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Tag Archives: Barnaby Joyce

Now is the time, Mr Morrison.

“In this bucket is my house”, Aaron Crowe tells other unquiet Australians rallying in Macquarie St, Sydney, Tuesday. He lifts an organic compost bin, a repurposed twenty-gallon steel red drum with hand-made wooden lid, a homely relic of former peaceful, rural domesticity, now, destroyed forever, aloft.

The 38 year-old-father tips a few charred, remnants of the two-bedroom home he once built, himself, on to the footpath outside NSW’s Parliament. Crowe and his wife, Fiona Lee, journey 323 kilometres, from Warrawillah, near Bobin, SW of Port Macquarie, to call MPs to account; confront them with the truth.

A powerful, personal, rebuke to the spin-doctors and MSM who drown real voices out of public discourse

Crowe’s gesture is eloquent testimony to a terrifying new bushfire season and a call to authorities, especially NSW state politicians in charge of funds and resources that it’s time to get real about climate science. Communicating climate science through our commercial media with its spectacularisation at the expense of underlying issues, its government media drops and its climate denialism is now impossible.

The challenge of communication has been taken up by independent media, social media, conferences, public meetings and personal protests. No wonder our anti-activist PM has these in his sights.

Crowe testifies to how global warming has bred extreme bushfires against which there is no defence.

“We had ample time to prepare and they’re talking about hopes and dreams, thoughts and prayers, miracles and heroes – it’s not realistic. This is not about unicorns and fairies, this is about people’s lives, it’s only going to get worse.”  Yet Aaron Crowe’s plea is waived aside by his premier and his PM.

Now is not the time to talk about climate change chorus NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and PM Morrison, Tuesday. Bushfire survivor, Badja Sparks contextualises this for The Guardian Australia.

“Today is not the day to talk about climate change.” No, yesterday was, or the day before, or the month before, or the year before. But it didn’t get a mention.

Now we have the reality, and the mention it gets is: “Don’t talk about it now.”

So the politicians (and the media) turn the talk to hazard reduction burns, or the lack of them, as something else to blame on the “inner-city raving lunatics”.

“We had a bushfire two months ago that burned most of our property. It didn’t matter. It burned again.”  Badja attests to a terrifying new type of fire that defies traditional means of control. A crown fire roaring in from the west on a hot afternoon with an 80km/h wind – it wasn’t on the ground. It was a firestorm in the air – raining fire. There was no fuel on the ground; it was already burned.

“Now is not the time” is a tactic the US National Rifle Association (NRA) uses to silence of debate.

NRA “spokespersons” or “public faces” such as Dana Loesch are quick to claim  “now is not the time to talk gun control” after so many of the 36,000 plus annual fatal shootings that make USA’s rate of death by firearm the highest in the developed world. Clearly, not talking works – for the gun lobby.

And for the government. Coalition shill, Chris Kenny in The Australian declares, “Climate alarmists are brazen opportunists preying on misery.”  Pushing the Morrison government’s political barrow he writes,

“Climate alarmists are using tragic deaths and community pain to push a political barrow. Aided by journalists and others who should know better, they are trying to turn a threat endured on this continent for millennia into a manifestation of their contemporary crusade.” 

In “more of the same just more of the same” false equivalence, Kenny’s failure to research any of the characteristics that make the current fires unique does his readers a dangerous disservice.

So, too, does what was once the party of the bush, The Nationals. Now the burnt out people of the bush feel increasingly betrayed by National Party MPs. All MPs. Crikey’s Guy Rundle argues that the Nationals have made themselves the enemy of rural Australia’s survival. Catastrophic fires occur so often now that they are “beginning to wear down the resistant scepticism of large areas of rural Australia”.

When country folk could once pride themselves if not define themselves on the thought that city folk didn’t know what they were talking about, the reality of drought and bushfire has caused a re-think.

Increasingly extreme weather; the lived experience of rural voters tests their dogged loyalty to The National Party and its blind faith in climate science denial. It’s at odds with their own everyday reality.

Undermined is the nub of rural identity which values bush experience and concrete realities over abstract science. Now that rural National voters’ bushfire experience is matching scientists’ warnings, Rundle perceives a weakening of “folk denialism”; traces an awakening of respect for climate science.

It’s complex. Adding to voters’ alienation is the Nationals’ support for mining over farmers. On Channel 10’s The Project, Waleed Ali stumps Michael McCormack in March when he challenges the deputy PM,

“Could you name a single, big policy area where the Nats have sided with the interests of farmers over the interest of miners when they come into conflict?”

Within the network of influence and lobbying which mining holds over the Coalition, Rundle traces a moment when the Nationals as an organisation lost interest in representing their agrarian community.

“Former party leader Anderson became chairman of Eastern Star Gas. His successor in the Nationals, Mark Vaile, now sits on the board at Whitehaven Coal, against which farmers in the Liverpool Plains have staged hundreds of days of blockades. Party scion Larry Anthony was a lobbyist for the Shenhua Watermark mine.”

John Anderson pops up like the White Rabbit on ABC’s The Drum last Friday to falsely claim that “the scientists cannot directly link extreme weather events with climate change”. But they can. And do. And our leaders – must heed them. The Australia Institute economist, Richard Dennis sums up,

Climate change makes bushfires worse. Even if we catch an arsonist who lights a fire, the fact is the fires they light will burn further and faster than they would have if the world had burned less coal, and the temperature was lower than we have made it.

We can manage fuel loads; cut firebreaks, but a fire lit by an arsonist will spread further today. Embers from hotter fires, race across drier ground; spark new fires further from the fire front than ever before.

First the women, younger folk and community leaders are sceptical of the Nationals’ bush mythology. Now, Rundle believes Nationals’ voters’ crisis of faith may harden into one final act of resistance before it cracks irrevocably. Attacking The Greens is one last populist move to regain a show of leadership.

On Monday’s RN Breakfast, McCormack is stung by Greens MP Adam Bandt’s claim that Morrison’s coal-promotion makes him complicit in the suffering of those currently being burnt out by extreme bushfires.

What people need now, the Deputy PM says, is real practical assistance, not “the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies”.

To Mid-Coast Councillor, Claire Pontin, McCormack is “just saying silly things”. He and Joyce may have missed this pivotal change in their own constituencies, notes The Saturday Paper’s Paul Bongiorno drily.

The best real, practical assistance McCormack could offer would be to embrace the science. Then he might ask NSW’s premier to reinstate the tens of millions the NSW has cut from state fire services.

Denial, downplaying and disinformation costs lives – especially the myth of false equivalence which holds that both sides are too blame for inaction on climate change, a term which is itself spin-doctored because it’s a neutral substitute for global warming. In fact, it’s pretty much all the Coalition’s own work.

And much of that work was achieved by one man. Tony Abbott seized a personal political chance in 2009, writes The Monthly Today’s Paddy Manning, “sold the truth down the river” and in 2014, pre-figured Trump in becoming world’s first political leader to repeal a carbon price. Abbott then agitated against the NEG, creating waves of instability that helped Morrison topple Turnbull. Not only did Abbott put the nation back at least a decade, his legacy continues in Morrison’s lack of energy policy.

To adapt Katharine Murphy’s phrase, no wonder Morrison’s government doesn’t want anyone to talk about climate science, its own record is one of unmitigated shame and ignominious failure.

Yet McCormack insists we shouldn’t be talking about climate change. “Australia’s always burned”, he says. Nothing to see here. Just bushfires that come earlier, stay longer, burn hotter, higher and spread faster; evolving into a threat, unlike anything we’ve had to deal with before.

The deputy PM follows up with NRA tactic stage two: shift the blame. If only greenies weren’t locking up our state forests for ecotourism, we could get in and cut the fuel load. Yet only nine per cent of NSW is “locked”. Only Queensland is lower with a shameful eight per cent.

Greenies, moreover, have no issue with hazard reduction. It’s climate change itself which increasingly restricts burning off. As the fire season extends, south-east Australia dries out. Opportunities to use controllable, low-intensity fire to burn off the litter become fewer.

Above all, not all forest types are amenable to hazard reduction.  Wet sclerophyll and rainforest, for example, are not fire-adapted and most of the time are too moist to ignite. When they are dry enough to burn, it is too dangerous to burn them explains Brendan Mackey, director of the Climate Change Response Program at Griffith University.

This is what the ecological and climate emergency looks like,” says Fiona Lee.  It’s a young couple’s way of calling out the Morrison government for recently voting down an Opposition move to declare a state of climate emergency. Dismissing Labor’s bill as “symbolic” and impractical, Energy Minister, Angus Taylor says its “emotive language” ignores everyday Australians’ practical needs. He would know.

Taylor belongs to a government that wilfully ignores practical needs. 23 former emergency service chiefs wrote to Scott Morrison, in April, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the serious threats facing communities this fire season due to climate change. In September, they wrote again. All were rebuffed while federal MPs rubbish any attempt to have a national state of climate emergency declared.

A hyper-partisan, Morrison government irretrievably stuck in campaign mode politicises the issue:

Labor is making a huge song and dance about declaring a climate emergency, but refuses to commit to a single policy in this area from the last election,” jeers Taylor.

Meanwhile, a ferocious new fire burns across the land, defying all traditional forms of management and causing the NSW government to declare a state of emergency, Monday. 500 homes are destroyed in one week. The fires are unprecedented in length, extent and intensity.

62 fires are burning across NSW, 56 of which have not been contained, ahead of a heatwave predicted for Tuesday which could see temperatures reach the mid-40s.

A “once in a century fire” is burning for the third time in ten years, a frequency which threatens even the false complacency nurtured by National Party retail politicians, such as Barnaby Joyce whose mantra is that bushfires and drought are just a feature of life in the bush, or that someone or something else is to blame. This week it’s The Greens again and or the sun’s magnetic field and or bad hazard reduction.

As it destroys life, property and virgin natural bushland, however, the terrible new fire threatens one of the bastions of climate change denialism itself, The National Party of the bush which is also under siege from drought and double-digit unemployment is losing credibility as its constituents experience first- hand the conditions climate scientists predicted. Will it also be the death of the National Party? If so, reflects Crikey’s Guy Rundle it will be the only death that is deserved.

“The pressure is now on Scott Morrison to resolve the fierce resistance in his own government’s ranks and respond with policies that persuade voters – thousands of them victims of this week’s inferno – that the federal Liberals and Nationals get it.” Paul Bongiorno notes.

Eastern NSW is ablaze. Bush fires, bigger and more ferocious than any Australia’s experienced before, include crown fire, an eighty kilometre an hour aerial firestorm – there’s no fuel left on the ground – raze a million hectares; cut a swathe of destruction already equal to that of the last three fire seasons combined. Areas burn at an intensity and in a season never seen before, says ecologist, Mark Graham.

A million hectares burn in NSW alone. Queensland and other states face the biggest fire front in Australia’s history. Catastrophic conditions are forecast for Sunday in four WA regions: east Pilbara coast, west Pilbara coast, east Pilbara inland and Ashburton Inland.

Catastrophic fire conditions is a recent forecast category which arose from the inquest into Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday Fires in which 173 people died.

“It’s a treacherous combination of gusty winds, high temperatures, low humidity and extreme dryness. Any fire that ignites will quickly reach intensities and move at speeds that place properties and lives in imminent danger,” writes Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, ARC Future Fellow in the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW. Her definition could be a summary of global warming’s role.

So far in NSW, six people have died, nearly 500 homes have been destroyed, reports the Rural Fire Service (RFS).  That’s more than double the previous most severe bushfire season in 2013-14, when 248 homes were lost. More than 1,650,000 hectares have been burnt across the state — more land than during the past three bushfire seasons combined. And the fires could rage for weeks.

“It is likely that the fire threat in Northern NSW and South East Queensland will continue for weeks unless significant rainfall occurs assisting fire fighters to extinguish blazes,” says Andrew Gissing emergency management expert with the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

Up in smoke goes any hope that our nation’s leaders may provide for or protect us. Instead, state and federal MPs rush to hide their blame; circling their wagons to defend their own shameful record of wilful neglect, climate reality denial and how their loyalty to big donors in mining eclipses any civic duty.

Avoidance is the Morrison government’s default position on issues which might involve taking responsibility; facing the fact that anthropogenic climate change is creating droughts, floods and fires.

More alarming is the censorship attempted by the NSW government when it tells its public servants attending a conference on adapting to climate change not to make any link between climate and fire.

It’s all too much for Morrison who vanishes Tuesday afternoon only to bob up Friday in praise of model corporate citizen QANTAS’ 99th birthday and to greet George Brandis returning on the Dreamliner which makes an historic nineteen hour nineteen minute non-stop flight London to Sydney. That’s at least 300,000 litres of fuel return.

The IPCC estimates that aviation is responsible for around 3.5 percent of anthropogenic climate change, a figure which includes both CO2 and non-CO2 induced effects. Luckily MPs have scapegoats.

Joyce adds to the myth that the latest bushfires are caused by The Greens’ curbing back-burning and fire-hazard reduction despite the fact that climate change has made back-burning too dangerous.

Ever the conservationist, Barnaby recycles the voice of disinformation, populist shock-jock and LNP parrot Alan Jones who blames the fires on The Greens, falsely claiming they had prevented controlled burns. In fact, it’s global warming itself which is preventing controlled burning. Such measures are impossible due to the unique nature of the drought and the very dry conditions.

“Honestly, not today” calls NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a reporter, who had previously been speaking to couple asks Scott Morrison about climate change. ABC News interrupts Morrison’s response.

“In this bucket is my house,” Crowe tells the crowd. “When’s the time to talk about climate change then, if I’m standing in the wreckage of my own house?”

“The time is definitely right for talking about climate change – for me, there has never been a better time to talk about climate change,” his wife tells the crowd outside.

Morrison’s absence for most of last week is an indictment of his failure to lead – as are the comments of his ministers, McCormack and Taylor. What is urgently needed is an embargo on the spin-doctors and a willingness to accept the facts; confront the reality that global warming means a terrible new type of bushfire that demands all of our resources not more of the Federal Coalition’s division and scapegoating.

Above all it means heeding reality; the stories of people like Aaron and Fiona have much to tell us. We cannot afford to brush them aside any more than we can ignore their cries for help.

As veteran firefighters have told Morrison, we will need to put in a lot more resources if we are to deal with the new levels of devastation, the new fires are bringing. His government and all state governments need to start listening. Act on expert advice. Twenty years ago would have been good but now is the next best time.

 

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Labor’s “brave” review fails to upstage Morrison’s incompetence.

Were politics reset in keeping with the times, the parties would concede that it is not a contest between social democracy and a capitalist free-for-all, or “the light on the hill” and “the forgotten people”, or even conservatives and progressives, but one in which the ghosts of organisations that once had some claim to represent these passions compete to prove themselves the superior financial managers. Don Watson

Attack of the Labor Zombies: “Review of Labor’s 2019 Election Campaign”, the ritual killing of Bill Shorten by hungry ghosts, premiers nationally, this week, six months after Bill’s political death, a fate which the commentariat is still finalising for him despite his promising to “hang around” for another twenty years.

