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Tag Archives: Coalition

The Magnificent NBN, Victoria’s “Right-To-Kill Bill” And It’s Just A Flesh Wound…

Writing in “The Herald-Sun” (and no, that’s not really an oxymoron) in May last year, Terry McCrann lauded the government’s NBN success:

 

“RIGHT now, over one million Australians are actually signed on to and using the National Broadband Network. When Labor lost office in September 2013 barely 100,000 were.

So in just two and a half years the number of active users has leapt tenfold — an extraordinary rate of increase in both access and use.

The total number of premises which are able to connect, when and if they choose, has similarly expanded at that spectacular pace, from around 250,000 then to approaching 2.5 million now.

The NBN is finally a done deal. There really is, or should be, no going back to the failed all-fibre $100 billion-plus fantasy of Kevin Rudd and Stephen Conroy.”

 

And just a few weeks ago were told by Malcolm himself, that the NBN was “doing an extraordinary job”. Yes, just a few weeks ago the board that replaced the one that Labor put in place had the situation well in hand and, while even one complaint was too many, now that so many people were being connected then, of course, there’d be more complaints. After all, people are such ungrateful wretches, why look at how some people are complaining about the closure of Manus. As Tony “the Legend” Abbott tweeted: “For years, Greens and Labor allies demanded Manus close. Now it’s closing, they’re still complaining. They just can’t be trusted on borders”. (N.B, NOT SATIRE. ACTUAL TWEET. I know that it’s sometimes hard to tell. Just like when the Australian Border Force told the Senate that sometimes a boat arrival was not a boat arrival. From what I could understand, a recent boat wasn’t an arrival because it happened and we haven’t had one in over a thousand days so,therefore it couldn’t be an arrival, I’m not sure if it was still a boat.)

But more on Tony later… Mm, that last bit should be read aloud. Anyway, just because in a handful of cases, people were being stuck without a landline, they complained. Don’t they understand that this is the “biggest, fastest” thing in the history of Australia? Nay, the world. Why, it’s the biggest, fastest thing since the big bang. (Not the TV show, the Big one!) Don’t they understand that it’s one of Australia’s shining achievements? Why, Turnbull himself listed it and the NDIS as the achievements of his government.

So it comes as a complete shock to me that Turnbull, the man who took over when there was but a “bare 100,000” signed on to the NBN, should suddenly decide that it was a “train wreck”. Well, in case you think that it’s a mea culpa, remember that Malcolm and his Merry Men, don’t need to apologise because nothing is ever their fault. You see, it was because Labor started the project. And they had to take over from where Labor had left it. It’s not like they could put in a whole new management… Oh wait, they did. But it’s not like they could renegotiate the contract and stop the fibre to the premises… Oh wait, they did that too. But I suppose it’s the 100,000 houses that had signed up under Labor who are having the problems… Oh wait, no it’s not.

Anyway, it’s Labor’s fault because it was their idea, like the problems with energy policy: they want a Clean Energy Target but we’ve put in place: A GUARANTEE. And we’re good at things like that. Who could forget “Our Contract With Australia”? You know, the one where we promised to “End the Waste And Debt”?

Mm. Perhaps I’d better move on to Mr Abbott and mention that he “stopped the boats”, which must have fixed up the hospital queues and the traffic problems in Sydney. A remarkable achievement. In a recent tweet, he told us:

Now, I think that we really need to object to his emotive language. Wherever you stand on the issue, the use of the phrase “right-to-kill bill” is an attempt to paint the legislation in negative light. Ok, he probably neither meant to reference Quentin Tarantino nor suggest that Victoria was declaring open season on Bill Shorten… No, it was a really pathetic way of framing a difficult decision as “killing”. Allowing a terminally ill person to end their own life is vastly different from giving people the “right to kill”. Still, one can see why poor Tones might be finding parallels with euthanasia and what the Liberals did to his leadership and that may be what’s making him behave so emotionally.

But perhaps, Tony just likes to impersonate the Black Knight from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”. You know, “it’s just a flesh wound.” How else could one explain one of his other tweets: “Re AFR story. This isn’t over. There are five million Australians yet to vote and the NO campaign is appealing to every one of them!”

Mm, does Mr Abbott mean that they are making an appeal, or does he mean that the No campaign is appealing to all of them but they just haven’t got around to voting yet?

Whatever, ya gotta laugh. The only other option is for me to decide that I’ve died and I’ve been sent to this absurd Hell, where Donald Trump is president and even after taking the leadership of Abbott, Turnbull behaves like he’s not only betraying all his previous principles, he’s putting his hand up to be the most inarticulate PM since Billy McMahon famously urged people to look at the facts and vote for the ALP… Billy did quickly correct himself, but history would have judged him less harshly if he’d pretended that he meant it. Whatever you think of Tony, he at least gives the feeling that he does have some misguided belief in the things he’s saying, while Turnbull sounds like an understudy who didn’t bother to learn his lines properly, let alone develop an emotional truth.

Why we need more corporate tax cuts

 

ATO data shows that 36 per cent of large companies paid no tax in the 2014-15 financial year. 679 companies including McDonalds Asia Pacific, Chevron Australia, Vodafone Hutchison and News Corp made $462 billion in revenue in Australia last year without contributing a single cent to the nation’s health, education, defense or welfare.

Of the large companies who did pay tax, the effective tax rate on profits was 25 per cent – 5 per cent below the statutory rate of 30 per cent.

Of the 200 largest corporate taxpayers in Australia, companies in the health care, energy and financial sectors paid the lowest effective tax rates of 19 to 24 per cent on a combined income of over $330 billion.

Investors in Australia assume taxpayers will bail out Australia’s big four banks in the event of any of them becoming insolvent. As a result, investors lending to such large banks are prepared to accept lower returns for risk, which lowers how much banks pay for funding. The Reserve Bank of Australia estimates that Australia’s major banks receive an implicit subsidy worth between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion due to this assumption.

An international report on G20 subsidies found that the Turnbull government is continuing to subsidise fossil fuel production to the tune of $5.6 billion a year. Nearly $6 billion a year is paid to Australian corporations though the Fuel Tax Credit scheme. In 2014 it was estimated that State Governments alone had paid $17.6 billion in subsidies to mining companies over the previous 6 years.

Oxfam Australia estimates that the Australian economy is losing up to $6 billion a year in tax revenue due to Australian-based multinationals shifting money to international tax havens.

The federal government remains committed to doing bugger all about this problem, but they are pushing ahead with their plans to cut corporate tax rates. This means that while we’ll still be up to $6 billion a year down on revenue, corporate tax avoidance will be a lot less of a problem in Australia, because the less tax you’re meant to pay, the less tax you can avoid paying.

So the government would like to wish big business a happy and prosperous 2017. For the rest of us, they’ve had to made make some cut backs.

 

Day to Day Politics: Coalition playing catch up politics.

Thursday 21 April 2016  -73

1 So what happened to the “it’s not a revenue problem”? The Coalition is set to raise a lot of it with the news that they are about to hit the superannuation of high income earners. So they should of course. It was an immoral tax discount that had it continued would have in the next couple of years cost as much as the aged pension. Labor can rightfully claim that the Coalition is playing catch up politics because it had addressed the problem months ago.

Remember not so long ago the Treasurer was adamant they would not touch super. This is further proof that it is Labor who is setting the economic agenda.

Mind you, the most confusing of all Coalition spokespeople, Matthias Cormann on News 24 was denying the policy but we all know the good news leaks have begun.

Also consider that Tony Abbott was saying that Labor intended raising five taxes, “a carbon tax, a “housing tax” (reduced negative gearing), a “wealth tax” (a lower capital gains tax discount), a “seniors tax” (superannuation) and a “workers’ tax” on smokers, and they would oppose it all. Now they have ticked off two of them . . . for now.

An observation

The word “lying” (in political terms) has been replaced with the more subtle reference of “overstatement”.

2 Playing catch up also applies to the Coalition’s proposal to make the banks pay the restoration of funding that it had taken away in the 2014 budget. It is estimated thy will have to fork out $120 million. Although given their propensity for ripping people off we might safely assume it will be the consumer who eventually foots the bill.

The Government plans to strengthen ASICs powers but is still saying no to a Royal Commission which the public are overwhelmingly in favor of.

With a list of accusations about poor financial advice, dodgy life insurance, mortgage fraud, rate rigging, corporate bribery and corruption you would think they would take it more seriously.

To quote Ross Gittens:

“For years they’ve been locked in a race to maximise profits. They’ve put profits and executive bonuses ahead of the interests of their customers, and seem keen to resume profit maximising as soon as the fuss declines”.

In any case they are yet again reacting to Labor’s initiatives.

