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Another nail in Australia’s coffin – the silence will be deafening

Another nail in Australia’s coffin – Facebook bans sharing news in Australia and Google backs big business – guess who wins? PS: But… we can still write, post and share our own.

Does that sound like a tweet or what! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears. Flying blind – The silence will be deafening on FB.

Game, set and match? This is not freedom of choice. This is political censorship by default and design. The Australian media news landscape embroiled, further compromised, falling off the edge of the continental shelf and the Australian public alienated from its own local news and rest of the world, like have we all just been sent to Coventry?

This was the LNP Think Tank’s intention and a golden opportunity to fulfil their primary goal – Can you and I, can we not see this!

This guy (Josh) and his buddy (Scomo), and the whole frigging LNP camp of degenerates really need to fuck off to the casino big time. We have them now to blame for ‘all of us’ becoming news blind in Australia on Facebook and Social Media. Going against their declared political principles of free trade, freedom of information, news and free speech for a bigger prize. This is a huge setback for Australians.

This is exactly what Frydenberg and Morrison want, to silence and deafen FB or more to the point Australians who use FB to share their news, thoughts, views and opinions. By doing so they get to control the flow of news, media and opinion. The public broadcasters, ABC and SBS were never going to be free to enter these deals and you would be grossly naive if you thought smaller independent news outlets would ever gain traction on this legislation with the corporate giants – That’s not how Monopoly is played. Google have taken a different path but can you see them entering into the plethora of smaller agreements and will our government under this legislation or policy direction give a damn!

 

Image from dailymail.co.uk

 

So Frydenberg and Morrison get to spread their shit here on FB and everywhere else for free, what hypocrites. The News giants like Murdoch and News Corps get to rake in the money and spread the pain for their shit everywhere – and laughing. There will be no informed democracy and elections in this game. The Liberals are doing this, not for equity, fairness or justice, but given all the run offs and stacked consequences, as planned; giving them massive control over news, media information available, not available, accessibility on public and social platforms. Will this be good for the economy even?

The chosen ones, yes.

I don’t condone FB’s decision, but Morrison and Frydenberg knew very well this was the likely path, and why indeed should FB as a business pay for users, other people’s decisions on what they share – What kind of fucked up business model is that? What next? Will the Liberals have ‘us’ pay for shared advertising too? Actually, we already are, out of the public purse.

Would you charge me if I offered you a lift to the supermarket to get your groceries? The government (the Liberals) are raving bonkers.

Australia totally screwed on this one, folks! This is political censorship, where only the sharks profit at the expense of freedom of choice, information and information sharing, one of the founding principles of the internet, and ironically democracy, fair dinkum. Yes, the Liberals, Nationals, News Corps, big business elites et al are pushing our noses in it and our heads in the sand – make no mistake. I can’t breathe!

End game – Erosion of political and electoral public intelligence and information, control of the airwaves, right wing power grab and supremacy, come next election. Not even Trump could manage this (Foxy News versus Washington Post), but here by any other means, with a swoop of the pen, Morrison, Frydenberg and the Liberals (image source: ‘elbows kissing’ courtesy of the Australian, how ironic) are banking on that ignorance turning in their favour, like it did for 74 million Americans! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears.

Eyes to the right where we can expect the procreation of more lies, hypocrisy, false (manufactured) news and proliferation of extreme right wing and fundamentalist opinion, especially from Murdoch, News Corps, Government, corporate mining elites and big business; and sadly, Facebook and Google are deserting the public camp for consumerism in their own separate ways. Did I mention tongues and fiery pulpit of the very holy Morrison-Frydenberg spirit – Holy cow!

They say no man is an island, Australia is and has just become even more isolated from the rest of the world, thanks to the LNP and our government – Regulation be damned (on this one).

But maybe we are all just about to become more creative – We can write, post and share our own news and opinion pieces with complementary piccies. Isn’t that what these social platforms and truly independent media are for?

This is democracy. Let’s get to it!

 

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Inquiry’s bumpy ride awaits, after tech giants’ “blackmail” tactics

As the Senate inquiry into the Digital Media Code began on Friday, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has expressed her displeasure over the lack of negotiating spirit Facebook and Google have brought to the halls of Parliament in Canberra.

In fact, after Day 1’s proceedings were completed, Hanson-Young, in her role of chairing the Senate inquiry, gave the Silicon Valley tech media giants an almighty serve in response to their testimonies.

Hanson-Young even went as far to express that their tactics of sticking to their own principles threaten an essential pillar of democracy in Australia, that of a free press.

And Hanson-Young, in return, has shown the Senate inquiry’s challengers that she is ready to wage a toe-to-toe battle, or even a bumpy ride, to fight for better journalism in Australia.

“We know that Australians value good quality journalism in this country. And in order to make good quality journalism in this country sustainable [to this point], we’ve needed to pay for it,” Hanson-Young said after the opening day’s formal presentations.

“The tech giants have been getting away with it for far too long, and with very little regulation, and one of the results is that journalism in this country is suffering,” she added.

Moreover, Google – through testimony and statements provided by Mel Silva, its managing director in Australia and New Zealand – has threatened to geo-block its services to Australian users should the Digital Media Code Bill come to fruition.

“The principle of unrestricted linking between websites is fundamental to search and coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk,” Silva said.

“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.

“This is our worst-case scenario, we do not want to be in this situation, we would love to get to an outcome where there is a workable outcome for all parties,” she added.

Meanwhile, Hanson-Young views Google’s position as a devious negotiating tactic equivalent to holding Australian users over a barrel.

“We are going through elements of the legislation, and there may be elements that need to be tweaked,” Hanson-Young admitted, in fairness.

“But I’ll tell you what – you don’t walk into the Australian Parliament, even if you’re among the biggest companies in the world, and especially if you’re not paying tax in this country, and blackmail the Australian Parliament and expect to get your way,” she added.

 

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, holding tech giants to account in chairing an inquiry into the Digital Media Code Bill (Photo from abc.net.au)

 

Silva said during the opening day’s testimonies that Google has a history of negotiating with other countries to cut deals and bring about compromises with media companies and news publishers where the latter groups get financially compensated but at rates that are suitable to them.

“There is, however, a workable solution for Google where we would pay publishers for value, they would create and curate content and panels that would exist across several Google services. These are deals that have been done all around the world, 450 so far,” said Silva.

Meanwhile, Facebook has adopted a similar stance to that of their Silicon Valley tech neighbours, also threatening to cease with publishing links and stories from Australian media providers upon passage of the Digital Media Code.

If this exists as a virtual case of Facebook unfriending Australian content consumers, Simon Milner, vice president of public policy at Facebook, sees it as his company’s unwavering corporate policy.

Milner told the inquiry that his company had three concerns about the proposed legislation and that a possibility of a series-circuit or daisy-chain effect could ensue, starting with the mandating of commercial arrangements with every Australian media publisher.

“The sheer volume of that we regard as unworkable,” Milner maintains, in defence of Facebook’s position.

Milner also says that his company has issues with the nature of negotiations between parties as being one of binding arbitration versus an open system of good faith negotiations, leading to a non-differentiation clause.

That clause essentially means that prevents one of the tech companies, such as Facebook, from offering commercial terms to certain publishers and changing how content is displayed regardless of whatever deals have been agreed to or not.

“It means if one publisher is out, [then] all Australian publishers are out,” Milner said.

Hanson-Young rejects the notions of the tech giants, seeing their positions as untenable towards the big picture of striking fair deals for Australia’s media companies.

“If you ever needed an example of what big corporate power looks like, this is it,” Hanson-Young said.

“This is a failure of the market – and it’s about time that we regulate big tech, and it’s about time that we ensure that big corporations do not continue to have such a stronghold over democracy,” she added.

At present, amounts of collective remunerations have been debated, although those in the mainstream press – such as Nine chairman Peter Costello and News Corp Austral-Asia CEO Michael Miller – have bandied about $600 million to $1 billion as being the appropriate figures.

With the inquiry is set to continue this week, Hanson-Young said that while negotiations between the government and the tech giants may be inevitable, the Digital Media Code is a much-needed element of overall media reform, and possesses a far-reaching impact.

“The way we ensure that is to ensure that all of this country’s outlets, no matter whether it’s The Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, or any of the local country newspapers, the ABC, the public broadcasters, that their content created by those journalists and media agencies is actually paid for,” Hanson-Young said.

“These big tech giants have been taking this content, and using it as a part of its business model to make big profits from it for far too long.

“It has to change,” she added.

 

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MEAA issues wish list over proposed media reforms

The union which oversees its member journalists and others involved with media and creative arts in Australia has issued a list of concerns in conjunction with two major media reform-related actions, less than a fortnight away from the federal Parliament convening for the first time in 2021.

The Media, Arts and Entertainment Alliance (MEAA), in a pair of general statements speaking for the position of the entire organisation, has forwarded its submission for the Senate Media Diversity inquiry as well as a separate submission aimed at the News Media Bargaining Code Bill (2020).

