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Tag Archives: Amanda Vanstone

Labor’s Scare Campaign . . .

“This morning, we’ll be talking to prominent Coalition supporter, Mr Con Server-Tiff. Good morning.”

“Now, if I can just correct you, I’m not a Coalition supporter, I’m an independent commentator.”

“Yes, but you have been supporting Coalition policies, haven’t you? I mean it would be accurate to describe you as Right wing, wouldn’t it?”

“No, that’s the sort of bigotry that you people on the ABC indulge in!”

“But this isn’t the ABC!”

“Well, it might as well be if you’re going to attack people and suggest that they’re political views are irrelevant just because you don’t agree with them.”

“I wasn’t actually attacking your political views, I was just attempting to describe them.”

“This is the sort of stuff that the Christian Right have to put up with all the time! People describing them as the Christian Right, you don’t have the left wing described like that.”

“What about references to the ‘loony left’?”

“What about them?”

“Well, isn’t that an attack on them?”

“Go on, defend your left wing mates!”

“Can we get back to the purpose of this interview – the proposed rise in the GST?”

“An excellent idea.”

“But isn’t the Liberal Party supposed to be opposed to raising taxes, I mean, don’t they always spruik themselves as the party of lower tax?”

“Well, the important thing here is to ignore Labor’s scare campaign. This won’t be increasing taxes because the overall tax take will be the same. We have Scott Morrison’s word on that and if you can’t trust the word of a Liberal minister then they might as well be Julia Gillard who promised us that there’d be no carbon tax!”

“If you’re not increasing the overall tax take, then why is it necessary to make any changes at all?”

“To make it fairer, of course!”

“And how will raising the GST make the system fairer?”

“Well, for one thing, the government will be able to do what the Business Council asked last week and use the money to reduce company tax.”

“How is that fairer?”

“Companies will be paying less tax. You don’t get much fairer than that.”

“Yes, but how does that benefit the man in the street?”

“Well, nothing can really be done to help the homeless. If people want to sleep in the street, that’s their choice.”

“I meant the average family man. How does increasing the GST help the average family man?”

“Well, it won’t be just companies that pay lower taxes, I’m sure that Mr Morrison can find an extra billion or so to cut everyone’s tax.”

“What about the unemployed?”

“They’ll have an incentive to get a job now.”

“But if they don’t get a job, won’t the increase in the GST hit them harder than anyone?”

“Yes, but if they don’t get a job its their own fault. I mean it’s easy to get a job. Even a dud like Amanda Vanstone found work writing a column for Fairfax. And Joe’s going to be ambassador to the US. You just have to look.”

“With respect, I don’t think that the average unemployed person would find it as easy as those two to get that sort of job.”

“I was just using them as examples. Obviously not everyone can become an ambassador but there are plenty of jobs about. Why just the other day I saw a help wanted in a shop window.”

“You said something before about a scare campaign, but didn’t your side of politics run a scare campaign about the carbon tax and how Whyalla would be wiped off the map and lamb roasts would be $100 each?”

“That wasn’t a scare campaign, that was just a series of possible scenarios under the GST.”

“Rather far-fetched ones I might suggest.”

“Hey, are you here to ask questions or commentate?”

“Do you concede that those were rather far-fetched?”

“Not at all. The Liberal Party had already started printing maps with no mention of Whyalla and sooner or later lamb roasts would have got to $100.”

“Yes, how is it reasonable for you to say that the carbon tax was a great big tax on everything and not to expect that Labor would try the same tactic with the GST?”

“There’s a fundamental difference there!”

“Yes, what is it?”

“Well, Labor started running a scare campaign before the last election suggesting that if we got in we’d raise the GST.”

“But you are planning to raise the GST!”

“No, we’ve simply put it on the table. We need to have a clear, level-headed discussion without the hysterical commentary from the opposition saying that when it was first introduced Howard promised that it could never go up. That was last century and as if ‘never’ refers to a new century.”

“I think you’ll find that ‘never’ means ‘not ever’, in much the same way that ‘no’ means ‘none’ when someone says ‘no cuts’ to things.”

“If you’re referring to the so-called “no cuts to pensions, health and education” comments that Tony Abbott was alleged to have made.”

“There is film of him saying it right before the election.”


“Are you denying that there’s film of it?”

