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Tag Archives: Auspol

Greed is not good

By RosemaryJ36  

“Greed is good” has been falsely attributed to Gordon Gecko – and if he had said it, he would have been wrong!

Another urban myth is that people become more conservative as they grow older.

It is true for some – those who don’t realise that learning is a lifelong process and prefer to live in the past. The ones who say “My father used to belt me when I was a kid and what was good enough for Dad, is good enough for me with my sons.”

Or the unthinking voters who say “This is how we have always voted.”

The older you get, the more you need to look back – not for models for the future, but to appreciate how much has changed and analyse how much (if any!) of that has been for the good.

When I look at the current destruction being wreaked by fires, I wonder whether our First Nations were not infinitely wiser than us. They see themselves as caretakers of the land, to protect and nurture it, because it is their duty, in a self-imposed spiritual context. Whereas, land, to ‘developed’ nations, is just another resource to rape and pillage for wealth accumulation. And when it offers no more riches? Then it is someone else’s problem to clean up the mess!

I can remember history at school in England, learning about strip farming, where a serf or peasant was allowed to farm a strip of land for produce for the Lord of the Manor – and keep a small portion of the produce for himself and his family. Has much changed? Who most benefits from food production? And why do we throw good, but misshaped, fruit and vegetables away, when people in other parts of the world are starving?

Yet there was a time when those with small-holdings grew enough grain, carried enough livestock and basically provided for their own needs, with enough left over to sell in order to buy those other requirements the land did not offer. The corporations have made sure that there is much less of that now.

In the context of which, I also remember school studies referring to the reasons for the creation of the dustbowl in the USA!

We kid ourselves by claiming we live in a democracy and that the governments we elect pass laws and develop policies for our benefit as electors.

Global corporations are in charge!

Accumulation of wealth by those already endowed with wealth who use money to make money and leave a damaged land in their wake. Capital and Labour is another economists’ myth!

The Industrial Revolution sowed the seeds of Climate Change, and, because constant growth has become the Holy Grail of economists (please note: economics is only a trial and error process, masquerading as a pseudo-science!) we are now hooked on a merry-go-round that growth must be achieved even if people’s lives are destroyed in the process.

I have no claim to being a guru. I have never had the patience to study philosophy. Even as a very small child, I wanted to be a teacher. Maths was always my best subject at school, so I specialised in maths and taught it, on and off, for the best part of half a century.

During that time, I encountered so many situations where lack of legal help had damaged people’s lives, so in 1975 I promised myself that I would study law when I stopped paid employment, for which I had to wait for nearly 30 years.

I was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor in February, 2008 – promise kept! – and I had also become accredited as a mediator.

I rapidly learned that – while the law had some good points – my real interest was in justice, which is much more likely to be achieved, partially if not fully, through the alternative dispute resolution procedures like mediation than via the adversarial antics of our legal system.

IMHO it is sad that we inherited the confrontational British legal and political systems rather than the European investigative approach to solving legal issues.

Reality is that Australia squanders its resources, that we have extreme poverty and gross inequality in an essentially wealthy country. We have governments of all colours and prejudices which are largely more interested in keeping favour with corporations and we lack the protections that a decent Constitution and an effective ICAC might offer,

For those who have never studied the Australian Constitution, it was written to establish which powers, previously in the hands of the established states, should be passed over to a Commonwealth government in the process of establishing a federal system.

It was not remotely forward-looking – even more so as it made changing the Constitution so hard. Its major concern was to keep some balance of power between what had been autonomous States while Australia still remained a colony in many regards.

Even income tax remained in State control until a later date and the ties with Britain were not finally relinquished until passage in Australia and the UK of the Australia Act 1986!

Small wonder we have problems over nationality at Commonwealth elections!

And small wonder that we are not very good at governing ourselves when we have had such a chequered career as a country!

But now is the time when every governing body in Australia has to recognise the threat presented by global warming.

It is a fact – it is very real – and we cannot wait any longer before taking action to slow, stop and – just maybe – reverse temperature rises.

Cameras! Action! TAKE!

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DamNation!

By Hungry Charley  

The absolute failure of water and land management in Australia’s agricultural sector is starting to look like a slow-motion, out of control train-wreck in progress. While the Coalition Government is trumpeting a new ‘drought policy’, in reality, it is more of the same of what led us into this mess in the first place, while offering no acknowledgment of the failure of ‘market-based’ management of our natural resources or likely future climate scenarios.

Already the responses of the Coalition Government to the dire water shortages across much of the country, with nothing to alleviate the rapid demise of the lower Darling as an ecological system, show they have no new ideas, or rather are unwilling to contemplate others.

Following revelations by Four Corners in July that huge amounts of public money are being given to irrigators to expand their operations in the Murrumbidgee, now we hear the catchcry, “build more dams!” emanating from the National Party headquarters. This way it is claimed, more overland flow can be captured so that water will be available for towns and downstream users in times of drought. This time the intention is to target “higher rainfall” areas of the state, the proposed Upper Mole River Dam in the Border Ranges and the new Dungowan Dam on the Northern Tablelands of NSW. As well, the government announced a $650 million upgrade for Wyangala Dam, upstream of Cowra on the Lachlan River.

This dam focussed strategies has been advocated before, going back to the Coalition’s Dam Task force in December 2011 and have been underway ever since. The Australia Institute claimed that at least $200 million has been spent on dam upgrades prior to the latest round of announcements.

Investigations by Four Corners earlier this year showed Websters Limited received public money provided under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s $13 billion water infrastructure scheme, some $4 billion dollars, resulting in more land being cleared and more massive water storages in the Murrumbidgee. As scientists such as Richard Kingsmill and Maryanne Slattery have pointed out, this would just add further strain to the natural river system by removing yet more overland flow. These also have to be placed within the context of our complete failure to maintain a regulated and managed floodplain storage system, with most structures now un-regulated, particularly in the Northern Basin.

As the National Party elite gathered to announce the new public works for the proposed Dungowan Dam, the fan-fare was about outlining the future benefits to the community of the dam and who would be the benefactors and investors.

The Northern Daily Leader reported that Barnaby Joyce stated funding for the project has, “… been talked about as a three-way funded project between the state and the feds, with some from the growers.” The main beneficiaries are said to be Tamworth’s water supply, the environment and ‘downstream users’.

As there aren’t many people growing anything at the moment, one has to ask, who are these growers that are investing (and presumably benefiting) in these dams? Further investigation has showed that the location of the dams are in catchments where substantial investment in agricultural enterprises has recently occurred.

The Dungowan Dam will be placed in a relatively pristine area of the upper catchment stream, Dungowan Creek, which joins the Peel River near Tamworth. From here the Peel flows into the lower Namoi Catchment, historically a prime agricultural area which has seen considerable cotton development.

Some have suggested that one of the main beneficiaries of the Dungowan Dam will be the Tomato Farm at Guyra, part of the multi-national Costa Group following concerns about its future water supply earlier this year.

But 2018 was a big year for purchases from the big end of town, as reported in the Land, including in the Northern Tablelands, the Barwon and Namoi Valleys, for properties that are historically cotton or beef producing. Notable is the acquisition by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting of ‘Sundown Valley’ and ‘Gunnee Feedlot’, part of her expansion into the Wagyu Beef / feedlot sector, primarily for the Asian market. She also bought the 3,234 ha ‘Glendon Park’ at Armidale for her beef enterprises for about $14 million.

Another corporate player, Stone Axe Pastoral, also bought up a number of properties last year including the 2,145 ha ‘Glen Alvie’ at Ebor for around $17 million and another $4 million for the nearby 784 ha ‘Alfreda’. The Land reported that Stone Axe is also the lessee of two significant New England properties acquired in 2018 by the listed Rural Funds Group, ‘Dyamberin’ for $13.4 million and ‘Woodburn’ for $7.1 million, all apparently for Wagyu beef production. Stone Axe is also in partnership with Gina Rinehart and John Dee with their beef investments in feed lots and Wagyu export operations in Warwick, Queensland.

Here we see clearly how the government is playing favourites in their plans to ‘drought-proof’ the nation. Stone Axe has received significant investment from the NSW Government, amounting to $3.3 million dollars, to assist their Wagyu operations at ‘Glen Alvie’ near Ebor.

This money was sourced from the NSW Government’s $150 million ‘GO NSW Equity Fund’, launched in 2017, along with fund partners First State Super and ROC Partners, the latter a Sydney- and Hong Kong-based funds manager.

The other notable sale on the Northern Tablelands recently was the improved 1,500 ha ‘Tenterden Station’, west of Guyra, reportedly sold by Ray White Rural for $17m (with water entitlements) to a family from Queensland, whose identity was not released to the media.

In the Lachlan Valley, no doubt expecting to benefit from improvement to the Wyangala Dam, are the recently purchased ‘Jemalong Station’ and ‘Jemalong Citrus’ at Forbes, and ‘Merrowie’ at Hillston to offshore investors, including Optifarm Pty Ltd, a Netherlands-based investment company,  for more than $115 million.

The other new dam which is listed to receive large amounts of funding is on the Upper Mole River near Tenterfield. The benefits of this dam however are expected to the electorate of Parkes. The Mole River flows into the Dumerasq, which feeds into the Barwon River, another area of intense agricultural development, including irrigation. Many of the storages currently holding water are found in this part of the country, as exposed ‘unintentionally’ by the Murray Darling Basin Authority recently.