Karen Middleton scoffs at Shorten’s pledge. “He’ll be in his seventies”, she sighs, on ABC Insiders Sunday. Bill will be 72. Four years younger than Joe Biden. Elizabeth Warren’s 70. Billy Hughes served for 51 years; died at 90 before he could get around to thinking about retiring. But it’s not about age.

It’s … the chutzpah. “He’s got to win all those elections.” Shorten won almost a five per cent (4.99%) swing to Labor in his Victorian seat of Maribyrnong, last election. Next, he’s at fault for making his twenty-year pledge before the review comes out to help others decide his future for him.

How very dare he get in first?

MSM is consumed by the review; the review of the review and any excuse at all to kick Bill Shorten.

Kill Bill has become a national sport since Tony Abbott contrived to make “Bill Shorten” a pejorative term, a project taken up shamelessly by Malcolm Turnbull and with glee by bully Morrison.

Interviews with Morrison normalise his bullying, as Dr Jennifer Wilson argues, in analysis of the PM’s manic scattergun barrage of bullshit to cover his running away from the question guerrilla tactics.

Julia Banks quit parliament after only a term because of the level of bullying during the leadership spill.

What’s even more alarming is the subtext that Morrison, miraculously, got everything right. Scapegoats help with that. It’s a by-product of reducing party politics to the popularity of the leader, part of our brave new age of populist personality politics where policy and reasoned argument count less than spin and image. And Morrison’s fevered hyper-partisanship makes Tony Abbott look like a peace-maker.

Albo offers to accompany Morrison to NSW bushfire areas, he tells Fran Kelly, Sunday. His offer is brushed aside. Something about not getting in the way of “the rescue effort”. Later media images show Morrison, alone, comforting victims, as he did with his drought series of visits, grandstanding on grief.

But Labor doesn’t seem to have got the memo that there’s a war on. Blending psychic surgery with forensic post-mortem, Labor eviscerates itself for a ritual cleansing. Bares its soul. And then some. The Review … is an unparalleled, almost naive act of faith. No wonder it gets everyone’s attention.

But why? Is this orgy of over-sharing prompted by some rush of utopian socialism which only true believers can call into being? Or is it folly? It’s unique, says ABC’s Laura Tingle, her take on “brave”.

“That’s very brave of you, minister. An extremely courageous decision,” as Mr Appleby would say.

Yet Labor’s purpose, beside officially defining what went wrong, is to draw a line under its defeat.

Fat chance. Just because closure is a tabloid TV victim’s top buzz-word doesn’t make it achievable. Somehow, there’s something for everybody because, you know, Labor lost. By Sunday’s ABC Insiders, a  narrow loss morphs into a rout. Labor can’t even pass its own post-mortem exam, Fran Kelly implies.

It’s not easy. Former Keating speech-writer, Don Watson, notes that Labor’s changing constituency increasingly includes service-sector employees, lower-level managers and healthcare workers, as the middle class itself is changing. Labor’s review even detects an influx of woke, affluent, graduates in Southern states, whom, it contends can afford the luxury of idealism. It’s a dangerous hypothesis.

“Since university graduates, on average, earn higher incomes and have more secure jobs than those without tertiary qualifications, they are more readily able to think about issues such as climate change, refugees, marriage equality and the rights of the LGBTQI+ community.”

But a few rich grads didn’t win Labor any seats, Emerson and Wetherill are quick to note. And if your idealism or concern for justice and the survival of the planet is in proportion to your wealth, heaven help the rest of us. Paul Keating reckons Labor lost because it failed to understand the “new middle-class”.

New? Watson sees a class with no ideology nor even consciousness of itself as a class. Being new it has “no roots beyond its self-interest”. He hopes Morrison hasn’t already press-ganged it into Quiet Australians, another bogus, Silent Majority.

But who needs analysis? Nuance is banished from our national conversation. Labor’s review simply has to make Bill the villain. You can’t trust Bill Shorten. It’s the old Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison melodrama.

News Corp prefers a shifty, shorthand, “dud leader, dud policies, dud strategy”, summation which bears no resemblance to the subtler findings published by Dr Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill who chair Labor’s inquiry. But given Murdoch’s stranglehold over our media, it will soon become gospel truth.

Paul Kelly, The Australian’s editor at large, wilfully misrepresents the report.  Eagerly, he invents a turf war. Two Labor constituencies are at war with each other. Father Kelly fears for Labor  – a fear which Fran Kelly and others put to Albo. How can Labor possibly bridge the gap between blue-collar and gown?

“The Labor Party now resembles two rival constituencies fighting each other — their origins embedded in the party’s past and its ­future — a conflict that extinguished Labor’s hopes at the May election and a chasm that nobody knows how to bridge,” Kelly fantasises. But it’s never had any trouble in the past.

Rupert’s troupers can’t labour Labor’s factionalism enough. It diverts from Coalition disunity. All is not well, for example, in Cockies’ Corner. Nationals Deputy Leader and Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, “couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery” one MP tells ABC’s, Lucy Barbour.

McKenzie is under pressure to perform; step up to the plate or step aside. Pauline Hanson’s taken all the credit for saving the dairy farmers and the PM seems to own drought the relief compassion show.

Barnaby Joyce is still agitating for promotion despite spending $675,000 for only three weeks in the field and not providing any reports as special drought envoy. But as media keep the focus on Shorten’s failure and the myth of Labor’s imminent descent into civil war, the Morrison miracle spin gets a further tweak.

(By the magic of implication, the current struggle between Nats and Libs – witness the spat over who owns the theatre of drought relief, or the Liberals capture by climate change denialists – means the Coalition with its three Prime Ministers in six years, rivals The Mormon Tabernacle Choir for harmony.)

Not the Puritan Choir, that’s another, evangelical, faction led by Mr Probity, Stuart Robert, architect of the Turnbull assassination plot. But all is forgiven. He’s repaid $37,975, only $8000 shy of what he had previously claimed as ‘residential internet expenses’.  Streaming Christian TV from home is not cheap.

Be fair. Stu’s wife, Peoples’ Pastor Chantelle, can’t run her Pentecostal online evangelism without a decent broadband connection. Robert also says he’s returned a brace of gold Rolex watches, he and his wife – and other Coalition MPs received in 2013 from Chinese instant noodle billionaire Li Ruipeng.

Robert, Abbott and Macfarlane thought the $250,000 worth of watches were fakes, they say. As you do, whenever any oligarch tenders a token of his esteem in expectation of a return favour. Or perhaps not.

Or perhaps you do – if you’re an Australian MP seeking favour. Robert resigned from Turnbull’s ministry when he breached the Ministerial Code of Conduct on a business trip to China for Nimrod resources in which he somehow gave his Chinese hosts the false impression he was in China in an official capacity.

In 2017, Robert’s eighty-year-old father, Alan, discovers that he is a director of one of his son’s companies and that his son has used his Dad’s address on one of his businesses. Without telling him. The private company in question is doing rather well in winning government contracts, until then.

You won’t catch Robert or Morrison holding any public review. It’s against their religion. Look at the trouble Morrison’s mentor Brian Houston is having just complying with NSW police investigation. He’s refusing to answer questions about his father’s child abuse. The tactic seems to be working perfectly.

Frugal with the truth, lest Satan strike you whilst your guard is down, God’s hot-eyed warriors know when to keep stumm. Just as they know that God put coal underground for our blessing and just as they are happy to burn for mining while awaiting the rapture, believing they will be saved by their faith.

Thou shalt not fear fossil fuels preaches Pentecostal Pastor PD King in The Christian Post.

Yet Robert’s god-botherers and coal warriors are not symptoms of deep division in the Coalition. Nor are Tim Wilson, Dave Sharma, Jason Falinski, Katie Allen, Angie Bell and Trent Zimmerman who sign on to parliamentary friends of climate action, “a safe place away from partisan politics”, which has Greens, Labor and cross-bench supporters, only to snub their very first meeting 14 October.

But not all MSM scribes are bluffed. Do what Father Morrison does: walk both sides of the chasm at the same time. Granted, “Shut up and eat your peas, dad is talking” is Morrison’s leadership style, as The Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy astutely discerns, but don’t let a paternal despot pull the wool.

“… look at Morrison, who manages to walk every side of every street simultaneously and talk out of both sides of his mouth and suffer no apparent penalty.”

Murphy’s amused by Morrison’s hypocrisy in his illiberal lecture to the mining mafia last Friday week in which he threatens yet another new clampdown, (number 84 and counting) on the civil liberties of illiberal protesters who are exercising their right to boycott businesses who collude with coal-miners to extinguish the planet. She believes he just says this sort of stuff for effect and hopes nobody notices.

Also hypocritical is Morrison’s message that he’ll do everything for coal. Only a few days earlier, he makes a billion-dollar grant to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). Abbott tried to close down the CEFC along with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), a move Turnbull reversed.

Morrison’s CEFC grant will help fund new transmission infrastructure to help clean energy access more of the national grid. Next, he agrees to help underwrite the main NSW-Queensland interconnector.

Murphy rightly asks why Morrison is able to shape-shift every day of the week but Labor is excoriated for selling out when it tries to straddle two constituencies. Worse, it must get a real leader, like ScoMo, the actor playing the daggy suburban Pentecostal dad with the Stepford wife, a man we can all identify with.

Shorten’s unpopularity has more to do with his crucifixion by News Corp and its lackeys including, sadly our ABC, than any political reality. Labor’s review concedes, however, that damage has been done.

Labor’s review sums up Labor’s loss as a combination “of a weak strategy that could not adapt to the change in Liberal leadership, a cluttered policy agenda that looked risky and an unpopular leader” –  a verdict, writes ANU’s Frank Bongiorno “which belies the sophistication of the report as whole”.

But everyone in the gallery – from Michelle Grattan to Mark Latham – gets to twist the knife. It’s a massive pile-on; way more popular, than Melbourne’s Spring Carnival. Bagging Labor’s failings easily upstages the Melbourne Cup, the race that barely slows the nation, our increasingly anaemic, ritual national blood-sport. Besides schadenfreude is surely part of our tall poppy syndrome.

But like the curious incident of the dog in the night time, nowhere is there mention of News Corp.

“The Murdoch media didn’t merely favour the government over the opposition. It campaigned vigorously for the return of the Coalition. And it is a vast empire, with a monopoly through much of regional Queensland, for instance. It is hard not to see in the review’s silence on this matter a clearing of the way for a future kissing of the ring of the familiar kind.” Frank Bongiorno writes.

Everyone wants to wag the finger; tell Labor where it went wrong and by implication how Morrison’s miracle campaign was so inspired – when in reality it was almost totally negative; long on disinformation and attacking Shorten’s character – including the Daily Telegraph’s attack on his mother’s integrity.

A review of the Coalition campaign? Nasty, brutish and short on policy beyond the promise of tax cuts. The $1080 tax cut may have bought a few votes but it is proving a total failure as a fiscal stimulus.

The retail sector is in its third year of per capita recession. While Frydenberg and Morrison seek to explain it away by online sales, as Alan Austin notes, the ABS figures include online sales.

“Retail sales for the September quarter came to $82.6 billion, up just 2.48% on the same quarter a year ago. With inflation at 1.7% and population rising 1.6%, that is a decline in real terms relative to population. So the sector is now in its third year of per capita recession.”

Luckily Labor Zombies … is a sell-out performance, upstaging the government’s own show, “Geronticide! Hell ain’t a patch on the ways you will suffer in God’s Waiting Room; dying of abuse and neglect in our private aged care homes”, brilliantly scripted by commissioners Lynelle Briggs, AM, and Richard Tracey, AO, in their three-volume Interim Report into Aged Care …, “…a shocking tale of neglect”.

Everything’s apples with aged care with just a few rotten fruit spoiling everything. Besides, Morrison says there’ll be more funds by Christmas. He can’t say how little. No-one would expect his government to have been briefed so soon, given that it’s only Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison’s sixth year in government. Expect Santa Hunt and Morrison to stuff the announcement in a stocking late on Christmas Eve.

In the meantime, despite the commissioners’ finding that commodifying aged care is the core of the problem, the Coalition is proceeding with its plan to privatise the staff who do the assessments.

Amazing new efficiencies will follow; such as we’ve seen in the NDIS, where $1.6 billion is being saved by shunting disabled Australians on New Start instead. Private enterprise is a miracle of profit-driven efficiency. And care. No funds will be wasted on gratuitous compassion or humanity. Or spent in haste.

“We are six years into the rollout and we have heard of people waiting two years for a wheelchair, so it needs concerted attention,” says Kirsten Dean from disability advocate group Every Australian Counts.

Expect the reforms to raise the bar; reducing the number of our elderly folk who qualify for homecare “packages”, which are already very limited in scope and difficult to access even at their most basic level.

Above all, Labor Zombies … is a great diversion from the long list of latest revelations of wrong-doing by Morrison’s mob, especially the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) censure of the pork-barrel party coalition for its shonky award of funding under its $200 million regional jobs and investment packages.

Conceding it might have a bit to hide, a furtive, federal government chooses to release its ANAO report on Tuesday afternoon when it hopes all eyes and ears will be turned to the track at Flemington.

The ANAO is scathing about the Morrison government’s disregard for advice provided by bureaucrats. It is also unhappy with ways the Coalition chooses to ignore guidelines regarding merit and eligibility.

Untrained ministers took over the process, making decisions on their own, unaided by expert advice. No. Of course, they did not bother to take minutes. 64 of 232 applications were scrapped. A total of $75.9m in funding is declined. Yet $77.4m in requested grant funding is approved to 68 applicants, not on the departmental list. Over half the funding is pork forked out of the barrel.

While program guidelines require applicants to declare any perceived or existing conflicts of interest, or declare that they had no conflicts – “no action was taken to give effect to this element of the program guidelines”.

Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results, is one definition of insanity. Yet, when the Coalition rolls out the pork barrel, this week, in yet another round of drought relief; a billion-dollar “suite of measures” to its backblock pals, as it grandiose handout, once again, to entice farmers to do more of the same, is there method in its madness? Or is it merely Groundhog Day again?

The groundhog factor cannot be ignored. Mugged by an Anthropocene reality; Morrison’s mob have no idea what to do. No policies; no plans. No future. They can only fall back on past practice. And buying votes. Along with nostalgia, the pork barrel is part of every Coalition MP’s mental furniture; it’s in its DNA.

And craving more of the same old, same old means it’s only natural to look backwards; unerringly repeat the same mistakes of the past.  Five years ago, then PM Tony Abbott, and his Minister for Agriculture and Water rorts, Barnaby Boondoggle Joyce, announced – a suite of measures offering financial, social and mental health support. Bingo!

But there is method or shrewd craftiness. Evading accountability for starters. Is there any area of public funding less scrutinised than drought relief? wonders Bernard Keane.

