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Tag Archives: Andrew Bolt

Interview With Mr Rabbit After Mr Bull Has Taken Over!

Andrew Boar Column

Why The Removal Of Mr Rabbit Is A Tragedy Not Just For The Farm But The Worst Thing To Happen To This Country Since… Well Actually Nothing Worse Has Ever Happened!

Now that Mr Rabbit is gone I can finally tell the truth about him. Folks, you made a big mistake.

No, no. The mistake wasn’t that you voted for him.

In fact, you got one of the finest animals ever to be in charge of the Farm. As my boss Mr Fox, the other finest being to have ever lived, said “He’s a decent rabbit!” Far too decent for the job which requires the sort of animal cunning that Mr Bull has displayed in ripping the job from his hands.

And I know some of you will say that I’m just saying this because he’s my friend. But the truth is that he’s my friend because I’m saying this.

He’s had a rotten couple of weeks. In spite of stopping the goats and removing the tax on animal droppings, the animals have deposed him. And it wasn’t even all the animals. Just the ones he thought had his back.

Little did he realise that was where they were going to sink the knives and that they were only behind him so that he wouldn’t suspect.

Yet how glorious was he in defeat. While other defeated leaders of our farm have rushed out and congratulated the winner quickly, Mr Rabbit took fourteen hours to compose a speech that rivals the Gettsburg address or Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

“Quite a crowd here today, thank you for being here.

“This is not an easy day for many animals  in this building. Leadership changes are never easy for this country. My pledge today is to make this change as easy as I can. There will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping. Quite unlike the other people who’ve become Head Farm Animal.

“I have consistently said in opposition and in government that being the Head Animal is not an end in itself – it’s about the animals you serve. And how you prepare and cook them. Of course, sometimes there have been complaints that it was only the chickens that were being served and that some of the better fed animals were just getting fatter. Certainly, I reject this because without fatter animals people would have nothing to aspire to.”

He went on to list his many achievements and to thank people before quietly hiding in the barn so that Mr Bull could get on with the job without the focus being on the unscrupulous way he seized power.

Fortunately the time for silence is over and Mr Rabbit is again showing that he keeps his word by giving me this interview and demonstrating that, in all of this nastiness, he’s still the bigger animal.

Boar -Thanks for joining me, Mr Rabbit.

Mr Rabbit – Oh come on, we’re friends. You can call me “sir”.

Boar – I can’t tell you how impressed I am by the way you’ve handled yourself over the past… Well, you’ve always impressed me. You’re just wonderful, but the way you haven’t done anything to undermine the current leader has been a credit to you.

Mr Rabbit – Well thanks, Andrew, and just let me say that I’ve always been pretty good. I’ve been prepared to own up to my mistakes unlike some people who are now leading the farm and I’ve been committed to improving things around here, so I didn’t expect to be stabbed in the back.

Boar – So you feel Mr Bull stabbed you in the back?

Mr Rabbit – They’re your words, not mine. I’d just urge all the animals to now get behind Mr Bull no matter how hard it is to get behind such a two-faced hypocrite. After all, the thing that matters is that we all work together to improve things. I’ve always encouraged cooperation and it’s only been those who’ve disagreed with me that have stopped this being one big, happy team.

Boar – So you don’t feel bitter at all?

Mr Rabbit – No, Andrew, just disappointed when we’ve done exactly what we criticised Julia Rhode Island and Kevin Rooster for doing. And let me add we were absolutely right to criticise them for doing something as idiotic and undemocratic as replacing their leader because of poor polling… But I don’t mean this as a criticism of Mr Bull.

Boar – You’ve forgiven him?

Mr Rabbit – If I say “no comment”, that’ll be blown up and put in tomorrow’s news, so I’d rather not say “no comment” and just leave it at that.

Boar – So you have forgiven him then?

Mr Rabbit – No comment.

Boar – What if you’d acted on the concerns about Joe Hoggey and Peta Peahen?

Mr Rabbit – Look, it’s a bit of a myth that if it’d removed either of them that animals keen for advancement would have been satisfied. Peta was doing an excellent job and Mr Hoggey had my loyalty.

Boar – What are your future plans?

Mr Rabbit – Well, I plan to do lots of interviews like this one where I urge my supporters to get behind Mr Bull – even if they don’t like him because we know that deep down he’d be prepared to work with those chickens who ruined our farm. 

Boar – Well, I for one wish to tell you how your removal has just broken my heart and I just hope that one day we all wake up and realise what we’ve tossed away.

Mr Rabbit – Could you repeat that last bit? It sort of got lost when you threw your face on the floor at my feet.

Boar – I just said that this is a time of great sorrow and I’m not sure that I can continue with the interview because I can’t see to read my questions through the tears.

It was a shame that we had to end it there, but I’m thinking that I could offer to help write a book on Mr Rabbit’s time as Farm Leader where we remind people of his achievements and his great humility.

This farm has rejected and despised a great rabbit. You should all have a good hard look at yourself. And I don’t mean in the mirror, Mr Bull!

 

Abbott, Bolt And The Stages Of Grief

Most people will have heard about Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and the five stages of grief. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been having trouble working out where Tony Abbott in terms of what stage he’s at.

Listening to some of his comments, I have to conclude that he’s just like he’s always been: all over the place and not at all consistent.

Then we also have his great friend Andrew Bolt. Bolt is easier because, consistent with nearly everything else in his writing, he’s fluctuating between the denial and anger stages. I call Bolt, Abbott’s friend because that’s exactly what Bolt wrote earlier this week.

“See, I don’t think Abbott is a great man because he’s my friend. He’s my friend because he’s a great man.”

So, in Bolt’s world, greatness is a prerequisite before you attain his friendship. Mm, anyway back to Mr Abbott.

Evidence of the first stage is everywhere.

Denial — The first reaction is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.

This explains his non-attendance in Parliament, although this could be more consistent with a much later stage, depression:

Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the mathematical probability of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.

The denial stage also explains his rather bizarre interview with Ray Hadley where he expalined that he could have won the next Federal election because – in spite of a losing poll streak resembling The Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters – people were going to change their minds and vote for him in the only poll that counts. Just look at the great result in the Canning by-election. A mere seven percent swing. The change to Turnbull had no effect. No sir, I, Tony the Great would have achieved a similar result.

And in the same interview, we have a swing to stage two:

Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.

According to Tony, the forces plotting against him knew that they had to move before Canning because if they waited, there’d be no reason for a change. A mere seven percent swing would have been viewed as time to pop the champagne and dance in the street. As for replacing Credlin or Hockey, well, it was a myth that doing that would have changed things. You see, this was brought about by individuals “keen for advancement”. It was nothing to do with his performance because, well, none of the policies have changed.

See, it wasn’t because of his performance as Prime Minister that anyone moved against him, The lack of a change in policy just proves what a commendable job he was doing. Said quickly this sounds all right, although to me it’s a bit like a sacked policeman arguing that the law hasn’t changed so there was no reason to remove me from my job. Actually, it’s probably more like a sacked football coach telling us that the game plan hasn’t changed in the week since his sacking so the score is irrelevant.

As for the other two stages, let’s start with stage three:

Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.

Mm, now isn’t this what he did when he survived his “near death experience” back in February? “Give me another six months and I’ll change. I’ll turn things around. Just give me another chance.”

Of course, the final stage, acceptance, doesn’t seem to have happened unless one counts his speech the day after his party room defeat. You know, the one where he promised no “sniping”. Still, this one does take time and maturity, so I don’t expect to see it in the days before Christmas.

But I’ll let Andrew Bolt have the final word:

“Those I love best are people of honour, warmth and kindness.

“Tony Abbott is one such man, and that he has been betrayed and deposed doesn’t just break my heart. It makes me fear for this country. I can only hope that Australians will one day wake up to what they’ve tossed away.

“Sorry to sound so melodramatic, but here are some glimpses of the man I know — ones that put the lie to the trash that even big-name correspondents peddled about him.

“A woman hater? Ask his daughters or female chief of staff. Ask the many women on his staff, so loyal that he had one of the lowest turnovers of modern prime ministers.”

Yeah, sort of gives new meaning to the term “hard right”…

Actually, I wonder why his wife was left of the list of people to ask in that “woman hater” paragraph.

 

Shock Jocks, Turnbull And Housetraining . . .

Ok, I am aware that there’s a certain type in the media who relies on saying something shocking in order to create the sort of controversy that gets them noticed. And there are some who’d say anything that someone paid them to say.

They’re the sort who are “housetrained”. Bring out your chequebook and they’ll tell you that black is white.

Sorry, Andrew, that’s just a figure of speech, so don’t get all funny about that court case, and Alan we’ve forgotten all about that Media Watch!

I mean, Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt are pillars. They are extraordinary human beings.

How do I know this?

Well, a few days ago, someone was suggesting that Turnbull had a “narcissist personality disorder”. And there were descriptions about what such a thing meant, but to use the Wikipedia defintion, it means that “a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and others.”

And yet, in spite of Turnbull’s alleged disorder, we’re told today, by Andrew Bolt that he’s been “housetrained”.

That’s Turnbull, not Bolt. Nobody could ever accuse Bolt of being “housetrained”.

Anyway, this Prime Minister – the one with prestige and vanity – has been harnessed by Jones and Bolt.

Yep, Bolt wrote today:

“So, yes, I should feel like Samson after a haircut. But here’s the funny thing. We’ve actually won. Me and Alan. We’ve house-trained Turnbull.”

Now some of you may have a problem with the idea that a Prime Minister could be the pet of two people who’s only claim to representing the people is that they give their opinion and that they don’t listen to anyone else. But, in Bolt’s world, this is what democracy means. He has the right to say whatever he likes and anyone who disagrees should be shut down, shut up or shut off.

After all, as he said when that other Murdoch paper, The Australian, had the temerity to critiicism him, he only has his reputation, so nobody should attack that. Particularly a paper that relies on the tabloids to subsidise it.

Now some may see a problem with the idea that Malcolm Turnbull would “housetrained” by such a person, but I don’t.

That’s because I read Andrew Bolt’s column today. And that means that I know all that I need to know. Because even though Bolt never completed his university degree, he’s somehow been able to become an expert on everything.

Even controlling PM’s with alleged narcissist disorders.

Pity he didn’t do it when Tony and Peta were running things . . .

 

I feel good

The removal of Tony Abbott is like the lancing of a boil. We may not have cured the infection but the relief is immense.

Whilst some are concerned that the same agenda will be pursued by more nefarious means, there is going to be significant change.

How will Rupert react?

Remember when Turnbull said, in praise of The Saturday Paper’s founder Morry Schwartz and his contribution to Australia’s “intellectual life”,: “You are not some demented plutocrat pouring more and more money into a loss making venture that is just going to peddle your opinions.”

What about Andrew Bolt?

“I just have to say to Mr Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government. Well with friends like Bolt, we don’t need any enemies.” – Malcolm Turnbull June 2014

Or Jones?

“Alan, I am not going to take dictation from you.”

In that interview Jones said to Turnbull “you’ve got not a hope in hell of getting Tony Abbott’s job”.

Or Hadley, who thinks Malcolm is up himself for wearing a t-shirt with the collar turned up.

Will the Telegraph still get its news feed? Will Miranda Devine and Piers Ackerman still be invited to dine with the PM?

I haven’t seen Malcolm on the guest list at IPA gigs either.

