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Tag Archives: Andrew Bolt

The New SRC with the Groan-ups in Charge!

Ha, ha, We won and now we’re the new Student Representative Council.

Yes, congratulations.

You know why we won? Because we’re awesome and we’re more mature than you. You’re just babies and you were taking orders from a girl.

Yes, well, it’d be more convincing if Christopher wasn’t sticking out his tongue then hiding behind your back. Besides there’s nothing wrong with taking orders from a girl.

We won because we had someone stronger to be captain and because we’re awesome and you shouldn’t even be allowed to be in the school because you don’t know as much we do.

Shouldn’t we get on with the meeting? What’s the first item of business?

The first item is telling everyone that you lost because you’re not as awesome as we are. And then we’re going to ask our friends to go round the school and tell everyone what a shit job did.

Ok, but you know the things you promised – you know, the free lollies from the canteen, getting rid of the rules about calling people names, and not interfering with the school radio.

The school radio sucks because they said nasty things about us.

Yes, they said nasty things about us too. 

Our friend, Rupert, wants everyone to listen to him at lunchtime because he’s got a real radio show.

But Rupert isn’t even a student here anymore. And there’s nothing to stop people listening to him if they want to. 

Yeah, but some people listen to the school radio and the nasty things they said like when they said that we were lying.

But you were lying.

We never lie. We’re just awesome. You’re the liars.

All right, let’s just get on with the meeting… 

We’re going to tell everyone that we can’t give free lollies because you gave away too many when you were in charge.

So you’re going back on your promise to give extra lollies to girls who bring in a younger sibling?

No, that was an important promise. Not like the free lollies one or the not getting rid of the school radio.

I see. 

No you’d don’t. You don’t see anything. You’re just stupid. And I can call you that because we’re going to get rid of the ridiculous rules against name-calling so our friend Andrew doesn’t get into trouble for lying about the aboriginal children.

Yeah, but you haven’t got rid of them yet, so I don’t think Christopher can say what he just said.

He said “grub” and you can’t prove he didn’t.

What are you going to do first?

We’re gong to do everything first! We’re going to charge students $7 every time they go to class, and we’re going to take that money and build something really good with it.

What?

Don’t you worry about that. And we’re going to stop new students if they come by bicycle. And we’re stop the system where we recycle the paper and cans so everything can go in the one bin. And we’re going to introduce a better system than putting people on yard duty if they drop rubbish…. We’re going to give the kids who used to drop rubbish lots of lollies not to do it anymore…And we’re going to tell our friends, Gina and Andrew that they don’t even have use the bins – they can just drop their rubbish anywhere. Coz’ we won and you lost and we’re in charge.

Yes, but we have to have a meeting and vote on all these things.

No, we can just do them. Joe said. He’ll find a way of just doing them, because some of you think that you can vote against them. Well, you can’t because we’re the adults and we get to make ALL the rules now.

No, you don’t. The teachers still have the right of veto.

The teachers? They should respect our authority and just let us do what we want.

But didn’t you keep running to the teachers every time you didn’t like a decision?

Shut up! Shut up, or I’ll get Bronwyn to give you a detention.

I don’t care. Anything would be better than being here.

Have you ever had a Chinese burn? They hurt. And Tony gives really good ones, because he’s a grown-up.

Put Andrew Bolt in the headline and everyone will read it

image

On Facebook every day I post “My Thought for the Day” and every now and then I put the question: “What word best describes you?” My personal word is ‘observation’ because it covers a multitude of experiences. With very limited formal education, observation became an integral part of my private classroom. From an early age I became a keen observer. Nothing escaped my scrutiny or sensory surveillance’s. I watched people, nature and life in general. I examined and considered.

So it was last weekend when I was watching one of my grandsons playing basketball. One of the boys in the team is from Somalia. A number of families with African heritage have moved to our area. I observed the mateship of their winning endeavours and the generous enthusiasm of their play between matches. The fun, friendship and frivolity of their connectedness was a delight to watch. The dark lad is of enormous talent with a generous smile, a face as black as night and gregarious nature.

I have also observed the total unabashed acceptance by children of different races at school, and at the local swimming pool where mature judgement is made by children unhindered by the prejudicial ignorance of adults.

My thoughts drifted to my own youth and I wondered just what it is that causes people to be racist. I recalled as a small boy being told what side of the street to walk to school because Jews lived on the other side. I lived through the post war era of immigration when Australians belittled and sneered at Italians and Greeks. Then later with bi partisan agreement we accepted the Vietnamese who came by boat. But not before debasing them with the worst part of our own uniquely Australian prejudice.

Memories came back to me of a pub I used to drink at on my way home from work. The beer garden attracted a cohort of Aussie builders who sub contracted concreting work to a group of Italians. I would observe how the Aussie fellows would run them down with the foulest of language and then drink with them, without a hint of condemnation when they arrived.

There was a time when a relation who was traveling by caravan around Australia rang me from some remote area highly populated by indigenous people. After the usual greeting the following words were advanced.

“I’m not a racist but . . . “. When you hear someone say those words they generally are. What followed was a tirade of critical commentary about every aspect of Aboriginal culture and living standards. I have no doubt that much of what she was saying was true however, there was no situation that wasn’t replicated in white city society. Her comments were therefore racist. The singling out of any group for reason of drawing attention to color is abhorrent to me.

More recently I have experienced racism where I live. I have two neighbors (one now deceased) who when talking about indigenous folk have described aboriginals as taking up to much space.

At a junior football final a couple of years ago a teenage boy was standing behind me verbalising a young aboriginal player of immense talent. I allowed the insults to insinuate themselves into the minds around me. The aboriginal boy had heard the remarks and was a bit distressed about it. I turned and said to the boy of uncouth mouth:

“So yours is what a racists face looks like”.

The teenager slunk away probably not used to having his racism confronted. In the unnatural silence that had invaded the group where I was standing I received a couple of congratulatory slaps on the shoulder.

You see, I hate all forms of racism in a way that even someone like me, with a love of the moulding of words as disciples for good, cannot do. It was a little brave of me to do what I did because I am getting on in years but we must confront it.

In watching the antics of children of different races in their play we can bear witness to the sin of the abusers of decency. By the influence of those who cannot concede that we were all black once. And those who believe that superiority is determined by a chemical compound.

Children celebrate difference and prove to us that racism is not a part of the human condition. It is taught, or acquired. You have to learn it and those who tutor it and preach it are to be pitied for their ignorance and imbecility. No one is born a racist but we are born into racist societies.

What is racism?

It is best described in two parts. Firstly it is the belief that one race is superior to another. That it accounts for differences in human character and ability. Secondly racism is, discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Scott Woods puts it another way:

The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.

Racism is preserved in many and various ways. Even Christian art propagates the myth of Jesus being white when in fact he would have been dark skinned and of Middle Eastern appearance. But art depicts him as white with European features and more often than not as effeminate.
Christians also cannot bring themselves to the point of accepting that dark skinned people were responsible for the introduction of religion into society. No white person has ever introduced a major religion. Some Christians even quote Bible verse to justify white superiority.

Even the law disproportionally targets colored (I hate that term) people resulting in levels of incarceration much higher than other groups.

The worst perpetrators of racism are those who do it through the guise of free speech. People like Andrew Bolt. A journalist of mediocre talent who writes in a grammatical style attractive to the intellect of 13 year olds, unable to challenge the mind (or his argument) with a word, or sentence.

Recently he wanted the law changed so that he would be freer through his column to abuse and defame. When the legislation was turfed because of its unpopularity Tony Abbott felt obliged to phone this journalist of such little virtue and apologise.

People who support Bolt and his racism need to ask just why it is that he is fixated on the subject of race (and Muslims and climate change) and the answer is simple. Murdoch has built his news empire on smut and controversy. The formula has made him extremely wealthy. And there is no doubt that Bolt is paid extraordinary amounts of money to proliferate the pages of the Herald Sun with this sort of gutter journalism.

Let us not forget what Justice Bromberg, said about Bolt’s use of language. He said:

“His style and structure is highly suggestive and designed to excite. His style was ”not careful, precise or exact” and the language not moderate or temperate but often strong and emphatic”. There is a liberal use of sarcasm and mockery,” he wrote. Language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised. It is language, which invites the reader to not only read the lines, but to also read between the lines.”

We should also remember that during the London riots, of the not too distant past Bolt in one of his pieces used the word ‘aped’ to describe the copycat behaviour of some people. The use of the word was legitimate in that sense until you appreciate that he was talking about black West Indians, and then the word became racist. Bolt keeps coming back to skin, or the color of it as if it were a sexual fetish that gives him endless gratification.

And it must be said that Andrew is presumed a racist and has been found to on many occasions lie in his writing, particularly on the environment. In addition he has been known to defame a female magistrate.

He wants the law changed so that in the future under the guise of free speech he will be able to vilify at his heart’s content.

Take two recent examples from his TV program, ‘The Bolt Report’.

Bolt is an opponent of an attempt, which has bi partisan support, to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution, contending that to single out any particular group is racist because it divides Australians? Former Labor minister Craig Emerson thus declared him aracist by his own criteria.

“Then you are a racist,” Emerson said, “because of the comments you made in relation to Indigenous people. By your own criterion, and that’s what you did. You identified a group of people and went for them.”

He was correct. Emerson’s remark relates to the legal case in which Bolt was found to have breached racial discrimination laws in articles that implied light-skinned Indigenous people identified themselves as Aboriginal for personal gain. He was guilty by his own admission.

Another more recent example is when he quiet bizarrely declared that ‘’aboriginals weren’t here first’’. As I said earlier he has this thing about race that sends him into some kind of mental climax that needs constant stimulation. If you want to figure out the argument he was putting go here and then explain it to me. I cannot.

