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We older ‘burdens’ on society

Here we go. Here we go. Yet again. Doesn’t pay to be over 60, does it?

Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will on Tuesday signal a drive to get people in their mid and late 60s to work longer and undertake training to keep in touch with the jobs market as the government confronts long term pressures to the budget bottom line. Mr Frydenberg will use an address to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia to argue a “new dynamic” in the way the country’s population is ageing will require new policies to ensure the nation’s economic heavy lifting is not left to a diminishing number of younger people.”

I get it that the balance between older and younger in our society is changing, and that in the future the number of older people in our society will increase, and that the Government needs to take all of that into account when planning future health, education, housing, and ‘where’s the revenue going to come from’ type policies.

What I don’t get, and don’t like, is the frequency with which words like burden, and economic heavy lifting, are used by politicians to condescendingly swipe us oldies over the head.

Are we burdens on society? Have we not heavy-lifted and contributed to the economic well being of the country over the course of our working lifetimes? Now that we have been pushed aside into the invisibility of older age are we, now, to be targeted and punished by this Government because employers steadfastly refuse to hire us?

The major problem with this Government is that they hold vulnerable cohorts within our society solely responsible for the condition that they find themselves in.

The unemployed for example, of any age, are tagged as bludgers and burdens and are subject to such a punishing regime of compliance including: the bad joke that is JobActive, the deliberate suffering that is imposed by the starvation level of Newstart, the restriction of even the tiniest amount of freedom of choice left available to the unemployed by the imposition of the Indue Card.

When you are an oldie caught up in all of the mess that is the Government’s Welfare Policy, whether you are currently stuck on Newstart, or whether you have managed to transition to the marginally more welcoming climes of the Old Age Pension, which at least allows you to breathe with some dignity at least once a week, it is enough to make you tear out whatever hair you are lucky enough to still have left.

Frydenberg and Co need a reality check.

We oldies who want to work are not the problem, the employers who will not hire us are the problem.

We oldies who are not rich are not the problem, a society that measures the worth of a human being by the level of their ability to consume, and spend, and accumulate wealth, and a society that denies the most basic social dignities to the disadvantaged and the old, is the problem.

And what is the Government’s answer to the issue of older Australians whose job applications are continually rejected? Well, we have a startlingly new brilliant idea, we’ll re-train you. Gosh … we’ll all be re-trained up as coders and data analysts and rocket scientists in order to secure our share of the ‘jobs of the future’. It would be funny if it wasn’t what it actually is – sad and demeaning.

And where will we be re-trained up? Not in the TAFES, they’ve been gutted. We’ll be re-trained up in the profit-making private training industry, that plethora of Registered Training Organisations with happy and profitable links with the JobActive network.

Josh and Co need to sit in on some of the job interviews where employers tell us oldies that we are too over-qualified for the job. Already too over-qualified for the job. And the Government’s answer to that pernicious form of ageism is to offer to add to the level of our qualifications thereby ensuring that the employment door that has shut closed on our feet, will shut even harder.

The fact is that the proportion of older people who cannot find a job is going to increase, and increase, and increase. It is not going to increase because we are burdens, or bludgers, or light-weight lifters, or any of the other crap mantras that this Government throws towards our aged bones. The number of older people out of work will increase because employers have made it brutally obvious to us that we are not wanted.

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I have nothing but contempt for Scott Morrison

I write today with heavy spirit and considerable anger about men and women for whom I have only contempt.

I am failing to digest any circumstances in which it can be evidenced that the government of my country has the people, their future and their welfare, uppermost in their governance.

Like millions of others I have little understanding of science but my default position has always been to believe the science. My choice otherwise is to believe the ratbaggery elements of the “no evidence” establishment.

Science in my lifetime has made the most staggering discoveries, and its achievements are embraced and recognised by all sections of society.

The only areas that come to mind where science is challenged is in the religious fever of climate change doubters, by conservative politicians and alternative religious belief.

For six years plus the people have, even against the best advice, given the conservatives the benefit of the doubt, suspended their judgement, and have elected the Coalition for a third term. Yes, even when all the evidence proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were the worst government ever, with the worst collection of ministers this country has ever seen.

On the subject of global warming they have refused to take the advice of anyone who has any expertise in the area. From the scientists who study the burning of fossil fuels to the experts in weather and those responsible for predicting just what a 2% increase in the world’s temperature might mean, particularly with drought, fire and floods.

The Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments have all rejected the advice of some of our finest minds and everyone with even a small degree of acumen knows why.

They have rejected the cost so as to acquire a surplus. So they have never modelled the cost of doing nothing or considered that there is a cost for the upkeep of every individual’s health and therefore it is logical that there would also be a cost for the upkeep of the planet.

They have placed ideology before obligation, profit before the planet, and power before the people.

They believe that the lies they have perpetrated in telling the population with sinister regularity are best served by more and more lies purely for the purpose of propaganda. That being to use this manifest danger we face to retain power. That they would deliberately allow the loss of life for the shallowest of self-seeking reasons is simply beyond contempt.

A more evil un-Christian concept I have never come across. I can only feel disgust for these people who would support the pillars of capitalism and its thirst for profit over and above the lives of common folk.

What virtue do they see in their support for fossil fuels and their hideous attempts to stymie renewable energy technology?

Does truth have to shout out its name to get these morons to listen? Do the people have to rebel in disgust against their authority? Do our kids really have to protest their angst against a federal government intent on looking after the top end of town? (My words, not Albo’s).

How many homes and lives need to be destroyed by the ravages of fire – the heat of flame or cascading waters in the name of jobs that could be obtained in other more substantial ways? Ways that are so open to innovation and ideas.

Why cannot this rotten government open its glazed and blinkered eyes to the possibilities that could be ours?

On the day of writing this l listened to a group of former emergency services heads involved in the cause and prevention of bush fires and floods, among other things. Their qualifications without exception were beyond question. The Prime Minister when seeking an audience on numerous occasions had brushed them aside.

He didn’t even acknowledge these men of merit and superior intelligence on the subject. Now Minister Littleproud has agreed to meet with them, however, there is little chance of leaving an impression on a man who feigns belief but probably doesn’t, is almost negligible.

The lack of interest by the Prime Minister and his refusal to meet with them shows his hand. One that slaps them on the cheek for their impertinence.

What does it say about an individual or indeed a government that refuses to heed the views of important people and institutions who have the research to back up their claims? It must mean that they are as thick as a brick or have ulterior motives.

In this case the latter must apply.

When the five eminent former fire chiefs gave their news conference last Thursday I immediately applauded their sincerity, their aplomb and their undoubted seriousness. They were laying it on the line to the Prime Minister. He has squibbed them.

These 21 men and 2 women called themselves the “Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.” All expert in his or her field. They had a story to tell and did so with words of force that had me mesmerised with their authoritative tone.

Collectively they more or less berated Morrison for not granting them an audience. Their message was to the point.

“We are living in an era of unprecedented bushfire danger and climate change is the reason,” they said as one followed the other with the same message.

As advocates for their cause they all spoke with compelling sincerity.

Speaking in turn they all cited the government’s unwillingness to talk about the problem as being of major concern. They wanted the government to act and they demanded that it do so, and now.

What is needed is more resources and a better policy to reduce emissions and move to clean energy, but as I listened to the potency of their argument I inwardly doubted that they would get a positive response from these people who denied the existence of the argument they were putting.

However, because of the public’s changing mood the government is finding itself behind the eight ball and sooner or later it will have to act. This refusal to act together with parents seeing their children protesting their future has woken the populace from its ignorant malaise.

Morrison probably wants to act but he strangely finds himself in the same position as his predecessor and is under threats from the lunatic fringe within the party to bring it down.

But consider this: Even the National Party’s natural constituency is turning against them; farmers seem to know more about the problems than the National Party itself and business is now factoring climate change into their decision-making processes. They don’t want to be seen as out of step with the public’s mood.

Business takes a more projected view of its planning than government and it is clear to them that the public’s disposition is on a knife edge. They want action. Contrary to the government’s lies, emissions are rising.

Its policies, whatever they are, are not working. The government’s lack of any reasoned thinking still has business flabbergasted. There has been no investment certainty for 6 years.

Unlike the former fire chiefs whose motivation has the support of science, their experience and their observation, everything the government does has the stench of politics about it.

And in politics it’s best not to have your record raked over the coals, so to speak, while the people are contrite over the issue. This only highlights your incompetence and sour policies, whatever they may be.

Some say that the Prime Minister has acknowledged a link between climate change and natural disaster but given the Trumpion amount of lies he tells on the subject it is difficult to be sure.

As is usual when controversial issues arise he goes into hiding. In this case it is because he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. His government’s record is abysmal.