Another recent big investor in irrigation and grazing properties is hedge fund billionaire Sir Michael Hintze, who has significant land holdings in NSW through a number of companies, particularly Premium Farms which has bought extensively in the Northern Basin and in the southern highlands. Some 40 properties are now managed by Richard Taylor (brother of Angus) of #watergate and #grassgate fame. Richard manages Future Farms and Angus still retains an interest through another shelf company.

At the same time of the Coalition’s 2011 Dam Taskforce, it seems Hintze started buying irrigation properties in the upper Murray-Darling, ‘Gundera-Red Camp’ on the Namoi River at Wee Waa and three properties he aggregated west of Walgett on the Barwon River (Mourabie, West Mourabie and Bynia). Hinze then picked up ‘Boolarwell’ at Talwood in 2014 on the Queensland side of the Dumerasq River. While it may be co-incidence that Sir Michael started investing at the same time the Coalition were putting their ideas down about a future full of dams connected by pipes, is it a co-incidence that all five properties mentioned could seek to gain from both the new dams at Dungowan and Upper Mole?

It still remains to be seen where the dam investment frenzy will go to next, but given the pattern of recent land investments, it seems that the government is backing a future for irrigation and intensive beef production. It’s a shame that these two types of production are perhaps the most water intensive.

Given the current levels of community despair at the deteriorating environment and levels of agricultural production under the current conditions, many would say these investment priorities are at odds with a sustainable future for our communities and environments. It is certainly at odds with any sense of community transparency or a climatic future where there is likely to be less rain to go around. However, none of these issues seem to figure prominently in the current Coalition’s thinking.

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Journalists Need To Remember That Nobody Is Above The Law!

Interviewer – This week the Prime Minister told Parliament that while he supported freedom of the press, nobody was above the law. To clarify what this means in practice we have Liberal spokesman, whose name we’ve redacted to enable him or her to speak freely. Government Spokesman, do you mind if I call you Neville?

“Neville” – That’s not my name and I’m quite happy to speak freely without the need for all this subterfuge. You can use my real name?

Interviewer – I intend to ask you questions about Peter Dutton’s department.

Neville – Neville, it is then.

Interviewer – First of all, the Prime Minister asserted that nobody is above the law…

Neville – That’s quite correct.

Interviewer – Well, if that’s the case, how can the government justify that Freedom Of Information requests are falling outside the legal time?

Neville – Simply because the volume of requests is quite overwhelming and there aren’t enough staff to…

Interviewer – But isn’t this due to government decisions about the number of staffing…

Neville – Exactly. The government is committed to a Budget surplus and to ensuring that there is no waste.

Interviewer – Hang on. I don’t wish to get distracted by the obvious point that if there’s not enough people to process the requests then more staff are clearly needed. My point is simply that if nobody is above the law, then how can the government justify FOI requests falling outside the legislated time…

Neville – No, not at all.

Interviewer – Why not? I mean doesn’t this suggest that the government thinks that it is above the law?

Neville – No. They’re not above the law, they’re outside the law.

Interviewer – I don’t see the difference.

Neville – Well, something that’s like the difference between your roof and your garden shed. You wouldn’t want your shed to be inside.

Interviewer – I wouldn’t want my roof to be inside either.

Neville – Exactly.

Interviewer – But when it comes to the law, what’s the difference between being above the law and outside the law.

Neville – Well, clearly someone – let’s say a journalist like you – who thinks that they’re above the law feels that they can break it with impunity whereas somebody who’s outside the law doesn’t feel they can break it with impunity; they simply understand that the law doesn’t apply to them in a particular case.

Interviewer – Isn’t the result the same?

Neville – Yes, but the difference is that journalists are trying to suggest that they’re a special group whereas the government can just change the law if it doesn’t suit them, so while they’re getting around to changing it, they can just operate outside it.

Interviewer – But doesn’t that make the government above the law?

Neville – Exactly.

Interviewer – But wasn’t the PM suggesting that no-one is above the law.

Neville – No ONE is above the law, but because there are lots and lots of people in the government, then they’re more than one.

Interviewer – But there are lots of lots of journalists. Doesn’t that mean that they’re more than one?

Neville – Look, if you’re just going to play silly word games…

Interviewer – Let’s move on. The Intelligence and Security Committee announced its concerns about the proposed legislation to allow facial recognition because it felt there weren’t enough safeguards. Is the government prepared to consider further measures to ensure that people aren’t singled out when they’re simply engaging in legitimate protests.

Neville – No, it’s purely an anti-terror thing.

Interviewer – So, you’ll be happy to put in place legislation to ensure protesters aren’t targeted?

Neville – Definitely… Unless, of course, the protesters are doing illegal things such as holding seditious slogans.

Interviewer – Seditious slogans.

Neville – Yes, you know things that… um, let me quote the law directly. Seditious intent includes things such as using words “to excite disaffection against the Government or Constitution of the Commonwealth or against either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth”. 

Interviewer – So you’re suggesting that people could be identified in demonstrations for holding signs criticising the government.

Neville – For example. I mean, they could also be identified and charged if they block traffic… or pedestrians.

Interviewer – But what about people’s right to protest?

Neville – They can protest as much as they like so long as they don’t use seditious language or get in anyone’s way. Nobody is above the law, you know.

Interviewer – Thank you.

Neville – Is that all?

Interviewer – I certainly hope so!

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The enemies of free speech

By Kathryn  

The unspeakable, blatant ultra-right-wing bias of the Murdoch press in favour of the LNP is the huge elephant in the room here! Why isn’t the Murdoch’s name mentioned? The Murdoch media’s unregulated control and influence over just about every aspect of our media, especially the vile, unconscionable propaganda and relentless character-assassinating slander spewed out on a daily basis within such notorious Murdoch rags as The Courier Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Australian and from ultra-conservative Murdoch-manipulated repugnant and truly offensive “Shock Jocks” (eg Alan Jones, Steve Price, Andrew Bolt, Ray Hadley, the ghastly Miranda Devine, Peta Credlin etc) is a criminal abuse of power! The verbal diarrhoea spewed out by these enemies of free speech and their determination to control everything we hear and see on every form of media is absolutely intolerable, and getting worse. Now we have ongoing muzzling of free speech, the arrest of essential whistle-blowers and the unlawful prosecution of journalists and protest marchers!

Every day the Murdoch press, their spineless lackeys in the LNP and their collaborators within the unelected swill of the undemocratic IPA, rage against the ALP, the Greens, unions, against the poorest and most vulnerable citizens in our country, against legal asylum seekers escaping from the tyranny of an illegal war Howard helped to create!

Every day Murdoch and his salivating shock jocks are ramping up xenophobic racism, hatred, fear, misogyny and heaping verbal attacks against young, female climate change activists on SkyNews, 2GB or the vacuous talking heads on Channels 7, 9 and 10 (the airhead, Kerry Ann Kennerly is an offensive example)! Now we have politically-motivated raids and hugely expensive government-sponsored Royal Commissions against unions, the ALP and into the offices of the ABC without one word of protest in the Murdoch press who, in fact, cheered on the fascist campaigns against these hated opponents of the LNP/Murdoch/IPA agenda!

How did all this start since the time when Labor introduced the regulation that more than 51% of our so-called democratic media could, and should, not be owned, managed and controlled by a single entity?

Answer: the undemocratic, Murdoch sycophant and infamous war criminal, John Howard rescinded the Media Ownership Laws in this nation and gave permission for the catastrophic bias, fascist lack of democracy, unashamed elitism and prejudiced right-wing bias by the LNP/Murdoch/IPA Alliance to be ramped-up to a level which goes against everything our nation values and once understood about democratic free speech, and our rights as a so-called democracy to expect and demand impartiality of the news! This unholy collaboration of totally corrupt, mutually benefiting elitists is, without any doubt, the worst, most dangerously fascist attack against our democracy in history – and it goes on and on unabated and, in fact, is escalating.

Let’s never forget that Murdoch is a non-taxpaying, non-Australian who tossed his Australian citizenship in the garbage decades ago so that he could meet the American requirements of being an American citizen in order to get his world dominance of the American press to control public opinion (to his benefit) in the USA. The internationally-despised, power-obsessed megalomaniacal Murdoch dynasty – and their truly vile, self-entitled and callously inhumane sycophants – are the worst kind of undemocratic spinners of fake news, blatantly muzzling free speech, distorting facts and presenting a phoney parallel reality to serve themselves and the agenda of the bible-thumping hypocrites in the extreme right-wing conservative end of politics.

The fact that the LNP/Murdoch/IPA have staged non-stop attacks and venomous slurs against anyone and everyone who has the courage to stand up and speak out against Murdoch’s remorseless lies, self-serving hyperbole and tyrannical, draconian influence over the right-wing Murdoch whores in conservative governments in the UK, USA and, especially, the LNP in Australia, is beyond criminal!

