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Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

Fact hunt – the worst person of 2022

The End of an Error

Nominating those most worthy of their fall under the 2022 karma bus provides both a shortlist for fuck-knuckle of the year (FOTY) and solid evidence that the human species is at an evolutionary dead end when such bilge is the best we can come up with to run the world. It’s also a somewhat cathartic end to the year to call out these cockwombles, and it holds out some small hope for a better 2023.

I’ve pruned back a long list and may have overlooked some strong contenders – if you think someone truly worthwhile has not got a mention then please nominate them in the comments.

The Liberal Party. One of the great oxymorons of Oz politics, the Liberal (sic) Party is a collective noun for losers.

Corrupt by inclination, incompetent through habit, mean and nasty by nature there is no con they’re incapable of in any attempt to recapture the graft.

Kicked in the nuts at state, territory and federal levels, 2022 may have been the beginning of the end of this cabal of dolts, vandals and thieves.

Their dissolution can’t come soon enough – replaced by sensible independents and Greens with a few harmless nutters like Bob The Mad Hatted Katter retained as a repository for the irredeemable RWNJ vote and as occasional comedy relief – it can only be a good thing.

 

Image from Twitter (@TomRed43)

 

Spud and Suss – the meritocracy that is the “natural party of government” threw up the tuberesque undertater and his whiney sidekick. Bubba and Squeak are the best that Schrödinger’s opposition has to offer. These two are so ineffectual they barely even register as bad guys.

Liz Truss may have survived longer if she’d also gone that extra consonant – “Liz Trusss” has a certain multi-dimensional, reptilian cold bloodedness that could’ve keep the warm & fuzzy milquetoasts of the British financial establishment at bay until she fully sank the economy.

The horseshit producers from the Murdoch stable are another collective nomination. The plagiarists, phone hackers, bin rummagers, fossil fuel boosters, airheads and entropied fuddy duddies from the outrage factory of a withered, tax avoiding sociopath were left sobbing into their Tanqueray London Drys as their best efforts to turn Oz into a neo-liberal hellscape came to nought. $40 million in Lib government grants provided some consolation. Phil Coorey from planet Costello is an honorary member of this shameless Tory cheer squad.

Vladimir Putin‘s award of murderous psychopath of the century is likely assured but karma won’t have finished with him until his bloodied corpse is pelted with potatoes as it’s dragged behind a tractor through Red Square. Next year maybe. In the interim Vlad will not be admiring the views from any high windows.

Elon Musk, the world’s richest shitposter torched US$44 billion for Twitter and tanked Tesla shares as a consequence simply to show the cool guys how funny he is. He’s just a gormless twat with inherited wealth and Saudi riyals to squander but it’s his now revealed autocratic RWFWery that earns him a place on any list of prominent arseholes.

Honourable mentions

Cookers. No crazy is crazy enough for these whackadoodle ‘sovereign citizens’. Nutters desperately seeking relevance and importance as revealers of great truths in their otherwise dreary, meaningless existence?

They could be laughed off except these are the same types of deluded beer belly putschers, gravy seals and ammosexuals who invaded Washington’s Capitol seeking to murder Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi and are of the type who did murder two young coppers and a neighbour in Queensland.

Barnaby Joyce. No list of fuckwits is complete without Baranaby’s name being included.

Matthew Guy. “Call me Matt” ex-Vic Lib leader and the loser of losers smashed by Dan Andrews at the last state election. Not the worst of the worst because he’s such a loser and so never achieved the level of prominence that would have allowed him to let loose his worst mobster instincts.

Brian Houston‘s invisible BFF rewards the worthy with riches so with the tithe taps turned off Brother Brian is learning what it’s like for those of us who are out of favour with the Big Guy in the sky. Karma ran over his prosperity dogma. Sad!

Katherine Deves. Apparently there’s blokes going about chopping off their cocks so they can win ribbons at women’s swimming carnivals but like most, I can spot a genuine minge a mile away.

The final contenders

The final three are possibly obvious – they have in common a natural affinity with lying, a talent for the grift, a narcissistic self-belief that goes beyond delusion and a physical presence that would make a cadaver dog gag. They are the smirking, prosperity god-fodder who disproved the Peter Principle six jobs ago, an adulterous £5 haircut on an unmade bed and an apricot-coloured fatsuit filled with congealed hamburger grease.

ScoMo, BoJo and Fuckhead.

After an uninterrupted run 2016-2020 Trump misses out this year, a has-been loser wandering the despot kitsch of Mar-a-lago accosting patrons with his tired schtick of the Big Lie as the walls close in on him.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson still maintains the collosal conceit of a Churchillian resurrection of his interrupted career as one of Britain’s great PMs. A dilettante, a wastrel, a shambolic opportunist and agent of chaos with no fixed principles he gave top spot as FOTY a good run but conceded the win to our very own Grange label on a goon bag – Smirko von Skidmark.

Purging Scott Morrison from our system requires that we be exposed to some bit more Scott Morrison. The brighter the light shone on the behaviour of Resting Smug Face, that reprehensible black hole of honesty where truth bends around him, the less likely it is that hypocritical God shoppers like him will ever again steal such high public office.

Smirko’s shortcomings are many, manifest and of consequence. A colourless non-entity who through happenstance, arrogance and a disdain for common courtesies and proprieties, whose abuse of trust and loyalty gained him a role for which he was entirely unfit. Devoid of decency this Jesus-espousing hypocrite bullied and hectored those least able to fight back. A mongrel; a coward loathed by those who know of him and those who know him.

The final, public humiliation of Scooter Morrison is a play in two parts – his parliamentary censure and his appearance at the Royal Commission into Robodebt.

His Scotty The Saviour-themed response to parliamentary censure included apocalyptic eschatology (“staring into the abyss”), blame-deflecting and, self-congratulatory claims to the efforts of others and wholly-invented assertions of heroism. His responses to questioning at the Royal Commission were a Morrisonian masterclass in deflection, avoidance and dissembling. If anyone was to blame it was those public servants, who upon his gaining office he instructed to do only what they were told and no more. What a gold-plated minger he is.

If justice prevails there will be part 3 – Smirko fronting the The National Anti-Corruption Commission. Perhaps there the dawning realisation that he is the most widely loathed politician in our history will elicit some <sarcasm> genuine contrition </sarcasm>.

*The End of an Error – from a sign held up at the inauguration of Joe Biden.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison does not intend to remain in parliament for the long term and is likely to start thinking about pursuing a business career in the new year, according to confidants. (Aaron Patrick, Australian Financial Review, 22/12/2022).

Who can imagine the standards of any organisation that would employ this POS?

 

This article was originally published on Grumpy Geezer.

 

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Zombie Policy Apocalypse Part 2: Cruel Britannia

Continued from Part 1

From Cruel Britannia, Land of Grope and Tory – a scandal-ridden post Brexit economic basket-case, The Sick Man of Europe, or gaga but stable as described in Colin Hay’s “catastrophic equilibrium”, a simultaneous failure and stability, comes news of a new probe into old allegations against former party Whip, Chris Pincher, MP for Tamworth, who now sits as an independent while The Australian Solution to asylum-seekers offers no quick fix at a time when City puppet Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is preparing another set of cuts to spending and tax increases which will do nothing to ease stagflation or the long-term damage caused by George Osborne’s austerity measures in his first budget in 2010.

Chris Pincher is to be investigated. Revisiting “Pestminster” is the last thing Rishi Sunak needs. The oxymoronic office of the UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone OBE, opens the investigation on 20 October, into “actions causing significant damage to the reputation of the House as a whole, or of its members generally”.

There’d be a horde of Tories ducking for cover under this rubric – notorious serial sex pest, Chris Pincher is the fifth in three months – but Johnson whose regime is a string of scandals since 2019, promotes a known abuser, normalising abuse by describing Pincher as “handsy” and referring to him as “Pincher by name and Pincher by nature”.

All of which speaks volumes about Tory sleaze-baggery and locker room culture; while for Johnson, his trivialising of Pincher’s sexual offending means his lies must find him out.

Pincher allegedly, sexually assaulted two men at the elite, members-only, Carlton Club, a Tory political incubator. Battling to keep the lid on the Tory dumpster-fire, is poor little rich kid, billionaire PM Rishi Sunak, another City of London catspaw, who rues the day he re-instated failed Home Secretary, Cruella Braverman, rewarding her support in his bid to be PM.

Crazy Braverman breaks Home Office security rules six times, whilst ignoring legal advice on catastrophic overcrowding in Manton, a former RAF base in Kent, where four thousand men, women and children are crammed into a facility designed for a thousand.

Children’s hands reach out through chain mesh and tarpaulin covers. Hungry youngsters huddle together under a thin blanket on the plywood floor of a marquee. Such highly visible reminders of policy failure and the public spectacle of an ineffectual and rogue Home Secretary, are already casting doubt on Sunak’s political judgement.

There’s a fabulous plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda but that’s run into a legal hitch.

Johnson’s government cancels its first deportation flight in June when the European Court of Human Rights rules that the stunt carries “a real risk of irreversible harm.”

The scheme is now being tried in the UK’s High Court. But there’s no shortage of support from the arse-end of the earth from a former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister who tells The Weekend Australian,[paywalled] he’s set his sights on becoming the next Lord Mayor of Adelaide.

“Put them onto stable craft and drive them back to France – that’s the simple solution and would destroy the smugglers’ business model in a week,” Alexander Downer chortles.

“Short of that, [make] sure they can’t settle in the UK under any circumstances – the [agreement the] government negotiated with Rwanda – is a good solution as well.”

Sound familiar? The eternally vigilant Liberal Party’s elder statesmen never sleep.

“Suppository of all wisdom”, Tony Abbott hawked his boat-stopping to former Tory governments, even though asylum seekers boats had stopped under his predecessor, Labor’s Kevin Rudd, 19 July 2013, two months before the election.. It’s become Liberal Party dogma; a xenophobic, cynically opportunistic, contempt for international law and human decency, not merely inhumane but gratuitously cruel. When you sell someone else your barbarism, it makes your own monstrous indifference to others; your squalid moral bankruptcy; your poverty of mind and spirit seem less abhorrent.

Somehow.

Downer always seems to be able to go lower. In February, former Johnson regime unparalleled failure, Home Secretary Priti Patel invited him on to her Rwanda committee – bugger-human-rights-and-international-convention-send-them-on a one way journey to a Central African nation with a bad human rights record. He’s into it like a rat up a drainpipe.

Now Big Al or Bunty as he’s fondly known at home, a patrician fop with a lordly sense of entitlement honks out the heartless xenophobia that has worked so well for MPs here.

Drive asylum seekers back to France from whence they come like moths to a flame? Or shivering from hypothermia, drenched to the bone, exhausted, in leaky, overloaded rowboats, navigating only by eye toward the white chalk cliffs of Dover.

Over 35,500 asylum-seekers cross the channel this year; up from 28,000 in 2021.

Dozens have drowned in the attempt.

All hands to the bilge pump to dispel the “southern invasion” of Albanian economic migrants as asylum-seekers in small boats are misrepresented in The Daily Fail and by Home Secretary, raving Cruella Braverman.

The Home Office worries that the make-up of people on small boats is changing. From January 2018 to June 2022, it claims that Iranian (28%) and Iraqi (20%) nationals represented nearly half of all small boat arrivals. In the first six months of 2022, over half (51%) of small boat arrivals were from three nationalities – Albanian (18%), Afghan (18%) and Iranian (15%). These figures are unverified.

From May to September 2022 Albanian nationals alone comprised 42% of small boat crossings, with 11,102 Albanians arriving by small boat in those five months.

The Home Office claims that Albanians don’t need asylum because they come from a “safe” country. The data suggests otherwise. In the year ending this June, 53% of Albanian claimants were granted asylum, or other forms of leave to stay in the UK, on first decision, and a higher proportion on appeal.

Dressed to kill, in Top Gun pilot’s helmet and flak jacket, Braverman commandeers a Chinook military helicopter which “can lift anything and go anywhere” to travel thirty kilometres from Dover to an overcrowded migrant gulag at Manston. Is Suella morphing into android or super hero mode? What’s clear is she will fight them on the beaches in her own chauvinistic Churchillian movie, acting her socks off as a loyal defender of the realm.

But don’t sell her short. Ruthless Rishi’s record sprint to the top job means he’s done deals all over the shop. Crazy Ms Braverman who is unlikely to outlast a Tesco tomato, owes her unholy resurrection to a Sunak deal. Who knows whom else he owes? Virtual political Mayfly, Truss, a fifty-one day dud, is a well-grubbed Tufton Street mole.

Is the fast-tracked Sunak human? A bot, programmed, like the Tory Party itself, to self-extinguish? The political knackers’ yard beckons the new PM, even without his Infosys slave-trading gig or his “brave” deal to reinstate Leaky Sue, (Send them) Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Tory arch bigot and anti-immigration dog-whistling xenophobe.

“Either he appointed a home secretary with a vicious demagogic streak knowing she is useless, in which case he has wilfully sabotaged one of the most important departments in Whitehall for no obvious gain, or he did it because he is blind to Braverman’s deficiencies, in which case he shares them,” writes The Guardian UK’s Rafael Behr.

On the third hand, it’s certain that the tabloid-orchestrated chorus of xenophobia – an “invasion on our southern coast” according to Sue, is the Sun and others running distraction for a Tory regime that’s a vortex of ineptitude, bad policy and worse PR.

What possessed Sunak to boast to Tunbridge Wells’ Tories he was Robin Hood in reverse; that he had diverted public funds from “deprived urban areas” to “areas like this”?

Sunak has blood on his hands. As BoJo’s Chancellor, Sunak’s £850 million “eat out to help out” meal and drink subsidy stunt drove new COVID-19 infections up by between 8 and 17% in the second wave of the pandemic in 2020.

Sunak, like BoJo or our ScoMo, doesn’t consult any experts.

It’s all part of our postmodern, post truth, faux-populist, global right-wing politics’ anti-intellectualism. Why would Chancellor Rishi Sunak consult public health experts before inflicting his ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ stunt in the UK Summer of 2020?

What would they know about a healthy economy? The £10 discount scheme, which provides cheaper meals to diners going out to their local curry house, restaurant or Pizza Express, (plus a bonus free COVID exposure), is “epidemiologically illiterate” sniff experts interviewed by The Institute for Government (IfG) for its report – a formal indictment of the cloud of unknowing at the heart of Torydom from BoJo to ScoMo.

“At times it was very unclear, outside the inner circles, just who would be involved, how decisions were taken and on what basis.”

Similarly self-harming are Sunak’s vows to stop crops of solar panels popping up in fields; or halt onshore wind farms, pledges aimed to attract party carbonari during his summer campaign failure to outbid Tufton Street muppet, Libertarian crash test dummy Liz Truss.

His emotional bypass may suggest Rishi’s a robot – as with Liz, but it’s not true. They’re zombie economics fanatics who will do whatever it takes to make the rich even richer.

So, too will LNP serial dud, Peter Dutton, another political Loaded Dog who claims “tax cuts boost economic activity” but who shows he doesn’t know his Yeppen from his Yeppoon, a gaffe which Coalition women try to bury by accusing Albo of bullying Michelle Landry.

Truss believes that if you just make the rich richer, (an imperative in an era of record profit, off-shoring and price-gouging), through tax cuts, subsidies and deregulation, it creates a virtual Niagara Falls of wealth for everyone else.

Oddly, no-one has ever seen it. In reality, wealth tends to trickle-up. Yet this is to miss its true function. Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute’s Chief Economist explains,

“The power of trickle-down economics has never been its economic logic but rather its political logic. Thatcher created a suite of rhetorical and policy tools that consistently united middle-class and high-income voters in the belief that the lower their taxes, the better their country would be.

The genius wasn’t selling the direct benefits of tax cuts to those who would get the cash, it was arguing that helping the rich was actually the best way to help the poor. And so “compassionate conservatism” was born.”

Truss is a rusted-on devotee of the IEA, a “”cell of Libertarian extremists which styles itself as “an educational research group which furthers the dissemination of free-market thinking” but like our IPA, won’t disclose its donors.

What you don’t know can’t hurt you? Spoiler alert, ExxonMobil gave Policy Exchange $30,000 in 2017.

The “think tank” went on to recommend the creation of a new anti-protest law targeting the likes of Extinction Rebellion, which led to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. Protesters can be banned from future protest, be fitted with tracking devices and worse.

Labour peer Lord Hain sees the law as “the biggest threat to the right to dissent and the right to protest in my lifetime.” It would have “throttled” protests by the suffragettes, he adds. Suella Braverman says it is not a human right to vandalise property.

Or not pay their power bills. E.ON, a German-owned energy giant which forecasts a profit of £3.6bn in global pre-tax earnings for 2022 spent its last summer lobbying Kwasi Karteng against capping of energy bills and also warning about what it sees as an “existential” risk posed by campaigners who threaten to stop paying their gas and power.

Also clear is the link between fossil fuel industries and the IEA; Truss’ mother-ship. The American Friends of the IEA pocketed a $50,000 gift from ExxonMobil in 2004, while the UK branch HQ of the IEA has received donations from BP every year since 1967.

OpenDemocracy reports, ‘Truss is particularly close to the IEA, having founded its parliamentary wing FREER in 2011 and hired its former communications director Ruth Porter to run her campaign, later rewarding her by making her deputy chief of staff’.

Tim Montgomerie, a former Johnson advisor, tells Twitter the Truss budget is a “massive moment for the IEA”. “They’ve been advocating these policies for years. They incubated Truss and Kwarteng during their early years as MPs. Britain is now their laboratory.” Director General Mark Littlewood is said to be distraught over how the market repudiated his group’s free-market experiment.

Some Trickle-downers trace their faith to a Will Rogers joke or a sketch on the back of a table napkin in the 1980s, the Laffer Curve, drawn by Reagan era economist Arthur Laffer, who also argues that government spending depresses the economy.

In reality, cutting taxes to increase prosperity is David Hume’s idea in his 1756 essay Of Taxes, as University of Newcastle economist Professor Bill Mitchell patiently points out.

It defies all evidence. Especially historical. In the 1940s and the 1970s in the US top rates were anywhere between seventy and ninety-four percent, yet the nation posted record growth in GDP. After the 1980s, top rates began to come down yet GDP never recovered Iits post war boom. In reality, the rich tend to hang on to a tax windfall or spend extra funds buying back shares in their own company boosting its market value.

Zombie economics get another run in the UK. Coined by economist and Nobel Laureate, Paul Krugman it’s the free market gospel that somehow comes back from the dead to despatch the hapless Truss. It helped turn the US into the world’s biggest creditor nation into the world’s biggest debtor nation in Reagan’s two terms in office.

Frydenberg’s stage three tax cuts are a brazen, unfunded, unnecessary bribe to its donor class to vote for the Liberal Party, wrecking a progressive tax system and promoting inequality.

Labor promises to keep the cuts – who wants to get wedged in an election campaign? -but now Lucky Jim Chalmers calculates that the cuts will cost $254 billion over ten years, meaning so much less to spend on schools, hospitals, or the NDIS just to benefit a wealthy elite who already have the means to access tax minimisation schemes and don’t need it baked into the system.

Bank CEOs, surgeons, and federal politicians will get a windfall tax cut of $9075, while aged care workers, disability carers and those on minimum wages will get nothing.

Despite all her policy nonsense, it is chilling just how quickly Truss is trounced, bounced and hounded into resignation by the 1922 committee of hacks or backbenchers the Conservative Party keeps under the counter for just such emergencies.

It was only yesterday that Tory “grandees” were praising the new PM for her refreshing iconoclasm. Her show of blithe unconcern as to where the money was coming from? Too much. A volatile market was spooked and it cost the Bank of England at least $65 billion in a bond buy- back as it frantically- and far from convincingly – tried to calm the farm.

Her resignation speech mirrors her premiership or footage of Truss being received by the Queen at Windsor “haphazard, uncomfortable to watch, and almost comically short.”

Will the myth of trickle-down also be laid to rest? Not with Jeremy Hunt at the helm. Brought on by Truss to replace Chancellor Kwasi Karteng, with just a little prompting from Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, who hints of a glass of whisky and a revolver, is Jeremy Hunt who caused a stir when he set up arms sales to the Saudis, worth at least $20 billion since 2015.

The issue is not how quickly Truss is undone but how she became PM at all. And how quickly and cruelly she is disabused of her delusions. Johnson’s, prank candidate, Libertarian free-marketeer and Maths whiz, Liz- as she prefers to be known-goes into a dizzy downward spiral of U-turn after U-turn, desperately trying to dodge a barrage of opposition to her mini-budget’s rejection by the market – only to be bullied into resignation. Humiliated as Jeremy Hunt publicly, sadistically, undoes every strand of her £460 billion bold new plan.

A plan not to raise corporation tax, and a plan to cap energy bills without resorting to a windfall tax on energy company profits. It ends with us having none of these things, writes Loughborough University, London’s Dr Gerhard Schnyder who notes that the battle was not between good and bad economics but which bad prevailed over worse.

Luckily, austerity is well in hand. In two weeks, rhyming slang Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and his PM will collude in ruining the lower orders with “fiscal tightening”, a fertile formula for the ruling elite, which involves cutting government services for the masses, raising interest rates, just as gas and electricity corporations price three quarters of households out of the market while a quarter must buy groceries on their credit cards.

