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Tag Archives: Christopher Pyne

Good Government Starts Today … Or Tomorrow, But We’re Definitely Committed To It!

imageThere’s an old cartoon where the couple in a car are speeding down the highway while there’s hundreds of cars stuck in traffic in a lane beside it. The wife says, “Look at the sign – we’re going the wrong way!” To which the husband replies, “Who cares, we’re making great time.”

Every few days someone in the current Abbott Government makes me remember that cartoon.

Of course, unlike the man in the cartoon, most members of the goverment seem completely unable to acknowledge that they are going the wrong way, even though that’s what the sign clear says.

“We’ve made great progress on the Budget!”

But the deficit is growing and it’s not predicted to get back to surplus any faster than Labor planned.

“But you’d be a fool to trust what Labor said. They promised to get it back to surplus a couple of years ago and they still haven’t done it!”

But you’re the government now; you’re the ones promising to have it back in surplus, then changing the date. 

“Yes, but I’m not a quitter. I’m determined to see this through, as is the PM. He’s a nice bloke, you know. A terrific guy. Family man. Athlete. He pedals really fast. Firefighter. And he’s a fighter. He’ll get back up. Really, I can’t think of someone with more attractive daughters. No, he’s certainly the best person to lead the country. ”

 

Of course, Hockey did acknowledge that having the highest unemployment since John Howard was PM wasn’t great, but attempted to argue that it could be worse. Basically, his point was that if there hadn’t been so many jobs created last year then unemployment would have been over seven per cent, so we were really, really lucky that we’d rid ourselves of that Labor Government who wouldn’t have grown the economy.

He went on to argue that the best possible way to improve the  unemployment figures was to get the economy growing faster. Which, to me, is a bit like a mechanic saying that the best possilbe thing for your car is to get it moving again, because once it’s moving then you won’t have this problem with it stalling. And if it keeps stalling, well, that’s because it’s not moving. At this point, don’t be tempted to ask the mechanic how you’re supposed to get it moving again, because he’ll just tap his nose and tell you that he has a plan, and, though it may not be popular, the best thing you could do is to pay his bill.

In fact, that’s more or less what Hockey said:

“I’m trying to get it to shift and things that have been unpopular but necessary have helped.”

 

I’m still trying to work out how sacking large numbers of public servants is meant to stimulate the economy and lead to an increase in employment numbers in the short term, even if one accepts the rather dubious argument that it’ll help get the Budget back in surplus and once the Budget is back in surplus, all will be well. (And once the car starts moving, it’ll no longer be stalled. $739, please, for parts and labour!!)

But, of course, the week truly belongs to Tony Abbott. Now I’m not going to mention the war – in particular, I’ll say nothing about the holocaust; neither will I make cheap shots about him not being able to stop Japanese subs from coming to Australia. (Actually they’ve announced that it’s no longer the case that Adelaide can’t build them, and that the they’ll be allowed to put in a thing that nobody seems to know what to call, before the contract is given to the Japanese under the free trade deal that’ll lead to jobs, jobs, jobs in whatever part of the world we’re trading with, and now that we have a free trade deal, well, what benefits them, benefits us, because we’re all just one happy free trading partnership where we’ve managed to break down the borders. Actually, change that to barriers. We want STRONGER borders, but no barriers to the movement of money, trade and anything else you care to name, if your donation is big enough.)

So after we’ve had the barnacle clearing, the learning, back to work Tuesday, more learning, and good government starts today day, we were treated to the government’s attempt to bury a report by waiting six months then releasing it late in the day, only to have Tony attack the Human Rights Commission for all he’s worth (no, actually, probably a bit more than that!) A report that was apparently partisan against his government, yet  Mr Abbott suggested only minutes later that he was doing the Labor Party a favour by not following its recommendations, because if he implemented a Royal Commission “… it would condemn them (the former Labor government).” Strange that a report that was so ‘blatantly partisan’ report should also condemn the Labor Government, but, never mind, Abbott’s attack on Gillian Trigg’s managed to create enough attention that the report didn’t go the way of so many reports: We’ve got it, thanks, we’ll read it and get back to you, unless it’s the Gonski Report which Christopher Pyne refused to read because there were no pictures.

But just to cap off the week, we had the sacking of Phil “Smiley” Ruddock. Undertaker Ruddock, the Father of the House (do we know who the mother is?), the third longest serving member ever, Uncle Phil, the Liberal Party Whip was sacked. Make no mistake, Abbott wasn’t going to give him the dignity of resigning to promote generational change, or because he wanted to spend more time nursing a family member’s ingrown toenail, the PM made it clear that the decision was his. (I don’t think that he added and his alone, because that may have necessitated another announcement about how he intended to be more consultative in future, and people tend to grow a little cynical when you announce the same intention to change on a weekly basis, instead of the monthly basis that we’ve grown used to.)

Yep, I’ve heard people argue that the term, “forward progress” is a tautology, because you can’t have “backward progress”. That, of course, was before the Abbott Government.

Cheers,

Rossleigh

A Month in Politics: January 2015

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

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

MY FIRST THOUGHT FOR 2015

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

MY BEST POLITICAL THOUGHTS FOR 2015

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

Jan 3: THE THOUGHTLESS THOUGHT OF 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A THOUGHT ON PERSPECTIVE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have no more campaigns to run.

Applause from his opponents.

I know because I won both of them.

An afternoon thought:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Australia Day.

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

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

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

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

The PM has had a right royal weekend.

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

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

Jan 29: Repeat – Who said this?

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

Unsurprising how high Newscorp journalists jump when Murdoch commands it.