Let’s not mince words: The Murdoch dynasty and their mates in Murdoch’s IPA owns the LNP lock, stock and two smoking barrels! They write the LNP agenda, compose the LNP’s elitist policies and dictate what these spineless, non-achieving lackeys in the Abbott/Turnbull/MorriScum chaotic circus say and do! The Murdoch-owned media – and their disciples in SkyNews, 2GB and free-to-air TV – are as guilty for what they do not report as for the type of propaganda they do! No mention of the LNP’s current national debt and deficit disaster of more than $700 billion after they screamed blue murder about the moderate $240 billion debt left behind by Rudd and Gillard! Not one mention about the LNP using taxpayer funds, in the middle of one of the worst droughts in our history, to fund the construction of private dams for the sole use of foreign-owned cronies of the LNP in the thirsty and unspeakably greedy cotton growing industry!

No mention of the non-stop, undeclared donations handed to them by the non-taxpaying billionaires who sit on the Board of the IPA, eg Rinehardt, Twiggy Forrest et al. No mention of the evil, politically-motivated defundment of Australian taxpayer-owned ABC and SBS where the LNP/IPA is constantly threatening the ABC with further defundment and privatisation (against the wishes and best interests of the huge majority of the Australian public) if the ABC does not “toe the conservative line”! No mention of the fact that ever since Abbott crawled into power on a stack of Murdoch-published lies, broken promises and slanderous campaigns (like the horrendously misogynistic Ditch the Witch campaign that went on for months on end against Julia Gillard), the LNP/Murdoch/IPA have embarked on a deliberate, undemocratic campaign to “stack” the ABC Board with a long line of LNP/Murdoch/IPA sycophants (like Janet Albrechsten, Ita Buttrose and many more) to garnish full control of what Australians will hear and see on our taxpayer-owned television station – the last bastion of media not fully controlled by Murdoch … Yet! No mention about how the LNP/IPA are stacking every panel with vile, self-entitled elitists peddling right-wing propaganda on every panel show, especially Q&A, with insignificant, repugnant grubs like James Patterson (also a member of the IPA), the awful serial liar Alan Jones and an array of other toxic conservatives.

If there is one thing the LNP/Murdoch/IPA Alliance know and follow to the letter is what the Nazi Propaganda Minister and Hitler espoused: “If you tell a lie often enough and with enough conviction, in the end, people will believe it” and, very clearly: “When you control everything people see and hear, you can control how they think!” The Alliance are masters of manipulation, proficient snake oil salesmen, pushing filth, slander and lies, distorting facts and omitting any form of news that will damage their own fascist agenda or expose their criminal level of corruption, economic mismanagement, environmental vandalism and ongoing self-serving rorting and waste of hard-earned taxpayer funds!

BRING BACK ESSENTIAL AND DEMOCRATIC MEDIA OWNERSHIP LAWS THAT WILL INHIBIT AND SILENCE THE BLATANT, ONGOING FASCISM OF THE LNP/MURDOCH/IPA ALLIANCE.

This law must be enshrined by the judiciary to ensure that it cannot be changed or rescinded by ruthless self-serving LNP governments in the future!

This article was originally published as a comment under Government Funding and the Free Press.

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Is Labor doomed for oblivion, or can Albo mount a comeback?

Bill Shorten took over as leader of Australian Labor Party in 2013 and resigned in 2019 after taking the party to two elections.

He won the leadership in a two-horse race with Anthony Albanese (Albo) under revised party rules: Rules that gave Albanese little chance of winning.

In 2016 he came within one seat of becoming Prime Minister after adopting a strategy of prematurely revealing major policies well before the election.

He also adopted a benign approach to the everyday swings of Australian politics. An approach that was seen as sensible by some and too light on by others.

He wasn’t expected to win in 2016 so his narrow loss was seen as exemplary. In 2019 he was in better shape and given the dreadful performance of the Coalition in office was expected to win in a canter.

Labor had led in the polls for the better part of three years. Shorten had turned the conventional wisdom on its ear by going early with new policies and shirt-fronting the government at every opportunity.

In many ways it was a radical approach to electioneering taking from the rich to accommodate a fairer and more equal society. Having said that, there were many Labor die-hards who wanted policy to be even further to the left. Conversely, others wanted more centre-right policies.

In short, Labor had done everything right. They were disciplined and loyal to their leader but when the crunch came, even with a set of policies that would make for a better society, their campaigning was terrible.

“The campaign, not the issues, was Labor’s Achilles heel, with the Coalition’s personal attacks on Shorten the final nail in the coffin,” wrote Peter Lewis in The Guardian.

A leak, however, from the committee appointed to reason why Labor lost, seems to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Shorten.

It is now almost 6 months since Labor experienced its night of soul-destroying darkness. All the untruths and scares told by a prodigious teller of fabrication by Morrison wasn’t enough to unseat him.

The accrued mistrust of Shorten together with union association and unpopularity reigned supreme over the lies and scare campaigns of the Coalition. It must have run deep.

Once again Labor was to experience the loneliness of opposition.

Having had a right-wing Opposition Leader who took them to the left they elected a left-wing leader in Anthony Albanese who seems intent on taking them to the right.

In the months that have past, Albanese has given members the chance to publicly speak up on policy. Some have, and I feel sure more will once the report into their election loss is released in the next week or so.

Moreover, this point in time Albanese seems to be taking the rather old fashioned tactic of laying low unless its otherwise necessary, upping the anti in the third year and releasing policy with only a few weeks or months to go before the election.

At this point it would be wrong not to release a climate policy, very wrong.

The perception of Albo was that he could ‘tuff’ talk to any conservative leader. He indeed unlike others knew how to lay a decent shirtfront on the government.

Initially, Party members wanted him instead of Shorten. Now that they have him and the shirt-front is nothing more than a powder-puff to the left cheek, they want more aggression. As if it resolves everything.

As the theory goes, Labor only ever wins when a person of charisma enters the fray. Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd were men of their time who had vision, excited the people with the possibility that they could achieve great things.

All had one thing in common. They dared to be different, even radical.

The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right.

There are those in the Party, and those who support it, who long for the socialism of days long gone without a thought for the changes that have occurred in society. As if one thought suits all.

People scream out “retaliate with the truth”, but the fact is that accessibility or exposure to do so in opposition is limited to a 15-second grab on the nightly news.

Taken in totality, and in my view, there was nothing wrong with Labor’s policies for the recent election. It was just the way they were presented that was deplorable. A Hawke or Keating would have held society in the palm of their right hand and mellifluously told them the facts.

Had as much thought been put into how they were to sell them, and indeed defend the complications in them, they might have stood a chance.

As it was there were so many impediments that you could drive the proverbial truck through them.

Just as the government has a list of talking points to defend its policies, so too should the opposition have had to defend its own.

For example, when employment raises its head every Labor MP should know the following:

“In September 2013, there were 706,400 people unemployed (trend) or 697,100 (seasonally adjusted).

In September 2019, there were 718,000 people unemployed (trend) or 709,600 (seasonally adjusted).

They aren’t keeping up with population growth. Why does no one ever say in response to the jobs growth claim, that there are 12,000 more people unemployed now than when they took over?”

Tell it straight, tell it as it is and fix it.

I have gotten a little ahead of myself so let’s come back to the present. Labor is going through a period of self-examination with a new leader who hasn’t yet found his feet.

Albo is, however, making overtones of doing politics of the past whereas what is needed is something purer than the abrasive manner of the mouth that roared.

Albo should be using the phrase; “He’s loose with the truth” (about Scott Morrison) on every occasion he can, and keep on doing it until it sinks in.

And he should add; ”Just a clone of Trump” to a collection.

It is reasonable to assume that after his sucking up to Trump, Morrison is telling us that it will be the path of Trumpism he will be taking in the future.

At the moment Morrison is having a ball portraying Labor as a party of the past and that it is he and his party that are for the workers.

This impression is reinforced by responses to questions in this week’s Essential Report designed to get the first real take on peoples perceptions of Anthony Albanese’s Labor.

Morrison’s marketing experience – based mostly on slogans – comes through in everything he says and does. He understands the value of lies, repetition and misrepresentation.

It is a pity that Australian politics has degenerated to such a level, but it does however; give Labor an opportunity of rebirth, maybe as a “Common good party.” Dare to be different, and above all be progressive.

It would be a grave mistake to re emerge as just another centre-right party.

It seems to me that everyone wants an economy that is performing well.

However, when you are asking those who can least afford it to disproportionally support it you are not serving the common good.

When Joe Hockey was Treasurer he told the National Press Club: “The average worker works one month every year to pay for the welfare of others.”

At the time I wondered how many months the average worker worked to subsidise farmers, miners, tax breaks, negative gearing, franking credits, private and religious schools (religions don’t pay taxes), and retired politicians.

Fairness and equality of opportunity must be central to any Labor Party platform.

It is difficult to get a grip on just how Albo might rebrand Labor after its period of self-examination given that the opposition leader, given his confusing support for so many Coalition policies.

At the moment he is less popular than Shorten himself. If he doesn’t survive they could end up with a future leadership team of Queensland’s Jim Chalmers and former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

So much depends on the attitude of the leader that it is even more difficult to predict how the party will brand itself without it being settled in leadership.

Let’s put that aside for a moment. Before any re-branding can take place the party has to be satisfied that the reason or reasons for the defeat have all been exposed.

Was it the unpopularity of Bill Shorten? Was it the policies or was it entirely the campaign itself?