Whilst I am savouring the moment of Abbott’s demise (with the added burn of being a few days shy of qualifying for a PM pension), I will take the opportunity to remind Turnbull of his own words regarding the Coalition policy on climate change action.

“Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental figleaf to cover a determination to do nothing.”

I will be watching closely.

But for today . . . I feel good 🙂

Aussie Racism – it’s time to Stop. Think. Respect.

Political commentator Andrew Bolt said recently that Australia is fundamentally not a racist country.

He’s wrong. Ok, that’s hardly a phrase that’s in uncommon usage when talking of Andrew Bolt’s views, but in this case he’s really wrong.

The Anglo-Australian nation and culture was founded in racism, and racism is wound into the fabric of many of the artifacts that still hold Australia together today. Racism is arguably so embedded in the Anglo-Australian culture, that many don’t see it.

This was never made more clear than in the arguments recently around whether or not ‘booing’ Adam Goodes was racist or not. Here’s Charlie Pickering’s commentary on this from The Weekly:

Australia has a problem with racism

There. I’ve said it.  And so, according to a study done by the University of Western Sydney, have 85% of other Australians. We, as a country, have a problem with racism.

Here’s what Aboriginal Australian Stan Grant had to say about this recently in regards to Adam Goodes:

I may be overly sensitive. I may see insult where none is intended. Maybe my position of relative success and privilege today should have healed deep scars of racism and the pain of growing up Indigenous in Australia. The same could be said of Adam. And perhaps that is right. 

But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth.” (Stan Grant, 30 July 2015)

‘Estranged in the land of our ancestors’ – that’s the environment that the Anglo-Australian culture has created for Aboriginal Australians. And while most Aussies of non-aboriginal descent would undoubtedly consider themselves to be more enlightened than our forefathers, we still allow our blatantly racist infrastructure to stay in place.

And while we may be blind to the impact of this racist infrastructure, outsiders aren’t – maybe because it’s often easier to see faults in others than in yourself. In the words of British-American comedian and political satirist John Oliver:

Australia is “one of the most comfortably racist places I’ve ever been”

Comfortably racist. That’s a fairly accurate description. And the reason it’s so ‘comfortable’, is that it’s embedded in the Anglo-Australian culture to such an extent that it’s seen as normal or harmless. Like the chips in the paintwork of your home, you walk past them every day and after a while you stop noticing them.

Racism was embedded in the Anglo-Australian culture right from the get-go

The Anglo-Australian nation was founded in racism

The core principle behind the ‘colonisation’ of Australia in 1788 was a belief in the absolute superiority of the British race. England didn’t declare war on the Aboriginal people when they sent the First Fleet here – they might have undertaken plenty of war-like behaviour after the First Fleet’s arrival – but there was no official war declared. Australia was not taken by ‘conquest’. Furthermore, there was no treaty signed with the Aboriginal people – no exchange of goods to buy the land.

Instead, the English declared that Australia was uninhabited (or ‘terra nullius’) – and therefore up for grabs – ignoring the land rights of the people who had inhabited this country for more than 60,000 years. As historian Bob Reece once wrote about the British attitude at that time:

“The British culture was one with an unquestioning faith in its superiority and in its civilizing role. The whites expected the aboriginal to recognise their superiority and adopt an appropriately subordinate and imitative role.”

And this legal fiction, that Australia was uninhabited at the time the Brits arrived, was maintained for over 200 years. It was only in 1992, that the Mabo case in the High Court overturned this, and that our legal system finally recognised that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples owned the land prior to the Brits arriving. Two. Hundred. Years. That’s how long it took to overturn a racist lie from the 18th century. Are you beginning to get an idea of just how entrenched racism is in our nation’s make-up?

Racism in our national artifacts

There’s no doubt that over the last fifty years, there have been significant efforts to unwind the worst of the infrastructure that has held racism in place since 1788. These include that:

  • Aboriginals were finally given the right to vote (in 1962)
  • The ‘Great Australian Silence’ around Australia’s history was finally challenged by W.E.H. Stenner, which brought the frontier-wars and other aspects of history to the fore (1968)
  • Gough Whitlam adopted the first ‘self-determination’ policy for Aboriginals (1972)
  • Racism was finally outlawed & Aboriginals were finally free to undertake traditional practices on the land again (1975)
  • Aboriginal ‘Protectionism’ which took Aboriginal children away from their families, finally ceased (1970s)
  • Aboriginal right to Land Title in 1788 is finally recognised at law – Mabo (1992)
  • Paul Keating acknowledges past wrongs against Aboriginal Australians (1992)
  • Kevin Rudd, on behalf of all Australians, finally says sorry (2008)

These actions have gone at least some of the way to redress legal issues with equality, but only within the last fifty years, which in history is no time at all. But racism is still embedded in many of our national artifacts. In many ways we’re like an ex-Klu-Klux-Klan member, who after quitting the Klan, keeps all their Klu-Klux Klan posters, books, gear and other mementos and then wonders why people think he hasn’t really left the Klan. Here’s some examples of the racist mementos we’ve kept around:

Our Constitution

A constitution is arguably the most powerful legal document in any democracy.  It may seem like a boring document – and having studied constitutional law, I can tell you that it reads like a boring document. But in terms of its power, it sits above the Prime Minister, the parliament and the courts – making it very important indeed.

When the framers of the Australian constitution sat down at the end of the 19th century with the goal of bringing together the various states at the time of Federation in 1901, Aboriginals were not considered by them to have – and I quote – “the intelligence, interest, or capacity to stand on the same platform with the rest of the people of Australia” in order to have the vote. Nor were Aboriginals to be counted in the census. They were literally considered not to count.

Today, while issues with the vote and the census have since been resolved, the Constitution – the legal framework for this country – still fails to acknowledge Aboriginal Australians’ traditional sovereignty.

Our Flag

NewAustralianFlagdesignIt’s a small thing. But it’s a big thing. It’s what Australians flash around the place to indicate that they are Australian. And we are one of only two ‘colonies’ – New Zealand’s is the other one – that still retains the British stamp on our flag.  New Zealand is about to change their flag. It’s time that we did too.

Our National Anthem – Advance Australia ‘Fair’

Really Australia – ‘Fair’? ‘Young’? Why don’t we just sing the old “White Australia song” from the early 1900s and be done with it. (Yes – there really was a song.)

By way of comparison, the second verses of both the South African and New Zealand anthems are in Zulu and Maori respectively. It’s about time we found an anthem which recognised that our history didn’t start in 1788 and acknowledges and respects the traditional owners of this land.

Traditional language

OK – how many non-Aboriginal readers of this article know how to say ‘Hallo’ in any of the estimated 700 Aboriginal languages that existed here in 1788. I’m guessing it’s the tiniest of tiny percentages. By way of contrast, in New Zealand, the Maori language is taught in over 1000 schools, and there have been discussions about making it compulsory.

Australia day

It’s great to have a day where we celebrate the good things about being Australian. But it’s ridiculously insensitive and – you guessed it – racist when we do it on a day which is considered a day of loss by the Aboriginal people:

loss of their sovereign rights to their land, loss of family, loss of the right to practice their culture

(From Creative Spirits)

There are 364 other days we could pick – we should move it.

Aboriginal Artwork and Traditional Sites

What would Paris be without the Mona Lisa and the Louvre? What would Egypt be without the Pyramids? England without Stonehenge? Florence without the Statue of David? Pisa without the leaning tower? I could go on – but I suspect you get the general idea.

Rock engravings at Burrup Peninsula

Rock engravings at Burrup Peninsula

Around the world great antiquities and ancient sites are valued, protected and appreciated. People queue up to see them. Museums and galleries around the world go to great lengths to identify antiquities and obtain items significant to their culture.

We, on the other hand, have a continent FULL of ancient works of art and sacred sites. But not only aren’t many of them protected, most of us don’t even know where they are. The Western Australian government just deregistered what is arguably the world’s oldest rock art collection so that the Mining companies can get their hands on the site. The site is dated at more than 30,000 years old – THE WORLD’S OLDEST ROCK ART – and there was barely a whimper about it in the news.

What do you think would happen in Egypt if they discovered coal under the pyramids?  Do you think they would allow them to be destroyed? NOT IN A MILLION YEARS. Well – unless Abbott was their Prime Minister of course – then the Pyramids would be gone in a matter of weeks.


The above are just examples of the many ways that we disregard and devalue Aboriginal culture due to the historically racist perspective that it is unimportant. With the exception of discussions around the Constitution – which have been in the news quite a bit recently – most non-Aboriginal Australians wouldn’t even notice that the issues above are problems, so embedded are they in the Anglo-Australian culture. And if you think these things aren’t important – think again. They set the tone, they set the framework within which values and behaviours are fostered and learnt – and make it hard for us to root out the racist attitudes that have been a part of the Anglo-Australian culture for so long.

More reasons why racism can be so hard to spot

Another key reason we may not immediatelly recognise behaviour as racist is that we often assume that racist behaviour is associated with overtly ‘bad’ actions like violence or abuse. But this isn’t always the case. Racism is an attitude rather than an action – which means it can also be expressed through actions and speech which might otherwise seem to be ‘good’ – like kindness or patriotism.

And the thing is, even when racism is expressed through kindness or patriotism, it can be just as venomous. Here’s some examples of different ways that racism has been expressed towards Aboriginal Australians over the past 225 odd years.

Racism expressed through violence

It wasn’t long after the British arrival in 1788 that the first massacres of local Aboriginal tribes took place. This violence – recently renamed ‘frontier wars’ – was seen as ‘unavoidable’ by the British, and continued to flourish in the 19th century. The exact number of Aboriginal deaths is unknown, but it was certainly in the tens of thousands, and possibly more than 100,000.

The attitude that allowed this to happen was the unwavering belief in the superiority of those from the British race. Here’s an example of a statement published in the Bulletin in the late 19th century which reflects the beliefs about the superiority of the British bloodline at that time:

“civilization marches over the bodies of inferior races….they are compelled to make room for the superior race” (Bulletin – 9 June 1883 pg. 6)

Racism expressed as ‘kindness’ or ‘protection’ 

Racism expressed as violence took Aboriginal life and land. Racism expressed as kindness, protection and good works aimed to take away what was left – their culture, their way of life, their families, their language, their history, their spiritual beliefs and their pride in who they were. Here’s how.

The British clearly did not see themselves as violent invaders – they saw themselves as as “enlightened and christian” benefactors of the indigenous inhabitants of the countries they ‘settled’. They looked upon the indigenous inhabitants of the lands they colonised – not just Australia, but other lands – with a degree of pity, and settlers were instructed to use ‘humane means’ to defend themselves when taking control of the land that they saw as rightfully theirs.

Of course, had the Brits been serious in their concern for the well being of the indigenous inhabitants, then they would have stopped their wanton ‘colonising’ – but the racist attitude behind their concern meant that this wasn’t going to happen. Instead, they set up ‘Protectionist’ boards and installed people with the title of ‘Protector of Natives’ to ‘look after’ and ‘civilise’ the ‘indigenous folk’. They also sent out truckloads of missionaries, which they saw as their greatest gift – primarily to educate and ‘improve’ the children.

