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Tag Archives: Christopher Pyne

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

Those of you who read my articles would be well aware I am not a fan of the Liberal Party or their leadership, particularly Tony Abbott.

In fact, even before I figured out Australian politics and where I stood in terms of my values, I can remember thinking Tony Abbott looked shifty, aggressive and untrustworthy.

We’re talking the mid 1990s, shortly after Abbott’s election to federal parliament. Long before I had any deep interest in politics. I’ve always been an astute judge of character and it didn’t fail me in this instance.

It is no surprise therefore that I abhor the Abbott Government and want to see them out of office as soon as possible before they rip our country asunder.

Even if I was more forgiving of this federal government or a more impartial swinging voter I would be worried by what I have seen since their election last September.

Their budget is an absolute shocker and a swift kick in the guts to the middle and lower classes of Australia.

Many of the people attacked by this budget naively voted for Tony Abbott having no idea he would totally and utterly betray them and break promises at a record clip.

The broken promises, lies and deceit are well known by now, along with the horrendous attacks on the most needy in society. No need to repeat them here.

What is concerning me at the moment is the omnishambles that is this government’s internal processes and communications.

On numerous occasions ministers have made statements regarding their department’s policies only to be  contradicted by another member of the government or their own department.

Tony Abbott went on talk back radio and softly told people their proposed changes to the university system meant that students currently enrolled will not be impacted in the slightest.

Wrong.

Currently enrolled students are in fact impacted by the changes from the moment the legislation would take effect.

Why is it the leader of our nation has no clue about the finer details of a key policy in the budget he is so passionate about?

It pays to remember Tony Abbott chaired every meeting, against convention, during the development of the budget.

I find it stunning in the extreme that he has no clue what his own policies are.

Mouth that roarded.

He’s not alone. The popular, pleasant and well loved Education Minister Christopher Pyne has no idea what he’s talking about either. On Insiders recently he claimed that the HECS interest increases that will be allowed under proposed legislation will only impact courses studied after the policy takes effect.

Wrong.

According to the Education Department website, the interest increases apply to all courses no matter when they are undertaken.

How embarrassing.

They are rushing in headlong to destroy the social safety net and increase the gap between the least well off and the most well off yet they aren’t even bothered enough to be properly across the detail.

There are several other instances of stunning ineptitude by ministers like Kevin Andrews but I think you get the picture.

How could it be that a federal government that purports to be so concerned by the so called “debt and deficit disaster” and proud of their budget, has no idea what they talking about?

It doesn’t do much to instil confidence does it?

They are having a hard enough time pitching this budget when they get their facts right without flubbing it every time they attempt to go into its details.

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

It seems anybody that protests this budget is “whinger” or a “leaner” and not a “lifter”.

It wouldn’t be that some people are genuinely concerned about the shock changes and the impact they will have on their lives by any chance would it?

Some people will have support equivalent to 10% of their income ripped away by 2017/18. This at the same time as cost of living blows out under their policies like the GP tax.

The patient doesn’t want or need this medicine. The Abbott Government is like a parent of yesteryear trying to force castor oil down a reluctant and perfectly healthy child’s throat.

Revenue will never be looked at as a way to solve the structural issues that exist in the budget. That would require them to ask the big end of town to do some “heavy lifting”.

They don’t want to break poor old Gina’s back.

It’s all spend side and all on the average Australian.

That might explain why this is one of the worst received budgets in our history and their polls are getting worse everyday.

Confidence in the Abbott Government according to Morgan polling is lower than it ever was during the Rudd or Gillard years.

What does that tell you?

image

They get this budget through, against the wishes of Labor supporters and a 40 per cent of Liberal supporter’s wishes, we could be looking at risking our AAA credit rating or a self-inflicted recession.

It’s quite clear to me Hockey has no clue and just makes things up as he goes along.

The Saturday Paper recently reported what I already knew. This government is completely beholden to the shadowy forces of the Institute of Public Affairs and their far right extreme fringe agenda.

No wonder ministers don’t know their policies. They didn’t even write them.

The Abbott Government are in the habit of berating the Labor Party for their approach to this horror budget.

Hockey and Abbott are all of a sudden keen on putting “good” and “fair” policy first. Ahead of “populist politics” and “negativity”.

They say the Labor Party only “whinge” and offer no alternative.

Let’s assume this is the case.

Now where would an Opposition have got the idea for a strategy like that I wonder?

Worth a thousand words

A picture can be worth a thousand words. Sometimes, you get tired of writing at length on the stupidities, mendacities and offenses of the Government, and the Tony Abbott government is giving us plenty of length to write. But sometimes it’s not the most literate or well-written essay or a finely-tuned turn of phrase that can have the greatest impact and be the most memorable criticism. Sometimes it takes a bit of sarcasm, or perhaps even a picture or two.

The following memes are thus offered for all to share. Feel free to copy, put them up on Flickr or Facebook or Google +. Distribute, copy, and feel free to suggest more.

notsurprised

No surprises? No excuses.

hockey_cigar

Meme based on original photo by Jane Caro

 

What’s $7? “One packet of cigarettes costs $22. That gives you three visits to the doctor. You can spend just over $3 on a middy of beer, so that’s two middies of beer to go to the doctor.”

Independent

Compilation based on images from abc.net.au

If you want to complain about my independence, take it up with the Speaker.

 

“The unemployed, the sick, the welfare recipients hit by the budget, they’re not going to be dancing, are they?”

notmymates

Photo: memegenerator

“Mates help each other; they don’t tax each other.”

offensive

Photo: tumblr.com

Just a blight on the landscape.

notdirecting

Compilation based on images from abc.net.au

Coincidentally raising my hand just before the Speaker stands up. Oops!

 

Why we march!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjaM3Iegw7M

Anybody who saw the above interview with March in March co-organiser Tim Jones would have felt dismayed that the media had so much difficulty in grasping the concept behind the March. How can they have so much trouble in understanding a simple message? In this guest post William Rattley spells it out for them. If the media wants to know why people marched, then they really need to start listening to and engaging with everyday Australians.

Dear Mainstream Media Outlets:

Over the past twelve hours I notice from many television reporters and journalists a reoccurring question in regards to the March in March movement that demonstrated in over thirty locations around Australia in which over one hundred thousand people, young and old, participated in.

That question of course is; “Why are you marching?”

It has come to the attention of a vast number of the Australian population, that our system is failing the people. Whilst it is true that the attention at most demonstrations were focused on the current Abbott-led Governments, and the disastrous decision making by the Liberals, the issues drawing people to march, are much bigger than the political playground.

At the base level people are marching because they are sick of being treated as a number, as a cog in a well-oiled, well-conditioned machine. People are sick of their health, security and happiness being taken from them simply to make a quick buck. People are sick of the environment being disrespected and destroyed.

Yet perhaps most profoundly, is that people are sick of everything being politicised. The people feel disempowered, they feel as though with every election they have to choose between the lesser of two evils, that the system of supposed “choice” really gives very little choice at all.

Issues like the environment, healthcare and education should not, as myself and others feel, be the chew toys of the politicians. Nor should human dignity be defined by how much money our Governments are willing to save for themselves. The people want the truth, not pre-scripted garbage designed to trap everyone in one lane.

People march because they feel that their fellow men and women are being denied basic human rights (marriage equality) or are being treated as less than human (asylum seekers). People are calling for a return to a sense of community . . . a sense of inclusiveness, compassion and respect. Instead of the fear, the divisiveness and the exclusiveness preached by a majority of the political playground and mainstream media.

Image courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/isthatthetruth

Image courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/isthatthetruth

People feel as though Australia has become cold, apathetic and xenophobic, in regards to the way we treat people who come to our shores to seek aid. Yet there is a sense that the apathy also includes the way we relate to the indigenous population… and truly the people are sick of being told who they should like, and who they shouldn’t like. In the end . . . we are all human.

Many demonstrators marched over the weekend (15-17th of March) because they are concerned with Christopher Pyne’s attempts to introduce a heavy Christian influence into our public schooling system. Australia is a land that is home to people of many different faiths, theistic and non-theistic, agnostic and atheist alike . . . they feel it is invasive for Mr Pyne to even consider enforcing his own Christian beliefs upon the majority of public school attendees.