Austerity is calculated to line the pockets of pawnbrokers, loan sharks, usurers, banks and other money lenders while energy corporations jack up the price of gas and electricity (elevenfold since 2019), leaving the poor to starve in the cold and dark as winter approaches. UK natural gas prices rose nearly 96% in the year to July.

The Conservative Party itself is riddled with corruption far more toxic beyond Johnson’s faux populism, his vainglorious loutishness or his malignant narcissism, making it more of a push of spivs than an outfit seeking to revive life as it was in 1922, only with a personal hedge fund manager, a peerage for beer money and a personally curated concierge service.

Revelations of dark money contributions and paid lobbying abound in conservative parties worldwide, although UK Tories have an edge. Even its honours system is up for sale.

Fifteen out of 16 Tory party treasurers in the past seven years donated £3 million to the Tory party. Every one of them is offered a peerage. The sublimely named Peter Cruddas, a former Conservative Party treasurer, donated £30 million over ten years only to give the Tories £500,000 three days after taking his seat in the House of Lords in February 2021. Cruddas was busted soliciting cash for access to David Cameron, ten years earlier, a process now streamlined into a club named The Advisory Board run by Tory entrepreneur Ben Elliott.

Elliot, who sees himself as a “willing slave to the stars”, a luxury lifestyle consultant made his name running Quintessentially, a “concierge” company and aristocrat life support ecosystem that caters to the caprices of the rich, from shipping a dozen albino peacocks to a party for Jennifer Lopez to airlifting elm tea bags to Madonna.

All in a day’s work, the 45-year-old Etonian and son-in-law of rock star Steve Winwood tells the Financial Times in 2011. Securing services for his wealthy clients is all about knowing the right people to contact for the right favour.”

Elliot has the right connections. The nephew of Camilla, he was once accused of offering access to then Prince Charles in exchange for a lucrative Quintessentially membership.

But there’s more. With wealth comes power and with both comes The Advisory Board. Businessman and Tory donor, Mohamed Amersi tells The Guardian that Elliott’s Advisory Board Conservative club is “like the very elite Quintessentially clients’ membership: one needs to cough up £250,000 per annum or be a friend of Ben.”

Elliot has made the Advisory Board the number one club in the Conservative Party. Members got monthly access to Johnson or then chancellor Rishi Sunak, say insiders.

Tory Warlords claim the Advisory Board evolved before Boris took power, but won’t say when. Nor is it named in any party literature. A senior minister in David Cameron’s administration says: “I’ve never heard of it.”

Interviewed by The Guardian UK, Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds is blunt:

“This appears to be less of an advisory board than a means for a select group of elite donors to gain privileged access to the prime minister and the chancellor.”

Above all, the seeds of Brexit bear bitter fruit. Leaving the EU helps create division and instability while conferring none of the riches its advocates promised. Gone is instant EU access, exporters now face thirty days’ delay. The bureaucracy of the EU is now replaced by UK officialdom. Trickle-down Trussonomics builds on Brexiteers’ magical thinking; blending a defiance of expert consensus and the market with contempt for Britain’s partners.

Brexit has proved an unmitigated disaster to the UK economy, according to a wide range of commentators from academics and left-leaning journalists to growing numbers of bankers such as Citibank’s Chief Economist, Benjamin Nabarro.

But rotten as it may be, the party has its elite stormtroopers who move like a wolf on the fold when self interest is at stake. The party that pays lip service to liberty calls in its own Bank of England stooge, Jeremy Hunt, when the market panics at rising interest rates fuelled by a Trussian October Revolution of unfunded tax cuts, fuel subsidies and state spending.

Truss’ vision of an agile, lightly-regulated, innovative, entrepreneurial Britain with a Melbourne Cup field of “investment zones” where can-do capitalism can knock itself out free of red tape (or green) would not be out of place in a Malcolm Turnbull speech and is cut from the same international think-tank boiler plate. Build it and they will come. Especially with favourable tax and planning approval. It is more Singapore on Thames, critics sniff, than a practical solution to Britain’s real economic challenges of under investment, inflation, spiralling inequality and recession.

Others point out that it’s handing a blank cheque to businesses who’d have to force themselves to have a ten year tax holiday at the government’s expense. In the meantime, the government still has to pay to keep its projects afloat.

Pet projects grow into white elephants. Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 pumped Hydro pipe dream with subsidies boondoggle – a bargain at $2 billion in its initial “under-cooked” quote – is now estimated to cost at least $10 billion and could be on stream by 2028 at the earliest.

It’s a snip compared with Inland Rail, the Nationals holy grail, which experts advise the Senate will cost at least $20 billion and counting.

Lean green machines, they are not. Utopia’s Rob Sitch, says the grid as it stands means that “pumped hydro is like trying to charge a Tesla with a diesel generator.”

Liz is a fizza but shadow lenders, unregulated, unaccountable and untouchable, increasingly deal themselves into the high-stakes poker of the biggest game in town.

The Tory Party’s abrupt reversion to orthodox, austerity economics is testament to the power of the old guard at the City of London to dictate economic policy.

Or is it a last-ditch attempt to dictate government economic policy by the unelected BoE board? As our Reserve Bank is currently making. Unfortunately, full steam astern will only lead the nation deeper into recession.

But it will be cruel Britannia all the way with all the help that tabloid media can supply about the need for a nation to take its medicine – and not to fuss itself over the prescription. The Bank of England Bank Governor and his pliant board will raise interest rates on household mortgages to halt inflation caused by corporate price gouging at the supermarket, the privatised supply of gas and electricity and the economic disruption of Russia’s War on Ukraine.

If that sounds like our own charismatic dynamo, Philip Lowe that ‘s because he’s reading from the same zombie apocalypse script. It will help protect the fortunes of the ruling elite but it will be the average wage earner who is forced to pay for it all.

 

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Zombie Policy Apocalypse Part 1

Taking Britain and Putin’s oil and gas war-disrupted Covid-stricken world markets by storm is Trussed!, another spectacular episode of trickle-down and double backflip, a 45 day far-right detour in Little Britain’s post-Brexit Tory Story, an action-packed, adrenaline junkie’s in-flight entertainment featuring political jokes, fiscal hocus pocus, bitchy infighting, breathtaking ineptitude, self parody and inglorious failure. Spoiler alert. There is no happy ending. Whilst Marx said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, the surreal spin cycle of UK Tory politics will continue to inflict misery and suffering on the poor.

Have the Tories come full circle? “The UK is once again in the grip of austerity and anti-democratic politics – when we got into this crisis precisely because of austerity and democratic failure. The vast spending cuts made by George Osborne wrecked our hospitals, our schools and our town halls, and stoked the frustrations that ensured Brexit,” writes Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty. Now there will be more.

Mary Elizabeth Truss, is a product of Tufton Street, a hotbed of fossil fuel lobby groups and right-wing think tanks that have colonised government. Political activists Led by Donkeys’ latest video depicts three members up a ladder placing a mock blue plaque on 55 Tufton Street in Westminster, central London, a Georgian townhouse serving as HQ to right-wing zombie idealogues who spout the dud policies so popular with Truss.

“The UK economy was crashed here,” reads a “Liz Trussorative” sign, dated 23 September 2022, the day Ms Truss’s ex-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announces his uncosted “mini-Budget”, cunningly named to avoid Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) scrutiny. Proposing big tax cuts and heavy borrowing at a time of high inflation, lifts interest rates, shaves three percent off the value of the pound, upsets the bond market and has the Bank of England in damage control.

Within days, high profile Sunak supporter, Jeremy Hunt, a former Health Minister under David Cameron and Theresa May, pops up like the White Rabbit and proceeds to shred every thread of the Trussian roulette crazy plan. He vows to set up a new economic advisory council, with four crack economists already on board, Rupert Harrison, George Osborne’s former chief of staff, and a JP Morgan executive. George Osborne, the king of cuts?

All is not lost. Hunt keeps the uncapped bonuses for bankers, a vital fiscal reform.

Britain’s third PM in four years, a fanatical Libertarian Free Market Neoliberal, who acted her idol, Baroness, Margaret Thatcher in primary school, is dumbstruck; heartbroken to be booed off stage by The City, financial centre of the world, if New York.

Trussed! is a cautionary tale of a hapless, half-baked Thatcherite who strikes fear and loathing into the heart of the market she worships; a tale which may help dispel some of the voodoo economics of neoliberalism if not point to its death – as our own national living treasure, The Australia Institute’s Chief Economist Richard Denniss writes.

“It took Liz Truss just 45 days to destroy Margaret Thatcher’s life’s work. For 40 years the idea that tax cuts for the rich would trickle down to help the poor has not just dominated the rhetoric of Western politicians but aligned the ambitions of those who already have the most and those who wish they did.”

But it may be premature to dance on the grave of middle class welfare or government run by a privileged elite on behalf of that elite at the expense of the pathologically lazy wage slave, as Truss and her pals, all members of think tank The Free Enterprise Group, “encouraging classical liberalism” slander British workers in Britannia Unchained, (2012), her manifesto.

“Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor. Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music.”

Truss is hounded into resignation soon after her opening solo, Trickle Down, an attempt to woo the oligarchy and schmooze the rich, leads to her being replaced by Rishi Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund manager when the firm brought on the 2008 recession.

“Dishy Rishi”, as tabloids dub him, goes on to marry fashion designer, venture capitalist and software heiress, Akshata Murty, whose father N.R. Narayana Murthy, founded tech sweatshop giant, Infosys which, incidentally, twenty years ago contracted to do a lot of IT work for Telstra. Whilst his affairs are hidden in a blind trust, the little battler, whose father was a doctor and whose mother owned a pharmacy, does very well for himself.

It’s cheering to see Sunak unchained, slaving to overcome a privileged upbringing in Hampshire, one of England’s most affluent counties. Our hearts go out to Rishi as he battles his way through an elite prep school, Stroud, before Winchester (£45,936 per annum) where he’s made head boy and then he’s up to Oxford, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Later he’s on a Fulbright Scholarship doing an MBA at Stamford. There follows a stint where he is director of his father-in-law’s company. But can he do something useful with his life?

True, only in a parallel Tory Universe could a billionaire whose family fortunes are linked with labour outsourcing and who keeps his affairs secret, ever be a successful PM, just as any government on behalf of a wealthy elite will tend to perpetuate injustice, inequality and indifference to those lower on the ladder.

IT outsourcing itself is a paradigm of inequality, a neoliberal magic wand to make IT costs disappear, only to appear in a developing nation, for example, in 2017, a typical IT Indian worker would be paid $5,000 while their US counterparts can expect north of $100,000. Another part of the magic is that as IT costs disappear, so, too do jobs.

Already in the UK the poor are poorer. There’s plans to cut government spending because Trussonomics causes a £70 billion black hole, or so Hunt declares, (sound familiar?) which will mean cuts to schools and hospitals already in crisis due to under-funding. Even the fuel cap on household gas and electricity bills is cut from two years to a token six months.

Sunak is not popular with his party. Just last month, given a choice between Sunak and Truss, Tories voted for the untested, wild-eyed ideologue. Sunak solves his lack of support – for now – by recycling ministers from the fabulously impressive Johnson and Truss governments. Keeping RWNJs close. We’ve seen how well this tactic works in recent Coalition governments in Canberra.

Sunak strategically re-appoints, as Home Secretary, the anti-immigration, anti-protest right winger, Suella Braverman, who lampoons dissent on energy and environment policy as the work of “tofu-eating wokerati” an MP who sees opponents as “the anti-growth coalition.”

Is Barnaby Joyce moonlighting? Or is the anti-progressive invective multinational?

But it’s a risky gambit. In forgiving Braverman for her breach of security only six days after she resigns over sharing a confidential document, the new PM inflames Tory divisions over political direction and probity that could cause him to lose authority. No big deal.

Former Tory party chair Sir Jake Berry accuses Braverman of “multiple breaches” of the ministerial code; calls herLeaky Sue”. He tells TalkTV that, far from coming forward and admitting her mistake, she has only fessed up when confronted with the evidence.

Minutes later, another Tory MP, Mark Pritchard, helpfully suggests that MI5 lacks confidence in Ms Braverman and that Sunak needs to do something about the situation.

Also helpful are Harry Cole and James Heale whose ebook on the rise and fall of Liz Truss, Out of the Blue, to be published 1 November, (desperately brought forward one month), claims Braverman also leaked market-sensitive information when home secretary. These trifling matters aside, the MP is irrepressible; always keen to stir up racism, xenophobia and gratuitous cruelty.

Braverman will be cheered, she says, when the first plane load of asylum seekers is sent off to Rwanda. “I would love to have a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession.”

But rehabilitating Braverman who breached the ministerial code by sending a cabinet document by personal email, dog whistles the Tories’ right wing. And may win Sunak some Johnson supporters. What could possibly go wrong?

Sunak’s clearly no slouch. He’s also fixed up the misunderstanding which forced his wife to not pay tax on her £400 million share in Infosys, because of her non-domicile status saving her £20 million in taxes on her annual dividends of around £6 million.

At first, Sunak argued his wife was entitled to the tax break but now declares that she will pay all taxes. That’ll fix it.

To briefly recap the plot, with a warning that this account features names of people who are politically deceased, Liz follows Boris’ Level Up, an utterly gutted slogan so hollow it’s a virtual black hole, with Zombie Apocalypse Now, a free market-libertarian burlesque where Truss pledges to shower Londongrad, HQ of the UK’s fabulously wealthy oligarchy, in buckets of borrowed money.

The City promptly swoons; the pound falls to a new low almost on parity with the US dollar, interest rates rise and pension fund managers struggle to keep away from upper-storey windows. Truss’ Bold New Plan involves unfunded tax cuts for the rich. And £100 billion in home fuel subsidies. All on tick. But it’s less the plan itself than how it snubs the very idea of budgeting, a process which has morphed into a form of performance art about credibility. Balancing the books is prudent government – if you believe the Tories and their tabloids.

The City is thunderstruck. BT’s pension fund, one of Britain’s biggest, is filthy. BT loses £12bn in the mayhem after 23 May when Truss and Kartweng spin their mini-budget thingie.

Pension funds are made up of a range of investments and encourage gambling with other peoples’ money and betting on interest rates and bond yields.

Unfortunately, along with energy oligopolies’ price gouging and mortgage rate hikes, pension funds can fuel inflation.

Increasingly, funds invest in basics which increase your shopping bill and what you pay for petrol. More than €30bn is tied up in European pension funds, which are used to bet on the price of raw materials like food and fuel.

Nick Dearden, Director of campaign group Global Justice Now, explains that pension funds are “gambling on food prices, in the process driving up those prices and fuelling the cost of living crisis for all of us.”

The UK is the second largest source of foreign investment in Australia. DFAT says its stock of investment was valued at $574.8 billion in 2018. But we’ve nothing to fear.

Otherwise, our media would be on it like a blowfly in a pickle bottle. If they’re not all worn out telling us our fundamentals are sound.

We’re all safe as houses because of the great shape that the Morrison government left the economy in, as Spud Dutton and his team of small potatoes keep telling us.

Putting a trillion dollars of poorly structured debt to one side and overlooking his government’s energy, pandemic and environment catastrophes, ScoMo’s greatest legacy is the damage he did to the Coalition with his decision to whip up transgender prejudice, euphemistically termed culture wars instead of protecting Liberal heartland.

Liz Truss is similar. Like Morrison, she, too, inherits a party of disunity and disorder.

But take a bow, ex-Prime Minister Truss. Typhoid Mary of Torydom, is a huge role, in itself. Egomaniac, liar, grub and complete imposter Boris did a lot to wreck the Tories, single-handedly, although any party that would elect Boris as its PM has to be beyond all surgery. Yet now, the former Minister for Trade, who became a born again Brexiteer to get the gig, sends world financial markets into a death spiral. The Tory-fawning UK press is most unkind. Reviews are quite hostile. Bring Back Boris is the worst.

You can’t blame the actor. The superbly named Sir Tom Scholar, Treasury Secretary, is sacked. Experts ignored. Being “Trussed”, or showing contempt for reason, is part of a wider cult combining racism, tribal stupidity and borrowing heavily on the fashion for showing contempt for all forms of expertise, now taking the world by storm. All with Rupert Murdoch’s help. Let’s not forget, it was largely his company’s paper The Sun wot got Brexit done.

Truss blusters about how she’s going to take a stand against all that nanny state nonsense apart from the afterthought of a household energy cap which would rescue struggling energy corporations anyway. Pensioners can suffer penury for their work-shy lifestyles and their wilful lack of thrift. Corporate welfare is cool. And cutting tax for the rich is a must if you are going to encourage entrepreneurs, attract startups and lure Russian oligarchs.

Eyebrows arch in the City of London. Or Londongrad. Wags note that the financial capital’s prime locations are now owned by Russian Oligarchs. The purchase of a pad in Hampstead, Knightsbridge or Belgravia was an easy way for Putin’s kleptocracy to launder fortunes amassed from stripping former Soviet state assets.

Alas, it’s not so easy these days in an era of sanctions against Russia over its war on Ukraine. Blinds are down and drapes are drawn in entire Kensington streets, today. Asses are frozen. And who knows what else. Banks did fabulously well, of course, as did the City, as the financial district is known.

London was a mecca for Russian oligarchs seeking foreign capital-raising. Shonky operators flocked not only for the money but for a listing which would fake international financial respectability. Over twenty firms, with a total market value of more than 400 billion pounds ($536 billion), are listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Financial skulduggery isn’t just something that happens in the UK; there has been a concerted and decades-long effort to encourage it to do so’ writes former Russia correspondent, Oliver Bullough, who has led “kleptocracy tours” of London notes Dean Acheson’s observation, in 1962, that Britain had “lost an empire but not yet found a role,” Bullough hints that it did find a role in keeping with its decadence, as a mum’s-the-word- butler – full body massage or crypto-therapy, sir? -to Russian Mafioso and other Muscovy movers and shakers, opening doors to capital markets, prime real estate, shopping at Harrods, and the best private schools money can buy,

Naturally, included in the deal were mining and Murdoch corporation-class tax evasion accountants, attorneys for legal spats, and “reputation managers” for inconvenient backstories. It starts with visas; any foreigner with adequate funds can buy one, by investing two million pounds in the U.K.

After permanent residency, sir?

Ten million pounds.

While the laundering of money, the growth of shadow lending and the growth in the power of dark money are international trends, Londongrad’s The Financial Times’ editorial board gets huffy, telling the new PM that she should stop playing free market libertarian and knuckle down current economic orthodoxy; play by the rules.

But did Liz fall or was she putsched? Her successor, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look,” Rishi Sunak, is a power-hungry oligarch, a puppet of The City of London. Big Finance took over Westminster in the 1980s. Sunak’s a former Goldman Sachs chap, the firm that lit the touchpaper on the recession of 2008, that we choose to call the GFC.

What iscertain is that Britain is once again in the grip of a zombie policy apocalypse – austerity is being touted as the only way out of a mess all of the Tories’ own making, when it can only lead to further suffering. Here’s Nobel Laureate, economist Paul Krugman writing seven years ago,

“… all of the economic research that allegedly supported the austerity push has been discredited. Widely touted statistical results were, it turned out, based on highly dubious assumptions and procedures – plus a few outright mistakes – and evaporated under closer scrutiny.

It is rare, in the history of economic thought, for debates to get resolved this decisively. The austerian ideology that dominated elite discourse five years ago has collapsed, to the point where hardly anyone still believes it. Hardly anyone, that is, except the coalition that still rules Britain – and most of the British media.”

For Britain, substitute Australia. Could we be having our own zombie policy apocalypse, too? In Part 2, the sleaze, decadence and corruption of the modern Tory Party beckons.

Link to Part 2

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Morrison’s Coup De Grâce

“Human beings are social beings, who need to be able to rely on each other. That requires trust, and trust requires truth-telling.” (Quassim Cassam).

Grace Tame looks daggers as the PM fakes cordiality and avuncular affability for the camera. A black belt in subterfuge, deception and betrayal, ScoMo™ has also mastered the dark political art of baring his top teeth whilst feigning conviviality, positively radiating goodwill and patent insincerity. His office invites 2022 finalists for Australian of the Year for a cup of tea and photo opportunity at The Lodge, his Canberra pad – on occasions when his main place of residence Kirribilli doesn’t suit.

It also sets ScoMo™ up to pretend to Brisbane 4BC, later, that Ms Tame’s an ingrate who’s abused his hospitality whilst he and Jen have invited her into their own home. A farrago of lies of course. Passive-aggressive and patronising, he diminishes and demeans her.

“Grace is a passionate person who’s raised important issues. She’s had a terrible life ordeal, you know, things happen to her, her ordeals, the abuse. It’s just awful.”

Back at the Lodge, Morrison’s toothy rictus evokes the look he had for press gallery cameras just before he knifed Malcolm Turnbull in August 2018, declaring “this is my leader and I’m ambitious for him.”

With no policy achievements and a catastrophic failure to protect us from the pandemic, The Coalition knows the election campaign must be a horse race between ScoMo™ and Albo. Of course, as Paul Bongiorno warns, the Coalition may hold the half senate election in May as it is obliged to. Leave the lower house until September. Punt on the pandemic receding. But odds are long.