Australia would still have a car industry and 50,000 secure jobs for only a third of the amount that the Coalition is prepared to pony up for loans to farmers and small-businesses in drought-affected towns.

But imagine the outcry from News Corp and its claque if workers, or manufacturers, could borrow up to two million interest-free for two years; with no need to pay back the principal until the sixth year.

“Rural communities can’t function without these small businesses – that’s why we’re stepping in to provide this extra support,” Morrison says. But in its Abbott incarnation, the coalition government was perfectly happy to deny SPC Ardmona $25 million just five years ago?

Many workers and their families in other sectors would be glad of the support. Manufacturing, for example, lost 100,000 jobs, or a third of the entire agriculture workforce, in the year to August.

But extra support has limits. State schools won’t be eligible for $10m in new education funding announced in Thursday’s drought package, an “elitist and unfair” if not downright cruel decision.

Australian Education Union president, Correna Haythorpe, argues it’s “another slush fund for private schools” on top of the $1.2bn Choice and Affordability fund for Catholic and Independent schools, which Lenore Taylor reports also included money for drought-affected areas.

In its encore, Drought Relief 2.0 “Suite of measures” this week, Morrison’s travelling roadshow hopes, above all, that the hullabaloo will distract punters from its own Drought Response, Preparedness and Resilience a report which it commissioned from top brass Stephen Day, DSC, AM, the very model of a modern Major General and former Drought Co-ordinator-general.

Somehow it must keep us from the Light of Day.

Drought is not a natural disaster, it’s an enduring feature of the Australian landscape, reports Day. Yet instead of launching into the droughts and flooding plains of Dorothea McKellar’s My Country – and a staple of The Nationals’ MP interview press-kit, Day breaks with climate-denialist tradition.

“While droughts are normal for Australia, drought conditions are likely to become more frequent, severe and longer in some regions due to climate change.”

It’s plain as day that we’re responsible for the drought, with our love of coal-fired power stations, coal mines and our mania for land clearing. It’s a far less romantic notion than playing the hapless victim – Abbott’s “Shit Happens” philosophy, a helpless victim of natural disaster.

But accountability is apostasy, heresy even in the broad church of the Coalition Party Room and especially to the reality denial cabal in the driver’s seat, to say nothing of the God-made-coal-so-we-should-profit-from-his-divine-providence, Pentecostal push that has a hot-line to the current tenant in Kirribilli House.

 

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Pauline rushes to rescue farmers while the coalition falls apart.

“I want to put out a call to these farmers; please don’t give up hope,” Senator Pauline Hanson says shortly before breaking down in tears on her old pal, Alan Jones’ 2GB radio show, Friday last week.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep off microphone. But no longer need you weep alone, Australia. Help is on its way. No. Not Joel Fitzgibbon’s outrageous suggestion of a bipartisan “war cabinet” approach to drought relief. Drought relief is for ScoMo & Co to pork-barrel; grandstand on grief. The government has no drought relief policy. The last thing it wants is Labor to show it up.

ScoMo ridicules Fitzgibbon in Question Time, an institution now entirely corrupted by a government in perpetual campaign. Vitiated by Dorothy Dixers, Labor-bashing and political assassination by quoting News Corps, the nation’s most powerful political party. Monday, ScoMo quotes Troy Bramston of The Australian on Anthony Albanese’s hopeless leadership.

“A Labor frontbencher told me …” is Bramston’s prelude to back-stabbing Albanese. Trump uses ” people tell me…” When no specific authority or evidence is given, the slur may be mere confection or confabulation. But it is also impossible to refute.

“For a guy who wanted to be leader so bad, and couldn’t wait to announce he was running for it less than 24 hours after the election, he does not know what to do with the job.” A Labor frontbencher?

Sure he did, Troy. Sure. Look. It’s uncanny. ScoMo’s cock a hoop with your “scoop”, first up Tuesday.

Labor couldn’t be trusted when it was in power, Mr Speaker, Morrison scoffs. It’s vital to repeat the one big lie of Labor’s hopelessness with money. As experts now, daily, attest to ScoMo and Co’s economic incompetence and the Reserve virtually begs for some serious stimulus measure, it’s especially important to repeat the lie that the GFC didn’t happen here or that we are still paying for Labor’s mess.

As The Guardian Australia’s Greg Jericho notes, Mathias Cormann now claims absurdly that Labor’s GFC stimulus drove up interest rates and the value of our dollar.

“If interest rates went up due to the stimulus then that meant it had helped improve demand in the economy, which was the whole point.”

Hang on. Help is on its way. Good news this week. Dairy farmers struggling to squeeze out $3.00 an hour in an industry milked dry as de-regulation, duopolies and globalisation lead to ruinous farm gate prices – while many suffer drought and ScoMo photo-ops – rejoice to learn that Pauline Hanson has their backs.

“Give me an opportunity to keep fighting. I don’t want these farmers to give up.”

The plucky One Nation leader heroically battles on at Jones’ microphone before it’s all too much and she’s led, sobbing inconsolably, off-air. But not before a word from her sponsor. Pauline’s “upset”, Big Al explains to listeners, “for the farmers” and exhausted as she “fights the bureaucrats” in Canberra.

Pauline is tirelessly fighting up hill and down dale to get our honest, hardworking, dairy farmers a fair price for their milk, a long-lost cause she shows no sign of understanding.

Fairness would involve the dismantling of global price-fixing and regulating the Fonterra-Saputo duopoly that dominates our milk-processing. (Canadian giant Saputo, which enjoys a monopoly in British Columbia bought out a troubled Murray Goulburn, our largest milk processor in April 2018.) Murray Goulburn had contracted with Coles to supply one dollar milk to 2023.

None of this matters to Hanson’s quest for self-aggrandisement. But Pauline’s plan will entail having Canberra bureaucrats very much on side. And supermarkets. Not to mention Saputo and Fonterra.

“It’s hard to say this but it makes no fucking sense,” sweet-talking Saputo boss, Lino Saputo Jnr admits freely. “$1.10 still doesn’t make sense when you can buy water at $3 a litre, when you can buy soda pop at $4 a litre, when you can buy Gatorade at $5 a litre.”  No? Never heard of a loss leader, Lino?

Yet loss-leading supermarkets are not the only bad guys. More than half Australia’s milk is sold overseas. The same neoliberal ideology that has us paying export prices for our own gas works with milk, too.

Even if the price of milk on the supermarket shelf were to double, the extra profit wouldn’t go to farmers directly as the ACCC found in its 18 month report on the dairy industry last year.

Dollar milk is the scapegoat, regardless. Even those who may be expected to understand how farmers contracts are set by producers play along with this. Yet never in Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie’s howls of outrage (or Drought Minister David Littleproud’s) does either stop to recall that Labor’s policy last election was to set a minimum price dairy farmers can be paid for the milk they produce.

Doubly unhappy is Bridget McKenzie, the Nationals’ “flash bit of kit” (as Barnaby once described his party’s deputy leader during a late night senate debate). Ms McKenzie cops flak for letting Hanson grand-stand as the cow cockies’ saviour. It’s not just a turf war; everyone knows that hand-wringing over drought or flood or farmers being robbed blind by multinational middlemen is the Nationals’ pitch.

Below the topsoil, the post Barnaby-era party writhes in existential crisis. It lacks leadership, identity and others are muscling in on its patch. Things quickly go bad – with a little help from New England. Friday, the Nationals split with their Coalition partner by leaking a $1.3 bn drought funding policy without approval from Michael McCormack – aka Mick-Mack. Scott Morrison is gob-smacked; blind-sided.

So much for the tremendous authority which pundits confidently predicted Scott Morrison was sure to wield over the Coalition after his miracle win. Or is that all spent in gagging and finger-wagging? The National backbench policy committee, which includes Barnaby Joyce, is the author of the rogue policy.

Such perfidy will not go unpunished – but, that it occurs at all – indicates how weak is ScoMo’s hold on Coalition reins. Are the Nats paying him back for crowding them out of his drought-porn photo-ops? Or did Pauline Hanson’s calling them weak and ineffective” do the trick? The Oz thinks so. The truth hurts.

Extra funding? It’s part of a ten-point plan. This includes setting up committees to oversee who gets their forks into $10m pork barrels, help with boarding school fees and other thought bubbles which will do less to alleviate drought suffering than improve the Nationals’ political identity. Rivals appear, artfully clad in Collins Street bushman’s kit of RM Williams’ moleskins and boots. Topped with spotless Akubra.

Is it identity politics? The Nats argue that their cash-splash will send a message. Or a vibe. It would “appear as an unambiguous package that is clearly labelled Nationals” they claim. Naturally. Nothing shrieks National Party so clearly and plainly as a barrel clearly labelled “pork”.  But even a simple lack of ambiguity can come back to bite you in the bum, as the trepid party deputy leader discovers.

Adding to the Nationals’ woes, Bridget McKenzie’s brazen pork-barrelling of grants has rejected 618 applications for community sports facilities. Labor’s sports spokesman Don Farrell cuts to the chase;

“The minister, we now know, rejected advice from her own department, Sport Australia, as to who should get these grants, and she imposed her own favourite grants in their place.”

Above all, despite McKenzie’s promising the ACCC’s recommendation, a dairy industry code of conduct by 2020 – hey – presto -to keep Hanson’s vote, the code will miraculously be available later this year.  So far, Hanson seems happy. Early report had her demanding re-regulation of the dairy industry.

Mathias Cormann must be a sweet-talker if Pauline’s being fobbed off with a code of conduct.

How bad are codes? Hopeless -if the PM’s own code for MPs, Morrison’s Statement of Ministerial Standards, tabled last August, is any guide. Gus Taylor just goes ahead and does what he likes. Clearly. Attacking Clover Moore is part of a rational plan?

Oddly, all hell breaks loose. Gus ducks and weaves. Evades all responsibility for the patently false figures in his bizarre letter lecturing Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore on her travel. Tries to claim that the City of Sydney published fake figures on his website. Yep. The old “fake figures made me frame you” defence.

Worse, his PM supports Taylor, a serial offender, yet again, refusing to sanction his Energy Minister. It’s yet another sign of weak leadership and utter lack of integrity.

By his own code of rules, ScoMo should at least sack Taylor from cabinet; report him to the police.

Shadow climate minister, Mark Butler, tells an Adelaide presser Friday,

“Instead of the prime minister actually putting his words into action and putting this into the hands of the New South Wales police, he has shown that there is one rule for one group of Australians – cabinet ministers in the Morrison government – and another rule for everyone else, including the journalists who are currently under threat of prosecution for doing their jobs.”

Gus is helped by The Daily Telegraph, which publishes an article claiming hippy, tree-hugging, bicycle-riding, Clover Moore is not merely a progressive and independent pain in the establishment’s bum, a theme familiar to Telegraph readers, the Lord Mayor has been “told by the federal government to rein in the hundreds of thousands of dollars her council is spending on international and domestic travel if she is serious about lecturing Australia on climate change”. It’s madly untrue, of course, but well-timed.

Trump-like, Taylor uses what seems to be a forged City of Sydney council document to accuse City of Sydney council of spending “$1.7m on international travel and $14.2m on domestic travel” for councillors. The real figures are $1,727.77 on international travel and $4,206.32 on domestic travel.

Taylor’s dead cat on the table, distracts from Morrison’s stuff-up: his upstaging of the Nationals’ announcement of the breakthrough on the dairy code, Thursday. Experts warn that ScoMo’s holy surplus may now never eventuate. Or if it does it may come smack dab in the middle of a recession. Bad look.

But a line has to be drawn in the sand. News surfaces, Sunday, that Scott Morrison told Craig Kelly, chair of the Coalition’s backbench energy and environment committee, not to appear on Q&A with his daft graphs that show that climate change is a hoax. So much for Howard’s broad church Liberal Party.

Gagging Kelly is as much an extension of ScoMo’s naturally despotic leadership style as it is his way of “moderating public perception” to use Michael Koziol’s euphemism for the PM’s hiding an inconvenient truth from voters. ScoMo’s keen to conceal his climate change deniers and cover up the fact that they control the black hole that passes for government policy, a course largely determined by the coal lobby.

Kelly was due to wow ABC audiences with his insights on 16 September. A week prior, the climate denier regaled the multitudes who packed into an Australian Monarchists League function with the amazing news that the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is “floating, not sinking [due to climate change]”, because it was a coral atoll and “a coral atoll actually floats on the ocean”. Seriously.

It’s not clear that Kelly is aware that coral is acutely sensitive to sea-level changes. Or that Tuvalu is sinking. Already two of its nine islands are on the verge of going underwater swallowed by rising sea-levels and erosion. Scientists predict Tuvalu will become uninhabitable in fifty to a hundred years.

Porous, salty, soil is already useless for planting crops while Tuvalu’s water supply is now contaminated by rising seawater leaving Tuvaluans entirely dependent on rainwater. Even the fish are now toxic. Ciguatera poisoning affects reef fish who have ingested microalgaes expelled by bleached coral.

When fish infected with ciguatera toxins are consumed by humans, it causes an immediate and sometimes severe illness: vomiting, fevers and diarrhoea. Someone should tell Kelly and his committee but communicating scientific information is heresy in a government devoted entirely to spin.

Clearly, Morrison doesn’t talk to Mick-Mack, his pet name for his deputy Prime Minister. Mick-Mack is also in danger of being drowned by a rising tide of nostalgia for the good old days when Barnaby ruled.

For the Nationals, another backward-looking party firmly rooted in the past, Barnaby can do no wrong.

Yet it’s not what the historical record suggest. It’s never perfect with agrarian socialism or any other cult. Never ends well. Investigative journalist Jommy Tee sums up a topical part of Saint Barnaby’s legacy.

As Minister for Water and Agriculture, Barnaby was responsible in 2017 when the government coughed up $80 million in water buybacks to Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA), the company where Angus Taylor had been a director and consultant. Eastern Australian Agriculture, a company founded by Gus Taylor made a two hundred percent profit out of Australian water and cotton farms.

Barnaby offered Clyde, a cotton-growing property to the LNP QLD government in 2006. Queensland  approached the federal government only to have the sale knocked back by Malcolm Turnbull, then parliamentary secretary to the PM. The federal government deemed the $20m price tag – for both property and water too high, given the water flow’s unreliability and its high price.

Joyce, Taylor and the current federal coalition government have much to explain. This includes:

“Why in 2017, did Barnaby Joyce, as Minister for Water, engineer the purchase of that same water from Clyde at the exorbitant cost of $40 million to taxpayers?”

Doubtless, refreshed after their five week break, our Coalition MPs will rush back to Canberra to clear up the stench of Watergate. Resignations will be tendered. Heads will roll. On the other hand, if Home Affairs top shiny-bum, Mike Pezzullo has his way, people will be jailed for leaking government information to the media.

But at present, it seems, neither partner in the coalition can even synchronise their diaries. Snap! Morrison holds his PM’s presser Thursday, on 2SM Radio.

