uttered two of the most debauched sentences ever spoken by an Australian cleric.

“I didn’t know whether it was common knowledge or whether it wasn’t,” he said. “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me.” “The suffering, of course, was real and I very much regret that but I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of the evil that Ridsdale had perpetrated.”

The audible grasp from those listening summed up the pent-up vacuum of abhorrence the victims feel for this man.

He evoked the ‘I didn’t know, I wasn’t told’ defence that sounded as hollow as a burnt out log in hell. It beggars belief that he didn’t know what was going on.

The good and faithful of the church must be greatly offended by the leadership that represents them.

It seems the words compassion, contrition and empathy have been lost on this priest who purports to represent the word of God.

An observation on the lost lives.

‘In the cycle of life people we care most about are taken from us too soon. We struggle to come to terms with the why of it and there is no answer. It is only by the way we conduct our living that we salute the legacy they leave behind‘.

2 Is John Howard seriously suggesting that people such as these don’t speak out because of some sort of fear of political correctness? That’s the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard.

Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny and Tom Switzer. Gerard Henderson Paul Sheehan, Miranda Divine. Ray Hadley, Michael Smith, Judith Sloane, Terry McCrann, Chris Berg, Miranda Divine and Rupert Murdoch.

I think they would feel highly insulted by his words.

3 The Safe Schools programme has the blessing of high school principals and parents. It is objected to by the Australian Christian Lobby and Tony Abbott and his loyal gang of Christian acolytes.

The same people are gradually merging this argument with marriage equality. Pamphlets of misinformation are beginning to appear. It’s becoming like the Republican Referendum where Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin told the most outrageous lies.

Abbott has already called the Safe Schools programme “social engineering”. That’s a subject he would know a lot about. And bullying I venture to suggest.

The pamphlet in question says, among other things, that children of gay and lesbian parents are more prone to “abuse and neglect” and more likely to be unemployed, abuse drugs and suffer depression.

It is authorised by a former John Howard parliamentary secretary. So you can see the ‘NO’ campaign is drawing up its lines of engagement.

Tony looks set to head the ‘NO’ case and it will divide the community. Why are we spending $160M on a plebiscite to find an answer already known? It’s to raise the voice of a Christian minority. A voice that is doomed to oblivion in the next decade or so.

4 During John Howard’s tenure the LNP had 13 tries to get their Broadband policy right. They never did, mainly because they didn’t understand its purpose. Luddites of the calibre of Howard, who didn’t know how to send an email, George Brandis who can’t use a computer and Tony Abbott who thought it was only used to access porn, or entertainment as he described it, thought it was a load of nonsense.

Abbott, when he became Prime Minister commissioned Turnbull to destroy it. Turnbull to his credit saw its true value. He did say he could do it at half Labor’s cost and in half the time. The opposite is the truth. It’s taking twice as long and costing twice as much.

Worse still is that the majority of us will get old technology. A technology that within ten years will have to be replaced. At the end of it our internet speeds will be ranked 46th in the world.

We’ve moved from Labor’s state-of-the-art fibre to the premises (FttP) strategy to the so-called Multi-Technology Mix (MTM), which heavily relies on using the ageing Telstra copper network and the not so old, but not very modern, Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) networks originally built for pay television. Both will require considerable remediation work before they are fit for purpose and there is a solid argument to be put that in the end we’ll have to replace much of them at some point anyway.

Tony Abbott originally said:

“The Government is going to invest $43 billion worth of hard-earned money in what I believe is going to turn out to be a white elephant on a massive scale”.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull tells us that our future rests on innovation.

5 The Essential Poll yesterday has Labor and the LNP on 50% and Labor on 50%. A trend has begun. Do the odds shorten for a July election?

6 Who is leading the Liberal Party? It looks like Tony Abbott is doing all the leading at the moment shirtfronting, the PM telling the party room what the Government should be doing.

Everyone seems to be telling the leader how to lead. Might I remind everyone that the Abbott/ Turnbull Government, by the time of the election will have been in power for a full term and they are now getting around to formulating an economic plan? Still a lot of talking going under the bridge.

My thought for the day.

Truth is pure yet fragile and requires delicacy in delivery. There are however times when it needs some diplomatic force to make it register’.