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

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

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

Yes, a lot happens in a month.

Nice try Barnaby

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

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

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

The reality is that the Abbott Government has slashed funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Investment Advisers, The Liberals Make Alan Bond Look Good!

Late last year, I wrote about the Liberals’ criticism of the ANU’s decision to divest itself of shares in fossil fuel companies. As I pointed out, while this was considered “outrageous” by various senior Liberals, the shares being sold had actually been losing value, and apart from anything ethical considerations, it was possibly sound financial sense to sell.

When I’m wrong, I’m happy to admit it. Unfortunately, for those Liberals who I intend to mock mercilessly, this isn’t one of those times. Santos shares have continued to dive and I just noticed this little gem:

Santos shares “worthless” say Credit Suisse.

Now, just last October, Christopher Pyne labelled the ANU’s decision to sell “bizarre” and Jamie Briggs says that he wrote to the Vice-Chancellor  demanding an explanation. Well, I can give Mr Briggs an explanation – the shares are now almost half what they were when they were sold.

Perhaps, that should be one of the Labor Party’s questions in Parliament. Are the Government ministers still critical of the move, or do they now concede that sometimes people in universities might actually know something, even if Andrew Bolt is better placed to lecture us all on climate change. Yes, I know that Bronwyn Bishop would rule it out of order, but it’d be fun to watch.

Just like it was fun to listen to Jamie Briggs tell an ABC interviewer this morning that her question was out of line because, of course Tony Abbott was concerned about the SA bushfires, why he’d commented in response to a question just yesterday, and Mr Briggs believed that he had spoken to the Premier offering whatever help they needed. The Premier’s Office seemed unaware of any such call – perhaps Mr Abbott should have told them who he was.

Here we have the question and response:

Question: And just finally, on the SA bushfires, will there be any assistance package for the people affected?

Abbott:

The standard national disaster relief and recovery arrangements are already in place. We will shortly have a little bit more to say on the Centrelink payments which are often made in circumstances like these. I have been talking regularly to the relevant minister, Michael Keenan, to Minister Jamie Briggs who has the electorate which has been most impacted by these fires.Obviously, Australian summers are prone to fire and flood. It is tragic that we’ve seen, yet again, the ferocity of Mother Nature, but the thing about Australians is that the worst in nature tends to bring out the best in us and that’s what we always see when our emergency services rush to help people in trouble and when communities rally around those people who have lost a very great deal.

 

Mm, can’t see why people who’ve lost their homes would feel that Tony’s response lacked empathy!

P.S. Update

THE Adelaide Hills bushfire is finally under control, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledging about $4 million in assistance for fire-affected South Australians.

The number of houses destroyed of badly damaged in the fire has also been downgraded from 32 to 27.

Mr Abbott toured some of the 12,500ha fireground this morning with Premier Jay Weatherill, before making an announcement on disaster recovery payments.

The Federal Government will pay $1000 per adult and $400 per child to those affected by the fire, who will have six months to apply for the funding.

 

There you go, $4million. That’s nearly as much as he gave the Iraqis.

Believe Me, I Know The Difference Between Satire And Reality!

A number of people commented on yesterday’s This is How Tony Got Elected expressing the idea that the pictures were from a satiric site “Why I’m Voting Liberal” and that I’d mistaken a satiric post for real actual Liberal voters.

Now I am aware that people have sometimes taken made-up quotes from my writing as genuine, even when they’ve clearly been satiric. Even when I’ve used clearly fictional names and characters like “Hoe Jockey”, “Tiny Habit”, “Arnie (I’m not sexist) Corperson”, “The Speaker: Dolores Umbridge” or “Christopher Pyne”. Even when their behaviour has been so outrageous, so unbelievable that surely, surely nobody could confuse them with the actual Liberal Party. (Although there have been a couple of times that the Libs have adopted my satire as their actual policy a few days later – makes me wonder whether all those jobs Abbott created for monitoring social media are actually just searching for new policy ideas.) 

Anyway, I always try to be careful not confuse what Liberals are actually doing and saying with attempts to make them look ridiculous through exaggeration. Admittedly, Abbott, Brandis, Pyne and others make this an almost impossible task sometimes. But, in this case, the photos weren’t taken from the site that wasn’t serious.  I went back and checked the site’s description. It asked for people under 30 to post reasons that they were voting Liberal. I copied its description to show to someone who assured me that the site wasn’t serious:

“Under 30?
Voting Liberal on September 7th?
Tell the country why!

We’re young people who care about our future and opportunities. We care about the economy. We care about what jobs there will be for us in the future. We care about good, sustainable and forward-thinking government. We want real change.

I’m Voting Liberal is a campaign for young Australians.

Get involved! Get together with your friends and send photos to:
imvotingliberal@gmail.com or message them to this page.”

And I found the other site – the satiric one. Yes, it is hard to tell what’s satire and what’s not these days. I mean, how do you caricature Andrew Bolt or Alan Jones? And yes, if that description hadn’t been written before the election, one might easily think that it, too, was purely a send-up of the Liberal’s Real Solutions document.

So yesterday I added the following P.S. to the article.

P.S. Just to clear up some confustion, this is a genuine site and not the parody site.

Update at 8pm. The site seems to have disappeared in the last couple of hours and that link no longer works.

 

If you’ve just clicked on the link. Yep, that’s right. It no longer exists.

Given that there seems to have been no updates to the pictures since the election, it does seem a strange coincidence that the day “This Is How Tony Got Elected” appears that within a few hours, the site disappears, leaving no evidence that these people once cared about “good, sustainable and forward-thinking government”.