ScoMo’s broadcast is heard just as the Nats gather at parliament house to simultaneously announce the good news on the code and cheer on the same pitifully small cash grants of $7000 and $13000 to farmers coming off the totally inadequate Farm Household Allowance (FHA) of up to $600 a fortnight.

Centrelink grants FHA to those who can pass its convoluted and protracted application process. Most applicants give up. Of 26,000 eligible households, only 2000 apply.

But of those 2000 who have persevered against all expectation – all will be overjoyed to receive a pittance extra, provided they don’t want to do anything rash like buy feed or replace a set of tractor tyres. See a dentist. Or pay the rates or the electricity bill.

Yet help is on its way. Professional empathy consultants, Futureye, are out in the field, helping ScoMo & Co win hearts and minds; forge its social licence in the bush. It’s not all photo-ops up dry creek-beds and matching green shirts.

Revealed by senate estimates committee questioning, this week, the ever more marvellous Morrison government approach to forging consensus.

Queensland Labor senator Murray Watt asks how Futureye works. Senior Inland Rail project officer Dr Garth Taylor is keen to explain, a rarity in the week’s proceedings where across four committees, ministers and mandarins take hundreds of questions on notice.

“Three key areas come to mind. “One is around empathy, around getting the right tone of voice to deal with landowners along the way … We start with getting the tone of voice right and getting the narrative right, and that leads to empathy. I think that along the way, with the landowners we’ve been dealing with, there has been an appreciation that there has been a more empathic approach taken since the social licence initiative.”

Picking up the $190 million tab to help ScoMo and Co build empathy along the tracks across the backblocks is the Department of Infrastructure’s Train to Nowhere, its Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Project, a $10 billion boondoggle which is battling to establish its credentials, let alone goodwill. Even the government’s own hand-picked experts told it, the inland rail would never pay its way. It went ahead anyway.

The week ends with Matt Canavan being sent out on damage control. Canavan talks all over Fran Kelly on ABC Insiders, Sunday, to demonstrate his party’s superior empathy. Instead he gives a virtuoso display of gaslighting; arguing black is white. It’s his Prime Minister’s if not his government’s favourite tactic.

Instead of an utter disaster, a catastrophic rout by its own incompetence, in brief in spite of all the damning evidence, we are to see the week as the Nationals’ finest hour?

Finest hour? The reality is that the Coalition is unravelling as the going gets tough,with bad news on the economy that is ever harder to explain away and no sign that any of its carefully choreographed show of concern for drought victims is yielding any result.

Fighting over who gets credit for what is at best a band-aid solution or a PR stunt is not an edifying end to a parliamentary term. Nor does it augur well for the next.

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Glad all over?

Is “One Million Dollar Woman” Liberal Party “gun” fund-raiser, Gladys Liu, a catspaw of the Chinese Communist Party’s 2005 huaren canzheng, a policy of “ethnic Chinese participation in politics overseas” which has seen Beijing support ethnic Chinese politicians in gaining office in Canada, New Zealand, Britain and Australia?

Or is Ms Liu just another reactionary, evangelical, Coalition homophobe to whom LGBT issues, Safe Schools and marriage equality are “ridiculous rubbish”; a former fifteen-year Victorian Liberal apparatchik, who leads the Liberals’ ruse to legalise discrimination under the pretext of “protecting” an already constitutionally protected religious freedom?

In 2016, Liu attracted national attention, if not notoriety, with her social media campaign against Safe Schools, an anti-bullying programme designed to ensure schools are safe places for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students, and are free of discrimination. It was her way of getting attention.

Safe Schools originates from school communities, parents and teachers who identify a need for greater support for LGBTI students – students at higher risks of bullying and suicide, and to ensure that schools create safe and inclusive environments. It’s been the subject of much disinformation and misrepresentation from our reactionaries, such as Cory Bernardi or George Christensen who proclaim themselves conservatives. But to campaign against it is damning.

In her orchestrated attack on Safe Schools, Liu aligns herself with ignorance, bigotry, prejudice and injustice and her PM, Scott Morrison. His children go to private school, he tells The Guardian Australia to avoid what he wilfully misrepresents as “skin-curling” sexuality discussions. But not all Glad’s agenda is reactionary. She’s progressive on foreign investment.

Liu calls for Australia to water down its foreign investment limits? China’s just announced it will do the same.  Her vote against treating government action on climate change as a matter of urgency? She’s just toeing the party line.

A whiz on WeChat, Liu’s 2016 social media campaign helped Julia Banks get elected only, in the end, to be bullied out of the Liberal Party. Liu’s pitch on Chinese social media is to claim Chinese Australians worry that future generations will be “destroyed” by “ridiculous rubbish” such as “concepts of same-sex, transgender, intergender, cross-gender”.

Liu continued her attack in an article in The Age Liu in 2016. Above all, subversive Safe Schools undermined conservative Chinese values and “we are concerned it will change society and the moral standard [of] the culture”.

WeChat also ran other fake news including the scare that immigration under Labor would rise to 320,000 in ten years; “surpassing the entire Chinese immigrant population.” Liu’s mentor, Morrison’s legacy as Immigration Minister, 2013-4, incidentally was a program of 190,000, a figure he bizarrely locked in by tying the size to budget calculations.

The nation plays Chinese whispers this week with the Liu debacle. We’re Glad all over. MSM is abuzz with scuttlebutt about the MP for the Victorian seat of Chisholm, a marginal seat where 23,000 residents were born in mainland China.

As Niki Savva says on ABC Insiders Sunday, we need to know more about her miracle fund-raising, which Sam Dastyari happily inflates to $3 million. Where does the money come from? How does she suddenly get her precocious skill in political organising? It was this skill which finally won her pre-selection after nine years of knock-backs and failure.

But Gladys is in good hands. Her senior adviser is the arch-conservative, Graham Watt, former Liberal MP for Burwood, who in eight years in state politics, is remembered as the only MP who refused to stand for Rosie Batty’s standing ovation when the Domestic Violence Campaigner and Australian of the Year, visited Victoria’s Parliament in 2015.

Watt is not in Canberra, Tuesday when all hell breaks loose, after Gladys strays into Andrew Bolt’s lair; his Sky Studio. As a Liberal, never did she expect to be held to account. And certainly not by Bolt. A similar perspective appears to have been behind her interpretation of AEC rules regarding polling booth signage.

A case before the High Court challenges Liu’s Chinese-language posters’ how-to-vote advice which effectively directed unwary voters to vote Liberal. Oliver Yates, the unsuccessful independent candidate for Kooyong, Hungarian Josh Frydenberg’s seat, has teamed up with a voter in Chisholm to have the election result ruled invalid. Yet the current crisis, capably boosted by MSM’s Sinophobia, is self-inflicted, like so much of ScoMo & Co’s political franchise.

The latest buzz stems from Ms Liu unplugged. Un-minded. In sensational disclaimers to an incredulous Andrew Bolt on Sky, Tuesday, Liu fails to recall her twelve-year membership of key agencies of China’s bid to influence local politics; organisations linked to the CCP’s United Front Work Department. Add in failing to disclose a $39,675 donation to the Victorian Liberals, three years ago. Liu’s s also three years late in declaring a second donation of $25,000.

Victorian Liberals quickly claim the $39,675 is not in fact a donation after all. “As these payments were for attending events, Ms Liu did not have an obligation to submit a return to the AEC,” the party says. That clears that up then.

The member for Chisholm evades questions critical of China’s foreign policy. Her name might well have been added to the organisations without her knowledge, she conjectures, a fanciful narrative she abandons next day.

The media pack is baying. The Victorian Liberal Party was warned, by “men in grey suits”, against pre-selecting Ms Liu, trumpets The Herald Sun, while The ABC reports this week, that in 2018, then PM Turnbull was advised by ASIO not to attend Ms Liu’s “meet and greet” function whose guest list contained “thirty names from the Chinese Community”.

Is ScoMo spooked? It’s just another day at the spin machine for our PM who opts for a ludicrous downplay – as he did recently with his presence at Nine’s fund-raiser – which Jennifer Duke and David Crowe report in The Sydney Morning Herald, a Nine newspaper, netted the Libs $700,000. All that happened was Nine gave a function and he was there.

It’s part of his government’s Trumpist gaslit-nation strategy. Fraser Anning uses it too. There were no fascists at a Blair Cottrell, Neil Erikson organised rally, he attended, despite images clearly showing protesters exchanging Nazi salutes.

“I think the problem here is Gladys Liu has given a clumsy interview,” Morrison says. “That is all that’s happened here.”

“Everyone has a bad day in the office and that was one,” Barnaby “bad-day” Joyce throws his own, huge, personal, authority into the mix on Patricia Karvelas’ RN drive. Nothing to see here. But how good is Mick-Mack’s melt-down!

Look over there: Deputy PM, vacuous Michael McCormack, stages a meltdown in question time, Wednesday, in case Liu sabotages ScoMo & Co’s smooth roll-out of Labor-bashing bastardry and wedging. Attacks on Labor fill its policy vacuum.  It also presses on with Ensuring Integrity, another zombie bill. ACTU’s Sally McManus says it’s some of the most draconian anti-union legislation in the world. ScoMo & Co’s war on workers must proceed until every union is crushed.

The nation is suffering the economic consequences of Coalition governments’ – and some of Labor’s – long-term strategy of de-unionisation. Labor may claim to represent working class interests. But in office, both federally and at the state level, it has consistently implemented neoliberal, anti-working class policies over the last three decades.

Take a bow, John Setka. Setka is a gift in ScoMo & Co’s demonisation of organised labour and their attack on Labor’s credibility and Albo’s authority. Yet it’s not about Setka. Our average unionist is a thirty-nine-year-old female nurse.

Wages remain frozen at 2013 levels, according to ABS data published in April. Workers and their families are suffering while others prosper.  Our top 20 per cent of households’ average net worth is over 93 times that of the lowest 20 per cent — some $3.2 million compared to just $35,200.

Yet workers are never valorised by this government the way it makes saints of farmers and small business owners, both groups prominent in recent wage theft cases.

“I don’t know why you’re yelling. The Member for Hunter. It’s time you came to the table and just behaved yourself occasionally,” Mick-Mack yells at shadow agriculture minister, Joel Fitzgibbon. There are country people doing it tough. You won’t ever stop yelling out. You should behave yourself. You are a disgrace. You know you are!”

Yet what Fitzgibbon has to say encapsulates the Coalition crisis and its dire need to seek diversion in the Gladys Liu soap opera and the up and coming return of the living dead drug tests for welfare cheats and useless, cashless credit cards.

“We’ve had the drought coordinator, the drought envoy, the drought task force, the drought summit. Now we have a drought minister …. (but) what hope does the Australian community have when their drought minister denies the connection between our activity and what is happening in our natural environment and with our climate?”

So much to evade; so little time. ScoMo & Co have economised on parliamentary sittings to save face.

Peak stupidity is reached when the Nationals’ leader Mick-Mack claims new dams would improve things for farmers. It’s a response to a typically tedious “Dorothy Dixer” which elicits the climate change denier’s default evasion.

“That is Australia – a land of droughts and flooding rains,” the Deputy PM says. Profound. Literary. Urbane. Or so he believes.

Fitzgibbon interjects to ask what the government is doing to help country people. ScoMo doesn’t blink.  But things go bad for the PM when Andrew Bolt gives him an earful in his Thursday morning sermon from Sky’s moral high ground.

Morrison is forced to pause his crusade to wedge Labor by legislation or “wedgislation” as Albanese wittily puts it, abusing parliament with a series of bull-shit bills such as reviving yet another trial of the cashless debit card, the war on vegan terror, which would outlaw on-farm protests by animal liberationists, drug-testing dole bludgers and the populists’ perennial -mandatory sentencing of child sex offenders  – all designed solely to give Labor an atomic wedgie.

No chance of ScoMo & Co tackling real issues; our “existential environmental crisis” or our incipient economic downturn. New Matilda’s Ben Eltham notes, “if the climate is heating the economy is cooling; the jobless are obviously to blame.”

Digging deep into his shallow but well-exercised desperate tactical response lobe, Trumpista ScoMo chooses to impugn Labor’s motives in holding Gladys Liu to account. ScoMo’s dud political judgement rivals that of his predecessor.

Morrison denies the allegations. Calls Labor racists. His mentor, Trump, whose latest claim to victimhood, is to claim his fake orange tan, is due to low-energy lightbulbs- deployed by Greens’ traitors everywhere, would be proud of him.

ScoMo! There’s flies in the buttermilk. What will you do? Liu, Liu, skip to Ms Liu. Skip to Ms Liu my darling.

ScoMo barely has time to take visiting Fijian PM pal Frank Bainimarama, another big fan of guided democracy, for a happy-clap and a singalong at Horizon. Horizon, which, oddly, shares its name with an Imperial Tobacco cigarette brand.

Horizon must be rapt when a PM deploys his prosperity gospel church; his religiosity, as a multipurpose political tool. But no sign so far of rapture from fellow evangelical Bainimarama. In fact, Frank seems to be inwardly seething.

Climate change advocate Frank’s no fan of Australia’s coal baron government. He sees our PM’s Pacific Island Forum refusal to agree to phase out coal-fired power as “insulting and condescending.” Yet a puff piece from the ABC’s Michael Walsh, helps us all to forgot human rights’ abuse in Fiji. Frank is a noble reformer who is restoring Fiji to democracy.

Big Frank’s glad to get out of Suva after being captured on camera assaulting Opposition leader Pio Tikoduadua in what is loosely known as the Fijian parliament’s car park; breaking Pio’s spectacles. Incredibly, local police make no inquiries. Pio, on the other hand, gets suspended from parliament for bad-mouthing his Prime Minister. ScoMo is inspired.

Bronte’s brontosaurus, (thunder lizard) the small-headed, whip-tailed, political dinosaur, Morrison goes in low. Our nation’s top grub, owes his own 2009 pre-selection, solely to a smear campaign. In 2009, The Daily Telegraph published four stories about the successfully pre-selected Liberal candidate for Cook, Michael Towke which defamed him, destroyed his political career, caused untold stress to his family and led to his dis-endorsement and ScoMo’s free walk.

”These stories sent my mother to hospital. They demonised me. I wanted to confront them in court,” Towke explains.

ScoMo’s smear’s a silencing tactic; the very tactic used by The Chinese Embassy, notes Charles Sturt’s Clive Hamilton.

Critics of the Hong Kong-born MP are guilty of filthy racist slurs, ScoMo howls. It’s an outrage. Morrison follows his parliamentary gutter politics – (“disgusting”, Mark Dreyfus dubs them), with Standing Up for All Chinese Australians, a video he releases on Chinese social media, WeChat, now a Coalition propaganda, go-to. It’s a sequel to his April love-in, when after years of failed attempts, but vast increases in donations, Liu was finally pre-selected for Chisholm in Victoria.

“How good is Gladys Liu? Gladys Liu is a force of nature.” ScoMo crowed in April at her pre-selection. And he’s right. And she may have a right to be a bigot provided she doesn’t harm children who need safe schools. Or if she stays away from promulgating lurid lies and fantasies on social media which impede the voters’ right to make up their own mind.