For now, it’s character. Whom do you prefer? And therein lies the problem. As Laura Tingle implies, whilst Murdoch’s claque is busy with the myth that we don’t know who Albo is, Faux-Mo’s problem, as a public figure made entirely of smirk and mirrors, is that we do know who he is.

Tame’s face, moreover, evokes some of the ways we know, notes Laura Tingle:

“… other unfortunate handshaking incidents during the bushfires; the excruciating moment when banking royal commissioner Justice Kenneth Hayne refused to be part of Josh Frydenberg’s photo opportunity by shaking hands and smiling with him; the widely circulated photo of Scott Morrison looking at his phone in the Parliament, having turned his back on Labor’s Tanya Plibersek as she addressed him across the chamber.”

There are many others. It’s Cobargo 2.0. Cue the NSW south coast, destroyed by freak bushfire fanned by his government’s policies of climate change denial. Local mother, Zoey asks questions only to have the PM turn his back and walk away from her in early January 2020.

“I have lost everything I own,” Zoey says in a social media post, with footage of the destruction. “My house is burnt to the ground and the prime minister turned his back on me.”

Given his government treats women as second-class citizens and worse, Ms Tame is in no frame of mind to be called into Morrison’s shonky photo-op. Be compromised. She’s brave. On cue, boys’ club commentators and big swinging dick club apologists, rush to attack her display of integrity.

“Sourpuss” sneers Miranda Devine. The News Limited flack, currently based in New York, accuses “Graceless” Tame of “ignorance, petulance” and “churlishness”. And a great deal more.

Morrison is “a leader of a middle power”, Devine ventures, as well as “our elected representative” who is owed respect for his high office alone, a gibe based on a lie about how we choose our PM, whilst she claims a former Australian of the Year (AOTY) is just an ambassador for a specific cause.

The “historic” Lodge also is defiled in Devine’s view. Sacrilege? Clearly, in the next phase of Murdoch’s Americanisation of our politics, it will be sacred. Our White House. A sacred shrine.

Devine’s rant in The Daily Telegraph, also trashes AOTY in a swinging denunciation, a hatchet job worthy of a PMO in full campaign mode. She dog-whistles culture warriors and the hard right.

“The AOTY is rarely representative of the Australian people but instead caters to a tiny base of Twitter brokens obsessed with prosecuting boutique ideological issues borrowed from overseas, usually to do with identity politics, “existential” climate alarm, the evil patriarchy, “toxic masculinity” and “systemic” racism.

Even if the AOTY were to start off as a normal person, by the end of their year in the spotlight they will have been thoroughly shaped into a left-wing activist by the media.”

“Ungracious”, Professor Peter Van Onselen also puns on her name, “rude” and “childish”. James McGrath, dropped in 2008 from Team BoJo for his comments in The Spectator calling African-Caribbean immigrants, “picaninnies” weighs in with “partisan, political and childish.”

There’s much more in this vein but a wave of approval far outweighs the sexist carping and character assassination, rejects Devine’s grotesque exaltation of our least trustworthy PM into an iconic national leader. Devine claims that to snub ScoMo is to insult the Australian people.

Most observers applaud Tame’s integrity. And how would Murdoch’s partisan hacks know what integrity looks like? ScoMo represents everything Ms Tame opposes. Such a pile-on, does, however, suggest a PMO aware that Tame is a major threat to their campaign to re-elect Morrison. A shonky product, which never really passed the sniff test, now smells well past its use-by date.

Perhaps Tame recalls ScoMo™’s office leaking against Brittany Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz. Or Chief of Staff John Kunkel’s “review” that found he was “not in a position to make a finding that the alleged activity took place”. (Sue Gray, take note for your Boris’ knees-up report.)

A helpless young woman is allegedly raped near his office, but the PM doesn’t know, let alone take any responsibility. God forefend he owes any duty of care. Or honesty.

But Morrison’s lies are world-renowned, largely thanks to Emmanuel Macron, and, for him, everything is someone else’s responsibility.

Almost. He’s a dab hand at captain’s calls and gratuitous cruelty. His appointing Amanda Stoker as Marise Payne’s underling, assistant Minister for Women to an invisible Minister for Women looks like an act of sadistic revenge.

The Queensland senator supported a “fake rape crisis tour” that inflicted great suffering on survivors, such as Ms Tame.

Or is it his failure to provide a safe workplace? Tame may have had in mind, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins’ finding that sexual harassment and assault were so pervasive in Parliament with its toxic workplace culture that, “women told us they felt ‘lucky’ if they had not directly experienced sexual harassment and assault.”

Who’d want to shake the hand of a PM who pats women on the head and tells the nation “we are dealing with this as no other government has done before”?

Saying “she’s had a terrible life” is the most condescending, ignorant & utterly disempowering comment to make about Grace Tame.

Grace’s whole message is that as survivors, we are not defined by our experiences of sexual violence,” tweets Nina Funnell who worked with Grace Tame on her original campaign #LetHerSpeak,

ScoMo’s government’s record is of evasion, inaction, lies and leaking against victims and their families. Contempt is only part of its orchestrated disempowerment of women.

Dealing with? Jenkins, in a separate process, recommends imposing a duty of care on employers to stamp out sexual harassment – only to have this rejected by the Morrison government.

Senator Jenny McAllister reminds us that, in 2013, Tony Abbott appointed himself Minister for Women. Eight years later, the contempt continues. ScoMo says women who march on parliament to publicly call for justice, equality and safety are lucky not to be shot. He snubs them anyway.

“This is a vibrant liberal democracy, Mr Speaker, not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker,” Morrison says to boos, jeers and looks of total incredulity.

Why should Ms Tame, a passionate advocate for victims of sexual violence compromise everything she stands for by being a prop in the PM’s propaganda photo? Even in his words to those invited to the Lodge, ScoMo acknowledges Tame’s engagement to her fiancé, Max Heerey, not her work.

As with his struggle to understand that rape is a crime, ScoMo might need his Jen to clarify his slight – on all women. He’ll have plenty of time after May. Or September, should he take the punt.

Labor’s Jenny McAllister does acknowledge Grace Tame’s work, “together with other survivor advocates, she has driven a lasting national conversation about the treatment of women, and the prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual violence against women and children.”

It’s the eve of Invasion Day or ‘Straya Day as Morrison’s Ocker avatar outside The Lodge would have it. ScoMo’s™ moved on, prompted by focus groups. Sixty per cent of Australians support a change of date, according to a Guardian Essential Poll, taken a few days ago. Meanwhile, his commentary shifts to that of some didactic voiceover to a whitewashing of war and dispossession.

“A story,” he pens for Nine’s claque, mustering his typical fog of abstraction, cluttered with buzzwords and double-speak, “of strength and resilience that spans 65,000 years, of a continent that we love and contend with, and of a free and fair people who live in relative harmony.”

“Remarkable” would have been better than “relative”. And speaking of relatives, Morrison’s great-great-aunt, utopian socialist, poet and former Paraguayan commune member (in 1896), Mary Gilmore, a Dame who wrote for a communist newspaper, would turn in her grave.

Yet only his pet rag, The Daily Telegraph, runs the line that “the arrival in Australia of the First Fleet in 1788 was the initial step towards multiculturalism.” Shades of Tony Abbott’s defining moment.

Grace Tame’s “side-eye” defines our times. Why collude in a photo-op to normalise our criminally, negligent MPs with their hands in the till or doing favours for rich mates? Why approve of skiving off to Hawaii, padding travel allowances or taking a few days off to watch the cricket. Sam Maiden reports Tim Wilson Liberal MP Tim Wilson leaves Victoria for 95 nights, charging taxpayers $37k.

A vibrant liberal democracy does not normalise corruption while it disenfranchises women, the aged, the poor and first nations. It is not a regime of coercive control by old white men that opposes constitutional recognition of first peoples and rejects The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

A voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution is not only long overdue, it would also enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. Instead, ScoMo™ & Co. come up with a co-design report. What does it do? It sets up further consultations to establish regional and local voices.

“The only thing the government has managed to achieve is more delays and more processes. What the government is proposing gives the Voice no security. They even banned their co-design committee from speaking about constitutional recognition,” Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney calls out the time-wasting duplicity inherent in the process.

Why help normalise a clown? The PM’s “vibrant liberal democracy” allows Clive Palmer to boast he’ll outspend his $93m last election, lying about Labor’s policies. Paul Bongiorno reports Labor strategists who call out Australia’s Clown Prince of Politics for what he is – a way of extending the Liberals’ media campaign budget, which, scandalously, remains uncapped.

“He’s a Liberal and will shovel votes back to them at the end of the day.”

Bongiorno is outraged:

“…the government has done nothing to contain the obscenity of a billionaire being able to distort the democratic political contest in such a blatant way.”

Australia’s reputation for corruption is at its lowest level since ratings began in 1995, reports Transparency International. Morrison’s Covid Commission is a sterling example. A mob assembled by the PM, ostensibly for Covid crisis management turns out to be a gas industry support group.

The scandal of our RATs instant millionaires is another.

Pandemic rages, with at least ninety-eight deaths, Friday, as a government, “getting out of peoples’ lives,” stops sitting on its hands only to point the finger of blame.

Omicron spreads to more than 700 aged-care homes, Rachel Withers reports for The Monthly. Staff struggle to cope in over half of all facilities in NSW. A grieving daughter tells SBS News that her father died of COVID-19 alone in his locked-down aged-care home, while waiting for an overdue booster shot, on the day after Aged Care Minister Colbeck takes three days off to watch a cricket game. Morrison defends Colbeck by telling us we don’t know how hard the Minister works.

Lives have been lost but Colbeck will “take this on the chin,” he adds obliquely. Accountability is not part of his vocabulary. An incompetent spared, ScoMo hopes is a future ally; bound to him in gratitude.

Students will return to school so parents can get back to work. Teachers are put at risk and their value impugned by being seen solely as babysitters in a post-industrial society. And expendable. Vulnerable retired teachers and inexperienced graduates are said to be ready to fill the gaps.

It’s an era of personal responsibility, ScoMo and Perrottet claim. But just try to buy a RAT. Unless you happen to be Motion One, a firm run out of a two-roomed apartment in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay where Pilates franchise CEO, Austyn Campbell secures a $26 million contract to import RATs.

She flogs them online for $12.50. Identical tests are purchased by importers and sold to Australian retailers for as little as $5 per unit.

A former Liberal Party “digital strategist”, Campbell runs a communications firm, Agenda C, with Parnell Palme McGuiness, another lucky punter who’s also done work for the Liberal Party.

Also doing nicely is Julie Bishop’s beau, David Panton, formerly an all-night chemist in Mornington, Victoria, who with his daughters runs Pantonic, a pharmaceutical supply company. Tests start at $11.

Will it be a RAT-led economic recovery? An overvalued stock market totters, tech stocks shedding value first – Barnaby fan, Georgina Hope Rinehart gets a gong for services to mining, community and sport, just before she’s declared an Olympic sponsor.

Hang on. Help is on its way from BoJo.

So touching to discover that the mother country still loves her delinquent ex-colony. Or not so ex.

Thank God, Queen and her palace that John Kerr, her GG could keep the con in our constitutional monarchy as we were weaning ourselves off the breast of empire, onto a neo-colonial formula.

Our co-dependence helps us feel relaxed and comfortable about the capitulation of national sovereignty that is AUKUS, a pact yet to be defined, but which has a very colonial nostalgia vibe.

Not everyone loves Kerr. A ”rorty old, farting Falstaff …” an elderly lizard” is Patrick White’s vivid impressions of the Governor-General, a respected jurist and former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, who invoked his “reserve powers” to dismiss Whitlam’s Labor government in 1975, to the immense good fortune of Liberal Malcolm Fraser, a Western Districts grazier. How we miss such giants.

Mal is the last farmer to become Prime Minister, something the Nats have never got over and the only PM to visit to a seedy Memphis hotel, only to lose his trousers – just one leg of which, could be pressed into service as a shroud for his chief legacy, his treasurer. John Winston Howard, monarchist, devout Neoliberal and US lickspittle, who did so much to dash the hopes of voters who sought enlightened, progressive, federal policies which might heal division, promote equality and independence.

As for the AUKUS submarine plan, it’s a fiasco. Eight nuclear subs we cannot crew, or fuel, which need a whole new industry to maintain, with a price tag of at least possibly $170 billion, allowing for inflation, are thrust upon us much to Macron’s chagrin, or emmerdement, a word our prissy press pretend is “piss off” but any Frenchman will tell you means shat upon.

Macron hates our PM for lying to him that the sub deal was real until one day before it wasn’t. It’s a breach of good faith which will set back our trade with the EU circus, of which La Belle France is 2022’s ringmaster. Carbon tariffs could be slapped on our exports. Also, we alienate another power with a presence in the Pacific.

In the meantime, we may have to retire the Collins class subs which will be rust buckets well before our “new” nuclear submarines are ready in the early 2040s. By then, crewless subs and drones will have superseded anything AUKUS hawks us.

But all is not lost. Diplomatic genius, carbon tariff expert and Joke PM, Tony Abbott has been seconded to the BOT, Board of Trade, an outfit long dead in the water until revived by Teresa May as something she could announce that might offset the stench of a hard Brexit.

Tony’s bound to come up with something. Always does. Even if it’s only shirt-fronting Macron.

His work is cut out for him. Career liar, Boris Johnson brags that:

“… our ambitious trade deal with Australia will include a substantive article on climate change which reaffirms both parties’ commitments to the Paris Agreement and achieving its goals, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Tony’s carbon tax expertise will add a bit of finesse to the UK Australia Free Trade Deal virtually inked last month. It’s worthless according to Moody’s. Our beef and veal are more likely to go to more accessible markets which offer higher prices. As Moody’s puts it:

“Australian exporters garner higher prices for their beef products in countries like South Korea, Japan and the US. Also, Australian beef exports recently dipped because of drought conditions. Such conditions are expected to occur more regularly in the future and could restrict exports.”

Glen Dyer and Bernard Keane note that the Coalition refuses to allow the Productivity Commission or any other objective body to analyse the agreement because the benefits are minuscule. Even these dwindle in the light of the extra paperwork required to meet bureaucratic country-of-origin requirements for accessing the deal.

“Given the trivial economic impact of the UK-Australia free trade agreement, we won’t be updating our growth forecasts for the UK economy,” Moody’s conclude.

But it’s worse than nothing. Boris gets rolled. Barnaby Joyce’s carve-out means Morrison won’t have a bar of any deal that breathes a word about net-zero.

Australia’s negotiators demand that temperature targets have no part in the trade deal. When the Brits insist that The Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, and preferably to 1.5 degrees at least gets a mention, that’s all it gets and only over Morrison government objections.

But who’s going to notice the cave-in when the party’s all agog at revelations that Boris has lied about at least eleven parties that broke Covid isolation rules?

Party piece of party gate is surely BoJo’s glorious anniversary of his own birth, alas, another mental blankety-blank which he either can’t recall or, like fellow amateur casuist, ScoMo, argue wasn’t a party at all.

Boris’ colleagues are a riot of goodwill, a British ten-minute effusion of camaraderie, a happy birthday dirge and a cake with a Sue Gray file in it.

BoJo’s birthday party that his (fairly) newly-wed, a May bride, organised for him is the latest episode of Carrie On Upstairs, a fitting sequel to the mystery of who paid for the 840 pound a roll golden wallpaper in the refurbishing of Boris and Carrie’s flat over number eleven Downing Street, traditionally reserved for the chancellor of the exchequer except when Boris needs it for himself, his partner and growing family.

If we are conned on trade and it looks as if we’re roped into buying obsolete subs we won’t have any time for our war on Beijing, Keane suggests we just tell China to hold off for a couple of decades while we get our nuclear underwater shit together. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s not clear which of our neo-colonial masters will actually supply the ships. Morrison loves secrecy as much as indecision. DFAT tells us that by 2020’s end, Australian investments in the US totalled $864 billion – almost as much as the Great Satan – as America is revered in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan whose peoples it has liberated, with our assistance – the USA has invested in the Land of Oz while our investment in the UK was $615 billion – and the Old Dart has $737.6 billion invested here.

All of this is a prelude to hope. Amidst the amazing Grace Tame’s refusal to grin and bear the PM’s charm offensive, a perfunctory line congratulating her on her engagement rather than her work as Australian of the Year, the shortage of RATs and ScoMo™ & Co’s abandonment of all pretence at protecting us from Omicron, the arrival, Friday, of UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, aboard a Global Britain private Airbus jet is a cunningly orchestrated stunt that gets BoJos rival out of his hair while providing audio-visual proof of ScoMo and Cos trade deals.

True, Little Britain’s Labour Party is outraged at the A$1 million price ticket but wait until they discover that the Free Trade Deal with the land Downunder is just another bit of window dressing.

Hawk Talk is also a big part of Truss’ mission. Eager to be Boris’ replacement and one of our neo-colonial mistress’ Britannia’s debauched ruling elite, Truss pops in to warn us that the Chinese Panda is plotting with the Russian Bear to blow us all up, a warning that Paul Keating calls demented.

Truss attacked Dan Tehan last year, because she felt slighted but now, she is practically one of us after being made honorary Ocker of the Year, last year by The Australia Day Foundation.

The dodgy Foundation is a cabal of climate deniers, mining shills and lobbyists with links to the ultra-right Policy Exchange, a group affiliated with those who spread disinformation on climate change and covid.

Many see Liz as Little Britain’s next Tory PM, if only party animal and pants-man, Boris Johnson would admit the carnival is over. Or Sue Gray busts him for breaking his own social distancing rules by holding parties. Seriously.

Her man bag, Ben Wallace, is a Boris-follower, too, over-promoted for his loyalty to Defence Secretary.

Ben and Liz are AUKUS hawks who talk up a Blairite WMD-type case for declaring war on Russia, just because America wants them to, a scenario, the invisible Marise Payne and Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton find incredibly compelling and not just as an election campaign stunt.

All is well in the Land of Oz, even “a smoking ruin” of democracy as Guy Rundle praises us. Deputy PM and MP for Santos, Barnaby Joyce tells ABC RN Breakfast’s Patricia Karvelas that “people aren’t dying” in the Lucky Country of Covid. Rats are wrecking his government’s superbly orchestrated pandemic testing kit rollout by hoarding their RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) – or flogging them at prices to rival the can-do capitalism of professional gougers and your local Chemist Warehouse portal.

Finally, Labor’s leader responds to Andrew Probyn asking who he is:

“My first campaign, I was 12 years old,” Albo tells the Press Club. “We organised a rent strike. We took petitions around to everyone. That was my experience of that. That drove me. That was my first political campaign. And, by the way, we won.”

“Just ‘pushing through’ this pandemic is not enough,” he argues. “We need to learn from it, we need to use what the last two years have taught us to build a better future.”

We need “a government that steps up to its responsibilities and fulfils its most fundamental roles: to protect our people, to act as a force for good, and to change people’s lives for the better.”

No wonder Morrison’s running scared. But pumping social media with Clive$’ lies about Labor’s failings is unlikely to cut it when your record reeks of corruption, ineptitude, dud deals and untrustworthiness. The worst PM of the century can’t even show some grace under friendly fire at a reception for Australian of the Year, a miserable morning tea, brightened only by a bevy of nominees for awards, any one of which is likely to show up his own inadequacies as a man and as a leader.

To pick a fight with Grace Tame, moreover, and to go on radio, later, to belittle her, may cost Morrison any last skerrick of credibility. His pot-shot at Grace Tame, Australian of the Year 2021 is by extension an attack on all women and every woman’s right to expect a government that offers equality, justice and safety for all Australians, instead of a racket run to benefit a privileged few.

Given his lies, his stunts, his broken promises, his empty promises, his protection of incompetent ministers and worse, together with his government’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, his pot-shot at Ms Tame maybe his coup de grace.

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ScoMo plays Djoko but Dutton buys tanks

“Nine years long” reads a handmade sign in a sealed window of the Park Hotel, Swanston Street, Carlton, a grim, grey, makeshift, Melbourne gaol for forty-six refugees and asylum-seekers. Most were originally locked up on Papua New Guinea and Manus Island. Now the men are held against their will indefinitely, in contempt of international convention, compassion and human decency. Their food is mouldy and has weevils in it. A couple of floors catch fire in December, but no-one is allowed to leave the building.

Novak Djokovic also lobs here, Wednesday to Monday, a world champion reduced to persona non grata, after Border Force cancels his visa, but – in a sensational comeback – after Monday’s federal court hearing, he’s released into the care of his lawyer$.

The Park Hotel is a far cry from the Serb’s mountainside mansion in Monte Carlo, where he lives tax free. True, he has an incredible portfolio of luxury properties all over the world. New York. Miami. Soho. Even a penthouse in New Belgrade. But Border Force give him no option. Cancel his visa. Lock him up with the other poor sods.

But not for ever, Federal Court Judge, Anthony Kelly quashes the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa on procedural fairness. Border Force breaks a promise.

It’s a technical victory for the tennis star. Border Force fails to keep its word that Djokovic has until 8.30am to seek advice about his pending cancellation, instead cancelling his visa at 7.42am to finish the business before one officer’s shift ends.