For me it was the trifecta. Yes, Shorten was unpopular. No, there was nothing wrong with the policies – it was the leaders inability to articulate them, which of course bleeds into the conduct of the campaign.

Ask yourself would Labor have won with Albo?

A hypothetical question indeed. And truthfully I don’t know what Labor should do. It is too early. All I can do is offer some comments, ideas and suggestions, but I have always felt that cleaning up our democracy would be a noble pursuit and the first step toward regaining government.

I note that as I write the news community today, 21 October, are asking for more transparency in our government. It is true that we have a government of a “need to know” mentality, that hides things from us and is about as transparent as a black glass window.

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.

Here are some thoughts on a Labor revival based on repairing our democracy:

  1. The Labor Party needs to rid itself of out-dated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead.
  2. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.
  3. In terms of talent, both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual liability without enough female representation and worldly work-life experience.
  4. Labor’s pre-selection processes are rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out.
  5. There is a need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the union movement. Fix it.
  6. Our Parliament, its institutions, and conventions was so trashed by Tony Abbott and those who followed that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Fix it.
  7. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past. Fix it.
  8. Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds that are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills. Fix it.
  9. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Fix it.
  10. Question time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Fix it.
  11. Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. Fix it.
  12. Light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. It has debased the parliament and all MPs, as moronic imbecilic individuals. Fix it

I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership.

In recent times we have had potential, but it was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest, and narcissistic personality.

The pursuit of power for power’s sake and the retention of it has so engulfed political thinking that the people have become secondary and the common good dwells somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for good public policy that achieves social equity.

People on the right of politics in Australia show insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.

Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers; with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.

On the contrary, it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably. Fix it.

Bloggers more reflect the feelings of grass-roots society.

Truth in government as a principle of democratic necessity needs to be reinstated.

Fix it first and common good policy will follow.

My thought for the day

Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process make the most contribution to its demise.

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Equine Hypocrisies: Racehorses for the Knackery

It was always a probable fact: the dark consequences of having what is termed in Australia a “racing” industry, where breeds do battle on the track, sponsored and watered by the money of an industry that sees no sign of contracting. Curiously, most states within the Australian Commonwealth boast a racing minister to mind the industries in which punters, animal owners and investors partake. From greyhounds to horses, a lingering question remains: Where to with the animals once they have done their dash?

The answer came last Thursday in an ABC 7.30 Report, showing the grizzly reality facing horses once they have performed their valiant duty on track. The footage featured the mistreated beasts in their thousands, brutalised, shocked and dragged to their imminent death. Racing broadcaster Bruce McAvaney had his mind on the footage, even as he was celebrating race meets at Caulfield and Randwick. “Thursday night’s ABC expose of what happens to some retired racehorses calls for immediate action.”

There have been tears, distress and the sense of being unable to view the procession of cruelty. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk claimed being “sickened and appalled”. Her minister for agriculture and minister for racing were likewise “deeply concerned about the allegations of animal abuse that surfaced.”

But such grieving critics have also cultivated a sense of denial over the years, nursing romantic notions that racehorses find their plot of acreage and enjoy a life of well-fed retirement. McAvaney, for one, sees, “The nurturing of our racehorses in retirement as just as important as the care and training given to a yearling for a four-year old champion.”

The ugly, yet obvious point, has been avoided. Not all horses in the racing industry rise to the level of feted aristocracy. Many are the unknowables and even the untouchables. Viewed as assets, the racing horse who does not race, or races poorly, depreciates. Many end up at places such as the Meramist abattoir, purchased by kill buyers such as Peter Loffel, who is on record suggesting the industry’s complicity.

This squeamishness about horse slaughter is inconsistent in one sense. It suggests a privileged sentimentality: the noble animal, butchered in industrial fashion and unable to live out its days in admired splendour, should strike a person as exceptionally appalling. Then again, other animals are just as readily industrially slaughtered. In Calla Wahlquist’s words, “while the slaughter of horses through methods identical to those used to slaughter cattle or sheep is ethically no different, it has caused significantly more upset.” If only cattle and sheep could race.

It should be noted that the slaughter of horses is legal under Australian law, though these are regulated by national standards, animal welfare legislation passed at the state level, and industrial codes of practice. A publication outlining the relevant standards is matter-of-fact in tone. “The focus is on essential health and hygiene issues and provides for standards that are consistent with the principles and objectives of the world standards contained in Codex Alimentarius, Volume 10 (1994).” Hardly a moving document, the focus here being on the guarantee of “wholesomeness”.

On the issue of figures, stubbornness prevails. The national broadcaster has questioned suggestions by industry stalwarts that a mere one percent of horses who retire from racing find their way to an abattoir or knackery. But the cold reality remains that horses who have left the racing fold no longer come within the purview, one might even say interest, of the industry.

A study done in 2008 by the School of Animal Studies and the Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics at the University of Queensland made the point that “the subject of horse slaughter can be emotive as the horse is considered, by many, to be a companion animal. Information concerning the industry is therefore limited and because of this, little is known regarding the demographics and condition of horses relinquished to either abattoirs or knackeries.” That research came to the rather glum finding that some 40 percent of those ending up being slaughtered were thoroughbreds.

Then there is the economic incentive. Animals, however elevated in the imagination, are ultimately expressions of lucre. The callings of the racing industry take precedence over the calling of kindness or ethical worth. Barry O’Farrell’s 2018 report, for instance, is celebratory about thoroughbred racing in Australia, seeing as it contributes $9,152.2 million to the economy, $800 million in State and federal taxes while keeping some 71,937 people in jobs.

Those in the interest of animal welfare have various, mixed suggestions on how to approach this. There is an accounting approach: the establishment of a national horse traceability register, for instance. The Australian Senate is on the task and set to release the findings of an inquiry into the subject in December. Till then, there are only brief spikes of rage when the next figure or statistic is published showing the bloody end of racehorses. (In June, The Guardian noted that some 30 percent of Australian race horses imported by South Korea over a five-year period have ended up being butchered).

One chance to avoid the slaughterhouse is to prolong the durability of the racing animal. “If we come to value durability as much as other performance traits,” suggest Paul McGreevy, Bidda Jones and Cathrynne Henshall, “we can reward breeders who select for long racing careers alongside other attributes.” Another suggestion, albeit starker and one draining on the industry racket, is to have fewer horses. Reducing the scale will reduce the harm. But those besotted by the mighty dollar would have something to say about that. First comes the investment, then come the morals.

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Government Funding and the Free Press

By Jay Smith  

In the domain of politics and state government, the relationship between media and the state needs to be constantly examined. Journalists in the past have served to both promote politicians and government initiatives while investigating and scrutinising politicians and the government of the state. This relationship between the media and politics has changed over the last decade due to new influences in the form of new advertising and communication mediums. In this piece, I am going to discuss the inadequacy of the free press as a result of changes in the information-seeking behaviour in the new forms of advertising and communication mediums. While in the past the media has looked predominantly to the interests of the public by way of funding and creating quality investigative journalism, media organisations have had to increasingly look towards their own interests to maintain their capacity to function. The result has been the incapacity of the press to adapt and to be able to fund itself and sustain quality unbiased investigative journalism. I will be suggesting a new method by which media organisations can attain funding through assisting government initiatives while remaining neutral in terms of government influence over what the funding is used for and its bias towards or against the government. This method, of course, will require close examination and strong restrictions on government overreach that has yet to be put in place. There are a number of restrictions that need to be put in place to sustain a government-funded free press.

When writing of the concept of a free press it is important to define what a free press is, as all press organisations are ultimately governed by either the interest of the audience, editors, journalists, beneficiaries and advertisers or all of the above. Ultimately if a press organisation is not governed by an audience, beneficiaries or advertiser’s freedom, in general, is not about being able to do as one pleases, freedom is about having as few restrictions as possible where one can do as they please while abiding by those few restrictions. Ultimately a free press is unfiltered by a government organisation. A free press cannot operate under the suspicion of having its funding docked if certain information is published or not published. A free press has a right to protect its sources. However, press is always governed by the prerogative and inflection of the journalists and editors.

It is key to a functional society to have a free and unbiased media in regard to government initiatives. Media organisations have influence over public opinion which allows the media to sway elections and influence the popularity of political parties and government initiatives. A free press serves to without bias investigate politicians and government initiatives. Bias within the media in relation to politics and government initiatives serves to ignore and permit corruption within a government. When a media organisations funding is controlled by government organisation it serves to propagate a government’s message. This commonly is referred to as propaganda. The dangers involved with a society that is seduced by propaganda and a government that coverts corruption can easily be illuminated with a quick history lesson on dictatorial governments. Dictatorial governments in the past century have committed some of the worst atrocities against human rights climate change Governments that only need to pay lip service to the democratic process.

In the current decade privately owned and funded, trustable journalism has suffered from funding cuts. The age of trustable free market news organisations have suffered due to budget cuts resulting from the rise of social media that offers a cost-effective and more efficient advertisement medium to market products, services, and initiatives. Mediums such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become more effective in communicating with an audience and building trust and carrying a brand’s message to an audience. Companies whose advertising funds that once went to the media have become aware of the new trend of information-seeking behaviour. Having become aware of this, companies on a large scale have followed suit in their advertising spending habits. Leaving copious gaps in the funding of free press news organisations.