The latter submission – put forth just on the Senate’s closing date of January 18 – has the MEAA playing its part to contend with the presence of digital giants such as Facebook and Google, and ensuring that the Silicon Valley giants pay Australian media providers fairly for running their content.

The flow of funds into directly producing domestic content, via bargaining agreements between any of the digital giants and any single domestic-based media provider, and the fear of negotiations breaking down or not possessing its intended results of renumeration exists as one of the MEAA’s collective fears over the bill.

“MEAA objects to the Code’s incorporation of a two-way value exchange principle will diminish the Code’s effective operation. It is an unreasonable concession by the [Morrison] government,” the union said in its submission.

The MEAA would also like some form of explanation, in economic or mathematical formulas or otherwise, as to how individual media outlets will be compensated by Facebook or Google to run their content.

“MEAA is unaware of any reliable means of rationally calculating the ‘benefits’ of Google and Facebook referring traffic to news company websites. It is an overly-elastic concept that is barely articulated or defined in the bill,” the MEAA says.

“In MEAA’s opinion, this measure will frustrate bargaining and resolution of disputes about the value of news content carried by Google and Facebook. MEAA submits that this concession be dispensed with, or at the very least, critically evaluated during the mandatory review scheduled within one year of the Code’s commencement,” the union added.

In the former submission, the Senate media diversity inquiry to be chaired by Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the MEAA provided a list of areas of recommendation that it would like to see covered when the inquiry commences.

  • Amend competition and other laws to prevent mergers that lead to more harmful levels of media concentration
  • The Australian government must urgently progress the Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code and extend the operation of the Public Interest News Gathering (PING) program
  • The Australian government should review and adapt critical measures recommended in the United Kingdom and Canada such as: directly funding local news; offering taxation rebates and incentives; and part-funding editorial positions
  • Government assistance should be reset to ensure funding is available for new media organisations, as well as traditional media companies
  • Public broadcasters must be funded in a way that acknowledges the need to provide comprehensive, high-quality cross-platform media content in all parts of Australia
  • The future of the AAP should be sustained through regular, annual relief grants
  • And the regulation of media content should be strengthened and overseen by a single entity

“2020 [saw] the best and the worst of Australia’s media,” the MEAA has observed.

“Australians have relied on journalists and news outlets [in 2020] in a way that hasn’t been experienced in many years.

“It has shown public interest reporting at its finest,” the MEAA adds.

However, the MEAA, in its dot-points of desires for the Senate inquiry, it observes that a paradox exists where while news organisations are breaking new ground in public interest journalism and reporting, economic declines among news organisations remain a part of a stark reality in the journalism industry, as evidenced in a decade-long trend.

And just like with the News Media Bargaining Code Bill, the presence and impact of digital giants such as Facebook and Google looms large.

Previously, layoffs of editorial positions in the thousands have occurred in the last ten years, and 1000 of those job losses in 2020 alone, which the MEAA has tied into the influence of digital publishing as well as a lack of diversity in the mass media in Australia.

“The loss of these journalists, sub-editors, photographers and other positions – and in many cases the mastheads that once employed them – means fewer outlets are covering matters of public interest and significance. In our view this has led to a dangerous fall in media diversity,” the organisation added.

Moreover, the MEAA is also concerned with the lack of ethical conduct of media organisations, and in the mainstream in particular, and has tied this into the lack of diversity and competition therein.

“The power of the few is not always wielded in a responsible or ethical way. In some instances, it has led to a rise in news coverage where the veracity of content is often untested and where ‘balance’ in news reporting can equate to the publication of meritless or misleading arguments,” the MEAA stated.

The MEAA has also implored that integrity issues – particularly in the reputation around the tabloid culture represented in the mainstream media – need to be discussed in the Senate inquiry, or any debate on media reform.

“In a truly plural media environment, the capacity of one voice to steer public opinion in a particular way is limited. In Australia, getting one powerful voice offside can have damaging consequences,” the MEAA stated.

“Where too few voices dominate the media landscape, journalists have reduced job options and might be forced to stay at an outlet because of a lack of opportunities.

“In order to keep their jobs, some inevitably feel pressured to abide by editorial preferences they might not be comfortable with, or which run contrary to the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics,” the MEAA added.

The Senate inquiry, as well as debates on the News Media Bargaining Code Bill, could occur at any time after the federal Parliament reconvenes from its summer break as early as February 2, subject to a drafting of an agenda of items.

Nonetheless, these two legislative matters – and the MEAA’s potential to use its influence upon shaping them – illustrate that media reform areas will emerge as a hot-button topic throughout 2021.

 

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Libra and Calibra: Mark Zuckerberg appears before Congress

It was never going to be pretty. The Facebook CEO knew in appearing before the House Financial Services Committee to answer questions on the company’s proposed cryptocurrency that a few sizeable bumps would appear. As it turned out, much of the questioning had little to do with the Libra currency, along with its digital wallet format known as Calibra.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exemplified the mood, and the method. “In order for us to make decisions about Libra, I think we need to kind of dig into your past behaviour and Facebook’s past behaviour with respect to our democracy.” It was a scene made out of crudely crafted scripts, albeit mildly spiced by convention: the elevated idealist, perhaps a bit sketchy about history, speaking to the sociopathic innovator; AOC versus Robot Zuck.

In any case, the occasion begged a few questions, as does the entire issue of approaching the power of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg. To call it a threat to democracy is flabby logic, and distinctly lazy, given the use by Congress of that same company and its own elasticity on matters of fact.

What matters, evidently, is how strong those bonds of use are. For Ocasio-Cortez, the issue of packing Zuckerberg in the company of the far right somehow explains everything. “In your ongoing dinner parties with far-right figures, some of whom advance the conspiracy theory that white supremacy is a hoax, did you discuss social media bias against conservatives, and do you believe there is a bias?” The Facebook CEO remained non-committal.

The line being pushed here, and one that will be revisited with dreary repetition, is the notion of truthful advertising in politics. For a member of Congress to insist that Facebook “take down lies” or otherwise is a fabulous clash of oxymoronic variables. Once you leave it to Facebook to determine political advertising content, another beast is created, one bolstered by the fictional exercises of the “fact checker”.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Penn) attempted to tie a neat bow around the presidency and Facebook, asking Zuckerberg whether Facebook conducted “any business with Trump International Hotel here in Washington, D.C.” She had noted “public reports of enterprises and even governments doing business with Trump hotels to curry favour with the Donald Trump administration.” The whiff of conspiracy and foreign intrigue is never far away from the post-2016 Democrat.

This point is supremely feeble, if only demonstrating a certain incredulity towards an obvious fact of US business: If you want things done, or at least done in your favour, its best to be in the good books of the administration. Even better, keep Congress in your pocket, a practice that companies from Boeing to Chase Bank do with zealous dedication. Instead of pointing out that obvious point, Zuckerberg preferred a softly, softly approach. “Congresswoman, I will look into it with my team.”

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) was enthusiastically grim, suggesting that the digital monster world of Facebook had devastated lives like the Grim Reaper. “It’s almost like you think this is a joke when you have ruined the lives of many people, discriminated against them. Do you know what percentage of African-Americans are on Facebook, in comparison to a majority of folks?” Zuckerberg professed ignorance: Facebook did not ask users to specify their race.

Such exchanges ignore the fundamental point that Facebook is voracious, its reach and keenness to identify what it calls “communities” insatiable. The chicken and egg problem presents itself: is the company generating a fictional community to control, or merely furnishing pre-existing communities with the means of engagement?

A clue was supplied back in 2015, when Facebook commissioned IPSOS MediaCT to conduct a study on “how African Americans communicate and consume media.” Of particular interest was the versatile movement between platforms and devices in efforts to “connect to community and sustain culture.” With some sense of contentment, it was found that Facebook was the “go-to source for connecting with” an extended family comprising immediate members, church groups and close friends. “Nearly 9 out of 10 African Americans use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, and 7 out of 10 use it to observe what friends and family are doing.”

Much of that reads like deodorised marketing tinged with a dash of the sinister, and should be treated as such, but such encounters as those between Beatty and Zuckerberg look all too much like strawman shows rather than cerebral jousts over policy.

Other axes were brought forth to grind. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) levelled a few blows against Zuckerberg for being an “accelerant in many of the destructive” political confrontations across the globe. (That naughty business of interference, otherwise casual in the policy of the US imperium). Republican Rep. Ann Wagner from Missouri got heavy on the issue of online child exploitation while Democrat Rep. William Lacy Clay from the same state trod over ground on discrimination against various communities.

Facebook is an engine for facile, commodified social relations, the product of an asocial being who had to find his understanding of humanity through something called a “social network”. Its genius lies in mining the confessional, the exposure, the ridiculousness of humans who are garrulous behind the screen and forthcoming on it. It brings out the voyeur in its users and gives substance a profound shallowness. Little wonder that politicians both adore and dread the medium, using it one day to promote messages in the illusion of feeling closer to their constituents, and condemning it as being distinctly unprincipled and undemocratic the next.