Now the international tennis champion, antivaxxer, kinesiologist and property tycoon awaits a call from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, a mate of the PM, a fellow evangelical and Morrison’s numbers man in the NSW party machine.

Mike Seccombe sees Hawke as a man made in the image of his mentor “hard-charging and abrasive”, an MP reviled by both wings of the party.

Seccombe, writes in The Saturday Paper detailing how Hawke’s leadership of Morrison’s faction in NSW, the centre-right, and his work as ScoMo’s delegate on the party’s state executive has been a catastrophe for the PM. An insider claims Hawke,

“has used his time as Morrison’s representative on the state executive in an endeavour to advance their factional position to the detriment of both conservatives and the moderates – to the point now where the conservatives and the moderates are in an alliance against Hawke. And that means against Morrison.”

In brief, Morrison’s Mini-Me is just the man to forge consensus and garner party support on the Djokovic fiasco, a blunder that splits a parliamentary party already frantic at the PM’s catastrophic failure on the pandemic, the economy, trade – everything he touches. Will the Serbian serve the coup de grâce to Morrison’s corrupted, clapped-out career?

It’s a mystery drama with a dilemma. Morrison’s Pentecostal pal, Hawke has the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa. Or Morrison, a notoriously sore loser, a man with a glass jaw, who hates us to see he’s a fool, looks a right royal prat. Which way it will go?

Hawke decides not to cancel Djokovic’s visa Monday night. He has four hours to use his personal power, under section 133 A or 133C(3) of the Migration Act 1958 if the Morrison government wants to try to keep the tennis champion in detention. Instead, he’ll let us know, Tuesday. In the meantime he discovers his party is divided.

Meanwhile it’s leaked that Border Force, our PM’s personal paramilitary is concerned the Serb or his agent may have lied on his travel declaration.

An alley cat toys with a six foot two mouse. It’s a PMO tactic to stretch out the saga; string us along. Distract. Helps distance Morrison from his minister’s act.

Meanwhile, Omicron ravages the nation while rapid antigen tests (RATS) and booster shots just can’t be found. Federal government policy in the face of a catastrophic rise in cases is a DIY testing regime. PCR test centres are overwhelmed, revealing yet again the wisdom of neoliberal outsourcing and privatisation of public health.

In an echo of its former inglorious failures, our Health Department didn’t order enough RATS. Or boosters. This helps shrink ballooning case numbers. As does the shrewd requirement that you phone in your result. Or making us pay. Other nations provide the tests free. But unless you’re a concession card holder, you pay. Or if you’re one of the millions in low paid casual work, the third of the workforce with no paid sick leave entitlement of leave, you simply do without. Such are your freedoms.

Reports of profiteering or “price gouging” as our “medium” prefers, proliferate. In an inspiring act of charity, the PM shares how his Jen is shopping for RATs, scouring Sydney’s more select suburbs, on a search and supply mission. Making herself useful. Having a go. Just one of us, really. It’s an uplifting fantasy of a Mum on struggle-street where Dad earns half a mill a year plus free board, lodging, transport and healthcare.

Also consoling to a nation wracked by coronavirus psychosis, a heady blend of fear, anxiety, depression and sheer despair is Spud’s uplifting shopping news.

Defence minister Dutton orders 120 yank tanks and other armoured vehicles, because you just don’t know when you’ll have to quell an ugly uprising by the poor. Suddenly submarines and long range anti-panda missiles are out Tanks and Humvees are in.

Spud finds a lazy $3.5 billion down the back of Abbott’s padded Defence Budget. The budgie smuggler pledged two percent of GDP to waste on war toys and other defence over-expenditure. Just for the optics. Make Labor look weak on national security.

Billions are wasted on new toys: replacing the ’59 Abrams M1A1s we bought in 2007, still in mint condition and unused in battle bar the odd ‘Roo shoot and bush bash.

As US imperialist running dogs of the century, we love buying America’s castoffs. Even obsolete military hardware can be a boon in a pandemic. A tank, or two, can help clear any congested supermarket carpark. Counter insurgency thrives in tight corners. Be just in time to quell bread riots as shelves empty across the nation. Besides hunger games, there’s the prospect of ugly insurrection over our fossil fuel mania, our ecocide.

Equally comforting in Morrison’s PsyOps is an image of the PM with a platter of two barramundi. Let’s just get Humpty Doo Barra home delivered like the Morrisons. It’s heady, aspirational stuff that helps us pull ourselves together in time of need. Almost as helpful as knowing we’ve got government ministers who can do what they like.

Hawke’s “personal power” as Immigration Minister allows him also to let the men banged up in the Park Hotel be released into the community. Or hospital. At least twenty are now sick with Covid. Not that you’d find space for ten now. Still, a triage in a taxi or a tent can save your life. If you can afford the fare. Or you can still walk.

But Hawke goes MIA. At The Park, medical care means you get one Panadol, dry, although a guard does say hospitalisation will be provided to the one or two who may need it, based on Omicron’s mild effect on the rest of the population. But that’s it.

A chap who asks for ginger to gargle to ease his Covid-affected sore throat is ignored.

Formerly, The Rydges on Swanston, The Park was May’s COVID-19 top super spreader, triggering Victoria’s second, deadly wave of coronavirus. Hundreds die. Almost all seven thousand infections, which devastate the state, are traced back to overseas arrivals at the hotel. Now it’s shaping up for an Omicron encore.

It’s a timely reminder of the Morrison government’s wisdom in not providing dedicated quarantine – and it also highlights our ongoing war on The Other which helps keep us safe, feeling relaxed and comfortable and gets Tory MPs re-elected.

Political prisoners, hidden in our midst, in shabby hotels, across Australia are suddenly thrust into the spotlight when Djokovic, Tennis World Champion, has his Visa cancelled by Border Force on arrival at Melbourne to play in The Australian Open. Is the refugee publicity an unforced error? Or are non-citizens now completely invisible?

We lead the world in secret prison camps. Calling them “detention centres” stops any hint that they are gulags. And how good is the word “processing” instead of indefinite, detention? But where we really shine is in throwing away the key.

On average, an asylum-seeker sentence in Australia is currently 689 days. Even in the US, it’s 55 days, unless they put you in Gitmo. In Canada it’s a fortnight. All you need do is arrive here by sea. It’s not a crime to seek asylum but the government still call you illegals. Neglect, maltreat and abuse you. Call you by a number, never your name.

Then PM, Abbott tells the UN to butt out in 2015, when Professor Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture finds Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Bugger rules-based order. Abbott is quick to declareAustralians are “sick of being lectured to by the United Nations.” Professor Mendez says Australia has failed to provide adequate detention conditions and that it should end the detention of children. Biloela? None of his business. Now the Park Hotel is a stark reminder on nightly TV.

Team Morrison banks on most of us not caring. Scoring points with the “tough on borders” voter. PMO advisers hope to capitalise on public outrage that a travel exemption has been made for a multi-millionaire sporting star, while families are unable to get together at Christmas. Time for a quick pivot on the politics of Djokovic’s entry.

“People are welcome in Australia. But if you’re not double vaccinated and you’re not an Australian resident or citizen, well, you can’t come,” the PM says 6 January.

Could this be the PM’s Tampa Crisis? A show of manly decisiveness. Upstage his pandemic catastrophe. Curiously, they said the same of Morrison in 2019, normalising Howard’s chicanery and cynical dog-whistling to racists, xenophobes and One Nation supporters. Yet now, opinion polls suggest that wedging your opponents with the politics of race to is unlikely to be the silver bullet Morrison so desperately needs. People just can’t avoid seeing him as a monstrous failure, a fraud and a career liar.

Guardian Australia’s Essential Poll finds that only 37 percent of us believe immigration levels are too high, down from 56 percent in 2019. Yet it remains a divisive issue.

But how good is a distracting scapegoat – especially one which lets Mo remind us all how he invented Border Force, border protection, boat turnbacks to politicise xenophobia, racism and total indifference to the plight of those forced to flee their countries of origin by boat? Two-year-wonder- PM Tony Abbott did much the same toward the end of his miserable prime ministership, largely run by his office.

“I stopped the boats,” Abbott reminds us, a lie that overlooks the Rudd government’s 2013 Pacific Solution announcement that “asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”. Push factors such as the end of the Afghanistan war helped. Neither Tony Abbott nor Scott Morrison, stopped the boats.

Morrison is on to Djokovic’s extradition like a rat up a drainpipe. But it’s a rapid backflip even for a shit-house rat or a cunning, opportunistic politician. The PM hasn’t bothered to tell Home Affairs’ head, Karen Andrews. Someone has to go under a bus when there’s a country to run. Yet Andrews is on record as expressing a dissenting view.

Djokovic’s unvaccinated status disqualifies him for a visa but, somehow, in cahoots with one of our overweening, “peak bodies” in our pantheon of sport, the temple of Tennis Australia, (TA) Home Affairs Minister Andrews has written to the grand slam champion telling him that he has “a medical exemption”. Did TA dictate, ever mindful of its gate?

So powerful are our sporting organisations that they can tell federal governments what to do. Or at least they can try. And some are down on their luck in a pandemic.

Or was there federal government collusion to waive the big star through the visa process until it discovered that such an exemption did not sit at all well with fans?

Tennis Australia is said to be on its last $2.4 million after what The Australian (paywalled) reports as a $100 million Covid hit. Now TA’s borrowed $80 mill from the State of Victoria. It’s not only keen to get back in the game, clearly, it also has a formidable fan base. Our sports empires, or “governing bodies” as they are known are no strangers to wheeling and dealing. The game of mates. Or a bit of power play.

Tennis Australia puts the lob into lobbying.

Now things get messy. Health Minister, Greg Hunt, writes to Tennis Australia, CEO Craig Tiley, 29 November 2021, stating clearly that people who had tested positive to Covid-19 within six months do not meet exemption requirements to enter the country. But does he show the letter to Kaz? Does he ever intend to? It’s a line-ball decision.

Has Ms Andrews been set up? Morrison’s office is a Bermuda Triangle of careers that just disappear without trace -especially women’s careers -despite PMO lip-service to internal inquiry and promises, one day, to implement every one of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ recommendations in her Set The Standard review.

Or could Home Affairs’ letter of acceptance be a figment of Djokovic’s imagination? His quack doctor has him on a weird diet. What he fails to provide is evidence in the form of a positive PCR test of his having had COVID-19 in the last six months. Or twice, depending on which account you read. Is he on some macrobiotic hallucinogen?

Or is it just testosterone? What is clear is the outrage from Belgrade. Is Serbia’s hero lured to Australia to be humiliated? Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vučić says he’d do the same to Morrison should our PM ever visit. He’d have no trouble selling tickets.

Vučić vows to “fight” for Djokovic to be able to enter Australia. Another diplomatic shit storm brews. Morrison’s government alienated France after the PM lies about welching on our submarine deal in favour of AUKUS and nuclear subs we can’t even crew.

As for our biggest trading partner, China, President Xi won’t even speak to Canberra; responding instead with a trade war after Australia calls for an inquiry into the origins of the “Wuhan Flu”, pandering to conspiracy theorists and others who would like to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic. Sabre-rattling Defence Minister Dutton talks up war, Canberra must be prepared for whatever lurks “on or below the horizon”.

Across the ditch, Jacinda Ardern is miffed that we repatriate Kiwi-born Australian residents who break the law. Many were children when they left the land of the long white cloud. “Taking the trash out,” Peter Dutton calls his deporting of New Zealand offenders. If that sticks in your craw, kiwi crayfish are selling for a hundred dollars a pop in China as our federal government’s trade war sinks our own export businesses.

A $3 million marketing campaign by federal government to entice New Zealanders, is not going so well. Bookings are down 76 per cent year-on-year for the four weeks from April 19. Our pacific island workforce is also inexplicably smaller this year.

Migrant workers are critical to Australia’s farming sector and food security. What is shameful are the conditions leading so many to abscond, notes Deakin University’s Victoria Stead.

Is Morrison aiming for his own grand slam in alienating the world? Pay them back for treating him as a sick joke on curbing carbon emissions, flouting refugee conventions, and lying. Or does he just not care? As he tells Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet.

Lying? Djokovic does have a document bearing the Serbian Institute of Sport’s letterhead, which says he caught Covid 16 December. Yet there’s no medical test evidence, sniffs Home Affairs Supremo Andrews who is refused an extension to postpone the federal circuit court hearing of his case until Wednesday.

Clearly, she’s been left right out of the loop, standard operating procedure for Federal Liberals with their record of misogyny, sexism, secrecy and captain’s calls.

“The tail won’t be wagging the dog here”, Judge Anthony Kelly says

Kelly’s quip may be a sly dig at PistoI and Boo, Johnny Depp and then partner Amber Heard’s Yorkshire Terriers who, accidentally, helped us to show our borders are tough.

The stars forgot to quarantine their pets. In 2015, a righteously “tough on illegal immigrants” Barnaby Joyce threatened to euthanise the “illegally imported” pair of mutts (the pets not the actors) if they weren’t out of the country on the next plane. A document was alleged to be forged.

Heard has recently named one of her new dogs Barnaby Joyce in honour of the fiasco.

Djokovic is known for his dogged tenacity. Certainly, for a man with Covid, the star has wasted no time lying doggo in iso. A photo emerges on social media of the Serbian hero unmasked in public 17 December at a state ceremony to honour him by presenting him with a set of Serbian National postage stamps bearing his photogenic image.

For someone with a potentially deadly viral infection, Djokovic is quite the social butterfly, appearing not only to be in rude good health, but actively engaging with young people. Hugs and back pats. On December 17, he participates an open PR event. Images appear of the star embracing children at an awards ceremony at an event organised by the Tennis Association of Belgrade. Talk about infectious goodwill.

But that’s not all that’s caught in the spotlight; illuminated is an inept, cruel and increasingly desperate Morrison government which will do anything to divert us from its failures. Our PM threatens to shirt-front the Serb; put him on the next plane home. By Monday, this is toned down and Morrison’s office puts out word of amicable discussion between our PM and his Serbian counterpart – in which Morrison explains our rules.

But Djokovic is used to winning from behind. It’s his trademark. Along with abusing injury time out. With help from friends in high places in Belgrade “the Serbinator” successfully lodges an appeal against his extradition.

This is not the outcome that Morrison’s office had in mind. Or is it?

Djokovic’s lock-up is a political intercept; a stunt to distract from the Morrison regime’s disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic which by Monday, reaches 972,000 cases, after restrictions are abruptly eased in a backflip which Morrison calls Living with the Virus aka Playing with Fire as the Omicron variant rages through the population, bringing an already over-stressed hospital system to the point of collapse.

Welcome to Shitshow 2.0, an homage to Bill Shorten’s zinger: “it’s not a race” the Morrison government’s first, vaccine stroll-out fiasco, a display of extraordinary ineptitude, disinformation, outright lies and rapid back-flips.

In Shitshow 2.0 business meets the PM in secret to force sick workers in supply chains back to work. No workers’ representatives are present, nor is the ACTU invited, its secretary, Sally McManus warns. Not only does his “small” government mandate work for sick workers, it helps spread infection. Talk about sharing and caring.

But look over there! Border protection opportunity knocks. Dead cat on table time. Cancel Novak, Djokovic’s visa. What a stroke of genius.

Once again, despite a battalion of advisers and all of Scotty’s military escort, JJ Frewen’s much-vaunted, spit’n polish, military efficiency plus weapons-grade logistical expertise, it is painfully obvious that the Morrison government has stuffed up everything.

True there’s a bit of help from a friend, NSW Premier, Dom Perrottet who “lets her rip.” Now he must mend the tears to the fabric of NSW society and its tanking economy.

There are no Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) but the public must use them and phone in their results because PCR testing, heavily outsourced to private firms collapses. Boosters are dwindling. Hospitals are not coping. Doctors are angry and exhausted.

315785 active cases, underestimates the true number just in NSW. Self-administered tests are yet to be recorded, while others don’t bother to get tested. Some experts say the real number could be as much as 5-10 times higher.

  • 2,186 are admitted to hospital
  • 170 are in intensive care
  • 51 require ventilation

Hospitals are stretched. “Elective” surgery cancelled. Not only are too many cases being admitted, thousands of workers must be spelled because they have been exposed. Some simply resign in exhaustion and frustration; cross the border to work in Queensland where wages and conditions are higher and a government which is not infected with crazy libertarianism.

Everywhere there are long queues to get tested while RATs just can’t be found. Supermarket shelves are stripped bare. Customers stay at home while shops close their doors. Making it even harder on business and consumer, there’s no JobKeeper.

Yet to hear Scott Morrison, he’s a paragon of quiet, modest diligence as he quietly reassures those attending a Sydney Institute Dinner last week.

“What is most important to me as Prime Minister is that I seek to humbly do everyday things that make Australia even stronger than we are today, both now and in the future.”

Morrison’s hypocrisy is boundless. The humble housekeeper pose is laughable coming from the man who warned Julia Banks “I. am. The. Prime. Minister.”

The Bronte bogan loves a motivational slogan,

“There’s no guidebook to COVID. We all know that. And so what I think is important is the country just focuses on the task ahead. Keep looking through that windscreen. That’s where I’m looking. We’re looking forward.

Inspirational or terrifying? Government is not a self-driving Tesla. Shoulders right back, no hands on the wheel and eyes on the road ahead Morrison, is a black-belt in bumper-sticker wit and witless boosterism. And lashings of public self-adoration.

But no-one’s fooled. The task ahead is our Prime Narcissist’s own squalid political survival, not the public good or the welfare of the commonwealth. He’s a ruthless pragmatist, a truculent bully whose sole goal is to stay on top of the dung-heap; maintain his own undeserving, increasingly threatened ascendancy.

Today, Morrison wrests control of his party by appeasing its libertarians whose influence has grown since the charismatic John Howard inspired them to “big themselves up”. Despite presiding over our biggest government since Curtin, the PM declares stumps and pivots; announcing that it’s time for government to butt out of peoples’ lives.

No-one believes a word Morrison says but we all know he will say or do anything. And say and do something else tomorrow. Then deny both. Witness his witless excrescence at a cricket match, Saturday, “Australians taking wickets in the virus” while grandstanding in the Ashes commentary box on day three of the fourth Test at the SCG.

While shoppers fight over toilet tissue in panic buying and Australians are intubated in ICUs and hospitals are stretched beyond capacity and then some, only Scott Morrison would seek to buoy the spirits of a nation with a bizarre cricketing analogy.

Morrison excels in buck passing. Our fearless, leader’s fortune-cookie windscreen wisdom inspires a claque of fellow travellers; no ideas persons, moral pygmies, clowns, contrarian libertarians and fellow former apparatchiks in the confederation of dunces which passes itself off as Australia’s federal government.

Yet his latest move is to exhume the pernicious myth of personal responsibility, a version of Margaret Thatcher’s nonsense. No such thing as society, she declared.

2022, the Great Evader declares will be The Year of Taking Responsibility. AKA I’m all right Jack – and bugger the rest of you. There’s no guidebook for Covid, he lies. He’s an expert at not reading the map. Ignoring or contradicting expert advice. His ministers share a vision, an adolescent Hayekian fantasy that sanctions doing nothing .

Once we take personal responsibility for our own health, a free market will cure all. Cue the sound of one invisible hand clapping. A wag in the Canberra press gallery tackles health minister, Hunt, over his government’s lack of any clear plan to procure rapid antigen tests, last October. The Minister snaps “let that market develop”.

Living with Covid is Mo’s latest backflip, undoing two years of containment. No more nanny state. Buy your own bloody test kits. Under pressure, he backs down. Some of us may access ten free tests every three months. 6.6 million concession card holders across the nation are overjoyed. Such fun trying to find a test supplier.

Sensing a dip in credibility according to recent NewsPolls and still smarting at being an international laughing-stock because of his behaviour at last year’s G20 COP26 with its green hydrogen and “technology not taxes” claptrap, a green-washing of mining business as usual, Morrison opts for yet another cop-out. And a dead cat.

In a heaven-sent opportunity for distraction and tough-talking, his private militia, Border Force cancels anti-vax, health crank Djokovic’s visa and puts him up in the Park.

Acing the champion tennis player certainly gets everyone’s attention. An astute Djokovic clan member declares our PM “not a human being”. But Morrison loves a fuss, especially a heady brew of sport and the institutionalised racism of “tough on borders” rhetoric, despite some of the most porous borders in the world. If you fly in.

We’ll decide who gets into our Australian Open and the manner in which they do so.

Taking Personal Responsibility, a staple of Reagan and Thatcher political misrule, is a ruse to cover the Morrison government’s utter ineptitude. As it abandons all pretence at keeping Australia safe, it shifts the blame to the victim of the latest wave of the pandemic, a wave that appears fit to swamp us all.

Let ‘er rip. Politics trumps science, with the help of Neoliberal econobabble, the perversion of economics fetishised by such exalted local Tory politicians as NSW’s Dominic Perrottet or Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer of our nation’s federal Coalition of mining, business and finance Muppets. Omicron, the latest mutant variant of SARS-COVID-19 surges, bringing our infection rate to match the United States.

It’s a shameful, culpable dereliction of duty and abdication of responsibility that we also see in in fellow clown, Boris Johnson, muppet of the UKs Policy Exchange boffins, a front for corporate greed, fair wages and anthropogenic climate change denial.