Well, this is hardly shades of 1984. I mean, I don’t even know that there was a direct connection to the Liberal Party it may have just been created by a group of concerned young citizens determined to create a stronger economy led by someone who wears speedos and can do a pull-up.

Whatever, it’s gone, and if that’s because of what I wrote yesterday then I’ll need to be careful what I write in future.

I mean, imagine if I wrote about Tony Abbott, and he was gone the next day.

Labor supporters would never forgive me.

 

The less they know the better

The Age of Entitlement may be over for pensioners, students, sick people and the unemployed, but it is alive and well for our fearless leader.

Aside from his salary of $507,338 a year, Tony Abbott has claimed $628,736.33 in expenses for the first 6 months of this year.

In April Tony travelled to Japan, the Republic of Korea and China.  The trip, which lasted from April 5 to April 14 cost us $219,857.04 with the following breakdown.

Accommodation and Meals $56,881.13

Additional Equipment Allowance $410.00

Basic Equipment Allowance $450.00

Fares $30,813.70

Ground Transport $16,746.81

Minor Official Expense Advance $504.00

Official Hospitality non Portfolio related $58,803.98

Related Travel Expenses $51,813.18

Travel Advance $3,434.24

Almost $60,000 for non-portfolio related hospitality?  Party time, drinks are on us.

His trip to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum from January 19 to January 25 cost us $120,309.22 comprised of

Accommodation and Meals $43,694.63

Additional Equipment Allowance $820.00

Basic Equipment Allowance $900.00

Fares $8,109.36

Ground Transport $43,515.63

Medical Costs $230.32

Minor Official Expense Advance $315.00

Related Travel Expenses $20,426.65

Travel Advance $2,297.63

Switzerland is a fairly small country but their “ground transport” must be hellishly expensive at over $7000 a day.

The trip to PNG for a couple of nights in March only cost us $5,549.63 which included $835.15 Medical Costs plus the ubiquitous Basic and Additional Equipment allowances adding to $860.

On the domestic scene, Tony charges us $558 per night travelling allowance every night he is away from home, on average 5-6 nights per month.  No wonder he was so keen to have his photo taken at the cancer clinic before he flew back to Canberra after the private function in Melbourne.

We paid $6,984.86 for the lease and petrol for Tony’s private vehicle on top of the $59,140.27 for Comcars.

It may seem nitpicking to go through the almost $150,000 we spent on office stationery, printing and phones during that six months but the three $15 late payment fees really aggravate me.  Not only is it showing disregard for their creditors and our money, they have thousands of employees but they can’t manage to pay a bill on time?

But don’t get used to having access to this sort of information.

After embarrassing details of Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s lavish trip to London and Rome with his wife were revealed by Fairfax Media in September, the Abbott government decided to refuse to release documents detailing the cost and purpose of overseas travel by Coalition ministers, claiming they could “cause damage to Australia’s international relations” if made public.

Mr Pyne’s trip from April 23 to April 30 to the UK and Italy to “conduct a series of high-level meetings, attend ANZAC Day commemorations and represent the Government at the canonisations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII” cost us $30,661.76.

Taxpayers were billed $1352 to “day let” a room at a swish London hotel before the minister and his wife, Carolyn, flew back to Australia on the same day. More than $2000 was spent on VIP services at Heathrow Airport for the Pynes.

The documents revealed Mr Pyne had got around guidelines that prevent spouses being funded on overseas trips unless in certain circumstances with a special letter of approval by Mr Abbott’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin.

Considering the number of junkets that have been exposed and travel allowances repaid, the decision to not release their claims for travel expenses is perhaps not surprising from this “transparent, accountable, trustworthy, adult” government.

That was then…this is now

In 2011 Joe Hockey said “No qualifications, all the excuses that Wayne Swan talks about – falling commodity prices, a high Australian dollar, nominal growth not being up to standard. Somehow the GFC is ongoing all the time.  So yes, we are upset about this … they think the Australian people over summer will forget the solemn promises.”

This week, when admitting that MYEFO will show the deficit has deepened and the promise of a surplus in 2018-19 has been abandoned, Hockey said “We have faced some significant headwinds this year. Obviously the global economy has come off a bit, iron ore prices have dropped dramatically and we have had some opposition in the Senate that has made it harder.”

After rubbishing the Rudd government’s stimulus spending, Hockey now says the delayed surplus was a deliberate measure to avoid dampening economic activity with a sharp withdrawal of public money.

“We want to keep the economy going, we want to keep it strong …we want to keep that momentum going.”

And he isn’t the only one finding governing is a tad harder than bagging out the other guy.

When the Labor government sought a seat on the UN Security Council, Julie Bishop said “There really has been no justification for the benefit that will accrue to Australia by pursuing a seat at this time.”

Then, in a press conference in New York in November, Ms Bishop delighted in taking an extra minute to remind journalists who’d failed to ask about Australia’s achievements on the Security Council of the “successful two years” our membership had delivered.

Julie has rather enjoyed basking in the limelight but she has also had her problems.

In an interview with the ABC in 2012 while in opposition, Ms Bishop said climate change funding should not be “disguised as foreign aid funding”.

“We would certainly not spend our foreign aid budget on climate change programs,” she said.

In an interview with the Australian in November last year, Mr Abbott said “We are committed to dismantling the Bob Brown bank [the Clean Energy Finance Corporation] at home so it would be impossible for us to support a Bob Brown bank on an international scale.”