I will end where I started with my observation of that gregarious dark skinned boy playing joyfully in fellowship with his light skinned mates, and the fact each was different in color, one to the other didn’t enter the unblemished purity of their companionship. And I silently prayed that it never would.

Wonder When the Seed Is Planted

I look upon the child’s face and see
Innocence – unblemished purity
Translated in looks virtuous
How sweet how incorruptible

Then it happens with measured subtly
The distortion of youthful thought
Insinuated into free
And immature minds

I wonder when the seed is planted
When evil first takes hold
And intolerance evolves
To become scum on the pond of life

Who grants permission to damage the child?
Of its pristine purity
The wonderment of adventure
And unfiltered creativity

Is it the sin of the father?
That makes a child loathe
That makes them xenophobic
Racist just like him

When does it take root this hatred?
That enters the child’s mind
To be carried with them always
Fermenting as they grow

Are parents so imbued?
With experiences of the past
That forgiveness is impossible
Bad memories seem to last

So they pass it onto their children
And intolerance lingers on
Licking on the finger of hate
It seems to have no end

I can only ask that compassion
Might replace their putrid sin
And the cry that is inside each heart
Will – let understanding in.
(John Lord).

Ah, Hissy Chrissy and Andrew Bolt – the gifts that keep on giving…

So Christopher Pyne says that uni students should get some perspective because they’re only being asked to contribute fifty percent of the cost of their education. I suspect that he’d be widely laughed at for this, were it not for the fact that the Rufus Youngblood for the Liberal Party – Andrew Bolt – throws himself in the path of any bullets by suggesting the aborigines weren’t here first.

Apparently – according to Bolt – history doesn’t matter. He got here fifty four years ago – that’s when he was born here, so any aboriginal person born after that wasn’t “here first”. (Mm, strange he still has an accent.) To quote Bolt directly:

‘But to say Aborigines today were here “first” is to treat each other as representatives of a “race” rather than an individual. No one of any “race” – Aboriginal or other – who is younger than 54 was here before me. They have no greater right to this country. It is racist to say a group of Australians living today were here “first” on the basis of who some of their ancestors were.’

 

Now, that seems to me that he’s implying all those older than 54 have a greater right to this country than he does, but perhaps, I’m not reading him correctly. And it does seem to contradict his constant assertion that new migrants should adapt to our values because that’s what was here when they arrived.

“You need to adopt the values that I tell you to.”

“Why?”

“We were here first!”

“When did you get here?”

“Fifty four years ago.”

“But my great grandfather was here before that.”

“That doesn’t count. That’s being racist! You can’t argue that a group of people has a greater right to this country than another group. We are all part of Team Australia. Apart from the Muslims, the Labor Party, the Greens, the ABC, protesters, Clive Palmer, and anyone who arrived in the past 54 years. In fact, only Rupert, Tony and I are Team Australia. And lately, I have had some doubts about Tony…”

But enough about Mr Bolt and his strange ideas. After all, it’s a free country and he has a right…

What? Or sorry, I forgot that nothing’s free. Which brings me back to the Honourable Mr Pyne…

As he said, students need to get some perspective, they’re only being asked to contribute 50% of the cost of their education. I mean, it’s not like the carbon tax where everyone had to give a kidney plus their their left testicle. This, of course, was like HECS repayments, lucky for women, where – according to Mr Pyne, it really wasn’t unfair because women generally do nursing and teaching so their courses don’t cost as much. (I’m surprised he didn’t suggest that most of them become stay at home mothers and never have to repay their HECS debt.)

So university students – who are being asked to pay thousands extra – need to get some perspective. Sort of like the way that the Liberals just encouraged people to accept the $500 (Abbott’s figure) that the carbon tax would cost.

Let’s have a look at a demonstration of perspective from various people when Labor introduced this GREAT BIG TAX on EVERYTHING!

Whyalla will be wiped off the map by Julia Gillard’s carbon tax, Whyalla risks becoming a ghost town, an economic wasteland if this carbon tax goes ahead”

Tony Abbott.

 

“So it was the carbon tax, the carbon tax and the carbon tax. And so these are the issues – because the ladies like yourself in the western suburbs of Brisbane who want the right to have that $20 left in their wallet and not stolen off them because of some insane idea that somebody can change the temperature of the globe voiced that opinion”
Barnaby Joyce

 

“Consumers would not be happy when they’re paying over $100 for a roast”
Barnaby Joyce

“If this carbon tax goes through then it’s bye bye Australia, it’s been nice to know you.

“You will become just another third world banana monarchy without even any bananas with the prices they’ve been charging for those at your supermarkets recently.”

“Lord” Monckton

 

Ah, perspective is a wonderful thing.

Some Sacrifices Are Good, While Others Just Primitive!

“Asked about his threat on Wednesday to look for other savings measures that by-passed the senate, Mr Hockey said the government was working hard to get what it laid on the table through the parliament.

He agreed some of his budget measures meant Australians would have to make sacrifices.”

 

news.com.au 17th July, 2014

 

“Maurice Newman, who has been vocal in his climate change scepticism, has attacked governments, including the former Labor government, for pursuing “green gesture politics” by introducing carbon price signals in an opinion piece for the Murdoch-owned News Corp publication The Australian.

He likened the measures to “primitive civilisations offering up sacrifices to appease the gods”.”

Sydney Morning Herald, August 14th 2014

My rich friend picked me up today. We were going for lattes in spite of his obvious wealth. I mean it goes without saying that he’s very well off. He was driving a car and he was talking me over a kilometre to the coffee shop. When you factor in the return journey, that was well over a mile in the old scale  – just in case Abbott has returned us to imperial measurements by the time you’re reading this.

Of course, I asked him to pay for the coffee – anyone who can drive that far must clearly be able to spring for a cup of coffee for a poor writer like myself, but he seemed to have heard that the age of entitlement was over and suggested that as he’d already driven there then perhaps I should be the one paying for the coffees as people like him – the ones that own cars – had already contributed enough to the likes of me.

I had to admit that he had a point, so while I ordered the coffees he picked up the newspaper.

“Jihad Bludgers” screamed the headline.

“Mm,” I speculated, “surely The Herald-Sun isn’t suggesting that the jihadists aren’t working hard enough to make it happen.”

“No,” he explained, “apparently when they go overseas, the Government’s been cutting them off the welfare payments.”

“That seems a bit unfair. Why isn’t everyone on the dole stripped of their entitlements whenever they go on one of their overseas jaunts?”

“I think they would be, but I don’t actually think that people on the dole travel overseas all that often.”

“Right – so they’re not treating these people any differently. I guess they need to be careful how they report this, given the government’s broken promise on 18C, which we shouldn’t really consider a broken promise because he really meant it at the time and it’s only because of those bludging jihadists that he’s had to change his mind.”

“Yes, Andrew Bolt’s been writing about stopping Islamic migration for week’s now and because we haven’t removed 18C he can only vilify them on the grounds of religion, not which country they come from.”

“He hasn’t just been writing about that. Last week he was concerned about all the people writing anti-Semitic things about Israel.”

“Doesn’t he support the right to free speech?”

“No, it’s ok to be a bigot. But only if you’re bigoted against people he doesn’t like.”

“At least he’s consistent then.”

“Yeah, I can respect someone who has a different view, as long as they’re consistent.”

“Like Maurice Newman.”

“What’s he consistent on?”

“The only thing that matters is making money. That – and climate change being a myth.”

“No, I think you’ll find that’s not what he believes.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, he has an opinion piece in today’s Australian saying that we weren’t prepared for global cooling which is what one person is predicting, so I guess that means if the planet’s cooling then he must believe in climate change. Then he compared climate change measures to primitive societies making sacrifices to appease the gods.”

“Oh, I thought the Business Council wanted Australians to make sacrifices to get the Budget back in order.”

“Yes, but that’s completely different.”

“How?”

“In the same way that the ABC is biased and how when they have people from the IPA on, they never give them a chance to speak on climate change.”

“You think the ABC is biased? Don’t they have to ensure balance?”

“They’re meant to. But I was talking to a man the other day who said that he tried to get on after a scientist had described Mars as a lifeless planet. This guy – Bruce, I think his name was – said he was writing a book about how Mars is populated by tiny bugs and this is why the Martians had to move to earth and infiltrate our political ranks. And when he asked the ABC to stick to their charter of balance, they told him to come back when the book was published. Which, of course, will never happen.”

“Because the Martians will stop its publication?”

“No, of course not. It won’t get published because the man’s a raving lunatic who refuses to send it to publishers for fear that they’ll change the words.”

“So why do you think the ABC should have given him time?”

“For balance. I mean, people who are raving lunatics have a right to be heard too.”

“But don’t they get heard in the letters section of The Herald-Sun?”

“I just think if it’s good enough for the ABC to interview Eric Abetz, then why should they draw the line at a man who thinks we’re being invaded by Martians?”

“Surely, they have to draw the line somewhere. Why on earth would you interview a man who had no qualifications on the subject, no evidence and no idea what he was talking about just to achieve balance?”

“Now just a sec, it wasn’t the ABC who did the George Brandis interview on metadata…”

Our lattes arrived. At this point we always stop talking, because I have it on good authority that all latte saucers are bugged so that the government can listen to the likes of me as we plot its downfall.

But trying getting that on the ABC!

 

 

Giving Abbott a Serve

Since bringing down the budget a consensus has developed that even includes right wing journalists, with all agreeing that Tony Abbott has been an abject disaster as Prime Minister.

In little under a month the “adults” will have been in charge for a year. Abbott is a visionless leader lacking a narrative for our country; a leader unable to shake off a dour, negative, pessimistic personality, and someone who has never been held in high regard.