Locally, our own mineral and Business Council flogs wag the dog of Morrison government. Rupert, Gina, Andrew and Kerry and their merry band of ruling oligarchs now urge sick workers to man the supply chains lest profits or fall or business founder.

To them, also Morrison must seem a liability. Morrison and his government may have been useful fools for a while but their future looks increasingly uncertain cloudy now they threaten to cost our oligarchs their profits.

Whilst voices with the sound of money in them call for an end to the Djokovic sideshow, there is a chance the debacle of the un-cancelling of a tennis player’s visa may alert the nation to other ways its federal government falls short in humanity and democracy. The Australian Open’s biggest drawcard may prove a Djoker in the pack.

The saga of a tennis star’s visa cancellation certainly serves to highlight the incalculable damage the federal government is suffering as it utterly fails to deal with a pandemic catastrophe which its own Libertarian easing of restrictions helped create. It also exposes a mind-boggling degree of incompetence and miscommunication, of posturing and dissembling that would be comic were it not so toxic to the health of the commonwealth.

 

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The traits of right-wing extremism

By Kathryn

There is so much hatred and violence in an ever-increasingly right-wing world mismanaged by totally corrupt, self-serving, profit-obsessed sociopaths like Donald Trump (USA), aided and abetted by the likes of Scott Morrison (Australia) and Johnson (UK); all of whom love to ramp up hate-speech, encourage turmoil and public disobedience (when it benefits them) and remain silent – even acquiescent – when their fascist police force start brutalising black people, or when minorities are victimised at the hands of right-wing white supremacists!

This is the type of thing happens – inevitably – following the rising amount of hate speech, intolerance, division and victimisation of vulnerable people and minorities under ultra conservative, right-wing extremism.

Right-wing extremists are, truly, the most dangerous and hateful of all forms of political leaders. Add the fact that so many of them are bible-thumping hypocrites into the bargain and it makes them even more offensive!

It doesn’t take much before the worst of them quickly degenerate into power-obsessive fascism, pushing through terrifying policies that whittle away the democratic freedoms of others to protest, to voice their condemnation of the stone cold neo-liberalism that thrives during their tyrannical mismanagement, the escalating nepotism, the increasing lies and staggering waste and misuse of taxpayer funds, the never-ending expenditure on war and weapons of war at the expense of the poor, the disadvantaged and their never-ending attacks and defundment of State education and health care.

Image from nbcnews.com

Hitler and Mussolini are examples of what can happen when right-wing extremism goes horribly wrong – doesn’t take much before it slides into fascism! Right now, we have this form of right-wing terrorism in Brazil under the fascist jackboot of Jair Bolsonaro. The fact that Trump has an increasingly similar style of megalomaniacal, narcissistic sociopathy cannot be ignored!

 

 

The contemptuous arrogance, the despicable declarations of “fake news”, the stubborn refusal to take any responsibility for their appalling recklessness, the increasing incidences of self-serving rorting of taxpayer-funds and blatant corruption that goes on and on without consequence, their total lack of foresight and zero integrity, the absolute determination to rule at any cost no matter how low they have to stoop to maintain their power – all of this is the common thread that seems to bind right-wing extremists around the world.

The only thing useless, non-achieving right-wing parasites are adept at is playing the relentless blame game of anyone and everyone for their own catastrophic ineptitude. Trump goes on and on and on blaming Obama (who was the best President the USA ever had); the lying, conniving LNP (in Australia) never stop blaming everyone but themselves – particularly the Labor government who have not been in government for over seven years; Boris Johnson and the smug Tories never seem to tire of pointing a finger at left-wing or environmentally-aware politicians in the UK (and around the world). The fact that these ruthless, ultra-conservative despots also have a tendency to take over and influence the media is a red flag warning as to their total disregard for our democracy and their contempt for our right to impartiality of the media! In Australia, we have the LNP forming a notorious – and totally undemocratic – alliance with Rupert Murdoch and his IPA (the Institute of Public Affairs). The IPA are a group of self-serving, unelected, multi-millionaire corporate predators who have undue, enormous influence and control over conservative politicians in the LNP in order to promote and encourage policies that will enrich and empower themselves at the expense of ordinary Australians.

The horrendous and unspeakable evil alliance the LNP have formed with the malevolent, non-Australian media overlord, Rupert Murdoch, has done so much damage to our democracy, freedom of the press and factual, fair reporting of our media – it is an unfolding tragedy. Ever since the disreputable John Howard changed the rules that once prohibited a single entity owning a huge majority of our media, Murdoch’s influence – and, by association – the influence of the LNP/IPA Alliance, has infiltrated, influenced and manipulated more than 70% of Australia’s media making it one of the most biased and contaminated forms of media in the free world.

Murdoch is now widely regarded throughout Australia as the totally biased Propaganda Minister to the LNP, doing everything they can to character-assassinate, denigrate and ridicule any opposition to the LNP/Murdoch/IPA Alliance of mutually benefiting multi-millionaire corporate predators. It is right-wing degeneracy at its worst!

Tragically, the above-named ‘traits’ are the modus operandi; what we now know to be the standard procedure of malevolent, self-obsessed, right-wing megalomaniacs who, once seizing power (through fair means and foul), hang on to it with bloodstained fingers, using their political power to openly favour their billionaire corporate donors over everyone else to ensure that they push through cruel, capitalistic policies that will vastly enhance their own personal wealth and power (and the wealth and power of their obscenely wealthy and powerful cronies).

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Morrison’s credibility as leader goes up in a cloud of smoke.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down and still somehow

It’s cloud’s illusions I recall

I really don’t know clouds at all

Clouds Joni Mitchell

Clouds or clowns? The week’s politics offers both. A toxic miasma of 250 million tonnes of CO2 and clouds of sooty bushfire-smoke blanket vast tracts of eastern Australia yet also expose the Morrison government’s total leadership fail, while professional clown, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has a huge win over truth, justice and democracy in the UK. In the US, Democrats finalise two articles of impeachment that are unlikely to bother President, Donald Teflon Trump.

“There is no Republican Party,” John Boehner, who served as House Speaker from 2011 to 2015, said last year. “There’s a Trump party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.”

Ditto for the UK Conservative Party. And for Australia’s Liberals who retain the name only as some sick joke. Hilarious. Meanwhile, is Gus the badly-burned victim of the author of The Beauty Myth‘s vicious, anti-Semitism or is he just crying wolf? Could Angus Taylor be making some kind of Johnsonian run to be Australia’s next Prime Minister ? You decide.

What’s clear is Energy, Emission Reduction and Round-up Minister, Angus Taylor, is under a cloud of his own; the noxious emanations of allegations of outrageous water rorting, document forging and alleged lobbying of an environmental compliance officer (ECO) in 2016. The explanation he allegedly offers does not stack up.

Taylor sought permission to poison kangaroo or red anther wallaby grass and an associated threatened ecological community in the thirty hectare Jam Land grasslands in Monaro region NSW, a property located outside his electorate of Hume, weakening Taylor’s claim that his meeting was prompted solely by his constituents’ concerns.

Taylor did, however, meet with Geoff Richardson, the Department of Environment and Energy’s Assistant Secretary for the protected species and communities branch.

The department had prepared a briefing document on the grasslands which explained that the species had been protected since 2000 and that, collectively, temperate grasslands are among the most threatened vegetation in Australia, with only about 5% remaining in relatively undisturbed condition. It’s an indictment of our introduced agricultural practices and our land abuse.

Jam Land Pty Ltd is a Taylor family linked company in which one of Angus’ Cayman Island-registered companies has an interest through his family investment company Gufee. His brother, Richard Taylor, is the director of the company.

Now parliament’s shut its doors for 2019, hola! Gus is off like the clappers to Madrid. Labor wouldn’t grant him a pair, what with Scott Morrison’s erstwhile neighbour, former bin brother and mate, top NSW cop, Commissioner Mick Fuller, at the head of a strike force, he says is actively investigating Taylor over Clover gate.

Barnaby Joyce says Clover gate is a “triviality” which has gone on far too long. Leaking a false document to the Daily Tele to discredit Clover Moore is trivial? All the mayor has done is write to Taylor; tell him to lift his game on climate change.

At least Gus makes the last week of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP25 which involves 190 nations. Why rush? No-one’s all that keen to see him.

Australia has already earned the Fossil of the Day award. Twice. Will Taylor, a noted wind-energy critic with close coal industry links be having another public tilt at windmills? Nope. Instead he ties up the conference with Kyoto credit nonsense.

Just to get the facts in context, Australia is responsible for about 1.3% of annual pollution, as our PM is fond of boasting. But this places us 16th on a ladder of polluting nations. We emit more each year than 40 countries with larger populations, including G7 members Britain, France and Italy.

Talk about punching below your weight.

Gus gives a speech which reprises former Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s twaddle about our “meeting and beating our targets” (but only if we cheat; use our carry over from Kyoto cop-out). Courageously, Taylor skips our outrageous plans to use 411m tonnes of CO2-equivalent credits from the previous Kyoto targets against the government’s newer Paris commitment. But he leaves it to delegates to resolve.

Absent from any reporting, or any Australian communication, is the story of how Howard Government Senator Robert Hill argued late in the night in Kyoto in 1997; how reliant Australia is on fossil fuel industries. How we needed a special favour. Hill got his way. Whereas Europe promised to reduce emissions by 8% by 2012, compared with the base year of 1990, and the US agreed to cut by 7%, Australia was one of three countries allowed to increase emissions – by 8%.

But that wasn’t enough. Long after most major players had gone home or had passed out from exhaustion, Hill got the UN to accept land-clearing; include land-use changes in calculating emissions. The Guardian Australia’s Lenore Taylor sums up,

Restrictions that had already been imposed on large-scale land clearing – especially in Queensland – allowed Australia to rest assured it had achieved its new target before it even signed up to it.”

In other words, Angus Taylor is on a fool’s errand if he thinks he can sell our Kyoto carryover caper yet again. Yet in our brave new world where Trump’s United States can just pull out of Paris, how much does good faith really matter?

Taylor flies out Friday leaving a skeleton crew of Australian negotiators to put the carry-over case. Observers expect negotiations on carbon trading rules and other issues to last until at least Sunday, Australian time. Only Australia is willing to play that card says John O’Connor CEO of the Carbon Markets Institute and it’s not winning us any friends.

There’s a more than a touch of the quixotic; a lot of Boris in Angus Taylor -beyond each MP’s wealth, their hidebound sense of privilege and entitlement, their membership of elite families, their Oxonian education and their ludicrous buffoonery. In Taylor’s case, unlike Boris, however, the class act is also a family affair. Enter Louise Clegg.

Gussie’s wife, Sydney barrister Louise Clegg, unreliably rumoured on social media to have local government aspirations in Sydney, but who “does not speak to journalists”, is quoted in the Australian Financial Review warning that rolling blackouts might be needed to teach people that “left populism (is) not the answer” to Australia’s policy challenges. Opposed to coal? Let them light candles instead.

Some Liberal malcontents mutter about having a Minister for emissions reductions who doesn’t actually want to reduce emissions but that’s Scott Morrison’s trademark perversity in his captain’s call in allocating ministries to MPs with opposing interests and backgrounds. Keeps everyone on their toes. Fantastic. Great move. Well done, Angus.

“Tickets” Taylor clearly sees himself as “a rising Liberal star” who may be only a Dutton coup away from being Deputy Prime Minister. Or are his sights already on the top job? He’s certainly attracting a lot of attention in track work. Just not the right type of attention.

Gus fully expects to be allowed to play Kyoto-Carryover, a party trick, a rare form of carbon emission-figure-fiddling while Spain burns along with the rest of the world. Editor Maddison Connaughton observes in The Saturday Paper,

“In Madrid, Angus Taylor argues for carryover credits, so that the government might do less. The world is slowly ending and he is doing a card trick. He is not even doing it well, and has to ask the other countries if they will pretend they didn’t see him cheating.”

It helps to have galloping Gus out of the country while NSW police investigate The Mystery of the Doctored Documents, another Canberra soap bubble opera which concerns false claims about Sydney City Council’s exorbitant overseas travel bill his office dropped to the Daily Telegraph 30 September to discredit the green credentials of Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore. Any day or month now, police are bound to solve this baffling case, given how much rides on its speedy resolution. Or not. Imagine how our AFP, with full TV camera crews, would bust Gussies’ office if he were Labor.

But now to BoJo, who modestly claims a huge great stonking mandate” in the UK general election, over anti-Semitic, socialist, dotard, Jeremy Corbyn – who offends the press by not immediately resigning; outliving his political demise. Bojo’s win heartens our own Coalition government of secrets, lies and rubbery figures and its Tory Story supporters in Murdoch’s The Australian, whose orgy of Corbyn-bashing parallels its relentless character assassination of Shorten in its epic Kill Bill campaign.

Australia’s sons let us rejoice in a victory for vanity and mediocrity. Even The New York Time’s Jenni Russell describes the contest in terms that would delight the late, great, absurdist, dramaturge Samuel Beckett:

Two vain, incompetent, mediocre charlatans are competing to become prime minister. For the Conservatives, we have the blustering, lying, oafish puffball Boris Johnson. In the Labour corner is the querulous, wooden, sanctimonious Jeremy Corbyn.”

In mirror images of our own oxymoronic Coalition’s MPs, Russell sees each UK pretender as ill- briefed, hazy on the facts and implications of policy proposals, uneasy under scrutiny and belligerent when challenged. Yet, again, as in our local, national soap opera “How good is Australia?” both MPs meet realities of stagnant wage growth, galloping economic inequality and a mounting workers’ sense of helplessness with lies – especially Boris’ Brexit consoling fantasy.

As both ScoMo and Donald Trump know, illusion and deceit can build a type of rusted-on loyalty; feed our emotional need to believe that our leader is on our team. It’s a blind faith; at best indifferent to facts – if not downright hostile.

How Good is Australia has a sequel. How good are Quiet Australians? It’s a narrative about blind obedience; a type of group-think loyalty which scorns key detail and elevates faith above empiricism, especially the science of climate change.

If you are going to tell a lie tell a big one. Angus Taylor knows that. The big lie is back -if it ever went. If your big lie looks absurd, then launch an even more outrageous counterfactual counter-attack. The figures did not come from Clover Moore’s Sydney Council website. Throw a staffer, such as Josh Manuatu, under a bus. Then attack Naomi Wolf for her Christmas Tree War. When that’s exposed as a blatant lie, call the Jewish feminist writer an anti-Semite. Or sexist.

What’s wonderful about Gus’ contribution to our public conversation is its inspired inclusivity. No elitism here. After all, most of us were Rhodes Scholars together at Oxford. We all have a Jewish grandmother somewhere and we’re all on first name terms with Naomi. Probably send her Christmas cards. Talk to her about how good is attending Mass.

Boris’ big lie? A quickie divorce from foreign control, the parasites, bludgers and tinpot dictators of the EU will make Britain great again. Instead, he’s more likely to preside over Scottish independence than anything faintly like the Great Britain of his followers’ magical thinking. Probably about one hundred years too late, Boris.

But, in a post truth age, deceit rules. Victory goes to best clown. In a debased, corruption of the court jester, the most plausible liar, the most brazen dissembling toady to the powerful, wins. Enter the PM as best crowd-pleaser.

As with Trump, local fans bust a gut to cheer on a fellow fraud; rally around his bigotry, ignorance and monumental incompetence. Lionise his repulsiveness. Naturally, Pete Costello’s Nine News’ Sydney Morning Herald throws to our own James McGrath.

“You don’t become mayor of London, you don’t become foreign secretary, you don’t become the elected leader of the Tories, you don’t become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and you don’t secure a new Brexit deal against the odds by being a dunderhead,” slobbers Johnson’s former aide, our senator for Adani, local savant McGrath.

Unlucky Jim McGrath, “Let them go if they don’t like it here” was fired, by Boris, in 2008 for telling older, Afro-Caribbean Britons to return to the Caribbean if they didn’t like the vibe and other vast benefits of Tory rule in London.

You don’t become? – clearly, you do, Jimmy. Above all, your former boss, Boris’ has the gift of the gaffe. BJ’s way with words supercharges his natural tact, his homophobia, xenophobia and misogyny. It’s unifying. Uplifting. Inspiring.

Gay men love it when Boris calls them, “tank-topped bum-boys”. Women in burqas are cheered to hear Boris; ” would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”

Britons in general -not just racist Brexiteers, are also hugely comforted to know that if “a female student turned up at school or a university lecture looking like a bank robber” Boris would ask her to remove it [the burqa] to speak to her.

Despite being fired for telling lies as a journalist, urbane, cosmopolitan Boris is a peerless wordsmith. Who else could claim, “Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.” ?

Boris will Get Brexit Done, Rupert’s local toadies croak. It’s Johnson’s only slogan. Yes. The Oz is a political party in its own right, as Kevin Rudd knows. But hold the front page. Getting Brexit done will create a bonanza Down Under all wrought by the miracle of UK trade deals with Australia which will be signed off within a year. It’s a done deal.

Oddly overlooked by The Oz is that there’s not a skerrick of evidence to suppose that Johnson can get anything done. Au contraire, apart from Boris’ sheer brilliance as professional fabulist, serial womaniser and a policy-free zone on a bicycle – his entire political career is one of unrelieved, bungling ineptitude. And malignant narcissism.

Unless, of course you admire Boris’ cunning stunts and his peerless record for cop-outs and cock-ups. Crass theatrics. Above all, is Johnson’s endearing laziness, his inspiring, Trump-like resolve not to bother with the fine print or even read briefings at all.

Also forgotten by The Oz is heretical research that shows that our own, upright, tax-evading, wage-stealing business class are fully occupied in being the backbone of the nation -having a go and getting a go. They mostly can’t understand free trade deals, don’t use them because they are too complicated – or they’ve lost buckets of money on them in the past.

Unsurprisingly, a survey of Australian businesses, big and small, conducted last year by our august Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, found local tycoons largely ignore free trade agreements.

Yet, in another sign of the times, Johnson’s Tory Party win is a big victory for mendacity. Morrison’s mob will take great comfort that Johnson’s government was helped into being by a farrago of online lies.

First Draft, a disinformation tracking organisation, finds 88 per cent of the most widely circulated online Tory ads during the first four days of December were misleading. That’s nearly all of them. First Draft found no Labor disinformation in the same period.

But it’s another thing to try to lie your way out of a real crisis; one that demands a rational response and real leadership – as Boris and Scott Morrison will discover.

A noxious miasma of acrid smoke smothers the yellow brick roads of The Emerald City poisoning Sydney’s air, over twelve times hazardous levels in Camden and Liverpool, Tuesday, as catastrophic fires continue to ravage the east coast of Australia, consuming over 2.7 million hectares of bush and destroying seven hundred homes in four weeks.

Commuters choke. Hospital emergency admissions soar. Ferry services are cancelled. Yet no smoke is thick enough to cloak the federal government’s wilful blindness; its failure of leadership. Morrison’s government is being tried by fire; bushfires of unprecedented scale and ferocity. And it is found lacking -utterly, comprehensively lacking. Not a clue what to do but to retreat into a type of paralysis.

The smoke is thick enough to trigger alarms at Liberal HQ in Sydney where Australia’s climate science denialist Prime Minister Scott Morrison neatly sidesteps the nation’s catastrophic bushfire crisis by holding a press conference on his post-truth, post-government’s religious discrimination bill, a sop to his right wing, which effectively foments intolerance by extending the definition of religious organisations to include hospitals and Op-shops. Smoke prevents from leaving the building.

“Let’s not beat around the bush … let’s call it for what it is. These bushfires have been caused by extreme weather events, high temperatures, the worst drought in living memory – the exact type of events scientists have been warning us about for decades that would be caused by climate change,” says Matt Kean, who is the leader at state level of the NSW Liberals’ moderate faction.

Kean is quickly clobbered; he cops a hiding for being right in The Australian. He’s accused of using the bogeyman of climate change as an excuse for not introducing any new initiatives – whatever they might be. It’s a straw man argument in which the Australian specialises. He’s also – shock – horror –“politicising the fires”.

“The [no new initiatives] revelation comes after Mr Kean attracted criticism for politicising the devastating fires — which have seen six people killed and more than 720 homes destroyed so far this season — by claiming the nation needed to prioritise the urgent reduction of carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic bushfire seasons becoming the new norm.” Expect a lot more of this type of smear before the season of peace on earth and goodwill to all men and women is over.

But a few festive season shout outs are in order. Merry Christmas aged care executives – enjoy your $12 billion dollar a year subsidy and congratulations in lobbying govt to vote down Aged Care 2019 amendments to make aged care accountable – as recommended by the current Royal Commission.

Public health researcher, Dr Sarah Russell, reports for veteran Walkley Award winning investigative reporter Michael West how a “few big interests” run our coalition government was on full show last week, when three critical amendments to the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019 were tabled. The Liberal-Nationals voted against all amendments.”

The amendments would have been a watershed in aged care – holding private firms accountable for their duty of care rather than maximising their profits. To vote down the reforms makes a mockery of the Commission’s findings and stalls vital transparency and accountability around finances, staffing ratios and complaints in aged care homes.

Yet you’ll hear a lot of boasts about the number of new home care packages available. Few of us are ever frail enough to warrant any kind of care package at all. Most packages available to average candidates offer very limited practical help.

