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Open letter to Scott Morrison and Christian Porter

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Open letter to Scott Morrison and Christian Porter

By Tracie Aylmer

The first time it happened I was 16-years-old, in 1988 in Sydney. Thinking back, I was groomed by the perpetrator to accept him touching me, with intent to kiss me. If I had known he was going to touch me without the grooming he did to me, I wouldn’t have accepted for him to have touched me in the first place.

I was very vulnerable and had a really hard time at both school and home. I guess he saw me as an open target.

After the event I felt so ashamed. As he had called my place asking when I was going to return to his shop, I told my sister what he had done. I remember her telling him I was never going to go back, and to never call my place again.

There are so many more times. So many sexual assaults. Quite a few lost me my job. All of them had me in tears. I lost confidence. Each time, I had to start my life over again. I crumbled, not knowing how to restart my life (yet again).

I have studied, finding law easy. It didn’t get me a long-term job as by then I was considered too old.

The scars have held me back. I know that now.

I’m studying again – two full-time TAFE qualifications at the same time. I thought that time had healed the pain I’ve gone through in my life. I thought I was strong enough to turn the corner and strive for the incredible person that I am.

The past few weeks have brought it all crashing down on me again. The pain is front and centre again.

Mr Morrison, the fact that, without evidence, you believe Mr Porter is horrifying and disgusting. You believe your boys club without any question yet refuse to believe the mountains of evidence and proof of pain of the victims. You are the problem with this society, as you are not taking these rapes seriously.

You are not showing yourself to have any standard whatsoever. You blatantly lie, and we can all see it. You triggered me beyond anything these past few days, and I hold you in complete and utter contempt for doing so.

I do not need for you to behave without accountability over something as serious as rape and sexual assault. You did wrong, and I hope you lose your job emphatically over this fiasco.

Mr Porter, do you really think the country believes you? A recent investigation revealed your “history of sexism and inappropriate behaviour.” Do you think now that your boys club will now protect you?

Poor you thinks that mental health care is needed (let’s get the violins out). I really don’t care if you’re having mental health care sessions. Women who have been the victims of sexual assault or abuse face or have had a life-time of mental health care sessions. Do you or your government care about them?

You have triggered the whole country over your alleged behaviour and your response to it.

Resign! You are worthless now. You have destroyed the office of the Attorney General by your alleged behaviour. No one will believe or trust the legal system again. And neither will they believe or trust the Morrison government or its Ministers. Congratulations on the part you played in that.

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Wednesday was a weird day

Angus Campbell isn’t a bad man. The vast majority of Australian men aren’t ‘bad’ men. But they still seem to think it is a woman’s fault if she gets raped.

Don’t be out after midnight. Don’t drink. Don’t be alone. Don’t look attractive. Or you risk becoming ‘prey’?

Do men feel that way? If a man goes out with his mates and gets pissed, does that make him a likely target for anal rape?

When Fraser Anning introduced a bill for governments to legalise and promote the carrying of pepper spray, mace and tasers by women for “political protection”, Sarah Hanson-Young made the point that the onus should not be on women to protect themselves but rather on men to change their behaviour. David Leyjonhelm, bless his cotton socks, told her if that was the way she felt, she should stop shagging men because we all know the rumours about her promiscuity. The High Court threw out his appeal against the ruling that said he had defamed SHY.

Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, addressed the National Press Club asking for us all to listen, learn, and change.

In a lesson to Scott Morrison on getting it real, she said you don’t need to be a father to have a conscience and being a father doesn’t mean you have one.

When asked if Morrison’s rhetoric about listening to sexual assault survivors matched his actions, she replied “Clearly not”.

And then Christian Porter gave his press conference.

It could have gone like this…

‘It is not fair that my Cabinet colleagues are subject to speculation. It is me that has been named in an allegation of a serious crime.

I can confirm that I knew the complainant when we were teenagers, and I can understand the anguish felt by her family and friends at her premature death, but I know what I have been accused of didn’t happen.

I do not want to add to their pain and I will co-operate fully with any investigation that others feel appropriate.’

But it didn’t.

Christian spent 45 minutes speaking about himself being the victim and the mental toll it was taking on him.