Australians have become outraged by the Liberal Government’s decision to scrap the science portfolio, to abolish the climate commission, to dump on the Great Barrier Reef, and to begin revoking the protections on the Tasmanian forests. I understand personally why Mr Abbott does not believe in climate change, and I can respect his beliefs as a God-fearing Catholic.

However, as a God-fearing Catholic, Mr Abbott should then understand that as the earth is a gift from God, he has a responsibility to treat it with the utmost care and respect. As it looks Mr Abbott perhaps wouldn’t have just eaten one fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would have stolen the lot… and then tried to make God buy them back off him.

Humanity needs to learn moderation . . . and that is what people would ask of Mr Abbott, to think about the future, about his grandchildren, and our grandchildren and make lasting choices for the preservation of our society and our planet. That also means we need to learn to get along with our neighbors and many of the demonstrators are horrified by the image of Australia that Mr Abbott is presenting to the international community.

Humanity cannot afford to continue taking and taking. Our actions shape the world, and whatever we dish out, will have consequences. I personally do not feel that Mr Abbott, or his party, are equipped to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions, and need to be called into account before their indulgence becomes our lack.

Though there are many other issues that people marched for, I wish to touch on one final topic. Australians are sick of getting biased media accounts of what it occurring in politics. Australians are sick of opening their morning paper to see declarations of Mr Abbott as the Messiah, by that self-serving multimillionaire Rupert Murdoch. Australians are sick of the criticisms leveled by the Liberal Government towards the ABC.

We want the truth . . . and if the major media outlets will not give us the truth, we will find it ourselves, and broadcast it ourselves. The Australian people are marching because they are sick of being stuck with second or third best. We want to put the “luck” back into the lucky country. We want to aim for an Australia we can be proud of again, and that others can visit (or seek asylum in) without feeling like second-class citizens.

We want a country of equality, where love, acceptance, empathy and the value of human dignity forms the foundation of our aims and achievements. We want a country where money serves the people, instead of people serving the money (or the corporations with all the money). Finally we want a nation that respects our natural resources and doesn’t destroy them, a nation that is not afraid to research and fund renewable energy resources.

We want our country back, and we’ll keep marching till we get it back. THAT is why we march!

Sincerely,

William Rattley

This article was first posted on Facebook.

The Clubbies

It really is Revenge of the Nerds, writes Hillbilly Skeleton in this guest post.

Back in the day, when I was but a young teen with puberty blues, waiting patiently on the beach at Elouera  for my boyfriend to come in from his surf, minding his towel, Australia was still predominantly ‘White’ I guess you could say, except for the ‘Ities’ and other post-WW2 immigrants who tended to avoid the beaches like the plague because, with their ‘swarthy skin’ (now an enviable olive complexion), and their dark hair and dark eyes, they stood out like the proverbial dog’s balls compared to us lobster-red, Irish-Australian types, or blonde-haired, blue-eyed, archetypal ‘Surfie’ types.

I was the one on the right.

I was the one on the right.

Thus, as is the inevitable wont of all societies it seems to me, we of the Surf culture diaspora needed an antagonist to vent our hormonal spleen against.  An enemy that would cohere us as a group, around which we could circulate like a constellation united in our feelings of superiority. I mean, everyone always wants to be with the cool crowd, or ‘The In Crowd’ as the famous song goes.  So, on the beach the territorial and social games were played out between the ‘Clubbies’ and the ‘Surfies’.  The cool kids were the Surfies and the ‘Losers’ were the Clubbies.

H2

Photo: Surf Rescue Australia

And so it generally remained for a couple of decades, through the tumultuous period of the counter-cultural revolution and global ‘youthquake’, via iconic bands such as the Beach Boys, and in Australia with the high water mark the emblematic community hall-displayed Surf Movie.

Until it crashed ashore and ran aground against the Uber Dag President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and the straight-laced, school-marmish mien of UK PM Margaret Thatcher.

The Clubbies fought back too (thank you Kellogg’s ‘Nutri Grain’ for the marketing), and organised against the Surfies, who were stoned out of their gourds on Nepalese hash and the like, which they had smuggled back into Australia after their pilgrimages of enlightenment to India and the Himalayas-a function of a time in Australia’s history when the Borders & Customs units weren’t para-military operations as they are now, and dog’s noses were only ever used for smelling other dog’s bums.   Talk about a Xanadu!  And no, I don’t mean the cheesy, white-bread Olivia Newton-John song of the same name.  Of course, I must qualify myself by saying this was in the period when religious observance was on the wane, religious extremism and evangelism were but a gleam in the eyes of the Ayatollah Khomeini and Billy Graham. ‘Terrorism’ was something that little boys did to little girls at birthday parties.

Thus inspired by their titanic new Uber Dag global heroes and heroines, who were by now riding the crest of a wave of resurgence of popularity of Conservatism, those members of Australian society covered by the Surf Club umbrella, broadly speaking, and we must count our own Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, as one of that kind, realised that if they organised and clubbed together they could become a force to be reckoned with in Australian society.  As opposed to being the butt of the cool kid’s jokes and subject of their dismissal, derision and condescension.

Fightback!

Fightback! Photo: Lifeteen.com

As opposed to . . .

As opposed to . . . Photo: shutterstock

In fact, you could see the transformation in society, reflected in the two most emblematic teen culture films of that nascent era, ‘The Breakfast Club’, in all it’s gauzy glory of mega doofusness, and ‘Mean Girls’, in all it’s small-minded, wealth-as-indicator-of-worth, demeaning-of-fellow human beings-as-sign-of-superiority glory.

The Clubbies had decided to go forth and multiply and conquer the Surfies.  They completed their Marketing and Business qualifications and began to be supported by the politicians from the parties of Reagan and Thatcher, or became ‘the love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop’ and became politicians themselves, who would enact the laws to ensure that they and their kind prevailed and their subsequent supremacy over the cool kids occurred, even if they weren’t naturally-gifted by birth with anything other than a smart mouth and a wealthy mummy and daddy (Christopher Pyne, I’m looking at you!).

Talk about ‘Revenge of the Nerds’!

In fact, you could map their success by the fact that formerly cool kids who wouldn’t have touched them with a barge pole wanted to become them.

What I take comfort from though is that the Surfies have woken up from their drug-induced haze, well the smart ones have, and they didn’t just throw in the towel and throw in their lot with the Clubbies, they are also equipping themselves with the tools necessary to exact their revenge against their perennial foes the Clubbies.  For the right reasons of course, as they refuse to compromise their principles, being the betterment of society and the globe, free of the straight-jacket that is symbolised by Tony Abbott’s totemic, red budgie-smugglers, white shirts, and yes, blue tie.

I say that, mind you, as a scientist and believer in the laws of Physics, encapsulated colooquially by the saying ‘What goes up, must come down’.  Also, as one of those Surfer Girls of yore, who was imbued with a never-ending wellspring of faith in the simple truth that Good will always end up prevailing over Evil.  Like a true Christian.  Why, like Jesus himself and not the bastardised manifestation of his life and good works that so-called Christians like Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison and the rest of them in their government of the faithful hide their miscreant behaviour behind.

Anyway, as we all know in Australia, the immutable article of faith will always be that the Surfers and the Skaters will always be superior to the Clubbies!

(Sorry for that little bit of meanness of my own creeping in there.  Though you do have to learn from what has made them successful.  Which is complete and absolute faith in your cause).

[twitter-follow screen_name=’HillbillySkill’ show_count=’yes’]

Turn back – you are going the wrong way

If we don’t do something to halt the direction that this country is heading then we are in danger of a crash of catastrophic proportions.

While the rest of the world recognises the critical threat of climate change, and moves towards global action to address it, we remove carbon pricing, dismantle all climate change bodies, change environmental protection laws, and move away from initiatives like Marine Parks and the Murray-Darling water buyback.

When the rest of the world begins transitioning from the dependence on fossil fuels, we approve the largest coal mines in the world and the infrastructure to support them.  We ramp up CSG mining.  Rather than making the polluters pay, we decide to pay them with taxpayer money, and remove the mining tax that would at least give us some share of the money made by exploiting our dwindling resources.

When the rest of the world is increasing the share of renewable energy, we cut $20 million from the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program and $40 million from Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and wind up the Low Carbon Communities program which provides grants to local councils and other groups to make energy efficiency upgrades to community buildings.  We cap government spending on reaching our emission reduction and renewable energy targets, and refuse to contribute to the Green Energy Fund.