After a meeting with Angela Merkel in November this year, Tony Abbott said of the Green Climate Fund “We also have a Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established by the former government and there is $10bn in capital which has been allocated to this.  In addition to those two funds a proportion of our overseas aid, particularly in the Pacific, is allocated for various environmental schemes including schemes to deal with climate change. So, we are doing a very great deal and I suppose given what we are doing we don’t intend, at this time, to do more.”

Less than a month later, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government would take $200 million from Australia’s foreign aid budget over four years to put into the Green Climate Fund.

“I think it’s now fair and reasonable for the government to make a modest, prudent and proportionate commitment to this climate mitigation fund,” he said, adding that the $200 million would be “strictly” invested in “practical” projects in the Asia Pacific region, even though he has no part in the administration of the fund.

Keeping up with Christopher Pyne on education funding is harder than working out Dutton’s GP co-payment or Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

One thing Pyne has continually stressed is the need to improve teacher quality yet the budget tends to indicate he only wants to do that in private schools.

“The Government will achieve savings of $19.9 million over five years from 2013‑14 through efficiencies in the operations of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) including a refocus on core priorities. This includes savings of $9.5 million over five years from 2013‑14 from funding allocated to AITSL by the former Government for its National Plan for School Improvement.

The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities.

The Government will provide $4.9 million over two years from 2013‑14 to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership for the continuation of the Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme (AGQTP). The AGQTP provides funding to non‑government education authorities in each state and territory to improve the quality of education through projects and activities that offer teachers and school leaders opportunities to develop their skills.”

If I was to try to list all the inconsistencies, backflips, and hypocrisies being committed on a daily basis by this government it would be a full-time job requiring daily updates.  And they will be forced into more because their entire approach to governing has been just wrong.

Tony Abbott sees negotiation as weakness and compromise as failure.  He is utterly incapable of admitting to being wrong – “We had a good policy, now we have a better one”.  He must blame others for any problems because it couldn’t possibly be that he is doing anything amiss, even as we have Hockey now grudgingly realising the benefits of stimulus spending.

Tony Abbott is so woeful even his most ardent admirers are forced to report their disappointment.  Fluff pieces with morning show hosts even turn into fiascos as Ben Jenkins reports.

It’s actually just a case of the PM suffering from a phenomenon political scientists call “being extremely shithouse at interviews”.

While Abbott tries valiantly to smash the ship of state through the iceberg of public opinion, it’s easy to forget that our prime minister is, and always has been, a terrible interviewee. His complete inability to change tack renders any interview a stilted exchange with a distressingly sinewy random word generator, in which an answer matching a question is purely a matter of chance.

True, it’s better than his previous strategy of “wordlessly stare into Mark Riley’s soul until he leaves you alone out of pure awkwardness”, but not by a huge margin. Abbott is so unwilling to back down on any matter at all that when he calls David Koch “Chris” for a second time during the interview, the PM doesn’t even acknowledge it, let alone apologise.

When the script stinks and the lead actor is a ham who cannot improvise who is supported by a cast of theatrical sycophants directed by Rasputin in animal print our government is now a farce waiting to become a tragedy.

Co-operative, consultative and collegial?

“I certainly think it’s important that we try to ensure that over time all levels of government are sovereign in their own sphere,” Mr Abbott told Sky News.  “And we shouldn’t be bound by commitments that the former government made that were never affordable.”

Of course, when Tony Abbott made these comments, he was referring to the slashing of government funding for health and education.

But it’s a different story when it comes to the East-West link in Victoria.

After declaring that the weekend’s election would be a referendum on the East West Link, Abbott maintains he is determined to see the East West Link finished – no matter what – and is threatening to withdraw $3 billion of federal funding unless he gets his way.

To satisfy Tony’s wish to be remembered as the Infrastructure Prime Minister (though I suspect there are a few other things that will stick in our minds), he is bribing the states to sell off publicly-owned assets in order to be given billions in co-funding to build his “roads of the 21st century” (finger number 4).

Similarly, Christopher Pyne said the coalition will seek to amend school funding legislation to remove parts that allow the Commonwealth to dictate to the states.

“We’re not for taking over anyone or anything and we don’t subscribe to a command and control philosophy,” he said.

Unless we are talking about school chaplains of course, in which case you won’t get the funding unless you employ religious counsellors as opposed to people trained in welfare and youth counselling.

While Abbott can’t tell the states he is going to raise GST, ripping $80 billion out of agreed future funding and then saying “we don’t run schools or hospitals, it is up to the states to fund them” is a crass attempt at starving them into submission.

Abbott swept to power assuming everyone would just go along with his plans unquestioningly with Coalition governments across the country and a compliant media.

What he didn’t reckon on was people power as a growing number of the electorate are shaking off the political apathy that our easy life has lulled us into.

Abbott’s promise to lead a “co-operative, consultative and collegial” government is proving more ludicrous every day.

Do ya do ya do ya really care?

I make this pledge to you the Australian people.

I will govern for all Australians.

I want to lift everyone’s standard of living.

I want to see wages and benefits rise in line with a growing economy.

I want to see our hospitals and schools improving as we invest the proceeds of a well-run economy into the things that really count.

I won’t let you down.

This is my pledge to you.

-Tony Abbott campaign launch speech, August 25 2013

Nice words but let’s face it – the Abbott government doesn’t give a shit about you.  The evidence is overwhelming.

With one in seven Australians living in poverty, we have a Prime Minister who spends hundreds of billions on defence, security, and buying armaments. We have a Prime Minister who is so stage-managed he refuses to face the electorate on Q&A.