3 At this point it looks as though the Government is set to use our taxes to sell its budget. Well they wont deny it so I’m assuming they will. The dishonesty is appalling. The use of taxpayer funds for political purposes should be banned.

The advertising campaign is set to highlight measures including, super changes,multinational tax changes and an increase to the tobacco excise. All measures the Opposition has had on the table for some time.

Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos is set to face a Parliamentary Enquiry into Liberal Party donations. Remember the NSW Electoral Commission is holding back money until it reveals the names of private donors. In order to pass the basic pub test Arthur might have to take a lie detector test this time.The last time he gave evidence before ICAC he was suffering from selective amnesia.

5 Further research by Corporate Tax experts reveals that 76 of Australia’s biggest multinationals pay on average 16.2% tax which is half the corporate tax rate.

6 Julie Bishop is again repeating and repeating her lie of 2015 when she said that the Coalition inherited ‚‘the worst set of financial accounts inherited by any incoming government in Australia’s history‘‘ Back then she won Fact Checks Zombie, for the undead claim of the year.

Update. Despite Ms Bishops multiple repetitions of the claim, she was, and still is wrong.

7 Flashback circa 2013.

“As far as school funding is concerned, Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket. There is no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding” Mr Abbott said.

My thought for the day.

“Never in the history of this nation have the corporate and privately rich been so openly brazen”.

 

Day to Day Politics: With 17 backflips Turnbull qualifies for the Olympic diving team

Friday 15 April 2016

We can thank Malcolm Turnbull, for ridding his party, and the nation, of the combatant pugilist Abbott. He was rewarded for his effort with election winning polls and a personal popularity rating the envy of any celebrity. Initially with charismatic personality, he seduced and beguiled his way into the hearts of those who wanted nothing more than to see the back of Abbott and some who didn’t.

The punters welcomed, for the time being at least, his sense of reason, fairness, discretion and natural charm, even if these characteristics seemed out-of-place in a party so demonstrably right-wing.

After 7 months of what can only be described as waffle, it has become apparent that he is not the leader people thought he was. I have written hundreds of words, no, literally thousands, about his individual policy backflips but I have never collated them together.

Ben Elthan in his piece for New Matilda does just that and when viewed in their totality it becomes obvious the backflips are worthy of a gold medal. How a new leader could possibly backflip on so many issues is beyond understanding. Well except to suggest that he is incompetent and controlled by the right-wing of his party. Anyway, here is the list, you be the judge. You can read Ben’s piece on New Matilda. But first, here are the backflips Ben writes about:

1) Marriage equality

2) Climate policy

3) Raising the GST

4) Income tax cuts

5) Company tax cuts

6) Capital Gains Tax

7) Simplified tax returns

8) Funding for the Gonski schools reforms

9) University fee deregulation

10) International carbon permits for Direct Action

11) Safe Schools

12) Section 35P of the ASIO Act

13) An Australian republic

14) Tax disclosure

15) The “effects test” for competition law

16) The early budget

17) Income tax for the state.

2 During this week I wrote at length about the need for a Royal Commission into the financial sector. I think those who have so stridently opposed one underestimate public opinion on this one and are already into scare campaign mood. In reality the banks are about as popular as politicians. Here are a couple of small examples of why one is needed.

If one is looking for reasons to justify a Royal Commission into banking here is a small but significant one. The cash rate is 2%. The bank card rate on credit is 21% or there about. A 19% differential.

Here is another: Why is it, if you try to get a $10k personal loan unsecured at around 8% you have a 50/50 chance of being knocked back,  but banks can’t give you a $10k credit card at 20% quick enough.

Here are some bigger ones:

The fact is that on the evidence thus far our major banks are probably (should I use the word allegedly) guilty of insurance fraud, rate fixing and dodgy financial planning practices. They have no conscience when it comes to profit.

The objection to a Royal Commission brings into focus just what sort of democracy we are, or want to be. Are we one where the people are represented by the government of the day or some sort of corporatocracy where the government is just a political appendage of large corporations?

3 A factor we don’t consider when trying to analyse polling is the undecided factor. Lee Mullin. A Facebook friend sent me this:

“As most of the polls have the parties coming together it makes Morgan the standout as they are bucking the trend of the others. With the election getting ever closer, the polls start to take on more significance. I would love to know how they are dealing with the undecideds are they extrapolating them into the numbers or are they excluding them from the numbers and of course what are the raw figures on the undecideds. As that is where the election will be won and lost”.

4 Not often I would agree with the PM but on this he has my wholehearted support:

“I think as we all know, and I say this as a former mediocre rugby player, AFL is the most exciting football code”.

5 Waleed Aly wrote an interesting article this week in which he used a metaphor “The planets are beginning to fall into place for Labor” to explain how the growing discomfort with societal inequality in its many forms was giving Labor a narrative to really differentiate itself with the Conservatives.

They ranged from the wilful horror of Trump, to the right’s defence of the banking sector, into the unfairness of the Coalition’s monetary policy, the fact that major companies and individuals don’t pay tax, and the Panama papers. Notwithstanding the fact that the rich are becoming disproportionately wealthier year by year.

I have written on this subject on this blog before about inequality previously.

Aly is correct though. Both in Australia and overseas there is an acceptance that big business and right-wing governments are cheating. That the ordinary citizen’s rights are not being represented by government. The opposite is true. Governments are representing the interests of the privileged, the rich and big business. Labor has a chance to get back to its grass-roots and represent the common good of the people. I hope they grasp it.

My thought for the day.

“We must have the courage to ask of our young that they should go beyond desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial but greatness. That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of evil minds”.

PS: My worst fears have come to fruition. Yes I am regretfully sorry to inform you that Barnaby Joyce is Prime Minister.

Day to Day Politics: It’s bloody simple when you think about it … a Royal Commission, that is

Wednesday 13 April.

1 Labor proposes a Royal Commission into the financial sector. Particularly the banks. The establishment and those of a conservative ilk cry foul. ASIC, a major regulatory body say they continuously investigate crime and have adequate powers. Repeat, powers. In fact our financial institutions are overseen by four regulatory bodies. The harshest in the world, people of the right scream out.

To me it’s rather simple and I don’t profess any superiority of intellect.

A Royal Commission is needed to find out why in spite of the best oversight in the world it is not working. I can’t make it any clearer than that.

I don’t understand why it is at press conferences when the Prime Minister and others espouse what they see as an almost faultless system of regulation, why some journalists with a bit of brain doesn’t ask the fundamental question:

“Can you please explain then why it doesn’t seem to be working?”

Sabra Lane had the perfect opportunity to put the question to Deputy PM on 7.30 Tuesday night but let the opportunity slip.

Mind you it might have some relationship to the reason why the ATO can’t collect tax from multinationals. They sacked the staff collecting it, or conversely it might be, in ASIC’s case (200 sacked) that the $100s of millions ripped from its budget is affecting its capacity to investigate.

ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft at the commissions Annual Meeting last year said that they were “very thinly resourced”.

In 2013 he said Australia was too soft on corporate criminals and that the Country was a “paradise” for white-collar criminals and the regulator could do little about it because it lacked the resources.

So it seems they have heaps of power with no one to enforce it.

The argument that Labor opposed a Royal Commission last year is a nebulous one. Things can always get worse to the point where a change of mind is not only justified but necessary.

A change of mind when it addresses the common good is a worthwhile thing to do.

Or one also could argue that Labor is making a stand against the greed and corruption being perpetuated on us by big business and the right of the political spectrum in general. If you want to put this to the test, go to a pub or apply Turnbull’s own fairness test.

We don’t live in a right-wing democracy. When you only have Royal Commissions into matters relating to your political opponents and ignore those associated with you, you leave a stench of hypocrisy that has a whiff of gutter politics about it.

As for the banks reaction they are considering a mining type advertising campaign against the opposition.

To quote  marketing consultant Tony Ralph , who has apparently worked on a number of similar campaigns.

”no doubt the banks can run a campaign that will turn the political opportunism of a Royal Commission into an electoral nightmare for Labor”

And if Labor gained power and I hypothetically were leader I would have no hesitation into having a Royal Commission into the Ashbygate Affair.

2 Monday’s ABC Four Corners, if nothing else, confirmed that Clive Palmer is a grubby individual and that nothing in the world matters unless it is of benefit to him. His entry into politics was solely calculated to be profitable to him. The appointed administrator suggests that a “reckless” Clive Palmer instructed Queensland Nickel to pay him nearly $15 million and may have acted as a shadow director for the company according to an administrator’s report which recommends winding up the Townsville-based operation.

He might join a long list of corporate names like Elliott, Bond and Skase. Perhaps a Royal Commission into the breakdown of corporate law.