When Linda Reynolds cancelled her planned National Press Club address as she had booked herself into hospital due to the stress of reporting of how she handled a rape that happened in her office, well wishes poured in. Get well, Linda. It’s been tough for you.

The alleged rapist has also booked himself into hospital.

Will we listen to our Australian of the Year, and the many other women who are crying out trying to help men to understand how things are and how they must change?

It was 1975 when I won a public speaking award where the headline in the local paper said “Schoolgirl pours scorn on sex bias.”

We make haste slowly.

But we cannot give up.

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The Morrison government is a sewer

An allegation of the brutal anal rape of a child in 1988 has been made against an un-named minister in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s cabinet.

The victim took her own life in June 2020. NSW police have confirmed that a criminal investigation into the allegation dies with the victim.

Despite their knowledge that police will not investigate because the complainant is dead, government ministers and some journalists continue to claim that the matter must be left to the police.

All of them are wrong, according to police.

 

 

Morrison said that he has referred the allegations to police.

Simon Birmingham, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, yesterday said the accused minister will not be stood aside, and that the matter should be left to police.

(It is puzzling that Birmingham is commenting on this. It would seem to be more appropriately the job of senior lawmaker Attorney-General Christian Porter, who has thus far remained silent.)

On ABC Insiders program this morning, Australian Financial Review journalist Phil Coorey repeated the government line. “This is for the coppers,” he stated, “and it should be for the coppers first and foremost.”

This seems at first blush to be wilful ignorance, gross carelessness, the peddling of misinformation, or an attempt to yet again create and control a narrative that best favours the government.

The accused minister has not come forward to defend himself against the allegations. It is not credible that anyone who is innocent would want to continue public life with accusations such as these left unaddressed, and yet, that appears to be the case.

It is also only a matter of time until the suspect is named. There appears to be no legal requirement to suppress his name, particularly as there will be no trial. He can also be named under parliamentary privilege. It is undoubtedly in the public interest for his name to be released, and were he anyone other than a Liberal cabinet minister, he would not probably not be protected by anonymity. Footballers, for example, are stood aside while allegations of sexual assault are investigated, and they are named. Not so much cabinet ministers, it appears.

It is also remarkable that the accused minister appears to be happy for his cabinet colleagues to be tainted by the rape allegations. As long as we do not know who the minister is, there are around sixteen possibilities in the cabinet. Every time a cabinet minister opens his mouth we can legitimately ask, are you the alleged child rapist? This can’t help but have a destabilising effect on the government, as its already tenuous legitimacy is further eroded by the presence of an anonymous alleged rapist in its highest ranks.

 

 

Then there is the question of national security, a subject close to the hearts of both Morrison, and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, also a cabinet member. In 2017 when Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister, he had occasion to warn Christian Porter, prior to making him Attorney-General, that his drinking and his behaviours towards young women were leaving him open to the possibility of compromise, making him a security risk:

“…it is just not acceptable. And he knew that I was considering appointing him attorney general, which of course is the first law officer of the crown, and has a seat on the national security committee, so the risk of compromise is very, very real.”

By the same token, one may conclude that an anonymous cabinet minister who is accused of the brutal anal rape of a child might well be a prime target for blackmail, and is a serious security risk.

Indeed, everyone in the cabinet who is aware of and concealing the alleged rapist’s identity is a security risk, and vulnerable to exploitation.

Is this government even tenable while this matter is “left to the coppers?”

It is alarming that Morrison seems oblivious to the security dangers the situation presents. It’s even more alarming that Morrison seems entirely impervious to the immorality of protecting and hiding an alleged child rapist.

The hideous situation has come to light just days after the government spectacularly failed to cope with the alleged rape of media advisor, Brittany Higgins, in Parliament House just metres from the Prime Minister’s office.

Ms Higgins was left unconscious and half naked by her attacker on Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ couch. This could have cost Ms Higgins her life, as she was inebriated and unable to care for herself. Security guards “checked on” Ms Higgins through the night, but nobody called for medical assistance. At least thirty people, including ministers, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate and the Prime Minister’s Office most senior staff knew about this “serious incident,” and none of them informed the Prime Minister until two years later.