After four years of daily abuse, distortion and outright dishonesty, he forgot that once elected you are expected to come up with ideas and actually have policies that take the nation forward.

Paul Kelly of The Australian newspaper said this:

“Abbott is governing yet he is not persuading. So far. As Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success as Opposition leader: mobilising opinion behind his causes. The forces arrayed against Abbott, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the prime minister can muster.”

In this statement Kelly assumes that Abbott was a success as Opposition Leader. If one assumes that gaining office by deliberately lying to your fellow Australians and later denying it equates to successful persuasion, then he is correct.

Take this recent comment by Lenore Taylor:

“In the final sitting weeks of the winter session, Tony Abbott held an unusual meeting of his full ministry during which he was asked by a junior minister how the government was intending to deal with the widespread view that it had broken election promises. The prime minister’s response was forceful and absolute. The government had not broken a single promise, he insisted. There was nothing to deal with, no case to answer.”

 

Australia has never elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science, nor so oblivious to the needs of women. He is a man blind to inequality, and so out of touch with transparency, truth and decency. A man remote from a changing world in which answers to complex problems are more likely to be provided by science and logical critical reason than a belief that change should only ever be incremental at best.

Abbott is a man who seems isolated in a time warp, hungering for a past world long forgotten. He is driven by elitist, privileged ideology, the intent of which is vindictive punishment rather than inspirational leadership and governance for the common good. He is a man who only takes advice from those who agree and treats with disdain those who don’t. He appoints as heads of enquiries those who acquiesce the same view, thus divorcing the process from any real objectivity.

Abbott is a man with rich and influential friends, and it is from them that he seeks advice. Advice is a necessary function of competent leadership but when it only comes from those with wealthy vested interests, or from those who see life through the prism of a cash register, then it is born of self-interest and cannot express a common good. The same goes for those who seek power with manipulative words.

Last week we had an appalling example of this. In giving into public opinion on Free Speech legislation the Prime Minister at the same time found it obligatory to ring a Murdoch journalist, Andrew Bolt, to inform him that the legalisation would not proceed. It was as if Bolt was owed some sort of apology, needed to be pacified in some way, or was owed something for his biased support.

Abbott leads a men’s club who can be divided into four groups: the religious right; the corporatist dealmakers; those who resemble the American Tea Party; and the technological luddites who deny science. They are a ministry of aging men with little practical work life experience and obscure views often deep-seated in neoconservative principles. Conservative men who can speak at will about what they oppose but have difficulty articulating what it is they believe in, or when they do it is clouded in the hue of feral, often hysterical, extremist privileged morality.

What is our democracy coming to?

The first requirement of any Government is that it be transparent, because secrecy makes us less free. When politicians lie they deny us the truth.

The right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed, it is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy or, more bluntly, it is destroying the very democracy that enables it to exist.

Image from greenleft.org.au

Image from greenleft.org.au

This of course requires trust. “You can trust us” was Abbott’s frequent mantra during the election, but events since would suggest that the Prime Minister and his government can be far from trusted. It is a sad reflection on our country when its citizens cannot expect that their parliament will govern with trustworthiness.

We have seen what Rob Oakeshott calls “conflict theory” used by big business to destabilise government by creating the perception that the government is undemocratic. ‘We will decide how much tax we pay’ said the big miners, and daily the billionaires protested, supported by the Murdoch Empire, in turn subverting our democracy – and the conservatives acquiesced.

According to a recent survey by the ANU, most Australians no longer think it matters which major party is in government. It also revealed a significant decline in support for democracy over the past seven years. Nearly 20 per cent of eligible voters, about 3 million Australians, effectively opted out of the last federal election by either failing to enrol to vote, not showing up to vote, or voting informally.

A quiz (with questions one would think most Australians should know) on the link provided highlights the political ignorance of voters and the Coalition have an interest in keeping it that way. Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware, and therefore the conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. The menu generally contains a fair portion of fabrication.

If our democracy is not in crisis it is fast approaching it. All parties are responsible, but none more so than the Prime Minister who has sought to trash the parliament and its institutions.

Having said that, and if the Polls are to be believed, around 48% of Australians are happy to see the poor supplement the advantaged rich and be governed by a group of middle aged men whose sole aim is self-interest.

People no longer trust political parties and the parliament. A Monash University survey found that trust in the Federal Parliament has fallen from 48% in 2009 to 27% in this year.

Is it any wonder? Politics is rife with scandal and corruption, and rorting of expenses is commonplace: particularly by a Prime Minister who thinks he and his ministers should be immune to such things.

To quote Mark Latham:

“The famous formulation of ‘government of the people for the people, of the people’ has been replaced by ‘government versus the people’.”

The malaise in Australian politics is comprehensively demonstrated by the fact that after three years of insisting he would restore popular trust, after Abbott was elected leader the polls very quickly reflected the fact that the people recognised they had voted for a dud. He never had the honeymoon period usually given to incoming leaders.

Whilst in opposition, Abbott could have formulated some policy instead of spreading negative propaganda. However, he has shown by the frequency and blatancy of his lying that it was all about self-interest.

Bigots or the disabled?

There could be no starker signal of this government’s intentions than the appointment of Tim Wilson as the Human Rights Commissioner for ‘Freedom’ at the expense of disability commissioner Graeme Innes.

In opposition, Senator Brandis was prepared to publicly criticise Mr Innes for advocating on behalf of Australians with a disability, blaming the ‘ideological culture’ within the Human Rights Commission.

The following biographies come from the Australian Human Rights Commission website.  I will leave it to you to judge who you feel is better qualified and able to make an important contribution to our society.

Graeme Innes has been Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner since December 2005. During that time he has also served as Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner for three and a half years and as Race Discrimination Commissioner for two years.

Graeme is a Lawyer, Mediator and Company Director. He has been a Human Rights Practitioner for 30 years in NSW, WA and nationally.

As Commissioner, Graeme has led or contributed to the success of a number of initiatives. These have included the Same Sex: Same Entitlements inquiry, which resulted in removal of discrimination across federal law; the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and its ratification by Australia.

Graeme was also crucial to the development of the National Disability Strategy and the Disability (Access to Premises – buildings) Standards 2010; as well as the establishment of Livable Housing Australia.

Graeme has also been an active high profile advocate for the implementation of cinema captioning and audio descriptions and, as Human Rights Commissioner, undertook three annual inspections of Australia’s Immigration Detention facilities.

Graeme has been a Member of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal; the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal; and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. He has also been a Hearing Commissioner with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Graeme was Chair of the Disability Advisory Council of Australia, and the first Chair of Australia’s national blindness agency, Vision Australia.

In 1995 Graeme was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). In 2003, he was a finalist for Australian of the Year.

Graeme is married with an adult son and a daughter in high school. He enjoys cricket (as a spectator) and sailing (as a participant), and relaxes by drinking fine Australian white wine.”

Tim Wilson was appointed Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner in February 2014.

Dubbed the “Freedom Commissioner”, Tim is a proud and passionate defender of universal, individual human rights. As Commissioner he is focused on promoting and advancing traditional human rights and freedoms, including free speech, freedom of association, worship and movement and property rights.

Prior to his appointment Tim was a public policy analyst and a policy director at the world’s oldest free market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. He has also worked in trade and communication consulting, international aid and development, as well politics. He has served as a Board member of Monash University’s Council and on the Victorian Board of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Tim is a Director of Alfred Health.

He has extensive experience in public debate and has had many regular radio and television commitments, with both commercial and public broadcasters. The Australian newspaper recognised Tim as one of the ten emerging leaders of Australian society. He has written extensively for newspapers, journals and books. He recently co-edited the book Turning Left or Right: Values in Modern Politics.

Tim graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Policy) and a Masters of Diplomacy and Trade (International Trade) from Monash University. He has also completed executive education at Geneva’s Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales et du Développement and the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Worldwide Academy.

Tim lives with his partner, Ryan.”

Graeme has vast experience and many practical accomplishments to point to in his years of active service as an advocate for the disabled and a defender against discrimination.  Tim Wilson is an aging Young Liberal from the IPA who goes on TV a lot.

Wilson did not have to go through any application or interview process to land this job.  George Brandis must have been impressed with the cut of his jib when they spent an enjoyable evening together at the IPA’s 70th Anniversary bash in April last year because, as soon as he had the power, George rang Tim to tell him he had created a new job for him that would pay well over $300,000 a year and he still got to do his tv gigs.

Unfortunately, George did not offer any new money to the HRC to take Tim on.  Instead, he abolished Graeme’s position.

Andrew Bolt, who was MC for the IPA’s birthday party, in an article titled “In praise of George Brandis”, gives some insight into the reasons behind this decision when he quotes a Brendan O’Neill interview with Brandis:

 “He describes the climate-change debate as one of the ‘great catalysing moments’ in his views about the importance of free speech.  He describes how Penny Wong … would ‘stand up in the Senate and say “The science is settled”. In other words, “I am not even going to engage in a debate with you”. It was ignorant, it was medieval, the approach of these true believers in climate change.’ … And to Brandis, this speaks to a new and illiberal climate of anti-intellectualism, to the emergence of ‘a habit of mind and mode of discourse which would deny the legitimacy of an alternative point of view, where rather than winning the argument [they] exclude their antagonists from the argument’…”

You have to be kidding, George.  The highly-funded denial campaign has not only had a very loud voice in the media, it has successfully dictated policy.  The opinion that “the science is settled” is shared by all those not in thrall to the fossil fuel industry.

Your government has systematically gone about removing any voice of dissent and silencing all argument in every arena.  Increasingly you are hiding what you are doing, not only from the public, but from other elected representatives.  Turning refugees into a military problem to escape all accountability and oversight is beyond your legitimate powers.  You have no right to act alone, refusing to answer questions from the Senate.