3 Tuesday’s Essential Poll still has the parties tied on 50/50 apiece. In my view 40% are rusted onto each party. The Greens have about 10% and the rest are undecided.

One should never pre suppose that in a democracy the party you support should be the only one that ever wins. But a vote for the Coalition this time would be an acknowledgement that you are satisfied with bad government and would be happy to experience another three years of it. That you would be happy with a further decline in the standards of our political institutions. You wouldn’t care if your children suffered in their education or if inequality increased. In short you would accept mediocrity, or worse. The right would of course interpret your vote as one of confidence and your regret would be twofold in the realisation that you had committed the same sin twice. Too late then.

I wrote this a short time after the last election:

“I have wondered since the election what I will write about for the next three years. I have concluded that it is 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”.

I think I have been true to my word.

“I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have hate on their lips and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile”.

My thought for the day.

“Are you really doing what is important? What you believe in, or have you just adjusted to what you are doing”.

 

Day to Day Politics: To the pub test you can add Malcolm’s fairness test.

Monday 11 April 2016

Malcolm Turnbull has, since he become Prime Minister, has used the word fair extensively. If you read the following quotes you would, I think, conclude that the man has a fair (pardon the pun) idea of the meaning of fairness. In fairness he is talking about tax reform but it’s fair to assume that his appreciation might extend to other areas.

His talk of tax reform and the fairness of it began soon after taking office and people were overwhelmed with his radical approach which seemed so unlike a conservative one.

Let’s take a look at what he was saying:

A Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared fairness “absolutely critical” to future economic reform in Australia.

B “A reform package must, at the very least, raise the revenue we need, share the burden fairly across the community and do so in a way that incentivises employment, investment and innovation,” he told the audience.

C The Prime Minister said taxation reform must be fair, or it won’t be supported.

D Malcolm Turnbull: ‘burden of tax is best borne by those able to pay it’

E Malcolm Turnbull says the fairness test in his looming tax reform package will be whether people with more resources pay more than people with fewer resources.

F “Fair is obviously in the eye of the beholder, but fair, I think, for Australians, means that the burden of tax is best borne by those able to pay it,” the prime minister said.

G “We have an egalitarian tradition and I think the test of whether any set of measures is fair is whether people look at it and say, yep, that’s fair enough.”

H PM uses key speech to put fairness centre stage in economic approach

I “Fairness is absolutely critical,”

J Mr Turnbull told the Melbourne audience the Government’s overall goal is a “high wage, generous social welfare net, first world economy” where the burden would be shared.

K “The object of the taxation system is plainly to raise the revenue the government needs for its services it provides,” Mr Turnbull said. The Prime Minister said any reform package the government proposed would have to raise the revenue it needed, while sharing the burden fairly across the community.

L “Fairness is absolutely critical. Any package of reforms which is not and is not seen as fair will not and cannot achieve the public support without which it simply will not succeed,” Mr Turnbull said.

The familiar phrase “Everything is on the table” was bandied about but no sooner were they on than they were off. The only remaining reform possible is some tinkering at the edges of superannuation. And that might only be cosmetic.

Over five months the government has made such a mess of its economic policy that it has backed itself into a corner where its future will be judged on the fairness of its next budget.

Never in my lifetime of following politics has a government so unambiguously placed itself in a position where it will rely on a budget to determine its future. One that has to not only be fiscally tough, fair and responsible, reflecting a narrative for the future, but it must be popular at the same time.

Cutting spending is the answer according to Treasure Morrison. The big money is in the areas of social welfare, education, health and overseas aid. There is still social welfare money in the universally condemned and unfair budget of 2014. Education, health and overseas aid have already been hit for six so any further cuts will have to result in dramatic cuts to services.

They are proposing a cut in tax for business without consideration to cuts for the average citizen who pays PAYE tax.

And this all has to be done against a backdrop of the rich and privileged taking advantage of tax breaks either provided by government, obtained by unscrupulous means or simply paying none.

Large financial institutions who because of their importance to the economy are treating the public like gullible fodder to ever increase their obscene profits are under public scrutiny. Everywhere there is corruption, the Panama papers will soon name the 800 Australians allegedly evading tax, also in politics, in the banking and financial sectors, political donations, the misuse of parliamentary expenses, corporate bribery, but the Government seems only interested in addressing corruption that will enhance its prospects of re-election.

They say that regulators like ASIC have more power than a Royal Commission, that our banks are the most regulated in the world but cannot explain how if that is the case, scandals keep on keeping on.

I wonder if the banks would pass his fairness test on credit card rates for example or fines for being overdrawn.

“The critical thing here is that the high standards of putting the customer first, of ensuring that the trust of the community is justified,” Turnbull said. “That requires leadership from senior bank managers and they are providing that leadership and they will provide more. We have a strong regulatory structure to do that.”

The word unfairness has struck a lingering chord with the electorate. An electorate that applies the pub test to everything. Now they have Malcolm’s fairness test. They are now asking questions. Why does the Treasurer and the Prime Minister lie so much about the economy?

Why are they so unable to tackle tax reform in a way that is fair and equal for all Australians? It’s simple really. All of the taxes where a substantial difference could be made happen to be in areas where the rich and privileged are advantaged with taxpayers funds.

Morrison is now faced with presenting a third Coalition budget while at the same time major cost savings from 2014 have not passed the senate. It would not surprise if he has the gall to carry over the savings. Surely that must be fiddling the books.

The problem for Morrison is that ideology forbids the raising of new taxes or for that matter taking away taxpayer funded subsidies already handed out. It is anathema to them. And of course further cuts to health, education and welfare would be unpalatable by the electorate.

Turnbull’s grandiose talk, when attaining power about tax reform has petered out to nothing.

This budget will be judged on its fairness. The only way that can be achieved is, well let me quote Turnbull.

“A reform package must, at the very least, raise the revenue we need, share the burden fairly across the community and do so in a way that incentivizes employment, investment and innovation,”

I don’t believe for one moment they can deliver a budget that is good for the country without putting their instincts for survival first.

My thought for the day.

‘In the recipe of good leadership there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. It however ranks

far below getting things done for the common good’

PS. Interesting comment from a Facebook friend Lee Mullin to my thought for the day, yesterday.

“We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?”

“The ruling class decided to make it illegal not to vote. This legitimised their authority. The ruling class took us into wars, sold our assets we worked and paid for, manipulated information to maintain power, lied about intentions, destroyed the working environment, handed bankers enormous control over money production, distribution and supply, and, as if to say a final “get stuffed”, taxed us for their own benefit and created systems that allowed them to steal by avoiding their own tax liabilities. Would anyone willingly vote for such an appalling structure they choose to call democracy?”

 

Day to Day Politics: How will the young vote when they’re pissed off with politics?

Why are so many voters so reluctant to vote? The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) released figures after the last election that revealed 20 per cent of eligible voters did not cast their ballot in the last federal election and 25 per cent of young voters failed to enrol for the next election.

Of those aged 18-24, 400,000 people did not enrol in time, meaning they were ineligible. In the 2010 Election 3 million people didn’t vote. And a large portion of these were young people. It is evident from the polling and surveys that young people are turning away from politics.

It is a problem that deserves serious attention because it is affecting the spirit of our country’s democracy.

“It is clear from the evidence that the trend is for increasing numbers of otherwise eligible electors to remain outside the electoral system,” Electoral commissioner Ed Killesteyn said.

Are the young not participating in the political process simply because they are uninformed morons, feel disenfranchised or are they actually intelligent individuals exercising some form of protest?

“When you guys get your act together we might consider voting.”

It is a topic that has interested me for some time and some time ago I had the opportunity to test some assumptions. My daughter is PA to the Campus Director, Doug Doherty, at the Lavalla Catholic College, Traralgon in country Victoria. The College enjoys a reputation for academic excellence and was about to hold their Annual Student Elections. The elections are overseen by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and in part duplicate some facets of the electoral system.

On the same day I was invited to conduct a focus group with final year students who would be eligible to vote in the next Federal or State elections.

Two members of the AEC sat in as observers together with the Campus Director. My purpose was to ascertain how well versed the students were politically. Were they cognisant enough on the subject to render an informed vote?

With such a broad agenda facilitating a group such as this can be challenging, even thorny. One has to keep moving things along and not become bogged down on particular issues.

I began with all the required protocols and opened with this statement:

“People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep seated.”

After a short discourse into the meaning of the word malaise, and a little reticence of unfamiliarity, the group of six boys and six girls quickly displayed a vibrant disposition to engage in the proceedings.

I asked a couple of starters. Who was Australia’s first Prime Minister? What does the name Parks mean to you? To my surprise the name Barton came forth as did a reference to Parks being the father of the constitution. I noticed one of the AEC people raise an eyebrow. I followed up with a question on the date of Federation. A couple of boys quickly identified the date and it became apparent that they were more politically attuned than the others. It didn’t however prevent the others expressing a view. The discussion was lively, animated and thirsty for quantitative expression.