For one, the manipulation of politics, the buying of votes, the wooing of legislatures, never began, nor will stop, with Facebook. Facebook is merely the acid manifestation of a long-term problem with managerial democracy, doomed to a slow and cruel death at the hand of amoral apparatchiks. Cambridge Analytica was not a revolutionary in the field, merely a successor to the public relations creatures that had come into gold with data mining and personality profiling.

Ironically enough, Zuckerberg’s under six-hour hearing absorbed much in the way of questions without giving much away. But on Libra, the main reason for his showing, he struggled. How would the company make money from Libra? How would the external Libra Association be fuelled? (To date, the 21 companies in the association have yet to fork out the minimum $10 million entry fee, suggesting the possibility of Facebook going alone). As Alex Heath noted, “Zuckerberg’s testimony didn’t shed any light on what specific laws Facebook thinks should govern Libra.” Much more time might have been expended on that instead of lobbing grenades at Big Bad Zuck, lies, identity politics and all.

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Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie Sheen, Je suis ce que je suis

Ok, I’ve been sitting around and trying to work out the middle way.

Yes, it’s a worthwhile question and it’s already been asked by many. Why so many pages about Paris and so few about all the other victims of people using weapons indiscriminately?

Of course, the question divides, because many of the people who are angry about Paris see it as typical of the left who apologise for all the terrible people in the world and if only we all got a little bit angrier, then everything would be ok, because, well that’s the way it works in the movies isn’t it? The hero is slow to anger, but when he does he wastes all the bad guys and it’s all ok, so if the left would just stop watching those arty films where things end badly, then maybe they’d understand that life isn’t like that, it has happy endings when the hero just uses his gun. And we’re the hero, aren’t we?

I’ve spent a large part of my life being angry about things. Not most of it. But a large part of it. Anger rarely solves anything. Sometimes, as that punk, Johnny Rotten once told us, it’s “an energy”. But usually it doesn’t usually solve anything.

So I spent a lot of time thinking about what could we do about Paris and I asked myself a lot of interesting questions. Like what would surrender look like? What would happen if we said to the terrorists, you win, what are your terms for peace?

Yes, yes, I know they don’t have any terms for peace. But it’d be interesting to ask them that. I mean, what would they say? We don’t want peace? Perhaps. But there’s also a possibility that the question could make them spend the next few years arguing with each other about whether they should ask for something or simply tell us that they don’t want peace at any price. At least that might stuff up their planning …

And then tonight, while I was still trying to work out a thoughtful response to the Paris attacks when I noticed a post on Facebook which I’ll quote loosely as “F*ck you, Charlie, don’t expect us to feel sorry for you.”

Now for a second, I’d forgotten all about the story on the news where I heard that Charlie Sheen was going to reveal that he was HIV positive in an interview, and while I’m tempted to have a long discussion about the nature of the word reveal that’d just be a distraction. At the time, I thought of all the “Je suis Charlie” posts and thought that this person was blaming the magazine for the Paris attacks. I was outraged and was about to pull out all the verbal guns and …

Then I remembered Charlie Sheen.

And I felt silly.

Not least, because when we have a media that thinks that Charlie Sheen’s HIV revelation is worth telling us about before he actually reveals it, I should already know not to expect anything better! While I could say thanks for the health warning, I realised that it’s probably wiser to just remember that book I read “Amusing Ourselves To Death” and realise that the nightly news is just entertainment and to expect it to be anything less is about as ridiculous as to expect that sportspeople should be role models just because they are slightly faster, more agile or bigger than the average person.

Why expect better from the media? Silly me.

I posted this a couple of years ago, but he seems the best Charlie to listen to right now.

P.S. When a part of Melbourne is evacuated because someone left a pair of shoes, it seems that the terrorists have won. Perhaps surrender is not as silly as it sounds.

Pax.

 

Has anything changed? Not judging by the comments.

While many Australians, and no doubt the rest of the world, are still breathing a collective sigh of relief at the deposal of Tony Abbott, his supporters are still smarting and licking their wounds. Abbott himself is still pretending to not wreck, not snipe and not undermine, by telling his supporters he could still have won the election, while those within Abbott’s camp have conveniently forgotten Abbott’s own overthrow of Turnbull not even a decade ago, albeit as leader of the opposition.

Malcolm Turnbull is by far more popular than Abbott. A jump in the polls after Turnbull ascended to the top is a pretty clear indication that Abbott as leader was the problem. Even a commitment to retain the most odious of Abbott’s policies has not dampened Turnbull’s popularity. Likewise, Andrew Hastie’s easy win in the Canning by-election after the coup was a good indication that the Coalition’s policies were not the problem for most people – the problem was Abbott.

Despite Turnbull now giving the Coalition a fighting, and likely, chance of winning the next election, Abbott’s supporters are still coming out hard. With the Liberal party effectively split in two for loyalty, diehard Lib fans continue to fiercely support Abbott’s legacy. As a result, they are reminding Australian’s of what the Coalition stands for, regardless of leader. Consequently, Australian’s cannot forget that the same party is in charge and nothing has really changed.

On Saturday, 3 October 2015, Malcolm Turnbull (or his staff) posted a rather innocuous photo and caption on his Facebook page, to which I replied. Some of the responses to my light-hearted comment serve as a reminder of the sheer ignorance and wilful deceit of the Coalition rhetoric and propaganda.

Turnbull’s initial Facebook post which prompted my comment was not remarkable. It was rather normal and not the slightest bit inflammatory. It hardly gave the impression of aiming to boost Turnbull’s standings in the polls, nor indicated a desperate attempt to show Turnbull leading the nation as a humble servant.

The post showed a photo of Turnbull with actor Chris Hemsworth, with the following words:

“Good to meet Chris Hemsworth today – talked about the contribution of the creative sector to our economy. But a bit weird he insisted on me calling him Thor“.

My comment, intended as a light-hearted comparison to what we had come to expect was:

“I can just imagine Tony Abbott’s caption to this photo, ‘Good to meet Chris Hemsworth today – talked about the contribution of the creative sector to our economy. He told me I could be a god just like him because of my superpowers stopping the boats’.”

This sparked an immediate tirade of misinformation, absurd assertions and a litany of personal abuse. Clearly critical thought and fact checking are not considered necessary for the diehard Liberal supporters.

The obvious response, and one of the most perpetuated lies of the Federal Government was that Abbott did indeed stop the boats.

“He did stop the boats as promised.

Granted, he stopped any boats landing on Australian shores, but he did not stop the boats. The Commonwealth has openly admitted that 20 boats were prevented from landing on Australian territory up until August 2015, and the Government has never refuted that it paid people smugglers to turn a boat around. If the boats had actually stopped there would be no need to turn them back.

Abbott cannot even claim credit for the massive reduction in boats leaving Indonesia: the credit belongs to Kevin Rudd II and his hard-line asylum seeker stance just before the 2013 election, where he declared no person arriving by boat would ever be resettled in Australia.

One response on the post demonstrated complete ignorance of Coalition policy and spending, saying:

“So you would rather pay for illegals than pay for what Australians need like bigger pensions better child care education etc etc. fix our own because no one else will, would or could!”

Ignoring the fact that it is not illegal to seek asylum, the Federal Government currently spends $1 billion a year on offshore detention. It also intends to cut pensions. Extra childcare funding is reliant on cutting family payments, leaving thousands of families worse off. New Treasurer, Scott Morrison has also announced that the Coalition is pushing for privatisation of health and education. It seems pretty obvious that the Government has a very clear intention to spend billions on arbitrary detention, and as little as possible on the Australian family.

Another poster astutely remarked:

“Eva is so far from the left she could probably fall over, let me guess your against offshore detention you probably believe in global warming. … I bet Eva is also against Christianity and private education.”

This disturbingly amusing ‘insult’ is a perfect example of the ignorance of the typical Coalition supporter. Apart from the billions of tax dollars currently used to arbitrarily detain asylum seekers and refugees, including young babies, it is laughable that someone would attempt to use the situation to cast aspersions on my character given the offshore detention regime supports rape, sexual assault, and physical abuse. A growing list of people are calling for the detention centres to be closed, on top of a Senate Committee inquiry recommending that children and families be immediately removed from Nauru.

Global warming, or climate change, is a pet hate of the Abbott supporter. With 97% of scientists agreeing that climate change is a serious issue, Australia has been criticised by a UN climate expert for its abysmally low greenhouse gas emissions targets. Despite Turnbull’s previous stance and criticism on the Coalition’s environmental policy, he has indicated an intention to retain Abbott’s laughable Direct Action. No doubt the Coalition supporters found Dutton’s recent shamefully embarrassing climate change ‘joke’ hilarious too.