In the face of rising unemployment, instead of investing a relatively small amount in the car industry, about one tenth of what we give to the mining companies, we choose to let the industry die and put tens of thousands of people out of work.  But never fear, Sophie Mirabella has been appointed to build submarines instead.

We cannot afford to have the Salvation Army doing humanitarian work with asylum seekers and we cannot afford the mental health experts that were assessing and treating them, but we can afford $1.2 billion for more tents, and $1.1 million for Special Envoy Jim Molan to do something, though I am not sure what.  We apparently can spend “whatever it takes” to stop the boats.

We have just appointed as Human Rights Commissioner someone who told a Senate Committee last year that the Human Rights Commission should be abolished.  His main goal is to champion freedom of speech and a free press.  He feels there has been far too much emphasis on left wing humanitarian silliness, and that we should have the right to racially vilify people.

We have condoned human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and West Papua, been caught spying on Indonesia and East Timor, infuriated China by taking sides with the US, and Indonesia by our boat tow/buy back rhetoric, ignored the UN by siding with Israel, refused to address whaling with the Japanese, and in general, vacillated between tough guy and fawning friend at a rate that would make your head spin.

In the area of health, Westmead Children’s Hospital will lose $100 million in funding for the first stage of a comprehensive redevelopment, while the Children’s Medical Research Institute will lose $10 million and the Millennium Institute will lose $12 million, amongst many other funding cuts.

Even though we have a gambling problem, we undo the poker machine reforms.  Even though we have a drug and alcohol problem, we get rid of the alcohol and drug advisory board. Even though new figures show Australians are fatter than ever, more than $18 million has been cut from obesity prevention programs.  Even though we have a disproportionately high number of indigenous Australians in gaol, we cut $43 million from indigenous legal aid funding.

With the looming crisis of an aging population, we scrap the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing six months before they completed a three year report to help the government design a policy to deal with challenges posed by Australia’s ageing population.  We also block pay rises to aged care workers.  Rather than encouraging low income workers to invest in superannuation to relieve some of the future burden on the old age pension, we cut the co-contribution and delay the superannuation guarantee increase, whilst giving further tax breaks to very high income earners.

Congestion on our roads, parking, and the pollution from cars is a growing problem.  Rather than investing in public transport, we are building more roads, even ones people don’t want, and ignoring Infrastructure Australia’s priorities.

With a slowing economy, rather than looking to raise more revenue, we have employed big business to tell us how to cut spending.

Rather than waiting for the Productivity Commission to finish the many reviews they have been tasked with, we are employing private consultants like Price Waterhouse Cooper to produce reports that say what the government wants to hear.

Even though the Productivity Commission said that replacement wages for paid parental leave would be too costly, inequitable, and of little benefit to workforce participation, we are pushing ahead with a scheme that will cost us over $5 billion a year giving money to people who don’t need it.  At the same time we are blocking the payrise to childcare workers, and cutting $450 million from before and after school care programs, something that would help with job retention and productivity.

Even though we have already had 8 enquiries into the home insulation scheme, we are now to have a Royal Commission.  To pay for this we have cut $6.7 million from the Caring for our Country program, which grants money to conservation projects.

We are also cutting about $1 billion from education by stopping initiatives like the trade training program.

The minister for education, Christopher Pyne, has appointed David Kemp and Andrew Norton to undertake a review into the demand-driven funding system for universities. Kemp was minister for education in the Howard government and Norton was his adviser on higher education policy.

Rather than continuing with the rollout of FttP NBN, we have gone back to square one and employed Malcolm’s mates to stonewall the Senate Committee.  It appears from the redacted documents that some of us will get a far inferior service for much more than anticipated sometime much later than promised, and they will be the lucky ones.

We are rushing to sign free trade agreements in secret which will sign away our rights to make laws in our own country.  We will be at the mercy of foreign corporations and our health initiatives and PBS scheme, environmental safeguards, and perhaps even gun laws, could be at risk.

In the face of growing debt and blown-out deficits stretching into the future, we borrow $8.8 billion dollars to give to the Reserve Bank who said they didn’t need it.  Mr Hockey denies this was a political ploy to make Labor’s debt look bad and, when he takes out the dividends before the next election, that won’t be just to make him look good.  The interest over 3 years will go close to $1 billion dollars.  Expensive PR exercise from the party who promised to stop the waste, pay down the debt, and get the budget back into the black.

The government is restricting access to information, appointing cronies to every position, gagging debate, and pushing ahead with an agenda that blatantly favours big business and the very rich and looks increasingly like the IPAs 100 point wish list.

Unfortunately it is at the expense of our environment, our children, our health, our humanity, and the very fabric of our society.

Western Australians could find themselves with a very grave responsibility in the new year.  At the moment, the only check on Tony Abbott’s ravages is the Senate.

If you get the chance to vote again next year, think very carefully about what Abbott will hand to the big corporations should he have control of both houses.  Think of the repercussions to health and education and social services and workers’ conditions.  Think about how minor parties will vote and who they will give their preferences to.

Currently you have voted for these three Liberal Party Senators:

Linda Reynolds.  Apart from the fact that she was recruited by Brian Loughnane, Peta Credlin’s husband, I can find little about her.

David Johnstone.  Even though he has been Minister for Defence for three months I have not seen or heard anything of him.  Actually, I don’t recall much from him in his time as Shadow Minister either.

And of course, Michaelia Cash, the “Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Woman” as the sign on her door describes her.  Who could forget her recent Senate performance.

Perhaps these people represent your local interests well – I don’t know – but, should you be asked to vote again, I would say think wisely Western Australia – the fate of the nation could be in your hands.

Image courtesy of rendezvousofme.blogspot.com

Image courtesy of rendezvousofme.blogspot.com

No excuses! Except that we have really, really good ones.

 

When Tony Abbott promised a “no excuses, no surprises government”, I must say I only half believed him. What I mean by that, is that I expected plenty of excuses, and because that’s what I expected, I didn’t think I’d be surprised.

But Tony Abbott has surprised me!

I really didn’t expect that anyone could be this incompetent.

As for the excuses, we have Paul Sheehan today complaining how Labor “booby-trapped” Australia’s future. He complains that Labor is blocking the carbon and mining taxes in the Senate, but overlooks Abbott’s blocking of the ETS in 2009. Only some things are a mandate apparently.

“And what do we get? Labor and the Greens opposing all four mandates, and everything else, and some of Labor’s booby traps already exploding. Rudd’s authorising of spying on Indonesia’s President and his wife blew up on Tony Abbott, who suffered further damage as he doggedly covered up for Labor. Labor’s multi-billion-dollar expansion into school education, a state issue, also exploded when Education Minister Christopher Pyne ineptly fumbled his attempt to rein in its costs and impositions.”

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/how-labor-boobytrapped-australias-future-20131215-2zf8y.html#ixzz2na3KxxRy

So there you have it, “Labor’s multi-billion dollar expansion into school education” which Tony Abbott promised to keep before the election wasn’t part of his mandate. Only the things that the Coalition truly believe are part of their mandate, and everything else is just something that you say to get elected. And surely, the voters know which is which!

You know, things like bringing down the debt, that wasn’t a “real” promise. And they’ve made a good start on that, by cutting $3 billion dollars worth of taxes that have been announced, but not enacted. “We don’t need taxes to pay off the debt,” they seem to be saying. “If only we could get rid of this MASSIVE carbon tax, we’d have the deficit ballooning out by so much that we could really complain about Labor… Oh, wait we’re the Government.. Doesn’t matter, it’s all Labor’s fault!”

Paul Sheehan’s article is so full of contradictions that answering it would be like allowing Mitch Johnson to bowl at a blind man. (Actually, not being able to see him may help the English batsmen.) Perhaps, he’s trying to outdo Bolt in the hope of boosting his readership, but somehow he just sounds like he’s making excuses.

Of course, he’s not part of the Government, so we can’t really hold Tony Abbott accountable for what some grumpy, old man writes to excuse the Coalition’s failings.

So, on the promise of repealing the carbon and mining tax, we have the excuse that it’s being blocked in the Senate. I suppose one could argue that’s a reason, not an excuse.