With the preliminary questions out of the way I entered unchartered waters. What policy areas do you feel strongly about? One lass ripped into the Queensland bikie laws which rather took me by surprise. I let it go for a while before introducing the matter of Climate Change. This really got them going and a consensus of opinion arose that politicians were treating the matter flippantly. After all it was their future that was at stake, not theirs. The group raised the matter of equality and when I steered it toward Gay Marriage (a delegate subject for a Catholic environment) I was taken with their maturity. These young people are being taught how to think and not necessarily what to think, I thought to myself.

Eventually the Asylum Seeker issue raised its head with a united consensus of altruism. “How could we treat people like we do?” asked one young lass. I concluded that they had an elevated view of social justice.

Even when I broached the subject of the Separation of Powers they were inclined to the view that the Church had too much sway relevant to its influence in society. I wondered if they knew how many Catholics were on the front bench. On the separation subject they did not have a definitive knowledge but unhesitatingly displayed a willingness to jump in the deep end. Such was their zeal for learning.

All this of course eventually led to the inevitable question. What do you think of politicians in general? There answers took me by surprise because they came out in support of our pollies, thinking that in the main they had honourable intentions. Opinions varied when lying entered the discussion. They became quiet animated with their disapproval of the amount of lying in current politics.  Did Julia Gillard lie? Empathically ‘no’ was the answer. How was she treated? Appallingly, they answered.

The group felt that it was the media that characterised and shaped the personality of politicians. When I mentioned the word Murdoch a look of total contempt crossed their faces.

What informs you? I asked. Is it your parents, TV, newspapers, social media? Overwhelmingly the answer came back ‘’Social Media’’ This was unsurprising. It would seem from this group that family had little or no influence. They didn’t trust newspapers or commercial television. They were independent thinkers.

What they had little tolerance for was older people’s reluctance for change, their inflexibility to consider new ideas. It wasn’t a narcissistic display of youthful know all sagaciousness I was hearing, but rather a genuine desire for change for future prosperity and environmental necessity.

The group as a whole did fall down when I broached Ideology. However, it was an area where they showed the greatest thirst for learning and it is an area in which the school curriculum lets students down. When I asked. Do you think the school curriculum teaches you enough about politics? They answered with a collective no. And in what year should it be taught? Year 12 came the reply.

They described Political Philosophy in terms of a predictable Left versus Right argument. The Labor Party tried to do things for people but the Liberal Party was for the rich and big business. A familiar response. I read to them differing explanations of various ideologies and their eyes opened with an eagerness for more information.

I moved on. Does our Constitution guarantee free speech? The assumption was that it did although the two knowledgeable lads differed but couldn’t quiet nail it. “It’s only implied” I said and the assumption disintegrated with looks of disbelief. “We just assumed it was in the constitution!” the group voice chorused .

Could they explain Australia’s system of Government and how the voting system works? Definitively, no, they could not but they made a fair stab at it. They didn’t think there was too much Government citing our geographical isolation and diversity of population. They all identified the three tier structure, understood the voting process if not its methodology.

My time was running out and there were many questions I wanted to cover. Do you know the name of your Member of Parliament? What electorate are you in? What is a gerrymander? How does a bill pass the Parliament? Do you know what hypocrisy is?

I managed to get through them all in my allotted time and finished with one final question. Should Australia become a republic? On this one I found their answers to be simplistic, even thoughtless. But then as one who fought for the referendum with much vigour I might be a little biased. Still, I thought if this college had debating teams, the question “should Australia have its own head of state” would make a good one.

So what did my focus group accomplish? I confess that I expected the group to only have a rudimentary knowledge of politics and its complex machinations. I was pleasantly surprised with their depth of insight into policy and current events. They were indeed informed, bright, well-mannered, articulate and educated. What they lacked in practical knowledge they easily made up for with desire and an enthusiasm to know.

An old adage states: “There is no sin in not knowing, the sin is in not wanting to know.” They expressed a desire to know.

Their school was indeed fostering observation and curiosity but the pity is, I thought to myself, is that we have young adults eager to embrace social political enlightenment and we don’t accommodate the learning of it in our schools. I am sure that in the hour or so that I had with them their knowledge of the political process increased exponentially.

How difficult would it be to foster a few discussion groups such as this?

The young are not voting, this is a serious issue, a serious democratic deficit that we need to attend too.

My thought for the day.

“We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?”

 

Day to Day Politics: Pie in the sky politics.

Friday April 1 2016

1 The now Abbott/Turnbull Government spent three years in opposition before coming to power in 2013 on the back of Labor leadership dysfunction. During this time Abbott spent an inordinate amount of time being negative, opposing everything.

‘Oppose’, that’s what oppositions do, he said.

Policy groundwork was neglected on the grounds that simply being in office would correct things. When the Australian people gifted them with government it became immediately apparent that, despite the most educated bunch of ministers in Australia’s history, they were policy deficient.

It dogged Abbott for the better part of his tenure. So much so that his leadership was challenged. He survived and made the most astonishing statement that ‘Good Government starts tomorrow.’ In doing so he made a public confession that he had governed badly.

Deplorable government continued unabated to the point where it was no longer tenable. So he was replaced with the more affable personality of Malcolm Turnbull. People’s expectations (including mine) was that a new era of public discourse might come to fruition. It didn’t because Turnbull was unable to be his own man. To get the job he had sold his soul to the extremists of his party. Bequeathed on us was a centre left leader under the control of the right.

He promised a new economic debate centered on tax reform saying that everything was on the table. We quickly found that the menu was so good that everything was gobbled up by the extremes of economic obesity.

The latest addition to the menu is a proposal to allow the states to impose their own income tax to fund schools and health. You won’t mind if we continue to fund the private schools will you?

Yesterday I listened to his interview with Fran Kelly and I was left with the unmistakable impression that this was yet another policy cockup. They haven’t done their homework. It is but a blatant attempt to pass the buck.

For some time now the government has been saying that to repair the budget, cuts have to be made. That cutting expenditure was the answer. Revenue was not the problem. Yet during the interview with Kelly whilst trying to justify his proposal he said:

‘It’s not an attempt to raise taxes but there is a revenue problem’.

There may be some merit in his proposal but can anyone seriously persuade me that the states over time won’t raise taxes to accommodate their needs. Turnbull insists that the State Tax plan isn’t about raising taxes but it is, in fact, the very point of the exercise.

This is simply a handball job. The economic mess the Coalition has made for itself could be fixed if they would put their ideology aside for five minutes, govern for the common good, and take note of the recommendations of CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. (See their report ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ laid the basis for economic recovery).

Has anyone considered the individual social inequality this will cause? Or state to state inequality for that matter. Or why would we even need a Federal Government.

What we are experiencing is simply ‘thought bubble on the run politics’. And from a man who should know better. And all because the Abbott/Turnbull Government has placed political egotism and ideology before sound policy development.

Further evidence of this government’s dysfunction was identified when the Treasurer soon after Turnbull’s announced his grand plan appeared to be at odds with his Prime Minister. The best one can say about their relationship is ‘it’s complicated’.

2 For me it’s odds on that the proposal will be rejected with some saving grace for the PM. However, we are no further advanced. A budget is looming in a matter of weeks. A budget that if the Treasurer is true to his word that spending is the only means of repairing the budget, should be a shocker. It has to be if he is fair dinkum. And what about the billions still there from the 2014 that is still stuck in the Senate? He can’t continue to leave it on the books, surely.

It’s hard to believe just how badly this Government is playing the political game.

3 Peta Credlin is to appear on Sky News as an election commentator. They apparently wanted her to join with Bolt to give the channel objectivity.

4 Billionaire retailer Jerry Harvey, the man who views the world through the prism of his own cash registers, reckons we need a two tier wage system where cheap labour is plentiful.

‘Australia doesn’t have cheap labour. Many overseas workers would be prepared to move here for a much better life and half the money Australians earn … I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff‘ he said.

5 Conversely, I was reading the daily Morgan Report and would you believe the Fair Work Ombudsman did a nationwide investigation into the fast-food sector and found that nearly half (47 per cent) of 565 spot-checked employers have not been paying their staff correctly, with workers being paid as low as $6 per hour compared to the statutory minimum of $17.25 per hour.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation found that in nearly one-third of cases, the flat hourly rate paid by the employer to its workers was not enough to cover hours attracting penalty rates and loadings, resulting in underpayments for which an employer could be ordered to compensate the underpaid worker, and fined for breach of the applicable Industrial Award.

Royal Commission anyone?