The elderly do not need neoliberal packaging, any more outsourcing, service-delivering or commodifying. They need a government prepared to exercise humanity and to reform a system which horrifies Royal Commissioners by its cruelty, its abuse and its neglect of our senior citizens – all in the interests of a privatised age care system which works mainly for the financial benefit of owners and investors..

Season’s greetings also to all pensioners who may still be able to fend for themselves.

Waiting until the last sitting day, the Coalition uses its numbers to quietly push through its Social Security Integrity Bill which will make life harder for 400,000 Australians. Newstart recipients are mostly over 45. A quarter are over 55 years old.

Labor’s Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services is furious at the arbitrary, uncaring injustice.

” … the two onerous or odious bits of this bill is what’s called the Liquid Assets Waiting Time. If you are a middle aged man, who’s lost their job; been made redundant; and you have more than $36,000 in the bank – or if you’re single and have $18,000 in the bank – the government wants to double the wait time before you can access social security.

So it’ll go from 13 weeks to 36 weeks, which is half a year. And it means that the government expects people to run down all their savings – any buffer they’ve got for a disaster in their life, like sickness – before they can access social security.

The second aspect of this bill which is odious as well is what’s called the migrant wait time. That means if you’re someone that’s migrating here from overseas, and you go back to your home country for more than six weeks the government wants to take the age pension supplement off you.

One final image of a government out of touch with those in its duty of care; a government crippled by internal division and its servitude to climate change deniers in its ranks and its donors; our coal barons and fossil fuel magnates, occurs Tuesday.

The bushfire smog is so thick that it triggers fire alarms trapping occupants of Liberal HQ in Sydney. Prevented from leaving also, is a climate science denialist PM who is trapped in a building by smoke from fires fuelled by man-made global warming, a term which the press has largely dropped in favour of the neutral “climate change”.

Time to drop the ideology, Mr Morrison. If you can’t join the dots connecting climate change and catastrophic bushfires, it’s high time you stepped aside in favour of someone who can. Or sought advice from experts. Not turn away when former fire chiefs try to help you with their advice and expertise.

Given your government’s track record, so far, however, it’s clear that you are a dangerous liability in the current crisis. You are not just fiddling while a nation burns, you are feeding the flames with your inertia, your policy paralysis, your wretched climate science denial. Time to declare a state of national climate emergency as a first step to taking the type of emergency action that experts are urging you to adopt.

Twenty-three former fire and emergency leaders say they tried for months to warn you that Australia needed more water-bombers to tackle bigger, faster and hotter bushfires. Former NSW Fire and Rescue chief Greg Mullins — one of the founders of the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action Group — says his group’s been seeking a meeting with Federal Government to discuss the crisis since April.

Subsequent pleas fall on deaf ears. Time to act step aside in favour of someone who can. Australia’s current crop of catastrophic fires are not about petty party politics and climate science denial. They are a real and pressing danger you need to address now.

Call the National Summit which Greg Mullins and Lee Johnson, two former fire chiefs from NSW and Queensland, say we need immediately to work out “how to deal with the increasing strain on volunteers battling more extreme and frequent bushfires, but also how Australia deals with fire in a changed climate.” Listen to them.

“What we’re saying long term is there needs to be a paradigm shift for how we deal with these fires,” former chief of NSW Fire and Rescue Greg Mullins says.

“A big national conversation needs to be had. We need farmers, councils, the military, politics.” Of course, it won’t solve the crisis but it’s a very good start.

Instead we have a federal government and a headstrong, obdurately stubborn PM unwilling and incapable of taking any advice that is not his own or from powerful cronies whose views he already shares. It’s a lethal combination. A deadly Canberra bubble all of Scott Morrison and his ministers’ own making.

Don’t look to Boris Johnson’s win as some kind of vindication; far better that you treat it as a warning that even a lunatic, incompetent, clown born with a silver spoon in his mouth can get elected PM but there’s no reason to believe he knows remotely where to begin when it comes to governing. Nor does he have the personality or the nous to ever learn. If that sounds familiar, it’s time you, yourself, stood aside or at least owned your own cluelessness. The bluffing just adds another potentially lethal layer of disaster.

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Boris Johnson Against Parliament

A pretty odd thing, this. The prime minister of Britain, supposedly of the conservative creed, making an almost violent dash against both parliament and the courts of law. While his presence is barely a patch on Margaret Thatcher, there is something about the Boris Johnson rabble that reeks of demagogic aspiration. Thatcher, for one, was not a conservative but a neoliberal, a demolisher of institutions rather than their preserver. Society was the enemy; there were only individuals with ambitions, talents and desires.

Boris Johnson has increasingly found his country’s institutions, namely Parliament and the Courts, irritating, intrusive and even inconvenient. During the course of September, Johnson was using the language of belligerence and conflict, suggesting, according to James Butler, that he was “dangling his toes in the linguistic swamp of the alt-right.” The prime minister had attacked legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit as “the surrender act”. Opposition MPs were accused of being saboteurs. Jess Phillips MP, a backbench Labour MP, had her constituency office in Birmingham Yardley attacked and her phone line jammed “with people shouting traitor and cunt to my staff.” (Phillips had accused Johnson for using language “entirely designed to inflame hatred or division.”)

It was a strategy that drew criticism from former justice secretary, David Gauke. Gauke, amongst others, had been accused for meeting with the enemy – the European Union – in drafting the Benn Act, which obligates the prime minister under certain conditions to seek an extension to the Brexit withdrawal date.

This conspiratorial thesis of treason was dismissed by Gauke on Sky, “but even if it were true the use of language of that sort is completely disproportionate, completely over the top, and feeds into this narrative that anyone who doesn’t agree with No 10’s position is somehow unpatriotic or betraying the country, or an enemy, or wanting the country to surrender.”

To delegates of the 2019 Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Johnson was all shallowness and thunder. He had “seen so many things that give cause for hope, hospitals that are finally getting the investment to match the devotion of staff, schools where the standards of reading are rising through the use of synthetic phonics.” (A warning about Johnson: whenever he mentions anything touching on technology, decline and decay are poking around the corner.)

Not so Parliament, a body that had refused to get onto his bus of optimism in exiting the EU. “If parliament were a laptop, then the screen would be showing the pizza wheel of doom,” he sniped. “If parliament were a school, Ofsted would be shutting it down,” he lamented. “If parliament were a reality TV show the whole lot of us would have been voted out of the jungle by now.” And, for good measure, Johnson had only contempt for one of Parliament’s most revered stations: the speaker of the house: “at least we could have watched the speaker being forced to eat a kangaroo testicle.”

It was Parliament that had held up Brexit, embraced vacillation instead of action, and refused to go to an election, leaving everyone to “chew the supermasticated subject of Brexit.” This was a Parliament that had frustrated what “people” and “the whole world” wants.

In this narrow view, such institutions as Parliament are not supreme voices of the people but beneath them. Indeed, Johnson has made “the people” a spectral and all-too-holy entity, the voters he hopes will deliver him the crushing numbers that will enable him to make Brexit possible. They are his get out of gaol card, and he hopes to play it with aggression.

In his short and unsuccessful spell in office, the prime minister has attempted to exercise powers in defiance of Parliament, but failed. Both the highest courts in Scotland and England found against him, suggesting that he had sought the suspension of parliament for improper purposes. Spitefully and very much in the fashion of Johnson, he decided to shoot off a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk seeking an extension, as per the Benn Act, but preferred to leave it unsigned.

This gesture of scoffing was accompanied by two other letters: an explanatory note from the UK’s ambassador to the EU, and one specific to the prime minister himself explaining why he was not actually seeking an extension. His personal note warned that “a further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us.” In it, a solid blow was reserved for Parliament which had “missed the opportunity to inject momentum into the ratification process.”

In Britain, it is now clear that the country will head to another election in December. The Financial Times has dubbed it a “people versus parliament” election. This will be a vote, not merely on British sovereignty vis-à-vis the European Union, but a deliberation on who holds the reins of power within the United Kingdom. For Johnson, it is a horrendous gamble, one based on the hope that he will clean the decks and cleanse the stables of obstructionist MPs. His yearning is that of the authoritarian who can take charge. As his predecessor Theresa May found to her horror in 2017, these elections are unpredictable things, able to either return thumping majorities, as she had hoped, or whittle them down.

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Surplus to requirements, ScoMo?

Applause, stamping, hoots and catcalls resound up and down our wide brown land as another big week in Oz-politics lives down to expectations, as John Crace says of Boris Johnson, now the incredible sulk, after his inevitable Brexit flip-flop just flops with a not-so-super Saturday vote to delay, a thinly-disguised ploy to sink the whole mad shebang in the middle of the Irish Sea. Brexit continues to make fools of fools, says Crace.

A week when our parliament is actually sitting, despite its increasing rarity, has a similar effect. This week the government tries to fool us that Labor is in government and to blame for all kinds of feckless fiscal ruination.

Like our own populist tosser Morrison, professional political clown, Boris is clueless about what to do – that’s for “girly swots” – and neither narcissists can take advice – so every waking hour is an epic battle with reality.

At home, a fever of anticipation erupts at the chance of being re-tied to Britain’s apron strings with beaut new trade deals, an agile Coalition with economic management in its DNA can whip up in weeks. Or a year. Tops.

“We are match-fit and ready,” ScoMo’s already promised Boris, an MP with whom he feels an immediate affinity. Scott’s got his mandarins all sworn to secrecy and totally Sco-Motivated to all-new levels of public service loyalty and fidelity. It’s not just manspreading or mugging for the camera in Fiji’s Rugby change-rooms, ScoMo channels the blokey banality of the footy coach in his unsubtle instructions to our public servants.

“It’s the bacon and eggs principle – the chicken is involved but the bacon is committed,” he says. Boom-Boom. Somehow, it’s all about how ministers can only set direction by being sensitive to quiet Australians, whose deepest desires can only be deduced through some miraculous phatic communion.

“Look beyond the Canberra bubble” says our PM, who is nothing but Canberra Bubble. A former Liberal apparatchik and player in the game of mates before being called to lead his people as prophet and seer; a high priest of populism and neoliberal revival. As William James and Bertrand Russell said of the turtles who hold the flat earth in its place in creation, for ScoMo, it is Canberra Bubble all the way down.

How good is a well-done Free Trade deal? Our brilliant new Free Trade Agreement with Indonesia has been quietly simmering since 2012. Morrison promised it August last year, when after six years it had progressed to a most promising single page but hopes no-one recalls. Then – as now- the fact of its brevity does not mean that it is not miraculously close to conclusion. He’s doubtless been out praying. And the spirit’s there.

We only have to “paper it”, as President Bone Spurs says, faking a breakthrough in his tariff war with China.

Stealing the show is Gladys Liu, MP (via AEC poll-booth signage simulation) for Chisholm who’s finally sorted her membership of Chinese organisations known to ASIO. She’s clear of them all, “she thinks”. Or is she?

In a flash, Rupert’s Hun is on to her, protesting Ms Liu’s links with top property developer Chen Guo Jing, whom the MP described as one of her “good friends” in her maiden speech. Chinese language sites call Chen the “implementer” of the Australasia Belt and Road Advocacy initiative, The Herald Sun adds helpfully.

Gladys is now well beyond hapless Sam Dastyari’s villainy in the latest instalment of rabid Sinophobia, Yellow Peril 2.0. She’d resign immediately but “Mandate” Morrison’s government has only a one seat majority.

Rushing to assist, is cuddly Peter Dutton, the Minister for Home Affairs, whose portmanteau portfolio covers everything best left unsaid. Whilst we love to profit out of China’s coal and iron custom, its tourists and its students, whose insatiable thirst for knowledge causes them to take up full-fee paying places in tertiary institutions, there’s just one thing about our biggest single trading partner. Its government’s values suck.

“Our issue as I’ve said before is not with the Chinese people,” Dutton thunders. “My issue is with the Communist Party of China and their policies to the extent that they are inconsistent with our own values.”

Aussie values include lying, spying, cheating and stealing as the case of East Timor reveals. Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery are still holed up in a secret trial in Canberra where they are not even permitted to know the charges against them – except the bleeding obvious; they have embarrassed the government by reporting the fact that Canberra bugged the cabinet rooms of Timor-Leste in 2004 in order to draw up geographic boundaries which would yield Australia more than its fair share of gas and oil.

Alexander Downer is still pouting. Lord knows how his friendship with ScoMo’s going now he’s promised Trump he’ll snoop on the spy-master; find out just how Downer morphed into a small “L” Liberal; set the Mueller Inquiry on to that fake Russian collusion witch hunt. Be very careful with your bus-travel, Alex.

As fans of Q&A, Sunrise and The Drum would know, freedoms come into (and out of) the grab-bag of Aussie values a fair bit, in what is fondly termed “our national conversation”, (but which isn’t ours or even national – and so often turns out to be a power elite talking to itself in public).

Freedom? Sheesh! It’s right up there with crony capitalism, gambling, racism and elder abuse- yet we are currently debating how we know just how much freedom of speak we are allowed to have? Seriously.

Word comes this week that former Amnesty poster-boy Phil Ruddock’s religious freedom bill which would have restored some of the losses felt by the anti-marriage equality brigade pleases neither church nor state.

Given that it was a solution in search of a problem – religious freedom is already protected in law -it is hardly surprising but will ScoMo’s “top priority” just go? Leave privilege unprotected? Impossible.

But don’t rule out another inquiry. At present the draft bill offends all parties – and cross-bench Tassie Senator, Jacqui Lambie can’t see the need for it. Unlike her sympathy with national security justifying expanding state power even further. We’re world leaders in this field.

Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow, notes Australia has “passed more counter-terrorism and national security legislation than any other liberal democracy since 2001”.

Instead of agonising nightly on The Drum about how we need to “get the balance right”, wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier just to ask government permission? A journo with a story that seeks to hold a government department accountable must run the story by the government first. It’s the position favoured by Mike Pezzullo who is the eyes and ears of Dutto’s Home Affairs mega-department. What could possibly go wrong?

In the meantime, Attorney-General Christian Porter confirms, on Sunday’s ABC Insiders, that his government will continue to intimidate journalists by refusing to rule out AFP raids. He pretends that the AFP is at arms-length from government. Hilarious. Lie. The AFP comes under the (big right) wing of Minister Dutton.

Turning the thumbscrews, Porter would be “seriously disinclined”, he reckons, “to sign off on the criminal prosecution of journalists” for public interest journalism, but says he cannot give any guarantees. No-one on Fran’s panel calls Porter on his pretence that the AFP is independent of the federal government of the day.

Canberra Times veteran, Jack Waterford reminds us that never in its forty years’ operation has the AFP come up with a finding which might embarrass a sitting government – apart from Abbott’s Peter Slipper witch hunt.

“The AFP behaves rather more as a department of state, pathetically anxious to please the government of the day. The department seems to lack internal checks and balances, and sometimes seems to put outcomes ahead of process and sound management, and seems to lack people with the courage to stand against any of the enthusiasms of its secretary,” observes the former editor and investigative journalist of 43 years’ service.

We can’t blame Fran Kelly – or any of her guests for not nailing the minister on the furphy of the AFP’s independence or the farcical pretence that as Attorney-General, Porter is led, like a lamb, to slaughter offending journalists.

But don’t shoot the mixed messenger.

Our ABC is under extra pressure in the form of a ripper new bill for silent Australia due in the house early next week. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Measures) Bill 2019 requires the ABC to set up a Regional Council, at a cost of $100,000 PA to help it contribute to a sense of “regional” identity” as well as “a sense of national identity” and to reflect “geographical”, as well “cultural diversity”. Sounds as simple to get sorted as the Nicene Creed.

Accompanying the push to the bush, a second bill is a sop to Pauline Hanson. It’s an ABC “Fair and Balanced” yard-stick-slogan-logo-thingy while the bill also orders Aunty to supply regional content – even though this is totally impossible on a reduced budget. The result is to give the government a new big stick or two to beat the public broadcaster into compliance. Or soften it up before it’s sold off as in the IPA wish-list.

“This regional push by the Coalition government is no benign shepherding of the ABC back to its core duties. It’s actually designed to tie the corporation up in red tape and shift its attention away from national coverage – and the machinations of federal government” warn Sydney University’s Fiona Martin and Michael Ward.

News this week that Dili wants a $5bn refund to compensate for gas and oil illegally taken is likely to be music to Josh Frydenberg’s ears given that he’s making it clear that his government’s surplus fetish does not mean “surpluses are like a trophy in a cabinet,” The AFR’s Jennifer Hewitt reports. But that’s exactly what it means.

It takes genius to con so many Australians for so long that a meaningless line on an annual budget is a sign of good management – let alone the allied bullshit about “fiscal responsibility” and “living within our means”. Yet to claim a budget surplus means anything at all, is a hoax. And a cruel hoax when it means that NDIS applicants, for example, are made to wait or face stricter qualifying tests to “save up” a surplus.

The only reason a budget surplus ever comes in handy is as a brake on inflation,Greg Jericho reminds readers of The Guardian Australia. No danger of that now where even the Reserve is begging the government to do something about a shrinking economy. Would Joe Hockey squander his $80 billion gift/investment in 2014?

The Opposition is addicted to panic and crisis”, Bovver Morrison hollers across the despatch box as he accuses Albo of a stacking a tantrum. Not only is ScoMo a past master at projection, he knows we live in the present. In the eternal now of modern politics, he assumes that few will recall the metanoia of Tony Abbott’s hyper-partisan opposition’s debt and deficit disaster fear campaign when Labor borrowed to get us out of the GFC.

Forgotten, also, he hopes, is Abbott’s brief-lived Coalition government led by “warrior” Peter Credlin with its war on the poor, on indigenous Australia and on workers amongst others. We have yet to recover from its sick militarisation of compassion – the paramilitary Border Force with its ludicrous uniforms and cruel protocols.

Clayton’s PM Junkyard Abbott’s sidekick BJ helped warn us all that Whyalla would be wiped off the map or that we’d being paying hundred dollars for a lamb roast. They rushed to kill off their carbon tax scare.

Their subsequent revoking of a price on carbon has helped lead us to record carbon emissions ever since.

ScoMo opened Christmas Island just for his Medevac scare, an extension of his asylum-seeker paranoia, a rabid and irrational fear febrile of others. Jacqui Lambie may now help him get to revoke the Medevac Bill.

Yet he proceeds with his name-calling, baiting and jeering at Labor for what they might do to ruin us all. It helps create an illusion, as Katharine Murphy of the Guardian observes that Labor is in power -yet by some miracle that Morrison, a solo act throughout his career, is a PM primum supra pares (first above the rest).

In a moment of madness, Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon proposes a bipartisan war cabinet for the drought. Settle down, Fitz. That would be like a union between the arsonists and the fire-fighters. Besides, could you really trust any of them on their past performances? No-one else in the world takes their climate figures seriously.

Australia is a world leader in climate change abatement per capita in the Coalition’s Gospel according to Morrison. Doo wah boy, Gus Grassgate Taylor, Minister for Global Warming Energy and Big Irrigation does backing vocals.

“The comments made by the Prime Minister at the UN, that we are going to meet our emissions targets, was a gross misrepresentation and was staggering for someone in his position,” protests former Liberal leader, John Hewson, addressing the Round Table in Canberra. Global warming heretic Hewson favours regenerative agriculture. Expect his immediate retribution via ridicule in some Rupert rag.

Reverting to wilful ignorance and disinformation, the Australian economy is not tanking a bit, insists the PM, despite this week’s IMF growth downgrade by almost twenty per cent from 2.1 to 1.7. On the contrary, our nation’s growth something to shout about in parliament.

“Australia’s economic growth is the second highest if compared to the major Group of Seven economies, and the government has helped create 1.4 million new jobs,” ScoMo misleads parliament.

Reliant on resources, Australia lacks diversification of exports and its economy is now more like that of a developing country with fewer prospects for growth, reports the Harvard’s Atlas of Economic Complexity. It predicts growth to slow to 2.2% over the next decade, ranking us in the bottom half of countries

Australia is not even in the G7, however much ScoMo loves to boast about his special invitation to observe last August’s meeting; a token of his government’s leading role as hyper-partisan US ally in the ruinous trade war between Trump’s administration and China.

As for jobs, his claim covers six years. Growth doesn’t even keep up with population.

A stoic ScoMo won’t be spooked by international events; or lift a finger to stimulate a stagnant economy. All this – and more – promises the PM’s turd-polish unit, which accidentally emails the media its jumbo economy super-savers’ pack of lies meant for Coalition MPs, this week.

It’s an innocent mistake. And easily made. Our media lead the world in recycling government press releases. No heads will roll this time. The chooks just get an extra feed of MPs’ “talking points”, the rich mix of fantasy, lies, evasions, disinformation and other conversation-stoppers confected non-stop by the PM’s spin doctors.

Australia’s national net debt is now a record $400 billion plus, according to Matthias Cormann’s own Finance Department’s report last Friday. It’s a peculiar type of nincompoopery that can take Labor’s puny $174 billion net national debt and double it in six years, despite some of the most favourable global economic tailwinds in history, yet the Coalition is on track to get to $700 billion in a canter.