The creation of reliable and trustworthy news has suffered due to its limited profitability. Media organisations have taken to looking to their own interests in order to function and employ journalists. This has resulted in the rise of trends such as dubious news stories that have been given the name ‘fake news’ additionally advertorials in order for news organisation to function and to gain profit. Becoming a mouthpiece to propagate biased and untrustworthy news. With the advent of dwindling paying subscribers, news organisations have had to rely on the use of the advertorial where articles are written and paid for by companies to favourably promote a brand. I for one assume that all news articles freely acquired contain dubious content or advertorial. For one I believe that all journalists need to and deserve to be paid for their work, however, the process by which the journalist acquires funding needs to be examined thoroughly.

A popular method of subsidising income for news media is that of the advertisement separate from the article. This has been proven to be the most effective way of generating income for news organisations. Additionally, it is the most ethically sound method of news production. However, for those that wish to pursue paper-based news mediums of advertising, online advertising through organisations such as Facebook and Google has by far surpassed as a more effective form of advertising, with the possibility to niche partition an audience, monitor feedback and click through rates and cost per action accountability.

Politicians and governing bodies have in the past used the medium of advertising to promote their interests, political party and affiliations. This particularly is used in the run-up to elections when a politician needs to promote themselves or at the time of a referendum. The money used to purchase these services comes directly out of the taxpayer’s pocket charged to the government to foot the bill. While working for news organisations I handled sales of political advertising during peak and off-peak election seasons. The flow of funds from the government to the media directly for the purchase of advertising. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds are spent on political advertising each election cycle.

Government organisations outside of the promotion of politicians and political parties serve to create policies and initiatives that provide products and services to the people they govern. From healthcare to social welfare, social security to disability support, a government must engage its citizens to promote and markets government subsidised products and services. Government funds are spent to market products and services to see that they are used correctly and reach the right people. The question I considered was is there a more ethical way of governments putting copious amounts of money into media while remaining unbiased as to news content. A way for taxpayer’s funds to be spent on media outlets, while aiding governments in promoting their subsidised products and services.

In 2016, while working as part of the media I developed the basis for a model for news journalism to acquire funding through government initiatives while remaining relatively unrestricted as to government interference. While a news organisation can specialise in the production of news, in order to subsidise funding a news organisation can produce niche market supplementary services to raise revenue. This service can be applied to a limitless range of industries each focused around a common interest or clientele. This can take the form of a directory service supported by advertising and relevant important news and information. The supplementary services are completely separate from the news organisation however aid in funding the operation of the news organisation.

While looking for a potentially profitable niche market to advertise within I was able to gain firsthand access to the roll-out and implementation phase of a new government initiative. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) an Australian government department that provides products and services to support the disabled. The department began a new initiative where for the first time the disabled in the country’s history were able to choose from a range of registered private service providers. The department had a registered list of service providers companies whose operations are subsidised by the government. The capacity for choice allowed for a new competitive market to take place amongst government-funded companies.

The funding model which was implemented was for the media to approach government subsidised companies for advertising opportunities, while assisting in the promotion of a government initiative. This allowed for private companies to choose their prospective advertisers. The key component of choice by private organisations un-interfered with by the government allowed for funds to be channelled to a free press organisation from the government which removed the ability for government to influence the media. This allows for the free journalism to operate outside of the restriction of government interference.

The capacity for the client of government faculties to choose their perspective advertising agent under this model would allow for the associated journalists the freedom to operate within the use of government funding without government interference. This un-interfered operation of the free-market choice would provide a press free from the constraints of the interest of the government, an audience, and beneficiaries. The operation of the press under this model would appear superficially as the best possible outcome for news journalism, the alternative relying on philanthropy. However, the beneficiaries of these organisations that fund a press of this nature would have to be paid attention to.

For the funding model to operate without government interference, restrictions on government overreach need to be put in place. These restrictions will help to safeguard free press media organisations and stop funding from being manipulated by the government.

The free choice of government-subsidised businesses under the free market is key to the success of this model. Any government-subsidised companies that advertise through free press organisations need to be allowed to choose their avenue of advertisement without manipulation. Government interference at this level could allow the government to choose the direction of funding, directing funds to a favoured associated press news organisation. Laws need to be created to stop the restriction on choices by the government on government-subsidised organisation in regard to their choice of advertising service.

To further protect the free presses’ capacity to operate without restriction, more than one if not as many as possible separate free press organisations need to be involved in the assistance of advertising in relation to a single government initiative. The revenue raised from the product of advertising if not governed by the free market needs to be shared equally amongst free press news organisations. The capacity for the government to choose which media organisation to channel its subsidised funding through would allow for bias in regard to funding. Alternatively, if one organisation is to undertake the advertising and marketing of one government initiative the government has the capacity to withdraw channelled funding from unfavoured organisations.

Additionally, for a government-subsidised free press to operate transparency is key. Information is needed to be freely available in regard to details of the companies that are receiving government-subsidised funding. If a media organisation is shut out from accessing the details of a government-subsidised company, then the media organisation will be unable to receive the revenue raised through marketing and advertising the government initiative. This would be an ideal way for a government to manipulate funds and exercise bias. Openly available information is key.

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Sometimes Even Censorship Doesn’t Help…

Most of you probably saw Monday’s papers which contained words interrupted by large blocks of ink suggesting that the inbetween bits had been redacted. Of course, they hadn’t because if you read the printed words, they still made sense so the whole thing was a little contrived.

Personally, I’m not sure that it was the way to go. It may have been far more effective to have printed a story with the best bits blanked out. To show you what I mean, look at the following hypothetical example:

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the (redacted). After consuming (redacted) followed by(redacted), he seemed (redacted), so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his (redacted) and started showing (redacted) to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my(redacted)!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful (redacted)!” He was forced to stop when his (redacted) went (redacted).  He requested to put his (redacted) into a nearby (redacted) but he was told that it (redacted). He did manage to use someone’s (redacted). 

Which, of course, is a lot more worrying than the unredacted version.

Barnaby Joyce caused quite a stir while at the local pubAfter consuming a hearty main course followed by a dessert, he seemed relaxed, so nobody was surprised when he pulled out his phone and started showing  photos of his baby to anyone in the vicinity. “Look at my boy!” exclaimed Barnaby, “What a beautiful baby” He was forced to stop when his mobile went flat. He requested to put his charger into a nearby powerpoint but he was told that it was faulty He did manage to use someone’s portable charger.

Similarly, read this one about Scott Morrison so that you can see how censoring information can create a totally wrong impression.

ScoMo, as he likes to call himself, or (redacted), as many others call him, has some very interesting friends. Most people have heard about his friend, (redacted) , whose father was a (redacted) . But very few people have heard about his bestie whose part of (redacted)  group which believes that there’s a “deep state” conspiracy trying to (redacted), and whose wife is on the public payroll as (redacted) , because the media have been told not to print anything about them because it’s been declared off limits by Morrison and none of them want to print anything unless the government says it’s ok.

Oh, apparently I can’t print the unredacted version of that one without expecting the police to come and ask me to hand over my computer and show them what I had in my underwear drawer…

Anyway, I can’t wait for the media to actually show the sort of courage that I’m not prepared to because I’m worried that they’d make fun of my Sponge Bob boxer shorts. Besides I’m not a serious journalist…

I trust that last sentence won’t have me sharing a cell with Julian Assange, and not just because the Ecuadorians said that he wasn’t much fun. Whatever, if you don’t hear from me, you’ll know that I’ve been (redacted) and (redacted). 

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The Coalition money shuffle

One of Joe Hockey’s first acts as Treasurer in 2013 was to gift the RBA $8.8 billion.  The main reason for this was to make Labor’s deficit look bigger.  As a side bonus, it allowed the RBA to invest in the forex market, banking on the Australian dollar losing value as the mining boom subsided.

And that is exactly what happened allowing the government to draw…wait for it…$8.8 billion in dividends over the last six years.  That’s all very well (if we ignore how the Coalition screamed like stuck pigs when Labor took a one-off dividend of $500 million in 2013) except Hockey borrowed the $8.8 billion so we are still paying interest on it.

We have also paid a fortune in “fees for banking services” as investment banks have raked in hundreds of millions in trading fees.

Had Hockey not engaged in this political chicanery, we would be billions of dollars better off.

And then there are the six Future Funds which contained $198.8 billion as at June 30 this year.

The direct cost of managing these funds was over $1 billion for the last three years alone.

The DisabilityCare Australia Fund had $16.4 billion sitting in it, which must be aggravating to the many people still waiting to access services or those who have had their services reduced.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund (ATSILS Fund) was established in February 2019 with a capital contribution of $2 billion transferred from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account.

The purpose of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, to whom the fund will make payments apparently at the discretion of the Minister if the investment mandate targets have been met, is to acquire and manage land, water and water-related rights so as to attain economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits.  One wonders how much will actually be handed over for that purpose now that Peter Costello has his hands on it.  I am sure the mining companies would prefer that money to be tied up rather than used.

In July, the government deposited another $7.8 billion into the Medical Research Future Fund.  As we were still in deficit, this was a pretty amazing feat which must have come at the cost of other research cuts and/or interest costs for the borrowed money.  It’s interesting how they can find a lazy $8 billion when they want to.