On “stopping the boats”, well, they’ve been very successful, haven’t they? They’ve slowed them, we’re told. But by only announcing arrivals once a week in a press conference that Morrison discourages the press from attending by announcing its location at the last minute, refusing to renew the contract of the Salvation Army to provide services to detainees and sacking the Howard appointed health advisory board they’ve certaining stopped the flow of information. Which is practically the same as stopping the boats, isn’t it?

And, anyway, it’s all the fault of the Indonesians. As Tony said, it’s high time they cooperated! I mean, we expected them to do that when we told the public that we had a good understanding about turning back the boats, and wandering in to Indonesian fishing villages with a wad of cash saying, “Who wants to sell their boat for twice what it’s worth?”

Again not an EXCUSE. A reason!

Christopher “Hey, presto!” Pyne had a neat little act with the incredible disappearing and reappearing $1.2 billion that sounded suspicious like an excuse to me. But Abbott stepped in and announced that Christopher didn’t know what he was talking about and there were no excuses needed because everything was going ahead, so no need to look at this closely any more.

Then we come to the NBN, which they aren’t going to be able to deliver on their promise of a 2016 date. Oh, and the costs have blown out.

‘Mr Turnbull said he didn’t “feel any shame” about the government’s inaccurate pre-election forecasts.

“They were (cost) estimates done in the best of good faith from opposition,” he said.

“As far as the 2016 target is concerned, I’m very disappointed that the company is not going to be able to do that.” ‘

The Age, 15th December.

You see, the estimates were done in good faith. From Opposition. They can’t be held responsible for promises they made then. Sorry. ESTIMATES. Only Labor makes promises. The Liberals have aims, objectives, goals, aspirations, and ESTIMATES. And as for the target, Mr Turnbull is very sorry that THE COMPANY is not going to be able to deliver on the timeline that he ESTIMATED in Opposition. (Gee, I think he should sack the people running that Company and appoint more competent people… Oh, these are the more competent people that Malcolm just appointed. Better bring up your support for a conscience vote on gay marriage, Malcolm!)

There you have it, they’re all REASONS. I don’t know why some people keep calling them excuses.

*                      *                      *

I first published this before the election, but I think it’s time to shout bingo.

Image

Lucy Who?

Lucy Wicks * (Photo: Daily Telegraph)

Lucy Wicks (image from dailytelegraph.com.au)

 

Another great guest post from Kaye Lee, pointing out more idiocy from those entrusted to run our education system.

One could be forgiven for not knowing who Lucy Wicks is – even her electorate had never heard of her before she was parachuted into the seat of Robertson in a captain’s pick by Tony Abbott, bypassing the pre-selection process, much to the chagrin of the local Liberal Party membership:

“NSW State Executive of the Liberal Party have endorsed Lucy Wicks as the Candidate for Robertson. No preselection was held and the executive of the Robertson Federal Electorate Conference was not notified, only told that this was under consideration today. Nominations for Robertson have been open for 5 months, Lucy Wicks being a member of that State Executive that delayed nominations”.

The comments from local Liberals were scathing, as the above link testifies. A poster with the aptly-named persona of Back Room Deals summed up the sentiment thus:

“Lucy Wicks lives in Warringah, Tony Abbott’s electorate . . . hmm. Wicks nominated on Thursday and was rushed through NRC. Then the vote went to State Executive on Friday. The problem is that our leadership has shown no integrity in this issue. To fix the problem in Dobell, a problem of their own making, they take away the democratic rights of Robertson branch members. We will not stand for these tactics, there are 10 branches in Robertson . . . 10 branches with hundreds of unpaid foot soldiers who will walk away, let Head Office pay for the lot come the Election”.

Lucy then called in the big guns, hosting a morning tea at which Bronwyn Bishop spoke. This was the reaction from someone who attended that function:

“Lucy Wicks was totally uninspiring and seemed like an impressionable kid that didn’t have a brain between her ears. The helpers there all seemed like young Liberals that were nice, but really, did nothing to add any degree of credibility at all. Dressed like they came off a refugee boat. Doesn’t some-one give them a dress code at all? As for Bronwyn, she was the main star and Lucy apart from telling us she worked in a factory in the Central Coast really had nothing to say. And it showed. Bronwyn did all the talking and Lucy shut up which is just as well I think”.

Even though there was a 0.1 per cent swing against the Liberal Party, there was an even larger swing against the Labor sitting member, Deborah O’Neill, who in my mind was a hard-working MP who ably represented her constituents. 21.8 per cent of the vote went to the minor parties and Independents. Hardly a resounding victory for the Coalition.

So it was with interest that I watched Lucy ask her first question in Parliament:

“My question is to the Assistant Minister for Education. I remind the minister that childcare groups and parents in my electorate of Robertson have told me of the burden that the previous government childcare rules and regulations placed on costs for centres and parents. Will the minister tell the House how the Government plans to fix the red-tape mess and reduce costs?”

Up bounced Christopher Pyne’s sidekick, Sussan Ley, who seems to have learned her oratory skills from her Minister, to tell us that axing the carbon tax and cutting red tape would fix all the woes of the childcare system. Her proof of this was a couple of anecdotal stories about turning the lights off for an hour and eating individual cupcakes.

Perhaps Ms Ley is unaware of what her colleague in the NSW State Parliament is doing:

Community preschools across the state could be sent broke under changes to state-government funding for three-year-olds as daily fees nearly double for parents of the younger children.

The sector is warning many community centres will be forced to close under a new model that slashes funds for the age group in a bid to get more four- and five-year-olds into classes before they start kindergarten.

In what has been slammed as a further blow to the chronically underfunded sector in NSW, the Community Child Care Co-Operative claims one in three centres could be forced out of business if parents switch their children from preschool to cheaper long day care.

The report, by UNSW professor Deborah Brennan, said the state government would need to “substantially increase” investment in early education to meet its commitments as community preschools had been underfunded for “decades” compared to those in other states.

Ms Ley also failed to mention that the Coalition have cut $300 million from the Early Years Quality Fund:

A $300 million funding boost aimed at improving the wages of 30,000 childcare workers looks increasingly likely to be axed as the federal government continues to sit on the Labor-approved initiative.

The money was to be spent in 1100 childcare centres to bolster the meagre $19-an-hour wages of certificate III childcare workers by $3 an hour and early-childhood teachers by $6 an hour. The starting wage for a university-educated early childhood teacher is $42,000 a year.

The government wrote to childcare centres who had accepted the funding soon after winning office, revoking the conditional funding offers and advising it was reviewing the $300 million Early Years Quality Fund (EYQF).

Ms Ley did not specify what “red tape” would be removed, and when Graeme Perrett asked “What—you’re going to have free-range kids in the childcare centres!”, he was promptly ejected by our fearless arbiter, Bronwyn Bishop.

The National Quality Standard for Education and Care Services can be found in Schedule One which appears at the end of the Regulations.

Having glanced through them, I am not sure which of these guidelines could be dumped, and how that would improve the quality of the service. But then again, quality of education isn’t a goal of this government.

So it is with a great deal of trepidation that I reiterate the question asked by Lucy Who and could we please have some detail to your answer rather than “axe the tax and cut red tape” slogans.

“Will the minister tell the House how the government plans to fix the red-tape mess and reduce costs?”

Kaye Lee

 

This isn’t good enough, Mr Shorten

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

Bill Shorten (image from theaustralian.com.au)

The Government, and in particular Tony Abbott and the education minister Christopher Pyne have come in for a caning over their education reforms which, by all accounts, are a complete back flip (and a lie) from what they promised during the election campaign.

There are two issues: they lied; and their proposed reforms dismantle the far better models negotiated by the previous government.

The outrage is being thundered across social media and a small whimper is also coming from some sections of the mainstream media. But who are raising their voices in protest? Mostly, the protests are from concerned parents via Facebook or Twitter and some State premiers via the non-Murdoch tabloids.

Thousands of people across social media are also asking; “Where is Bill Shorten?” Yes, where is he? This has been a monumental balls-up by the Government and he could, to quote a friend, turn this into a “turkey shoot”. The Government’s lie and back flips over education have been exposed yet he has gone mute. He should be hammering the point home and he should be hammering it relentlessly. It was a style that helped Tony Abbott win office. He can learn from it. Yet what has been the response from the Opposition? This wet lettuce leaf attack:

The opposition education spokeswoman, Kate Ellis, said the Coalition’s backflip was a betrayal of students, teachers and parents.