Abbott’s repealing of the carbon price may well be looked back on as the worst policy decision by any Prime Minister in Australian political history.

They have attempted to gut the Renewable Energy Target in a frivolous fashion and then imposed what can only be described as bandaid solutions that have cost ordinary taxpayers billions of dollars only to see emissions rising every quarter.

There is little doubt that with every bushfire the public will be reminded of the folly of the government’s inaction and people will be asking why so many people have to die before something is done.

With every home that goes up in flames, with every family’s memories in ashes, with every life lost and with every tree that is burnt to the ground the people will reflect on the absurd utterances of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the lies of the Prime Minister.

In time the pressure will mount on these buffoons who have frustrated every effort to bring about a reduction in our carbon emissions.

In the past week they have brought more shame on themselves with their self-serving antics.

At the risk of repeating myself I am failing to digest any circumstances in which it is evidenced that the government of my country has the people and their future uppermost in their governance.

But enough of my emotion.

Morrison’s silence will have to end soon. It is my bet that the party room belief in a coal future will influence his response and that those who invent the slogans and phrases will produce more propaganda to persuade a gullible electorate that all is well, and that  the science is crap and God is on their side. Just pray.

My thought for the day

Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it.

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Unraveling Morrison’s mind

By Ad astra  

Warning:
This piece contains disturbing material. By keeping it brief I hope any mental distress it might cause will be minimized.

Did you see Michael Pascoe’s article in the October 23 edition of The New Daily: What we don’t know: Is our Prime Minister a nutter? As Pascoe is a balanced journalist, not prone to hyperbole, the title he chose stood out starkly. What did he mean? We all have an idea of how the term ‘nutter’ is used, but to be sure we’re all on the same page, let’s use a common definition: a ‘nutter’ is a mad or eccentric person.

Elaborating on his use of this disparaging term, Pascoe went on to query if our PM was attracted to: ”loony ‘QAnon’ fantasies, if he believes Donald Trump is leading a battle against an international ‘Deep State’, or that Israel is fulfilling a Biblical prophecy to bring on Armageddon.”

If you’ve not heard of ‘QAnon’, and you’re ready to take the risk of reading some really crazy stuff, you might wish to take a look at: What Is QAnon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained by Will Sommer in a publication called The Daily Beast. There’s an extraordinary video within the article that’s worth a look although it runs for about 13 minutes.

But if you want to begin with a more sober account, you may prefer the Wikipedia description of QAnon’s central belief: ”There is a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who rule the world, essentially, and they control everything. They control politicians, and they control the media. They control Hollywood, and they cover up their existence, essentially. And they would have continued ruling the world, were it not for the election of President Donald Trump.” Are you startled?

Before you read either of these accounts of QAnon though, you might ask: ‘What’s this got to do with our PM?’ Let me explain via another article in the October 1 issue of The New Daily by David Hardaker: ‘This is going straight to Scott’: The conspiracy theorist claiming to influence Scott Morrison. Please don’t question your sanity as you read it. If it’s all too much, do take a coffee break.

Hardaker writes about a close family friend of the Morrisons, Tim Stewart, who claims to have influenced Morrison to use the term ‘ritual sexual abuse’ in his formal address to the victims of institutional sexual abuse at Parliament House in October. Nowhere is that phrase used in the report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. So why did Morrison use it? Hardaker claims:

Mr Stewart and key supporters specifically wanted Mr Morrison to use the word “ritual” because it introduced the idea of secret ceremonies with Satan’s involvement, which aligns with QAnon’s theory of global threats.

Morrison’s use of the word “ritual” – instead of “systematic” or “repeated”, which are factually accurate – was picked up by an international blogger who specialises in exposing religion-based conspiracy theories, but otherwise was largely unremarked.

For the Stewarts, though, it was a triumph. The Stewarts’ 22-year-old son, Jesse – also an enthusiastic promoter of the QAnon conspiracy – tweeted: “You know #theGreatAwakening is in full swing when the Australian Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP mentions #RitualAbuse”.

There’s more. Read The Rapture and the Real World: Mike Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy by Edward Wong in The New York Times. During a visit of Pompeo to Jerusalem, an interviewer posed a question around a biblical tale about a queen who saved Jews from slaughter by a Persian official“Did Mr. Pompeo think President Trump had been ‘raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace’? As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Mr. Pompeo said.”

Let’s give your brain a rest from this crazy stuff for a while and turn to a recent speech to the Queensland Resources Council by Morrison, this time about climate change protesters who seek to influence those who fund or insure fossil fuel operatives to withdraw their support, in which he brands environmental protesters as “anarchists”. Claiming that progressives are seeking to “deny the liberties of Australians”, he threatens “a radical crackdown on the right to protest”.

He claims that “progressivism” – which he labelled a “new-speak type term”, invoking George Orwell – intends “to get in under the radar, but at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians”. He goes on:

“Apocalyptic in tone, it brooks no compromise, it’s all or nothing. Alternative views are not permitted.” He pointed to the “worrying development” of environmental groups targeting businesses or firms involved in the mining sector with ‘secondary boycotts’, such as businesses refusing to provide banking, insurance or consultancy services. They are targeting businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, like contracting businesses in regional Queensland.

“Let me assure you this is not something my government intends to allow to go unchecked.”

By the way, I wonder does Morrison likewise categorise as ‘apocalyptic in tone’ the recent statement of 11,000 scientists from 53 nations that “declares clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency…that will inflict untold suffering on the peoples of the world”, and that “to secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live”. He should.

Speaking on 3AW Radio in Melbourne, Morrison tried to reassure us: “There is of course the right to protest in this country”, but in now-familiar evangelical mode he went on to claim that recent environmental protests in Melbourne were ‘well beyond the pale’ because protesters had allegedly spat at people in business shirts, adding: “It’s not OK to have secondary boycotts being run by unions … it’s not OK for environmental, well, they’re anarchist groups … to be able to disrupt people’s jobs, their livelihoods, to harass people as we saw down in Melbourne”

Add this to what you have read above, and ask: “What was he thinking as he used those words?’ Are we seeing Morrison adding an Orwellian tone to the conspiracy theories that seem to have afflicted him and his fellow travellers? Are we witnessing him drifting inexorably towards a totalitarian mindset, in tune with his autocratic Home Affairs Minister Dutton?

We’ve seen and heard him expressing his Pentecostal beliefs with fervour. Are we seeing that same religious fervour being displayed in his politics, now overlaid with bizarre conspiracy theories?

Image from abc.net.au

This is the Prime Minister of Australia we’re talking about. This is the man who has the power to do much good and or much harm. Should we be alarmed? What is going on in Morrison’s mind? Who is influencing him?

Are you sanguine about his state of mind? After weaving together the disturbing threads of this piece, I’m not. For me, it’s been an unsettling exercise.

Are you prepared to take on the challenging of trying to unravel Morrison’s mind? If so, please let’s have your conclusion?

Can you give us any reassurance?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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The breathtaking, arrogant fools in the LNP

By Kathryn 

The committed fascists and breathtaking, arrogant fools in the LNP absolutely refuse to listen to the experienced credible scientists, steadfastly refuse to listen to renowned economists (like the Nobel prize winning Joseph Stiglitz who has loudly criticised the LNP’s appalling mismanagement of Australia’s economy) and refuse to listen to the people of Australia whom the LNP treat with sneering, condescending contempt! No other government in our history (with the exception of the alleged war criminal, John Howard) have managed to defund, annihilate and destroy so much in so short a time.

It has only taken six short (devastating) years for the Wrecking Ball Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison circus to go on a campaign of such wilful, methodical destruction, it has changed the face of Australia and altered who we are in the eyes of the world. Outlined below is just a small list of the devastation the LNP have caused and links to further published chaos under their catastrophic mismanagement:

Quadrupled our national deficit to more than one trillion dollars

Completely destroyed the longest river system in our country, ie the Murray/Darling river by handing over unlimited water to the greedy predators in the cotton growing industry in the middle of one of the worst droughts in our history. This unspeakable act of criminal vandalism by the notorious, reckless Barnyard Joyce, went on to seriously impact desperate farmers down river and had disastrous consequences on Adelaide which city relies on the (once) great Murray River for its water supply!

The LNP continue to turn Australia into an international laughing stock and have now just about destroyed our once fine international reputation. We are now known, internationally, as a shallow, climate-change-denying nation of xenophobic racists who, despite every international law on the fair and just treatment of asylum seekers, have chosen to indefinitely lock up desperate asylum seekers (including defenceless little children) escaping from an illegal war that we helped to create in Iraq and Syria.