But it’s fair to ask who her political mates are. Her connections. What are her links to United Front Work Department’s Guangdong provincial branch of the China Overseas Exchange Association, an overseas propaganda and influence outfit headed by high-ranking party officials? Documents show that Liu has been a council member of this outfit.

Liu also confirms she was honorary president of the United Chinese Commerce Association of Australia. All done and dusted? Not yet. There’s a torrent of abuse from what is mysteriously called the other side of politics. Bolt’s side.

Bolt goes nuts. “The way that the Prime Minister played that race card five times this morning, well I can only say the Chinese regime should be sending him a thank you card,” he says in his opening harangue on Thursday. Classy irony.

“Prime Minister why was it racist to question Gladys Liu’s connections to China but it wasn’t racist to call Sam Dastyari ‘Shanghai Sam’?” asks a Ten Reporter. Liar from the Shire, ScoMo denies using the phrase but social media lights up with evidence to the contrary. Hansard also records Morrison stooping to racist taunting of Dastyari on several occasions.

So who is being racist? “Questioning by Labor and the crossbench members of Parliament on this is legitimate and reasonable,” Australia’s former Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, tells The Sydney Morning Herald; Nine Newspaper’s Peter Hartcher. Hartcher dismisses suggestions ASIO warned his paper’s Liberal Party pals ScoMo or Fizza Turnbull. So neither PM or their departments could join the guest list warning dots? We are in trouble.

In trouble also are Chinese communities, here and in other nations. Already under-represented in parliaments, they must now suffer being represented by MPs of dubious loyalty, observes Clive Hamilton.

And how fares our democracy where pre-selection is determined, at least in the Liberal Party, by how much money you can raise? Your ability to chat up rich-listers – and not by the calibre of your thinking, your humanity, or dare it be said, your capacity to contribute honest, constructive, socially cohesive ideas to policy or your demonstration of good faith.

A bit of concern for the planet doesn’t go astray either. Does our nation really needs another climate change sceptic?

The Liu case is far from closed. Word is that Gladys will be minded by the PMC – reduced to another bot from head office. The well-oiled, back-biting, faction-riven fossils in the Victorian Liberal Party will fall over themselves to help.

Micro-managed, scripted, she will win more time to be a WeChat warrior. But there are still few wild cards to be played. Her bully-PM has the diplomatic skills of a demented warthog and a hide to match. No patience for high maintenance.

If, on the other hand, it turns out that Gladys is of no further use to the United Front Work Department they may cut her loose. Beat ScoMo to it. Recall her. Some irregularity with her residency. Before even Morrison’s office works out that she’s more a political liability than an asset. A conga-line of suitable replacements will already be putting itself forward.

Or the High Court may be pleased to find her election invalid. But don’t hold your breath.

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Is Barnaby auditioning for a new band?

On Friday, Barnaby Joyce posted the following on his Facebook page:

The fastest growing sector of our economy is agriculture where farmers are doing the heavy lifting to keep the standard of living we take for granted. At the same time in South Africa, farmers are under attack, being murdered, raped and assaulted on their own property – something we would never accept in Australia. You are three to four times more likely to be murdered as a South African farmer than the average South African, with an average of two farm murders a week. After representations to my electorate office and at the Local Land Services farming seminar in Tamworth yesterday, I support Minister Peter Dutton’s push to give these people refuge in our nation because not only can we help them, they can also help us by moving into regional areas and helping grow our agricultural economy.

Dear oh dear, where to begin.

Let’s start with Barnaby’s claims about the agriculture industry’s contribution to the economy.

In 2015-16, output from the Services industry was $1,051.1 billion which represented a 61.1% share of GDP and 79.2% of all industry, employing 9.4 million people.  Agriculture’s output was $36.7 billion, which was a 2.2% share of GDP and 2.7% of all industry, employing about 300,000 people.

Whilst minerals and fuels still dominate exports, in FY2017, services exports were worth about A$81.6 billion. That was much larger than the value of exports of manufactures (about A$44 billion) or of exports of food (about A$43 billion).

As far as being the fastest growing industry is concerned, according to the March 2018 update from the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, in 2017-18, the gross value of farm production is forecast to decline by 5 per cent, the gross value of livestock production to increase by 2 per cent, and the gross value of crop production to decline by 11 per cent.

Barnaby’s ode to agriculture then somehow morphs into support for Peter Dutton’s shout out to persecuted white South African farmers.

I am sure there are problems in South Africa.  It was kind of inevitable when 95% of the country’s wealth is held by 10% of the population, when 73% of farmland is owned by white people even though less than 9% of the population is white, when the wage for a farm worker is less than $15 for a 9 hour day.

But the point is, they didn’t ask for our help, they don’t want to abandon their farms and, far more importantly, there are genuine refugees who desperately need help.  What happened to the concern for the people who have been languishing in camps for years?  Do two farm murders a week outweigh the deaths in Myanmar, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan?  Do they outweigh the millions facing famine?

There is something odd about this sudden, and unwanted, focus on white South African farmers.  It seems to have been a clarion call for the far right.  A predictable lineup of suspects have been quick to express their support for Peter Dutton – Steve Ciobo, Barnaby Joyce, Andrew Hastie, Ian Goodenough, Andrew Laming, George Christensen, with David Leyonhjelm joining in as well.

Is the band considering a new line up?  Is that Peter humming in the wings?  Is anyone game to tell him that he’s tone deaf?

As Arte Johnson on Laugh In would say … very interesting.

Bonking, nepotism and the trials of being a politician away from home

Whilst Barnaby Joyce may consider his workplace sexual affairs a private matter, they give rise to many questions.

Cathy McGowan is considering introducing a motion to ban politicians from having sex with their staff.  Do they really need legislation to tell them that the boss rooting their staff is inappropriate?

Have they not learned from the resignation of two AFL bosses and the two top guys in Border Force (though Roman is just on a paid holiday to date)?

Did Tony Abbott’s ban on politicians hiring family extend to the person you are having sex with?

As Ted Mack pointed out in his 2013 Henry Parkes oration:

Over the last 30 years politicians’ staff has increased dramatically. At federal level there are now some 17 hundred personal staff to ministers and members. The states probably account for over two thousand more. Add to this the direct political infiltration of federal-state public services and quangos with hundreds more jobs for the boys and girls, there is now a well-established political class.

But it’s not just a political class – it’s blatant nepotism.

In a January 2014 article on Abbott’s ban and how former Coalition MP for Fairfax, Alex Somlyay, allegedly paid his wife almost seventy thousand dollars for the year 2012-13 “for non-existent work in his electorate office,” Jonathon Swan pointed out how common the practice is.

What about Kevin Rudd? Didn’t he employ his son Nicholas as a ”senior adviser” during the election campaign? Well, as it happens, he did. And what about Chris Hayes, Dick Adams, Glenn Sterle, Chris Back, Ian Macdonald and Rowan Ramsey? Haven’t all of these current and former MPs from Labor and the Coalition hired their wives or partners on the public dime?

What about Liberal MP Dennis Jensen (daughter), Liberal Don Randall (daughter), former Labor senator Trish Crossin (daughter), Labor senator Helen Polley (daughter and niece), Labor MP Michael Danby (son), Nationals MP Luke Hartsuyker (son), Liberal MP Steve Irons (son), Nationals George Christensen (sister) and Liberal Bob Baldwin (daughter)?

And that’s before one gets to nepotism-once-removed.

A phone call to Senator Farrell elicited a history of employment that included Mrs Farrell not only working for Labor MP Champion but previously for Labor politicians Bob Catley, Michael Atkinson, Annette Hurley and Linda Kirk. All except Catley were affiliated with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association – a trade union of which Senator Farrell is a former national president.

Awkwardly, the man charged with policing Abbott’s new rules banning nepotism – Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson – has been rather nepotistic himself.

”I don’t think it’s any secret I employed my son,” Ronaldson said.

This practice of employing family members (or people you are rooting) makes the political class even more insular.  It can lead to the perception of corruption even if the reality is otherwise.  Your partner or child may very well be eminently qualified, talented and trustworthy, but so are many other people.

Getting back to the philandering, Bob Katter appeared on the Project this evening to express his support for Cathy McGowan’s ban on bonking but, when asked about how it could be policed, he just started giggling and said “you can’t”, before offering the advice that people “should lock the door.”

When asked if there were others misbehaving, he said “Yes, the boys like to have a bit of fun.  So do the girls.”

He then went all serious, as he does, and explained how hard it was to work 22 weeks of the year (in stints of 2 four day weeks at a time with free flights home for the long weekends and paid “family reunions” anywhere in the country if you can’t last).  It’s hard to resist temptation, Bob tells us.

In 2015, Bob Katter showed up to Parliament on 52 days. In 2014 he attended 65 out of 76 sitting days.

If it is understandable, and excusable, for everyone who spends four days in a row away from home to commit adultery, then we may as well abolish marriage altogether.

Michelle Landry Must Resign and Force A By-Election in Capricornia

Michelle Landry, LNP MP for Capricornia must resign.  The Liberal National Party have now admitted they went to the election based on a blatant lie. Turnbull said he will bring back integrity to politics He must insist that Ms. Landry resigns today.

On 3rd February, I published Is the Defence Land Grab” Turnbull’s Carbon Tax Lie?  This article details the timeline and agenda through an analysis of press releases, Hansard, the Defence White paper and the Budget.

My timeline shows that the Liberal National Coalition either knew they were going to acquire land, or they are severely incompetent and had developed no contingency plan for the expansion to house the Singaporean Army at Shoalwater.

They say a week is a long time in politics. However two weeks have revealed two things. The first is that Peta Credlin admitted on national television that the Gillard’s carbon tax lie was just dirty politics made up by the Liberals and it was never a carbon tax.

The second is that Marise Payne admitted that the LNP knew before the election about the land grab.

Michelle Landry needs to admit that either she did not know about the land grab or she is incompetent. So incompetent that she did not inquire as to the impact of the Defence training deal on her own constituency.  For either one of these she MUST resign.

Although the Government has now backed down on compulsory acquisition, after protests and rallies; the electorate was prevented from voting on all the facts at the time of the election, due to dishonesty by the now Government.

Please Sign the Petition and Insist Michelle Landry Resigns. Force a By-Election in Capricornia.

landry-petition

Is the “Defence Land Grab” Turnbull’s “Carbon Tax Lie?”

In 2010, Tony Abbott, supported by the media in epic proportions, touted Gillard’s infamous “Carbon Tax Lie” as THE lie that cost Abbott the Prime Ministership. Moving forward to 2017, an even bigger lie has been revealed. This just may be THE lie which allowed Turnbull to hang on by the skin of his teeth to power.  This lie is the Turnbull Government remained silent on the compulsory acquisition of farming land in Central Queensland for supplying land to the Singaporean Army for defence training.

Lust for Power and Political Lies

When the lust for political power is such that it sees citizens denied their rights, or it denies voters to make an informed vote, it is up to all of us to stand up against that.

Prior to the election in May 2016, the LNP MP for Capricornia, Michelle Landry announced that the Turnbull Government was investing in defence at Shoalwater Bay.  Landry was pleased to announce that this would pump millions into the local economy and it was a positive for small business.

In all instances, Michelle Landry framed the Shoalwater Bay investment in terms of an upgrade, implicitly insinuating that the upgrade was to existing facilities. Landry omitted the cold hard facts that this also included, or had even the potential to include compulsory acquisition of nearby farming land, owned by local farmers for generations (see maps in link above).

In addition, Bill Byrne, QLD Labor Minister for Agriculture has also accused Defence Minister Marise Payne of misleading the Senate.

QLD Labor Minister Byrne said that:

“There is no doubt in my mind that vital information was withheld to gain electoral advantage, and I am raising the possibility that Minister Payne… misled the senate estimates hearing,”

How Long Have They Known?

On 18th March, 2016, Defence Minister Payne issued a press release which detailed the enhanced development of training operations between Singapore and Australia.

military-increased-access

Therefore, in March 2016, the Defence Minister, Minister for Trade and Investment, Special Envoy for Trade and the Foreign Minister knew that an increase of Singaporean Troops was earmarked or military training facilities. The question is:

Did not one of these Ministers have any awareness that this increase would indeed require an expansion to the military training areas?

Was this promise made without even developing an understanding of how it might impact on people living in the region or the impact on our economy?

Has the Member for Capricornia, shown absolutely no interest in asking her own Party about any perceived negative impacts on the constituency she is supposed to represent? 

Do You Even Budget?

The Federal Budget papers do not detail any expenses for upgrading the Military Operations in Shoalwater Bay.

However, in capital expenses, the Government does commit to $29.9 billion over 10 years from 2016‑17 to 2025‑26 to support initiatives in the Defence White paper which includes:

A number of ADF training areas in northern Australia will receive upgrades by 2020, including Shoalwater Bay (Queensland)

Once again, Shoalwater Bay and Townsville are only discussed as upgrades and not as an expansion.

In October, Senator Payne took a question from Senator McDonald regarding the memorandum of understanding with Singapore. Senator Payne detailed that the Singaporean Army will invest “around $2.25 billion in upgrades to Australian training areas while up to 14,000 Singaporean troops will join our own for training for up to 18 weeks per year in Australia.”

However, in Senator Payne’s response in the Senate, she details that this inclusion in the Defence White Paper includes increasing international defence engagement. The CSP will particularly enhance training area access and joint development of facilities.

Shoalwater Bay Expansion

The expansion was announced in the Senator on 8th November. Senator Payne advised the house that she would make sure that ADF would conduct extensive engagement and consultation. This has not occurred and Farmers were advised via a letter of the compulsory acquisition of Land, a shock to many. The Coalition Government decided upon compulsory acquisition of land without consulting Farmers. 

This afternoon I updated the Senate on how the Government is engaging with local businesses and community leaders in Central and North Queensland ahead of the implementation of the Military Training Agreement with Singapore.

Posted by Marise Payne on Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The strategic partnership is detailed as developed in May, the White Paper states upgrades as an aim. However, in May, 2016, the Government did not detail any expenses for an expansion, just an ‘upgrade.’ The Government knew the increase in Singaporean Personnel and the aims of the strategic plan, at least in May. Why did they not question the logistics of this increase? QLD Minister Bill Byrne goes into much more depth here.

Lies or Incompetence?

The Government either hid the information regarding the compulsory acquisition of farming land from voters prior to the election, or they were incompetent in their planning with the Singaporean Army in the land area that was required to achieve the aims of the strategic plan.

If the Government was evasive and did not disclose in May that this land was a necessity to acquire by force of compulsory acquisition, then the Government is also incompetent by excluding the loss of revenue from Beef Producers in the region in the Agriculture revenue within the Budget. This will rip approximately 100,000 head of cattle from our local producers and severely impact on the two meat works in Rockhampton.  Rockhampton is the Beef Capital of Australia. This Defence threat to farmer’s land will hand this title to Casino in NSW.