Wow. I bet that hurt.

I thought, just maybe, that the Labor Party might have something resembling a media release about this on their web site and the mainstream media were playing their usual game of ignoring it. After all, when Julia Gillard was prime minister the ALP site was loaded with media releases from both her and her ministers. Even though they were conveniently overlooked by the media, at least they were saying something. At least they were attempting to get their message out.

So I took a look. This was all I found; a blog post called Abbott Backflips on Better Schools by a person named Deb Boughton which reads:


Have you heard what’s happened?

As a teacher for nearly three decades, it’s absolutely ridiculous to find out that the Coalition Government yesterday announced that they “cannot go ahead with the Gonski funding arrangements”.

The Better Schools reform was set to deliver more resources for our kids and provide greater support for students who needed it most. It’s about making sure that none of my students are left behind no matter what their circumstances are. Now all of that is under threat.

What makes it even worse was that not only are they just cutting funding for our kids, but Tony Abbott and the Coalition lied about it. During the election, they declared they were on a “unity ticket” with Labor’s plan for Better Schools, but now it just seems they want my students and my school to get by with even less.

The NSW Government has already stood up to say that they will fight any changes, but we need to send Tony Abbott a clear message: we want our Better Schools.

I’m not usually a political person, but this is too important for me to stay quiet on. You and I have to speak up on this so we can have the better schools we were promised.

Yours sincerely,

Deb Boughton

Posted by Australian Labor on November 26, 2013

That’s all. Nothing else. It’s a good post and good on Deb Boughton for writing it, but notice the date? November 26. Nothing else and nothing since. Was it a media release? No. Was it by member of the Opposition? No. It was a blog post. A blog post almost a week old that has attracted not one comment. It has received a total of only 13 ‘Likes’ on Facebook and hasn’t even been shared on Twitter.

I would rightly assume that the Leader of the Opposition could command a wider audience than this humble blog. If we can write an article, for example, critical of the Prime Minister that attracts over 115,000 views in one day alone and be shared on 56,000 Facebook pages, over 460 Twitter re-tweets and 330 comments, then what could Mr Shorten achieve?

Bill, you’re obviously doing something wrong, and that isn’t good enough.

 

Letter to the Editor: “Morrie Hits Back”

LETTERS

Image by Keybridge Communications

Editor’s note:

Last week, with my permission John Lord published a letter from Morrie Moneyworthy. It is fair to say that it drew a number of derogatory remarks. Again in the interest of balance I thought we should give Morrie a right of reply.

A letter to the editor.

All those comments were just what I would have expected from the left wing latte sipping loonies of the proletariat. The chardonnay drinking Bolsheviks without any intelligence. All they could do was criticise a few grammamatical errors. Nothing better to do.

The thing is, you commies don’t understand the fundamentals of conservatism. The free market and capitalism. Conservatives (LNP) believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. We believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals unhindered by government regulations. Just before I go on. I read that piece by John Lord: “Why are the Right so Feral”.  (https://theaimn.com/2013/05/21/why-are-theright-so-feral/).

Fair dinkum. He wouldn’t know shit from clay. I’d suggest he gets himself a manager. It’s obvious he’s been handing himself too long.

Surely it’s clear to everyone that we need to be free to pursue wealth. I mean I needed the freedom to accept my inheritance. The same with Gina. There will always be haves and have nots. Even Jesus said that. And Ronald Regan said. If we keep giving more money to the rich, everyone will have more money. It’s called tickle down economics. The poor will just have to wait a little longer to see it work.

Conservatives were born to control capitol. Labour comes after capital. Not everyone can be effluent. Had we had less regulation and let market forces have their way we wouldn’t have had a Global Financial Crisis. Now look at the mess Tony has to get the world out of

Oh and another thing.

I didn’t appreciate all the sarcastic remarks from that women Kaye Lee. I can only say that good manners is a basic tenant of conservatism. So she needn’t worry about what people think of her if she only knew how little they did.

Now where was I? Yes? There is no inequity in society. It’s just that some deserve more than others. We were born to rule. If we don’t have poor people who’s going to do the work.

That’s why I admire Christopher Pyne. It talks a lot of courage to change one’s mind and do what’s best for the country. The audacity to suggest that he told a lie before the election is ludicrous. I mean two many educated people can be dangerous for society. They might all want to be wealthy.

Well I don’t mind wealthy people so long as they aren’t as wealthy as me. If that makes sense.

It’s like my friend Wyatt Roy (I’ve always loved his name. It gives me the erps) said. ‘’Baby Boomers should stay in work longer. We are sick and tired of our generation propping them up’’

In Tony Abbott we have just what this country needs. An undoer. And there’s so much to undo that there will be little time left for doing anything else. That’s what conservatives value most. At this point in time we need an undoer, not a doer. That’s what Tony is.

And while it’s on my mind. I do hope Tony has the good sense to appoint a man as our next Governor General. I mean, fair dinkum, that sheila should resign now. Fancy supporting gay marriage and and a republic. Its bad enough being overrun by Asians and Muslims without giving in to poofters and Republicans. I truly don’t know what’s become of the Lucky Country.

He should appoint John Howard. He would make an excellent GG. Someone needs to saddle up against all these things. Just think, I mean really think about the contribution the Queen has made to our country. And I’m sure Charles will keep up the good work. When we see him.

I will finish with a few comments about the nasty things said with regard to my last letter.

I wont be writing again because I get the impression I am not welcome on this blog. I am at a loss to understand why because all I bring is wisdom and unbiased opinion.

carol sheridan

Surely that is not someone’s REAL thoughts???

I can only speak the truth Carol. There is no need to be so bloody cruel. I have feelings you know. Even if I am wealthy. I think you are so mean that if I paid you a compliment you would probably ask for a receipt.

Jessica

Hilarious! So terrifying that this is how some people actually think – and that they’re running the joint! ‘Morrie’ should post this as a note of support on some LNP Facebook pages and see how many likes and ‘hear, hear’s and ‘bravo, old chap’s he can get!

You’re disrespect is just revolting.

I think you’re that dumb that you must be three bricks short of a load or not the full two bobs worth. Either that or your three sanwhiches short of a picnic.


mludowyk

This has to be a joke – no-one can be that stupid and arrogant, unless they are members of the Liberal Party.

Well, whatever your name is. I could describe you as a pain in the neck but I have a much lower opinion of you.

There were over seventy comments regarding my letter on this blog last week. All of them in such poor taste that I feel I cannot avail myself to share my wisdom with you again. I can only hope and pray that someday the working classes will come to their senses and show their appreciation for the effluence we share.

Morrie Moneyworthy. Malvern.

Abbott’s Nice New Parliament

Democracy 1

In a speech to the Western Australia Liberal Party last weekend Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised a “respectful” new parliament when it assembles for the first time on Tuesday 12 November, promising the Labor years will soon fade like “a bad memory”.

Here are some other snippets from his speech:

Mr Abbott pledged a parliament that “discusses the issues, rather than abuses individuals”.

The prime minister said the parliament wouldn’t impugn the motives of opponents or trash their reputations.

If anyone tried to go over the top, new Speaker Bronwyn Bishop would sort them out.

“And I am confident that after just a few weeks of the new parliament – that parliament that diminished our policy and embarrassed our citizens over the last three years – will soon seem like just a bad dream’’.

“I want to say that we have made a good start, that the adults are back in charge and that strong, stable, methodical and purposeful government is once more the rule in our national capital”.

“I think all of you will have noticed that there is a new tone and a new style in Canberra”.

“Yes, we will speak when we need to speak. But we won’t speak for the sake of speaking and we won’t bang on things for the purposes of a PR gesture”.

He is also on the record as saying this:

“We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public”.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself in order to know that what I am reading, seeing and hearing is in fact real.

Let’s backtrack to Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader.

During his tenure as opposition leader he used colourful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He was a repetitive liar by evidence and by his own admission. He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld.

There has been no other Opposition Leader in my memory who has held the institution of Parliament in contempt to the degree Abbott has. He was the leader intent on creating a sense of crisis, of disorder and dysfunction. His sole aim was the forcing of an early election at which he failed miserably.

His appalling parliamentary behavior was on show for all to see. The abuse of Question Time and the endless suspension of standing orders. The constant refusal of pairs. The over use of censure motions and calls for quorums were all designed to distract the minority Labor Government.