6 Just when we thought Donald Trump couldn’t go any lower, he does.

Trump was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to define his ‘pro-life’ stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

‘Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle?’ asked Matthews, during the taping of a town hall event.

‘The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,’ said Trump.

‘For the woman?’ Matthews said.

‘Yeah, there has to be some form’ Trump replied.

‘Ten cents, 10 years, what?’ Matthews asked again, pressing.

‘That I don’t know,’ said Trump.

My Thought for the day.

At some time in the human narrative ... in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But thats men for you’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Your corruption is worse than mine, and other taxing issues

Thursday March 31 2016

1 At the crux of the Senate stalemate over the ABCC legislation are two principles. Firstly the Government says the crossbench Senators, because some rorted the voting system, are unworthy participants. A DD will fix the problem it says. In itself that is debatable. Secondly the Government wants its ABCC anti-Union corruption bill passed.

The Senators suggest a compromise that would include all corruption. Not unreasonable you might say. After all corruption is knowingly rife in politics and business.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that corruption in the banking sector and its effect on ordinary people is far worse than that of unions in the building industry. And that corruption in politics is destroying our democracy.

Too unreasonably single out union corruption suggests you rate it worse than other corruption and leaves the Government open, particularly the Prime Minister, to further charges of hypocrisy. Union bashing in other words.

A recent survey by Essential Media found that most respondents opposed the reintroduction of the ABCC, and demonstrated that the Federal Government must be more active in countering misconceptions about the role and function of the construction watchdog.

It remains an open question as to whether the PM really wants a more democratic electoral system or if the ABCC is a more important matter than others that would seem more worthy of its attention.

If per chance the cross benches passed the bill, Turnbull would have some explaining to do as to what the real motive was.

The Essential survey on the following question:

What do you think is the main reason why the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would call an early double dissolution election?

Showed that 14% thought it was because Parliament won’t restore the ABCC. 15% said it was because he wants to get rid of the independents in the Senate and 30% said it was because his Government is losing support and he will have a better chance of winning if the election is held early.

2 The Crickey Poll Bludger in the absence of any Polling over Easter reveals Newspolls quarterly breakdown. It shows the Turnbull Government sinking in Vic, and SA with Victoria leading the way. Another poll reveals that the government will have a hard time selling its budget. An internal poll also shows that Bronwyn Bishop wouldn’t hold her seat of MacKellar and the Nationals will almost certainly contest the seat of Murray. Sharman Stone’s former seat.

This week’s Essential Poll still has the parties 50/50.

3 Those interested in American politics should read this.

‘Justice Scalia’s seat is vacant. Ginsberg is 82 years old, Kennedy is 79, Breyer is 77, and Thomas is 67. Nowadays, the data shows that the average age of a Supreme Court retirement or death occurs after 75.

These are 5 vacancies that will likely come up over the next 4-8 years. The next President will have the power to potentially create a 7-2 Supreme Court skewed in their ideology.

Think about that… 7-2. If the next President appoints 5 young justices, it will guarantee control of the Supreme Court for an entire generation. And 7-2 decisions will hold up much more over time than 5-4 decisions which are seemed to be lacking in mandate’ – Colin Powell.

4 It seems Tony Abbott will run his own campaign in the forthcoming election.

He has expressed his readiness to participate in the 2016 federal election campaign to support colleagues who hold marginal seats. Senator Nick Xenophon said he would be delighted to have Abbott campaigning in South Australia. I suppose Christopher Pyne will also welcome him.

Nifty Nick knows when he is on a winner.

5 I know I’m always on about the NBN but when Australia slips to 60th position in world speed ratings it’s about time we all took notice. What a cock up this supposedly ‘innovatively’ minded Government has made of this medium.

It is just ridiculous that we are building a copper-based service that will be redundant in ten to 15 years. We should all question why we are heading down such an inferior pathway at such a huge cost.

6 How refreshing it was on Tuesday to watch Paul McClintock, a businessman and former staffer to John Howard deliver a speech ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ for CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia minus the politics at The National Press Club.

‘No economic problem in Australia is graver than the persistence of large budget deficits,’ he said.

The research was conducted by a 12 member commission that included current Reserve Bank board member Dr John Edwards and three former secretaries of the federal department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Michael Keating, Dr Ian Watt and Terry Moran.

What struck me was the way in which McClintock demonstrated that when you dispassionately divorce yourself from the politics, and objectively address an economic problem, just how much clearer the answers are.

Contrary to the Abbott/Turnbull governments’ notion that budget repair can only be achieved with spending cuts, the report calls for revenue enhancement. It reckons that $15 billion in revenue ‘enhancement’ measures and $2 billion in spending cuts would bring the budget to surplus in 2018-19.

Now you wouldn’t call these committee members raging socialists but their preferences for revenue raising were suspiciously Laborish.

Singled out were superannuation tax and capital gains tax. Introducing a flat 15 per cent discount on super contributions ($6.9 billion), reducing the cap for concessionary contributions to super to $10,000 ($8.5 billion), halving the capital gains discount ($3.6 billion) and abolishing negative gearing on all assets purchased after December last year ($2.6 billion).

Other options proposed included increasing petrol taxes, cutting the fuel tax credit scheme, cutting industry tax concessions, clamping down on work related tax deductions and extending the ‘temporary’ the budget repair levy.

Without action, the commission found personal incomes would bear the rising burden of taxation.

It all sounds reasonable when you take the politics out of it.

Recommend you read this article by John Kelly on the subject.

An observation.

It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who dont’.

7 My first reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposal to give the states the right to raise their own income tax is that the electorate will never buy it. Imagine the States with that sort of power. He is just handballing a problem he can’t handle.

Turnbull indicated that over time if a particular state had a problem it might say.

‘OK, we have got an issue with one part of our services. Can we fix it ourselves or do we need more money? If we need more money, then they go, the state would go to their parliament, raise the money, go to the people and persuade them of the merits of it.’

A hard sell this one. I wonder how long it will stay on the table. We might even see a perpetually shifting population seeking the least taxing state.

And didn’t Scott say:

‘This is not a government that has any interest in lifting the tax burden on Australians’.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just get companies to pay some tax and stop all the subsidies?

My thought for the day.

‘For the life of me I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party who thinks the existing education and health systems are adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged’

PS: I read last week that the actual plebiscite question that was supposed to be revealed prior to the election had been shelved. Yesterday I read that the plebiscite itself is to be shelved indefinitely. Can’t be true surely.

 

Day to Day Politics: Reducing tax for those who don’t pay any.

Thursday 24 March 2016

1 My headline doesn’t make any sense but then not much does with the Abbott/Turnbull Governments. The tax office tells us that a third of large privately owned businesses didn’t pay any tax in 2013-14. It went out of its way to say that a degree of legitimacy may have been involved.

Really. Let me repeat that. ‘A third of large privately owned businesses didn’t pay tax’.

So my answer to that is that if it was legitimate under existing rules, then change the bloody rules. How on earth, in an election campaign, which will also involve a budget, can you expect people to accept tax cuts for businesses who don’t pay any?

In addition we have dozens of multi nationals who don’t pay together with hundreds of public companies who don’t pay either. They of course aren’t breaking any laws because business only salutes the God of capitalism. The CFMEU might be continuously in court for good reason but it makes one wonder how many tax evaders should be fronting the courts.

It may be the case that if companies paid their fair share of tax the budget might be brought back to surplus.

Let’s face it. Giving Australia’s most wealthy companies a tax cut is simply unjustifiable on many levels. And he might face a revolt from the State Premiers.

Jay Weatherill:

‘If the commonwealth is to pursue cuts to company tax when we think the first call on the nation’s resources should be health and education funding, then they should expect a fierce campaign to be run against them during the federal election.’

Conversely, it is a time to get tough with our tax laws and get rid of the unfair tax breaks. Then we could start on unfair subsidies.

Speaking of courts read this from Bernard Keane:

‘The rich irony of yesterday is that while the Prime Minister was declaring that he was prepared to go to an election on the issue of “criminality in the building and construction industry”, the CEO of the Australian Stock Exchange, Elmer Funke Kupper was resigning in response to allegations relating to a massive bribe to the head of the Cambodian regime, Hun Sen. And then there are the continuing revelations about the scandalous behaviour of the Commonwealth Bank in relation to insurance, and the open clash between business figures and the head of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission over toxic corporate cultures’.

2 The Safe Schools program continues to draw headlines. Cory Bernardi sends an email to a concerned mother.

The point he makes about links in his email is a furphy. Anyone with any internet experience will attest to the fact that if you type in the words boy-girl into Google you are likely to be taken to the most outrageous pornography. I’m sure Cory and George have taken a peek otherwise they are relying on hearsay.