“Look we can get bogged down by what people did or didn’t say and whether the film’s clear, but I think that it’s more important to look to the future rather than argue about a leader who’s long gone.”

“It’s only been two months!”


“Are you saying that you don’t believe that Mr Turnbull only became PM two months ago?”

“No, I’m saying that Tony Abbott was gone a long time ago. After that Prince Sir Duke thing, nobody let him make any decisions. But let’s not talk about Mr Abbott he did some excellent things while he was PM and I’m sure that history will judge him much more kindly than many other leaders.”

“What are his achievements?”

“Well … um, he stopped the boats, and … um, he introduced knights and dames and even though, that’s been thrown out, there are a number of people who wouldn’t be knights or dames if it wasn’t for him… and… ah, he got rid of the mining and carbon taxes … and he … um, he stood up to Putin and told him that we were really cross … and did I mention stopping the boats?”

“But he didn’t get the ‘budget emergency’ under control!”

“Ah, yes, he produced a chart showing us that by 2050 Labor’s debt would be twice that of Liberal’s debt!”

“That’s all we have time for. Thank you.”

“Typical! Cut me off just when I start to talk about this government’s achievements!”


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The Verdict

Last night I had the misfortune to catch an episode of The Verdict on Channel 9 and I was appalled, not only by Karl Stefanovic’s poor hosting skills which see panelists all speaking over the top of each other while Mark Latham shouts his barroom opinions incessantly, but by the absolute rubbish they confidently espouse.

Michelle Payne’s comments about chauvinism after winning the Melbourne Cup led to a discussion about the gender disparity in sport which sees women paid far less than men, not having access to commonly held workplace entitlements, and women’s sport receiving very little coverage in the media.

Some boofy footballer said there’s nothing chauvinistic about it, he just doesn’t like watching netball or basketball. Because that’s all women play, right?

Mark Latham said the fact of the matter is that, if the men’s cricket team played the women’s team they would flog them. Men are stronger, get over it.

A journalist said sport’s a business and because more people want to watch the men, that’s what will be telecast. Which completely ignores the lack of marketing for female sports and the value of their achievements. Sport has just become something for TV execs to fight over.

Amanda Vanstone suggested it was just genetics. She feels sport is a display of strength and men aren’t interested in watching strong women. They choose their partners by who they want to have sex with and who they want to mother their children. Women, on the other hand, want a strong man to protect them. Simple.

I should have turned off then and there but an interview with Albo was coming up so I thought I would hang in – a bad choice.

The discussion turned to Victorian schools who will soon have access to a new feminism curriculum called “Fightback”, created by Fitzroy High School’s Feminist Collective, a group started by teacher Briony O’Keeffe and some of her students in 2013.

The Feminist Collective started as lunchtime sessions on feminism, and turned into an elective offered twice a week. The classes became a safe place for young feminists to vent.

The students were angry that good friends were falling victim to eating disorders; that white middle class men dominated their reading lists; that objectifying images of girls they knew were circulating on Facebook; and that they were being branded “feminazis” on social media.

The response to this was facile and predictable – there is no place in our schools for that sort of stuff; they should all be doing more maths and science; it’s up to the families.

Had they done any research, they would have found that a recent National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey showed younger men, particularly those aged between 16-25, are more likely to hold attitudes that support violence.

The course, which has been aligned with the Victorian curriculum, and is aimed at male and female secondary students, includes about 30 lessons on systemic sexism, the objectification of women, and the link between gender inequality and violence against women.

Students taking the course are asked to reflect on their experience of objectification, compare images of famous men and women in the media, deconstruct sexist cartoons, and debunk “hairy armpit” myths about feminists.

They explore the term “patriarchy”, and examine statistics on the gender wage gap, violence against women, and female representation in sport.

If I was teaching it, I would include a discussion on how men are treated in child custody cases as well because that is one area where males are often subject to gender-based discrimination.

The woman who devised the course said the boys in the class initially found the experience confronting.

“It’s like when you understand that you’re privileged because you’re a white person – you didn’t choose it, there’s nothing you can do about it, but you have [privilege] nonetheless – and it’s a confronting thing to know how [you] are supposed to feel about it.”

I found this a very pertinent analogy which could lead to discussions about Indigenous disadvantage, the pros and cons of positive discrimination, same sex marriage, and how feminism is not just about women but about equality.