Our Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs has overseen the slashing of funding and the abolition of many successful initiatives that were working towards supporting our Indigenous people and closing the gap. But we have truancy officers aplenty, even if most of them are working for the dole.

We have a treasurer who feels those on welfare, the ‘leaners’, should be the ones to clear the country of debt. His justification for this is that he must cut spending and poor families get more money from the government than the rich, whilst steadfastly refusing to consider raising revenue by cracking down on tax avoidance.

He tells the world that our economy is in good shape while whipping up hysteria here about a non-existent emergency.

After coming to power on the promise of reducing the debt, Hockey has been borrowing so fast the net debt has increased from $178.10 billion when he took over to $217.55 billion at the end of August. PEFO numbers had net debt peaking at $219bn (12.7% of GDP) in 2015/16.  The gross debt has risen from $290 billion to $345.035 billion – that’s extra borrowing of about one billion a week.

We have an education minister who has reneged on funding reform for schools, wants to make tertiary courses unaffordable, has closed down trades training centres, has insulted teachers, wasted money on a pointless review, and wants to rewrite history as a Christian crusade.

We have a health minister who is busily unwinding universal healthcare and preventative health agencies and who wants to discourage the poor from seeing a doctor.

On one hand we are warned about the alarming increase in obesity and diabetes, on the other we have the assistant minister for health, at the behest of her junk food lobbyist chief of staff, taking down a healthy food website.

Senator Nash insisted the health star site be pulled down a day after it was published in Febuary on the grounds it was published in error, despite freedom of information documents showing the minister was warned it would be published, and the states committing to spend $11 million on it.

In June, a watered down version of the site was reinstated, with the voluntary introduction period extended to five years from two and companies allowed to use the star ratings in conjunction with the industry’s daily intake guide.  They also decided to continue voluntary pregnancy warning labels on alcohol, despite poor uptake by mixed drinks and so-called alcopops. Michael Thorn, the chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education, said it was “disgraceful” and put “booze before babies”.

“The alcohol industry will be celebrating that they have been able to successfully avoid introducing a warning label on their products for almost two decades,” he said.

One of the first steps of the minister for social services, Kevin Andrews, was to wind back gambling reform laws despite recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in its 2010 report into Australia’s gambling industry and the Victorian coroner’s report linking 128 suicides in that state directly to gambling..

This is the man who, along with our employment minister (he of breast cancer/abortion link fame), wants to see young unemployed without any income for 6 months of the year, and for the disabled to get out there and get one of those thousands of jobs that are just waiting for them if only they weren’t such bludgers. He also wants to lower the indexation rate of pensions which will cause the gap in standard of living to widen.  All this while cutting $44 million from the capital works program of the National Partnership on Homelessness.

We have an environment minister who wants to cut down Tasmanian old growth forests and expand coal ports and dump sediment on the reef. He has wound back environmental protection laws and the right to appeal and gone on a spree of approving record amounts of fossil fuel production.  At the same time, he has overseen the destruction of the renewable energy industry.  They don’t even send him to world conferences on climate change because, after all, what could he say other than sorry.

Not content with these overt attacks on the environment, the government has quietly initiated a low key, unscheduled review into Australia’s national appliance energy efficiency standards. The only formal explanation offered to date is in the Energy “Anti-” Green Paper, which refers to “opportunities to reduce the red-tape burden on businesses”.

At least they were honest when our communications minister was appointed to “destroy the NBN” and he has done a damn fine job of it. Despite Tony Abbott’s election speech claim that within 100 days “the NBN will have a new business plan to ensure that every household gains five times current broadband speeds – within three years and without digging up almost every street in Australia – for $60 billion less than Labor,” the truth has emerged.

We will be left with a sub-optimal network, a mishmash of technologies, at a time when the world is increasingly going fibre. It will end up taking nearly as long and costing nearly as much as the all-fibre network it is replacing. The industry – and many around Turnbull – is increasingly realising this. But Turnbull will not budge.

Australia is the loser – all because of one man’s pride.

Scott Morrison, our immigration minister, is about as welcoming as a firing squad. He is like Hymie from Get Smart in his robotic determination to stop the boats at any cost.  That goal apparently absolves him from any form of scrutiny, criticism, or human decency.  He has a blank cheque and not one cent of it will be used to help refugees.

Despite our growing unemployment, he is also front and centre in providing Gina with her 457 visa workers – no rights, no entitlements, and if they complain they get deported.

Our minister for trade is working in secret, getting signatures on free trade agreements at any cost – it’s the announcement before the end of the year that’s important, not pesky details about tariffs and the fact that we no longer have the right to make our own laws without getting sued by global corporations.

Our attorney-general, the highest legal appointment in the land, thinks defending bigots is a priority. When faced with illegal actions by the government, steal the evidence, threaten journalists with gaol time and funding cuts, and introduce laws which remove official accountability.  And while you’re at it, let’s bug the entire nation and make people prove themselves innocent.  Even if they haven’t done anything wrong I am sure they have had evil thoughts.

Barnaby was last seen trying to hasten the demise of a few endangered species that are standing in the way of his dams.

Warren Truss is run off his feet planning roads, roads and more roads. Luckily they dumped that idea about releasing cost benefit analyses for any expenditure over $100 million.  Thank god we got rid of that pesky head of Infrastructure Australia so we could get someone who understands our idea of what ‘independent body’ means.  If the people want public transport they can build it themselves.

And how’s our girl doing? She’s looking tired to me.  Making a case for a seat on the Human Rights Council whilst torturing refugees, or being sent in to bat at the world leaders’ conference on climate changed armed with nothing other than a rain forest conference, must shake even asbestos Julie’s steely resolve.  The Armani suits and death stare can only get you so far.  When in doubt, flirt.