The Morrison government is a sewer. It is steeped in allegations of rape and sexual assault of the most serious and sickening kind. It is almost certain that Morrison will attempt to brazen out this latest allegation. He will not stand the minister aside, and he will continue to contend that it is a matter for police, in full knowledge that the police cannot pursue criminal charges.

The minister will not be investigated by police. He will not be exonerated. His name will not be cleared. Suspicion will linger over the heads of all male cabinet members, including Scott Morrison, Christian Porter and Peter Dutton.

We should probably assume that being suspected of the anal rape of a child does not necessarily perturb any of them.

While we know not all cabinet ministers are alleged child rapists, we do not know which one is. The Prime Minister is doing everything possible to conceal that knowledge from us.

How good is that?

 

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Fight Club, Wolverines and Swinging Dicks – is this what we call “grown-up government”?

When Young Liberals in Chris Hartcher’s Terrigal electorate were inspired by Brad Pitt’s Fight Club to head out late at night on what they called “Black Ops” to tear down opposition election posters, one could perhaps, despite the illegality, dismiss this as kids going a bit too far. The fact that Liberal hopeful Aaron Henry signed his email call-to-action as ”Tyler Durden” (Brad Pitt’s character) shows just how juvenile this crowd were.

But when one of them then tried to destroy the career of Sydney Water chief Dr Kerry Schott via an anonymous email detailing a false complaint to the NSW ICAC, they moved from silly kids to dangerous.

Carrying on in the same vein, there is a parliamentary group who call themselves the “Wolverines”, a nod to the 1984 Hollywood film Red Dawn, about a team of high school football jocks thwarting a Soviet invasion of the United States.

The group, who boast about their preparedness to ‘speak out against China’s expanding power’, includes Andrew Hastie, backbench MPs Tim Wilson and Phillip Thompson, along with Senators James Paterson and Labor’s Kimberley Kitching, and they are identified by stickers featuring wolf claw marks on the entrances of their parliamentary suites.

The AFR’s James Curran put it well when he said “It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at this kind of juvenilia from some of the nation’s elected representatives. But we are where we are.”

Once again, we could dismiss this as silly kid stuff except Andrew Hastie has recently been promoted to Assistant Minister for Defence and, replacing him as chair of Federal Parliament’s powerful Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security, is James Paterson.

As background, Hastie was the commander of an SAS troop in Afghanistan who cut off the hands of dead people. When he saw what was going on, he asked another SAS member to find out if the practice was permitted under Defence rules and regulations. In the subsequent inquiry, Cpt Hastie is quoted as saying, “My gut instinct was okay, that’s a strange practice.” Another SAS member said, “There’s no uncertainty. I wouldn’t cut f***ing people’s hands off, sir.

Paterson’s pre-parliament experience was as an unpaid political intern followed by a stint at the IPA where, at the ripe old age of 24, he co-authored the infamous 75 radical ideas to transform Australia, a document that was all about profit, privatisation and deregulation at the expense of society.

These two self-titled Wolverines were both denied visas to enter Beijing for a planned study tour in 2019 because of their ham-fisted outspoken attempts to bully China.

In a climate that requires nuanced diplomacy, who better to head our security committee than these two Liberal backbenchers who have already pissed China off, thinks Scott Morrison. Apparently.

Then we hear from former Liberal MP Sharman Stone that a group of men in parliament who called themselves the “swinging dicks” blocked Liberal MP Julie Bishop’s leadership aspirations.

Seriously. Dick-swingers is a disparaging term that women I know use to describe men who try to cover their inadequacy by bullying. The fact that this group called themselves that shows how entitled the Liberal boys club in Canberra believes themselves to be.

Fight Club, Wolverines, and Swinging Dicks? So this is their idea of “grown-up government“?

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“He said, she said”: How Dutton is attempting to control the narrative

One of the greatest challenges for a political commentator in recent years has been keeping track of the Morrison government’s lies and obfuscations.

These have escalated considerably in the last couple of weeks, since former media advisor Brittany Higgins revealed she had allegedly been raped in Parliament House by a senior staffer.