With our growing focus on the importance of literacy and STEMM subjects, it is worth remembering that young people spend far more of their waking hours at school than they do with their parents. There are also discussions that young people may be hesitant to have with their families. Teachers have a great responsibility to not only teach their subject matter, but to help young people become productive, well-rounded, emotionally secure adults who can contribute to a cohesive society. Life isn’t all about maths.


Note: Regular panel member psychologist Sandy Rea and guest Indira Naidoo both tried to inject some sanity into the discussion. Sadly they were shouted down and interrupted every time they tried to speak.


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Amanda Vanstone And The Thought Police!

“If you want to be completely cured of newspapers, spend a year reading the previous week’s newspapers.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Mm, it seems that Amanda Vanstone has been out of the country. She says so in her column. So her column on Zaky Mallah may be considered a little less topical this week.

Still, she has been out of the country, as she tells us, and she hasn’t had time to read all the commentary. Still, she has a point of view and she has every right to put it even if she is a little late. And what’s her point of view?

Well, that’s where I find it interesting, because she writes:

“…my initial reaction was that it was a set-up, designed to put Coalition MP Steve Ciobo on the spot.”

So, Zaky Mallah was there to put Ciobo “on the spot”. Clearly then, he’s not the sort of person we want on Q & A. What a shocking “error of judgement” by the ABC. Putting a member of the government on the spot… No wonder, Ciobo said that he’d be happy to be a member of a government that deported him…

However, that wasn’t the only poor decision according to Ms Vanstone. She continues:

“Everyone is entitled to their view, but I am struggling to see why Antony Hegarty, with an admittedly beautiful voice but no apparent expertise in other areas, was given air space on the Q&A panel that one might have expected would be accorded to experts. His pronouncements as to who is delusional may humour some, but they hardly rate as substantive public debate. “

Was this another “error of judgement”? Should the ABC launch an investigation into this one too?

The rest of Vanstone’s article was devoted to talking about the terrible “thought police” who were demonstrating their hypocrisy by complaining about Abbott standing in front of the “Ditch the Witch” signs. Somehow the ABC was guilty of a major mistake by not knowing about Mallah’s tweets and that nobody who criticised Tony for not noticing an enormous banner behind him should dare defend the ABC for not reading every single one of Mallah’s pronouncements on Twitter.

I guess that one can infer from this that Vanstone sees Abbott’s decision to speak at that rally a gross error of judgement too.

But the thing that intrigues me most is that she found no time to comment in her article on the matters raised by “Four Corners” last week, regarding her decision as Immigration Minister with regard to a certain colourful figure. Surely – as it was reported that Fairfax were seeking a comment from her last week – someone could have pointed her to the story, and suggested that it would be worthwhile for her to make some comment on the story in her column.

And to explain her position on whether Malllah being allowed to ask a question on Q & A was such a terrible error of judgement when compared to granting a visa to a senior Calabrian Mafia figure.


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Do Speedos Count As The Emperor’s New Clothes?

A couple of days ago, Amanda Vanstone wrote this:

I am sickened by politicians who are prepared to jump on any tragedy, any person with a sad story, and use them politically. It is the politics of convenience at its worst. I am not sure why we do not see their activities as clearly and blatantly as we would if, for example, they conducted media interviews after the funerals of children stricken by disease.

But I don’t remember her saying much when this column appeared a couple of years ago:

“ONLY now are we finally meant to care that Labor’s slack border policies have killed more than 400 boat people.

Only this week does the Gillard Government finally admit that 4 per cent of the people lured into the boats do indeed drown at sea.

So who will resign over this lethal scandal?

Who will take responsibility? And why are the Greens so blind to all these corpses, bobbing in the sea?

True, the Government admitted this death toll very quietly, only in the privacy of its emergency caucus meeting on Monday, and only to scare Labor MPs into backing Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s troubled Malaysian solution.”

Andrew Bolt 14th September, 2011

Ok, so Bolt isn’t a politician. He’s a professional comedian. But I don’t remember her criticising Abbott for making this an issue:

“Abbott has been pursuing the “pink batts” issue for more than three years and made the pledge during a visit to an insulation factory in the prime minister’s Brisbane seat of Griffith on Friday.

“It’s important to get to the bottom of this for the families of the young men who died … and for all the people whose businesses have been damaged or destroyed, whose lives have been put on hold and who have lost their homes as a result of this,” Mr Abbott said.