The Education Investment Fund, originally intended for new facilities in the higher education sector, had payments frozen in 2013 and it has been accumulating funds since.  These have now been taken to create the government’s new $4 billion Emergency Response Fund.

Then, on 1 September 2019, the assets of the Building Australia Fund were transferred to the newly created Future Drought Fund.

The original Future Fund was established in 2006, funded in part from budget surpluses but mainly from the sale of Telstra.  As at June 30, there was $162.6 billion sitting in it.

Kevin Rudd, as Opposition leader, suggested using $2.7 billion of it to invest in a National Broadband Network with profits being returned to the Future Fund.  The Howard government screamed blue murder, claiming that Labor intended to “raid” the Future Fund for their own means.  Gee, that has worked out well for us hasn’t it.

While legislation permits drawdowns from the Future Fund from 1 July 2020, the Government announced in the 2017-18 budget that it will refrain from making withdrawals until at least 2026-27.

What on earth is the point of sitting on that pile of money when only 20% of it is invested in Australia?

The ten year return has been 10.4% for the Future Fund which might sound good until you look at Infrastructure Australia’s High Priority Project list where every project has a cost benefit ratio of better than that.

We could be employing people in productivity enhancing infrastructure construction. We could be increasing primary healthcare and reducing hospital waiting times to save money and improve quality of life.  We could be investing in research and education, both of which bring a far greater return than 10%.

But the Coalition are obsessed with accumulating cash and apparently have zero understanding of the value of actually using the money for the benefit of our economy and our citizens.

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Celebrity Protesters and Extinction Rebellion

Benedict Cumberbatch. Olivia Colman. Fine actors. They believe in Extinction Rebellion, or perhaps, rebelling against the prospect of extinction. The environment thing, humanity as a damnably scandalous, ecologically damaging species. But they also believe in taking sponsorship from the very same entities who are doing their best (or worst) to engage in matters of existential oblivion. So the circle of contradiction, even hypocrisy, is complete.

The matter has come to the fore over overt expressions of support for XR’s two-week effort of disruption in London by the entertainment set. Severable notable sites have received the attention of the climate change protest group. The Treasury building has been sprayed with fake blood. The London Underground train system has been disrupted. Protestors have glued themselves to trains, to floors and even mounted trains. Roads to Westminster were blocked, sit-ins staged at City Airport. Over 1,700 arrests have been made.

Phil Kingston was one such figure, not exactly a rabble rouser or hardened rioter. The 83-year-old glued his hand to the side of a carriage at Shadwell and was concerned for his grandchildren. “I’m also very concerned about what’s happening in the poorer parts of the world who are being hit hardest by climate breakdown.” Being Christian, he expressed concern about “God’s creation being wrecked across the world.” Kingston was also jointed by a rather eclectic sampling: a vicar, an ex-Buddhist instructor, and a former GP.

The incident, which involved aggressive scuffling between commuters and the protesters, was acknowledged in a statement from the movement as something divisive. “In light of today’s events, Extinction Rebellion will be looking at ways to bring people together rather than create an unnecessary division.” Others were keen to pick holes in the rationale of the protest: Why, for instance, get at an electric train? Within XR, things are far from uniform.

Such protestors were a rather humble lot, but it did not take long for the bigger fish to join the shoal. Cumberbatch added his voice of support, his grin flashing as it was snapped by cameras in front of the Extinction Rebellion hearse blocking traffic to Trafalgar Square. Behind him were the conspicuous words hovering with spectral, foreboding promise: “Our future.”

The criticism of this was not far behind. Cumberbatch is the very conspicuous “brand ambassador” for MG in India. (Previously, Jaguar counted him among their celebrity proponents). The MG GS sports a particularly thirsty engine, and the actor is featured in an advertisement doing rounds in one on, of all places, Trafalgar Square. MG India’s Hector SUV has also boasted Cumberbatch’s smooth persona.

Academy award winner Colman has also found herself at odd between protest and brand. Having openly expressed her support for the movement, questions were asked by some of the more barbed wings of the British press whether there might be a clash between being on a British Airways inflight video, and disrupting flights.

Over the summer, Oscar winning actress Dame Emma Thompson was also ribbed for flying from Los Angeles to London to participate in an Extinction Rebellion protest. Her explanation to BBC Radio 4 was that the objects of her job, and being a protester, might not always converge. “It’s very difficult to do my job without occasionally flying, although I do fly a lot less than I did.”

Those bastions of supposed establishment wisdom, such as The Spectator, were chortling and derisive. Toby Young was keen to highlight how purchasing vegan baguettes at Pret a Manger was inconsistent with anti-capitalist protest. He also expressed, at least initially, concern at how law enforcement authorities had, generally speaking, been models of restraint before XR enthusiasts. Had there been “a group of Catholic nuns protesting about changes to the Gender Recognition Act, the riot squad would have been straight with the tear gas.” For Young, it was good to laugh at these modern millenarians infused with the spirit of apocalyptic terror.

The issue of celebrity encrustation, however, was bound to come by and find voice. And the engine room of entertainment turns the moral message, however hypocritical, into entertainment. Bite the hand that feeds you and call it a show. Having anticipated the rage, the celebrity big wigs have turned vice into a virtue. An open letter with a hundred names or so, from Sir Bob Geldof to Sienna Miller, took to the barricades and distribution channels with an open letter of affected contrition.  “Dear journalists who have called us hypocrites. You’re right. We live high carbon lives and the industries that we are part of have huge carbon footprints.”

What matters is the broad church of hypocrisy. “Like you – and everyone else – we are stuck in this fossil-fuel economy and without systemic change, our lifestyles will keep on causing climate and ecological harm.”

Those behind the letter stressed the speed of change as their concern. “Climate change is happening faster and more furiously than was predicted. Millions of people are suffering, leaving their homes and arriving on our border as refugees.” Children, through the voice of Greta Thunberg, had also called upon “the people with power and influence, to stand up and fight for their already devasted future.” (Rather cocksure are these celebrities, they, who wield such, as yet unmeasured influence).

Unlike those critical journalists, the signatories cannot help but be just a touch smug. There was “a more urgent story that our profiles and platforms can draw attention to. Life on earth is dying. We are living in the midst of the 6th mass extinction.”

Much, and in some cases too much, can be made about the celebrity activist who undercuts the argument. “None of us,” explained Sarah Lunnon of Extinction Rebellion, “is perfect.” The argument is still worth making, and publicity still worth having. Unfortunately for the likes of Cumberbatch, the gravity of such messages can be obscured by the person as label. In revolution, becoming a label is not only counterproductive but deadly. Protestors like Kingston can just hold their head that much higher.

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What The Liberals Did Next And Wasn’t It Just The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?

Ok, I thought I might be imagining it, but I’ll show you the tweets to see if you notice what I noticed. I don’t actually follow the Liberal Party of Australia on Twitter but their tweets pop in my feed… possibly because I frequently go to the sites of various Coalition politicians to check if they really said that because I’d feel like a prized chump… or Trump… if I believed something when it was so clearly a hoax from something like The Chaser or The Betoota Advocate. Unfortunately, the answer is almost invariably, “Yes, he really said that!”. Not always, of course. Sometimes, the answer is: “Yes, she really said that!” but given the small number of female MPs in the Coalition and the even smaller number of times they’re allowed make a public statement, that’s a pretty rare occurrence. Anyway, Tweet 1 (Tweets are images and may not show on some platforms)

Tweet 2

Tweet 3

Tweet 4 – Are we noticing anything yet?

Tweet 5 – Ok, surely you must have thought what I thought by now!

Tweet 6 – If you haven’t noticed by now, you must have voted for them at the past two elections…

Tweet 7 – Still haven’t noticed? Are you Alex Downer?

Tweet 8 – Yes there isn’t a single tweet that’s about something they’ve done since 2013 until the following one. However, it is a retweet. The caption, “future of Australia” is just a coincidence because I snapped a video. It’s not mean to suggest that Mr Morrison thinks that this guy is the future of Australia. It’s certainly not suggesting that Morrison is the future of Australia.

Tweet 9 – Ah, John Howard. We’ve moved into the 21st Century… Oh wait, it’s his 1996 election campaign.

Tweet 10 – This just goes to show that they’re not racist and it’s only the lefties that think so!

All those Tweets show the accomplishments of the Liberal Party.

Who says that this is a do nothing government? Ok, none of them were about anything that the current mob have done, but they’ve only been in power a year, if you pretend that time under Turnbull and Abbott doesn’t count because we didn’t have the Miracle Man in charge until 2018.

Still you’ve got to admire his drought policy. Talk about a plan to spend money in the future, give money to councils whether they need it or not and pray for rain. When it eventually does rain, claim the credit because you’ve been praying.

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The Decent Protester: A Down Under Creation

The Decent Protester, appropriately capitalised and revered is, from the outset, one who does not protest. It is an important point: to protest in the visage of such a person is an urge best left to inner fantasy and feeling. You come late to the scene: the best work and revolt has been done; the people who made the change are either dead, in prison, or ostracised. Modest changes might be made to the legal system, if at all.