The O’Neill interview continues…

“The second thing that made him sharpen his pen and open his gob about the importance of freedom of speech was the case of Andrew Bolt… In 2010, he wrote some blog posts for the Herald Sun website criticising the fashion among ‘fair-skinned people’ to claim Aboriginal heritage, under the headlines: ‘It’s so hip to be black’, ‘White is the New Black’ and ‘White Fellas in the Black’… They were removed from the Herald Sun’s website. Anyone who republishes them risks being arrested and potentially jailed.

Brandis is stinging about this case. The judge ‘engaged in an act of political censorship’, he says, with a journalist ‘prohibited from expressing a point of view’. The reason Brandis is so keen to ditch the bit of the Racial Discrimination Act that allowed such a flagrant act of ideological censorship to take place in twenty-first-century Australia is because while it is justified as a guard against outbursts of dangerous racism, actually it allows the state to police and punish legitimate public speech and debate. ‘And the moment you establish the state as the arbiter of what might be said, you establish the state as the arbiter of what might be thought, and you are right in the territory that George Orwell foreshadowed’, he says …

Brandis says … he’s bent on overhauling Section 18C … because it expands the authority of state into the realm of thought, where it should never tread, he says. ‘…In my view, freedom of speech, by which I mean the freedom to express and articulate beliefs and opinions, is a necessary and essential precondition of political freedom.’

How does this gel with your direction to public servants that they may not post opinions critical of government policy on social media and that they should dob in any colleagues who do?

How does it fit in with the fact that Liberal Party MPs ban anyone who posts links to documents (eg fiscal statements) or makes comments disproving the rhetoric on their Facebook pages?

How does it fit in with new laws outlawing the right to protest?

And could I suggest that Operation Sovereign Borders is as Orwellian as you can get.

I am assuming the 5,500 submissions received about your proposed repeal of Section 18C is the kind of debate you welcome and that you and your Freedom Commissioner may learn a few things.  One can only hope that you pay attention.

 

The killing of the truth by the Murdoch media

Image by cnbc.com

Image by cnbc.com

Until recently I was in the habit of attending a writer’s forum every Monday. The group was made up of poets, short story writers, journalists, auto biographers and would be novelists. The conveyer of our group was a wise elderly lady who in terms of the written word, knew her stuff.

Primarily I am a creative writer of short stories and poetry. I have read my work at the national gallery and other places. And I have won a few writing competitions. In December if 2011 I was enticed, because of my interest in politics, into the world of the blogger.

Anyway, one day we had a group discussion on the current standard of journalism. We were asked to take a slip of paper with a journalist’s name on it and the newspaper they wrote for, from a box. Bingo, lo and behold, I had the name Bolt perched between thumb and forefinger.

We had to opine on the person we had taken from the box. So I gave my assessment.

“He is a writer of very little journalistic distinction” I said. “He is apt to write for an audience in a style suitable for the intelligence of 13 year olds. His writing is never challenging (not even his use of words) in a literary sense and his sentences usually carry the weight of invective untruth. He writes with little journalist flamboyance. Instead his words are calculated to offend his target and please his cohort of followers. Because truth and journalistic shrill are incompatible he relegates truth to unconscionable practice. In short, he writes with the venom of a snake but with this snake there seems to be no antidote”. I warmed to the task saying, “If a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency”.
“He also writes for a tabloid newspaper, the Herald Sun. It’s a Murdoch publication One of those where the truth goes to die”.
And that was the end of my little rant.

I might add that it is the same style that Tony Abbott employs orally. You simply tell people what it is you think they want to hear. It’s what Abbott meant when after his “climate change is crap” comment he said, “I was speaking to an audience”.

In a democracy the right to free speech is given by the people through the parliament. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view.

Note that the Australian Constitution doesn’t guarantee free speech. It only implies it.

Andrew Bolt – one of the pin-up boys of the Murdoch media – has never thought highly of these ideals. He prefers provocative sensationalism.

After all, why should he? He is probably paid loads of money to do just that. Newspapers all over the world are fighting for survival and the Herald Sun is one of many. The Australian loses huge amounts each year but Murdoch props it up because of its political influence. It is the go to newspaper for conservatives. So how do you prop up circulation? You have writers like Bolt writing inflammatory titillating nonsense to a largely disengaged, uninformed audience with journalism that appeals to societies lowest values.

“It is said of pornography (and I am not expert in this field) that in order to maintain the viewer’s interest it needs to progressively become more outlandish – more tantalising – more seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning and more enticing. And in their desire to maintain some dominance, that’s exactly what main stream media is doing. It has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant “.

Recall Bolt’s not so long ago brush with the law. For me that judgment had little to do with free speech but more to do with the standard of journalism that the Herald Sun is responsible for. Justice Bromberg, wrote that Bolt’s use of language and structure:

“Is highly suggestive and designed to excite” His style was “not careful, precise or exact” and the language “not moderate or temperate but often strong and emphatic”. “There is a liberal use of sarcasm and mockery”. “Language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised. It is language, which invites the reader to not only read the lines, but to also read between the lines”.

During the London riots a few years back, Bolt in one of his pieces used the word ‘aped’ to describe the copycat behaviour of some people. The use of the word was legitimate in that sense until you appreciate that he was talking about black West Indians, and then the word took on a different connotation. That of a racist intent.

In 2002, Magistrate Jelena Popovic was awarded $246,000 damages for defamation after suing Bolt and the publishers of the Herald Sun over a 13 December 2000 column in which he claimed she had:

“Hugged two drug traffickers she let walk free”.

Popovic asserted she had in fact shaken their hands to congratulate them on having completed a rehabilitation program. The jury found that the article was not true, that it was not a faithful and accurate record of judicial proceedings and that it was not a fair comment on a matter of public import. A Court of Appeal later reversed some punitive damages, though it upheld the defamation finding, describing Bolt’s conduct as “at worst, dishonest and misleading and at best, grossly careless”.

Then there is his spat with Robert Manne about the Stolen Generation. If you have followed this ongoing argument, you cannot but be impressed with the lucidity of Robert Manne’s writing compared with Andrew Bolt’s simple meanderings. It is astonishing. You have to be impressed by Manne’s research. The way he takes you on a factual, believable journey full of insight and truth. Mann also some time ago analysed the poisonous influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited in this country, particularly through the extremist editorial policy of The Australian Newspaper, where the truth is distorted and contrary views vilified. Manne followed up with a brilliantly written and researched “Quarterly Essay” concluding that “The Australian” is more a propaganda sheet than a newspaper.

Australians have had to put up with the rantings and ravings of populist main stream media for far too long, where extremist views are regularly presented on TV, radio, and particularly via the monopolistic media empire of Rupert Murdoch, the person ultimately responsible for the scandalous phone tapping scandal in Britain, which has earned him worldwide opprobrium.

When a conservative government was elected on September 7 in the year of our Lord 2013, a requiem mass for the death of truth in main stream media and government was held at old Parliament House Canberra. The service was conducted by Archbishop Murdoch and assisted by an Abbott. The eulogy was given by Andrew Bolt and prayers read by Piers Akerman and Alan Jones and numerous other right wing journalists.

Prayers were also offered for the death of the following by the leader of the opposition.

The National Disability Scheme.
A plebiscite for a republic.
The loss of school funding. The environment.
The mining tax.
The NBN.
Thousands of jobs.
Marriage equality.
Equality in education.
Policies unknown but sure to transpire.

Those who believed in the virtue of truth were not welcome. Women were directed toward the kitchen.

Let’s hope the bloggers can pick up the pieces.

For further reading on this subject you should read this.

Photo: thehoopla.com.au

Photo: thehoopla.com.au

We the voters are regularly left to decide who is and who is not telling the truth. Or who is telling more or less of it. In the past few years the most perplexing aspect of political lying has been its frequency, blatancy and its audaciousness. Or its unmitigated shameless effrontery of truth as we understand it.

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

It is also my contention that the conservatives in our country, led by Tony Abbott have imported this lying strategy, or political technique, of far right conservatism into the discourse of Australian politics. More on that later.

So what is a lie?

We know that a lie has three essential ingredients; it communicates some information. The liar intends to deceive or mislead. The liar believes that what they are ‘saying’ is not true. And we call people who use these three principles blatant liars.

“When it comes to controlling human beings there is no better instrument than lies. Because, you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts”.
― Michael Ende. The Never-ending Story
“If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed”.
Joseph Goebbels said it. Adolf Hitler re phrased it.
“When you tell a lie you deny the other person’s right to the truth”.
John Lord

On a more personal level there are what we call white lies where we deliberately colour what we say in shades of hue to protect the feelings of others or ourselves, or to avoid argument.

“Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is”.
Barbara Bush

“Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it”.
John Lord

 

Consider the case where telling a lie would mean that 10 other lies would not be told. If 10 lies are worse than 1 lie then it would seem to be a good thing to tell the first lie, but if lying is always wrong then it’s wrong to tell the first lie…

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive”.
― Walter Scott, Marmion

Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we carry out (one researcher has said ‘lying is an unavoidable part of human nature’), so it’s worth spending time thinking about it.

Why is lying wrong?

There are many reasons why people think lying is wrong; which ones resonate best with you will depend on the way you think about ethics.

Lying is bad because a generally truthful world is a good thing: lying diminishes trust between human beings. If people generally didn’t tell the truth, life would become very difficult, as nobody could be trusted and nothing you heard or read could be trusted – you would have to find everything out for yourself and an untrusting world is also bad for liars – lying isn’t much use if everyone is doing it.