The biggest issue for the economy remains the decline and fall of our household incomes. This will not be revered by some slick tax cut. Nor will it show any improvement, whatsoever, if the government having utterly no idea what to do by way of stimulus measure clings to the mantra of a budget surplus.

But that’s not in the talking points.

There’s so much to crow about it’s not funny. Cue standing ovations from the poor, the elderly, the under-employed and those who need wait only a matter of months before they’re trampolined off welfare and back at work at the local widget factory.

Above all, Australia is God’s Own Country and as the PM reminds a national prayer breakfast, Tuesday,

“The only prayers that you can be assured are never answered are the ones that are never prayed.”

Our latter day saints, the nation’s hard-working farmers are clearing land at record rates yet some find the time to take out of helping cause the problem to wax ecstatic over Drought Relief; the Coalition’s most shameless pork-barrelling since its 1700 kilometre Inland Rail boondoggle. No-one’s getting any money for a year and the $7 billion doesn’t add up, former farmer’s lad Alan Jones berates the Prime Minister.

Jones asks how all of the drought relief grandstanding that’s been going on three months is going to feed a cow?

How good’s a Farm Household Allowance worth a measly $250 a week? $5 million for rural financial counselling? $115.8 million that Morrison says “went directly to drought communities”. Morrison finally gets to talk. He embraces the theme of weed eradication. Jones cuts in, “Oh, PM, don’t talk to me. I’m a farmer’s son, you’re not.”

When the IMF tells you the economy is down the gurgler and your own Finance Minister reports the same – When Alan Jones gives you a bollocking, ScoMo, you may need more than a new set of talking points.

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When will Morrison and his government be held to account?

“With everything that’s going on at the moment we need to be in the tent and we need to know what’s going on – and we are,” Scott Morrison spruiks his star role as a fly on the tent wall, a vital bit part in the latest instalment of the G7 soap opera, a chic, dysfunctional clique; a G6+1 held this year in Biarritz, artificial pearl of the Basque coast.

Next year, Trump wants them to kick back at his Trump National Doral in Miami, one of his top golf resorts in Florida. Invite his old pal Vlad Putin. Get a few holes of golf in. “It would be better to have Putin inside the tent than outside the tent,” Trump says. He doesn’t explain. Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea are but two stumbling blocks for most G7 members. Putin won’t attend as guest. He wants full membership again.

Tent? Is ScoMo being droll? Few at the G7 know what’s going on – neoliberalism is dead for starters. The post-war world that spawned the Group of Seven, “advanced” non-communist economies the UK-Atlantic alliance is long gone. So, too are some G7 economies. Is France “advanced” or merely held up by transnational receipts, asks Crikey’s Guy Rundle.

Others will never know. The terminally bewildered include Donald Trump who may or may not attack Iran any minute, “bonkers”, Boris Johnson, whose EU ignorance may take the great out of Great Britain and Jair Bolsonaro who puts a sixty-day ban on lighting fires in the rainforest, while the Amazon, the lungs of the planet, burns out of control.

Did you see that tie-dye that Melania wore? It gets more ink that any international political or environmental or climate crisis. Or the fact that her husband doesn’t even deign attend the climate conference. Thank God we had ScoMo there, beavering away at “rules-based order” or keeping extremists off the net. It’s too late for The White House. Hopes that monster-baby Trump will pick the toys he threw out of his playpen, abandon the trade war with China – which he thinks he’s winning or the plan to attack Iran which he’s happy to leave out there – are dashed from the start.

After Trump repudiated last year’s motherhood statement, there is no attempt at a 2019 G7 consensus communique.

This year, he also vetoes ScoMo’s proposal for self-regulation of social media, an ineffectual, if not futile proposal to counter online extremism, which will collect data from law-abiding citizens and do nothing to curb extremists. It’s a quality thought–bubble that in the end, Trump sycophant ScoMo, sniffing the wind, doesn’t even vote for himself.

Luckily Morrison, still gets to wow leaders with our space research, a type of astral Spakfilla which “will fill space infrastructure gaps to support businesses and researchers to participate in the global space economy.” Or at least his latest BFF, Boris bird’s nest head Johnson, Britain’s professional clown who is also putting in a top performance in vacuity as clueless Prime Minister tells him “it’s a fabulously interesting, brilliant and exciting project, Scott.”

Morrison is in Biarritz because, France’s President, Emmanuel Macron invited him to observe- along with India’s PM Narendra Modi and G7 pariah Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister. Despite reporting how Boris Johnson, is absolutely gob-smacked by Australia’s space agency space, ScoMo totally assures everyone he’d rather be at home.

“As Australia’s Prime Minister, I always prefer to be in Australia dealing with issues on the ground domestically,” says our most evasive PM since Abbott and the least accountable ever. He’s pleased to be out of the country when his government’s religious freedoms bill is finally published. It’s superfluous – religious freedom is not under threat; but it’s a sop to those who were out-postal-voted on marriage equality but who still claim they have a right to discriminate.

The bill, which skips the tricky stuff of actually defining religious belief, upsets progressives and conservatives alike, while dividing the broad church of the Liberal Party including some of its de-facto partners in the open marriage of convenience with the National Party (and anyone else it can bed), a secret agreement which has, at its core, an uneasy juxtaposition of mutual suspicion and condescension but which both sides pretend is a viable coalition government.

Laura Tingle warns, Morrison’s biggest domestic political challenge yet may be his need to deal with MPs such Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who claims, Friday it is “clear from my ongoing consultation and engagement with religious leaders that the bills are likely to fall far short of properly and fully addressing their requirement”.

If Morrison moves to appease the reactionaries, he is in danger of alienating the conservatives whose support he courted when he declared religious freedom to be his key priority at the outset of his accidental prime ministership. On the international front, his government is choosing to fall in with Washington’s plan to wage war on Iran, a reflex appeasement of the Trump administration’s bullying which may well lead to catastrophic consequences.

In a brilliant show of legerdemain, a triumphant Macron produces the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif from behind a screen, a move which is reported to surprise Trump and other leaders despite their prior warning.

Will Trump and Zarif talk? No. Iran’s PM Hassan Rouhani wants the US to lift sanctions first. Trump says he’ll meet Iran’s leader because “We’re looking to make Iran rich again.” US sanctions on Iran under the Trump administration have caused the rial to lose 75 per cent of its value this year. Yet Trump rules out direct US financial assistance.

“No we are not paying, we don’t pay,” Trump says. “But they may need some money to get them over a very rough patch and if they do need money, and it would be secured by oil …, so we are really talking about a letter of credit. It would be from numerous countries, numerous countries.”

But all is not lost. Love is in the air. Bromance blossoms between BoJo, (Boris Johnson) and DoJo (Donald John Trump) two confirmed narcissists who praise each other to the skies and promise all manner of fabulous trade deals guaranteed to make Britain great again. Again. Hugely.

No-one bothers Trump with picayune details such as the way he depresses world markets and how he is a huge drag on the global economy with his mindless trade war with China. Or his conflict of interest in next year’s proposed venue.

Or they see no point in raising it during his bromance with Boris. Luckily, BoJo and ScoMo are also now best friends forever. “Let’s just say that we’re going to have a great relationship,” Morrison sighs after his speed-date with Boris. Our nation is overjoyed by the potential outcome of the marriage of two such uncannily alike minds.

ScoMo caps his G7 gig in Biarritz, a world first for Australia, according to the hype but only if you ignore Kevin Rudd’s presence at a G8 in Japan in 2008, with a bromide on how the G7 team should root out violent, extremist, anti- social media, (but still allow its MPs to attend extremist rallies), with a quick Dili-dally on the way home to take care of business while upstaging the 20th anniversary of Timor-Leste’s democracy. Oozing unfunded empathy, our Neo-colonial Big White Bwana, reprises his brilliant Pacific shtick. Celebration? Locals should be grateful to Australia, he suggests.

Super-ScoMo, now with added whiteness power, repeats lying rodent John Howard’s fib that Australia protected and liberated Dili from Indonesia which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 in an illegal, genocidal annexation, massacring 2000 Timorese in the first weeks alone in a campaign of savage brutality in which 200,000 were killed.

Morrison’s chief mission is to see Woodside, or some other capitalist-crony, still gets to rip off Timor Leste’s oil and gas reserves while warning locals about Yellow Peril 2.0. It goes over nearly as well as when our PM also tells locals Australia won’t refund $5bn in royalties, already fraudulently gained by deception by bugging Timor-Leste’s cabinet in 2004.

Whip-smart, Morrison’s charm offensive includes telling locals that his government’s secret star chamber trial of Dili bugging, whistle-blower, former ASIS agent, “Witness K” and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, a case of international espionage is “a domestic matter” . Besides, how good is democracy, truth, justice and the Quiet Australian way?

Locals know the truth. If John, “The Liberator” Howard’s pro-Jakarta government had got its way on 30 August 1999, when it let Indonesian- backed paramilitary militias punish East Timor after daring to vote for independence from Indonesia in its 30 August 1999, referendum, there would have been no democratic state of Timor-Leste for Australia’s paternalistic PM, Scott Morrison, to pat on the head this week. Yet that’s not ScoMo’s narrative.

Instead, the thoroughly postmodern, post-fact, post-truth, Trumpist Morrison government; peddles an ancient myth. Australia played a major role in that period when East Timor broke away from Indonesia. A letter from former PM John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer led to Indonesia holding the vote,” Seven mis-reports, helpfully. The story is the subtext in every photo opportunity as ScoMo happily takes credit where it most certainly is not due.

It’s pure fiction, a lie confirmed, this week, when a ruffled Downer howls down the unequivocal evidence of newly declassified US intelligence documents, published by The National Security Archive based at the George Washington University Washington which cast fresh light on Howard’s letter to B. J. Habibie, then Indonesian PM.

The US, in fact – not Howard – leaned on Jakarta to call off its dogs of war; rescuing East Timor’s independence referendum of 30 August 1999. 78.5 per cent voted for independence. Almost every East Timorese adult voted.

Brutal was Jakarta’s reprisal. Indonesian military and police forces and their local paramilitary allies retaliated with a scorched earth campaign which killed over 1,500 Timorese and displaced nearly half the population. 100,000 were forced across the border into West Timor. Much of East Timor was razed to the ground. Australia looked the other way.

Australia had no plan for peace-keeping and acted only after the US. Howard and Downer’s hopes of cleverly engineering Indonesia’s permanent incorporation of East Timor, a bogus, special autonomy ruse had failed.

There’s no apology. ScoMo soft-soaps his hosts, congratulates them on the anniversary of their independence and proffers other heavy-handed platitudes. How good is democracy? How good is the people’s voice?

How good is the secret trial of Witness K and Bernard Collaery who are currently being punished in a star chamber?

Their crime, as all of Timor-Leste’s leaders know, is that Witness K had the conscience to blow the whistle on his government’s illegal bugging, in 2004, of the, then, East Timor cabinet during negotiations in which Woodside Petroleum was going to do very nicely out of fudging a boundary that gave Australia a 50 per cent share of oil and gas resources – located 150 kilometres from Timor-Leste’s shore but 400 kilometres from Australia’s.

His hosts mostly feign a polite tolerance but local hero, former independence leader and first President of Timor-Leste,

Xanana Gusmão threatens to come to Canberra to testify in person – not that Christian Porter’s kangaroo court could cope with something as fair and just as expert testimony.

No, ScoMo says, speaking quickly, Australia won’t pay back the $5bn in gas revenue it rorted from the government of East Timor. An earlier, treaty gained Australia an unfair advantage, thanks to information obtained by the illegal bugging of East Timor cabinet meetings in Dili. The bugging was allegedly ordered by then Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer. Downer denies it. Timor Leste successfully appealed to the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague

There is nothing to be proud of historically. Despite John Howard’s claims, Australia wanted East Timor to remain Indonesian and lobbied to exclude peace-makers. Howard’s backflip was forced on him only after the US stepped in on 9 September, 1999, to halt the carnage after the 30 August referendum in which 78.5 per cent of East Timorese voted to become independent. Nor is there anything to be proud of today.

A world statesman, whose presence is now du rigueur wherever heads of state may gather, our internationally- acclaimed, but “just a normal guy”, PM disappears when he returns home to Kirribilli House right after telling reporters at the G7, he’d rather be keeping the home fires burning, some fantasy about “dealing with issues domestically”.

Dealing or dodging? Despite nation-wide protests, ScoMo has nothing to say on “The Tamil family”, as newshounds call Peter Dutton’s paramilitary Home Affairs’ latest victims, now banged up on Christmas Island, before deportation, gaol and torture in Sri Lanka. Once in Colombo, they’ll be arrested for “illegally leaving the country” – despite it being completely legal, under international law, to seek asylum. Even in boats. Sri Lanka’s human rights abuses are legion.

If world leader ScoMo knows what’s going on, he keeps it to himself – until Monday, midday, when he resurfaces to call a press briefing. Fluently, he repeats his government’s lies that Kevin Rudd was soft on borders. Labor caused children to drown. Incredibly, Richard Ferguson writes almost a verbatim account of ScoMo’s spiel in The Australian, minutes later.

Deporting the Tamil family is ScoMo’s only honourable option, he says. The PM claims his period as Immigration Minister means he cannot “in good conscience” allow the family to stay since they came by boat and have been found not to be refugees. No evidence is given; nor do Sri Lankan authorities provide a guide to who is likely to be persecuted.

Aran Mylvaganam of the Tamil Refugee Council tells The Guardian Australia that our legal system fails to investigate asylum claims. Tamil asylum seekers have no means to prove claims of persecution, yet they are still being “disappeared” in northern Sri Lanka, where the ethnic minority is under the world’s most intense military occupation.

In Mullaitivu District, a 2017 report found at least 60,000 Sri Lankan Army personnel among just over 130,322 civilians.

Sri-Lankan family, Priya and Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born children Kopika, four, and Tharunicaa, two, lived in Biloela, Queensland until Border Force put them into Melbourne detention seventeen months ago. A wave of public sympathy is joined by family man, Barnaby Joyce and noted humanitarian, Alan Jones. But look over there – suddenly, reports The Australian’s Coalition hack, Simon Benson, “a surge” of six Sri Lankan asylum seeker boats.

Who needs evidence? ScoMo’s government works by bald assertion, the endless recycling of lies and racist dog-whistling. Borders must be enforced. It’s all a matter of national security. Sovereignty. People have to come to Australia through the front door. The Medevac Bill will be fast-tracked; repealed when parliament resumes (for two weeks) next week. But not if Jacqui Lambie’s bluster is to be believed. She wants a parliamentary inquiry to proceed as planned.

“Use your bloody manners,” Burnie blowhard, Tasmanian Senator, Jacqui Lambie milks press attention with another of her plain-speaking truth-seeking, salt-of-the earth, Senator For-Ordinary folk performances. Lambie has a solid record of walking back her rhetoric and capitulating to the government. Who knows how she’ll vote this time?

The Australian also carries another piece from Morrison’s office which states that the PM will not intervene to stop a Tamil family being deported from Australia. An “exception here or there” would only kick-start the people-smuggling trade. Yet Peter Dutton is happy to allow exceptions for au pair visitors and others. And ScoMo’s first speech as PM in August after his double, double-cross and back-stabbing of his leader, Turnbull, was a pledge to populist solidarity.

“We’re on your side because we share beliefs and values in common. As you go about everything you do each day …”

Sharing? ScoMo totally ignores thousands of people demonstrating in the streets, or those petitioning his government to show some humanity. Opinion polls – for what they worth – given an issue strewn with wanton disinformation and misunderstanding – show Australians are at best divided on the Coalition’s hard-line policy. Morrison’s government is back to the dark old days of Howard’s babies overboard, exploiting and generating division for political advantage.

Most telling is eminent criminal lawyer, Robert Richter QC’s opinion on ABC 774, that the Morrison government’s wilful neglect of the duty of care constitutes a criminal offence. Since all detention facilities are Commonwealth workplaces, the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), applies to them, across Australia and its Territories.

Above all, former Worksafe Prosecuting Solicitor Max Costello writes, section 19 imposes on workplace operators – in this context, Peter Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs – a “primary duty of care” for the health and safety of not only “workers” but also any “other persons” at the workplace – such as detainees. The relevant government agency to police the legislation is Comcare.

Whisked away to Christmas Island is two-year-old Tharunicaa, the little Tamil girl whose rotting baby teeth had to be surgically removed, a stark and compelling reminder of Peter Dutton’s department failure to provide duty of care.

Other cases are tragic. Damning. Manus asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei arrived brain dead at a Brisbane hospital in August 2014. An infected cut on his leg was not responding to treatment. He was developing blood poisoning. His airlift was delayed by the Department under then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Yet Comcare found no fault.

Costello reports, “Comcare’s Khazaei Inspector Report EVE00229456-0001 found “no evidence … that the [airlift] delay … was a contributing factor to the final outcome …”, and said “there were no apparent breaches of the legislation” (see Senate submission 47, pp 35–36).

Yet Queensland coroner Terry Ryan’s inquest report, 30 July 2018, concludes that the “overly bureaucratic” airlift process which involved no fewer than four levels of public servants, did, in fact, contribute to Khazaei’s death.

The department’s failure to stock the Manus clinic with Meropenem also contributed to the Iranian man’s death.

Costello cites four other cases and concludes, “If Comcare prosecuted the Department and a senior officer in, say, 2015, over alleged RPC-related offences; so that by, say, July 2016, both were found guilty, with the Department being fined $2 m and the officer jailed for 2 years, the (disgraced) offshore cruelty regime could’ve ended by, say, 1 October 2016.

If that had happened, six deaths would’ve been prevented, and the remorseless mass destruction of physical and psychological health would’ve been curtailed.

Finally, ScoMo must also keep mum about Attorney-General Christian Porter’s rip-snorting new religious discrimination draft bill which pleases neither progressives nor reactionaries and which may prove a bridge too far for our star of Dili, Pacific and European diplomacy. Or our globe-trotting PM may just be plumb tuckered out; a daggy dad with bad jet-lag. On the other hand, he’s been exceptionally ineffectual and deceptive, even by his own government’s yard-stick.

The key question is when will he and his government be held to account?

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Pell appeal verdict unleashes a perfect storm for our Tory ruling class

Head bowed, a manacled cardinal is led hobbling out of court into a prison van, a shocking image calculated to rock our nation’s Tories to the core, last Wednesday, as Victoria’s Court of Appeal upholds Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on five counts of child sexual assault, for offences committed against two thirteen year-old altar-boys in a priest’s sacristy at St Patrick’s Church, in 1996 and 1997, whilst Pell was still Archbishop of Melbourne.

By Sunday, thank God and Rupert Murdoch, it’s all OK – at least, in Australia’s News Corp-led “mainstream media” as our corporate, oligarchical, media tribe is typically misnamed, whose stories quickly turn a convicted predator into an innocent victim. OK, too, in our progressive, post-modern, post fact, Trumpian universe of discourse, our collective, international pandemic of unreason led by lords of misrule from Boris to Bolsonaro to The Donald.

Bugger the facts, it’s the vibe that counts. As former PM Turnbull, pre-knifing by Scott Morrison, told Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor of The University of Melbourne when Davis challenged Turnbull’s spin that all was rosy between town and gown. Davis dared air his heretical view that collaboration between business and university was crap.

“This is, by the way, you running against the vibe. You haven’t got the new zeitgeist. The new zeitgeist, Glyn, is to believe in yourself, is to have a go.” Did Mal’s liberating ideology help spawn ScoMo’s “have a go to get a go”?

Bugger “police, the prosecutors, the courts, the jury system, the burden of proof and the entire rule of law. In its place is the new primacy of feelings: they feel Pell must not be guilty, therefore he is innocent. All else — most significantly, the fully tested testimony of the victim that they have never seen — gives way before their emotional need.” writes Crikey’s legal beagle, Michael Bradley. Above all, our establishment must protect one of its own.

Pell can’t be guilty: he’s part of the power elite, as untouchable as Casino King, James Murdoch. Pell’s protection is necessary to preserve the power of our monocultural bunyip aristocracy. However, it’s a secular crusade now, David Marr reflects. “Rome somewhere in the past few years lost the power” to protect men like Pell.

Above all, however, is the political purpose served by the all-consuming pseudo-debate over Pell’s innocence, a diversion adroitly exploited by a Coalition keen to soft-pedal its announcement that it is eagerly doing the US bidding; taking up gunboat diplomacy in the Persian Gulf because this will help “de-escalate tensions”.

Foreign Minister, Marise Payne keeps a straight face on ABC Insiders, Sunday; farcically claiming we are part of an “international mission” which is “modest, meaningful and time-limited”. In reality, we are offering Trump a blank cheque. It’s all about restoring “rules-based order and the rule of law”. No-one mentions the fact that we are about to break international law. Trump’s administration clearly hankers for the good old days when it ran Iran.

With British help, America overthrew Iran’s democratically elected conservative Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh’s nationalist parliamentary government, in 1953, to install Shah Reza Pahlavi, a dictator who gave 40% of Iran’s oil concessions to US oil companies. America supported the corrupt dictator until his overthrow by a popular mass movement in 1979. As punishment, the US backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the Iran–Iraq War, 22 September 1980- 20 August 1988.

It is estimated one million Iranians died defending their country. Up to half a million Iraqis also lost their lives.