What is missed in all this nonsense from the Bernardi/Christensen camp is that the schools involved could select in whole, or different elements of the program relevant to individual needs? The right often argues for more independence for schools. Here was an opportunity. Having said all that I read yesterday that the program will be defunded in 2017.

3 In an effort to place a demarcation line between him and Abbot the Prime Minister will retain the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Abbott of course sought to abolish the two agencies in line with his belief that Climate Change was a Socialist plot. Regardless of motive this is a good decision.

He might further try to differentiate himself from Abbott by reinstating some of the health and education spending cuts in the 2014 Budget.

4 Tuesday’s Essential Poll came in at 50/50. The combined major Polls have the parties neck and neck.

5 Every day I write my opinions on a variety of subjects. They are my own thoughts based on my political philosophy, many individual and collective influences, and my world view based on 75 years of a living experience.

On some Facebook pages it’s astonishing just how many on the right of politics swear blind they never read would never contemplate reading my work, so abhorrent it is to them. Then they go on to opine about it.

Whatever intelligence I might have affords me no understanding of this.

It is an endless fascination as to how people can have an opinion of something they have never read.

6 Senator Eric Abetz a rabid supporter of Tony Abbott now reckons Turnbull is showing leadership and has a plan for Australia’s future. Begs the question as to why he’s been hiding it for so long and is reluctant to share it.

7 Presidential aspirants respond to Brussels.

Donald Trump.

‘We have to be very careful in the US, we have to be very vigilant as to who we let in this country’.

‘If they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding’.

You have to get the information from people.’

 He means waterboarding.

If I were being tortured I would disclose whatever people wanted to know. I would even embellish with all the believable creative flair I could muster. I would become the world’s greatest story-teller, or bullshitter.

Ted Cruz:

‘Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighbourhoods.’

‘We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here. We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al-Qaida or Isis presence.’

‘We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods before they become radicalized. We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy Isis.’

The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we can be are at an end. Our country is at stake’

Bernie Sanders:

‘We offer our deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones in this barbaric attack and to the people of Brussels who were the target of another cowardly attempt to terrorize innocent civilians. We stand with our European allies to offer any necessary assistance in these difficult times.’

Today’s attack is a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy Isis. This type of barbarism cannot be allowed to continue.’

Hillary Clinton called the attacks ‘deeply distressing’ but said closed borders were not the answer, and the ‘dream of a whole, free Europe … should not be walked away from’.

She opposed torture. Security officials ‘do not need to resort to torture, but they are going to need more help’, she said.

Same old black and white solutions to highly complex problems.

Bernie Sanders came closest to the answer with this sentence:

‘Today’s attack is a brutal reminder that the international community must come together to destroy Isis.’

 An observation.

 It is only when the world seriously combines its international strengths, be they monetary or military, with a commonly sought desire to rid itself of this threat to world security will the problem be resolved. To do so would require the laying aside of deep-seated, often historical grievances. But it has to be done.

My thought for the day.

‘Any meaningful resolution to the problems in the Middle East (and elsewhere for that matter) cannot be resolved without the transformation of the minds of men and consideration of the effect religion, any religion, has on people’.

PS. I am away until Tuesday.

 

Day to Day Politics: A letter to the editor, from Morrie Moneyweather.

Wednesday March 16 2016

Author’s Note: From time to time we receive letters from people. Morrie hasn’t written for a while so given our policy of openness I thought I would share his latest effort.

Dear Lord.

I sword I would never write to this blog again after the way I was treated last time but events of the past few days have left me angry. That old fart John Lord who writes for yous needs another kick up the arse.

He really has become embrassassing. I mean that article criticizing Americia’s great white hope, Donald Trump was pretty crook but this time I’m going to forget my breading, my manners, and my education and tell the old prick what I think of him.

I mean there is just no limit to how far he will stoop, no gutter to low to slide into, no sewer to murky for him to loose himself in.

I mean I’m not sure what’s the biggest. His immature heart he wares on his sleeve or the chip he has on both his shoulders.

We had a great leader in Tony Abbott. If you don’t think so look at these remarkable insights.

‘There is a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.’

‘Bad bosses, like bad fathers and husbands, should be tolerated because they do more good than harm.’

‘We have to get this straight: euthanasia is not about the right to die, it is about the right to kill.’’

‘Abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.’

‘We just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice.’

What a remakable man he was.

How fortunate the country was when the opportunity arose to give a better man a chance to lead.

And all Lord does is criticise. Ask yourself this question.

Has Australia ever, so wisely, elected a man so positive about the countries future and expressed it so clearly? I mean there’s never bean a better time to be an Australian.

Malcolm is a person with truth and transparency. So sensitive to those who cannot help themselves. So willing to endorse and foster equality. So knoweggible of technology and science. So aware to the needs of women.

That’s why women like him as there Prime minster. So adeptt at policy formation and its implementation. So on top of good communication. So diplomatic, so ambassadorial, so sensitive, in his attitude toward others. So accomdating of those who desires equality.

And in touch with a modern pluralist society. A man so sophisticated in deep worldly acumen and discernment, yet religiously motivated.

What Lord wrote yesterday was just unadulterated crap. That’s the word Tony used to describe Climate Change. Malcolm agrees with him that it’s all a socialist plot. So much so that he intends to impliment the Direct Action plan that Tony invented. It’s just the best plan ever and we all share the cost. Why should business pay all the time? They have enough tax to pay.

Just like the NBN. Malcolm invented that too. I can’t work out what people are complaining about. It’s fast enough for me to follow. You would reckon people would be grateful for all the education the Internet provides. I know my son Miles and his classmates in year 12 at Melbourne Grammar do. I mean the amount of homework Miles does every night with his bedroom door locked is astonishing.

Now another thing. All this talk about Peta and Tony has got to stop. She was never in Foreign Affairs anyway. That Nikki Savva has a lot to answer for starting all those rumours.

John Lord just keeps hurling insults every day. Never a fact to back up his lying. Just wild claims about anything that suits him. I mean he thinks he has some sort of influence over people.

Fancy saying that Malcolm doesn’t have a plan. His words have a wiff of effluence about them. His plan is to stay in power so that the rich can support the poor with whatever is left over after all our expenses are catered for. After all there are a lot of costs associated with being rich.

And, don’t let me get started on that bloody safe schools program. If the kids can’t take a bit of bullying then they should just change schools. Miles gets bullied about our family wealth every day. Doesn’t worry him.

Now when Peter Dutton says if Labor is elected the stock market will crash and the economy will collapse and we will have a recession you have to believe him. After all he was a policeman.

I don’t mind telling you that with that sort of insight he should be treasurer.

So after you have all red this I expect yous to pick up your game and start printing the facts about things instead of all the commo clap trap yous print. How about printing the truth like the right does.

Yours Faithfully.

Morrie Moneyweather.

Toorak.

As usual me piece was proof read by Miles mates in the Melbourne Gramma final year English class.

My thought for the day.

 ‘There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind’

And another thought

‘Good grammar is vitality important but is secondary to the expression of a valid well-constructed point of view’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

1 Tuesday’s Newspoll sees both Labor and the Coalition on 50/50 confirming that the poll a fortnight ago wasn’t a rogue one. There is no doubt the polls are tightening.

The Morgan Poll remains virtually unchanged with the Coalition on 53% and Labor on 47%

Essential is also unchanged from last week at 50/50.

This leaves the risk averse Malcolm Turnbull with a dilemma. Does he go to an election in July or wait until August/September?

If he chooses July it has to be following a budget where he said he will reveal his Tax Reform Policy. A policy that must be so diluted by now that there will be little to present. It will also be a budget, if savings are the objective that hits social services, health and education hard. Other areas won’t give them the required savings for budget repair.

Whichever way you look at it he cannot deliver an election year budget full of goodies. Having said that, any budget delivered immediately before an election campaign wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

If he elects to wait then he risks a further deterioration in the polls. Now if it were me I would, given I have nothing to lose, take it up to the right-wing of the Party. Shirtfront them. Even a little headbutting wouldn’t go astray.

Tell them that if they want to win it’s my way or the bush. Grow some balls and be your own man, Malcolm.

The honeymoon, however, does appear to be well and truly over with Turnbull’s performance rating slumping to 44% – a fall of 16 points since November. He does, however, remain preferred PM with 55% to Bill Shorten 21%

2 Whilst I understand the ABC’s desire to have a diversity of views on its panel, for the life of me, given his past, I cannot understand how having Alan Jones opining about the Catholic Church, boys, and morality, was appropriate.

3 A Royal Commission into the banks and the financial advice industry is long overdue. Conservative governments are loathe to investigate the big end of town for ideological reasons. Last night’s Four Corners program should ensure one is implemented. It also highlights the need for a national ICAC.