Since then, ministers, MPs, Senators, their advisors and staffers have devoted an inordinate amount of their taxpayer-funded time to covering their backsides about who knew what and when. According to estimates by the ABC’s 7.30 program last night, there appear to be thirty or more people with knowledge of the so-called “serious incident” in 2019, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison conspicuously excluded from the circle of knowledge.

The latest government member to speak up is Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton. Dutton is, among other things, the minister responsible for the Australian Federal Police, as well having once served as a police officer in the Queensland Police sex offenders’ squad.

You need this background as context for what comes next.

In keeping with the government line that neither the Prime Minister’s Office nor the Prime Minister knew anything about the alleged rape before February 12 2021 and February 15 2021 respectively, Dutton claims he was only informed of the alleged crime by the AFP on February 11 2021, and only because they had been alerted that the matter was about to be revealed by the media.

AFP guidelines require that “politically sensitive” matters such as this alleged crime be reported to the Minister as soon as possible. The AFP first became aware of the allegations on April 4 2019, when informed by Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds. The AFP did not inform Minister Dutton at that time. Indeed, according to Dutton, the AFP did not inform him of this “politically sensitive” incident, despite being required to do so by their guidelines, for another two years.

One might be forgiven for risking the observation that “politically sensitive” and “politically embarrassing” might be interchangeable concepts in this instance.

Amazingly, Dutton also failed to inform the Prime Minister that the excrement was about to hit the ceiling fan, not alerting his office until 24 hours later. The PMO didn’t like to disturb Morrison over the weekend, we know weekends are sacred to him, so they didn’t inform their boss until Monday.

Dutton then went on to describe the rape allegations as a “he said, she said” affair.

Some reasons why this gratuitous comment from the Minister appears to be an attempt to influence both the AFP and the public:

  1. The AFP, who is investigating this alleged crime, is answerable to Peter Dutton. Their Minister has just signalled through the media that he considers the alleged crime to be not crime at all, but a “he said, she said” affair. In other words, Dutton is telling the AFP how to frame and deal with this alleged crime.
  2. “He said, she said” is one of the most invalidating dismissals possible of allegations of rape and sexual assault. It implies, as it is intended to, the unworthiness of a woman’s word and description of her experience. “He said, she said” intentionally minimises the experience of rape and sexual assault, and explicitly favours the narrative of the alleged perpetrator. It is appalling that a former police officer, who worked with victims, would hold and voice this opinion.
  3. The AFP has not yet questioned the alleged perpetrator. Nobody knows what “he said” because he hasn’t said it yet. Unless of course Minister Dutton has had occasion to speak with the alleged perpetrator and knows his side of the story.
  4. Dutton is also, despicably, dog whistling to the demographic that is his base & the base of the Liberal Party more generally, that women lie about being raped. It’s a “he said, she said” affair, and nobody should take it anymore seriously than that. You’re only actually raped if you’re killed as well.
  5. A woman cannot consent to sex if she is falling down drunk, as Ms Higgins claims she was, and as, apparently, both CCTV footage will confirm and the security guards involved will verify. In his “he said, she said” attempt to control the narrative, because that is exactly what he is trying to do by using this phrase, Dutton is attempting to subvert the power of this evidence, prior to the AFP investigation.

The infamous Steve Bannon, among other things a former advisor to former US President Donald Trump, liked to talk about “flooding the zone with shit.” This is the strategy of saturating the media with disinformation and misinformation, in order to bamboozle both media and the public, to the extent that nobody knows anymore what is real and what is fake.

Make no mistake the Morrison government has adopted this tactic in the Brittany Higgins situation. They are flooding our zone with shit, attempting to confuse and exhaust and gaslight, with the ultimate goal of controlling a complex narrative about power, women, sexual assault, and cover ups.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

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When will Conservatives ever treat women with a modicum of decency, even dignity?

And to think that Morrison knew all about it. Well, to be more precise, both the Liberal and National parties knew of this rape before the 2019 election. In fact, right in the middle of the campaign.

Had it been disclosed at the time, it might have made the difference between winning and losing for Labor.

Shades of John Howard and children overboard again, but more important, however, this time is just who decided to do a hush job. You might recall his very Christian reaction when he became Prime Minister, but when a young woman was allegedly raped, he decided to cover up.