It’s possible the curious comment on my alleged anti-Christian sentiment comes from the commenter’s observation of a satirical anti-radicalisation meme on my Facebook page: ‘Case Study: Jesus of Nazareth’. The meme describes Jesus as a ‘radical’ who left his loving family, was tempted by Satan, attempted to recruit followers, went against the Romans and the priests, and was ultimately hanged with thieves. Clearly the irony of this meme would be lost on most Coalition supporters, who would consider Karen, the alternative music loving, political activist, and environmentalist a genuine threat to their conservative, capitalist ideals.

Despite the overwhelming majority support of the Coalition and conservative politics within the mainstream media, Australians now source most of their news online, with a recent survey finding that 59% of people access news on their smartphones and 48% relying on Facebook. While there is no real evidence that the mainstream media in general has anything more than a ‘muted’ influence over an actual election outcome, the use of social media to access the news provides a new opportunity for all political stances and ideologies to share facts, lies, and opinions, whether informed or not.

A recent Nielson report found that approximately 13 million Australians (over 50% of the population) are active users of Facebook every month. The information also shows that on average, 60% of those that discover new information on Facebook will go on to learn more. Equal numbers of people reportedly use YouTube, with around a quarter of the population using WordPress.com and approximately 11% using Twitter.

With the rise of the use of social media, and the use of the same by the ill-informed, it is crucial that Australians who care about human rights, who believe in equality, and who deplore the dehumanisation of anyone other than white, middle-class, privileged Coalition party members and their friends, continue to speak out and demand accountability.

Turnbull’s new leadership will bring with it some changes, but not enough if Australia is to reach the standard expected of a Western democracy in the 21st Century. Abbott returned Australia to the 1950’s with his personal ideology, and medieval times in more than one policy. However, as Abbott so kindly pointed out, “Border protection policy the same, national security policy the same, economic policy the same, even same-sex marriage policy the same, and climate change policy the same. In fact, the rhetoric is the same…” under a Turnbull leadership.

Turnbull may be popular, but the Coalition remains the same.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

 

Author’s note:

I have decided to convert what was my ‘A Month in Politics’ post into a weekly commentary: ‘My Thoughts on the Week That Was’.

Saturday 2 May

1. The Indonesian Government legally murders two Australian citizens and then apologises to the parents for their suffering. That’s strange diplomacy.

  1. The Royal Commission into Unions may get itself into murky waters if it extends its inquiries into the Labor Party when it is not part of its terms of reference. A future RC into Ashbygate might be a fair retort.
  2. Labors Justice Spokesperson, David Feeney asks a reasonable question “why the government’s opposition to the death penalty had been removed from the ministerial direction to the Australian Federal Police” He got the “How dare you” response from the Government. Sure his timing could have been better but it is a legitimate question deserving of an honest answer. And Feeney is right on the facts.

Sunday 3 May

  1. On the Royal Birth. Thousands of children are born every day. Some into privilege and some into poverty. Why can’t they all be born into a society of equal opportunity?

“Surely the Monarchy belongs to our past and not our future”.

2. Budget leaks are beginning to appear. There will be cuts to welfare. The question of fairness will be paramount. So how will the Coalition justify cuts to welfare for the poor and middle classes while not being willing to tackle the tax havens of the wealthy?

3. An observation. In the United States, the Republican mantra for cutting taxes for the rich and other policy initiatives seem to flow from their adoption of radical Christian fundamentalist belief. In fact the GOP seems to be the mouthpiece for the extremities of right wing Christian belief. When you set your principles and ideas on religious belief rather than reason then the politics of fear erode the common good.

Monday 4 May

1.The assumption by conservative economists that reducing the tax of the rich will reduce their desire to avoid it, ranks with Margaret Thatcher’s “The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich” as the two most proven failures of right wing economics.

  1. Whilst the government is sounding tuff on foreign housing investment it must be remembered that the new rules only apply to houses out of the reach of ordinary Australians.
  2. I am a fervent supporter of marriage equality but it is hard to argue that Labor should have a binding vote while at the same time insisting that the Coalition have a conscience one.
  3. I’m a little upset that high income earners (threshold of $250.000) will have the assistance of nannies. At a cost of course. Oh well I suppose my wife and I will, as grandparents, continue to do it for free

Tuesday 5 May

According to former Liberal Leader John Hewson the tax cuts Howard and Costello gave are now costing (the budget) about $30 billion a year, and the deficit’s $40 billion. . Without these cuts and the 9 billion Hockey gave – unasked for and against the will of treasury-to the reserve bank. The deficit problem wouldn’t exist. And that’s without including some $40 billion in tax concessions for superannuation, which accrue overwhelmingly to the wealthiest 20% of taxpayers. You can easily add it up to show that the deficit that exists today is a fake number, says Hewson. ‘’They’ve basically imposed it on themselves’’

Wednesday 6 May

  1. AFP said it did not have enough evidence to arrest the Bali 9 before they left for Indonesia. How much evidence do you need to prevent a crime from being committed? And why isn’t Mick Kelty answering the questions.
  2. Bill Shorten, I thought, made an impassioned speech at the McKell institute but I suspect those waiting for a Messiah will disagree.
  3. When asked about a date for a surplus the PM said he had never put a date on it. If my memory serves me correctly he said we could expect one in his first term……His lying knows no bounds.
  4. The Morgan pre Budget Poll has Labor at 53.5 and the Coalition at 46.5

5. Newspoll pre budget poll gives Labor a 52/48 lead over the Coalition. The Australian Newspaper announced that future Polls would be conducted by Galaxy. Could it be that they have finally woken to the fact that land lines, in an age of mobile telephony, do not give an accurate picture. Essential has Labor 53/47 Pre budget which suggests that Abbott’s budget would have to be exceptionally well accepted to get a bounce.

Thursday 7 May

  1. When asked about interest rate levels and his statement in 2012 that they had reached emergency levels Joe Hockey denied he had said it. In the Coalition fashion of blaming Labor for everything he said that it was Wayne Swan’s description. A utube clip clearly finds him guilty. Poor memories make for bad liars.
  2. wayne Swan

2 In keeping with Green’s resignation tradition Christine Milne choose a time of her own. The new leader Richard Di Natale gave a press conference that the leaders of the major parties should emulate, particularly the PM. It was impressive. It was no-nonsense. Just be honest for God sake.

3 Kevin Andrews commented on Twitter:

Does it really matter who will lead the freedom hating @Greens? Their anti-family & community destroying policies remain #greenspill #auspol”

4 Andrew Bolt’s latest rant on the same subject uses misogynist witch imagery to depict female politicians.

Andrew Bolt

5 The PM seems to be giving loads of advice to Europeans on their immigration problem saying there had been discussions. European Commission spokeswoman, Natasha Bertaud, denied there had been any official contact and said the “Australian model can never be a model for us”, because the policy involved the refoulement of people who could be genuine refugees.

Labor’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said Abbott was using the boat crisis for political point scoring in Australia. “It’s the low-rent act of a snake-oil merchant and he should be called out as such.” He is probably correct.

Friday 8 May

1.The Government’s decision to revise pension eligibility is welcome. However it comes as a result of a lie. “There will be no changes to pensions” And of course their first option was to deliberately reduce the livelihoods of the least well off.

2 In a column in The Australian on Thursday, former Coalition adviser Nikki Savva reported that Mr Buchholz had told the Prime Minister’s office that Mr Abbott would have to dump his treasurer if the second budget went down badly.

Mr Abbott said he had spoken to Mr Hockey on Thursday to reassure him that the story was a “complete invention”. So Peter Costello’s former press secretary is telling lies.

  1. The federal government will move to impose the goods and services tax on services such as Netflix, music downloads etc., under new rules included in next week’s budget.

It’s a pity they don’t do something about the tax the same companies don’t pay.

  1. I think the spin the Coalition will endeavor to present following next Tuesday’s Budget will be that there’s no budget crisis even though it’s got far worse under their stewardship.

They will tell us that it is fair and blame Labor for their own mismanagement of the economy. They will say that no one needs to be hurt even though blind Freddy knows that some pain is required. They will leave in savings not yet passed in the Senate and spin that it is good accountancy to do so.

But big measures that offend large numbers of people will effectively be left off the table.

As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott convinced many that the GFC was only in people’s imagination. Now he will try to convince them that the budget crisis of gargantuan proportion that he and Joe Hockey manufactured wasn’t the crisis they thought. All smoke and mirrors.

  1. As negotiations between the Government and the Opposition reach a conclusion on the RET, the PM’s Chief business advisor (and climate nut job) on Climate Change says it’s all a ruse.

“This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN”

It all fits in with Abbott’s “socialist plot” statements which can only be taken as representative of the governments true position. What nutters they really are.

This is the week that was.

 

For The Sake Of Unity Why Don’t You All Agree With Me?

A couple of months ago, I read an amusing post on Facebook which basically said that the Left should stop fighting among themselves and work together to defeat the Abbott Agenda. The writer then went on to say that Bill Shorten was hopeless and the Labor was gutless for not forcing a DD.

Presuming that by “DD” he meant Double Dissolution, I calmly pointed out that there was no way that Shorten could “force” a Double Dissolution and that it seems strange that a call for unity should be followed by an attack on the Labor leader.