The Defence Land Grab Lie

To put the omission of the compulsory acquisition of farming land into perspective of the infamous “Carbon Tax Lie” is that the Coalition rests on just 76 seats. Just enough to form Government. The Carbon Tax Lie was touted by the Coalition and by the media as the lie that denied Abbott the Prime Ministership.

In Queensland the Coalition won 21 seats. There are quite a number of seats in QLD that the coalition holds onto with very slim margins. Michelle Landry’s seat of Capricornia scraped through with only 1111 votes, with the majority of Liberal votes coming from the rural areas via postal votes. The nearby seat of Flynn, saw the local Labor candidate, Zac Beers, almost decimated O’Dowd’s comfortable seat, leaving O’Dowd with a swing against him of -8.96. Capricornia was one of the deciding seats in the election. Flynn now sits on a margin of 2.08, 1,814 votes.

These are just some examples of regional seats in Queensland, where the Liberal National Coalition and indeed the local LNP MPs fighting to keep their seats would know full well that attacks on our farming community and a farmers land grab would have banished at least Landry and O’Dowd into oblivion.

In Regional Queensland regardless of whether we live in town, or out on a property, or what our traditional political beliefs are, everyone is united in standing up for the farmers. No doubt, many Australians feel the way regional Queenslanders do and would have voted accordingly.

Announcements Before the Election

As detailed above in March, the Defence Minister met with Singapore to discuss mutual aims for Defence, including access and development of training facilities. From May, the Coalition were spruiking their deal with the Singaporean Army, which would bring 14,000 Singaporeans to the region for training.  The ADF website details that:

“Identifying a remote parcel of land for Singapore Armed Forces training was considered during development of the agreement, but was dismissed due to the limited benefit for the Australian Defence Force.”

Therefore, in May, the Coalition knew full well that an expansion was required. In no instance, did Michelle Landry or Marise Payne identify the expansion and what land was to be (initially) used. They simply implicitly stated that they were ‘upgrading existing facilities’ to house the increase of Singaporeans.

The revelation that the Liberal National Government had no contingency plan if this ‘parcel of land’ detailed above fell over and that would mean forced acquisition of farming land, speaks to the either a cover up and deceit to voters or blatant incompetence.

How the LNP Duped Voters – Psychological Projection

Psychological projection is a tried and true campaign style of the LNP, particularly in Queensland.  Psychological projection is when someone takes their undesirable feelings or beliefs and projects them onto others, with take the focus of them and project it onto others.

For example, if the Liberals stated the opposition would ‘harm families’ but knew it was their party and not the opposition, that had a plan to abolish funding that would harm families. This is psychological  projection. This technique is also used by Republicans in America.

Setting up for the Campaign

On the 4th May, the Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry posed a question to the Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce. This question was put forward to demonstrate how much the LNP invest in helping farmers. This is such a contradiction in terms to the real truth that an expansion would heavily impact on Beef production and supply for the Capricornia region. Landry had already established a platform that LNP supports farmers and Labor does not prior to the election. That smells very much like a precursor for the campaign strategy below.

At the Norman Road booth in Capricornia, where I handed out HTV cards, Landry’s fly-in campaigners from down south (because her local volunteers do not appear to be in abundance) were screaming:

“Labor Hates Farmers!!!” 

They were also telling voters not to vote for the Katter Party or Glenn Lazurus as “they are funded by the dirty filthy unions.”  The absolute hatred for the worker by the LNP in Capricornia also runs deep.

If this was the campaign style at one booth, then it would stand to reason that this was the campaign strategy at many booths.

The truth in this, is that whilst Landry’s mob were screaming “Labor Hates Farmers!!” it was indeed Landry’s mob who were getting set to do the dirty on farmers in the Capricornia region.

Labor Supports Farmers

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, QLD Minister Bill Byrne, QLD MPs Jim Pearce and Brittany Lauga and Federal Senator Murray Watt, have organised forums and rallies to give these Farmers a voice.  Brittany Lauga also organised counselling services for local farmers as, readers would appreciate the impact on their emotional health with this decision is heartbreaking and as Lauga said, quite urgent.

Please see the video below from the Rally, including a brilliant speech from local Farmer, Pip Rea.

Shoalwater rally against defence land grabs.

Posted by Queensland Country Life on Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Never Underestimate the Vote in QLD

We have already seen what happens in QLD when the Government defies the wishes of the electorate.  In 2012, QLD Labor were banished to seven seats, for selling QLD Rail. In 2015, the LNP were thrown out of office after one term, with Labor taking 37 seats from the opposition for a total of 44 seats. Our assets are not for sale. Not now. Now ever.

Similar anger would have been felt from Queenslanders, on July 2, if they knew about the compulsory acquisition of farming land. This would have most certainly resulted in a very different parliament than we have today.

What You Can Do

Yesterday, the Federal Government said they would look at ‘alternatives’ due to the outcry from local farmers. However, local farmers are not satisfied, with some suggesting this is just to take the heat off of the first week in Parliament.

Bill Shorten has written to the Prime Minister personally and The QLD Premier has requested COAG be held in Rockhampton.

“IF he has any guts he will come here and face you.”
Annastacia Palaszczuk, QLD Premier, commenting on the Prime Minister “The Rally” Rockhampton 1st February, 2017.

However, that is not a victory.  A victory is no forced compulsory acquisition of farming land.  That is the outcome local farmers want.

To support Farmers you can like and encourage friends to like the Marlborough Defence Land Grab Facebook Page

Sign and share the Stop the Australian Farm Land being Blown Up Petition

Write to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, Defence Minister Marise Payne and your local member and insist upon no forced compulsory acquisition of farming land for Defence Training to accommodate the Singaporean Army

Listen and Share Ray Hadley’s scathing interview with Barnaby Joyce linked below:

Renting our Land to the Singaporeans

Barnaby: If we say we will never forcibly acquire anything, we will never build another road, we will never build another dam…..

Hadley: Yeh but they are not giving it to the Singaporeans…….

Hadley: Barnaby, Barnaby, the one thing we never get involved in is BS…..

One thing Hadley is right about – this entire thing is B.S. 

 

Day to Day Politics: Captain Turnbull batting on a sticky wicket.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Having replaced Abbott as captain of the Australian side Malcolm Turnbull finds himself on a sticky wicket. He promised much as the side’s new leader but on Friday, when commenting on the other side’s policy on negative gearing looked as though he had been hit ‘to leg’. In fact he talked decidedly like the previous captain. Maybe the protector he was using was too small or something, and it was affecting his concentration.

The other team looked as though they, given the advantage of batting first, have out played the incumbents with a solid opening partnership. They have runs on the board hitting opening bowler Gunna Morrison for six on a number of occasions.

He gave a few interviews after his opening spell but the consensus in the press box was that he was bowling without a plan. He wasn’t on a length and too many were going down leg side. Mind you all the sledging from opener Bowen after three consecutive sixes in the first over of the day didn’t help.

It ended with Turnbull having to bring himself on. He spent what seemed an eternity discussing what positions the new members of the team should field in. The other opener Bill Shorten complained to the umps about time-wasting, shouting ‘less talk and more action’. Turnbull responded by saying it takes time to get a plan right.

Wicketkeeper Pyne adjusted his box shouting, in indignation. ‘Don’t forget the Double Dissolution, Mal’. Shorten’s opening partner Albanese was heard to mumble that Pyne should be dropped or that he should at least get a manager because he has been handling himself too long.

The current state of play indicates a subtle but significant shift in how the game is being played. The Opposition captain is on the back foot firmly behind the ball, playing a flamboyant innings, prepared to have a go early. Turnbull doesn’t like it either when the yobbos in Bay 13 keep reminding him that his sides been out of form for the better part of two and a half years. And the government’s bowling has been off-line. If fact, its bowlers have been no-balled a few times for bowling wide of the crease.

I mean, when you’re bowling on a green top, why on earth would you bowl so much spin? Poor form, that.

At the close of play on the second day the Opposition has the Government by the short and curlies. For how long is anyone’s guess.

So let’s see if we can analyse the match thus far, remembering this is a five test series leading into September.

Despite  replacing many ageing, out of form players who had seemingly lost touch with the modern game ages ago, captain Turnbull seems determined to take the game back to the quaint days of W.C. Grace.

However, there’s talk that he might chance his arm and change the line-up for the next match. ‘Too many leaners and not enough lifters’, he was reminded. Of course, the Murdoch press is playing ball supporting the Captain despite a longing for the previous captain’s deleterious leadership style.

On the other hand, social media has stumped a few batters by chucking a lot of fast positive commentary at a government deemed to be under-performing. This bloody underarm stuff is “simply unbecoming” said the editor of The AIMN.

One spectator on the square leg boundary was heard to say to Dutton, whose head was not taking kindly to the sun. ‘When will you recognise that it’s time to concentrate on the finer points of the game and consider traditional fair play?’ Even the umpires have chatted to him about his ball tampering.

The fact is, the Government has been caught behind and need to play ball with the umpiring public. At the rate Turnbull is scoring he is unlikely to captain the side in the next test, and there is talk about the composition of the team including some new arrivals.

Some are saying that Joyce should be dropped on the grounds that the vice captaincy requires a degree of fitness for the position. He always appears out of breath.

Another on the back foot, as it were, is Cormann, who it is said is always short of a length and is finding it difficult to run between the wickets. Too many cigars while waiting to bat must be detrimental to one’s health. He always seems to be full of puff.

Dutton was well out of his crease batting at third drop and stumped several times when he wouldn’t give an undertaking that his team would play by the rules, instead opting to never allow juniors a chance to play on his turf.

Meanwhile the rich and privileged in the members pavilion could be seen clapping his every shot. It’s fair to say that the Government has been creamed on every economic announcement by the opposition. Gunna Morrison looked like he was acting as a reluctant runner for the injured opener. It’s a pity they couldn’t have used the 12th man. He is known to be up to speed on economics.

Well, they did get rid of the Carbon Tax but the entire team still seems to be confused by the difference between weather and climate which doesn’t go well for the quality of future pitches.

You might say the spectators have been hit for six on this one. Maybe it’s time to bring on the quicks. A bit of bodyline or Direct Action of the right sort, that’s what’s needed.

After bowling a few maiden overs there can be no doubt Turnbull has copped one in the box over his inability to get his side moving. The protector needs something like speedos to keep it in place otherwise everything hangs loose.

It’s been a balls-up all round and the Turnbull has been no balled four times during the current over while trying to get his point across. He reckons its all the talk from the batsmen that affecting his concentration. He’s asked the umpire to stop everyone talking saying there’s too much of it.

Fact is, the lack of policy has been comprehensively hit to square leg and team mascot Wyatt Roy was seen chasing after it with a view to retrieving it because he’s not guaranteed of a second knock.

Leader Turnbull nicked one to slips over the latest job figures. Reminds me of something Merve Hugh’s said to a spectator at fine leg at the G after dropping a catch; ‘Fkn hopeless’. It seems that because of budgetary constraints he will be powerless to give those unable to win a place on team Australia any assistance. Instead he wants them all to field in slips and repeat the word plebiscite while waiting. If they drop one he can blame it on Labor for bowling too many short pitched deliveries.

Turnbull’s team are appallingly bad sports. Hypocrisy abounds. It’s a pity the opposition can’t appeal to the third umpire. Once upon a time it was a gentleman’s game and we played by traditional rules, but captain Turnbull seems to have let it all roll into the gutter. He has replaced everything our beloved game stands for with Lillee white lies. All the video replays confirm it. When a captain says something he should stick with it.

I think for the last six months he has just been batting with the breeze or must have been hit with a bouncer while not wearing a helmet. Concussion set in and when he recovered he realised that there are real known facts in the world and that one’s word does matter.

When I found out about all the lies, any respect I had for the new captain of Team Australia went to the boundry. My God, I felt like I had just copped one in the nuts from Malcolm Marshall I was so distressed. Bloody hypocrite. No wonder, a captain who bats at 10 isn’t a cricketer’s arsehole. No wonder he’s on a pair.

Then during the lunch break he was complaining about the cost of living (or was it lifestyle?) pressures on the players and spruiked that it was perfectly OK to receive expenses even if they were given to the spouses. Nothing worse than a bloody all-rounder who can only bowl arm balls.

Then after lunch he brings  on his slowest bowler Greg Hunt to bowl ‘Chinaman’ deliveries. In a recorded interview before play he was quoted as saying that he was stumped as to why the game had never appealed to environmentalists.

Goodness knows he is good at bowling spin on sticky wickets. Hunt was on a hat-trick but the umpire dismissed his third appeal on the basis of an obstructed view – something to do with an indirect action.

Anyway, at the close of play Turnbull’s team Australia has shown little desire to get on with the game. He gives the impression he would rather be sipping a Merlot in the members. The team treasurer is still saying the team budget will be presented in May. They just needed to talk more about it.

After a long drawn out final session, the captain of team Australia looks intent on a draw of sorts. He doesn’t seem to have the spectators on side. His captaincy shows little of the innovation, transparency and flamboyancy he promised. In fact the team is in disarray, the pitch is deteriorating, and he shows little inclination to arrest his and his teams appalling governance of the game. Some say his vision is effecting his batting.

At the after play drinks one player in the opposition was heard to say: ‘That bloody Turnbull must have been born with two dicks. He couldn’t be that stupid playing with one.’

Anyway, who’s for a game of backyard cricket? Pitches will be going cheap according to the man with it all.

My thought for the day.

‘It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.’

 

Day to Day Politics: When action is needed we get waffle

Thursday 18 February 2016

1 Gunna Morrison was at the Press Club yesterday spruicking about what the Government is gunna do with the economy. It was highly anticipated that he might make a policy announcement on negative gearing but surprised no one when he didn’t. They need more time to talk and plan. A blueprint perhaps.

They came into government two and a half years ago on the back of a concentrated campaign of the need for action. Remember, there was a budget emergency. Unprecedented in its depth. The country was in a situation as bad as that of Greece. The sky was about to fall in. Day after day Hockey and Abbott told us that we were in dire straits.

Yet two and a half years after being in government, knowing all too well that aspects of the economy needed attention, they decide to formulate a plan. But it is a plan remarkably short in detail. If the strategy, or the answer is in savings it didn’t make sense that he had saved 80 billion but allocated 70 in new spending. What he didn’t say was that without the spending we may very well have had a recession.

The only thing we got today was journalists shaking their heads at his answers to their questions.

Where is the much vented real structural tax reform that Turnbull has been talking about? The sort a treasurer of the ilk of Keating might deliver.

Like Hockey and Costello before him all Morrison did today was give himself a big pat on the back.

He’s going to fund tax cuts from savings on future spending. The look on Peter Martin’s face was priceless.

I told you he could waffle. ‘Assembly of God’ men can.

The punters really need to ask themselves what this government been doing for two and a half years.

2 Quoting Peter Reith:

The pity was that the Abbott government did little to address the longer term reform issues. Now people like Andrew Bolt expect Turnbull to rearrange Australia virtually overnight.’