Morrison has received world wide derision and scorn for treating our island neighbours with such open, blatant contempt that our country has now become the Pariah of the Pacific.

Waste countless billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars on ridiculous weapons of war, eg ludicrous submarines (providing jobs for the French and not Australians) which will become obsolete before they are completed.

Shut down Australia’s enviable motor vehicle manufacturing industry by refusing to provide government subsidies (despite the fact that every government in the countries that manufacture cars subsidises their car manufacturing) – this insane move by the short-sighted idiot, Abbott, cost Australia thousands of jobs within the car manufacturing industry and within related industries! This action from a government who brags to keep industries and jobs in Australia – what outrageous hypocrisy!

The countless millions of dollars defunded from public school education, Medicare and health!

The relentless patriarchal misogyny that sweeps through the LNP at every level.

The LNP’s ongoing totally corrupt, politically-biased association with their propaganda ministers in the Murdoch dynasty which goes on and on remorselessly attacking the ALP and the Greens whilst printing NOTHING about the appalling failure and escalating fascism of the LNP.

The LNP’s ongoing perverted association with the cold blooded neoliberal billionaires in the IPA which nefarious, undemocratic and unelected organisation have so much power and undue influence over the agenda and policies of the LNP!

The callous inhumanity by the LNP in its breathtaking mistreatment of asylum seekers, the poor, the homeless, the unemployed – non-stop virulent attacks that have allowed the worst, most heartless and cruel people in our society to crawl out from under their rocks and give them “permission” to vent their hatred and scorn on the most vulnerable people in Australia!

The absolute refusal to address climate change issues despite the fact that hard evidence has been presented by credible scientists all around the world and we are – right at this minute – experiencing the WORST most devastating fires in our history. Climate change is no longer on the horizon – it is here and now yet we have a deaf, dumb and hopelessly blind government too stubborn, too stupid and too arrogant to admit that they are dead wrong! Their inability to address these issues is killing our environment and causing the death of Australians and the rapid extinction of countless Australian native animals!

The list goes on and on as outlined by The Guardian and even news.com on their expose of Abbott.

This article was originally published as a comment in ‘Stick to the photos, boys – it’s yer best thing.’

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Beyond a Morrison Police State.

“This is not about free speech, it’s not about the ability to protest, these people are completely against our way of life,” former Queensland drug squad and sex offenders cop, now Home Affairs Supremo and family child care business partner, self-made millionaire, MP Peter Dutton tells Channel Nine Friday.

“For many of them they don’t even believe in democracy, … the disharmony they seek to sow within society is unacceptable,” says our super minister who, only recently, was keen to dog-whistle racists by falsely claiming that African crime gangs make it unsafe to go out on the streets in Melbourne.

A fretful nation is overjoyed that Il Dutto has spotted another enemy within. In a nifty intercept, former Hillsong Elder, Scott Morrison, now our PM for extractive industries, snatches the ball and punts it.

How good is our media? By Friday night, every newspaper in the land carries the banner “radical activism threatens mining”. It’s a spectacular, mass propaganda drop which highlights how smoothly a Prime Minister’s staff of fifty can swing into gear should Dutton or any other MP steal the limelight.

“High velocity bollocks” is Katharine Murphy’s view of Morrison’s alert on ABC Insiders. A tad unfair. ScoMo has to create a diversion from Thursday’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report of scandal that has taken place during the Coalition’s six years in government.

It’s a shocker. Health Minister Hunt bobs up also on Insiders to pat the government on the back for ordering the Royal Commission but skips the $2 billion cut by the Coalition since it came to power.

“… the aged care system fails to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them,” report commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs in a media release.

Images of Morrison are everywhere. Speechifying. Threatening protesters at a Brisbane mining lobbyists’ free lunch. And anyone daring to impose a secondary boycott. “Wedgislation” rasps Murpharoo.

All it would take, mumbles former News Corp hack, now Brisbane free-lance, Dennis Atkins, deftly sidestepping the ScoMo police state elephant in the room, is to change the bit in the law where unions’ secondary boycotts are outlawed and extend that … section … mumble … something DD.

The bit in the law? Generally, in Australia strikes are unlawful, in breach of international law which holds that the right to strike is recognised as a fundamental human right, as the ILO has been reminding Coalition and Labor governments for the last thirty years. But the PM’s team plays a blinder in giving him a time and a place and a text Friday, to normalise the outlawing of secondary boycotts.

“If it’s not OK to have secondary boycotts being run by unions … it’s not OK for environmental, well, they’re anarchist groups … to be able to disrupt people’s jobs, their livelihoods, to harass people as we saw down in Melbourne,” Morrison blusters, glossing over the highly contentious anti-union law.

Naturally there is no detail from such a big picture thinker. And scare tactics work best without specifics. But Morrison needs to explain what he means. How can he possibly legislate against freedom of choice, one of the set-pieces of Liberal rhetoric? Aren’t we free to choose which firms we patronise?

Also skipped is the real disruption that accrues now that our largely de-unionised workforce has so little real bargaining power over wages that spending drops and helps tip Australia into economic recession. But you’ve got to hand it to the PM’s staff. They’ve had wage cut-backs, too. 13 per cent since Malcolm Turnbull was double-double-crossed by Morrison and his right-hand evangelical Stuart Robert and crew.

At an average salary of just over $200,000, the PM’s minders work wonders on a shoe-string budget. And a skeletal staff. All up, the Morrison government must battle on with a mere 457 ministerial advisers.

(Theresa May’s UK government employed 99 ministerial advisers in December last year, including 2 who earned the maximum salary of £140,000 pounds.)

But it’s all about team work. Our press flacks fall in behind the Coalition’s muppet-show and the mining and banking lobby which pulls their strings. Morrison threatens “a radical crack-down” on protesters.

The team plan is to demonise those who protest against a government in denial that holy coal mining and coal-burning power stations even cause global warming, air and water pollution. On present trends, let alone with new mines, coal will destroy nature, our health and ultimately extinguish our future. But just as we’ve created illegals out of those who seek asylum, we’ll do it with climate protesters.

Morrison is addicted to the politics of division. And it worked with vegan activists. The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 which outlaws “farm invaders”, passed 12 September.

Labor was wedged into voting for draconian, superfluous legislation. Trespass is covered by state laws. Labor senators Kim Carr and Anthony Chisholm warn farmers, themselves, are at risk from the new law, if opposing fracking. Whistle-blowers and journalists are also at risk of prosecution for inciting trespass.

Reporters who merely publish footage of animal cruelty, or who publish a map of factory farms and slaughterhouses where such cruelty is known to occur, may face a criminal charge for “inciting trespass onto agricultural land” regardless of whether incitement to trespass is intended by the publisher, and regardless of whether the cruelty is legal.

While the brave new ag-gag law has yet to be tested in court, Morrison is playing hyper-partisan politics again with the help of his imaginary arch-fiend “absolutist environmentalism”.  Some complain that attacking an “ism” indicates mental laziness. Imprecision. But fear-mongers just love it. And it works.

Protesters are “anarchists, radical activists; extremists”. If a lie is half way round the world before the truth can get its boots on, vilification is even quicker. Once the PM puts the boot in; Morrison’s gutter politics leadership immediately has its own followers; copycats -even in the police.

A Victorian police officer faces disciplinary action for wearing a sticker with the phrase “EAD Hippy” – slang for “eat a dick” – while patrolling this week’s anti-mining protests in Melbourne. Instead of heeding dissent, the federal government joins some states in choosing to dismantle democracy instead.

Protesters have a right to stage community campaigns to voice their concerns, as Kelly O’Shanassy CEO of Australian Conservation Foundation ACF quickly points out. Moreover, demonstrators and protesters come from diverse walks of life and their dissent is expressed in many different ways, she explains.

“People protesting in the streets are not the only ones expressing alarm about climate change – the head of the Defence Force, the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority have all recently raised serious concerns,” Ms O’Shanassy says.

Morrison’s not listening. The PM loves his bully-pulpit. You can tell he gets a buzz out of casting out evil.

Progressives seek to deny the liberties of Australians, he tells The Queensland Resources Council, (QRC), another mining lobby, Friday – giving his spin an extra twist by preaching to the converted. It’s a whopping lie, of course and a masterly piece of projection and deflection. But the QRC is cheering.

“The QRC welcomes new laws passed by the Palaszczuk Government to deter people from using dangerous devices …” runs the lobby’s 25 October media release.

Yet the “dangerous devices” turn out to be unsubstantiated claims that some “lock-on devices” contain dangerous items, such as glass or gas canisters aimed at deterring police. No evidence has yet been provided, beyond a few images of a protest in 2018, a case which was prosecuted under existing law.