To which he replied that it was people like me who just posted on Facebook who were the problem and that we needed to do something instead of just talking about it. I resisted the temptation to point out that he was also posting on Facebook, and decided that I’d do my bit for unity by ending the discussion there before he ended up telling me that I was a nazi who was trying to limit his free speech by disagreeing with him.

Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone criticising any of our politicians. As far as Shorten is concerned, I think the jury is still out. As Leader of The Opposition, there’s always going to be a limit to what you can do. Some will argue that he should be making more of a fuss about this or that. Even when he’s said quite a lot about this or that, but it’s been buried on page 9 of the newspaper and not reported on the nightly news at all. Even when Labor is riding high in the polls.

Whether it’s fair or not, I think Shorten can expect to be criticised for whatever he does or doesn’t do over the next few months.

However, when people start to suggest that Labor is “gutless” for not forcing a Double Dissolution, I start to worry about the general public’s knowledge of our parliamentary system and the history of 1975.

I’ll start with the idea that Labor (with help from other parties in the Senate) could block supply. Let’s ignore the obvious hypocrisy of Labor blocking the Budget after their rhetoric when Fraser did it 1975 and argue that was a long time ago, so who cares? When it happened in 1975, it didn’t immediately force an election. Whitlam tried to tough it out, and it was only when Kerr dismissed Whitlam and appointed Fraser as caretaker PM that Fraser was able to go back to Parliament and dissolve both Houses. There is an argument that if Labor had acted quickly they could have gagged Fraser – they still had the numbers on the floor of the House of Representatives – and moved a motion of confidence in Whitlam.

At the time, the Murdoch press was pushing for an election and supporting Fraser, arguing that these were “extraordinary circumstances”. Can you imagine the media today supporting a Labor blocking of supply? Or would it be blamed for a downturn in consumer confidence or jobs, the shutting down of shops, increased obesity and any droughts or flooding rains in the weeks after?

Even if supply had been blocked by the previous Senate, Abbott would have still had the option of waiting for the Senate that took control from today. Palmer’s PUPpets and the Independents would have no wish to go to an election any time soon. After all, they do have considerable bargaining power at the moment. Would they be prepared to risk it? Can you imagine Ricky Muir giving up his moment in the spotlight? Mm, wrong example…

But even assuming that the Senate did continue to refuse supply, that alone wouldn’t force Abbott to an election. In all likelihood, he’d just blame Labor for any problems and wait for someone else to blink. The idea that Labor or any combination of the minor parties could “force” the government to the polls is just wrong.

Frustrating the government’s legislative agenda to the extent that they choose to call an election, however, is a possibility. But given the government’s standing in the opinion polls it’s fairly unlikely at the moment.

As many of you already know, a double dissolution requires a trigger. A Bill must be rejected by the Senate, then after three months rejected again. Bills that are rejected can then be used as the basis for the double dissolution, and if they are rejected again after the subsequent election, the government can call a joint sitting of parliament and try to get them through that way. (This was how Whitlam succeeded in setting up Medibank and passing a number of other things which had been blocked, until after the 1974 Double Dissolution). While there may be others in the near future, at the moment, the only trigger that I’m aware of is the Clean Energy Bill.

Abbott would only be likely to call a double dissolution under two circumstances:

  1. If there were a number of Bills he wanted passed AND he thought he was a good chance of winning the election.
  2. If Turnbull looked like getting the numbers to oust him.

So, by all means, criticise Bill Shorten and the Labor Party for their policies, for their lack of cut-through, for their hairstyles, for their poor behaviour in Parliament (they’ve been thrown out a hundred times more often), or their factions.

But please don’t criticise them for not calling a double dissolution. It’s just not something that’s in their control.

March in March Seeks Online Volunteers

Got some spare time and want and want to help the March in March team? Then this message from Loz Lawrey is for you.

I’m a helper with the March in March Australia people’s movement, part of a small team that provides admin support and assistance to over 40 regional groups working under the banner of “The People United For Better Government”.

If you followed the March in March rallies you’ll know that we strive to provide a platform for all people to speak out on their issues of concern, and with this current government there are more than ever!

Recently our team has lost some members who’ve had to scale back their involvement for personal reasons.

Many hands make light work, they say, and we’re hoping to share the load among more volunteers so that we can all experience more balance (and sanity) in our lives.

We are looking for help from people with the following skills:

  • Technical/internet/social media
  • Art and graphics
  • Secretarial/clerical

Ongoing work includes: Facebook support, admin, clerical work (eg. mailouts), meme-making, info sharing etc, in fact anything and everything that oils the machinery of this movement and helps to maintain our network.

If you’d like to contribute a few hours of your time and energy each week your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please email us at March Australia: info@marchaustralia.com

Please Leave My Aunty Alone Mr Murdoch

Image from abc.net.au

Image from abc.net.au

The alarm at 6am every morning awakens me to the ABC news. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. Before I retired I listened to AM on my way to work. I have an ipad now and what a remarkable instrument of technology it is. I read what attracts me on the ABC web site. Then I paste a couple of thoughts into Facebook, peruse THE AIMN and other blogs. Lastly I do a quick headline appraisal of the Fairfax, Murdoch press and some American sites.

My wife and I are avid viewers of the ABC. On the political front we watch Insiders, Media Watch, Q&A, 7.30 and The Drum. For News we are in the habit of watching Channel 10 5PM nightly news before switching to The Drum, ABC news at 7 and then 7.30.

From that you might conclude that I am biased toward the ABC. You would be correct. I am attracted to a lot of other ABC programs. There are flirtations with other channels such as Sevens Sunday News and programs that feature music or entertainment in particular.

I am attracted to the ABC for two reasons. Firstly in relation to News and Current Affairs it is unsurpassed. Be it the written word or visual media. Secondly their programing (in the main) avoids an American influence. I might even be the only Australian who has never watched an American sit com. I have been part of and watched the Americanisation of Australia all my life and frankly I detest it.

Oh sorry, there is a third. It’s called, an alternative. Let’s take a look at them. In my news reading my alternative is either the Murdoch Press or Fairfax. I was once an avid reader of The Age. Even to the point where to miss a day would result in me thinking that my day had been greatly devalued. It is no longer the world class paper it was. With writers like Henderson, Costello and Vanstone and the influence of the large lady, it has taken a turn to the right. The Herald Sun is Australia’s largest selling newspaper but to call it a newspaper is tantamount to calling a toilet roll a glossy magazine. Their top 10 stories usually includes 6 of a sporting nature.

Personally I think that all Murdoch newspapers are where the truth goes to die.

Similarly the visual media offers very little in quality balanced Current Affairs. There is Meet the Press (A News Ltd production.) Or The Bolt Report where his dreadful journalism is transformed into visual bile. Where even people like Henderson are taken aback by his blatantly loaded biased questions.

I haven’t mentioned talkback radio because where I live we don’t receive Melbourne radio. However, when we lived in Melbourne I listened to Jon Faine. Melbourne Radio is fortunately devoid of the hatred of the likes of Jones and Hadley.

In short I don’t always agree with what I read see or hear on the ABC but for me it is overwhelmingly the fairest and most balanced of all Australian mainstream media.

The ABC has periodically had to withstand attacks from individuals and vested interests. (I remember Keating and Hawke saying it was biased when it suited them.) None however as brazen as the current one. I have read many articles on the subject in support of the ABC. And they are to be commended for doing so.

However, none address motive.

This current attack was started by the Australian Newspaper (known in the trade as the official newsletter of the Liberal Party) a couple of weeks ago. It centred on a perceived bias the ABC allegedly has. Personally I struggle with that perception. Under their charter they are obliged to give a balanced view. Even when the force of evidence is heavily weighted to one side.

Fancy the most biased media outlet in Australia complaining about the bias of another.

At one stage they were so hysterical they were arguing that the ABC should not be promoting Twitter and Facebook on its on line sites while at the same time featuring a social media share button on every story on the page.

Then The Australian came into procession of a leaked document revealing the salaries of a number of ABC staff members and wet themselves with delight. They produced story after story about no one else’s business. In the end we found that collectively a few ABC employees got a combined annual salary equal to what Kyle Sandilands earns in one year.

In the last election the ABC gave limited coverage to the Labor Party in terms of policies where it could be argued that they were competent but battered them in terms of politics where they were abysmal. Climate change is another example of the Charter working against Labor. 98% of the world’s scientists say it is real yet the ABC has to give equal billing to those who say it is not. How silly is that?
I even take issue with the frequency of appearance of Peter Reith on The Drum. He must be the most nauseatingly biased former politician ever. And when Q&A can’t get enough right wing audience members they go to the Christian Hillsong Church for bums on seats.

The attack was quickly taken up by Bolt with cries of outrageous bias while at the same time ignoring his and his Masters behavior during the recent election. In Australian political history there has been nothing like the bias shown by the Murdoch Press. How is it possible to accuse the ABC of bias when two outlets own 85% of the print media and three of the four TV channels are commercial?