“We’ve got to ensure that this kind of disaster never happens again.”

Four insulation workers died during the scheme’s rollout in Queensland and NSW.

It was put in place during Mr Rudd’s first term as prime minister, as a part of a national stimulus package to keep the economy ticking over.

But Mr Abbott argues the scheme is an indictment of Mr Rudd’s poor policy making and leadership.”

SBS 26th August, 2013

Ah, but I guess that’s different. Not sure why exactly, but I’m sure we’ll hear something like it’s ok, because Labor were DIRECTLY TO BLAME for those deaths, whereas the asylum seeker deaths were NOTHING TO DO with us. Mm, I seem to remember someone saying something about politician’s jumping on any tragedy..

By the way, anyone else notice both Abbott and Vanstone used the phrase, “sugar on the table” when refering to asylum seeker policy? Coincidence? It’s possible. I mean, today I read in a column by economist, Paul Kruger a reference to the Dunning Kruger effect, which by a strange coincidence, I’d considered using at the start of a blog yesterday, so I actual knew what it was before he explained it. Simply:

Dunning–Kruger effect

Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill.

Of course, my reference to the Dunning-Kruger Effect has nothing to with Amanda Vanstone’s column. If you see any relationship, it’s just another one of those coincidences. Like travel claims that take in marginal seats, or the stopover in Malaysia after Joyce’s India trip – lucky that the place he needed to go for a study tour was on the way back!

Perhaps, I should leave the last word to Sinead O’Connor

“Everyone can see what’s going on
They laugh `cause they know they’re untouchable
Not because what I said was wrong
Whatever it may bring
I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace

Maybe it sounds mean
But I really don’t think so
You asked for the truth and I told you

Through their own words
They will be exposed
They’ve got a severe case of
The emperor’s new clothes”

The Emperor’s New Clothes Sinead O’Connor


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Let’s All Buy Fairfax Shares and Stop publishing Amanda Vanstone

I always try to consider the possibility that I may be wrong. In 1975, I was one of the few students to say that Malcolm Fraser believed the sacking the Whitlam Government was the “right thing to do”. When someone said that it was part of his “born to rule” mentality, I tried to argue that it wasn’t that simple, that Fraser genuinely believed that the country was being destroyed by Whitlam. Of course, the “country” that Fraser believed in was different from Whitlam’s idea of Australia. Many of Whitlam’s initiatives survived Fraser. It’s possible to argue that the best survived while the worst disappeared, but I suspect that’s a little simplistic. (Ironically, these days Fraser seems to have more in common with many of the people who protested against him than he does with the Liberal party.)

So every time time the media do something like their “Kick this Mob Out” front page, I try to imagine what I’d do if I had that sort of power. The first thing that occurs to me is that I wouldn’t be as bloody obvious. Fairfax, for example, claims to be neutral while using a disproportionate number of regular columnists from the right: Amanda Vanstone (she DOES have sex appeal), Paul Sheehan, the “feisty” Nicole Flint (I presume that’s ok to say?) and Peter Costello. I can’t think of a regular left leaning writer to counter these, although I’m sure that someone will point out that Wayne Swan wrote a number of articles or that some “the market isn’t ALWAYS perfect” economist writes every second Shrove Tuesday.

I like to think that if I was controlling the media, I’d give both sides a “fair go” – I’m Australian, after all – with the arguments themselves promoting the correct course of action. I’d employ Andrew Bolt – on an exclusive contract – and make him remove any part of his argument that was emotive or abusive. (All right, that would reduce his column to “I’m Andrew Bolt and I think blah, blah for reasons I can’t tell you, but I would give him a front page where he could legitimately complain about his lack of free speech!)

And I guess it’s that notion of a “fair go” that’s been so lacking in the Murdoch Press. Everything that has happened has been portrayed as the Government’s fault. Pink Batts catch fire due to dodgy insulation, blame the Rudd Government. Someone thinks the builders charged too much for a school building, blame the Rudd Government. The Liberals refuse to back a reduction in company tax, blame the Gillard Government. High Court decision goes against them, blame the Gillard Government. Ford shuts down, blame the Gillard Government and the Carbon Tax. Boat capsizes and people drown, blame the people smugglers or the “queue jumpers” themselves? No, blame the Gillard AND Rudd Governments.