I know you would like a mention Jamie Briggs but for the life of me, the only thing that comes to mind is your fawning introductions for our ‘Infrastructure Prime Minister’….

”To introduce our Tony, is what I’m here to do, and it really makes me happy to introduce to you…the indescribable, the incompatible, the unadorable….. Prrrriiiiimmme Minister!”

 

Lawmakers or lawbreakers?

The Readers Digest list of the 50 most trusted professions in Australia ranks lawyers at 39 and politicians at 49 just scraping in in front of door-to-door salespeople and two places behind call centre staff.

Considering these are the people who make, and prosecute, our laws, this is a sad indictment.

The record of the Abbott government ministers with regard to the law makes one wonder if they may just consider themselves above it all.

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinis is continuing to be mentioned at ICAC.  Not only was he involved in shady dealings when at Australian Water Holdings, he is now implicated in emails (that his lawyers tried to have suppressed) from chief fund-raiser of the NSW Liberal Party Paul Nicolaou to Peta Credlin.  As Sinodinis was Finance Director (2009 to 2011) and President (since 2011) for the NSW branch of the Liberal Party, it is hard to believe he knew nothing of the laundering of donations through the Canberra-based Free Enterprise Foundation.

Credlin and Loughnane appear to be in on the act, and Bronwyn Bishop and Tony Abbott have also been named, the former for redirecting funding through her Dame Pattie Menzies Foundation Trust and the latter for his association with Lindsay Partridge the MD of Brickworks who were advocating for the repeal of the carbon tax.

In May, the SMH published an article stating that

“Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their influence on political favours in NSW.

Mr Hockey offers access to one of the country’s highest political offices in return for annual payments.

The donors are members of the North Sydney Forum, a campaign fundraising body run by Mr Hockey’s North Sydney Federal Electoral Conference (FEC). In return for annual fees of up to $22,000, members are rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, often in private boardrooms.”

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former NSW Liberal leader John Brogden.  Both these groups have benefitted from the changes to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

When asked if there should be a federal ICAC, Mr Abbott said that he thought that Canberra had a “pretty clean polity”.

Despite accepting huge donations from bodies with obvious vested interests and loudly articulated demands – mining companies, property developers, financial institutions, hotel and gambling bodies, hospitality industry – Tony Abbott said

“The thing is that we’re going to keep the lobbyists out [of politics]. And the problem that ICAC is exposing is a problem of lobbying, essentially its influence peddling . . . and we’re going to make sure that that has no place whatsoever federally.”

Last night’s edition of 60 minutes showed Mal Brough, by his own admission, directed the stealing of a copy of Peter Slipper’s diary.  James Ashby also stated he was offered employment and legal costs by Christopher Pyne who has always denied any knowledge or involvement.  And now, boy wonder Wyatt Roy is dragged into the fray.  Somebody is/has been fibbing.

It would be very interesting to know who filed the complaint with the Australian Federal Police after Mal Brough went through Slipper’s diary and when the complaint was filed.  There has been some suggestion that is was ex-defender of bigots, Attorney-General George Brandis.

When faced with action in the International Court over Alexander Downer’s bugging of the East Timor Parliamentary offices to gain confidential trade information for a subsequent employer, Brandis reacted by raiding the offices of the lawyer for East Timor, confiscating the evidence and the passport of the key witness.

If laws get in the way, bypass them or abolish them.

In June, the court upheld a challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Program, saying providing funding directly to chaplaincy organisations was constitutionally invalid.  To get around that, the federal government will give a quarter of a billion to the states, insisting they must employ only religious chaplains.

Despite 72 per cent of Australians wanting same-sex marriage legalised, one of Brandis’ first acts was to challenge, and overturn, the ACT’s recently passed same-sex marriage laws.  Why?  Because he could is all I can come up with.

I am sure Corey Bernardi and Kevin Andrews were demanding this ‘depravity’ be abolished.

A poll in 2009 showed that 85 per cent of the country is in favour of voluntary euthanasia but that will never happen while Kevin Andrews has a driving seat in the Star Chamber.

In 1997, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz were members of the Coalition’s fundamentalist Christian faction, the Lyons Forum, who were successful in overturning the Northern Territory’s historic voluntary euthanasia law.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the recently decorated compassionate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop also has an affinity with the law.  Before we were paying for her Armani suits she was busy representing CSR (amongst other “dodgy” corporate clients) famously asking the court “why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

Our Environment Minister Greg Hunt has overseen the roll back of environmental protection laws to facilitate his approval of coal mining.

The Federal Government’s handover of environmental approval powers to the states for development projects will wind back 30 years of legal protection for the environment and put at risk Australia’s World Heritage areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

At the same time, state governments are seeking to ‘fast track’ major developments, such as coal mine and coal seam gas projects, reducing public participation and removing legal rights of local communities to mount legal challenges.

This is a crime that will certainly saddle our children with perhaps insurmountable problems.

And in perhaps the most heinous example of disregard for the law, morality, justice and humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is currently considering a submission calling for an investigation into Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.  The submission was officially accepted by the ICC on May 19, 2014, and it names Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott.  Similar complaints have been lodged with the United Nations.  Let’s hope they can compel our government to accept their legal obligations even if they are bereft of ethics.

hague

The mouth that roared in trouble (again)

In the public eye Christopher Pyne is Australia’s most obnoxious politician. A title he probably wears with pride. The allegation by James Ashby last night on “60 Minutes” that he, Pyne, knew more than he was saying is consistent with Pyne’s general demeanor. Anyone who uses the “c” word to describe a fellow member of Parliament is deficient in morality in one form or another.