The international team comprises ourselves, the Great Satan, as Iran once called the US, Little Britain under Boris Johnson, a professional clown, now playing Albion’s accidental PM and Human Rights Watch pin-up, Bahrain, a state of unabated repression whose rulers’ crack-down on dissent has eliminated all opposition banned independent media and peaceful dissidents are roughed up, arrested, prosecuted and stripped of their citizenship.

Clearly, there’s a bit our government could yet learn from Bahrain and embedding our troops with theirs is a move guaranteed to bring mutual enlightenment, the rule of law and stability to a region where eighty million Iranians are starved of daily necessities from food to medicines as a result of forty years of US sanctions.

It’s possible, of course, that the sudden appearance of an Australian cruiser in January 2020 “for six months” or a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to the Middle East for one month “before the end of 2019” will prove immensely re-assuring to Iran’s government and cause citizens to hi-five and hug each other in sheer relief.

Aussie diggers posted to Bahrain, super-charged with ANZAC can-do, could repair the nation’s moral high ground.

Luckily for Morrison’s government, the Cardinal Pell in the Pokey show is the perfect distractor; a timely bit of cultural warfare guaranteed to upstage any grovelling capitulation to the whims of hawks such as Bolton or Pompeo who run demented Donald Trump and his mad, neo-con, anti-Iranian, administration.

Hard right hacks, Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Bettina Arndt rush to defend Pell. Left out of the moral outrage are the 1900 child sex-offenders, identified in Australian Catholic churches, whose 4,444 victims were on average under twelve years old, according to the 2016 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to child sexual abuse. Eclipsed almost entirely, is the suffering of thousands of abused children; or how their lives were ruined.

And who knows how many victims there are in the sexual abuse of nuns by priests, abuse which Pope Francis acknowledged last February? Catholic women are speaking out, too, under the #NunsToo hashtag. In the meantime, a sanctification of Pell proceeds, by some of our best and finest reactionary media mavens.

Poor George, whose Dad, a Ballarat publican, David Marr reports, ran an SP book from the public bar of The Royal Oak, from 1953 to 1976, becomes, by mythic invention, an icon of apostolic poverty, humility, chastity and saintly compassion who will appeal to The High Court. The magical thinking of his backers has him acquitted already.

A man of such grace and standing (Peter Kidd, Chief Judge at his sentencing commented on his “staggering arrogance”, in committing crimes he thought he could get away with), will automatically be granted leave to appeal. But in the eternal interim, the very idea of a fallen Pell is a monstrous offence against nature.

Worse, the appeal judgement is a heresy right up there with Aurecon’s shunning of Adani, a move which resources High Priest, Matt Canavan says is as “weak as piss” before calling on the energy oligopoly to shun and shame Aurecon. The Australian and others in the stable eagerly recycle the lie of Pell’s unblemished record.

Yet there is no question that Pell is the reactionaries’ reactionary, a one-stop shop for any crusade against change.

Pell held that abortion was “a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people.” is Papal-royalty. Boys driven to take their own lives through homophobia only had themselves to blame, Pell maintained;

It is another reason to be discouraging people going in that direction. Homosexual activity is a much greater health hazard than smoking.”

Pell denounces concern about climate change as “a symptom of pagan emptiness” The Greens? “Anti-Christian”.

Pell’s perspective on accountability is clear in his view, given in 2014, that “the church’s responsibility to those abused by priests is comparable to the responsibility of a trucking company to a hitchhiker raped by a trucker.”

Monday, Pell’s media acquittal continues. The Australian’s Mirko Bagaric blusters “… it debases the legal and democratic process for anyone to insist — as a few prominent commentators have in recent days — that it is impertinent to believe that Cardinal George Pell is innocent despite losing his case in the Victorian Court of Appeal.

News Corp’s contempt for the rule of law is as staggering as the propaganda it peddles to buy its monstrous power. Its defence of St George, moreover, reveals Australia’s follow-the-leader-media rushing pell-mell to fall in behind Papal knight Sir Rupert’s News Corp’s Cardinal-as-Victim story-tellers.

Part of this narrative involves appeals to sympathy for “an old sick man” “who might well die in gaol” as the current Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli tells 3AW’s Neil Mitchell. Bizarrely, Comensoli maintains Pell is innocent – and the victim is telling the truth too. It was another priest who committed the sexual abuse.

Easy for a thirteen year-old altar boy to get one 190 cm priest mixed up with another.

The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the odd guest on The Drum hold that Judge Weinberg’s dissenting view is the only one that matters or proof that our legal system is broken and or grounds for High Court appeal.

Paradoxically, another part of the story is that Pell is Australia’s most senior cleric, internationally renowned, a pal of Rupert Murdoch’s, a tall poppy cut down in his prime. The facts suggest otherwise.

At the end, Pell’s power in the Vatican rapidly waned, despite a promising start in modelling austerity by big spending. Outrage broke out over his choice of a 5100 euro a month apartment requiring he spend 87,000 on new furniture; employing an assistant on a 21,600 a month salary and even 6,650 euros on kitchen sink fittings.

Somehow word got out to Italy’s L’Espresso weekly of detailed opposition to Pell’s financial reform; not helped by his Secretariat for the Economy racking up a half-million dollars in expenditures in the last six months.

True, Pell rose to become Cardinal, but Francis, shrewdly diverted the ambitious antipodean prelate into the Sisyphean labour of draining the swamp of the Vatican’s scandalous financial mess, an impossible task – and one fraught with peril, for anyone, let alone a boy from Ballarat, who knew neither Vatican culture nor the rudiments of diplomacy or tact, author of The Melbourne Response, another monumental failure of Christian charity and human compassion which capped compensation clerical sexual abuse victims at $50,000.

They saw him coming, a retired priest says on The Drum. Rubbed them up the wrong way say Vatican insiders. Francis himself believes “Behind rigidity something always lies hidden,” he says. “In many cases, a double life.”

But nothing may detract from the Tory postmodern narrative of St George The Martyr. A man as powerful as Pell, a priest who could command a character reference from a former Prime Minister, (gasp) just cannot be guilty. The Pell pillar must be protected or the entire edifice of conservatism may be revealed to be rotten to the core.

It’s a monstrous spectacle made all the more shocking, somehow, by technical glitches which cause the live broadcast to freeze, the court website to crash and by appellant judge, Chief Justice, Anne Ferguson’s funereal delivery which brings “all the drama of a dead wombat to reading a summary of one of the most important criminal judgments of the year”, reports seasoned legal commentator, lawyer and writer, Richard Ackland.

The Tory world is in turmoil. Right-wing hacks and flacks led by News Corp, nutcase Andrew Bolt, thresh about protesting victim Pell’s innocence, slagging off Victoria’s judiciary and declaring war on the rule of law.

“Never any hope of justice for George Pell. He was too big a scalp for the howling mob,” tweets Bettina Arndt.

Could a Cardinal be so publicly undone? Could a high priest of our ruling elite, a fully-paid member of the board of Reactionary Australia Inc. be brought to heel? Could our rulers be held accountable? Perish the thought. Look at Crown.

The kid gloves are on in the federal government’s treatment of St James Packer’s Crown Casino where there is report from a whistle-blower that ought to be hair-raising. It’s a whale of a tale of high-rollers being fast-tracked through immigration, equipped with escorts before a restorative punt is followed up by a refreshing wildlife shoot.

Crown is a cathedral to our new age of mad depravity, infinitely more popular than any offering of the Catholic Church and more powerful. Crown’s backers rule our politics as the gun lobby does America’s, as former Victorian Premier John Cain observes.

Cain, whose government decided as early as 1983 that to build a casino would be to invite organised crime, warned of the power, grace and charm of casino lobbyists in 1990, “Within three weeks of me going in August 1990, they had not only battered the doors down, but they were in the lounge room pissing on the furniture.”

Sensibly, heeding their mandate from silent Australians to leave no depth unplumbed, the Morrison government summons a toothless watchdog, no-one’s ever heard of.

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), a Clayton’s investigator, is agreed upon by both major parties, to allow our gambling lobby to continue to uplift the moral tone of the nation, growing jobs and building wealth, especially in the off-shore bank accounts of Crown Casino and its coterie of money-launderers.

Conspiracy theorists swarm to depict poor, vulnerable Georgie Boy as the innocent victim of a Gillard-leftist-Victoria Police-Nine News plot. In the midst of this fertile, national conversation, Scott Morrison shrewdly chooses to announce he’s just engulfed us in another US oil war which his BFF, another vainglorious lout, the dangerously demented Donald Trump is brewing up against arch-fiend Iran in the Straits of Hormuz.

“200 troops”, he says out of the corner of his mouth. “Limited to six months,” he says. “Or longer, as the case may be” he says, skipping away. Marise Payne, repeats his de-escalation double-speak, almost word-perfect as so sundry other MPs as interviews are merely an excuse for the re-iteration of central minders’ talking points.

Happily, the week brings the anniversary of Scott Morrison’s hugely undistinguished year in office, after knifing Malcolm Turnbull in a double, double-cross. His government has no energy, no environment, no economic or climate change policies, no vision and no shame. But it’s cranking up Robo-debt to go after elderly age pensioners. That blessed surplus won’t accrue all by itself.

No-one in government fusses over the two thousand who die after receiving Robo-debt letters between July 2016 and October 2018. It’s not difficult to envisage a link between their deaths and the debt letters.

Yet Morrison is now the best PM ever, according to the worst, “lying rodent” John Howard, the PM who did most to unpick the threads of a prosperous, progressive, cosmopolitan and egalitarian society and who lied to parliament and people that he had legal opinion to join the illegal US war in Iraq.

Howard also wrote a glowing reference for George Pell.

 

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Boris’s blonde ambitions

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens.

As the 77th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, will Boris Johnson modify the Anglophone world as Australians and citizens of the United Kingdom, presently know it?

The answer of course depends upon whether Prime Minister Johnson can achieve Britain’s Exit — BREXIT — from the European Union.

Three years short of a half century ago, on December 2 1972 Gough Whitlam is elected Australian Prime Minister. Then on January 1 1973, Conservative Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath leads the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community.

Denmark and the Republic of Ireland also join.

Now 47 years later, with an ambitious blonde in residence at 10 Downing Street, it is fair to ask: is a multitude of profound changes to the political, social and economic destinies of so many peoples and nation’s, about to occur?

Judging by the blathering’s of a coterie of incompetent blonde-headed rulers elected by a largely disengaged global electorate, the world seems set to regress to a pre-GATT era.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade – GATT – is an accord between most nations to promote international trade. It achieves its aims by reducing or eliminating trade barriers such as tariffs or quotas.

Twenty three nations signed the first GATT in Geneva on 30 October 1947. The new world order began on 1 January the following year.

When GATT begat the World Trade Organisation, the partial redistribution of global wealth resulted in the world we recognise today.

Back in the day Ted Heath and Gough Whitlam understood the significance of GATT and its subsequent iterations. However the current crop of blond himbos, strutting the world stage, clearly does not.

And Australia’s God-Botherer-in-Chief residing at Yarralumla, does not appear to care either.

With Johnson now in Number 10 the world’s conservative leaders can set about destroying the institutions created in the post GATT era, and its greatest achievement, the European Union.

Once BREXIT is finally ratified, the theory goes the United Kingdom reconstitutes the British Commonwealth of Nations, and recommences free trade with Australia and other British ‘colonial’ nations.

Gone are those pesky Continental rules and regulations.

Problem is post BREXIT the United Kingdom might find itself short a key constituent – Scotland

If the Scots vote to leave the Union, what remains of a disunited kingdom might at best, slip into a full blown recession, at worst sectarian war.

A frightening economic prediction comes from the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney.

The irony of a Johnsonian post BREXIT era is the uncomfortable fact Europe initially blocked the United Kingdom from the European Economic Community.

The principal reason for keeping the UK out of Europe cited by President Charles De Gaulle in the early 1960s was its cosy relationship with its former colonies.

Chief among these is Australia.

De Gaulle was a great hater. He loathed the United States of America and conjured a special place in a Gallic hell for the United Kingdom.

There are too many reasons to go into De Gaulle’s animus, but author Thomas de La Marnierre of the University of Québec, Montréal Canada, posits trade and tariffs as central to De Gaulle’s rationale for exclusion.

In an online essay published in June 2019, de La Marnierre quotes De Gaulle, including incorrect spelling and grammar thus.

“How can we do to make England, as she lives, as she produces, as she trades, be incorporated to the Common market as it was designed and as it works? For example, the means from which eats the people of Great Britain and that are actually the importation of food supplies bought cheaply in the two Americas or in the old dominions, meanwhile giving, granting considerable subsidies to the English farmers. This mean is obviously uncompatible with the system that the Six designed naturally for themselves. The system of the Six, it consists to make everything with the agricultural product from all the Community. To rigorously set their price. To forbid they be subsidised. To organize their consumption between all the participants, and to impose to each of these participants to give to the Community every saving they would make by importing food from outside instead of eating those the Common Market would offer”.

The full text of de La Marnierre essay is here.

The notion of offending Commonwealth nations rankled both Conservative and Labour ranks from the time De Gaulle stymied the UK’s Common Market entry.

And though much has changed, much remains the same.

“How can we do to make England, as she lives, as she produces, as she trades, be incorporated to the Common market as it was designed and as it works? Charles De Gaulle.

Once BREXIT occurs in what ever form, the United Kingdom will never be readmitted to the EU again. Instead its place will be filled by eager nations such as Turkey, or Ukraine or Albania or perhaps Moldova.

And so to the current Australian Government with its non-existent political agenda.

The inheritors of the legacy of Australia’s champion of tariff’s Black Jack McEwen are firmly in control.

Government subsidised coal-fired power stations, and the old agrarian chestnut of nuclear energy, are up for serious consideration. And prepare for an influx of hard done-by white South African farmers.

As for La Belle France I would not be at all surprised if another blonde, Marine Le Pen, takes up residence in the Elysse Palace.

The United Kingdom is Europe’s great pacifier, but deserting the EU at the urging of a band of chronic liars, might mean the end of its illustrious tradition as one of the world’s great civilisations.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here

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Ooh Ah James McGrath

When Queensland Liberal Senator James McGrath gave his maiden speech in July last year, Doug Cameron described him as a “fruit loop ” and a “Tea Party extremist.” Perhaps the best appraisal of the speech was by James Colley in his article “Senator James McGrath Is Your Newest Reason To Swear Loudly At The TV.” (worth the read)

The newly elected Senator wasted no time in dramatically outlining his priorities branding himself as a crusader against tyranny.

“The ‘Hundred Years War against Tyranny’ continues today on three fronts: first of all Islamist fundamentalism intent on caliphates destroying Western civilisation, especially religious freedom; secondly, democratic governments restricting freedom of speech and association, betraying hundreds of years of liberty; and, finally, leftists delegitimising all views other than their own, especially in media and education.

Whether I serve here for 16 days or 16 years, I shall always judge myself on how I have battled against tyranny and fought for the axis of enlightenment—that is, liberty of the individual, a free market, small government and low taxes. I will let others badge and brand and box me, as, in my great broad church that is the Liberal Party, my pew is a moveable feast. I have campaigned against dictator-loving Islamist fundamentalists in the Maldives; Sinn Fein- and PLO-supporting Labour candidates in London; and godless rebranded communists in Mongolia—not to mention the Queensland branch of the Australian Labor Party!

My life has not been about the pursuit or gain of power but to confiscate power back from government to free people.

From the dockyards of Kronstat to the editorial desk of The Age, the Left always want to control and brutalise. By restricting freedom of speech, they are building Australian gulags for words and thoughts.”

But apparently this freedom does not extend to the ABC who McGrath threatened during his speech saying

“I want to support the ABC. I like the ABC. Yet while it continues to represent only inner-city leftist views, and funded by our taxes, it is in danger of losing its social licence to operate. I am calling for a review of the ABC’s charter. And if they fail to make inroads to restore balance, then the ABC should be sold and replaced by a regional and rural broadcasting service. In the meantime, Triple J, because of its demographic dominance and clear ability to stand on its own, should be immediately sold.”

McGrath is now back in the news bemoaning the supposed bias of the ABC’s Q&A programme.

Q&A is the only television program where members of the public can directly ask questions of our elected representatives. The topics and panel members are usually chosen in response to concerns raised on social media, or events such as the budget or the writer’s festival, or to coincide with the visit of different experts or celebrities.

We have a chance to watch the body language, to see rare glimpses of unscripted responses, to hear differing views from other members of the panel.

The program is usually broadcast from the ABC’s studios in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo. Anyone wishing to be in the audience can fill in a form on the program’s website, which as well as asking for contact details, asks some questions relating to the applicant’s political views to help “select a diverse and well-balanced audience”.

Perhaps people from the right of politics are not the questioning kind or have no interest in taking part in something on the ABC. They most certainly are invited.

The most frequently-appearing panellists on Q&A, as of 9 March 2015, were

Coalition: (Total 149)

Christopher Pyne (21), Malcolm Turnbull (21), Barnaby Joyce (16), George Brandis (15), Joe Hockey (14), Julie Bishop (12), Greg Hunt (11), Sophie Mirabella (11), Amanda Vanstone (10), Kelly O’Dwyer (10), Tony Abbott (8)

Labor: (Total 112)

Tanya Plibersek (21), Bill Shorten (16), Penny Wong (14), Craig Emerson (12), Graham Richardson (12), Chris Bowen (11), Tony Burke (9), Kate Ellis (9), Lindsay Tanner (8)

Minor parties:

Christine Milne (10), Clive Palmer (8)

The Australian:

Janet Albrechtsen (12), Greg Sheridan (11), Judith Sloan (9)

The Guardian:

David Marr (9)

Author:

Germaine Greer (9)

By my count, that is 189 appearances from the right and 140 from the left.

Maths isn’t the only questionable thing about Senator McGrath.

McGrath spent his earliest political days as a teenager, doing volunteer campaign work for the Liberals in the seat of Toowoomba North. “One of those nerdy kids who are right into politics”, he joined the Young Liberals, who he describes as the “true bearers of the flame of liberty and freedom”, while he studied law at Griffith University.

After working on the unsuccessful Liberal campaign in the 2002 South Australian state election, McGrath eventually ended up director of political strategy for Boris Johnson in his successful bid in 2008 to become mayor of London.

Following the election on May 1, McGrath became Johnson’s chief political advisor in office, but it was less than two months before he was sacked.

Johnson had an uneasy relationship with the city’s black community having, as a journalist, previously described black Londoners as “picanninies” and “Africans and their watermelon smiles”.

When, in an interview, it was suggested to McGrath that some black Britons might leave the country if Mr Johnson became mayor, he responded: “Let them go if they don’t like it here.”

McGrath was sacked soon after the matter became public.

Mr Johnson said in a statement that if Mr McGrath had stayed, his comments would have provided “ammunition” for critics of his mayoralty.

McGrath didn’t return straight away to Australia, instead running a successful 2008 election campaign in the Maldives and an unsuccessful one in Sri Lanka in 2009.

Amidst widespread pre-poll violence, allegations of vote-tampering and intimidation in the Sri Lankan election, Mr McGrath, who was working as a campaign adviser to the opposition, blamed Rajapaksa’s domination of election coverage on Government-owned media.

”The coverage Rajapaksa got on state media just destroyed us,” he said.

I would have thought the intimidation and alleged fraud may have been greater concerns but, for a man who mentioned Mark Textor as a teacher and mentor in his maiden speech, I suppose it’s all about the ads.

In 2010, Brian Loughnane suggested McGrath for the job of running the LNP’s federal campaign in Queensland.

In 2011 the then 38 year old campaign director was revealed as the architect behind a scheme to pay disgruntled former Labor staffer and candidate Robert Hough for dirt on government MPs.

The LNP dirt file detailed a minister’s epilepsy and childhood adoption, claims about some politicians’ sexuality, sex lives, drinking habits and health matters, and included details of the schools of the children of government MPs.

Senior LNP figures including president Bruce McIver and aspiring premier Campbell Newman denied knowing about the dirt files until The Courier-Mail raised the matter.

They said LNP campaign director James McGrath and state director Michael O’Dwyer had been “strongly reprimanded” for commissioning the $3075 research but would not be sacked.

The saga came after Mr Newman had accused Labor of unleashing a dirt unit against him and his family after weeks of attention focused on his personal financial interests.

He labelled Premier Anna Bligh as a “sleaze bucket” and said the state was run by “drunks, punks and desperadoes”.

The message seems to be financial dealings are sacrosanct but personal gossip is an acceptable weapon.

Far from this shameful episode ending McGrath’s political career as many suggested it would, we now see him elected to the Federal Senate where he is pushing for the GST to be raised to 15% and broadened to “cover everything”, the abolition of payroll tax and the reduction of company tax, the abolition of the federal departments of health and education, with universities also to be run at a state level, the abolition of compulsory student unionism, and the repeal of Section 18C of the RDA.

“Each year, I will be compiling my own red-tape report to keep my government and my party on the Hayek road—away from serfdom and towards lower regulation, lower taxes and smaller government.”

I will close with the words of Doug Cameron who was “gobsmacked” by Senator McGrath’s maiden speech.

“These are the people that are supposed to be the high-calibre Liberals. If this is the high-calibre Liberals I’d hate to go to a Liberal party branch in Queensland and see the low-lifes in operation.”

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