Prime ministerial lying

Everyone knows that our Prime Minister is a liar. He might even be the worst amongst the world leaders. He is certainly the worst this nation has ever seen. Manny of our most respected journalists and media commentators have said so. He has even admitted he is a liar himself. The evidence is so abundant, so overwhelmingly copious that it is beyond contradiction. It is fair to say that in general the populace accepts his lying as a fact. I and many others have listed them, quoted them, itemised, analysed them and exposed them in crystal clarity. Even members of his own party have accepted that he is a liar of nefarious intent. And his sheer indifference to the fact that he lies together with his lack of conscience about it I find sickening. The list is as long as a toilet roll. Only people like Jones and Bolt seek to convince people otherwise.

In Parliament, particularly in question time it is considered (even when protected by Parliamentary Privilege) poor form to call a member a liar. Outside the house one could expect a defamation order. Now in the house the speaker doesn’t even warn the leader of the opposition when he calls the PM a liar. Everyone just accepts that he is.

Our Prime Minister the liar. It doesn’t fall easily from my tongue. I’m a proud Australian, true blue as the line goes and I don’t like it when I watch the telly and the cringe factor hits me when I know that he knows that he is telling lies without any compunction to conscience. And at the same time spruiking his Christian values. No other leader of this nation has less right to moralise us about virtue, be it Christian or otherwise.

But why is it so. Why does he have to lie with such monotonous regularity and mischievous intent? I have no training in psychology so I can only hazard a guess based on my knowledge of human nature. Anyway I will just throw some thoughts up in the air and see where they fall.

Firstly the compulsion to lie is genetically acquired from his parents. Secondly the close links of the LNP to the ratbaggery Tea Party politics of American conservatism has convinced him that lying is effective and it works if used consistently as a societal dumbing down tool. As a means of propaganda. Thirdly, it just comes naturally to him. Fourthly people of his faith have convinced him that lying for the greater good is not sinful. There might be some self-loathing involved but he is ready to accept it. Fifthly it is a habit acquired early in life to get his way and now as with most habits he accepts it as normal. Lastly he believes that he alone knows what is best for you and me and our country and is willing to lie to prove it.

Truth in politics matters. It is not a trivial matter in a democracy. Our whole system is based on the assumption that truth prevails over all else and that it is the people who judge its veracity. Without truth the people cannot give informed accent to office and democracy fails. There are ethical obligations of integrity and coherence upon which society depends. Our Prime Minister has failed the highest standards of political morality.
At this time in our history we are experiencing a toxic tide of political mistrust. No other politician has contributed to it more than Tony Abbott. Is he the most dishonest, the most cynical and pathologically perverted liar to ever lead our nation? I will leave you to ponder the question:

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

 

Bolt and Jones achieve full froth in defence of their friend Tony Abbott

Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones are distressed.

Their good friend and hero Tony Abbott is flailing from crisis to crisis, embarrassment to embarrassment. Struggling to develop a cohesive palatable message.

The polls are stubbornly bad for his government and it appears any credibility or integrity he had left in the eyes of the public is all but eliminated. Irreparably it seems.

Bolt and Jones spent years doing all they could to get their man in Canberra into government and it’s gone pear shaped remarkably quickly.

Abbott’s failure is their failure.

The community’s rejection of him is a rejection of them.

They are both, figuratively speaking, firmly in the Abbott Faction of the Liberal Party. The now dominant hard right capital C conservative faction.

They are his media minders, PR department, faciltators and attack dogs.

The last 3 election cycles, particularly since Abbott became leader, has seen a mass exodus of what was left of the small l liberal tradition inside the Liberal Party.

They were out of place and they knew it.

They fled.

This is all an important context to understand the Bolt, Turnbull and Jones affair of the last week.

Tony Abbott is under pressure to turn around his sinking, rudderless ship and his media PR machine in the mainstream media is feeling it too.

The extreme nasty IPA driven budget was supposed to be accepted by the public against their best interests because it was “fixing up Labor’s mess”.

The public weren’t supposed to question it, but they have.

They see it as an assault on the “fair go” and their way of life.

Jones has used his Labor as “fire” and Coalition as “firefighter” analogy innumerable times.

It’s painfully tortured yet he perseveres.

Not surprisingly however it seems Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff Peta Credlin has picked up on it and directed cabinet ministers to use the exact same fear mongering aggressive language to scare people into accepting this shocking budget.

Thankfully it’s not cutting through and people are resenting the broken promises and unfairness of the Abbott plan.

Abbott used fear and division aplenty in opposition but they are finding that it just doesn’t cut it anymore in government.

People want the “adult government” they were promised.

People don’t want to be scared, lectured or lied to by Tony Abbott anymore.

They are sick of the negativity and lack of vision coming from his government.

Enter Malcolm Turnbull.

A popular leader who is well liked in the community but on the fringe of the Coalition caucus.

The dinner Turnbull had with Clive Palmer was all it took to light a fire under the very sensitive and protective Abbott forces in the media. Perhaps at the behest of the Abbott Faction.

Bolt is paid to irritate and rile enemies of Murdoch. That’s his job. He does it well.

Recently however the enemy was a lot closer to home.

Bolt attacked Turnbull for having dinner with Palmer without permission. I wasn’t aware he had to seek permission for who he could socialise with privately?

It was obviously not a “secret meeting”. Canberra’s a small place.

This didn’t stop Bolt saying Turnbull was conspiring against Abbott and being disloyal.

Apparently Abetz and Pyne need to be consulted for Turnbull to have a casual dinner with Palmer.

This is the Bolt/Jones line.

The fact they weren’t told is supposedly the smoking gun.

Turnbull didn’t reject out of hand the idea the Bolt and Jones attacks were coordinated. The idea holds a lot of water.

They are clearly trying to reassert the hard right of the Liberal Party in the face of polls showing Turnbull would be a popular leader.

They want him put in his corner and nervy MPs warned off even considering switching their vote to save their own skin.

The Alan Jones interview with Turnbull was something to behold.

Screeching, heavy breathing, condescending, lecturing and at times hysterical.

Jones is clearly feeling the pinch.

Now he knows what it’s like to be on the wrong end of popular opinion and to have concerted campaigns in the media and public to destroy his preferred leader.

Normally he’s the one dishing it out and dictating what he thinks should be popular opinion.

Not now he’s not.

Turnbull handled a fulminating Jones skillfully, occasionally calming his interviewer down before he erupted uncontrollably and breathlessly again.

The egos of Bolt and Jones are limitless. Their sense of power and self importance renowned.

Turnbull is absolutely correct to stand up to bullies and defend himself if he thinks it’s appropriate.

Was the dinner with Clive more than just casual? My sense is no.

But even if it was it has shown just how close Bolt and Jones are to Tony Abbott.

He relies on these nasty aggressive media characters to convince the masses he’s the saviour.

The masses are ignoring the preachers these days however.

It’s quite clever of Turnbull to push back so strongly against nasty public attacks. He wants to make it clear he won’t put up with it.

It also puts Abbott in a bind.

In a public spat between the three of them, whose side does he take?

His cabinet minister’s or his strong media allies’?

Turnbull is playing them off against each other.

One can’t help but think he’s doing all he can to damage their relationship and the role they will play in the life of the Abbott Government.

Recent articles by Matthew Donovan:

If they don’t know what they’re talking about, how are we supposed to?

Time to end Tony Abbott’s deceitful debt scare campaign

Shock jock fantasy land vs reality

Don’t let the Abbott Government Budget get one over you

With friends like Bolt and Jones, you don’t need enemas OR SNAFU

Photo: www.theland.com.au

Photo: www.theland.com.au

SNAFU – Situation Normal, All Fouled Up! (That’s the polite version anyway.)

“…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, earlier this week. 

 

“Alan is a friend of mine, Andrew Bolt is a friend of mine, I think that they are both very significant commentators and they’ve got a lot to say as you know.”                               Tony Abbott, yesterday.

 

“You said I wanted to diminish you. The truth is I don’t. You said I wanted to challenge you in 2016. The truth is I don’t. You said I wanted the presidency for myself. The truth is… I do. What politician hasn’t dreamed of about what it would be like to take the oath of the highest office of our land? I’ve stared at your desk in the Oval and coveted it. The power. The prestige. Those things have a strong pull on someone like me, who came from a small South Carolina town with nothing. But since you assumed office, my only aim has been to fight, for you and alongside you.”

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards”

 

“I’ve coached Australia in rugby, if one of my players was seen on the eve of the rugby test was seen … having dinner, privately inviting to dinner one of the All Blacks, the player would be sent home Malcolm.”                                                                                              Alan Jones.

When the choice is between a conspiracy and stuff-up, always choose the stuff-up and you’ll be right more often, according to conventional wisdom.

All right, must of us heard the loooong pause from Turnbull when asked if this was part of a co-ordinated campaign. The question, of course, is what is the campaign and what does it hope to achieve?

Ok, let’s examine the conspiracy theories for why Bolt and Jones would want to give the story about Turnbull’s leadership ambition so much publicity. The first is that it’s a way to distract from the Budget. The second is that they hate Turnbull and are just using this as a chance to whack him, while boosting their ratings. The third is that they’re part of a conspiracy to help remove Turnbull from the front bench.

Of these, the idea that it’s the Liberals way of taking the focus of the Budget is the only one I’d consider if we were dealing with your average government. However, any government that can appoint Christopher Pyne to anything more than working out the seating plan for meetings with the Premiers, clearly lacks a grip on reality and we can’t just look at the logical.

The second is partly plausible. Bolt and Jones are, after all, first and foremost, reliant on their capacity to generate controversy. But would they really want to hurt the Liberal Party by helping create a re-make of the Rudd/Gillard soap opera? I mean, aren’t they “Friends of Tony Abbott”. (Mm, and it’s the ABC that are supposedly biased.)