The demeanor of him and his parliamentary colleagues (particularly Christopher Pyne) over the period of the Gillard/Rudd Governments was disgraceful and a blight on our parliamentary democracy. It is true that Abbott found a formula (or was the formula) in Opposition that was suited for the political circumstances of the time. The formula will probably never be repeated because it is unique to certain personalities. There are not many who could play the unconscionable bastardy role that he did. Although his gutter mentality was profoundly suited to it.

And now he wants us to believe that after his attempt at the willful destruction and exploitation of our Parliament (including an attempt to overthrow it), and he now expects us to believe all the bullshit at the beginning of this article.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the character of a person who behaves in such a belligerent manner in opposition and then sees no fault in it. Instead he places all fault at the foot of his opponents. It takes a deluded personality to do so.

Now no one can deny that the behavior of our politicians needs an urgent makeover and we will find it to some degree in this Parliament. However the reasons will not be of the Government’s making. It will be because on the floor the Government has a sizable majority which takes the tone down. Tony Abbott, the new one that is, will as Prime Minister take on a more dignified persona and Bill Shorten is not a negative personality.

Christopher Pyne as the new Leader of the House has already indicated a more reasoned approach to debate despite holding the record as the most ejected politician in Parliamentary history. No one has ever feigned indignation better than the most disliked politician in Australia.

And as Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop will preside over the Standing Orders she so often abused.

If the first few weeks of the Abbott led Government have shown anything, it is the contempt with which they hold the Australian people. We are not fools. We know that a politician whose grounding in politics is adversarial cannot simply change from gutter politician to reasoned leader without taking some slime from the residue of his past with him.

If it’s one thing I dislike, it’s politicians who try to con me. This attempt to eliminate facts, science and knowledge in the information age is ignorance that only a Luddite of Abbott’s technological illiteracy could display. I can acknowledge the reasoning of over exposure but I fear the real one is the suppression of material that may affect opinion. Or it is just lying by omission?

Thus far he has shown a propensity to run from questions, avoid criticism, shut down debate and shut the mouths of ministers. He is fast becoming confused by his own cleverness. An attitude born from his period as Opposition Leader where he came to believe his own bullshit. He is like a very bad actor in a performance of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He is not in control of what personality he wants to be and reverts from one to the other without thinking.

And it’s all contrary to this statement:

‘’We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public’’.

Tony Abbott should be judged by his own standards and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

A Lou Reed Song For Christopher Pyne

No doubt many of you will be aware of Pyne’s QandA attack on Lou Reed on the night of Lou’s death and his refusal to name his “favourite” Reed song, saying that nobody played Lou Reed in the places he went (?). He went on to attack the ABC. So just for you, Christopher.…

Read more

Politics – The Week That Was

parl house

The reality of political conservatism is now well and truly with us. A three year journey of rule by an ideology that believes in privilege over altruistic necessity has begun. It must be said however, that the conservatives won the election and are perfectly entitled to govern.

Tony Abbott once said that ‘’oppositions oppose”. A statement I found to be intellectually barren. Oppositions also have a responsibility to the people and the common good and should act in a bi partisan manner when necessary. They should also hold the government to account for its actions and policies in the stoutest way possible.

Writers of the left (particularly bloggers) also have similar responsibilities. I have wondered since the election what I will write about for the next three years. I have concluded that it is also my duty to hold the government to account. To see to it that the Government governs honestly and transparently and that the media reports news rather than opinion in the guise of propaganda.

Now a week is a long time in politics. Take this week for example we had . . . Well let’s look at them individually and in no particular order as the talent show host would say.

Guess who’s coming to dinner.

Earlier in the week we were advised that the Prime Minister was having a dinner party for those in the right wing media who had given their support in the election campaign. I wondered if there was a room large enough. We were told by Peta Credlin that it was a private function but she couldn’t say who was footing the bill. Given that Tony Abbott is the main culprit in the expenses scandal one would have thought that he would be anxious to appear beyond reproach.

I agree that he should be able to entertain whoever he likes. Just so long as he pays the bill.

The guest list was a who’s who of far right media representation. Andrew Bolt couldn’t make it but indicated he considered Mr Abbott:

”Thoughtful, modest, kind, serious, practical and well-read”.

I seem to recall there were a few things he didn’t read that led to a bit of lying. And perhaps the journalists should all consider charging for the support they give the government. It might help with their declining advertising revenues.

Some of those invited were:

Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Alan Jones, Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Chris Kenny, Col Allan, Paul Sheehan and Gerard Henderson.

I’m sure they all gave their undying loyalty to the conservative cause and that in due course Tony Abbott will legislate to give them all the unbridled freedom of expression they think they need.

Commission of Audit.

And of course we had the announcement of a ‘’Commission of Audit’’. It is supposedly independent but it is led by LCP supporters. One in particular who has financially benefited from his association with the party. Of course eliminated from the audit is revenue, health, education and defence. Complicating matters will be Abbott’s unaffordable Parental Leave Scheme and a commitment to removing Labor’s means test on Private Health Insurance.

And they plan to help pay for the Parental Leave scheme with the superannuation tax breaks promised to lower wage earners. Mostly women, and the elimination on the kids schools bonus.

Trust conservatives to get their priorities in order.

Why are some babies more valuable than others you might ask?

Time will tell, but I will be surprised if the audit doesn’t say that the budget is a disaster and we need cuts cuts and more cuts. Oh but there might just be some concessions for big business.

Washington Post interview.

Tony Abbott last weekend gave an interview to the Washington Post which can only be described in diplomacy terms as pathetic. As Dr Clinton Fernandes said. “Americans will see Tony Abbott as uncouth, coarse and amateurish.”

It is however typical of Abbott. He has never been able to control his tongue. Remember how he ran down the then government in the parliament in front of the American President and backed it up when the Indonesian President visited. You simply don’t bad mouth your own country to foreign journalists.

The Tasmanian Speech.

For years now neo conservatives around the world have been saying that the term “Climate Change” is but a ploy to replace socialism with environmentalism. Abbott said this.

“Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”

With this statement the Prime Minister confirmed what I have long suspected He does not believe in the science. He thinks it’s crap. The cat is out of the bag.

Then on Wednesday the Federal Government’s independent climate policy adviser declared Australia’s emissions reduction target inadequate and not credible. This is the same body Abbott plans to dump in January which only reinforces his total disregard for science.

The draft report said that Australia’s commitment to cutting emissions by 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020 would leave Australia lagging behind other comparable countries like the United States.

Throughout the week discussion has centred on whether Labor will drop its Carbon Tax policy. To do so would be a further capitulation on policy. They should persist with it while at the same time exposing the governments Direct Action plan for the sham it is. At the first sitting of question time every question should be directed at Abbott and Hunt on the finer points of its policy. For three years Tony Abbott has shouted about the ‘’toxic tax’” and turned people against science. It must be forced to explain how its scheme works. No one else can.

Suggesting that towns would be wiped from the map and that roast chickens would cost $100 may very well win you government but now real viable solutions are required.

First indications suggest that Hunt is intent on disregarding this report in the same manner as he has many others.

Then on Thursday the Guardian reported that One third of articles in Australia’s major newspapers rejected or cast doubt on the overwhelming findings of climate science, with climate sceptic Andrew Bolt monopolising coverage of the topic in several high-circulation News Corporation titles, according to a new analysis.

A study of 602 articles in 10 newspapers by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism found that 32% dismissed or questioned whether human activity was causing the climate to change. The articles were analysed between February and April in 2011 and again in the same period in 2012.

Significantly, newspapers based a small fraction of their coverage on peer-reviewed science, instead relying heavily on comment pieces penned by writers without a scientific background.

Isn’t it extraordinary that Australia’s largest newspaper circulation publisher chooses not to report on the findings of 97% of the world’s climate scientists?

‘The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason,never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rationale explanation’

Pink Batts Witch Hunt Inquiry.

Invoking inquiries that are so obviously political sets a dangerous precedent. We have had eight enquiries thus far into Pink Bats that have revealed nothing that is not already known. When finally the judges reveal the result of the Ashbygate appeal can we also have one into it?

HECS Debt

On Q&A Monday night Christopher Pyne the minister with an opinion on everything canvassed the possibility of selling of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme debt to private enterprise. This was promoted in England and proved so unpopular that the government decided not to proceed.