“Any laws that may infringe on important rights such as peaceful protest ought to be subject to a detailed and proper parliamentary scrutiny process. We are concerned that this has not occurred…,” says Bridget Burton, Director of Caxton Legal Centre’s Human Rights and Civil Law Practice.

Enter Macca. QRC CEO Ian, “Chainsaw”, Macfarlane, a former federal Minister for Industry. After being sacked from the front bench and when his attempt to defect from the Liberals to The Nationals was blocked, Macfarlane quit politics and signed on to head QRC, for a modest half million dollars a year, in 2016, to help eke out his $150-200K income from the Parliamentary Contributory Super Scheme.

Ian’s terribly worried these days about the need to lock up protesters. Their bullying and reckless endangerment of lives – even their own – must be stopped. Tougher laws are the key. Always.

“It is often the case that fines are small and no convictions are recorded,” he tells Brisbane Times in August. Morrison says he is working on legal measures to outlaw the “indulgent and selfish practices” of protest groups that try to stop major resources projects. As if he can outlaw protest.

“Now, we will take our time to get this right. We will do the homework and we’re doing that right now. But we must protect our economy from this great threat,” he thunders.  It’s the sacred economy again. Amen. Or did he mean surplus? Meanwhile, the multinational mining companies protesters target bleed us dry in tax evasion. Not to mention what they cost us in subsidies.

Tenderly, our government takes our taxes and spends billions of dollars to help more coal, gas and oil to be extracted and burned. Other favours include tax-based subsidies, direct contributions, concessional loans from public financial institutions, lax environmental laws and approvals for disastrous projects.

Now ScoMo takes time to hiss the villain. Progressivism, a “new-speak type term”, ScoMo claims (of a movement achieving social and political reform in the US, two decades before Orwell published 1984), aims “to get in under the radar, but at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians.” 

“Apocalyptic in tone, it brooks no compromise,” Elder Morrison continues, as if he were describing the template for a Hillsong sermon. “It’s all or nothing. Alternative views are not permitted.”

But no “needless anxieties”, please. Think of the children. What we need at times like these is some “context and perspective”. The Australian Way of Life must remain secure in its glass case along with a bust of Langley Frederick Hancock, a piece of coal and a blue ribbon for best country in show at Liberal HQ, protected by the eternal vigilance of Dutton’s AFP, ASIO and the web of eighty-odd federal national security laws governments have spun to catch evil-doers since September 11, 2011.

Nobody seems to know precisely how many laws. Or care. The more the meh-factor.

Our most recent bit of spy fly-paper is the Coalition’s Foreign Influence Registry, part of its visionary Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, which became law last December. In a mass mail-out last month, the Attorney General asks all foreign agents of influence to put their hands up. Way to go.

Who? What? Defining influence can be a tricky business, which is probably how Tony Abbott got caught in the net. In deathless prose, Porter’s department appeals to lobbyists of a “parliamentary and general political nature” but includes those involved in “communications activity” and “disbursement activity”.

Transparent? Sheer genius. Sadly, this little list is in its infancy. And it’s a one way mirror. It does not run to how we influence other nations such as our ASIS agents’ spying on Timor Leste’s cabinet in 2004.

Given the high esteem with which they are held in Timor Leste, you might expect the whistle-blower, Witness K – as the ASIS officer has become known – and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery to feature. These men represent our finest, as former Timor-Leste president José Ramos-Horta writes in August.

“Individuals with a conscience and courage, representing the very best of Australians as I know them – instinctively sympathetic to the underdog, the weak and vulnerable.”

The tribute is a salutary corrective to ScoMo’s rhetoric. The men should be venerated as public heroes.

Yet their secret trials, revealed by Andrew Wilkie under parliamentary privilege, in June 2018 and currently under way in two Canberra courts, the Magistrates Court for Witness K and The Supreme Court for his lawyer Collaery, represents “… the national security state’s assault on Australia’s democratic culture”, writes Clinton Fernandes, University of NSW Professor of International and Political studies.

Both face lengthy prison sentences. An example must be made of whistle-blowers to discourage others. Some suggest that given some unexplained questions in his past careers and the fact the someone knows the answers, Morrison is keen to diminish the likelihood of the whistle being blown on himself. Whatever his personal investment, national security agencies are keen to punish whistle-blowers.

It’s not citizens in Queensland and Melbourne exercising their rights to protest but the state itself which is attacking the rule of law, a corner-stone of our democracy. A police state? To Fernandes, it’s more.

These prosecutions come at a time of vastly increased powers for police and intelligence agencies, raids on the homes of journalists and news organisations, and the deployment of technologies of mass surveillance. The aim of this power grab must be understood clearly, if it is to be resisted. The national security bureaucracy doesn’t want a police state. It is more ambitious than that. The hope is to return Australian culture to the conformity and political quietude of the 1950s.”

In this context, Porter’s Registry is but one small step but could well escalate into a flight of stairs.

In the last decade, 81 per cent of political donations from the mining industry have been to the Coalition; 71 per cent to the Liberal Party. The Grattan Institute reveals that mining has the most lobbying contacts with government. Many of these are foreign-owned firms. Surely these should appear on the registry?

Nowhere does the registry list other influential foreign companies who run local branches to great tax advantage. These include household names: Uber, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, McDonalds, Ikea and Aldi. Perhaps they need more than four weeks to gauge their influence. If it can be done at all.

Multinational parent companies do not register their Australian operations as branch operations. Consequently they do not comply with ASIC’s disclosure and reporting obligations. In fact, we generously give them a tax deduction when they send royalty payments to arms of their own company overseas.

Are we Thinking Big enough? Perhaps, given the meagre 194 entries, so far, there is room for our own agents of influence abroad to declare themselves. Scott Morrison would doubtless be keen to explain what he did to get the flick from his job as head of NZ Tourism and Sport in 2000.

It would help greatly with our close trading neighbour – where Think Big was a state intervention strategy – and it would clear up a mystery or two. The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton reports that a Kiwi Controller and Auditor-General audit found that ScoMo hi-jacked the NZ Tourism Review.

It is early evidence of ScoMo’s gift for taking charge and his top-dog inter-personal skills. Not for him the namby-pamby consensus type or a democratic style. “Absolute arsehole” is former MP Michael Kennan verdict. Keenan served as Justice Minister when Scott Morrison was Immigration Minister.

His comment is recorded by Niki Savva in Plots and Prayers as having been made to colleagues at lunch at Garum Restaurant in Perth in April 2018 just before Morrison deposed Malcolm Turnbull.

“Porter joined in, saying he did not think Morrison was a team player. Cormann said he had seen Morrison up close now, and, in his opinion, Dutton was better,” Savva writes.

Similar charges would be made by the Australian National Audit Office, (ANAO) nine years’ later when it looked into his management of Tourism Australia. ANAO found “non-consultation, making unilateral decisions, not observing due process and restricting board access to information.”

But Morrison gets off Scott-free. Not so one of his illustrious predecessors. All hot and bothered this week, Tony Abbott, The Australian’s Prime Minister-in-exile is asked to sign The Registry…

Abbott is incensed by Christian – (but a Jedi on his census) Porter’s department’s recent demand that the budgie-smuggler register as “an agent of foreign influence”, just the day before CPAC, in Sydney, last August. The department of the Attorney-General is not one to rush matters. But it has improved.

Porter’s predecessor, George Brandis dithered for two years and three months over prosecuting Bernard Collaery and Witness K. Then he got posted to London as our High Commissioner. Porter, on the other hand, took the decision to prosecute only six months after coming to office. But Abbott’s underwhelmed.

The Incredible Sulk is happy to ear-bash fellow reactionaries at non-events such as CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, an oxymoron on steroids. Tipped to be the next Director of the weapons industry sponsored National War Memorial in Canberra, he’s clearly still a VIP.

But foreign influence? The former Riverview boy ­refuses the request, labels it ­“absurd” and in a direct dig at the Jedi claims “senior officials of the commonwealth have better things to do with their time.”

If only.

Scott Morrison’s pledge to crack down on climate protesters is in part a deflection, a ruse to encourage climate change deniers by implying that there’s nothing wrong with building more coal-fired power station; it’s the extremist, radical activists” who are out of line. And it’s a way of wedging Labor. Yet it would be wrong to see it merely as an act of bellicose posturing from a wannabe populist strong man.

Morrison’s past record suggests more than a hint of an authoritarian, if not autocratic, personality beneath the evasions, the secrecy and the cultivated, folksy veneer of the sport-loving, cap-wearing , beer-drinking suburban dad as populist leader.

Given the proliferation of national security laws which have hugely strengthened the power of the state, since 2011, moreover, we must challenge Morrison’s latest florid, rhetorical assault on democracy; resist all attempts at division and the silencing of dissent. Our future as a civil society; our freedom depends upon it.