It seems Turnbull had always had a long-term plan to displace Abbott but not one for the country. You might recall when he took over the leadership he gave a pungent appraisal of the Government’s performance. He said the country faced challenges that required a more developed conversation.

‘We need a style of leadership that explains those challenges … and sets out the course of action we believe we should take and makes a case for it. We need advocacy, not slogans.’

So the question is: Where and what are they?

3 Essential Poll Tuesday has the Coalition on 51% and Labor 49%.

4 Steven Ciobo is the MP who once implied that Prime Minister Julia Gillard should have her throat cut. He was back on Q&A on Monday night. A huge supporter of Malcolm Turnbull I think he was hoping that his Government’s efforts in silencing the program last year wouldn’t be mentioned.

Tony Jones wasn’t going to let it pass. Ciobo wouldn’t take the bait. Talking about free speech:

‘I’m attracted to the classic liberal freedoms as a starting point but it doesn’t apply carte blanche’, he began.

Jones: ‘Didn’t apply to Zaky Mallah, for example.’

Ciobo waved the interjection away, as he did sniping from other members of the panel. ‘I am attracted to the principle but there does need to be limits on it. I think that’s a reasonable position.’

I was left wondering how a Turnbull government might have handled the matter just a few months back. It might have been an interesting avenue to pursue but Jones, perhaps wisely, didn’t pursue the matter.

An observation:

‘Until you are a victim of free speech you will truly never understand what free speech means.’

5 The request by the Australian Christian Lobby that existing laws pertaining to anti-discrimination be suspended, held over, over ridden or shelved for the duration of a plebiscite on equality in marriage would only serve to make a mockery of why they were legislated in the first place.

6 Every time you think the Republican Party has reached the zenith of its stupidity if finds another way to look ludicrous. By intending to vote against a new justice nominee put forward by President Obama (his constitutional right) it is doing enormous damage to the prospects of re-election of its incumbent senators.

On top of that we have Donald Trump suggesting that there are unusual circumstances behind the death of a Supreme Court justice.

Only in America!

7 It seems that New Zealand is set to again offer to take our refugees. On the surface you might say that the offer is compassionate and a way out for the Government.

It won’t be accepted for two reasons. Firstly we need to keep men, women and children incarcerated for life, no matter the human cost, so as to send others wanting to escape their hopelessness a message. Secondly giving them safe passage to a country more humane than us might encourage others to come. And we wouldn’t want them to become NZ citizens with rights to visit us.

My thought for the day

‘Everyone has a choice. You can either whinge about the issues you have or do something about them.’

 

Day to Day Politics: No, I’m not rejoycing.

Friday 12 February 2016

1 The day has finally arrived. Barnaby Joyce has become Deputy Prime Minister of Australia. Now we have a Prime Minister who firmly believes in a Republic, equality in marriage and the science of Climate Change and a deputy who does not. The intellectual gap between them is of sagacious proportion.

It is said of Barnaby that he is the best retail salesman in Australia. I would suggest the public sees him as a person of mockery. It’s not so much his ocker image. After all, Hawke and Keating had colourful turns of phrase. It’s the depth of comprehension. The understanding of things beyond politics.

It seems incredible that a man who was one of the principle instigators in 2009 of the downfall of the then opposition leader can now be his deputy.

It also seems implausible that a Senator who has crossed the floor to vote against his party on 19 occasions can now lead it.

Remember what Joyce said about mining Antarctica in 2006. He went there for a month and came back spruiking the beauty of it:

The vastness of nature itself’. 

We staked a claim to a large part of it and signed an agreement not to mine it. Then he suggested on the ABC that we should:

‘We can really realise that [mining’s] the game … or we can stick our head in the snow’.

‘Do I turn my head and allow another country to exploit my resource … or do I position myself in such a way as I’m going to exploit it myself before they get there’ said Barnaby

In the same year Barnaby opposed the new wonder drug Gardasil for the treatment of cervical cancer. The drug is now common place and is administered to boys and girls in their first year of high school.

Barnaby opposed it because of:

‘The psychological implications or the social implications’.

‘There might be an overwhelming (public) backlash from people saying ‘don’t you dare put something out there that gives my 12-year-old daughter a license to be promiscuous’

It gets worse. On Climate Change, when he was a Senator he said, despite all the science, that he had:

‘Serious doubt about our ability to change the climate” and that “the climate change debate is an ongoing debate’.

In 2010 he said he didn’t believe that global warming is as bad as everyone says.

‘Why do I say that … not because I have the factual premise to debunk them on the science’ Barnaby explained.

Then he said that Climate Change was:

‘An indulgent and irrelevant debate because, even if climate changes turns out to exist one day, we will have absolutely no impact on it whatsoever’.

It doesn’t finish there. When he was asked about being identified as a climate denier he answered:

‘The whole terms repugnant. Climate change denier, like Holocaust denier … ’

On the subject of abortion he tends to lecture women. Whatever your view on the subject in Australia the topic is generally treated with caution by politicians.

In 2004 speaking to Mark Colvin he said. He’s:

‘Pro-life, unashamedly pro-life’ and that his ‘personal philosophy is anti-abortion’.

In 2005 he said that his greatest achievement would be to:

‘Stop abortion … The slavery debate of our time’ he was ‘philosophically opposed’ to Medicare paying for abortions.

He said that using the RU486 drug was like an act of murder:

‘So if I shoot a woman in the abdomen and do not kill her but kill the baby, I have not actually committed a crime’ Barnaby argued before the Community Affairs Legislation committee.

The absurdity of this statement was pointed out at the time by Women’s Electoral Lobby ACT convenor Rosyln Dundas who commented:

‘No, you actually have committed a crime by shooting a woman’.

He also gloated about being instrumental in the rolling of the then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

bjt

Leadership demands more than just a ‘retail’ personality. It requires, in the sense of leading a country, a deep insightful world view. Anyone who has seen Joyce on a Q&A panel with guests who present an understanding of life in all its variances will acknowledge that he has not the capacity to appreciate life beyond politics. He is like Abbott, caught in a world that the rest of us have left far behind.

And so we have as Deputy PM the man who said a roast would cost $100 under Labor’s Carbon tax and who, when Finance Minister said Australia would default on its debt. The then Reserve bank Governor at the time said he was unfit for the job.

We deserve better.

2 Continuing on from yesterday and I promise you this is true. Greg Hunt, the man some people refer to as the Environment Minister in Opposition advocated for the protection of the Tasmania Tiger, extinct since 1936.

In Government he turned his attention to the Antarctic Walrus – population: zero. Walruses live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Asked where the Paris deal left Australia’s climate change policy, the expert adviser to the former government Professor Ross Garnaut said:

Exactly where it was before the US-China announcement up shit creek.

3 Regardless of whether Stuart Robert resigns, or is forced to won’t make any difference to the dodgy way in which political parties elicit donations and influence law making and policy.

4 The Guardian is reporting that the Catholic Church is telling newly appointed bishops that it is ‘not necessarily’ their duty to report accusations of clerical child abuse and that only victims or their families should make the decision to report abuse to police.

What a morally bankrupt institution is the Catholic Church. After many years of constant disclosure of worldwide systemic abuse of children, we now find that they are no further advanced in protecting children. No wonder they are losing parishioners in the tens of thousands worldwide.

5 That’s enough for today. I have to go shopping. I promised my wife a gold Rolex for her birthday. I’m not faking either.

My thought for the day.

‘Love is when there is an irresistible urge for the need of the affection of another and the irresistibility is of its nature mutual. It has no gender‘.

 

People in glass houses

With the very real prospect of Tony Windsor challenging Barnaby Joyce for the seat of New England, Joyce, in true Coalition style, has reached for the dirt file.

In an interview with ABC’s Radio National on Monday, Barnaby brought up Tony’s property dealings, implying that he had made a large personal profit from a policy he is now protesting against – coal mining on the Liverpool Plains.

Joyce pointed out there was an existing mine at Werris Creek that “was formerly owned by a person called Mr Windsor who made millions and millions of dollars out of the sale of it”.

“I think it’s just a little bit convenient when 30km away from one mine is another mine which Mr Windsor made himself a multi-millionaire out of,” he said. “Congratulations, that’s a commercial contract. The fact is that, basically it was a 99-year lease, Mr Windsor turned himself into a multi-millionaire, got the place back at a peppercorn lease rate and I think he got his neighbour’s place back at a peppercorn lease rate as well.”

Windsor has previously defended the sale of his family’s land to a Whitehaven subsidiary in 2010, explaining it was adjacent to a small existing mine and was not on the Liverpool Plains and did not have significant water resources underneath it.

“It was put in about 80 years ago,” he told 2GB in July. “They [the company] wanted to extend that mine … the farmer has no right over their land if in fact a natural resource is found. On a small portion of some country that we owned, it was found. They wanted to mine it. If, in fact, push came to shove, they would have mined it through the land and environment court. So there’s processes that override the landholder.”

Regarding the proposed Chinese owned Shenhua coal mine, Windsor said “I think it’s an atrocious decision, not because of agriculture but because of water. Here we have this magnificent piece of land, underlain with the biggest groundwater system in the Murray-Darling and they’re going to put that at risk because of the shonky arrangement that was put in place.”

In response to Joyce’s accusations on Monday, Windsor demanded an apology with a threat to sue if it was not forthcoming and a warning to get his facts straight.

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. And Barnaby is in no position to throw stones.

In 2006 and 2008, the Joyce’s bought two neighbouring properties totalling 2400 acres in the Pilliga. The locals couldn’t understand why because the land was no good for farming.

A successful farmer and exporter from a nearby area said of the Joyce’s purchase ”This is scalded country. It could not support the number of animals that would be needed to make a return on investment,” he says. ”It is a strange buy, put it that way.”

Rumours abounded.

One was that the land would have to be bought back to build the inland railway, which is a long-term infrastructure policy of the National Party.

The other theory among locals was that Joyce must have bought with plans to cash in on mineral wealth in the area.

Denis Todd, a farmer from nearby Baradine and a Warrumbungle Shire councillor, recalls a conversation he had with Joyce at a petrol station in about 2009.

”I asked him, ‘Why did you buy that mongrel country out there? You could have bought better grazing land closer to St George,”’ Todd says.

According to Todd, he asked Joyce if he had bought to take advantage of the coal known to run throughout the Pilliga. Todd says Joyce responded: ”The coal’s too deep but there’s plenty of gas there.”

In 2005, the year before the Joyce’s first acquisition, Eastern Star revealed it had already spent $50 million exploring the Pilliga, mainly around Narrabri, since 2001.

At a time when few people had even heard the term ”coal seam gas”, the company had plans for 1100 gas wells dotted across the Pilliga, feeding a $150-million pipeline to the Hunter Valley.

Joyce’s property at Gwabegar lies inside the ”petroleum exploration licence” (PEL) areas that Eastern Star – before it was sold to Santos – owned the right to explore.

By 2007 – between the first two purchases made by the Joyces – CSG companies were boasting of gas reserves to the east, west and south of the properties.

All indications at this time were that the gas rush was coming.

In October 2007, Eastern Star Gas Limited announced that the former deputy prime minister (but then still-serving MP) John Anderson had been appointed chairman of the company.

A former Nationals leader, Anderson is a political ally and personal friend of Joyce and was his campaign manager in his bid to win the seat of New England in the 2013 election.

Despite this close association, Joyce maintains he had ”no knowledge at all” that the Pilliga would be at the eye of the CSG rush when he bought his land.

Joyce has proposed that a landowner get 1 per cent of the well head revenue of a CSG well. The best performing well in Queensland produces $1 million a day but an average CSG well is worth about $60,000 a day. At that rate, a single well would earn a landholder more than $200,000 a year before tax.

National Party elders, including Anderson, have been criticised for aligning too closely with mining interests over the traditional farming constituency. Mark Vaile, who succeeded Anderson as National Party leader, became a chairman of Nathan Tinkler’s ill-fated Aston Resources when he left Parliament. Former NSW leader Ian Armstrong worked as a lobbyist for AGL.

When Joyce’s land was brought up after his previous attempt to smear Windsor before the 2013 election campaign, he replied ”I’m happy to sell it, it’s for sale.” Adding: ”If someone wants to take it off my hands and make a million dollars, go right ahead.”

Later, Joyce revealed that he had instructed a local land agent to sell if he can get the right price. He said he understood the ownership could be ”viewed as a conflict of interest”.

According to his latest statement of pecuniary interest, Joyce still owns the property.

 

Tony And I Have Been Grieving But I Feel Better Now . . . Stockholm Syndrome Only Lasts So Long!

“What are you going to do now Abbott’s gone?” asked a friend.

“What do you mean?” I responded.

“Well you’ll have to actually think of things to write. I mean, it won’t just be a matter of writing down what Turnbull says, will it? I mean, this guy can actually mount an argument.”

I have to admit after that conversation, I have been sitting alone in a room and drinking rather than writing. Unlike Mr Abbott who bravely faced the media just a mere fourteen hours after losing the leadership. Apparently, he’d already demonstrated his determination not to waste the taxapayers money by driving to see the Governor General, preferring to show his skills with technology by faxing his resignation.

Ah, the fax. Like coal, it’ll still be around for quite a while yet.

Anyway, unlike Mr Abbott, I was unable to face people quite so soon. I was worried that I wouldn’t be as generous and I’d resort to sniping. Have a read of his speech. He tells us that he won’t resort to sniping and backstabbing unlike all those treacherous bastards who jumped of Team Australia to join Team Turnbull.

But yesterday, Abbott announced that he was staying in Parliament, just in case his absence from the aforementioned place since his unceremonious dumping led people to think he was going to sulk.

Quite the contrary, he’ll be staying. And eventually rejoining the broad church of the Liberal faithful. And unfaithful.

Of course, when I read Mr Bolt’s column today, I realised that I, too, had to not allow those who destroyed Abbott, to destroy me. Apparently, Julie Bishop failed to alert Mr Abbott that there were moves afoot to depose him. And she would have known, because, being Foreign Minister, she would have had time to read it in last week’s newspapers.

But Abbott was caught completely by surprise. He had no idea that anyone was unhappy with him. Obviously, like many politicians, he takes no notice of polls. And as Prime Minister, Abbott showed that he takes no notice of any criticism, so the fact that his internal critics had decided that a man who was resting on his laurels and just repeating what he had achieved was going to have trouble articulating a second term agenda. In fact, his main appeal to his party when the spill was announced was to say that they weren’t the Labor Party.

Which the more astute members of the Party had already worked out. Actually, even some of the Nationals had worked that one out, although Barnaby Joyce seems a bit confused when he supports the occasional Labor policy while complaining that he can’t fully support them because they’re not the Liberal Party…

Tony negative?

Nope, nope, nope.

But when I started writing the other day, I was concerned that I was just kicking a man when he was down.

And to criticise Turnbull seemed unfair.