There is no interest on HECS fees and some 20 per cent of the debt is never repaid. Selling the current and future debt could only result in fees becoming more expensive because interest would have to be charged. This would make a University education more expensive for those who are already battling.

I think I shall end here. There were other topics worthy of comment such as the report into the standard of high school education. Malcolm Turnbull’s backflip on his NBN promise. Joe Hockey’s abysmal hypocrisy and self interest on debt and borrowing and his downgrading of the NDIS, but I am told my writing can be a bit long.

Before I end though I must draw your attention to the best piece I read this week.

https://theaimn.com/2013/10/30/an-open-letter-to-bill-shorten/

An afterthought on Andrew Bolt.

Dan Rowden also recently wrote an article for The AIMN revealing the absurdity of Bolt’s writing. I also wrote one earlier in the month. For whatever reason the artist Picasso popped into my head. You see Picasso at the height of his popularity knew that he could produce absolute rubbish and people would believe it was good and he would be paid millions for it. Bolt also knows that he can produce rubbish, people will like it and he will be paid handsomely for it. Not a bad analogy I should think.

https://theaimn.com/2013/10/28/well-that-was-embarrassing-andrew/

https://theaimn.com/2013/10/12/bolt-protecting-abbott-my-response/

What is the Minister for Women’s Affairs going to do for women in this country?

Since forming government we’ve heard a number of Coalition Ministers speak about, or take action on their portfolios. For example, Environment Minister Greg Hunt has shut down the Climate Commission, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, has determined that asylum seekers were now to be referred to as ‘illegals’ and has done his utmost to demonise these poor people, Treasurer Joe Hockey keeps raising the debt ceiling (and his level of stupidity) whilst blaming it on the previous government and Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Education has threatened to overhaul the higher education system and turn public schools independent.

I, and most readers here as well as a large percentage of the wider community have been horrified by their announcements but at least we do know what they’re doing. Not so with the Minister for Women’s Affairs, Tony Abbott. He appears, on the surface, to be as distant from any of the the issues as he is from a probing question.

The Coalition’s September 2013 Policy for Women tells us a little more. Five whole issues fill its pages, being:

  1. Relocate the Office for Women
  2. A Real Paid Parental Leave Scheme
  3. Help Make Child Care More Accessible and Affordable
  4. Take Further Steps to Reduce Violence Against Women
  5. Increase the Annual Target for Women at Risk Visa Grants

It’s not a real lot, is it? And it is safe to assume that only a small percentage of the country’s women will benefit from any of these policies, if indeed they are initiated.

There is nothing for the majority of women, or more importantly the disadvantaged women in our society that don’t rate a mention in the above policy document, such as these:

Female workers

The pay packet is always smaller and the gap between what men and women are paid is still widening, according to the latest workplace survey figures. A study carried out by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) found a $266 a week overall difference between what men and women in full-time work earn. There are also proportionately fewer women in key positions in the Australian workforce.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Mental illness

Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders (18% compared with 11%) and affective disorders (7.1% compared with 5.3%) and are more likely to have anxiety and affective disorders in combination.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Homelessness

Over 40% of homeless people in Australia are women.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Lesbian couples

Thousands of lesbian couples in Australia want the opportunity to marry their partner.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Underemployment rate

In August 2012, the extended labour force underutilisation rate was higher for females than males (15.2% and 11.3% respectively). Not to mention the 350,000 Australian women that are looking for work.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Indigenous women’s health

Aboriginal and Torres Strait women experience poorer health across all health areas compared with non-Indigenous women.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

Poverty

A 10-year study has found Australia’s most disadvantaged are more likely to be, among others, women.

What will the Minister for Women’s Affairs be doing about that?

All of these are issues that should be a priority for the Minister for Women’s Affairs . . . if he cares.

My views on the self appointment of Tony Abbott to the Women’s Affairs portfolio are well known, which are based on his out-dated attitudes to women and a complete disregard of their place in modern Australia. Here’s a recap of what I published earlier:

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons.” Tony Abbott Four Corners 15/03/2010.

“While I think men and women are equal, they are also different and I think it’s inevitable and I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all that we always have, say, more women doing things like physiotherapy and an enormous number of women simply doing housework.” Tony Abbott Herald-Sun 06/08/2010.

“I won’t be rushing out to get my daughters vaccinated [for cervical cancer], maybe that’s because I’m a cruel, callow, callous, heartless bastard but, look, I won’t be.” November 9th, 2006

“I would say to my daughters if they were to ask me this question . . . [their virginity] is the greatest gift that you can give someone, the ultimate gift of giving and don’t give it to someone lightly, that’s what I would say.” January 27th “The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience.” 2010

It has been revealed that after having being defeated by Barbara Ramjan for the SRC presidency, Tony Abbott approached Barbara Ramjan, and after moving to within an inch of her nose, punched the wall on both sides of her head. news.com.au 09/09/2012

‘I think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’ cited 23/08/2012

Gaining momentum across everywhere but the mainstream media are allegations that Opposition leader Tony Abbott inappropriately touched Aboriginal author Ali Cobby Eckerman in an Adelaide cafe last March. First Nations Telegraph 20/06/2013.

Tony Abbott urges women to save their virginity for marriage and reveals mixed feelings about contraception in a new interview. The Australian 25/01/2010.

And who can forget his behavior: standing in front of people as they hold signs calling Julia Gillard a bitch or a slut; rubbing shoulders with people after they’ve said on air that Julia Gillard should be dumped at sea; supporting members of his party who suggested Julia Gillard should be kicked to death.  He also failed to reprimand those in his party who said Julia Gillard needed a bullet.

He can’t even address a female by name; it’s either ‘her’, ‘she’, ‘it’ or someone with sex appeal.

I could best describe his elevated appointment as ‘token’. He may prove otherwise, but as the above problem areas suggest he has a lot of work to do to prove it. If not, 100,000s of women in this country will remain disadvantaged and quite frankly, I believe that’s the way it’s going to stay. Unless of course, Abbott’s Number One policy of relocating the Office for Women turns out to be the most social and economic reforming program ever enacted in this country.

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‘’What’s the fuss. A lot of Abbotts take a vow of silence’’

the truth

It is said by Australian political historians that Bob Hawke’s first ministry of 1983 was arguably the finest the country has ever had. It contained men of the calibre of Lionel Bowen, John Button, Paul Keating, Mick Young, Bill Hayden and Gareth Evans. The outer ministry included names such as Kim Beasley, Barry Jones, and Dr. Michael Blewett.

The only thing it lacked was a balanced representation of women. History also shows that the Labor Party has in the past 30 years corrected this. The boys club has not.

The ministry was successful because its leader acknowledged the intellectual capacity of his ministers and their capacity to implement the party’s policy platform. Added to that was Hawke’s ability to listen. He insisted that ministers (much to Keating’s annoyance because it leads to very lengthy cabinet meetings) be given ample time to put forward their case and for an open debate to take place. Ministers were allowed to speak openly and candidly to the media and the public about their respective portfolios.

Tony Abbott who leads the boy’s club in Canberra has decided that governing the country will now become secret men’s business.

Now there are valid reasons why some aspects of Government business should be secret. These include state secrets, intelligence, issues of war and design patents. However, the type now being practiced by Abbott is based on fear. A fear of embarrassments, of disclosure that might affect image or popularity. It takes away the people’s right to know. Instead, it is based on a need to know philosophy that is both insulting and disingenuous.

A friend suggested to me that given the standard of intellect in his cabinet you could hardly blame him for silencing them. You have to keep people like Pyne and Joyce in their places otherwise you would have bushfires breaking out everywhere.

I countered that by saying that when leaders suppress information or silence people from public debate, or you deliberately withhold material from the public then you are serving yourself and not the people. Can you imagine as a minister being told that if you want to make a statement regarding your portfolio you would need to have it cleared by some minder in the Prime Minister’s office? It says three things. One, if you cannot be trusted to convey your message in a way that reflects government policy then you should get another job. Secondly, that you are not on top of your portfolio or thirdly the party thinks you are incompetent and you are being muzzled.

So now we are faced with a government intent on lying by omission. By information drip feed. It is a policy that cannot survive because the truth is not something that you can hide simply because we are not sure how people might react to it.