This theme of ‘protection’ –  in various forms – continued in Australia right through the 19th century and into the 20th century, when in 1915 the NSW Aborigines Protection Board was empowered to remove Aboriginal children from their families at will. They had been able to do that prior to 1915, but only with a court order. Similar practices were implemented in other states which continued up until the 1970s. Once in ‘care’, children were instructed to no longer speak the language of their parents and taught to forget Aboriginal culture and practices.

Racism expressed as patriotism

Just as being kind to or protecting someone is normally a positive thing – so is patriotism. But it too can be incredibly destructive when it is driven by racism.

Take the policy of ‘assimilation’ – so admired by the Reclaim Australia folk – which was implemented by the Australian Government in the middle of the 20th century, as a tool of patriotism to ‘unite the nation’. The policy was designed to suppress and kill off the aboriginal culture, language and heritage – again, in the misguided belief in the superiority of the Anglo-Australian way of life. Aboriginals were offered limited citizenship at this time on the condition that they ceased practicing Aboriginal customs, did not speak their native language and did not mix with any friends or families who hadn’t also agreed to the same terms.


Looking at these three examples of different expressions of racism, it’s clear that while the outcome of racism is normally pretty bad for the recipient, the perpetrators of non-violent racist behaviour (such as kindness or patriotism), often believe – albeit misguidedly – that they are doing a good thing. Their racism blinds them to the true impact of what they are doing. And this is another reason why it is so difficult for Anglo-Australians to see this in themselves – because racism can be well-meaning, or at least not intended maliciously – like the booing of Adam Goodes recently.

The opposite of Racism is Respect

By @FirstDogOnMoon. Full cartoon at http://gu.com/p/4b464/stw

By @FirstDogOnMoon. Full cartoon at http://gu.com/p/4b464/stw

Ok non-Aboriginal Aussies – we don’t have a good track record when it comes to racism. In fact we arguably have a bit of a blind spot – often not from any malicious motive, but purely because of how embedded it is in our culture and a misunderstanding of what it is. But that doesn’t make it any less racist in the way it is experienced by those on the receiving end.

But it’s time now to do something about this. It’s time, as Adam Goodes says, to bite the bullet and have a conversation about racism so that we can:

Fix the remnants of racism in our National Artifacts

This includes the examples I’ve noted above, but there are others as well.  It’s not hard – it just takes the will to do this. Don’t believe the politicians who want to stall this for their own political motives. It may take some time to get consensus, but if we want to do this we can do it. It’s that simple.

Delaying the rectification of these issues is just more racism, as it undervalues the importance of these issues to Aboriginal Australians.

Stop. Think. Respect. 

This was a campaign designed by Beyond Blue to counter discrimination in our community – against a whole host of problems. And it is a key antidote to racism. The way to eliminate racism from our national culture, our national values is first to take the time to notice when it’s there and then to turn a racist attitude into respect.

Last week, after Adam Goodes had called out racism from the AFL crowds, we all stopped, thought, and then – it took a little while – but then we showed respect.

We need to do that across the board.

Stop. Think. Respect.

This article was first published on Progressive Conversation.

Adam Goodes: Free Speech Vs the Moral Authority to Express a View

Our Constitution does not guarantee free speech. It only implies that we have it. That being said, we assume that anyone has a right to express a view. There are some, like Andrew Bolt, who despite us supposedly living in an enlightened society want to enshrine in law the right to hate each other.

What I am getting at here is that having an opinion about booing Adam Goodes has turned into a national pastime. However, all this week, despite the right to free speech, I have been questioning the moral right of some to do so.

Let me make it absolutely clear: I abhor racism with all the intellectual and moral righteousness that has been bequeathed to me by good people. Something unexplainable within me has its way when I am confronted by nefariousness and I speak out.

Adam Goodes is a victim of racism for two reasons. Firstly, because he was named Australian of the Year which obligated him, or gave him license to speak on issues concerning Aboriginality. Secondly, he confronted a young girl who called him an ape. This is the most rancid racist thing you can call any dark skinned person.

He was no longer a champion footballer. He had crossed the line that former Collingwood Football Club President Alan McAlister so ludicrously expressed so many years ago:

“… as long as they behave like white people, well, off the field, everyone will admire and respect them.”

Yes, people have a right to free speech but when there is an absence of truth, a distortion calculated to inflame or just common bigotry I unleash my right to question their motives. When there is a racist element in what they are saying I feel duty bound to question their moral authority to opine. Often it simply displays their hypocrisy so this is where I shall start.

Shane Warne in my view is the greatest bowler to ever roll his arm over. As an individual, throughout his career he has been involved in scandal after scandal displaying pathetic social behavior. What sort of role model has he been? He even started a charity as a PR exercise at the height of his misconduct. You be the judge. Mine is that his comments show the intellectual depth of a flea. And that’s being kind.

“If the public don’t like a sportsman because of the way they play the game, they boo, if they like them they cheer, nothing to do re racism”.

Last September after a Swans game against Richmond, Warne said he was:

 “shocked” Goodes had been named Australian of the Year.

Adam Goodes points the finger after being called an 'ape' by a young Collingwood supporter (image from theage.com.au)

Adam Goodes points the finger after being called an ‘ape’ by a young Collingwood supporter (image from theage.com.au)

Alan Jones, the sanctimonious self-righteous biased shock jock habitual liar from Sydney accused Goodes of ‘playing the victim’. Jones was once arrested in a London toilet and faced two charges of outrageous public indecency while behaving in an indecent manner, said he was affronted that Goodes would challenge a 13 year old girl. Jones completely ignored the facts of the events that unfolded, overlooked Goodes’ efforts to meet with and counsel the girl, and portrayed the girl as the victim.  As for the girl’s obviously inherited morality from the mother, what can one say other than feel pity. I have two grandsons aged 9 and 11 who think the treatment of Goodes is terrible and fully understand that racism is inherently a bad thing. They have needed little instruction on the subject. Should I go on about Jones incitement of the Cronulla riots or his proven history of prostituting his ‘opinions’ and repeatedly disseminating falsehoods as well as having publicly endorsed the idea of murdering our then PM by drowning at sea?

You be the judge.

Andrew Bolt, convicted ‘racist’ and all round appalling paid for controversial opinion journalist – individual who demanded the PM give him more free speech to vilify without constraint also expressed his horror at Goodes confronting the girl:

“Singling out a girl for public humiliation, like that, I thought was wrong and if Adam Goodes said it was wrong, I think he’d be a superstar; all people from either sides would rush to embrace him.”

In doing so he too gave a completely false account of the events that took place. You be the judge. If it were my daughter I would embrace Goodes and say “thank you”. As for the mother’s contribution I can only say she needs a lesson or two in parenthood.

Tony Abbot, a leader with little capacity for it offers lukewarm “we should show more respect” support but when it suits his political needs displays racist overtones against Muslims.

Ross Greenwood, economics commentator, said about his booing of Goodes: “There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s got nothing to do with his race, it’s got nothing to do with me being racist”. He didn’t stop to consider that by contributing to the booing himself, he was legitimizing the real racists.

Sam Newman, the resident ageing buffoon and perpetual aficionado of crassness on the Footy Show; the man who bared his genitals on television and who has affronted many with his sexism and disgusting behavior. The man who painted his face black after Nicky Winmar didn’t appear on the show in 1999 opined that “People aren’t booing you [Goodes] because you’re Aboriginal, they’re booing you because you’re acting like a jerk”. (Only he would know).

He went on to state that Goodes’ celebration only served to provoke fans and should have been reprimanded by the AFL. Newman further said:

“As Australian of the year, you should know that- you should be trying to unite people instead of trying to divide them”. (Isn’t that what he has been doing by speaking about the problems facing Indigenous people?)

You be the judge but for me Newman and other white men like him who have made fortunes out of thoughtlessness have not the remotest capacity to understand the emotional torment that racial abuse might incur. He is one of those many men who have never really grown up and his antics prove it.

Jason Ackermanis, former champion and perennial bad boy of the Brisbane Lions parroted the remarks of Alan Jones and in doing so showed little empathy or understanding of the broader picture. He said that Goodes was “playing the victim”. Something that Akermanis made a career of doing. In 2010 he said that gay footy players should “stay in the closet”. In 2005 Akermanis sparked racial controversy when he used his radio program (the Aker and Macca Show) on Brisbane’s 98.9 FM to describe his employers as “monkeys”. It was an Aboriginal community owned station run by the legendary Tiga.

You be the judge but have any of these people made the slightest attempt to comprehend emotionally what it must be like to be being booed by thousands of people every time you go near the ball and not comprehend why they are doing it or conversely believe they are doing it because of the colour of your skin? I can feel it as I write but I bet my feelings are unworthy of his. Does he hear in the raised hiss of intolerance the eco of the wounds from the racism he experienced as a child? Or does he hear in the booing crescendo a symphony of humiliation from the white bastards he seeks to befriend.

The problem here is that the people aforementioned have a common thread. They all are paid huge amounts to be controversial. They are all media tarts with dubious moral standards that brings into question their moral authority to make judgement on their fellow humans. Rather they are insisting on the right to tell them how to behave. And do so while theirs goes unquestioned. What two-faced hypocrisy it is.

These people aside the media generally speaking have made some worthwhile contributions to the issue of race in Australia.

As much as it offends my pride of country I have to admit that the tide of racism flows down the streets of our cities, and through the veins of our culture. And it waters the fields of our play.

As a citizen of the state of Queensland said:

“Let me get this straight … If Adam Goodes stands up against racism that makes him a racist? And if someone makes racial slurs towards him and he doesn’t just “cop it” like all the rednecks want him to, then he’s a sook and a troublemaker?”

These are my thoughts. You be the judge.

More by me. Put Andrew Bolt in the Headline and Anyone will read it. John Lord.

 

The Right think we are Governed by the Left but we elected the Right

image

 

Tony Abbott became Prime Minister of Australia on September 7 2013. His leadership, and indeed his government has been so dreadful that less than half way through his three year term, a spill motion was moved against him. It was an election he won handsomely.

The only obstruction in his way was the appointment of a bunch of senators who in normal circumstances would never have been elected.

After surviving the spill he announced that good government would start the next day.

Since then there has been an attempt by the MSM to absurdly paint Labor as being responsible for the Coalition’s failures. But prior to this ridiculous notion its incapacity to govern with the slightest semblance of authority was blamed on “first term blues” which of course is a nonsense when you consider that most of the ministers are from Howards ministry. They should have been prepared.

And as Miranda Devine pointed out, the most academically qualified government ever. They had all the experience necessary to govern why then do they now blame Labor for all their woes.

On Andrew Bolt’s blog this week one could be forgiven for thinking that the right actually wanted the left to bail them out. To govern for them.

Try these for example.

Bolt:

“There are actually two governments in Australia. The main one controls the House of Representatives and is trying to cut spending – now – before the country gets smashed.’’
“The other government is a loose coalition in the Senate, comprising Labor, the Greens, Clive Palmer’s Senators and Jacqie Lambie. This coalition believes there is no financial disaster to fix and is blocking spending cuts and reforms to our welfare culture.”

Alan Mitchell:

“The Australian public should now demand Labor plays its part in resolving the nation’s fiscal problem.”

“Labor is content to let the Senate crossbenchers exercise the balance of power, but Labor has 25 seats in the Senate. Acting in concert with the government, the Labor senators could pass a package of measures to bring the structural budget back into surplus by the end of the decade…

If Labor can happily announce what it won’t pass, surely it can indicate the kind of measures it would vote for. That, voters might reasonably think, is a pretty basic responsibility of any alternative government that is using its numbers to hold up a significant part of a much-needed fiscal repair program.”