 

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: Was Abbott right?

Sunday 28 February 20161

1 Who said this?

‘I am a reformer by nature, very much so’

‘Everything, every single element, is on the table. And I know that always means that someone can then run a scare campaign, but I’m sorry, we’ve got to stop [this]. This is part of the political tradition I’m determined to end. We have got to be able to consider policy options in an unfettered way. We’ve got to have the maturity to have a debate that is not throwing things off the table …’

Malcolm Turnbull.

There’s the problem. Tony Abbott has said on a few occasions that he couldn’t work out why the government had changed leaders when it had not changed any of his policies.

Tanya Plibersek made the point ‘All of those people were sitting in middle Australia thinking, ‘Thank God Tony Abbott is gone.’ What have they been left with? They have been left with Tony Abbott in a different suit’.

’Because what happens is politicians who get intimidated by their opponents or by the media or whatever, they say, ‘Oh that’s off the table, that’s off the table, that’s off the table’ and suddenly there’s nothing left on the table’.

Malcolm Turnbull.

Those who were thankful and delighted in the demise of Abbott are entitled to think they have been let down. Even people of the opposite ideology felt that Turnbull would bring a new era of public discourse.

But today, Turnbull is the man taking options off the table in a piecemeal, panicky kind of way.

I have said it before that new Prime Ministers generally try to make their mark on the party they lead by implementing their own policies. Putting their stamp on their leadership. Turnbull, in spite of saying all the afore-mentioned has chosen to rubber stamp all of Abbotts policies.

He has reaffirmed Abbott’s policies on same-sex marriage, direct action on climate change, his monarchist stance, border protection and foreign policy.

‘We need a style of leadership that explains those challenges and opportunities, explains the challenges and how to seize the opportunities. A style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence, that explains these complex issues and then sets out the course of action we believe we should take and makes a case for it. We need advocacy, not slogans’.

Peter Hartcher of Fairfax put it this way:

‘Two weeks ago he decided that he would not support raising the GST, that “big bang” tax reform was off the table, and since that moment he has transformed.

From explaining the challenges and opportunities, he has transformed into a politician who instead explains why he is not pursuing challenges and opportunities.

First he explained why he was not going to raise the GST. Then he explained why he will reject Labor’s ideas on negative gearing and capital gains tax. And then he launched into a full-throated scare campaign against Labor’s proposals without advocating any alternative.

On tax reform, he is now heading to exactly where Abbott said he was likely to have been: “At a minimum” Abbott told me last November, “we would have had modest tax cuts based on spending restraints’.

Abbott is right to ask why they changed leaders but is wrong to assume he would have won the next election.

2 The poll aggregate from Crickey moves in Labor’s favour for the fourth week in a row, this time rather sharply in the wake of Newspoll’s surprise result. Coalition 52 Labor 48.

Newspoll’s surprise this week has caused a minor landslip in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, which moves 0.8% to Labor on two-party preferred, while delivering only a modest gain of three on the seat projection (one each in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia). The leadership results from the poll have also caused Malcolm Turnbull’s net approval rating to continue its downward trajectory, and given a very slight impression of Bill Shorten pulling out of his slump. Also in the mix this week were results from Roy Morgan and Essential Research, neither of which recorded much movement, although the former found Labor hanging on to a big gain the previous fortnight.

3 A headline in The Australian quoted John Howard as saying that ‘People were afraid to speak’. Without reading the piece (firewall) I assume he is saying that people are afraid to speak their minds because they perceive the  criticism they may get is unwarranted or unfair. What he and others of his political persuasion forget is that they have so distorted truth with their lies that the general public distrusts everything politicians say.

His answer lays in the fact that only 13% of people trust politicians.

So badly has the truth been damaged by the likes of Abbott that people immediately recognise the spin and counter it, calling it for what it is. Free speech of the reasoned kind is still alive and well in this country. All they have to do is use it.

An observation

‘Free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics. Like truth for example’.

4 It is good to see that Tony Winsor is more than a 50/50 chance of recontesting the seat of New England. Recent polling shows that he has more than an even chance of winning.