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The more you tell me to shut up, the louder I am going to get

So this is what we have sunk to – a Prime Minister who wants us all to be quiet and, if we don’t, he’ll make us.

He doesn’t want us to talk about his government’s woeful record on greenhouse gas emissions.  He doesn’t want us to talk about reefs dying and rivers drying up and mass extinctions.  He doesn’t want us to choose ethical investments in sustainable industries.

He wants to bully insurance companies into insuring unviable projects and he wants banks to lend money to uncommercial ventures.  He wants to make our superannuation funds invest in what will inevitably become stranded assets.

The idea that one would get their investment advice from the likes of mummy’s boy Matt Canavan is hilarious.

But when our PM directly threatens us with retaliation if we speak out, it stops being funny.

Morrison vowed to outlaw the “indulgent and selfish” practices of environmental groups who campaign against Australian businesses that work with companies and industries they are opposed to, such as coal.

Oh yeah?  How?  You can’t tell us what to invest in or buy.  You can’t stop us from sharing information about the business practices of different companies.  You can’t stop companies from legitimately pursuing ethical and sustainable practice as a commercial advantage.

It is not “radical activism” to be concerned about our deteriorating environment.  We are fighting for our survival.

You are not the Messiah, Scott.  You are just a very inadequate ad man who elbowed his way to the front over the fallen bodies of your colleagues in the roller derby of Australian politics.

And if you think you can shut us up, you are sadly mistaken.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

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No penalty for lying

With the frenetic pace of reporting nowadays, yesterday’s news is quickly forgotten.  The sheer volume of information overwhelms us with the result that the government can quickly move attention away from anything they do not want scrutinised.

For example…

When Reza Barati was murdered on Manus Island by the staff we employed to care for the asylum seekers we had incarcerated there, Scott Morrison told us that it was the refugees’ fault for leaving the centre and going on a violent rampage.  That was proven false.

Reza was killed inside the centre and the subsequent review commissioned by the government found that Reza was “a very gentle man” who was not involved in the unrest.  Two Australian guards allegedly involved in the murder were immediately brought home and have never faced charges.

When Scott Morrison’s ridiculous allegation that Save the Children staff on Nauru were encouraging children to self-harm was proven false, he refused to apologise despite the government having to pay compensation to the staff he wrongly accused and removed.

When there was a shooting incident on Manus, Peter Dutton said it occurred after local people witnessed asylum seekers leading a five-year-old boy towards the centre suggesting they were luring him away to sexually assault him.  This was, once again, completely wrong.

The shooting came from drunken sailors in an argument over a soccer field.  A couple of weeks earlier, asylum seekers had given a ten year old child food after he asked for some.  The incidents were entirely unrelated and misrepresented by Dutton.

Barnaby Joyce would have us believe that the woman he got pregnant was not his partner when he secured jobs for her in other MPs’ offices.  The spike in the number of non-sitting nights he spent in Canberra were ‘work-related’ according to Barnaby.  In response to multiple allegations of sexual harassment from other women, Barnaby basically said ‘prove it’.

Michaelia Cash still contends that her referral to the ROC of a ten year old donation by the AWU was not political and that she had nothing to do with tipping off the media about AFP raids.  Uh huh…

And then we have Angus Taylor, the man who congratulates himself on facebook forgetting to change accounts first.  Angus is racking up a lot of very questionable dealings where the truth seems to get lost in his bluster.

There was his involvement in an $80 million water buyback scheme/scam, his meetings with the Environment Minister to ‘raise concerns from farmers in his electorate’ about endangered grasslands (producing a letter that was written months after the meeting), and now his unbelievable attack on Clover Moore using a fraudulent document.

The death taxes campaign at the last election was the government at its manipulative, dishonest worst.

In some cases, such as Craig Kelly, the disinformation is due to stupidity but that didn’t stop the PM from interceding to make sure this dill was preselected against the wishes of the local Liberals and awarding him, of all people, the job of chairing the environment committee.  Kelly is so full of crap that he has been banned from appearing on the ABC but he is given open slather on Sky After Dark to spin his bullshit.

Time and again, government MPs get away with telling blatant untruths with no adverse consequences – for them at least.

The consequence for the rest of us is the undermining of trust in the institutions that govern our country and a tawdry decline into a political world where winning is all that counts and transparency and accountability are to be avoided at any cost.

When there is no penalty for lying, we get leaders like Donald Trump and his Billy Bunter groupie, ScoMo, who think having their photo taken with thumbs up saying “how good are we” substitutes for competence, honesty and integrity.

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Is Labor doomed for oblivion, or can Albo mount a comeback?

Bill Shorten took over as leader of Australian Labor Party in 2013 and resigned in 2019 after taking the party to two elections.

He won the leadership in a two-horse race with Anthony Albanese (Albo) under revised party rules: Rules that gave Albanese little chance of winning.

In 2016 he came within one seat of becoming Prime Minister after adopting a strategy of prematurely revealing major policies well before the election.

He also adopted a benign approach to the everyday swings of Australian politics. An approach that was seen as sensible by some and too light on by others.

He wasn’t expected to win in 2016 so his narrow loss was seen as exemplary. In 2019 he was in better shape and given the dreadful performance of the Coalition in office was expected to win in a canter.

Labor had led in the polls for the better part of three years. Shorten had turned the conventional wisdom on its ear by going early with new policies and shirt-fronting the government at every opportunity.

In many ways it was a radical approach to electioneering taking from the rich to accommodate a fairer and more equal society. Having said that, there were many Labor die-hards who wanted policy to be even further to the left. Conversely, others wanted more centre-right policies.

In short, Labor had done everything right. They were disciplined and loyal to their leader but when the crunch came, even with a set of policies that would make for a better society, their campaigning was terrible.

“The campaign, not the issues, was Labor’s Achilles heel, with the Coalition’s personal attacks on Shorten the final nail in the coffin,” wrote Peter Lewis in The Guardian.

A leak, however, from the committee appointed to reason why Labor lost, seems to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Shorten.

It is now almost 6 months since Labor experienced its night of soul-destroying darkness. All the untruths and scares told by a prodigious teller of fabrication by Morrison wasn’t enough to unseat him.

The accrued mistrust of Shorten together with union association and unpopularity reigned supreme over the lies and scare campaigns of the Coalition. It must have run deep.

Once again Labor was to experience the loneliness of opposition.

Having had a right-wing Opposition Leader who took them to the left they elected a left-wing leader in Anthony Albanese who seems intent on taking them to the right.

In the months that have past, Albanese has given members the chance to publicly speak up on policy. Some have, and I feel sure more will once the report into their election loss is released in the next week or so.

Moreover, this point in time Albanese seems to be taking the rather old fashioned tactic of laying low unless its otherwise necessary, upping the anti in the third year and releasing policy with only a few weeks or months to go before the election.

At this point it would be wrong not to release a climate policy, very wrong.

The perception of Albo was that he could ‘tuff’ talk to any conservative leader. He indeed unlike others knew how to lay a decent shirtfront on the government.

Initially, Party members wanted him instead of Shorten. Now that they have him and the shirt-front is nothing more than a powder-puff to the left cheek, they want more aggression. As if it resolves everything.

As the theory goes, Labor only ever wins when a person of charisma enters the fray. Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd were men of their time who had vision, excited the people with the possibility that they could achieve great things.

All had one thing in common. They dared to be different, even radical.

The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right.

There are those in the Party, and those who support it, who long for the socialism of days long gone without a thought for the changes that have occurred in society. As if one thought suits all.

People scream out “retaliate with the truth”, but the fact is that accessibility or exposure to do so in opposition is limited to a 15-second grab on the nightly news.

Taken in totality, and in my view, there was nothing wrong with Labor’s policies for the recent election. It was just the way they were presented that was deplorable. A Hawke or Keating would have held society in the palm of their right hand and mellifluously told them the facts.

Had as much thought been put into how they were to sell them, and indeed defend the complications in them, they might have stood a chance.

As it was there were so many impediments that you could drive the proverbial truck through them.

Just as the government has a list of talking points to defend its policies, so too should the opposition have had to defend its own.

For example, when employment raises its head every Labor MP should know the following:

“In September 2013, there were 706,400 people unemployed (trend) or 697,100 (seasonally adjusted).

In September 2019, there were 718,000 people unemployed (trend) or 709,600 (seasonally adjusted).

They aren’t keeping up with population growth. Why does no one ever say in response to the jobs growth claim, that there are 12,000 more people unemployed now than when they took over?”

Tell it straight, tell it as it is and fix it.