That aside, what the “60 Minutes” program last night did reveal was that this sick and sorry event still has much more to give.

If it were simply a question of a parliamentary employee feeling that he was aggrieved by being sexually exploited by Mr Slipper then it could have all been put to bed easily. All he had to do was lodge a complaint with his employer, just like any employee would.

It should also be pointed out that although Slipper’s alleged sexual advances may have been unsavory. As a gay man Ashby would have been familiar with the language and could have terminated it at any time.

For Mr Ashby to say that he didn’t know which way to turn so he went to Wyatt Roy twice for advice is to say the least irrational given that he would have known that avenues were open to him. Why didn’t Roy, Pyne and Brough advise him to use those channels?

Of course not. They saw an opportunity to bring down the Speaker and as a logical extension, the government.

As a blogger, not a journalist, I can allow myself the luxury of speculation. And it is not beyond supposition to assume that when Ashby approached Pyne, the then opposition Education shadow minister would have almost wet himself in anticipation of a political kill.

But of course there are facts in this case that need investigating. And an inquiry is needed to bring them out into the open which of course is unlikely given the discomfort it might cause the government and the Prime Minister.

If no inquiry eventuates then the Labor Party should undertake to hold a Royal Commission into the matter when they next obtain office.

Any logical person would have to conclude that Ashby didn’t act alone. That he required the assistance of others who could only have been Liberal MPs.

Last night Mr Ashby told the program he kept a diary and recorded visiting Mr Pyne’s office.

“Said a lawyer would be paid for as promised and I would have a job – state LNP politics or federal – if I chose to come back,”

If it was a simple sexual harassment case. Why did he need a lawyer supplied by presumably the Liberal Party?

“It gave me a lot more confidence knowing the complaint I was about to make wasn’t going to be held against me because I hadn’t done anything wrong,”

Then later he was told that the lawyer would not be paid for – and there was no future job. Which of course raises the question of who footed the bill and why. It is reported to have cost around $500,000.

Mr Ashby did not reveal the offer in the affidavit to the court where he specifically denied being paid or receiving any other form of offer. When asked on the program he gave a flimsy answer that didn’t seem credible. What might have been the outcome if Justice Rares had known, and indeed what might have been the result of the appeal?

And it raises the question that by not revealing all the evidence did Ashby perjure himself.

To quote Slipper’s lawyer Simon Berry:

“There appears to be a whole lot more evidence that wasn’t in his affidavit that as the program points out probably should have been in the affidavit,”

“I think it’s a travesty because Peter Slipper has not been given an opportunity to clear his name and for the real story to come out,”

Why did Brough ask Ashby to steal, or copy, Slippers diary? He would have been aware that it was illegal to do so.

“Because I believed Peter Slipper had committed a crime,” he said.
Hayes asked: “Was it the right thing to secretly get copies of his diary?”

“That’s for others to judge,” Mr Brough said.

If Ashby, prompted by Slipper, is alleged to have stolen the Speaker’s diary, why haven’t the AFP investigated?

Both Pyne and Brough have denied any knowledge of the events other than what they had read in the newspaper.

‘’I think what he was trying to do is pre-warn me that things are gonna get hot. And I remember the conversation didn’t last too long at all. We literally got up from his table, he walked me towards the door, he said to me, “You’re a braver man than I am,” as we exited and said, “If you discuss or tell anyone we’ve had this discussion, I’ll be forced to come out publicly and call you a pathological liar.”

Late on Sunday night Pyne issued a statement to say:

“I had no specific knowledge of the allegations made by Mr Ashby and the first I knew that he was suing Mr Slipper was when I read it in the newspapers”.

This of course doesn’t explain all of those emails between Ashby and Pyne. And why are both Abbott, Pyne and Brough using the term “no specific knowledge” which of course is like saying; I know something but I cannot tell you exactly. Or it’s a lie about another lie. And to make matters worse the PM, following the interview, is refusing to say even that he had a general knowledge of the situation.

Quoting Lenore Taylor in The Guardian.

”Remember that the case was first thrown out of court as a “scandalous” abuse of process. Justice Steven Rares found Mal Brough, who at the time was the LNP’s candidate for Slipper’s Queensland seat of Fisher, had acted “in combination” with Ashby and a second Slipper staffer “to cause Mr Slipper as much political and public damage as they could inflict upon him” in a bid to advance Brough’s political interests and those of the LNP.”

So we are left with many unanswered questions. If Royal Commissions are fine for the Pink Batt Scheme and Unions, then surely one is certainly warranted for an attempt to bring down an elected government.

What is being harmed here is not the grubby reputations of some politicians unfit to serve our parliament, nor the parliament itself, but the democratic process on which our nation has thrived.

To quote the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus:

“I think it’s always worth pursuing this kind of grubby conduct by members of the federal parliament. It’s worth pursuing because we need to know just what they did. It’s an extraordinary event that occurred here, this attack on the Speaker of the House of Representatives and it’s clear that a number of Liberal MPs were involved – in particular Mal Brough, Christopher Pyne, Wyatt Roy and Tony Abbott, to some extent,”

And there is one other question. What was Ashby paid for the interview?

Image by archiearchive.wordpress.com

Image by archiearchive.wordpress.com

The New SRC with the Groan-ups in Charge!

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

Yes, congratulations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, they said nasty things about us too. 

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

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

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

But you were lying.

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

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

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

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

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

I see. 