Are the Liberals really so stupid as to think removing Turnbull would help them politically? In spite of his dinner with Clive, Malcolm has been a good little boy towing the line on all sorts of things from Direct Action to the NBN. While he may have the odd word about gay marriage or the Republic, he’s basically supported party policy. If he’s quietly biding his time, trying to boost the numbers for a crack at the leadership, this only becomes an issue when it hits the media. Which it does when people like say Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones bring it to public attention. Even the big “Dinner With Clive” event would have run out of legs by now.

But no, thanks to Bolt – Abbott’s “friend” – Turnbull’s alleged disloyalty is a hot topic. Which gives Turnbull the opportunity to deny it, thus keeping the story alive.

So, Abbott, the leader is part of a conspiracy to help put stories about his rivals leadership ambition in the media? Isn’t it usually the other way round? I mean, isn’t it usually the challenger who wants the speculation and the incumbent who wants to pretend that nothing’s happening? Perhaps, Abbott really hasn’t noticed that he’s Leader of the Opposition, let alone PM.*

Which brings us to SNAFU…

According to the polls, the Government is unpopular with the electorate. Turnbull, on the other hand, is preferred leader by a long way. While this may not be a good enough reason for the Liberals to dump Abbott and install Turnbull as PM, it hardly suggests that dumping Turnbull from the Ministry would be something that would boost their standing with the electorate. Could they really be so out of touch with political reality that they don’t see how Turnbull’s sacking would play out?

Let’s ignore the media reaction about the removal of a moderate because he’s a threat and letters to the editor complaining about how far to the Right this government has gone. Let’s just ask ourselves, how would Turnbull react?

Yes, it’s a nice fantasy to think that he’s had enough. That he goes rogue. He tells people exactly what he thinks of the Liberals and – with no hope of ever being PM – spills as many beans as he can. Or maybe he joins PUP. Or the Labor Party.

Or perhaps he, channelling Peter Costello, just gives up his dream of being PM, resigns from Parliament causing a by-election in his seat of Wentworth. Can’t see the Liberal strategists cheering for that one.

But wouldn’t the most likely scenario be for Malcolm to quietly see out his time on the backbench, occasionally having dinner with the odd friend – as Tony pointed out, journalists are sometimes friends of politicians – reminiscing and providing “off the record” comments? And, Keating-like, quietly reminding people that he’s there. While it’s true that many in the Liberal Party don’t like Turnbull, they like losing even less.

Nope, no sane, rational leader would even consider a re-shuffle where Turnbull was removed. Mm, with that in mind, he’ll be gone within the month.

But just because I’m likely to get that wrong, here are some other predictions that I’m more confident about:

  1. The head of a retail change will suggest that the poor are just being selfish by spending their money on rent and food instead of electrical goods.
  2. An advisor to Tony Abbott will say that owing to the fact that unemployment is so high, perhaps people could job share. That is, a group of people all work full time for the same company but share one wage.
  3. If the Medicare co-payment gets through, there’ll be an immediate call to increase it, as it’s not covering its administration costs.
  4. One Liberal Politician will suggest that people suggesting that the rich could pay more tax are indulging in class warfare on the same day that another suggests that people should be happy to contribute to Australia’s future by making sacrifices. A clarification will follow where the Liberals explain that paying tax is not making a sacrifice, and that sacrifices are when one throws a peasant into a volcano to appease the gods.

*In a previous blog, I pointed out the Rafael Epstein suggested to Graham Morris that the weeks after the Budget had been Abbott’s most difficult as Leader of the Opposition.

 

What a Circus!

Photo: litistan.wordpress.com

Photo: litistan.wordpress.com

Why is there a sense of foreboding whenever Tony Abbott travels overseas? Probably because one’s immediate reaction is, “Oh God, in what way will he embarrass us this time.” I can’t help thinking that as they watched John Oliver’s parody of Abbott on his weekly satirical, “Last Week Tonight” show, members of the American press were of a similar mind about his planned visit there next week. Tony Abbott’s poor media presence, his stilted speech, his fake laugh are grist for the mill to a press corp. aware of his tendency to say something incredibly stupid. My fervent wish would be that they ignore him and give us all a break from the cringing and squirming we will have to endure as we sit on our sofas, in front of our TV sets and follow his movements across the Northern Hemisphere. The planned meeting with US President Barack Obama will, no doubt, be particularly painful to watch. One can only hope that Obama will take pity and shield him from the US press or at least spring to his aid when Abbott inevitably sticks his foot in his mouth.

In the meantime the Coalition government and particularly the Liberal side of it appear to be imploding. Bolt on Turnbull, Bernadi on Turnbull, all stirred up over a meal Turnbull had with Clive Palmer. And the winner was . . . Clive Palmer. Even West Australian Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, a former research scientist and defence analyst, was moved to criticise the government for cutting funding to the CSIRO? It’s not hard to see that the Liberals are running scared right now. Bad polling numbers, internal criticisms of Hockey’s budget and the press popularity of Clive Palmer who is clearly enjoying the road show and keeping everyone guessing as to what he’ll do next, is taking its toll. Queensland Coalition MP’s in particular are already starting to panic. Palmer’s popularity in Queensland and the rising dissatisfaction with the Newman state government is a genuine concern for them. As most MP’s know only too well, when Queensland voters are upset they can be particularly savage come election time.

One wonders why Andrew Bolt raised the question of Turnbull’s activities on his programme. Was he prompted to do so by the Abbott camp or was he trying to gain some publicity for his show? Does he genuinely fear Turnbull? Has he forgotten the devastating impact leadership speculation had on the previous government? For all the commentary that has appeared on this issue, it was Bolt who started it. He is the one making the case for Turnbull’s so-called disloyalty. Interestingly, several Coalition MP’s came out this week criticising Turnbull and favouring Bolt, when the PM made it clear in parliament that he favoured Turnbull over Bolt. That is hardly what you would call a co-ordinated united front.

In the meantime, Hockey has gone strangely quiet and Scott Morrison is in damage control. Two self immolations and one murder so far on Scott Morrison’s watch. And that’s what we actually know. There are claims of asylum seekers being lost at sea while being forcibly repatriated to remote Indonesian Islands by the Royal Australian Navy. But the Minister is warning his critics against making “assumptions” about what led Sri Lankan man Leorsin Seemanpillai to take his life. Does he not realise by saying that, he is drawing attention to the obvious?

Now, a new problem has surfaced and it has gone viral. John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ skit made Abbott look like the village idiot. Anyone familiar with the Comedy Channel who knows the threesome that is Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and John Oliver, would also know their popularity worldwide via YouTube. And the Liberal party brains trust would have noticed too that Oliver was careful not to alienate his friends in Australia. He emphasised that only 30% supported Abbott. Australian politics is hardly ever presented in satirical form overseas. We are mostly ignored, criticised or praised depending on the circumstances, but rarely satirised. And for an Australian Prime Minister to be the subject of that satire, to be so jeered and made to look so inept and just plain stupid must be a first, particularly on the eve of an official visit. Will we be hearing accusations that this also was planned by Turnbull?

Everything about this farcical situation has been of the conservative’s side of politics own making. It might have been planned but the more likely explanation is that they are all just so rattled and dysfunctional these days, that it all came naturally. Did you see Barnaby Joyce’s sexist gaffe on The Project during the week? On Peta Credlin, he commented, “I’m on good information from her husband that she’s a woman.” He explained the gaffe as a poor attempt at humour. Yes it was, but it also validates the dysfunctional element infecting the government. What a circus!

You Probably Won’t Read This. It’s About Climate Change

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Irreversible and severe damage is being inflicted on the planet from climate change. Science tells us we are responsible.

“I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today” (John Lord).

My youngest grandchild is 3 years old. In 70 years she will be my age. I often contemplate just what sort of a world the leaders of today are bequeathing the children of tomorrow. The evidence is irrefutable. The absence of political leadership in the face of a problem that might make two world wars by comparison seem superfluous, is deplorable.

So why are we not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment and why is our government turning a blind eye to it all?

I write this not under some pretext that I am some kind of expert on the subject. On the contrary I am writing it because I am not. In fact I have no deep understanding of science at all. Ask me how the internet or even a common x-ray works and I am found wanting.  Test me on carbon dating, DNA, genetics or how the atom is split and I would fail the simplest test. But then I suppose a lot of people share my ignorance. But we can all apply the principle of common sense.

I do know that science in my lifetime has made the most staggering achievements. The only areas I can think of where science has not been embraced, recognised and enjoyed for all manner of reasons by an appreciative society are religion and climate science.

Science is constantly questioned when it conflicts with a literal view of creation and the other is climate change. Creationists generally answer that God’s creation was a divine event and is therefore outside of science. Given the state of our world religious people might well ask, “When did God die?”.

Climate deniers fall into many categories but the main protagonists seem to be from big business, media interests and the right of politics who by and large see it as a threat to capitalism and the free market system. They allow the stench of greed to invade their nostrils and to permeate their minds.

How does the layperson like me reach a view on such subjects without any formal training? It’s simple. There are many areas (medicine for example) that I don’t have a deep analytical understanding. Like many others I listen to experts, apply common sense, observation and what my life experience tells me. It is not difficult to understand a theory. Generally people assume that a theory (for example the theory of evolution) is something unproven.

In the scientific world, a theory is something that has evolved to fit known facts.

A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be dis-proven. Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it’s an accepted hypothesis.

Science for the most part is honest. There has at times been bad science but it is always open to counter argument, revision and constant peer examination. On the other hand simply denying climate science on the basis of faith, mysticism or political ideology is tantamount to denying rational explanation. Using common sense, I basically know that science through reasoned, judicious enquiry, evaluation and testing is the best way forward.