4 Nancy Reagan has passed away. I don’t carry fond memories of her. The one I do recall was her simplistic naïve answer to America’s drug problem: ‘Just say no’.

5 I have read many political books in my lifetime both biographical and scholarly. My favourite in terms of insight into how government works has always been Don Watson’s masterly study of Paul Keating; ‘Recollections of a Bleeding Heart’. Yesterday I began reading the book of the moment – Nikki Savva’s ‘Road to Ruin’. It gives promise of an insight into all that is wrong with the way we are governed.

6 The IPA gains a voice in the Senate with the selection of 28-year-old James Paterson to the top of the Liberal Victorian ticket. Paterson has strong libertarian views on issues like free speech. Together with the right, the IPA have had a victory.

7 In the words of former Opposition Leader Dr John Hewson, speaking about Tony Abbott:

‘I suffered from his disloyalty because he was a constant channel from my office to John Howard’.

‘He did go down in history as probably the most effective leader of the opposition in the sense that he made negativity an art form, but from the point of view of good government and reform processes and so on, it was a pretty disastrous period’.

 My thought for the day.

‘We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence’.

PS. I’m 80 pages in to ‘Road to Ruin’. My conclusion: If all is true and I have no doubt it is, Tony Abbott is guilty of not seeking help for the lady in question.

 

Day to Day Politics: Inequality. Who really cares?

We are experiencing a new form of government. Something approaching fascism. Well it’s certainly not Liberalism.

I have long been an admirer of Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labour under President Bill Clinton, from 1993 to 1997, who was named by Time Magazine as one of the ten most successful cabinet secretaries ever. He writes eloquently on the subject of inequality.

Inequality has been described as one of the two universal moral challenges of our times. The other being Climate Change.

Reich has produced a film on the subject. In it he makes a simple proposition:

‘What is a good society, and what role does the widening income gap play in the deterioration of America’s economic health? We are endeavouring for ‘’INEQUALITY FOR ALL’’ to be a paradigm-shifting, eye-opening experience for the American public. We want to accurately show through a non-partisan perspective why extreme income inequality is such an important topic for our citizens today and for the future of America.’

Traditionally two-thirds of the American economy has relied on consumerism. Wages are still at levels they were 30 years ago. Even people on average wages require food stamps to survive. People no longer have disposable income to feed the hungry giant of consumerism.

In Australia a similar situation is developing. Wages growth is at an all-time low and the government seems intent on keeping them so. The problem though is that without wages growth consumers don’t have expendable income sufficient to meet consumer demand for goods and services. America has found that out. Conservatives don’t seem to comprehend that you may be able to obtain growth on the back of low wages but if the low wages prevent people from buying what you produce. You have defeated your purpose.

Of course inequality is not just confined to the United States. It is truly universal. The two countries with the highest populations have chosen to improve the quality of life of their citizens with greedy economic capitalism which is the same system that has caused inequality in the advanced economies. The advances in China, particularly over the past forty years has been spectacular. And at the same time it is breeding billionaires like confetti. And all on the back of a low wage work force. In 50 years or so, if they continue on the same path, they will face the same problems that the west faces now.

Robert Reich outlines a plan to resolve the issue which is sound in economic rational.

In the absence of another economic system, capitalism is what we have. The problem with it is its inherent greed and misuse. It is a system that could be moulded and shaped for good. However, the conservative forces of the right of politics seem determined to enshrine the existing hungry evil greed of unregulated capitalism on us.

Revolutionised morally regulated capitalism could, if legislated and controlled enable everyone an equitable opportunity for economic success. With equality of opportunity being the benchmark of all economic aspiration and legislation.

Some Facts

In America 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

Non-union wages are also affected by the decline of unions.

Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs.

The incomes of the top 1% have increased exponentially since the GFC.

Conservative Republicans couldn’t care less.

The problem is the politics.

In Australia, although not yet at the same level as the US, inequality is manifesting itself in a similar fashion. At the end of Peter Costello’s tenure as treasurer he was asked why the rich had become 7% richer. His answer was to say that at least the poor had not become poorer.

Joe Hockey said that:

‘The bottom line is we have to lift the tide so that all boats rise,’

Time will prove that to be nonsense.

The government’s actions since the 2013 election have been anything but an attempt to bridge the gap. To the contrary there has been an unashamedly concerted effort to take from those less well of (there is no need for me to list them) and give to the rich. And all indications suggest that this will continue with unabated irrationally.

The problem is the politics.

Richard Dennis executive director of the Australia Institute writing in the Canberra Times had this to say:

‘Political debate is broken and those with money and access to power are the beneficiaries.’

‘Political debate in Australia is broken. There are no rules. There is no blow that is too low. There is no sanction for lying or character assassination and there are enormous advantages in simply shouting louder than anyone else. Groups with privileged access to political power and the money to run large campaigns are distinctly advantaged, in the short-term at least, using their money to silence public debate and leapfrog over democratic process.’

The economic gap is of course but one part of the equation. The other is the influence gap. Who has the influence? At the moment there is not a current enquiry that is not being led by an influential businessman or conservative thinker. The ability of the ordinary citizen to influence the system has all but gone.

As Dennis says:

‘The gap between those with the most and those with the least continues to rise in Australia but the gap is no longer simply financial, it is political. Money talks and civil society has silenced the fact the gulf between the capacity of an unemployed factory worker and a billionaire mine owner to influence the political process grows ever wider.’

The Australian political process fell apart with the rise of Tony Abbott. He found a formula for obtaining government predicated on mass propaganda, negativity and lies. To quote Dennis again:

‘It has taken thousands of years to develop structures that prioritise honest debate over the passions of the mob. The Coalition and their backers in big business successfully rode into government on the votes of a mob they helped to whip up. While it was obviously an effective way to win office, history suggests it is a poor plan for holding it.’

The problem is the politics.

I recall writing on Facebook in 2013 about intellectualism. Ralf Kluin responded:

We have developed a kind of individualism based on “the gotcha-moment” in which two sides oppose each other constantly. This is particularly so in our political system where the hegemony of main stream media is the culprit, seeking to maximise advertising revenue. And as this adversary system pervades our political law-making process, our courts, our business decisions, it filters down into day-to-day life causing great pain amongst families and friends alike. And now with the election of the LNP we have become handcuffed to this type of social behaviour as our only method of change and that will weaken us as a nation amongst other nations.’

The problem is the politics.

Thus far on the evidence available it is clear that the Abbott/ Turnbull Government is taking us on a journey of inevitable inequality. Every action, every decision seems to be designed to advantage wealth and privilege. And they are doing it aided and abetted by big business, the IPA, mining corporations and lobbyists plus the influence of one of the most corrupt and malevolently obnoxious media barons that ever walked this earth.

The Turnbull government is willing to suppress information if it suits their aims and one has to wonder what other information they are suppressing.

Lying is so common and frequent in Government that it has invaded our normal vernacular to the point where the average punter is no longer able to distinguish between it and truth.

And this raises another question. Are the political ideologies of today suited to address the problems of tomorrow?

My thought for the day.

‘Sometimes, just sometimes, one’s own problems can be resolved by helping others with theirs.’

 

Day to Day Politics: I have never done this before (quote Andrew Bolt)

Thursday 3 February 2016

1 Last Month, long-time admirer and defender of Cardinal George Pell said that Pell was a victim of ‘one of the most vicious witch hunts to disgrace this country. It is shameful. Disgusting. Frightening.’

‘People pretending to be moral have competed with each other to slime Pell as the defender of paedophiles, if not a paedophile himself.’

‘One would hope that this inquiry can go forward in the spirit of actually finding the truth, not being a witch hunt and perhaps giving George Pell more benefit of the doubt than a lot of media has given him.’

After listening to Pell’s evidence.

‘Those words about the Ridsdale case – where George Pell said that it was a sad story but it was not of interest to me – I just think those will be hung around his neck for the rest of his career.’

‘Whether or not he directly knew – and the case against him is circumstantial – did he actually do what was necessary for any moral person and pursue the interests of the children being abused? And on that ground I think the case against him is very damning.’

‘I think it’s a disaster I really do. I thought it was awful and in once sense it was so awful because it fit into the narrative but it also seems to confirm a pattern … that he hadn’t picked up hints.’

‘Either he is lying when he said he never knew … was never told or that he wasn’t diligent in following up the kind of clues that were picked up by a number of other people.’

‘Here is the question now for the royal commission into sex abuse of children: is the Vatican’s third-most powerful leader a liar when he says he never knew what Ridsdale, his colleague, was doing in Ballarat?’

‘Or was he just dangerously indifferent to his responsibilities and to the warning signs that children were being raped?’

Bolt wrote in his column that his evidence would:

‘Stain his reputation forever.’