Janet Albrechtsen:

“According to record low polls for the government, we, the ¬people, have told the Abbott government it will be obliterated at the next election for aiming for a budget that spends only as much as it earns….
A modest Medicare co-payment with carve-outs for the needy and the young? No thanks.
A sustainable university funding model? No thanks.
A fairer pension system to better fund those in need as the ageing population grows? No thanks.
Reining in disability payments so those in genuine need are better cared for? No thanks.
Fewer middle-class perks — think baby bonuses, family benefits, childcare rebates — so money can be better directed to the poorest? No thanks…
And if voters continue to rebuff these efforts, what then? … [Labor leader Bill] Shorten will be handsomely rewarded for being irresponsible about budget reform, let alone the economy … “

Are these writers seriously suggesting that the Labor party should put lay long held ideological beliefs to appease a party who created a false economic spending crisis and the when it came to power, doubled it. All in the cause of bi-partisanship.

Bullshitting is bad enough but when people believe their own. That is intellectual dishonesty.

Middle class perks that Howard created every three years to get re-elected. Just forget that the LNP has never done a thing for pensioners and support an ill founded policy that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. A co-payment doctors fee that could be the pre curser to an American style health care system and a University funding scheme that reeks of inequality. In other words give up all that it stands for.

Putting aside the political naivety of all that rubbish for a moment, and the stupidity of it, one is entitled to remind the Prime Minister that it was he that was elected to govern and not Bill Shorten.

We might even remind him that incumbency gives government enormous powers and it’s not necessarily the job of the opposition to always take a bi partisan approach.

There are numerous reasons for the Coalitions inability to govern but the three main ones are, poor leadership, an ideology based on unfairness and a hostile senate. None of which the Labor Party is responsible for.

The first is a result of their own selection, the second, unfairness is anathema to the Australian public and the third is Abbott’s inherent stubbiness for compromise, or persuasion. It’s the captain’s choice or abandon ship. Take your pick.

Compromise or bi partisanship can and has been practiced in this country for as long as I can remember. Very rarely has a government controlled both houses. But not at the expense of the first rule of politics ‘’gain power’’ or indeed the second rule “retain power.”

“There are still people in my party who believe in consensus. I regard them as quislings, as traitors … I mean it.”
Margaret Thatcher.

Too much bi partisanship can negatively result in a blurring of ideological demarcation between the parties, even discouraging agreement between more than one party. It can also prevent people not thinking beyond a two-party system.

Just because a party is finding it difficult having its way, it doesn’t follow, as the media and the government seem to want, that the opposition should, compromise and rescue every situation.

Rightly or wrongly we have an adversarial form of government. The Coalition is the government with everything at its power to form policy and implement it. The opposition is there to hold the government to account.

Abbott as Opposition leader said that “Oppositions oppose, that’s what they are there for”. He was called Dr No because of his blatant hostility to everything proposed by the Gillard and Rudd governments.

The reason put forward for Labor to reveal its economic policies is the current state of the budget, and in particular, spending, yet in 2010, in Tony Abbott’s first term as Opposition leader, he failed to produce anything like a detailed plan to curb spending, even in his Budget reply speech attacking debt and deficit just months out from the scheduled election. Abbott told Parliament that shadow treasurer Hockey would unveil measures to reduce spending and increase productivity at the National Press Club the following week. Joe hand balled it to Andrew Robb and the whole thing became a balls up.

The government doesn’t need bi partisanship to resolve these issues. It simply needs to come to its senses and admit it delivered an unfair budget and that revenue is as much a part of the problem as is spending.

I am yet to hear an economist say that the budgetary problems are beyond repair. It simply needs a strategy that takes into account an equitable fairness. Not a lifters and leaners approach that rewards the rich and privileged and condemns all others to some degree of poverty.

As Shadow Treasure Chris Bowen said in the Financial Review on Thursday. The Government could sell its fiscal reform message, but not when they are: (a) dishonest (b) inconsistent (c) flogging ill thought out policies and (d) not up to the task anyway.

The call for bi partisanship in this case is politically motivated and immature.
Having said that, there is a strong case, generally speaking, for less confrontational politics in this country and I have argued the case for openness, transparency and the common good many times.

We saw in the UK a very unique and rare example of bi partisanship when the three political leaders, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, have this month signed a pledge to tackle climate change. The closest we come to this is on National Security where it is in the Oppositions best interests to be bi-partisan.

Our system requires vigorous debate with a better, more civil and open exchange of ideas. But politics by its very nature cannot be devoid of opportunism and the pursuit of power. We can only ever hope for the better practice of it.

If you want otherwise then invent another system.

Bill Shorten has promised that this year will be a year of “ideas”. He will not be taking the small target approach that has been the norm for some time. “We are prepared to work on the big policies that go beyond parliamentary terms”, he told the National Press Club in November.

Let’s hope they are creatively sound, relevant for the times, the future, and economically affordable. That they have public support and don’t require political bi partisanship. The last recourse for bad ideas.

Tony Abbott said good government started on Tuesday 10 Feb. If he’s fair dinkum he doesn’t need Labor to get him out of a hole.

“The whole point about corruption in politics is that it can’t be done, or done properly, without a bipartisan consensus.”
Christopher Hitchens.

“Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.”
George Carlin.

A Month in Politics: January 2015

It is said a week is a long time in politics. A month may be an eternity and with twenty-four seven politics we are apt to forget what happened even the day before.

On Facebook I daily post a Thought for the Day” and follow it up with one (sometimes more) of a political nature. I am hoping that by posting a monthly political list it might refresh the reader’s memory. Or even amuse you.

MY FIRST THOUGHT FOR 2015

Jan 1: “Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact”.

MY BEST POLITICAL THOUGHTS FOR 2015

Jan 2: Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science. So oblivious of the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

Jan 3: THE THOUGHTLESS THOUGHT OF 2014:

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards” (Tony Abbott).

Former PM John Howard today criticised President Obama for entering our domestic politics with his Climate Change announcement at the G20.

This is the same PM who said this when Obama entered the Presidential race:

“If I was running AL-Qaeda in Iraq, I would put a circle around March 2008 and pray, as many times as possible, for a victory not only for Obama, but also for the Democrats” (he told the Nine Network’s Sunday program).

Jan 4: There is a lengthy article in today’s Australian that extensively explores the problems facing the Liberal Party. It ignores the main problem. Its name is Abbott.

Jan 5: Which pre-eminent Australians do you think our staunchly monarchist PM will select to become knights and dames this year. With the Queen’s approval of course.

Jan 6: The decision by the PM not to allow a “pool” of journalists to accompany him to Iraq smells of a “no more bad publicity” complex.

Jan 7: Received a letter from True Energy in Oct re new pricing arrangements following the repeal of the carbon tax. Rang call center and asked for confirmation of $550 discount as per statement by PM. Call Center person could not quantify so I asked for his supervisor.

“I shouldn’t say this but that was a load of crap” he said. Familiar word, I thought.

After perusing my account he indicated that my usage had gone up for both gas and electricity and I should be paying more anyway. I negotiated an extra discount which meant I wouldn’t pay any more than my current rate.

So much for the PM’s honesty, I thought. Last week I received another letter saying that both my energy bills would be going up because the company had incurred additional costs.

If I hear the so and so say that every family got $550 . . . lying bastard.

* The Queensland Government has given first time voters just four days to enroll. Conservative governments both state and federal do this because they know the young are not likely to vote for them.

A THOUGHT ON PERSPECTIVE

Jan 8: G W Bush made a unilateral decision to invade Iraq based on a lie and with the motive of revenge for 9/11. He is a “born Again Christian” and on the record as saying that God told him to do so. As a result it is estimated that approximately 250,000 innocent people lost their lives.

Jan 9: So our PM is against capital punishment for the Bali 9 but at the same time will do nothing to jeopardise our relationship with Indonesia. Yet he didn’t hesitate entering their territorial waters to turn boats around. It didn’t matter then.

Jan 10: The GST, as a revenue raiser to bolster their unfair budget, continues to raise its head. There are other ways to raise revenue but conservatives refuse to countenance the rich and privileged paying their share.

“The GST burdens the poor and those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life—food, clothing, rent, heating, power etc” (John Lord).

Jan 11: Why is it that indecent men like Murdoch think their opinions on morality should be taken seriously?

Jan 12: Warren Truss took over as acting prime minister on Sunday, as Tony Abbott goes on a week-long break. If they win the next election it will be Barnaby Joyce. God help us.

Jan 13: Now that the Pentagon has officially admitted that Hicks was innocent it is incumbent on Howard, Ruddick and Brandis to apologise, ADMIT THEIR COMPLICITY and for the current government to pay compensation. He was only ever guilty of stupidity.

* Interesting to note that some of the world leaders locked arm in arm in the Paris March were from countries with the world’s worst suppression of press freedom.

* It says something about the moral sickness in our society when the right to abuse each other, in the name of free speech, needs to be enshrined in law. You would think enlightened societies would be, by means of education, be trying to eliminate it.

* A US study has delivered an unwelcome finding about Australian internet speeds, finding that they are well behind the international pack.

One engineering expert said the nation would continue to tumble-down in world rankings if the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) continues in its current form.
Jan 14. Visited my GP for a script repeat yesterday. Should have taken 4 mins. After he unleashed his vitriol toward PM it took 10. There will be 1000s of lengthy consults.

* The government has a fairness problem with its budget. Consider this:

  • The tax breaks on super are costing the government in foregone revenue about $45 billion a year and this is roughly the same amount that is spent each year on the age pension.
  • The dollar value of the tax breaks is growing faster than expenditure on the aged pension, making concessions on super contributions a much bigger threat to balancing government finances in the near-term.

The super tax concessions are skewed to high-income earners: the top 10 per cent of income earners reap more than 36 per cent of the tax concession dollars, while the bottom 10 per cent are actually penalised for making super contributions.

* 11 European countries have agreed to impose a so-called “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions. Even a very small tax would go a long way to reducing poverty and inequality.

* When our voices are silent against unfair, deceitful and dishonest government we get what we deserve.

Jan 15: Prior to Christmas although unapologetic for his disastrous 2014 the PM did indicate that he would take a fairer and fresh approach to policy in 15. The message seemed to have gotten lost over a few drinks and Christmas dinner.

Having failed to win support in the Senate for his unfair GP Tax, Tony Abbott is now seeking to destroy Medicare via the back door. He has introduced regulation that will mean the end of bulk billing.

And of course the polls reflect the unhappiness of the electorate Essential 54/46 to Labor and Morgan 44.5/54.5 to Labor.

Jan 16: The government has capitulated and scrapped its plans to next week cut the Medicare rebate by $20. Me thinks there will be a lot of backing away from poor policy this year.

Jan 17: If you have reached the conclusion that the government has started the year in the same chaotic manner it finished the old one with many barnacles still attached then you are 100% correct. The ship probably needs a new captain.

Jan 18: The year has just started. The Medicare Rebate has gone. The co-payment looks like it will also go. University fees have met the same fate. The proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act had to be abandoned. A proposed ban on the Burqa had to go and a back down on Paid parental leave reached its inevitable conclusion. What’s next you might ask?