“The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me” (John Lord)

The world is changing in so many ways, not least a warming planet and all the problems it will bring forth for future generations, may very well exceed all others. In Australia the subject has gone off the boil (Pardon the pun) because of a campaign by vested interests who would place business, ideology and profit before environmental sustainability. The effectiveness of their work has been demonstrated by the public decline in interest on the subject. Tony Abbott is good at demonization and has successfully done so with Asylum Seekers and similarly with the carbon tax, arguing that if there was a cost involved he wouldn’t have a bar of it.

Quoting Malcolm Turnbull

“First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.”

For the life of me, I cannot understand people who accept science as fact, reap the benefits and use it every day, but who somehow become brain dead when it comes to climate science.

However, lay people such as myself who believe in the existence of climate change cannot honestly claim to know the veracity of the science for ourselves but are happy to delegate this task to climate scientists. Laypeople simply do not have the knowledge to adjudicate on the issue.

Conversely, those who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus seek to justify their belief by attaching themselves to a minority of science deniers with obscure qualifications or worse, to right wing shock jocks and journalists with no scientific training what so ever. These people (like you and me) have no way of evaluating the volume of data produced by the various scientific institutions. One of the most outspoken deniers (Andrew Bolt) has, in recent times, been found guilty of deceptive lying in that he defamed some white skinned aboriginals.  One has to wonder how many he has told when writing about his favorite topic climate change.

If I do not support the 95% of scientists, every major scientific institution and the research that is constantly peer evaluated then I am obliged to accept the alternative. That is, that I should take seriously the likes of Andrew Bolt, (A journalist) Alan Jones, (I’m not sure how you would describe his contribution to society) Lord Monckton (A discredited something who was once a lobbyist for the tobacco companies), Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott. (Both politicians). In fact, Minchin is on the record as saying that climate change is a left wing conspiracy to replace communism. None of the aforementioned people has a background or expertise in climate science. Now that’s not to say that they should not have a view and that that view should not be considered as should any laypersons if they are of that ilk.

But surely, we must respect the science otherwise; you put into question all science.

We are led by a technology luddite Prime Minister who doesn’t even understand the reason for the internet or indeed its value to society. Remember he wanted to destroy it. He has no grasp at all on the subject of Climate Change and refuses to heed the mountains of evidence that is peer tested year after year. Instead he offers often contradictory glib observations about it being some sort of socialist plot. Or we have always had droughts and always will.

But worse is the deplorable lie he tells when he says he believes in climate change but only differs on the methodology in approaching the problem. So unbelieving of the science is he that he is busy undoing all research and other institutions within the framework of government. Even the science ministry itself.

His alternative is a so called direct action policy where taxpayer’s funds are given (repeat “are given”) to the polluters to clean up the mess they have created without any guarantees they will do so. And no penalty if they don’t. This method has no credence among professionals.

Indeed, Abbott has not produced one economist in support of direct action.

Treasury has qualitative evidence to suggest his plan will cost twice as much as they have committed. It is a shame, indeed sad to see shadow minister Greg Hunt who wrote his university thesis (with honours) in support of a carbon tax now trying to defend something he so obviously does not believe.

Quoting Malcolm Turnbull

‘’Second, as we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, its cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.’’

The International Panel in its latest Climate change report singles out five key points
The world faces threat to food supply, conflicts over water rights and growing inequality. The only option is to cut emissions.

1. Food threat
Climate change is already taking a sizeable chunk out of global food supply and it is going to get worse. Increases in crop yields – which are needed to sustain a growing population – have slowed over the last 40 years. Some studies now point to dramatic declines in some crops over the next 50 years – especially wheat, and to a lesser extent corn. Rice so far is unaffected. The shortages, and the threat of food price spikes, could lead to unrest.
2. Human security
Climate change poses a threat to human security, and could lead to increased migration. Potential shortages of food and water, because of climate change, could be drivers of future conflicts. These won’t necessarily be wars between states, but conflicts between farmers and ranchers, or between cities and agriculture industry which wants water for food. On the flip side, those conflicts are going to get in the way of government’s efforts to protect people from future climate change.
3. Inequality
Some are more vulnerable than others. Poor people in poor countries – and even the poor in rich countries – are going to bear an unfair burden of climate change, the report said. Climate change is going to exacerbate existing inequalities, and it is going to make it harder for people to claw their way out of poverty.
4. No-one is safe
As temperatures rise beyond 2 degrees to 4 degrees – our current trajectory – there are limits to how far society can adapt to climate change. The only way out is to cut emissions now – and buy some time by slowing warming – and at the same time make plans for sea walls, relocations, and other measures that can keep people out of harms’ way.
5. Hard but not hopeless.

The report notes that research on the effects of climate change has doubled since the last report in 2007 – and so has understanding about what needs to be done to insulate people from more severe consequences.

American Secretary of State John Kerry had this to say after reading the report.

“Read this report and you can’t deny the reality: Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy,” Kerry said in a statement. “Let’s make our political system wake up and let’s make the world respond.”

But the question remains will we? If we accept the Australian Prime Minister’s response the answer can only be an emphatic NO.

Further reading. The effect on food supply. What they IPCC chief had to say and how deniers reacted.

Abbott’s thus far Annus Horribilis

Image by indepedentaustralia.net

Image by indepedentaustralia.net

Most Prime Ministers when they achieve Government with a sizable majority set out to put in place policy initiatives that might define a legacy they will be remembered for. John Howard’s GST, Paul Keating’s Native Title and Bob Hawke’s sweeping changes to our monetary system come to mind. They all burnt up their political capital in the knowledge that it doesn’t last for ever. They all focused on big things. Large programmes that remain indelible in Australia’s historical political discourse.

Tony Abbott on the other hand seems more intent on burning up his political capital on issues of ideology: on his hatred of all things associated with Labor. With him it’s personal. This can be seen in his undoing of Labor polices regardless of merit or common good worthiness. His politically based Royal Commissions that will trash long held conventions for the sake of a personal vendetta. Commissions that may well come back to bite him on the tail.

On top of that there is the deliberate attempt to downgrade Question Time, inflict his own moral compass on the community and redefine free speech in order to give greater licence to those with the power to influence public opinion. All this in the absence of any serious policies of his own. All we have is a Government of undoing, unable to present a coherent narrative. One that seems immersed in some sort of cultural battle that it must win before it can focus on real issues. Things that might enhance our society.

For all its criticism, the Whitlam Government came to power with a sense of direction, of purpose and for its short time in office achieved some good reforms. Among them were:

• End conscription
• Withdraw troops from Vietnam
• Begin to work towards equal pay for women
• Establish a single department of Defence
• Grant independence to Papua New Guinea
• Abolish tertiary education fees
• Raise the age pension to 25 per cent of average male weekly earnings
• Establish Medibank
• Introduce no-fault divorce
• Pass a series of laws banning racial and sexual discrimination
• Extend maternity leave and benefits to single mothers
• Establish the Legal Aid Office
• Establish the National Film and Television School
• Launch construction of the National Gallery of Australia
• Reopen diplomatic ties with China
• Establish the Trades Practices Commission
• Establish the National Parks and Wildlife Service
• Establish the Law Reform Commission
• Establish the Australian Film Commission, the Australia Council and the Australian Heritage Commission
• Create Telecom and Australia Post from the Postmaster-Generals Department
• Devise the Order of Australia to replace the British Honours system
• Abolish appeals to the Privy Council in the UK
• Change the national anthem to Advance Australia Fair
• Institute Aboriginal land rights

For its part the Abbott Government’s plan appears to be to diminish government’s role in society and replace it with free market business principles based on a Thatcher/Reagan philosophy from a distant past. They have decided that a war on ideology matters more.

The Most Biased Speaker Ever

Take for example this week’s move (the first since 1949) by Labor to move a motion of no confidence in the speaker. Public opinion regarding Question Time has always been one of derision. Without a care the government has shown a complete disregard for the democratic process and has sought to downgrade it even further. Bronwyn Bishop has been universally condemned as the most biased speaker the Nation has ever had.

“The Speaker of the Lower House of the Australian Parliament can only be described as a nasty bitch. Unnecessarily so” (John Lord).

This week we had the ludicrous situation of a shadow minister being thrown out of the house for saying ‘Madam Speaker’. The first since federation. Had she wanted, she could have, with her self-professed knowledge of the standing orders become an acceptable speaker or even a fine one. Instead she has put party before independence and set out to crucify Labor at every sitting. To the point of exasperation.

She acts like some sort of medieval evil schoolteacher intent on provocation with intent to alienate rather than mediate. Constantly with a look of contempt that would kill. Her manner of speaking is disingenuous and full of nasty implication. She seems to have little interest in adjudication wanting to be a player in the process. Any Speaker who attends her own parties Parliamentary meetings (or takes part in) to listen to tactics cannot be unbiased and is unworthy of the position.

The question this all raises of course is; What is the point of Question Time? Ministers are now not even remotely required to answer questions with any relevance. Labor would be better to just boycott Question Time until they get some form of guarantee that some semblance of the Westminster system would be adhered to. It surely cannot go on this way for another two and a half years.

Anyway I will leave the last word to conservative commentator Peter Van Onselen:

“Bronwyn Bishop has been a disgraceful Speaker, plain and simple. A shocking selection”.

Titles. On my Selection

Further, the Prime Minister has sought to impose his own cultural interpretation of Australian society with the reintroduction of titles, even though he ruled them out in December. The shock, ridicule and disbelief has reverberated across the nation, even from perpetual sycophantic anglophiles like John Howard who in effect Abbott has demoted in title recognition. Social media was inundated with self-titled Sirs. I refrained because I am already a Lord.