To actually protest, by which is meant screaming, hollering, and disrupting, with the occasional sign of public indignation, is something of a betrayal. A betrayal to your comfortable station; a betrayal to your happy state of affairs. Show disgust, but keep it regular, modest and contained. Add a dash of bitters that amount to hypocrisy.

This regularity is something that ensures the continuation of police states, apartheid regimes, and vicious rulers. It also perpetuates the status quo in liberal democracies. The cleverness of this is the idea of permissible revolt: As long as you operate within the acceptable boundaries of protest, your conscience is given its balm, and the regime can continue to hum to the tune of the tolerable. It is a principle that states of all political hues adopt, though the degree of that adoption is sometimes moderated by bills of rights and the like.

When Henry D. Thoreau was arrested and found himself spending a night in a Concord prison in 1846 for refusing to pay his poll tax, he was making a broader statement about breaking rules, albeit from a selfish perspective. His objects of disaffection were slavery and the Mexican War. To the individual exists a conscience that should not bow to majoritarian wishes.  If there is a law “of such a nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another,” he writes in Civil Disobedience, “then, I say, break the law.” In Walden (1854), he elaborated on the point, claiming that no citizen “for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation.”

This view has hardly gone unchallenged, suggesting that civil disobedience can be a slippery matter. Hannah Arendt cast more than a heavy stone at Thoreau in her own essay on the subject in The New Yorker in September 1970. Her proposal, instead, was the necessary need to institutionalise civil disobedience and render it a matter of recognised action, rather than individual abstention. Thoreau had, after all, suggested distance and the will of the individual, that it was “not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it…”

To that end, Arendt felt that “it would be an event of great significance to find a constitutional niche for civil disobedience – of no less significance, perhaps, than the event of the founding of the constitutio liberatis, nearly two hundred years ago.” But she resists, curiously enough, the idea of legalising it, favouring a political approach akin to treating the protester as a registered lobbyist or special interest group. “These minorities of opinion would thus be able to establish themselves as a power that is not only ‘seen from afar’ during demonstrations and other dramatizations of their viewpoint, but is always present and to be reckoned with in the daily business of government.”

Few countries better exemplify this dilemma than Australia, a country that has no formal constitutional protection of the right to protest yet insists on a collaborative model between protestor and state (protest permits, for instance, take precedence over any organic right; cooperating with police is encouraged, as laws are to be abided by). In some ways, an argument might well be made that civil disobedience, in anaemic form, has been institutionalised down under.

The result from brought forth in this coagulation is simple if compromising: the Decent Protester. Such a person is one very much at odds with the barebones definition of civil disobedience advanced by Robin Celikates, who describes it as “intentionally unlawful protest action, which is based on principles and aims at changing (as in preventing or enforcing) certain laws or political steps.” In other words, there can be no Australian Rosa Parks.

Each state has its own guidelines for the decent protester, offering a helpful hand for those braving a march or organising a gathering. An information booklet covering the right to protest in the Australian Capital Territory has a range of “guidelines”. It speaks of “many public places” in Canberra, the national capital, “where people can exercise their right to communicate their opinions and ideas through peaceful protests and demonstrations.” The authors of the booklet make the claim that Australian “democracy recognises this right which is subject to the general law and must be balanced against the rights and interests of others and of the community as a whole.”

The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s office gives the false impression that Australia has a clear right to peaceful assembly for people to meet and “engage in peaceful protest.” A list of international human rights treaties are suggested as relevant, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (articles 21 and 22) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 8(1)(a)). But being a party to a convention is not the same as incorporating it. Legislation needs to be passed and, for that reason, remains mediated through the organs of the state. The Fair Work Act 2009, for instance, protects freedom of association in the workplace but only in the context of being, or not being, members of industrial associations. Not exactly much to go on.

Other publications venture a much older right to protest, one that came to the Great Southern Land, paradoxically enough, with convict ships and manacles. “The origins of the common law right to assembly,” argues a briefing paper by Tom Gotsis for the NSW Parliamentary Research Service, “have been traced back 800 years to the signing of the Magna Carta.” This, in turn, finds modest recognition in state courts and the High Court of Australia, not least through the limited implied right of political communication. Ever eccentric in its conservatism, that right is not a private one to be exercised against the state, merely a control of hubristic parliaments who venture laws disproportionate to it. Not exactly a glorious, fit thing, is that implied right.

Such protest, measured, managed and tranquilised, makes the fundamental point that those who control the indignation control the argument. Much time has been spent in Australia embedding police within the protest structure, ensuring that order is maintained. Trains, buses and cars must still run on time. People need to get to work. Children need to be in school. The message is thereby defanged in the name of decency. It also means that genuine lawbreaking aimed at altering any policies will frowned upon as indecent. Good Australians would never do that.

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Induced amnesia

By RosewmaryJ36 

Nowadays it seems strange watching TV, film productions and documentaries from more than 30 years ago. Nearly everybody in them seems to be smoking cigarettes!

OK, Joe Hockey and Matthias Cormann were caught smoking cigars only a few years back, although that was a drop in the ocean of his stupid behaviour when you think of the appalling budget he had just announced!

Do you remember how strenuously the major tobacco companies worked to deny that smoking tobacco was harmful? Nearly as strenuously as Hardie Industries fought to avoid paying compensation to those whose lives were drastically and painfully shortened because their lungs succumbed to mesothelioma.

It is now old news that in the late 1970s to early 1980s, as coal, oil and gas production was ramping up, some of the major companies involved in that production, commissioned research into the atmospheric consequences of increased emissions of CO2 and their predictions have proved remarkably – and alarmingly – accurate.

They subsequently paid considerable amounts for pseudo-scientists to refute the information. The success of that campaign is such that today, in Letters to the Editor of my local paper, yet one more brainwashed individual decries man-made global warming as a myth.

Feel free to fact-check the above!

What is the connection between this and tobacco?

Greed.

And where does amnesia come into the picture?

Mega global corporations like the oil and gas and, even now, tobacco, companies need to raise large profits to keep their shareholders happy. They have little compunction in lying and cheating in order to ensure those profits keep rolling in.

I was one of many who were conned into feeling more sophisticated if I nonchalantly waved a cigarette around on social occasions and I would have been far from alone in being guilty of causing others to suffer from passive smoking.

I gave up smoking at Easter, 1987, and am aware that I have probably not done my lungs any good. This morning I was talking to a neighbour who has just had surgery on her lungs and is waiting to hear whether further surgery will be required. Needless to say – she is an ex-smoker.

Australians are fortunate that we have had governments who have stood up to the tobacco companies, introduced plain packaging and reduced the numbers of locations where people can continue to smoke.

Unlike Indonesia, our country’s next-door neighbour, the number of smokers here has massively decreased and more and more people are being discouraged from taking up or continuing smoking.

Yet when it comes to our attitude to climate change, we seem to suffer from induced amnesia.

Once more we have major corporations, telling lies to ensure that they can keep the profits rolling in.

I would be curious to know how many of our decision makers have shares in the coal, gas, CSG and oil industries, because they seem desperately reluctant to accept the science and take effective measures to reduce emissions. Maybe the donations are big enough to induce amnesia!

Currently our government, maybe experiencing pangs of conscience over the effects of drought on our farmers, are throwing money around like confetti – some of which is being spent in ways totally unrelated to the drought.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority, having allowed capitalist approaches towards water to encourage non-water users to buy water rights, are responsible for exacerbating the adverse effects of the drought.

We now have rural communities with no potable water, yet, at the same time, big corporations are hoarding water to ensure successfully selling crops which are highly water-dependent. I do not know why we pay our politicians to run the country because by all accounts they are only doing a good job or running it into the ground, saddled with debt and disaster.

Don’t be fooled by the truly mythical importance of having a surplus! We have an overall debt which is massive compared with when the Coalition came to power. And the much-touted surplus is courtesy of taxes, paid by all, including the poor.

I suspect many people do not really understand a country’s finance system, so please bear with me for a necessarily simplified explanation.

Each year, the budget drawn up details what the governments intends spending, on what the money will be spent and how much money the government anticipates receiving from various sources – mainly a range of taxes and sometimes sale of assets.

If, in fact, the balance between income and expenditure is not achieved, then the government ends up with either a deficit or a surplus.

If a deficit, then it simply goes into debt by ‘borrowing’ through issuing government bonds. It will pay interest on these, they can be traded, and when they expire the government has to buy them back. If, however, a surplus is achieved, then the government has more money to either pay for existing or new services, or pay off existing debt by buying back bonds.

The latest tax cutting exercise has not achieved the claimed outcome of boosting spending to enliven the economy, and the people most in need of government assistance are being given short shrift and accused of being on drugs.

Not only that, but the government, has failed to devise any tax measures that ensure that global corporations trading in this country pay their fair share of taxes. Instead it devises possibly illegal schemes to claw back possibly notional debts from welfare recipients.

Talk about robbing the poor to further enrich the wealthy!

Back to the main theme.

The underlying problems which affect us are a result of greed.

Corporations have a duty to act in the best interests of their shareholders – who did very nicely from all the schemes which were exposed during the recent Royal Commission into the finance sector.

We do not help ourselves by allowing ourselves to suffer amnesia.

We forget the history of tobacco so we do not recognise the truth when it comes to global warming/climate change/the climate emergency – call it what you will. It represents a pattern affecting the world, bringing increasingly severe weather events – hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, floods, landslides, rising sea levels, melting polar ice – over which we have little control.