After all, I have criticised Turnbull in past for lacking the ticker to stand up for what he believes, so now he’d actually challenged it seemed unfair to call him the “Peter Costello of the Abbott Government”. Not just because it was unfair to Peter Costello, but because he’d actually timed his run perfectly.

Now he’d grabbed the prize, I thought, we can look forward to a jump in the price of shares in renewable energy companies. Not to mention a boost to the economy from all the gay people planning their weddings.

And the Liberals let the leader pick their ministers. None of that faction nonsense that the Labor Party have. We can look forward to a front bench chosen on merit, even if that does involve allowing the odd woman to sit where they can have access to the microphone.

So when Malcolm said that he wasn’t actually going to change any policies, and that the problem was just the sales pitch, I knew that I was back.

Yep, Tony may be gone, but while the lead singer’s changed we still have an orchestra who don’t even know what tune they’re meant to be playing, let alone what time it’s in.

(That’s whether it’s 3/4 or 4/4, not whether it’s the 1950’s or 1960’s…)

So Tony, I know that you’re hurting. So was I. And apparently, you’re a “decent man” according to both Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Bolt – now there’s two men who can sing in tune. Not just in tune, they have harmony. 

Although when it comes to being a “decent man”, so’s my next door neighbour and I’m not sure I’d want him to run the country…

Mm, let Bazza do your brain surgery, he’s a much better bloke than that prick of a surgeon who thinks that, just because he’s got qualifications and skill, he’s better qualified that Bazza who’s a “decent man”.

Congratulations, Malcolm. I’m starting to think that you’re a man of enormous integrity who’s never let that stop you from doing what someone else requires.

Le clown est mort , Vive le Dr Faustus 

P.S. Pedantic Rant of The Day

WE HAVE NOT HAD FIVE CHANGES OF PRIME MINISTER OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS IN SPITE OF WHAT MOST OF THE MSM KEEP SAYING!!

Count them from 2010.

Rudd to Gillard

Gillard back to Rudd

Rudd to Abbott

Abbott to Turnbull.

As for five different PM’s that’s only true if you count Rudd twice, which suggests that he was a different PM the second time around, which I can accept more easily than the proposition that we’ve had five CHANGES of PM . . .

Nice try Barnaby

August 28 2013:  The Coalition has today promised $100 million in funding for the 15 Rural Research and Development Corporations specifically targeted at increasing the profitability of Australian agriculture.

To date, it has failed to actually deliver one additional cent of new money for R&D projects.  The hastily contrived $20 billion slush fund for pharmaceutical companies is dependent on the GP co-payment and is a long way from providing any significant money to R&D should it ever come to fruition which is doubtful.

On Thursday, Barnaby Joyce’s announcement that the Queensland grains industry will receive $14.3 million over five years is another sign of desperation by the Abbott Government to shore up votes in Queensland.

The reality is that the Abbott Government has slashed funding

  • $80 million from Cooperative Research Centres
  • $115 million from the CSIRO – the biggest job losses to the organisation in history
  • $11 million from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
  • $7 million of R&D Commonwealth matching dollars cut from Rural Research and Development Corporations announced in the May Budget.

Under Labor’s analysis, there is a total of $836.2 million in direct cuts to research, led by cuts to the CSIRO and the Research Training Scheme, and the abolition of Commercialisation Australia.

It says other savings will also hit research, including the 20 per cent cut to undergraduate places in universities and a more than half-billion-dollar cut to the student start-up loan scholarships scheme.

Add to that $6 billion in combined cuts to higher education and preventative health programs.

The impact of lower funding is likely to slow or stop vital research on infectious diseases such as the deadly Ebola virus.  Other efforts that will be affected are the fights against bowel or colorectal cancer, which could stop completely. These had been under way at the CSIRO.

The CSIRO generated $37.5 million in licence fees and royalties last financial year and $278.5 million in 2011-12, when royalties from a wireless technology were significantly higher.

Inventions developed at CSIRO range from cotton seeds to contact lenses, with much of the income returned to the organisation’s research budget.

Much of the royalties flowing in stem from research projects that began decades ago. Among them is wireless technology, which has produced $420 million in the past five years, and pest-resistant cotton seed varieties used in 95 per cent of Australia’s cotton crops. Multinational partners include Bayer and Monsanto as well as local partner Cotton Seed Distributors. Royalties from the cotton seed varieties, developed to be disease and pest-resistant, range between $10 million and $20 million a year.

”A lot of the commercial outcomes we are getting now are based on investment we were able to make in the science using federal government taxpayer money in the past,” Ms Bingley said. ”If we don’t have access to that, then it makes it that much harder to innovate because it’s difficult to get industry to pay for things so early on in development.”

She pointed to start-up companies that have emerged as a result of CSIRO inventions, including GeoSLAM, a company commercialising an advanced 3D laser-scanning device called Zebedee.

Chief executive of BioMelbourne Network, a Victorian industry association for the biotech sector, Michelle Gallaher said much of Australia’s success in the field was founded on CSIRO research. She said the organisation grew not only technology but also talent.

It was also helping at least 50 Australian biotech companies to develop and commercialise their research. ”Any kind of cuts to CSIRO will translate to a lack of opportunity down the track,” she said.

Last August, Education Minister Christopher Pyne said university research cuts could not be ruled out if Parliament continued to block budget measures.

When having his photo taken at a cancer research facility so he could claim his $560 allowance after attending a private function the previous evening, Tony Abbott said

“We want to get our higher education changes through because they will be good for universities, they will be good for research, they will be good for Australia, but what we are doing is we are modestly reducing government funding but at the same time we are liberating – we are liberating – our universities to achieve what they can because if there is one institution that ought to be capable of looking after its own affairs it is a university, which is, by definition, a bastion of our best and brightest.

But I want to stress here at the Peter Mac – this is a government which is dedicated to science, which is devoted to research, and wants to massively increase Australia’s research effort.”

It seems a convenient devotion to only be discussed during campaigns and ignored during budgets, unless the sick, the unemployed, and our kids are willing to fund it of course.

In Abu Dhabi, at a series of sessions at the World Future Energy Conference on the future of global renewable energy investment and clean energy markets, there was a lot of debate among some of the world’s leading bankers and clean energy developers about which countries offered the best opportunities.

“Australia is dead,” said Edgare Kerkwijk, the head of Singapore-based Asia Green Capital, to the general agreement of all.

Just how dead the market is has been highlighted by the fact that no new projects have gotten financial commitment since the election of the Abbott government in late 2013. In 2014, investment in large scale renewables plunged 88 per cent, taking Australia from 11th ranking to 39th.

A new report from Green Energy Markets, looking at the last quarter of 2014, notes that only one large scale project got new finance approval in 2014 – the 70MW Moree solar farm, and that was mostly due to the financing awarded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

We were asked to judge the Coalition by their actions rather than their words.

Nice try Barnaby, but your election sweetener to the grains industry pales into insignificance in light of your short-sighted approach to research, development, innovation and investment.

You want a country that has no debt….and no future.

Gina’s web

In 2011, as reported by Graham Readfern at Crikey, Gina Rinehart held a lunch at her house by the Swan River in Perth, at which West Australian Premier Colin Barnett, WA environment minister Bill Marmion and Chinese Ambassador Chen Yuming were in attendance to hear a presentation on climate change from the “sceptic” Professor Ian Plimer.

Plimer must have done well because, according to disclosures made to the Australians Securities and Investments Commission, Professor Plimer was appointed to the boards of Gina’s companies Roy Hill Holdings and Queensland Coal Investments on January 25 2012.

Dinner guest Environment Minister Bill Marmion’s chief of staff is Colin Edwardes, the husband of Cheryl Edwardes, who is the head of “external affairs, government relations and approvals” at Hancock Prospecting. Cheryl is also a former WA environment minister.

As PerthNow pointed out, Marmion was in the position of considering environmental approvals for Hancock Prospecting projects — of which there were four pending.

Let me just emphasise this.  The WA environment minister’s chief of staff’s wife is employed by Gina Rinehart to secure government approval for her mining ventures.

And of course it doesn’t stop there.

Even considering the Coalition’s self-confessed penchant for doing business at weddings at the taxpayers’ expense, three senior members of the Coalition travelling all the way to India to a wedding of someone they have never met, at the behest of someone who was not related to the couple and whose own family says is an untrustworthy person motivated by greed, should have rung alarm bells far greater than the thousands the politicians subsequently claimed in “study” expenses for the jaunt.

At the time of inviting the politicians to the wedding, Mrs Rinehart was about to clinch a $1 billion coal deal with the bride’s grandfather – G.V. Krishna Reddy, the founder of GVK, one of India’s largest energy and infrastructure companies.

Three months after the politicians joined Mrs Rinehart at the Indian wedding the GVK conglomerate bought a majority stake in the billionaire’s ”Alpha” coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin for $US1.26 billion.

When Barnaby Joyce decided to run against Tony Windsor for the seat of New England, Gina Rinehart contributed $50,000 directly to his campaign though some reports had the contribution at $700,000.

Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

When Gina turned up to his election victory party, Barnaby said “Gina is a great friend and I’m a good mate of Gina’s and she’s got an Australian company which employs Australian people which pays tax in this nation and I’m so proud,” he said.  “We need lots of Gina Rineharts, not one, [because] when we have a nation of lots of them we’re going to be a stronger nation.”

Barnaby Joyce hugged Gina Rinehart and told the waiting media he is proud to call her his “mate”.

“When we have someone like Gina, who is an Australian who actually is so different from other companies who are actually not Australian, then we should be proud of them [and] we shouldn’t kick them around,” he said.

“We should also be prepared to stand next to our mates because I’m a person who believes the Australian mateship quality is alive and well.”

And Gina stands by her man.

In November she flew to Canberra in her private jet to watch Barnaby’s inaugural speech in the House of Representatives which she viewed from the gallery as a “special guest”.

Some of Mrs Rinehart’s closest political friends, the Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Liberal Party senators Cory Bernardi and Michaelia Cash, were invited to join the billionaire for an intimate gathering on the night before.

But getting back to the Alpha coalmine and the Indian connection…

A panel of independent scientific experts had raised concerns about groundwater, particularly the ability of Adani Group to model and monitor groundwater flows. In approving the mine, minister Hunt said he had accounted for the concerns

In April last year the Queensland Land Court, following a challenge by communities, said the Alpha mine should only proceed if the development meets further conditions on water use.

The court’s recommendations are not binding, and what happens next now rests with the Queensland government. In a statement, Acting Premier Jeff Seeney said: “We look forward to working with the project proponents to deliver jobs and economic benefits to Queenslanders.”

In all likelihood, the project will therefore get the go-ahead, subject to new conditions.

In September, the Mackay Conservation Group said the rail company Aurizon had walked away from an infrastructure plan it signed with GVK in 2013 that would see it build a 300km railway from proposed mines in the Galilee to port.  The group said the deal was off the table after Aurizon failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

However it appears that, because the Queensland government has declared the area over which the rail lines will be built a State Development Area, it meant an EIS was no longer required to be submitted at this stage.

Aurizon said it welcomed this change in process as a positive for the “regulation of development of necessary infrastructure to service this important area”.

A spokesman from GVK also confirmed the company is firmly committed to finalising its JV proposal with Aurizon.

The deal means Aurizon will take a 51 per cent share in Hancock Coal Infrastructure, which houses GVK Hancock’s rail and port projects.

The open-access infrastructure will service GVK Hancock’s Alpha, Alpha West and Kevin’s Corner coal projects in the Galilee Basin.

“This proposed transaction will provide development certainty for the rail and port projects and de-risks the Alpha Coal Project from a logistics point of view,” the spokesman said.

“The transaction will also provide a pathway for sufficient equity and debt funding for the rail and port projects to reach financial close.”

In November, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman announced that in addition to the open-ended royalty holiday already on offer to the first mover in the Galilee Basin, the state government was willing to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to fund the associated rail and port projects.

Mr Seeney said the funding for the project would come from the asset leasing project the government will institute should it win the next election.

A spokesman for Clive Palmer said “On one hand this government wants to sell assets and now they want to invest in helping one company.”

In December, GVK Hancock said it is focused on finalising approvals for its Alpha coal project in the Galilee Basin before looking to finance the $10 billion project.  The comments came after French bank Societe Generale suspended its finance partnership with the project.  Citing the project’s lengthy delays, the bank said it no longer had involvement in a financing deal.

But GVK Hancock said it did not require the bank’s services at this point in the project timeline.

“The key focus for our projects at this point in time is finalising our approvals and addressing litigious challenges to our attained approvals.  Once we have finalised approvals we will then execute coal off-take agreements and work to finalise financing arrangements.”

Wall Street’s biggest banks are following the lead of UK and German financial institutions, and ruling out financing projects threatening Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.  Three of the largest investment banks in the world – Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase – have ruled out any investments in Queensland’s Abbot Point coal port.  The news follows Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays publicly ruling out investments in the coal port, leaving the Adani Group and GVK, who are seeking $26.5 billion to expand coal exports, dwindling options for finance. Australia’s ‘big four’ banks are now under pressure to join their US and EU counterparts.

Considering financiers, economists, and environmentalists are all questioning the viability of the project, it was somewhat surprising when, during Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Australia in November, Adani signed a MOU with the State Bank of India (SBI) for a $1 billion loan to fund the project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Indian opposition MP Derek O’Brien raised the issue in the upper house of India’s parliament.

“Our understanding is these banks refused the loan, so our serious concern is why a $1 billion loan was given by SBI, knowing full well that these five banks have refused,” he said.

India’s coal minister said in October he hoped to stop imports of thermal coal within three years as domestic production stepped up.

“Two thirds of the produce of Carmichael will be imported back into India, so one of them is not talking the truth, speaking the truth. Because if India wants to reduce imports and two thirds of the capacity from the Australian mine is going to be imported back into India, it just doesn’t add up,” Mr O’Brien said.

Concerns have also been raised over prime minister Modi’s ties to Adani, the company behind the mine.

Over the past decade, Adani has prospered in the state of Gujurat, where Mr Modi was chief minister.

The company’s share price almost doubled as it became apparent Mr Modi would win the May election in a landslide.

Mr O’Brien said there were clear links between Mr Modi’s Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party and the Adani group.

“There is enough to suggest there is a cosy understanding and that is why this loan was approved, not taking into consideration the facts which were on the table,” Mr O’Brien said.

The company’s debt has risen substantially in recent years, much of it short-term debt.

Public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan said recovering the loan may not be easy.

“When they can only recover it from the assets of Adani, but you see we don’t know. The total loans outstanding from the Adani group are in billions of dollars to various banks,” Mr Bhushan said.

Indian tweeters bemoaned Modi’s support for the Carmichael mine, calling it a repayment for billionaire friend, supporter and chairman of the Adani Group Gautam Adani, who accompanied Modi on his trip to Australia (and has apparently joined five of the PM’s six recent overseas jaunts).

It appears the coal barons have the governments caught in their web and we could well end up with a very expensive taxpayer funded railway to nowhere and the environmental consequences of dredging a port for a product that is no longer economically or environmentally viable to produce.

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