I have gotten a little ahead of myself so let’s come back to the present. Labor is going through a period of self-examination with a new leader who hasn’t yet found his feet.

Albo is, however, making overtones of doing politics of the past whereas what is needed is something purer than the abrasive manner of the mouth that roared.

Albo should be using the phrase; “He’s loose with the truth” (about Scott Morrison) on every occasion he can, and keep on doing it until it sinks in.

And he should add; ”Just a clone of Trump” to a collection.

It is reasonable to assume that after his sucking up to Trump, Morrison is telling us that it will be the path of Trumpism he will be taking in the future.

At the moment Morrison is having a ball portraying Labor as a party of the past and that it is he and his party that are for the workers.

This impression is reinforced by responses to questions in this week’s Essential Report designed to get the first real take on peoples perceptions of Anthony Albanese’s Labor.

Morrison’s marketing experience – based mostly on slogans – comes through in everything he says and does. He understands the value of lies, repetition and misrepresentation.

It is a pity that Australian politics has degenerated to such a level, but it does however; give Labor an opportunity of rebirth, maybe as a “Common good party.” Dare to be different, and above all be progressive.

It would be a grave mistake to re emerge as just another centre-right party.

It seems to me that everyone wants an economy that is performing well.

However, when you are asking those who can least afford it to disproportionally support it you are not serving the common good.

When Joe Hockey was Treasurer he told the National Press Club: “The average worker works one month every year to pay for the welfare of others.”

At the time I wondered how many months the average worker worked to subsidise farmers, miners, tax breaks, negative gearing, franking credits, private and religious schools (religions don’t pay taxes), and retired politicians.

Fairness and equality of opportunity must be central to any Labor Party platform.

It is difficult to get a grip on just how Albo might rebrand Labor after its period of self-examination given that the opposition leader, given his confusing support for so many Coalition policies.

At the moment he is less popular than Shorten himself. If he doesn’t survive they could end up with a future leadership team of Queensland’s Jim Chalmers and former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

So much depends on the attitude of the leader that it is even more difficult to predict how the party will brand itself without it being settled in leadership.

Let’s put that aside for a moment. Before any re-branding can take place the party has to be satisfied that the reason or reasons for the defeat have all been exposed.

Was it the unpopularity of Bill Shorten? Was it the policies or was it entirely the campaign itself?

For me it was the trifecta. Yes, Shorten was unpopular. No, there was nothing wrong with the policies – it was the leaders inability to articulate them, which of course bleeds into the conduct of the campaign.

Ask yourself would Labor have won with Albo?

A hypothetical question indeed. And truthfully I don’t know what Labor should do. It is too early. All I can do is offer some comments, ideas and suggestions, but I have always felt that cleaning up our democracy would be a noble pursuit and the first step toward regaining government.

I note that as I write the news community today, 21 October, are asking for more transparency in our government. It is true that we have a government of a “need to know” mentality, that hides things from us and is about as transparent as a black glass window.

When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed. It is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.

Here are some thoughts on a Labor revival based on repairing our democracy:

  1. The Labor Party needs to rid itself of out-dated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead.
  2. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.
  3. In terms of talent, both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual liability without enough female representation and worldly work-life experience.
  4. Labor’s pre-selection processes are rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out.
  5. There is a need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the union movement. Fix it.
  6. Our Parliament, its institutions, and conventions was so trashed by Tony Abbott and those who followed that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Fix it.
  7. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past. Fix it.
  8. Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds that are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills. Fix it.
  9. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Fix it.
  10. Question time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Fix it.
  11. Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. Fix it.
  12. Light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. It has debased the parliament and all MPs, as moronic imbecilic individuals. Fix it

I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership.

In recent times we have had potential, but it was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest, and narcissistic personality.

The pursuit of power for power’s sake and the retention of it has so engulfed political thinking that the people have become secondary and the common good dwells somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for good public policy that achieves social equity.

People on the right of politics in Australia show insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.

Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers; with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.

On the contrary, it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably. Fix it.

Bloggers more reflect the feelings of grass-roots society.

Truth in government as a principle of democratic necessity needs to be reinstated.

Fix it first and common good policy will follow.

My thought for the day

Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process make the most contribution to its demise.

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The Coalition money shuffle

One of Joe Hockey’s first acts as Treasurer in 2013 was to gift the RBA $8.8 billion.  The main reason for this was to make Labor’s deficit look bigger.  As a side bonus, it allowed the RBA to invest in the forex market, banking on the Australian dollar losing value as the mining boom subsided.

And that is exactly what happened allowing the government to draw…wait for it…$8.8 billion in dividends over the last six years.  That’s all very well (if we ignore how the Coalition screamed like stuck pigs when Labor took a one-off dividend of $500 million in 2013) except Hockey borrowed the $8.8 billion so we are still paying interest on it.

We have also paid a fortune in “fees for banking services” as investment banks have raked in hundreds of millions in trading fees.

Had Hockey not engaged in this political chicanery, we would be billions of dollars better off.

And then there are the six Future Funds which contained $198.8 billion as at June 30 this year.

The direct cost of managing these funds was over $1 billion for the last three years alone.

The DisabilityCare Australia Fund had $16.4 billion sitting in it, which must be aggravating to the many people still waiting to access services or those who have had their services reduced.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund (ATSILS Fund) was established in February 2019 with a capital contribution of $2 billion transferred from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account.

The purpose of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, to whom the fund will make payments apparently at the discretion of the Minister if the investment mandate targets have been met, is to acquire and manage land, water and water-related rights so as to attain economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits.  One wonders how much will actually be handed over for that purpose now that Peter Costello has his hands on it.  I am sure the mining companies would prefer that money to be tied up rather than used.

In July, the government deposited another $7.8 billion into the Medical Research Future Fund.  As we were still in deficit, this was a pretty amazing feat which must have come at the cost of other research cuts and/or interest costs for the borrowed money.  It’s interesting how they can find a lazy $8 billion when they want to.

The Education Investment Fund, originally intended for new facilities in the higher education sector, had payments frozen in 2013 and it has been accumulating funds since.  These have now been taken to create the government’s new $4 billion Emergency Response Fund.

Then, on 1 September 2019, the assets of the Building Australia Fund were transferred to the newly created Future Drought Fund.

The original Future Fund was established in 2006, funded in part from budget surpluses but mainly from the sale of Telstra.  As at June 30, there was $162.6 billion sitting in it.

Kevin Rudd, as Opposition leader, suggested using $2.7 billion of it to invest in a National Broadband Network with profits being returned to the Future Fund.  The Howard government screamed blue murder, claiming that Labor intended to “raid” the Future Fund for their own means.  Gee, that has worked out well for us hasn’t it.

While legislation permits drawdowns from the Future Fund from 1 July 2020, the Government announced in the 2017-18 budget that it will refrain from making withdrawals until at least 2026-27.

What on earth is the point of sitting on that pile of money when only 20% of it is invested in Australia?

The ten year return has been 10.4% for the Future Fund which might sound good until you look at Infrastructure Australia’s High Priority Project list where every project has a cost benefit ratio of better than that.

We could be employing people in productivity enhancing infrastructure construction. We could be increasing primary healthcare and reducing hospital waiting times to save money and improve quality of life.  We could be investing in research and education, both of which bring a far greater return than 10%.

But the Coalition are obsessed with accumulating cash and apparently have zero understanding of the value of actually using the money for the benefit of our economy and our citizens.

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Now is NOT the time to be a ‘quiet Australian’

There is a disturbing trend emerging in Australia where the government is increasingly trying to silence the people.

They have painted unionists as lawless thugs and removed our ability to withhold our labour without their pre-arranged permission.

They have made charity funding dependent on them being uncritical of government policy.

They label conservationists and animal welfare groups as ecoterrorists and are pushing forward with legislation to make protesting unlawful if it causes any sort of disruption.

Public servants, journalists and whistleblowers face prosecution if they reveal what the government is doing.

They claim the gay community has “an agenda” and are therefore trying to introduce laws that make discrimination against them legal but discrimination against religious people illegal.

They dismiss school students who are concerned about inaction on climate change as being brainwashed by virtue-signalling elites and tell them to be quiet and get back to school.

Our leaders seem to feel impervious but they would do well to take some lessons from the past.

“We wear no mark; we belong to every class; we permeate every class of the community from the highest to the lowest; and so you see in the woman’s civil war the dear men of my country are discovering it is absolutely impossible to deal with it: you cannot locate it, and you cannot stop it.”

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst – Connecticut 1913

“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom.

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Anti-Apartheid activist Nelson Mandela – High treason trial 1964

 “In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by nonviolence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.”