WE DO HAVE SOME CONTROL OVER THE INCREASING SEVERITY IF WE REDUCE EMISSIONS AS MUCH AND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

That way we can limit the extent to which temperatures will rise but it is now unlikely that we can reverse the situation greed has created!

They say you get the government you deserve.

In that case we all deserve to get the hell out of our world, because the government’s inaction is ensuring that the world will become an increasingly unpleasant place to try to live!

And – sorry! There is no Planet B! Certainly not in the time frame left to us!

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“I Shout, But Not At The Bar” – The Diary Of ScoMo…

Tuesday

I visited a MacDonalds where I got to tell them that theirs wasn’t as good as the one I visited in the USA because that one was fully automated and that saved money.

I was asked about my trip to the United States and if I invited my bestie to the dinner only to have him turned away. I told them that I don’t comment on gossip. It was such a good line that I’m thinking of repeating it in Question Time. 

Someone pretending to be a reporter (I know that he wasn’t a real one because he asked an impertinent question), wanted to know how all the automation would be dealt with and didn’t that ruin our plan for growth leading to jobs. I told him that he was part of the Canberra bubble and that people outside Canberra just want a fair go and the chance to have a go and if they get a go then they’d find that the best form of welfare was a job and why didn’t he get one instead of acting as a stooge for GetUp!

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer to prove that I’m normal. 

Wednesday

Today I had a very important job. I went to the Queensland to announce my government’s concern for all those suffering because of Labor’s drought and I followed this up by announcing our intention to have a drought policy which will involve future-proofing this country against Labor.

When one of the journalists asked exactly when the policy would be announced, I reminded him that we had a long-standing policy of not commenting about on-water matters. He replied that because this was a drought, shouldn’t that be “no-water matter”…Many of his fellow journalists laughed. We have their names and I’ll contact Peter to arrange for Border Security to go through their underwear drawers to search for hidden items. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me giving two thumbs up to prove that I’m ordinary. 

Thursday

Invited the Australian cricket team to come to my office. Unfortunately only two of them showed. I suggested that we take a photo where they throw the ball to me and I catch it. After the ridiculous first attempt where one of them threw it straight at me and I ducked causing extensive damage, we decided that we could just have a shot where I cupped my hands and we photoshopped the ball in later. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer with the two players to prove that I’m normal and ordinary. 

Friday

Jen was photographed doing that symbol again. I’ve tried to tell that it’s just a little something we only do at church, but she tried to tell me that the church is everywhere. Poor thing. She doesn’t seem to understand that even though God has made PM, he hasn’t given me control of the godless heathens in the Senate. For some reason -probably to test me – he’s given that to Dutts, who says that he has no reason to arrest them for treason because he’s not PM yet. I put my arm around him and told him that we were on the same side but he just gave me that stare which makes me wonder if he’s angry, confused or actually trying to think. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer with someone in a pub to prove that I’m very ordinary. 

Saturday 

Went down to the local football club to make an announcement about our plan to have a policy to get young people playing sport. Somebody asked me if I’d like to run water for the young boys. I politely declined because I didn’t have the right shoes. Another person suggested I could run barefoot like I did in Fiji. We all had a good laugh. I took a selfie with him while we shared a beer. I have handed the photo on to ASIO. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me sharing the selfie on Twitter to prove that I’m normal. 

Sunday

Went to church. As my religion is a private thing, I’m not going to share it here, and I told the waiting media as much. I said that they were welcome to photograph me, but under no circumstances would I reveal that I was praying for rain so that the farmers could gain relief from the drought and that Donald Trump would continue to make such good decisions because prayer is a private matter between a man and God. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me praying to prove that my religion is a deep and private thing.

Monday

Labor ask why I didn’t return to Parliament last week like everyone else. I grew angry and shouted at them that I’ve been busy cleaning up their mess and paying back their debt and stopping their drownings at sea and I called them a dill like I did a few weeks ago, I’ve been busy running the country, I told them, and one of them interjected, “Into the ground.” We haven’t identified him yet, but Peter assured me that it’s only a matter of time. 

Finished the day by doing a photo of me drinking a beer while giving a thumbs up to the photographer to prove that I’m very, very ordinary. 

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Can the Federal LNP deliver its Flatter Taxation Scales in a Slowing Economy?

By Denis Bright  

Just four months out from the federal election, current indicators do suggest that the federal LNP is fumbling the future of the investment sector of the Australian economy to achieve its short-medium term budget projections and to appease the erratic policies of the Trump Administration.

The IMF data on economic growth trends in Australia confirms the state of flux relating to federal budget projections and delivery of planned tax cuts for higher income earners. These trends will not be unscrambled until the release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) by early December 2019.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is still optimistic about future delivery of a fiscal balance for 2019-2020 without depressing economic growth projections or causing unemployment levels to rise further.

A key variable in this balancing act is the strength of the public sector spending at both state and federal levels as well as positive trend-lines for commodity and service exports. This favourable mix is marred by data for private sector capital investment over the last two quarters. Release of the September Quarter data on 28 November 2019 will be eagerly awaited. A continuation of the negative trends will be bad news for budget strategies for 2020-21, rather than in the current financial year.

Australia Private Capital Expenditure

To meet its budget targets, the federal LNP is now reigning in the growth in public sector. Probono Australia has revealed the benefits of under-spending on National Disability Insurance (NDIS) to the federal LNP’s efforts to maintain current budget surplus projections for 2019-20 (Luke Michael, ‘NDIS underspend helps return budget to the brink of surplus‘, 20 September 2019):

The federal government spent $4.6 billion less on the National Disability Insurance Scheme than expected because of delays getting people into the program, new budget figures reveal.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday announced the final budget outcome for 2018-19, showing a deficit of $690 million – $13.8 billion less than what the 2018 budget predicted.

This improved financial position ­– which leaves the budget on the brink of surplus for the first time since 2007-08 – was built on the back of underspending in areas including the NDIS.

The government says this underspend is a result of a slower than expected transition of people into the NDIS, but critics argue the money should be spent fixing various problems plaguing the scheme.

Frydenberg said the NDIS was a “demand driven system”, meaning that a slower uptake of the scheme resulted in less money being spent.

“This is in part because of the delays in some of the states coming on board, and also because it’s taken a bit more time for the service provider market to develop sufficiently to meet the available demand,” Frydenberg said.

 

Caution with the delivery of future Newstart increases and the delivery of NDIS will assist in the extension of taxation relief that is skewed to middle- and upper-income households as promised in the 2019-2020 federal budget.

Support for market-oriented strategies of the federal LNP came from the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on his Australian visit with one important policy recommendation (The Australian, Geoff Chambers, ‘Tax cuts key to driving revival, says Wilbur Ross‘, 10 October 2019):

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has suggested Australia could increase its global competitiveness and attract direct foreign investment if it replicated Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts.

Speaking to The Australian on Wednesday, Mr Ross — one of Mr Trump’s closest advisers — said the US company tax cuts combined with regulatory reform had worked “very, very well”.

Wilbur Ross should have added a note of caution to his Aussie Allies Down Under as shown by the latest data from his own Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in his own US Department of Commerce as released on 24 July 2019:

Direct Investment by Country and Industry, 2018

The U.S. direct investment abroad position, or cumulative level of investment, decreased $62.3 billion to $5.95 trillion at the end of 2018 from $6.01 trillion at the end of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The decrease was due to the repatriation of accumulated prior earnings by U.S. multinationals from their foreign affiliates, largely in response to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The decrease reflected a $75.8 billion decrease in the position in Latin America and Other Western Hemisphere locations, primarily in Bermuda. By industry, holding company affiliates owned by U.S. manufacturers accounted for most of the decrease.

The foreign direct investment in the United States position increased $319.1 billion to $4.34 trillion at the end of 2018 from $4.03 trillion at the end of 2017. The increase mainly reflected a $226.1 billion increase in the position from Europe, primarily the Netherlands and Ireland. By industry, affiliates in manufacturing, retail trade, and real estate accounted for the largest increases.

US Investment plays a relatively minor role in the Asia Pacific Region compared with commercial interactions with Britain and Europe as well as countries in the American Hemisphere from Canada to Central and South America:

Making America Great Strategies have resulted in a decline in US Capital Flows across the Asia Pacific Region between 2017 and 2018. Australia is an exception to the regional trends and provides the US with highly favourable surpluses for trade in commodities and services as well as capital flows.

Days after this visit to Australia by Wilbur Ross, President Trump announced new compromises in his trade and investment war with China that undercut our own export gains in the Asia Pacific Region in favour of new export incentives from the US farm lobby.

The honeymoon after the last election may still be in session.  As the rhetorical euphoria continues, it is time for Aussies to do a fact check of our unfavourable commercial relations with the USA. The   Trump Administration has left Australians high and dry in a slowing global economy as the Trade and Investment War is replaced by a new Lovefest with China to the cheers from the US farm and resource sector lobbies which are our real competitors on the world market.

It’s surely time for our federal LNP leaders to show a spark of independence in defending Australia’s commercial sovereignty within the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement as President Trump focuses on his re-election strategies for November 2020.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical, structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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