According to the victim, staffer Brittany Higgins, her rape took place in Defence Minister Lynda Reynolds’s office on 19 April after a Friday night drinking session.

The election was held on 18 May.

The damage that such an act would have done to the conservatives – both Liberal and National – during an election campaign would be immeasurable. So what did they decide to do?

Well, on the surface, at least it looks as though they decided to double up on her pain.

The poor girl involved says she didn’t make a formal complaint because she wanted to hang onto her job and not do any harm to the reputation of the Liberal Party. What reputation one might ask?

A follow-up meeting was held inside the same office; the offence is alleged to have taken place a decision the Government concedes is “regretted.”

What moronic individual made such an inhumane decision knowing that it would almost certainly do further harm. Was it intended to?

The issue of the toxic treatment of women inside Parliament House and men’s behaviour within the Liberal and National parties yet again raises its ugly head. Remember Barnaby Joyce and the affair that led to his marriage’s breakup. Remember the Attorney-General Christian Porter kissing in a Canberra pub.

Back to Brittany Higgins, it was reported that:

“… a man working for then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds took a 24-year-old female media staffer into Parliament House after a Friday night drinking session in March 2019 and allegedly raped her inside the defence industry minister’s office.”

On the Ministers, couch to be exact.

She should hang a sign on her door. “No defence here.”

Her story follows many other women known and unknown who have experienced similar situations.

The junior staffer was very new to her job – just four weeks, in fact – before this horrendous experience occurred. She then had to endure the decision between making a formal complaint or keeping her career.

After it was made perfectly clear that she might lose her job, she was shunted into Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s office before Ms Higgins resigned.

A statement from a member of the Prime Minister’s Office said the reports about the incident were “deeply distressing.”

“At all times, guidance was sought from Ms Higgins as to how she wished to proceed, and to support and respect her decisions.

Throughout the entire process the overriding concern for Government was to support Ms Higgins’ welfare in whatever way possible.”

It sounds like they were falling over backwards to help her make the right moves to their advantage.

 

Brittany Higgins and Scott Morrison (Image from huffingtonpost.com.au – Photos from Channel 10 and Getty Images)

 

But after all this time, even after being denied access to video footage of the two’s movements, Ms Higgins has decided to ask the AFP to investigate. The why of that is another question. Given their record of investigating this Government, I wouldn’t say I like her chances.

Come Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister in a solemn mood to fit the occasion, fronts the media with apologises for everything under the sun. He had discussed the matter with his wife overnight and now looks at it from the point of view of what if it were his children.

 

 

His first defence was that he never knew, no one had told him anything. I found this to be wholly implausible, and secondly, that it was all a disgrace and he would move Heaven and earth to right everything. But as I said initially, I contend that the Prime Minister knew about it and wanted it covered up.

Of course, “not knowing anything” gave him the excuse to repair matters. Had he known, would not he have the obvious question; “Why didn’t you do something then?”

Samantha Maiden gets its right when she reports that:

“If history is any guide, he the Scott Morrison’s response to Brittany Higgins’ shocking account of sexual assault at Parliament House in Canberra will be open and shut.

He will urge her to take the matter to the police – which she did at the time – and perhaps suggest that is the beginning and the end of the matter?

But is it?

Or, do political parties owe the people that work for them – in this case a 24-year-old young woman – a more significant duty of care if they are sexually assaulted at work?”

If I might add to that, I think that Morrison gets away with his teary act too often and the “I wasn’t told” defence is just a poor excuse.

But time never diminishes the crime. What is needed is for men to grow up and be the men they are supposed to be. These events are just another addition to the many incidents of mistreating women.

My thought for the day

History is just an ongoing commentary on the incompetence of men.

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The world knows Scott Morrison is a liar. Now Australians need to wake up

Australia isn’t known as the Colossal Fossil for no reason – we win the award on a regular basis due to our determined efforts to stymie any global action on climate change.

If we go back to the beginning of this journey, unlike other countries, we negotiated Kyoto Protocol concessions that allowed Australia to increaseemissions and count reductions due to stopping land clearing, and then refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol for 13 years.

Despite increasing international awareness of the danger we are facing, between 2000 and 2007, our GHG emissions increased by 16.3%.