Jan 19: We are being governed by a party who spent four years in opposition being so negative that they forgot that governance requires thought out policy not ideological implementation.

American scientists say 2014 was hottest year on record. Why is it people confuse weather with climate?

Jan 20: In terms of political strategy I think for any opposition leader to draw attention to himself (other than making rudimentary comments) while his opponent is in self-destruct mode would be political folly. The same goes for the release of policy. Patience is required. The only exception would be commentary on the reform of his party.

Jan 21: The Prime Minister continues to struggle. On his first day back from holidays he refuses to talk to the press. Not the Treasurer though. On talk-back radio he tells us that because people might live to 150 in the future justifies increasing the cost of health now. Sarah Palin eat your heart out. Government foot in mouth disease continues.

Jan 22: 1. The PM denies reports that he insisted on the $20 doctor’s fee. The problem is that his record of lying makes him unbelievable.

2. Per chance he is telling the truth it means the three of them were complicit in a stupid political decision.

3. What sort of society is it that jails people for not committing a crime?

Jan 23: President Obama’s best ever put down:

I have no more campaigns to run.

Applause from his opponents.

I know because I won both of them.

An afternoon thought:

When the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing on University funding reform.

Treasurer Joe Hockey was reported on Tuesday as ruling out further compromises to achieve passage through the Senate, before Education Minister Christopher Pyne confirmed on Wednesday that the package was up for negotiation.

Jan 24: 1 Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life and grow over time. They govern moral choices and demonstrate empathy toward others. Does Abbott qualify?

In my experience once started leadership speculation never goes away and has its own inevitable conclusion.

2. Mr Abbott has to again explain if work choices is dead, buried and cremated. Or at least be transparent about his intentions.

Jan 25: 1. Bullshitting is bad enough but when someone believes their own, that is intellectual dishonesty. An illustration is the PMs Insistence that he has governed solidly and just needed to skite about it more.

2. Any objective look at polling on a national level in Australia will tell you that 47% of voters would vote for a PM and his party despite the fact that it is being led and governing badly. Life is about perception. Not what is but what you perceive it to be.

Jan 26: On this day that has symbolic importance for many (not for others) and for many and differing reasons,

“Have you ever thought about what it is you should be most grateful for?”

Happy Australia Day.

May this day reward you with what you make of it.

I think I will just pretend I never heard it. Prince Philip an Australian knight. The captain of team Australia continues to bat for the other side. Nobody wants to play on his.

The PM with spellbinding cringe worthy ignorance calls social media “graffiti on a wall” while his government spends 4.3 mil on finding out the extent of its influence. Luddite.

Jan 27: Perhaps the PM is just guilty of being himself. You have to be very talented to transform our national day into a joke.

The PM has had a right royal weekend.

ALP support rose to 56.5% (up 2%) on Australia Day weekend, well ahead of the L-NP 43.5% (down 2%) on a two-party preferred basis. If a Federal Election were held now the ALP would win easily according to this week’s Morgan Poll on voting intention conducted with an Australia-wide cross-section of 2,057 Australian electors aged 18+.

Jan 28: Apple paid $80 million tax in Australia last year on a turnover of a revenue of $60 billion. Does the Government have any lifters it can spare or will it continue to hit the poor.

Jan 29: Repeat – Who said this?

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.”

Unsurprising how high Newscorp journalists jump when Murdoch commands it.

Jan 30: It is absolutely astonishing that a newspaper mogul living in another country dictates the governance of Australia with such gratuitous authority.

Jan 31: “It takes a good captain to help all the players of a team to excel,” Mr Abbott said. OMG I agree with him.

It beggars belief that a PM whose leadership has been so abysmal-so condemned in the court of public approval, can then suggest that the good performance of colleagues is as a result of his splendid captaincy. That’s arrogance of the highest order.

Yes, a lot happens in a month.

“The Rise and Fall of Australia”

The-Rise-and-Fall-of-AustraliaBook Review by John Lord

Nick Bryant Is a BBC correspondent and author who often appears on Q&A and The Drum.

I made the dreadful mistake of reading some reviews of this book (that conflicted with my own analysis) before I sat down to write this. Now I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but in this case, I must say, they all had a clear misunderstanding of exactly what the author was on about.

That being an inability by some social commentators and critics to acknowledge that we have, to a large degree, thrown off our cultural cringe, our adolescence, and taken our place in the world.

We have come to realise the profound truth that we have gone through a period of becoming mature, knowing who we are, and feeling deeply about it. We have earned a national consciousness.

It seemed to me that the reviews I read resented the fact that we were being dissected by an outsider, and a bloody Pommy one at that.

But this is exactly what makes it such an enthralling read. He dares to go where our own self-consciousness about ourselves won’t, unrestrained by our provincial restrictions of self-analysis.

The directness and astuteness of his writing is impressive. His research impeccable and for a person of my vintage his writing gave understanding to my life’s Australian experience. From what we were to what we are. He exhaustively covers every cultural aspect of our society from sport, art, music, dance, theatre, science, medicine, government and our financial structures. He describes a full compilation of our assets and eccentricities.

In some chapters I felt positively enthused about how far we have come as a nation. How much we had achieved, often in spite of ourselves.
He states that today the characteristic that most defines modern Australia is “diversity”. In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation. That is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

But the contradiction, as he points out is:

The great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished.

It is in the chapters that deal with politics and our democracy that Bryant rightly portrays the sagacious ugliness of our system.

He abhors the fierce partisanship of our politics and the Abbott government’s currentattempts to take us back to an older Australia, a place that we no longer inhabit.

A place languid in the institutionalised comforts of post colonialism.

And this is the paradox the author speaks of. How is it that our politics has gone so backwards while at the same time we have progressed, in other areas, so much?

Might it be as the Prime Minister so sarcastically remarked when asked about the state of our democracy:

There is nothing wrong with it. It’s just the people who inhabit it from time to time.

Or might it be when he describes his cricketing skills.

I couldn’t bowl, field or bat, but I was a good sledger.

This is a refreshing look at this country with new eyes. Eyes that have taken, with simple exhaustive elegance and skill, the time to see us for what we truly are.

The most agreeable thing about, about this book, is the author’s confirmation of my own view. That being that we are being led by a moron.

Although I do concede that he doesn’t say it exactly in those terms. He in fact gives both sides of politics a decent serve. As Australians are so apt to say.

 

The year that was

MY TOP 30 POLITICAL THOUGHTS FOR 2014

Author’s note: On Facebook, I post on a daily basis continuous political commentary. Here is a selection. Please vote for one of the following or nominate your own:

1 Scott Morrison has been promoted to Social Services Minister. Start praying for pensioners, the disabled, those looking for work etc. He demonised those seeking a better life. Now it’s their turn.

2 The government’s own Climate Change Authority has questioned the effectiveness of “Direct Action” saying the scheme won’t deliver on long-standing emissions reduction targets.

Can’t be any more direct than that.

3 Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science? So oblivious of the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

4 The PM continues to tell the blatant and obnoxious lie that households received $550 of their energy bill as a result of the repeal of the carbon tax. Total bull. Now on top of that he sees it as his greatest achievement for women. Words fail me.

5 Today the characteristic that most defines modern Australia is “diversity”. In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation. People of my generation and later should divest themselves of their old and inferred racist superiority.

6 The murder of three people in Sydney was carried out by a deranged, religious fanatic with a criminal record. It was not by a terrorist organisation. People should keep this in mind.

7 Joe Hockey confirms bigger budget deficit; admits Coalition failures in communicating policies. True, but they still cannot bring themselves to admit it was unfair.

8 Hockey’s current budget dilemma reinforces how stupid it was to curtail the price on carbon. However, he could easily fix the problem by eliminating the 15% tax discount given to high income earners. It is nothing more than a legal tax dodge supplemented by low-income earners. It’s worth $12 billion plus PA. What about it Joe. After that you could look at the billions given to mining companies in subsidies.

9 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.”

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

“I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms” to quote the PM.

10 George Brandis wins a Walkley award for his “what is metadata” interview.

Well-deserved too.

11 The art of international diplomacy.

Our PM plans to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin. Once a thug always a thug?

12 In an attempt at self-justification the PM is telling lies to defend lies already told. It never works.

13 It is said that truth is the first casualty of war. Unfortunately it is also the first causality of Australian politics.

14 My condolences to all those Coalition supporters who were wetting themselves at the prospect of Julia Gillard slitting her wrists at the Royal Commission. Particularly the Liberal National Chat Page.

15 Ah the law is a strange thing. Ashby brings charges against Slipper. After a long dalliance with legal argument Ashby drops the case. Slipper is left with a huge legal bill and Ashby’s lawyers say “No charge mate” There should be a law against it.

16 You would seriously have to wonder exactly what brand of Christianity it is that Scot Morrison practices. Fancy drinking champagne to celebrate sending refugees to one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt nations.

17 The list of companies avoiding tax is again headed by Murdoch. Others include Frank Lowy’s Westfield. It’s seems that it’s ok for them to lean but we must all lift. Common Joe change the law. Or is it the donations????
18 It would seem that the Abbott Government has given up on their remaining budget cuts. And it should be remembered that they were not opposed on the basis of prudence but unfairness.

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

20 The common good should be at the very heart of every political philosophy””When talking about the cost of living I think people get confused. There is a big difference between the cost of living and cost of lifestyle. A recent survey found that 56% of those complaining about the cost of living had taken an overseas trip in the same year. And a further 52% had reduced dining out from three to two times a week”

21 Australia does not, at this time, have a clearly articulated and legislated policy on climate change. Why.

22 Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied he has broken a pledge not to cut funding to the ABC and SBS, telling Parliament his government had “fundamentally kept faith with the Australian people”.

Lying is wrong but lying to defend a lie is appallingly immoral.

23 Yesterday’s attempt by the PM to legitimise lying is like saying we are no longer communicating in English.

24 The most simple way to turn the profession of politics on its head would be to demand they tell the truth.

25 It may be a good thing that some asylum seeker children might now have a future but I find it chilling that Scott Morrison has effectively used kids as hostages to pass his legislation.

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

27 When asked about the Green Fund at a joint press conference with President Hollande the PM said that we already had a Direct Action fund of 2.5 Billion and a Clean Energy Finance Corp 10 Billion fund. The only thing wrong with the answer was that the first won’t work and it is Government policy to abolish the second. His lying knows no bounds.

28 What would an intelligent 18 year old about to vote for the first time think of this statement yesterday by our PM?

“As for Australia, I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting,”

29 The G20 meeting gave Prime Minister Tony Abbott a powerful stage to articulate his vision for Australia. So he spoke about his inability to pass his unfair budget. Now that’s statesmanship for you

30 In 2015, 500 workers who benefited from Gillard’s edict that non-faith-based workers be allowed in our schools will be replaced by chaplains sourced predominantly from big Christian organizations. This in a secular public school system is fundamentally wrong be you religious or not.

A LATE ENTRY
My wife is upset that we didn’t get the carbon tax refund when every other family did. I’m struggling to give her an explanation.

The Gospel According to Bolt

The Abbott Government must now change or die.

Following on from the grilling Alan Jones gave Tony Abbott on his talkback program. Andrew Bolt decided on Tuesday to weigh into the discussion about the poor performance of the government. At first glance one might say, fair enough. Putting aside the fact that Bolt and Jones write on the basis of payment for controversy, Bolt does make some valid points. He covers a wide range of topics from foreign policy to media bias. I think I agree more often than not. Did I just say that?