Of course, a hungry media intent on feeding the 24-hour news service won’t allow it to happen either. This can be seen with their fishing excursions into politician’s expenses. In the absence of news, they will create it. Governments of any persuasion cannot escape scrutiny by silencing people or hiding things.

Eventually, the truth has a miraculous way of justifying its existence.

We do after all have a thing called the Freedom of Information Act. We all have a right to know. We pay their salaries and their bills, so we have a right to know where that money is going, and why.

Take for example Scott Morrison’s decision not to ease restrictions on media access to detention centres. Journalists now have to sign an agreement not to interview asylum seekers. Yes, that’s right. They are not allowed to talk to people. And at the end of any visit, they have to hand to officials for review any recorded content or be in breach of the agreement. Yes, it’s called democracy based on your need to know. Not on your right to know.

The Prime Minister’s trip to Indonesia has been hailed as successful by the Murdoch press, but can anyone tell me just what the government’s Asylum Policies are? It seems to me that there is a set for Indonesia and then there is what they decide to tell us. It seemed to me like Abbott just acts tough at home while capitulating abroad.

Science, of course, is the great provider of truth and the revision of it. It’s in its readiness to update change and review that makes it so compellingly honest. Now we have a conservative government unafraid to show its mistrust for the change that science brings with it. So much so that it has delegated science to the recycle bin of its ideology. We don’t need to know if it’s counterproductive to capitalistic intent.

The public has every right to be suspicious of a government who deliberately withholds information and condones secrecy. Even be contemptuous of it. If Tony Abbott expects to gain the respect of the Australian public, he will not do so by treating us with this disgusting destruction of our right to know.

‘’We will decide what you should know and the manner in which we inform you. Continue to be calm, disinterested, compliant and ill-informed. And by doing so I shall govern at length.’’

Culture wars, Pyne’s education

Image from abc.net.au

Image from abc.net.au

Education in Australia, emulating principles established in Mother England has always been class-based, and at times deliberately advanced as a method of social control; to keep the lower classes in their place while providing confirmation of the status of those perceived to be “of better breeding”.  The expectation was that young people of culture were to concentrate on refinements to prepare them for their privileged role in society, while the lower classes received preparation for a future in their assumed roles; to provide service and labour.

This was seen to be the proper order of things, and so it remained until the latter decades of the 20th Century.  Children were streamed according to expectations, girls from poorer families sent to domestic and commercial courses, boys to practical skills and both sexes of middle and lower classes off to work age 16.  All opportunities to do anything different resided with those from a more privileged background.

I am the daughter of a factory worker, Dad worked for Hardie Trading in Footscray as a belt maker.  He started his working life with Hardie’s when he was 14 years old, and returned to his old job after serving during the war.  My mum earned extra money doing “doctor’s books”.  I spent most school holidays and most weekends helping my mother by adding up row after row of numbers and entering the amount at the bottom of the small yellow cards, these were the accounts for the doctors’ patients.

Year 10, I was allowed to go into the Professional/Commercial stream, the expectation being that although I was from a working-class background, that I might have the potential to rise to the position of a clerk/typist.

It was not just an expectation, but an obligation that children who were not from the upper classes should leave school, however, I was allowed to stay another two years.

It was never considered that I should ever attend university, so in spite of passing my Matriculation with honours and receiving entrance into the Melbourne University, I did not go.  Achieving Year 12 was the extent that my parents could afford.

This is how it was, there were few expectations that anyone from the working classes, would ever do anything differently.  Wars change things.  The Vietnam War produced the Youth Culture, Gough Whitlam lowered the voting age to 18yrs.  Young people of this time saw that they could achieve just as well as any other; that class, gender and supposed expectations were barriers, but not impossible ones.

I base this push for change on the event of the Vietnam War, but I believe that the ideal of equality and fairness has been a  part of the Australian spirit for a long time.  We like to see ourselves as a country that promotes tolerance, acceptance and equal opportunity, and also that to get ahead in this country, it means an education.

Given this background, our Minister for Education is now Christopher Pyne and he needs to be quoted:

“The federal government isn’t responsible for school outcomes, as he (Pyne) attacked Labor’s vow to lift the nation’s schools to a world top five standard.”, so said the then Opposition Education spokesman Christopher Pyne in September last year.

As Christopher Pyne has already decided that he has no responsibility regarding the issue of school outcomes, then it seems that the obvious solution is to cancel the portfolio of Education.  Think of all the money that Tony Abbott will save.

Below is worthy of a topic unto itself, the complete and utter neglect of our Aboriginal history. When people challenge me on this opinion, I ask name 5 Native American tribes, now name 3 Australian peoples. Our knowledge of our own people is abysmal, there is no other descriptor – yet with a white supremacy overtone, that the little we do know is “too much”.

History study is also under attack with Christopher Pyne, federal Opposition Education Spokesperson wanting to reopen the history wars. In 2010 Pyne attacked Julia Gillard in her then role as Education Minister, alleging curriculum reform was being skewed to “a black armband view of Australian history”, in reference to the curriculum’s “over emphasis on indigenous culture”.

Once again worthy of a topic unto itself, are we a society based on Western civilisation? I somehow think that the Magna Carta, being a document which failed to achieve peace and ended up rebellion sometime around 1215AD (Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord), although worthy of mentioning is only that; worthy of a mention – from another culture and in another time.

The first draft of the history curriculum had not even included the Magna Carta. “We are a society based on Western civilisation . .”

Also, and an attitude which might be considered to be ignoring the rest of the globe;

Pyne claimed that school curriculums gives inadequate attention to Christianity, adding subjects taught on Asia and sustainability to his list.

Pyne also confirms that he prefers a very narrow view of Australia’s culture, one based on one-religion, one belief and in my opinion not valid since we became a nation accepting of others. It is also completely unacceptable that our Minister for Education considers that in a secular country that (any) religion should have any prominence whatsoever, other than in a historical context.

I would now like to quote from the Bradley Report:

A key point of the Bradley Review was to highlight the long-standing under-representation of working-class people at Australia’s universities. Working class people represent 25% of Australia’s general population; however, they represent only 15% of students in higher education.

Indeed, working-class Australians are three times less likely to attend university than other Australians.

In response to these inequities, the Australian Government set up the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program in 2010 and doubled the percentage of equity funding from 2% in 2010 to 4% in 2012.

These initiatives have three aims: (a) to increase the aspirations of working-class Australians to go to university; (b) to increase the percentage of working-class people at Australian universities from 15% to 20% by the year 2020; and (c) to support the academic success and retention of working-class students while they are at university.

This is worth highlighting – that as of last year, people from working-class backgrounds are three times less likely to attend university than those from upper-class backgrounds.

From Christopher Pyne, August 26th, 2012:

The Coalition has no plans to increase university fees or cap places, said the Shadow Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne today.

However now in power:

New Education Minister Christopher Pyne has also opened the door to reintroducing caps on university places, warning any loss of quality would ”poison” the sector’s international reputation.

Quote:

The former Labor government abolished caps on the number of Commonwealth-supported university places, helping an extra 190,000 students to access higher education. This move to a ”demand-driven system” sparked concerns from some quarters about quality suffering.

Let us think about this: Christopher Pyne’s announcement was that the Abbott government may once again cap university places, a reversal of creating tertiary places, which is essential to tackling unequal access to higher education.

Tony Abbott went to the election tackling the heartland, the core working class areas promoting the definitive that all inequities would be addressed – that boats would be turned around, that money would be saved; but there it ended. Did we sons and daughters of blue-collar workers vote for more chance or less chance?

With apologies to the author, who says it far better than myself but to whom I have no link:

Pyne’s announcement then marks the first real breach of the “Abbott compact”; the explicit and implicit deal he made with the Australian people to get elected. The deal was that they would chuck out Labor, if Abbott promised to leave their core social programs — and the progressive impetus behind them — in place.

Addendum:  It seems that according to The Australian, our children don’t need to go to university at all which of course is mere self-justification by this newspaper on behalf of the Coalition.

The previous Labor government’s decision to uncap publicly funded places has undermined that principle and should be reversed. It gave a blank cheque to bloated university administrations whose prestige and remuneration depends far more on the size rather than quality of the student body.

Australia would, in fact, be more productive and prosperous if fewer people went to university.

Did we sons and daughters of blue-collar workers vote for more chance or less chance?

 

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