Unashamedly the attack was then taken up by the government. It accused the ABC of poor judgement in doing a joint story with The Guardian about phone tapping in Indonesia. Unprecedented were the words used to describe Tony Abbotts attack on the independent broadcaster. Others joined in. Cory Bernardi went on AM and to show their fairness the ABC gave him an undeserving 15 minutes of which Fran Bailey took the Tea Party sympathizer apart. The speaker Bronwyn Bishop had her say in the party room. Why was the speaker even involved in the debate if she is independent and unbiased? Malcolm Turnbull and Ian McDonald then followed suit.

So why all the dislike of Aunty? After all it is a much loved, trusted, and well run institution which in some areas is technologically streets ahead of its commercial rivals.

In fact it could be argued that Aunty is very much woven into the fabric of Australian culture.

Is it because conservatives don’t like successful public enterprises? Like the Clean Energy Finance Corp. It is making around $200 million a year. It got a stay of execution last Tuesday. What sort of Government would ditch a company making that sort of profit? Ideology gone mad I would suggest.

Bernardi insists that the ABC should take advertising. He seems to overlook the fact that it is the lack of revenue from this source that is killing print media. That and deplorable content. And he wants Aunty to also take a slice. On top of that he reckons we should pay for online content. When Fran Kelly asked if we should pay twice he didn’t answer. He did indicate though that there was virtue in commercial media because it was ‘’funded by advertising revenues”, while “the ABC is funded by the taxpayers”. Bernardi’s main gripe seemed to be that the ABC was encroaching on online media space again ignoring the fact that Aunty just happens to be light years ahead of the commercial outlets. And they don’t like that of course.

A recent study found that among Australian adults, 64 percent regard ABC radio programs as “good” while only 51 percent give a “good” rating to commercial radio. (The “bad” ratings are 11 percent for the ABC, 35 percent for commercial radio.) The contrast for television is even higher – 78 percent “good” for the ABC comparing with 44 percent for commercial stations.

Similar differences are found for trust. For coverage of the recent election campaign, the ABC was highly trusted, followed by the Fairfax media, and the Murdoch media came a very poor third.

The IPA (The right wing think tank) is influential in Coalition ranks and has the same aim as Murdoch. They both want to see the ABC defunded or commercialised. In doing so they want to eliminate what they see as left wing political bias and increase their own.

It is estimated that editorially Murdoch gave the conservatives about 30 million dollars’ worth of free advertising in the last election. Now he wants his pound of flesh. We have seen the first salvo shot at the ABC. I wonder what they will take aim at next.

As it stands the Prime Minister is making a mess of everything he touches at the moment so it may not be politicly astute to bury the ABC just yet but I’m sure it’s in his head to do so.

But I also think there will be an uprising when he tries it.

This statement by ABC Managing Director Mark Scott pretty much sums it up:

“We have come under concentrated attack from News Corp,” he said. “Some aspects seem quite obsessed by us and I think there are some who have an ideological opposition to public broadcasting. I think there are some who think they would make more money if the ABC wasn’t what it is today.”

To quote Amanda Meade of The Guardian:

With those remarks Scott got to the heart of the issue. The newspaper is ideologically opposed to a public broadcaster. It believes the ABC is taxpayer-funded competition for an already stretched commercial media, and has expanded far beyond its original remit with ABC Online, digital channels, a 24-hour news channel and an overseas channel, Australia Network, which should – News Corp believes – rightly be run by Sky News.

There are three areas of motive. The competition motive. The power motive or the ideological motive. One or all could be at play here but because Murdoch spends $25 million annually to prop up The Australian I think I will settle on a mixture of all three.

It is not often we see two entities, a government and a commercial news outlet the size of News Corp, combine to manufacture a reason for the demise of a government independent body.

Then again Tony owes him one.

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/

Independent media: the sleeping giant and the MSM’s response

Paul Sheehan’s recent attacks on the hugely popular Facebook site Tony Abbott – Worst PM in Australian History are not isolated incidents of the mainstream media (MSM) publicly airing disdain towards the social media.

Ferocious, and to some, persuasive attacks by the MSM have become rabid from the moment the independent media (the Fifth Estate) and voices in social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter) became even the slightest of threats to their diminishing integrity. And why wouldn’t their integrity be diminishing when the direction we’ve seen in the MSM leans towards, especially in the last few years, are stories that are trivial, narrow, shallow and sensationalist? And often untrue. My recent article, The facts versus Andrew Bolt offered an example of the of the fabricated sensationalism so evident in today’s media.

It was a couple of years ago that I first noticed the MSM unleash an attack on the independent blog sites. A couple that I read from the Murdoch media exhibited a sort of ‘xenophobic’ hatred. Christian Kerr, a political journalist with The Australian, savaged the blogosphere with more zeal than I’ve ever heard him attack incompetent politicians, writing that:

It’s also worth noting that the`blogosphere’ supposedly outraged is the small incestuous clique of self-identified lefties, with readerships composed mostly of themselves, who were more than happy to out other bloggers a few years ago with whom they disagreed.

That last bit, for the uninitiated, is a reference to the modern dull and doctrinaire Crikey and its very own Adrian Mole, barrister-blogger Walter Jeremy Sear, and his role assisting The Sunday Age dissect the corpse of the spectacularly snarky site The Spin Start Here that offended sensibilities for years until it reached its logical conclusion and ripped itself apart. Sear was happy to help with an outing then.

The whole thing smacks of naivety and self-righteousness.

And naivety and self-righteousness seems to define the vast majority of the Australian blogosphere. That and whining conspiracy theories.

Quite remarkably, Christian’s little dummy spit was shadowed by the editorial of another from the Murdoch empire, the Townsville Bulletin, which announced to North Queenslanders that bloggers are cowards:

When reporter James Massola “outed” an anonymous blogger in The Australian newspaper last week, he received death threats and a torrent of personal abuse.

How dare someone in the mainstream media name one of these increasingly puerile bloggers, self-appointed guardians of righteousness and all that is wrong about society and, in particular, newspapers.

Grogs Gamut was named as a Canberra public servant and the reaction from his mates was as predictable as it was boring.

Those who hide under the veil of anonymity, taking cheap shots to satisfy their trendy social agenda, don’t like it when they are thrust into the real world.

The great thing about newspapers is that, love us or hate us, we’re the voice of the people. We represent the community, their views, their aspirations and their hopes. We champion North Queensland’s wins and we commiserate during our losses.

Oh how high and mighty they are, being the acclaimed “voice of the people”. And true to from, jumping in on the act the aforementioned Andrew Bolt screamed that the outed blogger, Greg Jericho, be sacked from his usual job. Indeed, let’s punish this new media.

There is no doubt that all forms of dialogue in the social and independent media have profoundly influenced the nature of modern communication and obviously this doesn’t sit well with the traditional media. The above references are indicative of their opinion that the new media produces public discussion that falls well below their standards. I, however, disagree. News stories these days are nothing more than opinion pieces to which nobody is held to account.

New media is now holding them to account and this sits very uneasily with them.

In a few short years the new media, blogging in particular, has become a global phenomenon and it has reshaped our view of journalism. It is in the political sphere, that the impact of blogging is being nurtured.

In an essay titled The Influence of Political Blog Sites on Democratic Participation, ShariVari wrote that:

A computer-mediated environment may make it easier for citizens to express their feelings about political candidates and allow them to speak more candidly than if they were in a face-to-face situation. The diversity of the internet gives citizens access to a wide variety of opinions and information that they may not have access to otherwise, and this may play a role in changing or shaping an individual’s political views. After disregarding any blog sites that have a corporate financial objective or are engaging in political agenda-setting, political blog site users can begin to discuss their personal view points with peers.

I find this essay to be rather heartening. As a blogger and a social media user who has lost all faith in the MSM it was good to know that we can indeed have an impact, albeit small at this stage.

ShariVari concludes that:

All of the research shows that increased opportunities for participation can only encourage democracy . . . This research means that citizens are increasingly turning to and trusting the Internet for accurate information, using it as a platform for participatory democracy, and becoming more knowledgeable about political information in the process. A Spiral of Silence is less likely to exist where citizens have only each others’ opinions to evaluate in terms of their own civic participation and lack status cues such as gender, race, and socio-economic status. Blog sites definitely are increasing the ways in which citizens can participate in their democracy.

The above article, although American and a couple of years old, aptly describes how independent media is now evolving in Australia.

Independent media are better suited to provide the diversity which is often ignored by traditional journalists. Both independent and social media advances the opportunity to expose doctored or omitted facts from mainstream media and point out the bias by particular reporters who do not provide such opportunity for his/her readership to give voice to alternate opinions.

Independent media also encourages contributors and readers to think objectively and ask the probing questions that might often be avoided by the MSM, particularly if they are working to a different (or hidden) agenda. Further, social media gives people the opportunity to analyse and disseminate the news and opinions thrown at them from the established media and as a consequence social media is awash with a more objective and factual analysis. Where, for example, would you find corrections to false or misleading statements from the current government exposed? Not the MSM. Not the MSM as they operate under a different agenda.