But there is one glaring omission. The Prime Minister seems to be responsible for nothing. It’s everyone’s  fault but Abbott’s. How can this be?

What follows is a transcript from Bolt’s blog. My comments are in italics.

The Abbott Government falls further behind in Newspoll:

In two-party-preferred terms, based on preference flows from last year’s election, Labor leads by 55 per cent to 45 per cent. The ALP’s third consecutive rise in two-party terms means the opposition has been in front of the -Coalition on this measure for 14 successive Newspolls.

I still believe this overstates the margin, and the reality is somewhere between Newspoll and Essential Media’s 48 to 52 per cent. But there is no disputing the Government has a serious problem.

At this stage in the election cycle polls are meaningless as to a pointer to who might win. However as a current form guide of performance they are illuminating. Why all of a sudden Newspoll is shadowing Morgan is a mystery. Perhaps they are calling mobiles. Given there will not be much joy in any LNP future announcements these figures will continue for months to come.

So to repeat:

– the Government’s foreign policy successes don’t much impress voters. They are important, some critical, but they will increasingly look to voters like evasive action. A smokescreen from what they’d consider their most immediate concerns.

Bolt is correct here. Abbott has looked as though he has vacated domestic policy in favour of the perception he is some sort of international statesman. Which he aint. THE G20 meeting gave him a powerful stage to articulate his vision for Australia. So he spoke about his inability to pass his unfair budget. Now that’s statesmanship for you.
And what intelligent Prime Minister PM would say.

“As for Australia, I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re

doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting,”

 

What would an intelligent 18-year-old about to vote for the first time think of this statement by the PM.

 

As Malcolm Farr said on insiders. ‘’He shouldn’t be left in charge of his own mouth’’

the domestic issues, especially Budget cuts and broken promises, continue to kill the Government.

In trying to sell the perception that the budget was in crisis while adding to the deficit (they are still doing it) themselves only served to highlight Abbott’s capacity for lying. If things continue the deficit will double by the time of next year’s budget. Whatever spin Abbott and his ministers put on it, he told lies to gain power and is now suffering credibility deficiency syndrome.

– weak economic growth and Budget blowouts undermine the Government’s entire argument for being.

There are reasons for the weak economic growth resulting in a drop in revenues. These could be addressed but for Abbott’s blind ideological political philosophy. Its better that the poor should pay.

– a ferocious onslaught by the media Left, especially the ABC behemoth, against the Government generally and Abbott personally, means the Government struggles to sell even its strengths.

What a ridiculously incoherent argument. The right control the vast bulk of media influence. The left have no shock jocks like Jones, Hadley, Smith and others. They have no journalists of the venom of Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny and Tom Switzer.Gerard Henderson Paul Sheehan, Miranda Divine.
They control 70% of the distribution of newspapers in the major cities. The ABC is not biased. It has a charter to uphold and is always under scrutiny to do so. Commercial stations don’t have one. It is but one TV channel against many. Given that the commercial media has vacated truthful reporting in favour of biased opinion. It is a bit rich for the most biased journalist in Australia to accuse the ABC of anything let alone bias. In any case 70% of Australians think it trustworthy. Ever watched the Bolt report?

– the Government’s media strategy is poor, too often defensive and reactive. Abbott still lacks a senior media strategist in his office – a critical and telling absence.

A media strategist will not resolve the issue of Abbott’s lying directly and by omission. Here is an example from Wednesday. When asked about the Green Fund at a joint press conference with French President Hollande the PM said that we already had a Direct Action fund of 2.5 Billion and a Clean Energy Finance Corp 10 Billion fund. The only thing wrong with the answer was that the first won’t work and it is Government policy to abolish the second. His lying knows no bounds.

– the Government has bought the myth that deeds speak for themselves and playing nice wins respect. A cameo: Tony Abbott in welcoming President Xi Jinping to Parliament yesterday praised Labor leaders Gough Whitlam and Neville Wran for fostering China ties; Bill Shorten in his welcome praised Whitlam, noted Labor leaders had worked on the free trade deal before Abbott and praised China for its global warming “deal” and the sending of doctors to treat ebola patients – all digs at bipartisan Abbott and his policies. The Government is getting killed in bare-knuckle politics.

What gratuitous nonsense. Trying to make out that Abbott is the personification of niceness when in fact he is a gutter politician of many years standing. A political thug who the pubic, it would seem, have finally woken up to. A man who has broken every parliamentary convention when it comes to the niceties of diplomacy. For a person such as Abbott, with his record, to solicit bipartisan cooperation is hypocrisy in the extreme.

– Treasurer Joe Hockey isn’t getting cut-through in the most important portfolio. A Treasurer who can’t dominate the agenda leaves a Government fatally weakened.

Totality correct Andrew. What a terrible indictment of the Treasurer of the country. Of course when he said that Global Warming and Economics don’t co-exist it was like saying blood has nothing to do with bodily function .He has no creditability what so ever. On the plus side you have to give him credit for owning up to the fact that the GFC did actually happen.

– the Government doesn’t have an effective headkicker. It lacks mongrel. Another cameo: Barack Obama won huge and positive coverage in the media for belting Abbott over global warming. The Government looked properly reprimanded, a punching bag, when it should have blasted back and won points for at least seeming tough.

The headkicker they had as Opposition Leader was good at it. As PM it is now not the done thing. All Obama did was to raise an issue of vital importance to the world. He was supported by the President of the world’s most populous nation. I think they made their point. Is Andrew suggesting our PM should have shirtfronted both of them.

– internal jealousies mean the Government’s most successful minister, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, has been given not a single new problem to solve since stopping the boats, while strugglers are pushed in front of the TV cameras week after week.

(a single new problem to solve) Is there a daily list? Morrison’s appeal is to those in the community who are sympathetic to the demonization of people and would probably favor no immigration at all. There is nothing to suggest he would be popular in another ministry. Maybe Tourism, or perhaps I’d better not go there.

– the Government’s second most successor minister, Julie Bishop, is in a portfolio which lets her shine but does not win the government any votes.
True. Remember she had another portfolio once and got the sack for incompetence.

– the minister most admired by the Left-wing media, Malcolm Turnbull, is in a portfolio in which there is little call for him to use his undoubted influence and charm to sell the Government to its media critics. Instead, as Communications Minister he is more likely to protect the media critics from the Government.
Malcolm might have made a decent Treasurer but he is unlikely to be given the job because it comes with too much influence and power. Consequently it would make Abbott vulnerable.

– the Government has not developed a moral message – an inspiring cause – other than the constitutional recognition of Aborigines, which will actually prove marginal and divisive, not least with its own base. That agenda will also be thankless: witness Mick Dodson’s mean-spirited attack on Abbott last week. Where is the evangelism?

There he goes on the aboriginal thing again. The rotating writer. Global warming, asylum seekers, Muslims and Labor in whatever order. Abbott was the most successful Opposition Leader this country has ever seen.(depending on your mode of measurement) He won office by lying and barking negativity like a mad dog for four years. During that time he never ventured into the formulation of good public policy. As a consequence he came to power with a zeal for undoing, not doing.

– the Government has been poor in developing the “Greek chorus” effect that collectivists like Labor do so well. Too often it seems friendless. Business is slow to support it, and too rarely are the Prime Minister and his ministers seen surrounded by happy supporters. Obvious example?: the Government couldn’t or wouldn’t find hundreds of scientists and medicos to even back its huge medical research fund.

The ‘’Greek Chorus’’ or collective voices saw the total unfairness of everything conservative. Why would you expect scientists to support a medical research program while he was denouncing science with a vengeance and ridiculing it in terms of the Climate? A determination by government to limit the amount of sugar, fat and salt in processed food would achieve a similar outcome as a research fund.

– the Government can’t or won’t even energize its base with some signature campaigns and successes. It gave up the free speech fight, gave up on workplace reform and dares not challenge the global warming hysteria (indeed, its lacks the people, conviction and strategy to even attempt it). Where are the inspiring reforms – ones that its supporters will gladly man the election booths to defend?

1. Why is it that the Murdoch Press is the main agitator for more free speech? They are the pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty .The most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongerers like Bolt seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded. 2. workplace reform is happening. Wages are in reverse. 3. You can believe the likes of Abbott and Bolt on Climate Change but I will stick with the evidence. 4. If Andrew can name a conservative reform in the name of the common good then do so.

– the Government too often radiates a lack of conviction. It often dares not dare name the cause in which it fights: it cuts (barely) the ABC without explaining that it’s too big and biased; it slashes at global warming programs without explaining why they are a useless fix to a non-problem, it resists Obama’s global warming evangelism without explaining he’s a fraud.

Perhaps the facts get in the road and are difficult to move.

– the Government has picked too many fights it cannot win, not just with the Senate but more especially with the public. It must ditch the undoable, argue only for what it can win and avoid the Senate bloc wherever possible. Bye-bye Medicare co-payment and parental leave scheme.

It was only Tuesday that Abbott told the Indian PM that he, Abbott, was a ‘’can do’’ person. And yes he should consign the co-payment and PPL to the rubbish bin. But there will be a residual price to pay for his ineptness.

– the Government seems out of synch with the times. Younger and fresher faces – women particularly – are needed in the lineup. Some of the Coalition’s most appealing talent is not in the Ministry.

Ah women. That’s always been the problem. Hasn’t it. The polls show that women and young people loath the man.

– the Liberals have never prospered without senior ministers in Victoria arguing the case, leading the charge, imposing themselves on the debate. Where are they?

That’s true. Victorians seem to have always been the more level-headed and of the ‘’small L’’ variety.

– a small point now, but why do Ministers go onto big set-piece interviews, especially with the ABC, without something new to reveal or announce? Why sit there passively while the interviewer asks the gotcha questions they’ve been working on for hours, hoping to have found the weakness?

What a silly question. The answer is obvious. There aren’t any.

Enough.

True, I have listed here the Government’s shortcomings but not its strengths and virtues. And if I were to list Labor’s failings, the list would be much longer.

But the Government cannot just motor on as Julia Gillard fatally tried, arguing that voters will eventually come around and see the gain for the pain, or see through the Opposition’s alleged failings. The polls today have a reality. Something is not working and must be fixed.

Labor lost the last election principally because of its leadership problems but the Gillard minority government never defeated on the floor of the house while at the same time passing some major reforms. Gillard could negotiate, Abbott cannot.

That fixing must start over the Christmas break. The planned minor reshuffle must be expanded. A new start must be signaled with new faces and an act of repentance. An aggressive, positive and confident media strategy must be adopted.
Get sharp. Get tough. Get assertive. Get confident. Offer inspiration. And fight.

One could argue that the damage has already been done. The electorate has labelled the Prime Minister a liar.

As I said at the start. Andrew Bolt raised a number of issues that are relevant to the LNP’s current predicament. He does not seem to apportion blame for anything to the party leader.

Abbott’s Consistency in the Coalition of Contradiction

Image by noplaceforsheep.com

Image by noplaceforsheep.com

Let’s start with Andrew Bolt:

More booing from the mob as Abbott leaves. There is a tendency among all collectives to not be satisfied with love. They also need to hate. Thus do trash boo at funerals.