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

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

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

What are you going to do first?

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

What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Callow or shallow?

When Nelson Mandela died last year, Tony Abbott joined many other world leaders in singing his praises.

“The world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela will forever be remembered as more than a political leader, he was a moral leader. He spent much of his life standing against the injustice of apartheid.”

But Tony didn’t always feel that way.

When Abbott was President of the Students’ Representative Council at Sydney University, he wrote in Honi Soit that Voluntary Student Unionism “would finally stop all students being taxed so the SRC can fund groups such as International Socialists, South African Terrorists, the Spartacists, Lidcombe Health Workers Collective etc. which are quite irrelevant, not to say obnoxious, to student purposes.”

Abbott’s “South African Terrorists” were the members of Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) political party, to whom the SRC had previously been giving money.

Malcolm Fraser’s Liberal Party, and its associated Liberal student groups at universities, supported the Commonwealth campaign to abolish Apartheid. Abbott did not join these efforts. He was President of the University of Sydney Democratic Club, an affiliate organization of B.A. Santamaria’s militantly anti-Communist National Civic Council and Democratic Labor Party.

These organisations actively supported South Africa’s Apartheid government, if not the Apartheid system itself. Abbott wrote and published the club’s bulletin, The Democrat, and was a close friend of Santamaria. The Apartheid government was seen in Western conservative circles as an important bulwark against Afro-Communist tendencies, which the ANC was thought to exhibit.

Anti-Apartheid activity was alive and well in Australia at this time. Many Australians supported fundraising efforts for the ANC, and participated in anti-Apartheid demonstrations throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The racially exclusive Springboks were banned from playing in Australia between 1974 and the end of Apartheid in 1994. In 1981, the Fraser government refused permission for the aircraft carrying the Springboks to a tour of New Zealand to refuel on Australian territory. Abbott, however, accepted a rugby scholarship to tour South Africa in what former Federal Labor Minister Barry Cohen described as a “universally acknowledged… promotional tour of Apartheid”.

Tony isn’t the only Liberal to change his tune since University days.

A few years earlier, a young Malcolm Turnbull, while describing then-PM Gough Whitlam as an arrogant egomaniac, lauded the Labor Party as a “wealth of opinion and class…diverse and less likely than the conservatives to blindly rally behind one great leader”.  Menzies’ Liberals, on the other hand, had “warmed the treasury benches” for 23 years with “the steak-fed bottoms of the sons of Toorak and the champions of Double Bay” – an interesting observation as Malcolm grew up in Vaucluse and Double Bay and he and his wife Lucy have lived in the Wentworth electorate all their lives.

In 1984, Christopher Pyne signed up for the Adelaide University Liberal Club and the Young Liberal Party before he even went to his first lecture. Soon enough, he was running both shows. Ruthlessly he purged right-wingers from the executive of the Liberal Club. When half of the 400-strong membership threatened to quit in protest, Pyne cheerfully collected the resignations.  He has freely admitted that he campaigned against the reintroduction of university fees purely to win an election, a view he reiterated when interviewed recently saying “Those people who see me as some kind of political warrior are right to think that I would do everything I can to win, so that the Coalition is in government … I’ll do what I need to do to position the Coalition to win elections.”

Sydney University was a very different place by 1987, when Joe Hockey took the reins of the SRC Presidency. The dominant political grouping was the Sydney University Liberal Club, a conglomerate of liberals, soft conservatives, and careerist moderates.

Liberals and Left Action were the two major factions on the SRC, but Hockey was from neither. Indeed, he disparaged the student newspaper, Honi Soit, for their obsession with the ‘return of Liberalism’ and its reluctance to report on student protests.

“One wonders whether Honi Soit is a NEWSpaper or a front for political masturbation,” he wrote in a 1987 Presidential report. “They do not seem to have any shortage of contributors espousing the virtues of Liberalism on campus but when there is student news there is no local coverage.”

Hockey’s policy statement in the 1986 election edition of Honi: “There is no question in my mind that students will never accept fees. I totally oppose any compromise the government may offer.”

His year as SRC President was chiefly spent fighting Labor’s re-introduction of university fees, which had been abolished under Gough Whitlam. But according to a 2012 profile by Bernard Keane, he was “accused of failing to aggressively lead student demonstrations for fear of endangering his Solicitors’ and Barristers’ Admission Board enrolment”.

Hockey’s backers, a ticket called “Varsity”, were decidedly centrist and unaffiliated, declaring they would “fight the burden of factionalism presently hindering the SRC’s effective operation”. In stark contrast to Abbott, Varsity was emphatic: “There should be no further government cuts to university funding.”

Whilst I acknowledge that these were words spoken a long time ago, it appears that, as university students, our current ministers were more endowed with confidence than conviction.  As their careers have unfolded we have seen political expediency trump passion with backflips on not only university fees but climate change, paid parental leave, compulsory superannuation, banking regulation, unaccompanied minors being sent offshore, environmental protection – the list of discarded beliefs is long and growing.

Yes, they were young, but one wonders whether their views were those of callow youth or shallow men.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“Why?”

“We were here first!”

“When did you get here?”

“Fifty four years ago.”

“But my great grandfather was here before that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Abbott.

 

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

 

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

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

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

“Lord” Monckton

 

Ah, perspective is a wonderful thing.

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

Photo: www.theland.com.au

Photo: www.theland.com.au

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

“…I just have to say to Mr. Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government, well with friends like Bolt we don’t need any enemies.”                                            Malcolm Turnbull, earlier this week. 

 

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

 

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

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us to SNAFU…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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