But if the MSM was objective, impartial and committed to providing a quality service then there may not be the thousands of social media groups the MSM are now taking a disliking to.

Had we a balanced and analytical media, there would be blogs and social media groups, certainly, but at the extremes of the political spectrum although their popularity would have been limited to those that simply agreed with them. Now we have people turning to the new media because they know they cannot expect the truth out of the old media. If the MSM did their job better they wouldn’t need to be so capriciously attacking social media because, quite simply, they wouldn’t be competition.

Sheehan’s recent attack, as mentioned earlier, is not an isolated incident. David Donovan of Independent Australia has also been targeted. David innocently tweeted:

Forgive if I recall incorrectly, but didn’t Abbott promise to spend his first week as PM in an Indigenous community?

It was a fair question. If it wasn’t bad enough that this pre-election commitment was washed aside by the MSM, then the insulting attack on David by Samantha Maiden, the national political editor of News Corporation’s Sydney Sunday masthead, the Sunday Telegraph was. The attack was personal. I encourage you to read David’s account of it.

What on earth is wrong with the MSM? Not only is the credibility of their professionalism crumbling but they attack the independent media for introducing the credibility that they themselves lack. Independent media are asking the questions that should be asked. Independent media are exposing the falsehoods that should be exposed. And in doing so, incur the wrath from the MSM who people, traditionally, have looked to for balanced news and opinion.

Margo Kingston – a former journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald and now a leading figure in social media – summed it up rather succinctly in an interview with The AIMN:

It’s scary that the media are not doing their job. Many journalist friends have expressed the same concerns; they don’t feel as though they are traditional journalists anymore, they are simply writing what the powerful want them to write . . . And there are journalists in the traditional media who secretly admit that the new, independent media is the way of the future.

Some, however, are obviously frightened of it. They can persist with their attacks, but like their news stories they are shallow as rossleigh proved when he spoke to the creator of the Tony Abbott – Worst PM in Australian History Facebook group; the one that Paul Sheehan fabricated stories about. It was a glaring example of story being made up to attack the independent media. It’s not a good move. The Fifth Estate is a sleeping giant. It’s starting to wake up and my advice to the old media is not to provoke it. It is going to consume you. We are no longer passive observers. Margo adds:

We need to build a bridge between the new media and journalists who see the corruption within the mainstream media. We need to collaborate and work together. We can do this by luring traditional journalists into the new media and free them of their shackles. If we do this, one day we in the new media will look back and be grateful for the decisions we make today.

That would be ideal, however, even if ‘traditional’ journalists prefer to ignore the freshness that the new media can offer, there has already been an emergence of ‘new’ journalists in the Fifth Estate to fill the void.

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“Tony Abbott Worst PM in History” lacks Irony: Paul Sheehan lacks grip on reality!

tony abbott

Image from 2gb.com

Paul Sheehan devoted two columns to a Facebook group called, “Tony Abbott Worst PM in Australian History.”

Now, I’ve always thought that there are certain opinion writers who set out to make themselves controversial in much the same way that shock jocks work. There’s no point in saying something reasonable; controversy and angry argument sells. If the topic is about doctors prescribing too many drugs because of kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies, we don’t want people who’ll rationally discuss both sides, we want someone who believes in alternative medicine against a representative from a multinational drug company. So I had mixed feelings about giving Paul Sheehan any attention at all.

But there was one thing that gnawed away at me. It’s a concept that I think is worth fighting for. The idea that everyone has a right to participate in the democratic process. Paul Sheehan wrote: “But, otherwise, this site is fake on every level. It is the work a single social activist troll, which means unemployed, who shall remain nameless at this point.”

I am reminded of the late Lionel Murphy, who, when presiding over court case where it was stated that the defendant was a “well-known agitator”, made the wonderful statement: “Mr Neal, is entitled to be an agitator.” The idea that the site was “a fake” because it was the work of someone unemployed, or because they were an activist is part of an argument that I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of over the next three years. We’ll be told no-one is really opposed, it’s just the greenies or the unions or the usual suspects or professional demonstrators. (“Where does one apply to be a professional demonstrator? – I’d like to get paid!)

So, I set about to get the other side of the story. Who was this unemployed male who acting alone, but who had enough money to pay for likes? Mm. Straight away something doesn’t make sense. So I decided to get more information.

In order to keep their identity from the right-wing nutters, I asked I suggested that I call the creator of the page, “Trevor”. She was ok with this but thought a more feminine name would suit her. So I suggested that I call her, “Carrie”.

So, would you like to comment on Paul Sheehan’s article?

Despite what Sheehan has concluded, I am, in fact NOT a male. I am in fact, a single white female in my early 40’s. I don’t fit into any of the stereotypes scribbler Sheehan has described. I work full time and have done so for 30 years (I started work at 13). I am a member of a union and have been for most of my life.

Well, Paul Sheehan isn’t a journalist so I guess he didn’t have time to check his facts. Wait, is he a journalist? Ah, doesn’t matter, I’ve got a deadline.

When did you set up the Facebook page?

I actually set up the page back in March 2013 and had hoped I wouldn’t have to use it. I activated it on the night of the federal election. Within 12 hours the page received 150,000 likes (not one of them paid for).

What do you want to achieve?

At first, I just wanted the page to be a piss-take on “Julia Gillard – Worst PM” and really only expected a few hundred likes, mostly from my friends. Now that it has exploded, I want to be able to offer a “safe haven” (as best I can) for people to be able to post their anger and frustration about Abbott and his government without the standard hate-filled vitriolic responses one usually receives on “pro” Abbott pages.

I noticed a post where you said that any racist comments would be removed and the people making them banned from the site. Are there any other rules about who can comment and what they can say?

There are no rules as such and to be honest, for a page with our numbers, it is very hard to police. I do not allow racism as I absolutely abhor it. I make no apology for singling that out but we do also monitor sexist comments and hate-filled speech. I have also asked our moderators to delete any comments they see that contain any references to assassinating Abbott. I have 9 moderators and they are all real-life friends with the exception of 3 who are Facebook friends of friends.

I suppose that you read the Paul Sheehan article. Any comments?

Sheehan’s opinion is not one I have ever valued. He is unashamedly Liberal biased. I don’t have any time for Murdoch’s minions and long for the day when journalists with integrity return to the fore. Sheehan may think the content of the page is fake but therein lays the true irony. Much of what we post comes from the media outlets he works for.

I’m not sure how people having the ability to post what they like on a Facebook page is a display of closed-mindedness. On the contrary. Isn’t it our democratic right to form our own opinions and share our thoughts and ideas? Our members have had enough of the en masse brainwashing that has occurred for the best part of the last 5 or 6 years via our one-sided mainstream media. They are looking for an alternative voice which is why pages like ours are so popular. It is why people are turning to AIMN, Independent Australia and The Guardian for unbiased reporting. Or at least, the other side of the debate. Balance.

And as for his charge that you a buying “likes”?

I’m sorry to disappoint Sheehan but not one of our likes is fake. Yes, we have some members who use fake profiles but they are usually Liberal trolls too ashamed to post under their real names with their real pictures. We flick them pretty quick. I know it would be convenient to Sheehan for our page to be bolstered by fake likes but the reality is, we didn’t need to buy our members. Unlike of course Tony Abbott with his unusual overnight number explosions on Twitter and Facebook. Yes, it is most inconvenient that Abbott is just not well liked. Not well liked at all.

It seems to me that many of the accusations from Paul Sheehan were easily verifiable. He, for example, suggests that the group’s number of Facebook likes is “bogus”. He gives no reason for such a conclusion, and it seems he’s either misinformed or just being provocative in the hope of gaining attention. Rather sad really, when someone with a column in a widely read newspaper feels that the most important subject that they can discuss is their inability to believe that there are 166,000 people who are opposed to Abbott. Personally, I believe – and I think my beliefs are just as good as yours, Paul – that the figure 166,000 is rather low. I could cite evidence, but that’s not what an opinion piece is about, is it, Mr Sheehan?

Thank you

Thank you

A few years ago I heard a comment on radio that independent political media sites – and in particular blog sites – increase in popularity under a conservative government. The reason behind that is fairly obvious: most independent sites favour a progressive government whereas the mainstream media (MSM), especially in Australia, openly support a conservative government. And who is in government determines who is going to be the most vocally active.

Over the last six years we have seen our MSM (especially the Murdoch media) find something to condemn the Labor and Minority Governments about and witnessed a disgraceful amount of mud throwing. The daily news turned into a daily complaint. But they’re happy now: a conservative government is at the helm and look how quiet the MSM have gone in their political attacks. Soft. Shallow.

So now it’s our turn.

The radio comment that independent sites increase in popularity was very prophetic. Independent Australia mentioned the other day that they experienced their best day yet and September was the busiest month ever for another independent site, Café Whispers.