Disgraceful

I suppose the fact that he decided to attack Whitlam within minutes of his passing was nothing like booing – it was his way of his showing love. You see, Bolt loves the current government because you only have to put two of their statements together and you get some wonderful contradictions.

For starters, let’s look at their attitude to red tape slowing things down and place that against the “rushed” insulation scheme which led to the death of workers. There should have been more oversight, which is, in some way that I don’t understand, different from red tape.

And the Medicare Co-payment, which is going to a medical research fund. Somewhere. The details are probably commercial in confidence. BUT WE NEED THIS CO-PAYMENT TO MAKE MEDICARE AFFORDABLE. Even though it’s not supposed to discourage people from going to the doctor. Neither is it going into general revenue. But we need it because of Labor’s mismanagement of the economy, even though it has nothing to do with the past but is – supposedly – about the future.

I could talk about their change in attitudes from Opposition to Government with such things as the unemployed, the car industry, SPC or even Government Debt. $283 billion in debt is a disaster, but let’s not mention what the debt level is expected to reach in the next few weeks…

Then, of course, the Carbon Tax was a GREAT BIG TAX ON EVERYTHING. Even though it was only the biggest companies that were paying it. “But they’ll pass it on, you idiot”. The Paid Parental Leave Scheme (remember that) won’t cost us a cent because it’ll be paid for by a levy on Big Business. “Why would they try and pass it on to consumers?” And it won’t cost them anything because – in spite of the Budget Emergency – we’re giving companies a tax break of 1.5% which is the same as the levy.

But I guess the greatest contradiction of them all is their Direct Action Policy because it’s a subsidy and they don’t believe in subsidies. Oh, unless it’s to things like coal. But wind, well, what if the wind isn’t blowing and one day, we’ll run out of sunshine because the Labor Party used too much of it when they were in government and we’re determined to ration the sunshine to the people who really deserve it. And, if those companies who take the money don’t meet their target, well, we don’t punish people for making mistakes. Or promising to do things which they don’t. Unless they’re Labor politicians.

Of course, I could point out to Andrew Bolt that it was a memorial service, not a funeral. Alternatively, I could promise him that I certainly wouldn’t be booing at his or Abbott’s funeral. But that would be tacky.

Instead, I’ll merely quote from the Bolt man himself:

Pearson then speaks in the biblical tones and cadences he’s now adopted for his oratory.

He savages Joh Bjelke-Peterson, and waves aside Whitlam’s chaotic mismanagement as simply the price to pay for inspiring reform. The crowd loves that.

He then says Whitlam had “not a bone of ethnic or gender prejudice in his body” and Pearson can “scarely point” to any leader since of whom that could be said. In front of him sit Bob Hawke, Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, who are all entitled to feel grossly insulted. Indeed, Abbott may well feel betrayed, having devoted so much time to working with and for Pearson and his Cape York initiative, and having adopted Aboriginal advancement as his most passionate social cause.

 

I guess booing can take many forms. There are plenty of other subtle attacks in Bolt’s little article.

Still, as everybody knows, bolts are worthless without nuts to support them.

P.S. While on the subject, whatever happened to Christopher Pyne?

 

A Week is a Long Time in Politics

If ever a week in politics supported a headline it was the week that Gough Whitlam died. In the main the death of this undeniably charismatic, but gifted man was met with sadness by both supporter and foe alike.

gough

The exceptions who didn’t were Bolt and Jones. Yes, the two who write and comment outrageously on the basis of payment for controversy didn’t but eventually they will pass on as Gough did.

They will be quickly forgotten but he will go down in the annals of Australian history as a decent, sanguine, passionate and sagacious Prime Minister who made an enormous contribution to Australian society.

Something they could never aspire to do.

Yes the week was filled with controversy that only a government devoid of any semblance of leadership could muster.

barnaby joyce

In Parliament the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce (the probable deputy PM if Abbott wins the next election) got the details of how many Australians have received drought assistance completely and utterly wrong.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon called him out but as you would guess, Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer. It wasn’t until early evening he skulked back into the chamber and quietly corrected his answer. It’s hard to explain what Barnaby said. If you can decipher it you deserve a medal.

“…you actually get the money until the department decides that you are not allowed to get the money, and at this point in time. So you keep on getting the money, you keep on getting the money, until such time as, on the application being assessed, they decide you are not eligible for it. But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved, you actually get the money straight away.”

Anyway, on Tuesday of this week he got a whiff of his own ineptitude and tried to change the official Hansard record.

com bank

Then the Government for a Royal Commission into anything Labor did refused to hold one into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as part of its response to a landmark Senate inquiry. This is one of the worst scandals in Australian corporate history. It has ruined the lives of thousands of people but the government’s approach seems to be to let financial planners proceed as if nothing has happened.

During all this the boss of the corporate regulator, ASIC said.

‘’Australia is too soft on corporate criminals and increased civil penalties including more jail terms are needed.’’

“Australia is a paradise for white-collar crime.” He said.

On Royal Commissions that are politically motivated John Howard had this to say.

“I’m uneasy about the idea of having royal commissions or inquiries into essentially a political decision…”
“I don’t think you should ever begin to go down the American path of using the law for narrow targeted political purposes.”

Abbott obviously believes in the total obliteration of one’s opposition and will even provide cabinet papers if he has too.

tell tony

In senate estimates we heard from treasury officials that the Prime Ministers Paid Parental Leave Scheme has ground to a halt. According to senior insiders, it is in serious trouble and loathed by virtually every minister in cabinet.

Our Prime Minister once again showing that he is incapable of governance for the common good.

turnbull

In the midst of all this we had talk of Malcolm Turnbull replacing Hockey as treasurer.
“It’d be a game changer,” one minister summarised. No one disagreed with the soundness of the idea. True, he would bring competence and authority to the Treasury portfolio. He has the ability to articulate a message clearly and forcefully.

But the mere suggestion that this might happen is a reflection of the total incompetency of this Abbott led bunch of out of touch morons.

freya newman

We were greeted with another headline that the whistle-blower Freya Newman had had her sentence deferred until November. Did she break the law? She did, but in so doing revealed yet another instance of the Prime Minister’s use of his office for personal gain further defining his personal lack of integrity. As if it could degenerate any further.

The curriculum taught in our schools never seems to go away when conservatives are in power.

barry spurr

For its review the coalition appointed its usual array of religious zealots and those of indigenous indifference, all sympathetic to the government’s point of view. But this time one of the appointees, Professor Barry Spurr, further advanced his expertise in all things conservative with some emails that could only be describes as indecent. He said they were part of a ‘linguistic game’. Ah the games people play.

Perhaps the PM might consider some people of independent mind for future inquiries instead of the usual hacks.

But there’s more. It was a long week.

indexscott morrison

It seemed that Scott Morrison wanted to be the minister for everything. When interviewed on AM he denied that other ministers were resentful of him trying to take over part of their portfolios. But members of the press gallery confirmed it.

When asked in question time how his portfolio crossed over with Foreign Affairs, Defense, Agriculture, Health, Defense, Attorney-Generals and Prime Minister and Cabinet it wasn’t only the Labor side of the chamber laughing at him.

But Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer.

And to add to the weeks worries the Government still cannot get its budget passed. To quote Lenore Taylor in the Guardian.

budget

The Abbott government’s “Operation Budget Repair” appears to have morphed into “Operation Let’s Salvage What The Hell We Can”.

Kevin Andrews said he would consider “any reasonable offer” from crossbench senators in a last-ditch bid to get at least some of his $10bn in stalled welfare changes through the Senate. On top of that there is the fuel excise, that Medicare co-payment and the dramatic changes to higher education. What a bloody nightmare. It’s a pity Abbott doesn’t have the negotiating skills of Gillard.

He and Joe have never been able to admit why the electorate so comprehensively rejected the budget? We all know that the savings fell heaviest on those least able to pay. Now they are saying they will reveal more in the mid-year budget update. This can only mean more unpopular cuts. Or a mini budget.

essential

The Essential Poll during the week found 72% felt the cost of living had become worse in the past 12 months and 48% believe that over the past two years their income has fallen behind their cost of living. That figure rises to 57% for those earning less than $1,000 a week.

It was the worst received budget in many decades. Spending cuts have to be fair, and be seen to be fair, but people also need to understand the overall plan, the purpose, dare we call it the program.

Later in the week when talking about Federal and state responsibilities Abbott said.

“It is in this great country of ours possible to have a better form of government”

I would have thought a good place to start would be to stop telling lies.

ret

Having appointed a group of climate deniers to report on the Renewable Energy Target and Tony Abbott wanting it removed altogether the government, in the face of public opinion, now finds itself in a dilemma. It wants to compromise on the 20% target saying electricity usage has already declined. Shorten should not fall for that nonsense. Add in their ridiculous Direct Action policy and you can see we have, in spite of their various university degrees, a bunch of dunderheads governing us. Perhaps I should have said dickheads.

To be honest I could go on for another couple of thousand words but I’m exhausted. I haven’t mentioned Bishops aspirations for leadership, the credit card negotiations with the banks on welfare payments and fact that his sisters have joined the chorus of condemnation for a privately owned aged-care facility on public parklands at Middle Head.

Then there’s the criticism of the proposed Medibank float that has been described as laughable. Oh, then of course reports that Chrissy Pyne was backing down on his university policy. He said he wasn’t but then I’m not that sure he would know himself.
Goodness I have left out the most serious issue of Ebola. The government’s response has been abysmal to say the least. Just another example of their ineffectiveness. The AMA was right to give Abbott a serve.

In an effort to sound amusing and to allay the fears of those who think I am being overly negative I will close with this.

indexCarbon tax celebration

“I promise this is true”, said Tony Burke: “Greg Hunt, is the man who some people refer to as the Environment Minister.

In Opposition he advocated for the protection of the Tasmania Tiger, extinct since 1936. In Government he’s turned his attention to the Antarctic Walrus – population: zero. Walruses live in the Northern Hemisphere”.

Oh wait, bugger I almost forgot. Were you also aware that Catherine King exposed how it would soon cost up to $2,207 for someone to have their liver metastasis diagnosed? Tony Abbott refused to say how many people will miss out on being diagnosed as a result of the hit to imaging and diagnostic services.

But the week did began with the Speaker announcing she would not continue with the policy of segregation which had been announced as Parliament rose a fortnight earlier.

Hopefully we can now go back to segregation being something kids learn about in the courtroom scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird not during their excursion to Canberra.

The final word for “A week is a Long Time in Politics” must go to Newspoll which had the Opposition six points up on the Government without so much as them striking a blow.

Be Alert, Be VERY, VERY Alert! The Person Next You May Have An iPhone.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

“A Man For All Seasons” Robert Bolt

 

*                    *                    *

Robert Bolt. Mm, I suspect no relation to Andrew, who does a neat little backflip, with a half-pike just so we don’t notice. When commenting on the recent Q&A, he wrote this:

And that goes to the wider issue: how and why did the ABC get together such a collection of Muslim firebrands savaging Australia? How grossly irresponsible to give viewers the impression that every Muslim in our country was like every Muslim on Q&A – militant, damning of Australia and full of excuses for extremists.  How dangerous to give any extremists the idea that their rage against this wicked country was justified.