When we finally got rid of the “lying rodent”, the ensuing seven years until the repeal of the carbon price in 2014 saw a decline in emissions of 15%.

We were hailed as world leaders for introducing carbon pricing and policies to promote the transition to a carbon neutral economy.

Then along came the Mad Monk.

UN Climate Change Conference, Warsaw, November 2013

This year’s Colossal Fossil goes to Australia. The new Australian Government has won its first major international award – the Colossal Fossil. The delegation came here with legislation in its back pocket to repeal the carbon price, failed to take independent advice to increase its carbon pollution reduction target and has been blocking progress in the loss and damage negotiations. Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!

UN Climate Change Conference, Lima, December 2014

As Lima talks splutter to an end, Australia has gathered 5 Fossil of the Day Awards and been dishonoured with the Colossal Fossil of the year award, just as it was in Warsaw in 2013. Way to go Australia!

In the annual update to the Climate Change Performance Index released at Lima, Australia slipped to 60th in a list of 61 countries. Our ranking on the policy component of the index dropped a startling 21 places since the previous edition released in 2013.

The five years from 2014 to 2019 saw us decrease our emissions by a paltry 1.6%.

We did a little better in 2020. It only took a crippling drought, a global pandemic closing down the economy and international travel, and ignoring the emissions from the catastrophic bushfires. Even so, Australia’s annual emissions for the year to June 2020 were only 5.7% below emissions in the year to June 2000. Very little improvement to show for 20 years.

In December last year, the Climate Action Network did a five-year review of the Paris Agreement and we, once again, earned dishonourable mention.

Australia: Fossil for Not Honoring the 1.5°C Commitment

Before Scott Morrison became Australian Prime Minister, he once brandished a lump of coal in parliament. That was in 2017, when he accused his opponents of having a “pathological fear of coal”. A few short years later, the only pathological behaviour remains his government’s ongoing infatuation with fossil fuels when the rest of the world has moved on. As the largest exporter of coal and gas, Australia’s federal government has done virtually nothing over the past five years to tackle the climate emergency. The government’s woefully inadequate 2030 Paris Agreement target is in line with a catastrophic 3°C rise. And it has tried to cheat by using carryover credits from the Kyoto Protocol to meet around half of it. The Australian government has refused to set a national long term target (net zero by 2050) despite every State and Territory of Australia having now set a long term net zero climate target. Australia’s current emission reduction trend will reach net-zero in 300 years! And to top it all, Australia has withdrawn funding entirely from the Green Climate Fund.

The world watched swathes of Australia’s bush burn last summer contributing to significant biodiversity loss and impacting the most vulnerable people. Besides stinking up the planet, Australia appears to be reneging on a commitment to net zero emissions made to Pacific Island Neighbours in October 2019. How does Australia face its Pacific Island neighbours, many of whom will be displaced in the next two-to-three decades unless we scale up efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C? Australia must get sensible fast otherwise the Morrison government is staring at a dark legacy of climate inaction. Will future generations have to view plastic replicas of the Great Barrier Reef in a museum of climate horrors alongside stuffed mounts of the critically endangered Mountain Pygmy Possum?

In the context of all this, we have a government refusing to stop fossil fuel subsidies, insisting on a gas-led recovery, subsidising oil production, and persistently toying with the idea of building new coal-fired power stations. They are pinning their hopes on carbon capture and storage in order to prolong fossil fuel burning despite its lack of success and commercial unviability. They won’t even do anything to promote or facilitate the uptake of electric vehicles.

And the excuse for this inaction? We won’t commit to any target until we know how we will get there and how much it will cost.

Seriously.

If anyone can tell me what technology will be available in 2050 and how much anything will cost in 30 years’ time, I’d be interested to hear it.

We listen to health experts about the pandemic. It’s similarly crucial that we listen to the warnings and advice from experts about the health of the planet.

And Scotty – Matt Canavan, Keith Pitt, George Christensen, Craig Kelly and Jim Molan do not qualify as experts.

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The Day John Lennon Was Shot I Had A Cold Sore So It Was A Bad Day For Both Of Us!