Independence campaigner Mahatma Gandhi – Address to the A.I.C.C. 1942

 “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

Civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King – March on Washington 1963

“Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s; without hope the us’s give up. I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope.”

Gay rights activist Harvey Milk – Hope Speech 1978

“Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.”

Anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass – New York 1852

Perhaps the final word of encouragement – or warning – should come from Noam Chomsky’s “Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America”:

“If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.”

Will Australians be forced from their complacency?  Will self-interest prevail until the masses rise up?

The time for swallowing bullshit is over.  They leave us no choice but to make our voices heard in ways and numbers that they cannot ignore.

“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.” Uluru Statement from the Heart

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Empathy. They have none.

By RosemaryJ36 

Anne Ruston and Peter Dutton stand out among their Coalition colleagues, since both stand out as seeming to be supremely incapable of empathy. Their blindness to the fact that the majority of people forced to be dependent on Newstart are not drug addicts or malingerers and that the children – AND adults – who took part in the School Strike4Climate marches, are genuinely concerned about their future, is ignored in favour of vilifying fellow citizens less wealthy – or blind – than they themselves appear to be!.

I am one of many grandparents and great grandparents who accept the science on climate change. After all, the oil companies did their own research over 30 years ago and were well aware of the climate damage which would result from the escalating use of fossil fuels. And time has proved their predictions were spot on!

Needless to say, in a capitalist world, profits are the name of the game, and why publicise the long-term damage your mining and drilling and fracking is doing to the environment when you can keep your shareholders happy with healthy dividends?

The evidence from all round the world of the effect the changing environment is having – not least by the costly damage done by the increasingly frequent and severe weather events – cannot be wilfully ignored for much longer.

It is hard to know who most deserves our concern. Is it the older people, made redundant in their 50s and 60s, with little hope of finding meaningful work – ever – and forced to eke out an existence on Newstart? Or is it the young people, with their lives ahead of them, also struggling to enter the workforce, watching those who are expected to take responsibility for making serious decisions, turning a blind eye to the damage that they are encouraging and happily subsidising those doing the damage while collecting party donations in return.

If there is one thing worse than watching people damage the future for our youth, it is feeling helpless to do anything to change the situation.

The Opposition offers little hope. It seems more interested in searching its own soul, to find out where they went wrong, than it is in announcing realistic plans that might slow down global warming and reduce the probability of temperatures rising to unbearable levels.

To add to the frustration, it seems that a significant number of our governing politicians claim to have religious beliefs linked to Christianity – yet Christ’s message to put other’s needs before your own has clearly been drowned out by self-interest.

Hypocrites, the lot of them!

It is becoming more and more apparent that we need to go down the path of civil disobedience, following the example of the people of Hong Kong.

Before the recent election, the Coalition was asking Labor to say how much their policies on combating climate change would cost.

A ridiculous question in relation to policies which will have to be regularly adjusted because we are starting behind the 8-ball.

What is quite certain is that the costs involved in reducing emissions and moving away from dependence on fossil fuels will pale into insignificance when compared with the costs in re-building lives and property damaged by severe climate-related catastrophes!

“When will they ever learn?” is indeed the question to keep asking.

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How bad does the LNP have to get before people stop voting for them?

By Kathryn

Is it possible we could ever have a worse government than the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison circus? Not to diminish the absolute mess the Howard/Costello government made of our economy when they recklessly threw away countless billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars on a vile illegal war (in Iraq) at the height of a mining boom, Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison (like most LNP governments) clearly could and cannot be trusted to manage the contents of a child’s piggy bank!

Leaving this totally inept, horrendously wasteful pack of ultra-conservative, draconian self-serving elitists in charge of our economy is tantamount to putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank. Remember the relentless hullaballoo this government (and their propaganda Ministers of Fake News in the lying Murdoch press) made of Rudd/Gillard’s now comparatively very modest deficit of $240 billion deficit? Now we have the appalling situation where absolutely nothing is mentioned – by these totally deluded, pompous politicians or the Murdoch-influenced media – about the scandalous near trillion dollars of debt our country languishes in at the moment!

Now it is a case of “don’t look over here … look over there!” whilst we have the dictatorial, bible-thumping hypocrite (Morrison) totally ignoring our nation’s worst deficit, ignoring the disastrous impact farmers are facing due to the catastrophic affects of climate change and continuing their callously inhumane stance against asylum seekers, pensioners, people eeking out a living in survival mode on Newstart and their remorseless attacks, vilification and sneering condescension of the most vulnerable citizens in the country!

Whilst our economy is in freefall, the unspeakably depraved politicians in a regressive, coal-loving fascist regime don’t mind handing themselves a couple of massive pay rises in less than six months whilst ignoring the pleas of the overwhelming majority of Australians to increase Newstart and stop the LNP’s inhumane move to push through a cashless welfare card that will demean the recipients of this meagre pittance even further!

This is an autocratic government – who are now the highest paid, non-achieving politicians in the OECD – led by a pompous, sanctimonious and supremely arrogant “happy clapper” who, clearly, chooses to leave his so-called fake Christianity at the door whilst he goes on and on locking up legal asylum seekers – and their traumatised children – in off-shore concentration camps under the horrendously cruel watch of delegated sadistic attack dogs (like Dutton), wasting millions of dollars on politically-motivated Royal Commissions into Unions and their political opponents that have achieved and proven nothing, spending countless millions on illegal raids on the offices of the ABC, arresting whistle-blowers, intimidating and harassing journalists, shutting down democratic protest marches and muzzling debate or justified criticism of the LNP’s staggering ineptitude, unbelievable cruelty and increasing fascism!

Now we have a government that doesn’t even bother hiding their increasing level of rapacious corruption, that stands up and openly (and shamefully) defends charged and convicted paedophiles (like George Pell), a government top heavy with a pack of alpha-male misogynists in a “boys’ club” that has the least number of women in their federal cabinet than any other government in decades, a government that has absolutely destroyed our (once) fine international reputation and annihilated our environment and caused the precious, rare waters of our longest river system, the Murray/Darling river, to be handed over to their greedy mates in the cotton growing industry (at the height of the worst drought on record) – thanks for nothing, Barnaby Joyce – in less than six catastrophic years of reckless waste, financial mismanagement and environmental vandalism to appease their huge donors in the mining industry and their predatory mates in huge multinational corporations!

What have we had since 2013? Answer: The gormless Abbott who turned lying and deception into an art form, broke every single promise he ever made and whose pathetic obsequious imperialism saw him re-introduce the elitist knighthood system which he bestowed on the Duke of Edingburgh, a man who has never even tried to hide his open contempt for Australia and Australians; The elitist and absolutely useless Sloppy Joe Hockey whose rigid, short-sighted belief in the failed and discredited Trickle Down economic theory literally froze public spending and national confidence; The depraved, megalomaniacal sociopathic-like Dutton, whose level of near-criminal, callous disregard for humanity borders on insanity; The ineffective, weak, supercilious and thoroughly disappointing Turnbull; The supremely arrogant and contemptuous Matthias Cormann whose disconnection from ordinary hard-working Australians living outside the bubble of Canberra is the stuff of legend; The mindless fool, Frydenberg, who couldn’t be trusted to manage the budget of the daily takings of a school canteen let alone have any credibility as one of the worst Treasurers in our history and, now, a totally inept, absolutely corrupt and self-serving bible-thumping hypocrite, Morrison – who is now playing the nauseating role of salivating lapdog to the insane Trump (as they both eagerly seek an excuse to start a war with Iran to distract the voting public from their woeful and dangerous tenure as the worst leaders in the OECD). No-one can deny that the LNP have turned Australia from hero to zero in rapid time!

Where is the governor general? Why aren’t Australians rising out of their stupefied complacency and demanding the dismissal of the absolute worst, most corrupt, dangerously undemocratic and fascist regime in our history? Can anyone remember what Australia was like under the foresightful leadership of the compassionate, high-achieving democratic socialist Whitlam? We were proud of Australia then – it was a compassionate nation that welcomed migrants, it was a time when we were justifiably proud of our successful multiculturalism. It was a time when the forward thinking Whitlam government introduced Medibank (the forerunner of the now de-funded Medicare), introduced fully-subsidised tertiary education (now de-funded into oblivion by the LNP) and gave generously to national theatre and arts programs after decades of woeful neglect by the insular Menzies regime! Now, under the hateful vindictiveness of a loathsome, capitalistic neo-liberal regime that rules by division, xenophobic racism, hate and fear, the LNP have given “permission” for the nation’s worst, most repugnant racists and misogynists to crawl out from under their rocks and pile scornful derision and mindless attacks against anyone who doesn’t fit into the LNP’s “ideal”, ie wealthy, white, male, so-called christian and Anglo-Saxon!