 

But it was his neat bit of “framing” his audience to see a conspiracy that most impressed me:

Naturally, host Tony Jones has stacked the panel: two Muslim activists (who do most of the talking), plus one MP each from Labor, the Liberals and Greens.

Stacked the panel. Mm, is he suggesting that they were all lefties apart from the one Liberal? Or is he suggesting that because you have two Muslims to three “Aussies”? (yes, I know there’s no need to comment) Or is it the fact that it’s three men to two women? (Four, if you count Jones). Exactly how was the panel stacked? Because there was nobody from the IPA? Or the Australian Defence League? No Christians?

As for the Muslim activists this is from the bio for one:

Anne-Azza Aly

Dr Anne Aly is a research fellow at Curtin University, Perth, with a focus on radicalisation, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism.

Anne leads the Countering Online Violent Extremism Research (COVER) Program at the university’s Centre for Culture and Technology. Her research focuses on the use of social media by violent extremists and strategies to interrupt online activities, including understanding of the audience and the role of victims and formers in counter narratives to extremism. She has written over 50 publications on topics ranging from Islamic identity to counter narratives and the policy response to violent extremism. Anne is the author of four books including Terrorism and Global Security: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives– Australia’s first text book on terrorism and security.

 

The other

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattah was born in Sydney in 1979. She is a Muslim of Palestinian and Egyptian heritage. She grew up in Melbourne and attended a Catholic primary school and Islamic secondary college where she obtained an International Baccalaureate…

During university and her role at the ICV, Randa was a passionate human rights advocate and stood in the 1996 federal election as a member of the Unity Party – Say No To Hanson. Randa has also been deeply interested in inter-faith dialogue and has been a member of various inter-faith networks. She also volunteered with different human rights and migrant resource organisations including the Australian Arabic Council, the Victorian Migrant Resource Centre, the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council, the Palestine human rights campaign and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

 

Say No To Hanson? We can do without activists like that, thank you very much. Send her back where she came from… Sydney, wherever that is!

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Last night a man was shot by police. A policeman is in hospital with serious wounds. These events are tragic and I’m not making light of them. The man is alleged to have made threats against the Prime Minister (who is currently out of the country). Whether these threats involved a knife or a chaff bag is unclear at this stage.

My “chaff bag” comment is not meant to be flippant. It just strikes me as inconsistent that we can dismiss a threat to one prime minister as just being “a figure of speech”, but another will be used by many people as justification for a range of measures. And yes, it’s true that this has resulted in a violent altercation.

Of course, I have sufficient respect for the law not to speculate too much about something that is still being investigated. It’s just the inconsistency that troubles me.

But then there’s a lot of inconsistencies that trouble me. A few days ago, the terrorist threat was raised to high, but we were told that there was no particular threat.

Then we had the raids. Which we were told had been part of an investigation which had been going on for months. And that an attack would have been carried out within days. No imminent threat?

We’re told that the PM and Parliament are a potential target for threats. (Hasn’t this always been the case? If you say no, look up the meaning of “potential” or ask yourself why John Howard wore the bullet proof vest when speaking to good, old responsible Aussie gun owners.)

Tony Abbott tells us a few days later that all that’s needed for an attack is “a knife, an iPhone and a victim”, but he adds:

“Terrorists want to scare us out of being ourselves and our best response is to insouciantly be fully Australian, to defy the terrorists by going about our normal business,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Abbott went on to tell us that orders to carry out demonstration executions had been sent to the the “small networks” of followers in Australia and other countries.

So, let’s make sure that those “small networks” didn’t miss the orders by broadcasting them on the nightly news. Let’s tell everyone that how easy it is to become a terrorist – all you need is “a knife, an iPhone and a victim” (an iPhone? Did he get paid for product placement? Can’t you be a terrorist with a Samsung?)

Then say that you need to be “fully Australian” (this is code for trust me, I really have renounced my British citizenship) and just say “She’ll be right, mate” and go off to work.

When I added music to a slide show which I posted on the internet a couple of years ago, it was down within minutes. Yet video posted by ISIL stays there and nobody takes it down. Some sort of perverse respect for freedom of speech?

And it concerns me that the Murdoch media can completely ignore hundreds of thousands (world-wide) marching on climate change, but find it worth writing stories about less than a hundred protesting the building of a mosque.

Andrew Bolt one man out in critiquing Abbott’s first year

As is usual when a Government celebrates the first birthday of its first term a media frenzy of judgement scrambles to make comment its performance. I have done so myself.

What follows here is a random selection of comments from both mainstream media, web sites, journals and blogs. I advise the reading the full text of any article that interests you least you accuse me of selective bias. Having said that I think the reader will find a common thread in all the pieces but you be the judge. What I did find astonishing, but perhaps not surprising was that syndicated Murdoch commentator and writer Andrew Bolt couldn’t find a word of criticism about Abbott and the governments first year in office.

Peter Hartcher writing for The Sydney Morning Herald; “Abbott unmasked: ideological warrior marches to the right”:

“Abbott and Hockey intend not just to end the ‘age of entitlement’ but to intensify market forces in Australian life and to shrink the government. The Prime Minister intends to move Australia decisively to the right”.

“The government promotes this project as pro-growth; it also carries the unspoken social cost of being pro-inequality”.

“But in two essentials Abbott is still Abbott. First, he remains unpopular. Indeed, he is Australia’s uniquely unpopular prime minister of the past 40 years”.

Michael Gordon of The Melbourne Age; “Happy birthday, Prime Minister?”:

“So what happened? How did the Abbott government end up having the worst start of any new government in 40 years? And what prospect is there of the tentative recovery of recent weeks transforming its fortunes?”

Peter Van Onselen from The Australian; “Tony Abbott must be careful not to become another Malcolm Fraser (it has a paywall so I couldn’t read the full text):

“HISTORY has a way of repeating itself, but there are always departures from the script. There have been tangible similarities between the prosperity and longevity of the Howard years as a precursor to the dysfunction of the Rudd and Gillard governments, and the Menzies years, which predated the Whitlam -government. Gough Whitlam was soon replaced by a Fraser administration that underwhelmed many. Will Abbott’s government depart from the historical comparison or will it also underwhelm?”

Lenore Taylor for The Guardian;Tony Abbott one year on: how the trust was won and lost”:

“But we do have even more evidence that voters react viciously when they feel they have been deceived. The question now is whether it is possible for a leader, and a party, to recover after breaching the trust of the electorate, whether voters, faced with an underwhelming opposition, can be persuaded to take untrustworthiness as a given”.

Jessica Sier and Vanessa Desloires writing for The Financial Review; “Abbott government breaks more promises than it keeps”:

“The Abbott government has broken more key promises than it has kept during the Coalition’s first year of power, an analysis by The Australian Financial Review has found”.

“The government has delivered on 13 promises and is making progress on 11 others – but has broken its word on 14 pre-election pledges”.

“Nielsen pollster John Stirton has pointed out that the Coalition enjoyed no honeymoon after the election and got off to the worst start, in polling terms, of any government in the last 40 years”.

“Voters were not happy with the May budget either, rating it the least popular budget in two decades”.

The Conversation:

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker and Professorial Fellow Michelle Grattan discuss the week in politics and the year in review for Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Has he shown his true colors or is there more to the ‘real’ Tony?

Niki Savva for The Australian; “Tony Abbott’s early report card doesn’t quite match John Howard’s”:

“TONY Abbott was not responsible for the timing or the nature of the latest security threats, but his actions have shown he is both up for it and has risen to the challenge. A conservative government has to reign supreme on national security, so it is just as well the Prime Minister has demonstrated the strength and aptitude to deal first with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, then the threats posed by the Islamic State. He must continue to explain fully what Australia is doing and why, and to tread carefully”.

And this from Buzz feed; “The 30 Most Important Moments Of Tony Abbott’s First Year As Prime Minister”.

abbott bolt

Tony Abbott has arrived as a true leader, says Andrew Bolt (image from news.com.au)

Andrew Bolt writing for Melbourne’s Herald Sun; “Tony Abbott has arrived as a true leader”:

“In fact, a brake is just what Abbott promised a year ago next Sunday in claiming victory: I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments”.

Writing for the Union blog Working Life, Angelo Gavrielatos, Federal President, Australian Education Union had this to say:

“The Abbott Government has chosen to spend its first year entrenching inequality in schools by abandoning needs-based Gonski funding agreements with the states”.

“Schools will miss out on two-thirds of the extra funding that would have been provided under Gonski and all schools will get a cut in real terms from 2018”.

“That means fewer teachers, less support for students and bigger gaps between rich and poor schools”.

“The Abbott Government also broke its election promise to introduce extra funding for students with disabilities in 2015, and will effectively cut $100 million from disability education next year”.

 

Stephanie Anderson from the SBS on line site says:

‘”It’s been a year of both triumph and trouble for the Abbott Government”.

Dennis Atkins in The Courier-Mail; “One year in office: Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s mixed fortunes”:

“What Abbott didn’t do was reinvent himself as PM, use the office and its bully pulpit to reintroduce himself and colour in the other side of his character, the governing Abbott who had a vision for where he wanted the country to go and an explanation for how he would take it there”.

 

Mark Kenny of The Sydney Morning Herald;Tony Abbott has two weeks to fix 12 months”:

“Over the next two weeks, leading to his September 7 anniversary, he must find the right tone for communicating his government’s economic plan – and build the parliamentary case needed to make it happen”.

Webb site Green Life:

“In its first year in office, the Abbott Government has failed its responsibility as steward of our natural environment,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy”.

“It has taken Australia in the wrong direction, damaging nature and our fragile climate”.

“It has thrown out our most effective measures for cutting pollution, letting mining and energy companies pollute for free, causing climate change and ill health”.

“It has weakened our environmental laws – nature’s vital safeguards – to pave the way for big business profits”.

The ABC’s Barrie Cassidy said this; “Report card: strong ambassador, dud budget”:

“That record ensures that while for a time the polls demonstrated the new Government was one of the most unpopular in modern times, it has bounced back and remains in touch”.

“The downside is obvious. The Government botched the budget and the way back won’t be easy”.

“Despite delusional claims to the contrary, the problem was not the salesman; well, not entirely. The major problem is the product. The country has made up its collective mind. It’s unfair. DiCaprio couldn’t sell it”.

News.com.au: Tony Abbott’s first year as Prime Minister: Report card on Canberra’s politicians”:

“On its first birthday the Abbott Government will be pondering its most painful lesson: Voters grateful for removal of the Labor turmoil don’t stay grateful forever”.

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott — and in particular his Treasurer Joe Hockey — have been chastened by this crash course in the difference between Opposition and Government”.

“The Coalition changed roles without changing behaviour”.

“The new Government ditched promises — such as a pledge for wide consultation on matters, and introduced new measures — such as the revival of knighthoods, with the arrogance of a big election winner”.

Macro Business reports; “A stocktake of Abbott’s first year”:

“Tony Abbott promised a government of no surprises but has delivered a year chock-full of them”.

“A prime minister expected to lean to caution has thrown it to the winds. A leader without a cushion of popularity has taken big political risks. A man who campaigned on trust has squandered much of that precious political commodity”.

“Tribal, ideological, arrogant and over-centralised – these have been Abbott government faults in its first 12 months. It has often presented an unattractive canvas, desperately needing more subtle hues”.

YOU BE THE JUDGE. That’s about the best cross section of commentary I could find.

 

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