And so it was with The Australian Independent Media Network. During September over 501,000 people visited the site. Yes, a half a million people read our articles.

We can not let that achievement pass without saying thank you, to you – our readers. It gives our writers great heart and encouragement to know their efforts are rewarded by your readership. You inspire us. You help keep us motivated.

And it is via other social media platforms where our readership generates from. It is obvious that people are turning to Facebook, Twitter and the independent blogs in a political environment they find unsatisfactory. These media offer people the opportunity to have a voice.

But remaining active can be hard work. For all of us this is a labour of love. We do what we do here because we believe in it. We believe it is important to provide an alternative to the MSM ‘opinions’. We will always give you an independent alternative to Murdoch, Gina, Kerry, and the government-owned ABC. However our contributors don’t do this for money. We are not fortunate enough at this stage to be generating enough of an income to cover running costs let alone provide some compensation to our writers.

Due to the continued ongoing success of The AIMN, we have found our running costs are increasing to match our increased popularity. Everyone here does so on a volunteer basis – contributors, writers, editors, researchers etc however there are still running costs involved with running a successful site.

Even if we don’t earn a red cent we will still keep doing what we’re doing, however, the efforts of many on this site are worthy of some reward and as such we’ve introduced a Donate to Site facility. Readers are not expected to contribute as we are grateful and honoured just by your readership. To those who have already contributed I say thank you.

But to everybody, I say a big thank you for all of your dedicated support.

 

Two Weeks with Tony Abbott

weeks

‘’Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, so ill-informed of science, so oblivious of the needs and aspirations of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society?’

A week is a long time in politics. Tomorrow we will have had two with Tony Abbott. What can we deduce from his period in power thus far?

I wonder when Mr Abbott meets the Indonesian President whether in fact the “Turn back the boats” policy will actually be raised. And how will we go about buying their 750,000 boats? I assume we will use eBay, or maybe Scott Morrison will stand on the shore will a megaphone and a fistful of rupiah?

Then, of course, we have had five boats in six days since the election but zero headlines which suggests to me the normal honeymoon period accorded to new governments might cover the duration of the first term. Consider that. No, on second thoughts don’t. Just leave it to Rupert.

Now it seems that Morrison might not even reveal how many boats arrive. Now there’s open government for you.

And didn’t Joe Hockey tell us that the budget was in crisis and in need of urgent repair? Debt and deficit were out of control. Now it seems he is embarking on a stimulus package. And further to that, the much credited Costello Charter of Budget Honesty is no longer credible. It appears the mid-year fiscal outlook will be delayed until the January holiday period. At my age, I wish I could delay a thing or two.

What about his first ministry? Only one woman to be seen but of course, it fits in with Abbott’s anti-women statements and image. Julie Bishop has always been the deputy who got the job, if only as a token of female representation. This must be a monumental embarrassment to the conservative parties. Half of the population are women, so how are they to be represented?

By a middle-aged colloquium of wealthy middle-aged Christian males who have not the faintest idea of the needs and aspirations of young women in particular. They say that the cabinet is selected on merit. If that’s the case then it makes matters worse. Have they no women of merit? Not even one with more brains than Barnaby Joyce. And if that is so, how come three National Party members get a guernsey regardless of merit? If the Coalition believes that quotas for women would be demeaning, what does that say about their quotas for the Nationals?

Now I agree that parliamentary behaviour needs some attention but to elect Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker of the House when she herself has been guilty of the most flagrant breaches of the standing orders makes a mockery of Abbott’s desire to bring more civility to the house.

For Abbott to even suggest the need for more politeness when he alone over the past three years have been the biggest perpetrator in bringing the house into disrepute is extraordinary, or cunning. I think the latter. Or is he recasting his image?

Now about the new ministry. Bill Lord (not related) had this to say on Facebook.

‘’You probably won’t have even noticed, but Abbott’s cabinet does not have a Minister for Science, Climate Change, Energy, Youth, Disability, Status of Women, Aged Care, Mental Health, Early Childhood and a whole lot more of those things that I think most educated people would think are important. Instead, we have a Minister for Immigration and “Border Protection”. What do we need PROTECTION from? Half-starved men, women and children fleeing for their lives? I feel sick to admit to being an Australian. My only consolation is that I DID NOT vote for these crypto-fascists. Think that’s a bit extreme? Just wait six months’’

We have had a science minister since 1931. This just shows what a fraternity of oldish male luddites of a ministry we have with views unrepresentative of a vigorous forward-looking Australia. I know half of the government don’t believe in climate science, but this is going too far. I wonder if they know how to use pop up toasters. Really, no science minister and the only complaint on the government side is from a climate denier.

So in effect, there is no voice in this ministry for the disabled, nor one for the elderly, nor one for youth, nor one for the homeless. But there is a female Bishop to represent the collective views of millions of women. Well, t least we have two Bishops and an Abbott in case there is need of confession.

Now here’s a good joke: “what has nineteen men, one woman and doesn’t want emphasis put on science, mental health, disability or climate change?’ The punch line is Tony Abbott’s new ministry. The joke is on all of us.

Of course they all swore allegiance to a woman unlike Rudd’s cabinet who did so to the Australian people. I suppose Liz will be happy.

Isn’t it interesting that during the election there was never a women out of Abbott’s sight. Now there are none to be seen. Perhaps they are invisible. Just like that substance Tony keeps talking about.

Already Tony Abbott in his desire to slow things down gives every indication of looking over his shoulder at a past long gone.

Which of course does not go well for the ACT’s and the Northern Territory’s announcements that they intend proceeding with legalisation for gay marriage. What will Tony do? I bet Catholicism wins. Goodness knows what he will say to the new American ambassador when he arrives with his husband.

On top of that we were told that the conservatives plan to go ahead with their Direct Action Plan to reduce carbon emissions even though they have not the foggiest idea of how it works. We know from such imminent institutions such as the Grattan Institute and many other experts that meeting the 5% target of cutting greenhouse using direct action methods is highly improbable. So Tony Abbott really does need to come clean (pardon the pun) and tell the public the truth of his intentions. Does he intend faking some action and then dropping it altogether? Highly probable I think.

The decision to abandon the carbon tax might yet prove to be the single worst decision ever made by an Australian Prime Minister. How appalling it is that something as serious as the planets future can be reduced to people’s denial of science.

It rather reminds me of how for so many years the South Africans denied that HIV caused aids.

I can only hope that Labor sticks to its principles on this one and that it’s more difficult than unringing a bell.

Which in turn leads me to this unrepresentative swill that is called The Senate.

Richard Dennis of the Australia Institute has this to say.

‘’Ok – here is my serious suggestion for how to reform the senate voting/micro party preference ‘problem’. What if all parties who poll less than X per cent (I would go with 2 per cent) can only distribute, but not receive preferences from other parties. That would mean that no-one’s vote would ever be wasted, but at the same time it would give the micro parties an incentive to join together and work hard to explain their policies and earn primary votes rather than keep dividing into smaller and smaller parties in order to improve their chances in the ‘Senate Lottery’. Thoughts? Share if you like it’’

Then we had Malcolm Turnbull talking about a mandate on the NBN in the face of a 250,000 petition against the Coalition plans. The fact is Labor lost the election not on policy but because it presented a perception of dysfunction. Now it seems Turnbull will delay new laws until the new senate sits next July.

Under the Governments plan some suburbs and country towns will have a digital divide. Half of Ballarat for example has fibre to the home. How will the other half react when they find they will have to pay $5000 for the same service? And this will happen all over the country.
And of course the first few days saw the vindictive sacking of former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks before he could pack his bags for the states.

And who sacked him?

“We had to fight even for the right of dying cancer victims to get a speedy trial. I recall sitting in the WA Supreme Court in an interlocutory hearing for the test cases involving Wittenoom miners Mr Peter Heys and Mr Tim Barrow. CSR was represented by Ms Julie Bishop (then Julie Gillon). (She) was rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

Australian Doctor Magazine, 2007.

Why would you then be surprised at a cheap vindictive decision to sack Steve Bracks.

However that wasn’t the end. The day after being sworn in three department heads were sacked. Victims of long Liberal memories no doubt. They happened to believe in science.

I could have added a few more examples of what to expect from this new government. My wife however cautioned me to be more sanguine.

‘’Never be as negative as him’’ she said whilst shaking her fist at me.

The one redeeming feature of the fortnight was that at least Sophie Mirrabella has lost her seat. That might add a diminutive touch of graciousness to the house. But wait, later in the week I read that the LNP are blaming the lack of women and a science minister on the new member for Indi, Cathy McGowan. Figure that out.

Then someone on The Drum suggested that she lost her seat because too many of her constituents met her. That’s more like it.

Oh, and they have just announced a high court challenge on gay marriage, the Climate Commission is gone as to is The Clean Energy Corporation.

‘’Thanks love, yes I think I will have a couple of Bex and a lie down”

P.S. I was going to title this piece ‘’In Bed with Tony” but I thought that was taking things too far.