The cringe from both sides of politics has simply reinforced the belief that Abbott has a cultural and moral view of Australia that is supported by few Australians regardless of the political divide. One that we have long since moved on from. All he is doing is highlighting the negative view people have of him.

On The Drum Friday night when the subject was raised all the panelists started laughing such was their incredulity at Abbott’s stupidity. This is reinforced by opinion polls that show him and his government to be the least popular newly elected government in forty years. In fact it is the only newly elected Government in forty years not to enjoy a honeymoon period.

In announcing his new titles he further empathised his deep seated Catholicism by using the term ‘Grace Notes’. A term I recognised in musical expression but deeper searching revealed the church connection. He has now placed future recipients in an awkward position. If they accept will they face public ridicule? My guess is that the individual calibre of person he selects will speak volumes for his judgement. But then this is a Prime Minister born in England and only taking out citizenship at the age of 24 to ensure an Oxford education. Not only has he downgraded Australia’s current tiles but his Knights and Dames of the future will be tarnished with the fact that is was Abbott that selected them.

“The return of imperial honours defies the spirit of the nation we have become” (Michael Smith).

Free Speech

Then we were subjected to the idiotic ramblings of the blunt and confronting Senator (John Howard is a lying Rodent) Brandis who suggested that anyone was perfectly entitled to be a bigot if they wanted to be and that outright free speech, as he proposed would give them that right. The general response has been one of condemnation.

“Something drastically wrong with the moral compass of a nation when it legislates to make bigotry a right” (John Lord).

I have written much on this subject with an open mind and appreciation of both sides of the argument. I don’t propose to express any more except to say that in all the discourse there is a point that seems to be overlooked. It is this: Who are the proposed changes supposed to benefit? Do I need more free speech than I already have? On this blog I have repeatedly called the Prime Minister a pathetic liar. And I think, with justification. I could probably say worse but I have no desire to do so. Many writers on this blog express their views aggressively but never overstep the line of decency like Andrew Bolt does. If we did I doubt that any of us could stand up to the might of a Murdoch for example.

So who would benefit from the proposed changes? Not the average citizen or writers of my ilk. People with a voice who had a vested interest in influencing the intellectual poor would. And those who are like minded. All the conveyers of subtle hidden persuaders would. In essence the likes of Murdoch and his hate press.

All of this preoccupation and philosophical hatred of the left is not serving the country well. Abbott should stop and reflect on his culture war. He is shooting bullets at those who don’t deserve it.

These are but a few examples of what the March in March rallies were about.

Faces in the crowd: Melbourne #MarchinMarch

Photo: Labor View From Bayside

Photo: Labor View From Bayside

The Marches in March continue to glow with controversy. Never did so few gather so many, without engaging the usual suspects of the old media, the political parties, NGOs, the unions and the activist groups. There had to be a dark side to these events. The people can’t have minds of their own! Or if they do they must be warped!

Tim Dunlop has joined the fray with a post at The Drum: Rage against the mainstream

The fact is, the media’s lame response to an estimated 100,000 citizens showing up on the streets around the country is indicative of a deeper malaise: the rules of news have changed, and increasingly legacy media companies have neither the capacity nor the wit to operate in the new environment.

His target was the Sydney Morning Herald’s Jacqueline Maley.

Tim’s piece follows Lyndon Morley spirited offence at Independent Australia in support of his sign RESIGN DICKHEAD! He was replying to Andrew Bolt’s slanted reporting at the Herald Sun. Bolt was comparing the remarks about Abbott with those of Alan Jones about Julia Gillard. As usual he saw red: “But who will apologise for the parade of hatred in today’s March in March?” He found what he was looking for, of course.

I’ll leave jousting with the black knight of bigotry to Lyndon.

Matthew Donovan tackled The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair over what he called “delusions and blind or wilful ignorance” on AIMN on Wednesday. His message: “I will not let you smear the good people who marched”.

I’ll just stick to what I saw and heard in my hometown. To flip the record, I’ve compiled some offcuts that didn’t make my original video piece on the Melbourne #MarchinMarch, not for the signs of the times but for the faces of the people:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK7o7_EgpdI]

One of the more appealing aspects of the Melbourne march was the signs. By and large, they were not offensive. Some seemed to have gone to extremes to be polite:

Kindness matters!

Not Happy Tony.

We Can Do Better!

Cowdy Songs Not Cowboy Govt.

Careful Now!

Wake Up Australia!

In fact most were homemade and some appeared to be the handy work of people more accustomed to writing letters-to-the-editor, pamphleteers rather than sloganeers:

Human Dignity Is Independent of National Borders. We must Always Defend the Interests of the Poor and the Persecuted.

Arbitrary Governments Use Arbitrary Detention.

The longest read:

MR ABBOTT AHD HIS GOVERNMENT HAVE SAID
NO TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND SCIENCE
NO TO MORE WOMEN IN CABINET
NO TO THEIR OWN EDUCATION PROMISES
NO TO THEIR OWN NBN PROMISES
NO TO THEIR OWN HEALTHCARE PROMISES
NO TO REFUGEES
NOW WE SAY NO TO YOU MR. ABBOTT!!!

Many were decidedly to the point:

Tony Abbott Worst PM in Australia’s History.

Wanted for Crimes Against Humanity and Our Planet.

No More Racism, No More Bull, Australia’s Nowhere Near Full!b>Welcome Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

No Justice, No Peace.

Some were a tad obscure:

Viva la Evolucion!

This one had two sides:

Dirty Coal. Clean Wind

Very few signs that I saw were truly offensive or in bad taste. This exception was timeless and certainly open to the charge of not being focussed:

F*ck the Police

It probably wouldn’t resonate with Bolt quite like ‘F*ck Tony Abbott’ T-shirts did.

Monday’s Media Watch looked at a coverage paradox, namely how the old media both ignored and condemned the marches. Paul Barry picked up the threads:

A bevy of right-wing columnists have accused the ABC and Fairfax of failing to condemn some vicious anti-Abbott placards, carried by a handful of marchers.

But it was not just the Right that was unhappy with the way the March in March was covered.

Many protesters felt that 31 marches and tens of thousands of people deserved far more attention.

Bigotry, mockery and humiliation

Image from 3aw.com.au

Image from 3aw.com.au

After telling us in the Senate that people have a right to be bigots, in a press conference today Senator Brandis said we must also defend their right to mock and humiliate others as this leads to a robust democracy. To defend this outrageous statement he referred to three examples.

First was the “infamous example of the Bolt case” where Andrew Bolt was found to have contravened section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act when he published a series of articles suggesting that it was fashionable for “fair-skinned people” of diverse ancestry to choose Aboriginal racial identity for the purposes of political and career clout, implying certain individuals had been given their positions purely because of a distant ancestor rather than earning them on merit.

The applicants sought an apology, legal costs, and a gag on republishing the articles and blogs. They did not seek damages. In other words, had Bolt apologised and agreed not to republish before the matter went to court, there would have been no court case and no cost.

Senator Brandis says it is up to the victim to stand up for themselves. These people tried that – Bolt refused to say sorry and continued publishing related material. He has a large audience in both the print and television media. How were these nine people supposed to “stand up for themselves” without legal recourse?

The next example was even more bizarre. Senator Brandis said it was ok to mock and humiliate because they do it every day in Parliament. People’s feeling may be hurt but hey, shit happens. (The last sentence is me paraphrasing – the one before it sadly isn’t.)

I found this astonishing. He suggests that humiliating people is a crucial part of the robust debate necessary for a strong democracy. What a load of bullshit. That shows how low our Parliament has sunk. We naively think we are electing them to govern – to make decisions based on expert advice for the greater good. They think they are there to win the insult game.

The third example was the media. Brandis said to the assembled journalists “You mock we politicians every day and so you should”. Personally I would prefer if they reported accurately on what you are doing and provided informed comparative analysis.

These examples from Senator Brandis, that government and media like to mock and humiliate people, are why over 100,000 people marched in March. We want better. In fact we demand better.

Every year, people, many of them children, commit suicide because of mockery and humiliation. It is not ok to deliberately try to embarrass people. The damage done can be long term if not irreparable. While considering how you can protect Andrew Bolt from ever having to say sorry, consider this:

  • One student in every four in Australian schools is affected by bullying, says recent research commissioned by the Federal Government.
  • An estimated 200 million children and youth around the world are being bullied by their peers, according to the 2007 Kandersteg Declaration Against Bullying in Children and Youth.
  • Kids who are bullied are three times more likely to show depressive symptoms, says the Centre for Adolescent Health.
  • Children who were bullied were up to nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, say some studies.
  • Girls who were victims of bullying in their early primary school years were more likely to remain victims as they got older, according to British research.
  • Children who were frequently bullied by their peers were more likely to develop psychotic symptoms in their early adolescence, says more UK research.
  • Girls were much more likely than boys to be victims of both cyber and traditional bullying, says a recent Murdoch Children’s Research Institute study.
  • Children as young as three can become victims of bullying, says Canadian research.
  • Young people who bully have a one in four chance of having a criminal record by the age of 30.
  • Bullying is the fourth most common reason young people seek help from children’s help services.

Senator Brandis, you have said that victims should stand up for themselves and the community should accept the responsibility for raising standards. That is what we are doing. We find the direction your government is taking offensive. The community requires you to do better. The many signs at the march in March gave you an indication of what we find offensive and the list is growing every day.

But today’s lesson, Mr Brandis, is that we do NOT want a country where our children think it is “necessary” to mock, humiliate, and embarrass people.  We do NOT want our children to be bigots.  We do NOT want our government and media to set this example.   It’s unacceptable.  Lift your game!

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