I remember clearly that the day John Lennon was shot was a pretty bad day for a lot of people. Personally I had a cold sore so it wasn’t flash for me either…

Ok, I know a lot of people will think that I’m drawing an equivalence between the two but I don’t think you should draw that inference. And a number of you probably think I’m making reference to Scott Morrison’s remarks about January 26th not being flash for the convicts that arrived…

Although, now that I think about it, why would arriving in Australia after a long sea voyage be a day that wasn’t good for the convicts? I mean, I’m not saying that life was great for the convicts; I’m just suggesting that it may have been nice for them to actually survive the voyage and disembark but I wasn’t there so I’m only speculating and one shouldn’t speculate about such things unless one is the PM, which I was shocked to discover is short for Prime Minister and not Posing Model!

And speaking of not being flash, I must say that I was particularly shocked that Margaret Court is about to be given a Companion of Australia which is a higher honour than the one she has.

I’m not one of those left-wing people that think she should be excluded because of her views. After all, if we start excluding people from Australia Day honours just because their views are homophobic, racist, fascist, unscientific or ignorant, we’ll end up with a very small honours list indeed.

No, what surprised me was the number of people saying that she was being given it for her tennis! Given that she hasn’t won a grand slam event this century and that she already had a court named after her and the second highest gong, what tennis has she played to deserve an upgrade? I mean I’d not expecting Phar Lap to be named “Horse of the Year” or Bradman to be awarded the Alan Border medal any time soon, so I have to conclude that it’s her work spreading the word of Robert Copeland. (For those unfamiliar with the man, I’ve added a video at the end.) She apparently ordered a series of tapes from the Robert Copeland Ministries and that she wore them out which is a rather silly thing to do because that wouldn’t meet many dress codes. She then ordered a second set and this time she “listened to them until she was established in righteousness.”

So there, she’s established in righteousness, so take that people. When you call her self-righteous, she actually agrees.

Last year we had Bettina Arndt for her services to men and this year we have Court for her service game because what says “Australia” more than the capacity to hit a ball and if that’s not deserving of our highest honour, then what is?

Still, that controversy about changing the date just won’t go away… particularly when various media personalities and politicians start complaining about those suggesting a date change well before anyone has even mentioned it. I had an idea for a compromise this morning, so hear me out before you reject it out of hand.

Keep the date the same, but change the name. Yes, I have suggested calling it Rum Rebellion Day before because that actually occurred on January 26th and who couldn’t celebrate the overthrow of the ruling elite? Others have suggested it be called Invasion Day but that’s just likely to cause division.

No, I’m proposing we simply call it “White Australia Day”, because after all isn’t it actually celebrating the arrival of white people?

Ok, I realise that there may be some echo of the White Australia Policy which would make it seem a little racist, but surely the people who currently insist on keeping the date where it is would have no problem with a little racism. As for the rest of us, at least we’d know that those honouring the day have no doubt what they’re doing!

But is you want an unedited one:

 

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Don’t expect leadership from Scott Morrison

“You are only as good as your Cabinet” are words that make you think. For those of my vintage, it suggests a group of people who respect leadership and intelligence with the same broad objectives. Bob Hawke’s first Cabinet was such a group. They were a progressive bunch with the will to take the country forward, and they did so with hard work and diligence.

The Ministry included such luminaries as Hawke, Lionel Bowen, John Button, Paul Keating, Barry Jones, Bill Haydon, Susan Ryan, Mick Young and Gareth Evans.

Of course, talent doesn’t always follow those with degrees. The current Ministry is probably the most educated of all time, whereas the Hawke Cabinets conversely contained a fair few without degrees, other than life experience.

Sure, they had a bit of flair with a touch of Hawke larrikinism. Keating left school at 14, Mick Young worked as a shearer and roustabout, and Peter Walsh was a wheat and sheep farmer.

I mention these fleetingly because I have written in-depth on this subject before. I really wanted to comment on a few LNP politician’s behaviours who don’t represent the parties they stand for and are not representative of any standard of decency expected of our parliamentarians.

Let’s go back to President Trump’s Twitter ban and begin with the response by the climate change fact-denying, bible-bashing absentee George Christensen who believes that free speech that allows for the individual’s right to lie without consequence is a good thing:

“On Sunday, Christensen proposed laws to ‘stop social media platforms from censoring any and all lawful content created by their users’.”