5 The fascinating thing I find with George Christiansen’s objection to the very worthwhile anti bullying programme is his obsession with the term penis tucking. I mean isn’t that what he practices himself.

6 So Mal Brough has decided to give the next election a miss. Can he see the writing on the wall? Has he received the nod that charges maybe pending? Whatever, this sordid period in Australia’s political history will not be over until a Royal Commission is held

I am still seething at this outrageous attempt to eject the speaker of the House of Representatives and in so doing attempt to overthrow the government of the day. The case brought by Ashby, and the political involvement of Abbott, Pyne, Brough, Roy and undoubtedly many others, was an affront to our system of government. Our democracy. And the Murdoch media were complicit in the sordid affair.

And the AFP are taking far too long. It needs to be cleared up before the next election.

My thought for the day.

‘Sometimes I allow myself the indulgence of thinking I know a lot. Then I realise that in the totality of things, I know little. One thing I am certain of however is that there are known facts in the world because science proves them’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Lies and other misdemeanours

Monday 8 February 2012

1 It’s all but confirmed. If didn’t know already, Tony Abbott is the biggest liar ever to have walked the halls of Parliament. Border Force officials told a Senate committee last week that 23 vessels have been turned around since Operation Sovereign Borders commenced after the election of the Abbott Government.

The most recognized slogan in Australian political history, used by Tony Abbott to perpetuate a myth that his policies had ‘Stopped the boats ‘has been blown out of the water. He had not stopped them at all. They continued to come and according to the commander of, Operation Sovereign Borders Maj Gen Andrew Bottrell there remains a persistent number of attempts, all of which have failed over the last year and a half. In other words they are still coming we are just paying the people smugglers to take them back. The boats have never been stopped.

An observation.

‘Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie .I can only conclude that there is always pain in truth but there is no harm in it’.

2 On Insiders yesterday Malcolm Turnbull appeared sartorially splendid (take note, Bill) with his debonair demeanour and voice of velvet fog to discuss things of a taxing nature. He sounded reasonable and balanced. I for one could not disagree that all that is being discussed should be done so in a calm and considered manner. The PM told Barry Cassidy that all would be revealed at Budget time and prior to the next election. They are looking, talking, examining, discussing etc etc. Everything is on the table. Not as repetitive as ‘stop the boats’ but records are made to be broken.

The problem here is not the need for taxation reform, the debating of it, or its timely consideration. It is the fact that is a few short months we will be going to an election. An election where we get a chance to mark the Government on its performance. The media is ignoring this in favor of judging a new Prime Minister.

Cassidy should have asked ‘Why has your Government been sitting on its arse for two and a half years?’

Why did your party change to you. Was it just to change its image to gain favor in the polls?

On the one hand we could say that the GST has gone to an early grave. On the other, Turnbull might just be signalling to his backbench that he is giving it earnest thought before making a decision. Given that the remaining options like, capital gains, superannuation and negative gearing are conservative no go zones the options for reform are limited.

3 In the same interview the PM was asked about asylum seekers being returned to Nauru. He appeared to adopt, or parrot the same hard-line as that of Tony Abbott. I have always thought that we should be immeasurably thankful to him for relieving us of Abbott but to be making a bad impersonation of him is unforgivable.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is giving nothing away as to when the people might be returned simply saying.

‘We are not going to put children into harm’s way,” and “we are going to work individually through each of the cases.’

And just when you think there might be a glimmer of hope a leaked document suggests that further draconian measures might be introduced to monitor asylum seekers, even after they have become citizens.

4 Peter Credlin’s name has been put forward by Tony Abbott to fill the vacant Sex Discrimination Commissioners job. Don’t worry it’s only a rumor … or is it.

5 Barnaby Joyce’s odds on the National Parties next leader has become a bit shaky. Although it has to be said that the contenders resemble the Republican line up for President of the US.

6 The one thing to be gained from last week is that Malcolm Turnbull is not a Liberal leader. Respectable Liberal leaders would never allow themselves to be dictated to by neo conservative forces.

7 Anyway I hope you all approved of the garden party hosted by Malcolm at The Lodge yesterday for all 300 or so parliamentarians. After all you paid for it.

 My thought foe the day.

‘It is better to be comforted with the truth than be controlled by lies.’

 

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