History has shown – indeed, it has proven – that, without any doubt, Labor are – and have always been – far superior economic managers. There is valid reasons why the only two Australian Treasurers to receive international fame and well-deserved praise as the “best treasurers in the world” were both Labor Treasurers: Paul Keating and the illustrious Wayne Swan who’s brilliant stimulus initiative ensured that Australia was the only OECD nation to escape the GFC – an initiative that was then copied throughout the world!

The worst Treasurers in our history were undoubtedly John Howard, Peter Costello, Scott Morrison (before he became the worst PM), Sloppy Joe Hockey and the catastrophic Josh Frydenberg – all of them deluded fanatical followers of the Trickle Down economic theory which has been absolutely and thoroughly denigrated by illustrious economists such as the Nobel prize-winning Joseph Stiglitz! For God’s sake, Australia, wake up and kick this government to the kerb at the next election – they have destroyed Australia’s international reputation, attacked our vulnerable citizens, annihilated our economy and vandalised our environment! The question is: How bad does the LNP have to get before misinformed, Murdoch-manipulated, apathetic Australians finally realise just how toxic the LNP really are and stop voting for them? The 2019 federal election proved just how stupid the tiny majority of disconnected, complacent Australians really are.

This article was originally published on The AIMN as a comment under John Kelly’s recent article, Frydenberg and Steel-Plated Boots. Kathryn has given us permission to publish her comment as an article.

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How Good Is Communism? OR ScoMo The Trotskyist

For years, we’ve been warned about the left turning us into a nanny state and trying to control everything. We’ve heard how the Communists want to control us and how the conservatives are the ones who believe in small government. “We are giving you tax cuts,” say the Liberals, “because we believe that people are best placed to know what they should spend their money on. They don’t need governments making decisions for them.”

Yet now we have the Indue card. Ok, I know, I know. That’s just compassionate conservatism to help those who can’t help themselves. It’s giving a go to those who aren’t able to have a go because they’re all on drugs… Unless they’re over thirty five when they’ll no longer be drug tested. Mm, does that mean that they’ll all be able to celebrate with a wild cocaine and ecstasy party on their thirty fifth birthday…

I guess that’s why we have the Undue card. To protect all those older Australians who are no longer subject to drug testing. Some people think that these trials are just a Trojan horse and combine this with the proposal to limit cash payments to $10,000, it won’t be long before everyone will have one and the government can view all our spending.

However, the government assures us that this Undue – or is Undie – card isn’t even going to be extended to pensioners even though the legislation does include aged pensioners, meaning that it’s simply an oversight, and not a way of making it easier to roll it out without needing to go back to Parliament when the time comes to say that we’re worried about pensioners being exploited so we’re going to ensure that they can only shop at stores which we approve of and who likewise approve of the government. Business that show this approval by running fundraisers or buying dinner tickets so that they can hear the PM ask them, “How good is this Indue card?” Over and over again.

Yes, good old ScoMo is quite the joker… Last night in a performance reminiscent of Heath Ledger, he made a joke about how good it was to have all the journalists in the one room so that they could more easily gather their metadata.

At least I presume it was a joke. Although now I think about it, between the metadata laws, the Indue card and the threats to forcibly acquire energy assets, ScoMo is starting to show all the tendencies of one of those communist dictators we’ve all been warned about.

Mm, and then there’s Gladys Liu. While she may not be a card carrying member of the Chinese Communist Party, she’s certainly belonged to organisations which are meant to advance China’s interests in other countries. When Scottie hears this, does he announce that he’ll ask the security forces to check it out? No, he calls her a great Australian and accuses people of racism for even suggesting that there are questions to answer.

Good on him, says the Chinese newspaper. (This is real, I’m not making it up).

Now imagine if Jeremy Corbyn or Bill Shorten had introduced a card to control people’s spending, presided over raids on journalists and then was praised by the Communists for standing up for a possible Chinese propaganda stooge. Yeah, I can see the Murdoch press calling for their extradition to Guatanamo Bay as a threat to the nation.

But Scott, it seems, is ok right up until he says, How Good is the Socialist state?

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The Messiah from the Shire and other advertising slogans

If you believe the media, Scott Morrison is popular with the electorate because he is “genuine”.  Apparently, he is a man of conviction, a man who’s deeply held beliefs guide his actions, a man who sticks to his word.

Or should that be slogan?

Scott’s past was as an advertising man and one could be forgiven for thinking that’s all he’s got.

The whole Newstart debate has degenerated into a sloganfest.

“The best welfare is a job”.

“Labor’s unfunded empathy”.

“Conservative compassion”.

When Scott resists advice from everyone that the low level of Newstart is an impediment to getting a job, and when he resurrects random drug-testing for young unemployed people, and when he supports extending the cashless welfare card, and when he stubbornly sticks with the Robodebt debacle – he isn’t putting his surplus before the well-being of the people and the economy, he isn’t throwing red meat to the baying hounds of Sky After Dark, he isn’t stigmatising those who cannot find work no matter how hard they try – he is being kind.

In the ultimate display of self-interest and paternalistic hubris, the Messiah explains that his government’s priority was “not to overburden the welfare system”.

“I’m helping a lot of people if I’m careful about it, and if it’s well targeted, and I invest in getting a better understanding of what the needs are and what people have to overcome, in order to become more self-reliant.”

I am not sure that trying to make Scott understand is a worthwhile investment.

But back to the ad man’s slogans.

Defending his cruelty, Morrison tells us that he wants welfare to be “a trampoline, not a snare”.

Great line.  So great he’s been repeating it for years.

In his address to the IPA in July 2015 titled Positive welfare and compassionate conservatism, Scott called it “The Trampoline Effect”.

“An effective and reliable safety net that catches and supports the most vulnerable is absolutely necessary. But we need a safety net that acts like a trampoline, not a snare.”

When the Messiah rose from the ashes of the Turnbull knifing to reluctantly take the mantle thrust on him by a grateful party, he travelled to Albury in September last year to deliver a sermon rekindling the Menzies adoration and calling on us all to love each other.

Morrison said anyone worried about what he would do to Medicare or Centrelink should know he is committed to looking after people.

“Remember, my value is: we look after our mates,” he said.  “That’s why we have a safety net in this country, to protect people. But it works as a trampoline, not as a snare.”

As Morrison and co try to portray the unemployed as indolent, hedonistic addicts rorting the system, the fact is that the majority of Newstart recipients are aged over 50.

With the pension age rising to 67, and renewed calls to increase it further to 70, combined with the skills required in this new age of digital disruption, that number will only rise.

“If you have a go, you’ll get a go” doesn’t seem quite fair to say to a retrenched 65-year-old.

Just like he stuck with “Where the bloody hell are ya?” despite its obvious failure, this ad man will stick with the plagiarised slogans he has been using for years.

Genuine?  You gotta be shitting me.

 

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Dutton: The Lone Voice of Cruelty…

I am going to make this short. Australia wants the Biloela Family to stay!

While Peter Dutton clearly believes that white au pairs for his rich mates deserve special consideration, white South African farmers “deserve special attention” and fast-tracked visas, young brown children born here, to good parents fleeing conflict and looking for a better life? Well, not so much.

At Dutton’s express orders, they should be locked up for months without proper medical care, early childhood education and amenities; left to self-harm while their teeth blacken and fall out, only to be disappeared/deported in the middle of the night.

In the case of the Biloela family, DUTTON’s behaviour is nothing short of disgraceful. EVERYONE wants these people to stay. BUT Dutton, with his power grubbing overreach, is the lone voice of cruelty. He has cordoned off the power to rest solely in his hands, and he is behaving shamefully.

His claim, that he is simply upholding the law, is nothing but a cloak of moral cowardice. Not only does it fail to acknowledge his own part in creating the cruellest aspects of those laws, it fails to give due deference to human decency.

If a law fails to account for the natural human instinct, to refrain from treating innocent children with a cruel and contemptuous disregard, then that law is immoral and needs to be changed. No ifs, buts or maybes.

Whether or not the parents are genuine refugees (as determined by the courts), these are good people, hard-working people, and their children were born here. They have never even set foot in another nation. Deportation of these AUSTRALIAN children may be legally permissible but it is, nonetheless wrong.

Dutton’s racism is so blatant, his preferential application of power so beset with bigotry and prejudice, he is simply not fit for public office.

This is not the Country I want us to be. I, like so many others these days, am sadly ashamed of the cruel and heartless nation we have become. From our policies on refugees, climate and welfare, to the inequity of corporate tax evasion and misconduct, we have lost our moral compass.

Under the auspices of our current government we have become an immoral, corrupt, cruel and selfish nation that is indifferent to human decency.

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