Compare this to some of the events under Howard. The inability to find the WMDs – “Our intelligence was misleading”! The closure of Ansett – “Rescuing Ansett will be our first priority after the election”. Children overboard – “The doctored picture was confusing.” Just about anything Howard or a minister didn’t know about – “Nobody passed that on to me.” The AWB bribes – “We heard rumours, so we went and asked AWB are you illegally bribing people and they said no, so what more could we do?”

I’m sure that if Labor had been in power, they’d have been blamed for all these things and quite possibly the September 11th attack would have been something they should have forseen.

So what’s the answer?

Should we all band together and purchase Fairfax? I’m sure there must be enough people out there prepared to buy up $500 worth of shares that we’d at least make Gina increase her holdings when we announced our takeover bid. Then we could sell them at a profit. But it probably wouldn’t be enough to counter Murdoch.

Should we just continue to complain in the hope that this raises the awareness of people who didn’t realize that a front-page headline saying “We Need Tony” was an opinion and not merely a presentation of some objective fact?

Or should we just hope that newspapers really are becoming less relevant – that Murdoch and Rinehart are wasting their money in a foolish power display – and that social media and smaller independent internet sites will be the way of the future – “Crikey” – for example? With the downsizing and centralization of news organization, there’s bound to be plenty of unemployed journalists out there.

Whatever, I’m going to conclude by giving both sides a “fair go”. When casting your vote this Saturday, this is what each of the two major parties would like you to think about:


”If you’ve got doubts about that, don’t vote for him. If you’re worried about funding to your local hospital, because he has cut a billion dollars worth of funding to hospitals before, then don’t vote for him,” Mr Rudd told Channel Nine on Monday. ”If you’ve got doubts about what happens to the future of your schools given he’s going to take $8 billion out of the Better Schools plan then don’t vote for him. If you’re uncertain about what Mr Abbott’s putting out there, then I think listen to your instincts and don’t vote for him.”


“If you want to know who to vote for, I’m the guy with the not bad looking daughters,” said Mr Abbott.

There now. No-one can accuse me of lacking balance!


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Oh please, shoot me now!

Anybody who watched – sorry, laboured through the ABC’s QandA last night could not have helped to notice that, despite the multitude of tweets begging for a question to Christopher Pyne on the Ashbygate affair … it was definitely off limits. The ABC, in their wisdom, preferred to direct the discussion about a Labor Government who is apparently out of touch with the electorate (and quickly gave the floor to Amanda Vanstone), or the lack of public transport in Western Sydney. It was about as gripping as an episode of Basil Brush.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer to tune in to watch Pyne face a few curved balls. I guess we know the ABC’s agenda: Go lightly on the Opposition. Somewhere up the hierarchy someone is pulling a few strings.

Last night the public might have thought it was given its first real chance to pursue this important electoral issue. We’ve sat by and watch our media do nothing, say nothing. And last night they shut the door on their viewers.

The media has an agenda. Today on another side of the agenda was on pathetic display. We read:

Mr Abbott is expected to have a wealth of material to draw upon from over summer since parliament last met last November.

Ms Gillard’s leadership has been dogged over the past week by speculation about a Kevin Rudd return, more poor opinion polls, the mismanaged Cabinet reshuffle and the charging of suspended Labor MP Craig Thomson a day after announcing the election date.

So in less than 24 hours I’ve learned that the media wants to kill the real stories and replace it with opinion, speculation, and outright lies.

I want to dissect the second sentence of the above quote and ask the writer some questions:

  • I’d like to know a bit more about the leadership speculation about a Kevin Rudd return. To my knowledge the only speculation has been generated by our mainstream media in search of another unsubstantiated story, yet one that will tarnish the Government. Can you thus substantiate that claim?
  • How much poorer are the opinion polls for Labor compared to their showing over the past 12 months? And have you bothered to look at the latest Morgan Poll which shows Labor only one point behind the LNP?
  • How was it a mismanaged Cabinet reshuffle? Is that a fact or is that just your opinion? Can you tell me how it should have been conducted?
  • Yes, Craig Thomson is a suspended Labor MP but he is now an Independent MP. Why not state that? Oh that’s right, it would be less harmful to Julia Gillard to do so.

If this is the best our media can perform, then please, shoot me now. I don’t want them deciding who runs this country.

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