‘Or was he just dangerously indifferent to his responsibilities and to the warning signs that children were being raped?’

‘But the devastating admission drawn from Pell by Gail Furness SC, counsel assisting the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, was that he never bothered to ask.’

‘Now a royal commission seems poised to consider whether this prince of the Catholic Church is a liar.’

Not surprisingly, Bolt has secured ‘an exclusive, one-on-one interview with Cardinal Pell’ which will air on Friday morning on 2GB and Sky News.

Leigh Sales tweeted: If Cardinal Pell decides he no longer wants to honour his interview with Andrew Bolt, I’d be delighted to welcome him on 7.30 for a chat.’

I make this point: What Bolt said in essence is correct. In Tuesday’s evidence Pell again blamed everybody else. He was the most uninformed man on the planet. Everyone was so afraid of him they wouldn’t tell him a thing. Everyone knew but it was all hidden from him.

The evidence has not surprised anyone who has followed his evidence and his character over a long period. Was Bolt that naive, that ignorant, that this all comes as a surprise to him? His obliviousness matches that of the Cardinal.

Did he go to Rome with the intent of defending his friend of the right only to be informed of his culpability?

Bolt’s posture of blind ignorance is as hard to believe as is the Cardinal’s. It’s the greatest backflip since I, as 8-year-old, accidentally fell from the high tower at the Brunswick baths in 1950.

2 So much happens on a day-to-day basis that it’s difficult at times to keep abreast of it all. For example, you will recall that Tony Abbott wanted to be rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The good news is that it is now not the Government’s agenda even though the Government could still call a double-dissolution election on the matter.

3 Speaking of Double Dissolutions the Senate Reform Bill now looks like being passed. Yes, a Bill that three days ago couldn’t possibly be changed, now with the support of the Greens has been amended in two significant ways. Yep we can move fast when it suits us. A 4 hour inquiry and a report 12 hours later did the trick.

Nothing like a quickie when you’re frustrated.

4 Now, more about that 50/50 Essential Poll. This Poll is important. A Facebook friend explains:

‘The thing about the Essential Poll is that it is a rolling poll it averages out over several polls. So the 50 – 50 result in this survey compares to the 52 – 48 to the LNP in the last one. Then that necessitates that the raw figures are a whole lot worse for the LNP than even these numbers suggest. I would love to see what those number are!!!!  So the Essential Research rolling aggregate records an unusually sharp move away from the Coalition, and finds strong support for Senate reform legislation.

The normally placid Essential Research fortnightly rolling average records a rare two-point shift on two-party preferred this week, which eliminates a settled 52-48 lead for the Coalition over previous weeks. Particularly remarkable is a three-point increase in the Labor primary vote, from 35% to 38%, although the Coalition is down only one to 43%, and the Greens are steady on 10%.’

5 Essential also features is a very detailed question on Senate reform, in which the legislation was explained to respondents in meticulous detail, producing a result of 53% approval and 16% disapproval.

6 A question on election timing finds 56% wanting the election held later this year versus 23% who want it called early, although the distinction is an increasingly fine one.

7 Also featured: most important election issues (health topping the list, followed by economic and cost-of-living concerns), best party to handle them (Labor for industrial relations and environment, Coalition for national security and the economy, although Labor has a slight lead on housing affordability) and perceptions of the parties as right or left-wing (indicating Labor is seen as more centrist than the Coalition, although there is little sense that this has changed in recent years).

Essential conducts it’s polling weekly and is accompanied by a survey. For me the stand out figure in its surveys is always the very high ‘Don’t know’ answers.

8 This month in 2013 the then Prime Minister said: ‘There is a budget emergency.’

Since then:

The deficit has doubled.

Net debt is up 59.8 billion.

Spending is at GFC levels.

Unemployment is up 74,500

Wages growth is at an all-time low.

9 There will be many in the Labor Party happy to see the back of the much hated Union backed Catholic Senator Joe Bullock. His replacement, ‘the father of reconciliation’ Pat Dobson is an excellent replacement. One MP summed up his feelings saying:

‘Good riddance to the big fat rat.’

Bullock got the Senator’s position with a factional stitch up mired in controversy at the time. He is well-known as being anti things not Catholic.

My thought for the day.

‘Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of life and grow over time. They govern moral choices and demonstrate empathy toward others. It is far better for those with these qualities to lead rather than follow. In fact it is incumbent on them.’

 

Day to Day Politics: The Evil Priest

Wednesday 2 March 2016

1 Cardinal Pell in giving evidence to the Royal Commission into the abuse of children uttered two of the most debauched sentences ever spoken by an Australian cleric.

“I didn’t know whether it was common knowledge or whether it wasn’t,” he said. “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me.” “The suffering, of course, was real and I very much regret that but I had no reason to turn my mind to the extent of the evil that Ridsdale had perpetrated.”

The audible grasp from those listening summed up the pent-up vacuum of abhorrence the victims feel for this man.

He evoked the ‘I didn’t know, I wasn’t told’ defence that sounded as hollow as a burnt out log in hell. It beggars belief that he didn’t know what was going on.

The good and faithful of the church must be greatly offended by the leadership that represents them.

It seems the words compassion, contrition and empathy have been lost on this priest who purports to represent the word of God.

An observation on the lost lives.

‘In the cycle of life people we care most about are taken from us too soon. We struggle to come to terms with the why of it and there is no answer. It is only by the way we conduct our living that we salute the legacy they leave behind‘.

2 Is John Howard seriously suggesting that people such as these don’t speak out because of some sort of fear of political correctness? That’s the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard.

Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny and Tom Switzer. Gerard Henderson Paul Sheehan, Miranda Divine. Ray Hadley, Michael Smith, Judith Sloane, Terry McCrann, Chris Berg, Miranda Divine and Rupert Murdoch.

I think they would feel highly insulted by his words.

3 The Safe Schools programme has the blessing of high school principals and parents. It is objected to by the Australian Christian Lobby and Tony Abbott and his loyal gang of Christian acolytes.

The same people are gradually merging this argument with marriage equality. Pamphlets of misinformation are beginning to appear. It’s becoming like the Republican Referendum where Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin told the most outrageous lies.

Abbott has already called the Safe Schools programme “social engineering”. That’s a subject he would know a lot about. And bullying I venture to suggest.

The pamphlet in question says, among other things, that children of gay and lesbian parents are more prone to “abuse and neglect” and more likely to be unemployed, abuse drugs and suffer depression.

It is authorised by a former John Howard parliamentary secretary. So you can see the ‘NO’ campaign is drawing up its lines of engagement.

Tony looks set to head the ‘NO’ case and it will divide the community. Why are we spending $160M on a plebiscite to find an answer already known? It’s to raise the voice of a Christian minority. A voice that is doomed to oblivion in the next decade or so.

4 During John Howard’s tenure the LNP had 13 tries to get their Broadband policy right. They never did, mainly because they didn’t understand its purpose. Luddites of the calibre of Howard, who didn’t know how to send an email, George Brandis who can’t use a computer and Tony Abbott who thought it was only used to access porn, or entertainment as he described it, thought it was a load of nonsense.

Abbott, when he became Prime Minister commissioned Turnbull to destroy it. Turnbull to his credit saw its true value. He did say he could do it at half Labor’s cost and in half the time. The opposite is the truth. It’s taking twice as long and costing twice as much.

Worse still is that the majority of us will get old technology. A technology that within ten years will have to be replaced. At the end of it our internet speeds will be ranked 46th in the world.

We’ve moved from Labor’s state-of-the-art fibre to the premises (FttP) strategy to the so-called Multi-Technology Mix (MTM), which heavily relies on using the ageing Telstra copper network and the not so old, but not very modern, Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) networks originally built for pay television. Both will require considerable remediation work before they are fit for purpose and there is a solid argument to be put that in the end we’ll have to replace much of them at some point anyway.

Tony Abbott originally said:

“The Government is going to invest $43 billion worth of hard-earned money in what I believe is going to turn out to be a white elephant on a massive scale”.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull tells us that our future rests on innovation.

5 The Essential Poll yesterday has Labor and the LNP on 50% and Labor on 50%. A trend has begun. Do the odds shorten for a July election?

6 Who is leading the Liberal Party? It looks like Tony Abbott is doing all the leading at the moment shirtfronting, the PM telling the party room what the Government should be doing.

Everyone seems to be telling the leader how to lead. Might I remind everyone that the Abbott/ Turnbull Government, by the time of the election will have been in power for a full term and they are now getting around to formulating an economic plan? Still a lot of talking going under the bridge.

My thought for the day.

Truth is pure yet fragile and requires delicacy in delivery. There are however times when it needs some diplomatic force to make it register’.

 

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