He was, of course, opposing Twitter’s suspension of President Trump. Trump has been very active lately firing out violence-inspiring words. Words like these:

“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Trump’s speech was riddled with imagery of warlike-violence and I wonder if Mr Christensen supports this example of ‘free speech.’

The New York Timesreported that:

“Several laws clearly make it a crime to incite a riot or otherwise try to get another person to engage in a violent crime against property or people.”

Again, I wonder what George thinks of that?

Acting Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack has been criticised in the media when his words compared the riots with the recent Black Lives Matter marches.

If hydroxychloroquine-deviates like Christensen and the clearly incompetent McCormack want to express their views in the guise of free speech, it does not mean it should be free from ethics like truth, but people often demand free speech to compensate for the freedom of thought they rarely use.

Christensen and McCormack are but two of one of many in the government with these traits.

I can but humbly conclude that if you agree with Trump’s right to free speech and it contains actions that promote violence, then you must in part at least own a bit of the story.

Scott Ludlum takes a dig:

 

 

Both Christensen and Craig Kelly have also agreed with the President that hydroxychloroquine is an effective coronavirus treatment.

The point here is that Morrison’s Cabinet members and those outside it appear to have carte blanche to say what they want on any subject. Matt Canavan regularly does on energy and climate change as does Kelly. No strong leader would allow it.

Chris Bowen gives the impression he doesn’t think highly of those guys.

 

 

Of course, it must be remembered that the two of them have power over the Government who with a one-seat majority are still vulnerable on the floor of the House. If one of them crossed the floor, their demise could mean life or death for the Government. They know it, as does Morrison.

McCormack said that he did not believe Christensen or Kelly should be criticised for having different opinions. Still, when those opinions aren’t substantiated with facts, they are just baseless crap.

“Facts are sometimes contentious and what you might think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue … That is part of living in a democratic country,” McCormack said.

The Acting Prime Minister also doubled down on remarks he made comparing the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests to last week’s riot on the Capitol, saying “any form of violence” should be condemned.

McCormack, the acting Prime Minister while Scott Morrison takes a break, was asked whether Donald Trump should be removed from office for inciting the riots:

“It is unfortunate that we have seen the events at the Capitol Hill that we’ve seen in recent days, similar to those race riots that we saw around the country last year,” Mr McCormack told the ABC’s RN program.

In yet another tweet, Josh Frydenberg couldn’t support the Deputy Prime Minister quickly enough.

Tony Windsor also tweeted:

 

 

What is it in the Acting Prime Minister’s innermost thinking that compares a Black Death in custody with a protest by some uninformed “fascists”?

Now let’s move onto the Prime Minister and see how the leader is shaping up at the beginning of 2021.

Thus far, he has refused categorically to tell his backbench to stop spreading misinformation.

However, he tweeted:

 

 

The Australian chimed in:

 

 

On leave, the Prime Minister is quoted as saying that he is hoping for a peaceful transfer of power in the United States.

He criticised the rioters for their “terribly distressing” acts of violence in storming the Capitol building but could not find few condemning words for the President. When he asked the crowd to disperse, Trump’s mixed messages were overlooked when the rioters read between the lines.

Morrison also refused any criticism of others on his backbench (and others) for supporting and promoting unfounded conspiracy theories over the US presidential election results.

Anthony Albanese was direct and blunt in his response, saying the actions of the people involved were those of insurrectionists. In contrast, Malcolm Turnbull said Morrison had been “a bit weak” and “a bit tepid” compared to other world leaders’ condemnation.

So it has to be said that the Prime Minister is carrying a large amount of luggage from one year to the next he is also adding a significant amount into 2021.

2020 was a challenging year, and many societal and economic changes will be thrust on us by COVID-19. The Government is hardly likely to merge the economy with society and bring about a fairer governance system.

Their record whilst in power has been nothing short of deplorable. There are no “Liberals” left to bring about change that in turn would apply equality of opportunity, transparency, and an open government style that governs for all.

No doubt exists in my mind that all the small ‘L’ liberals have gone and we are left with a rabble of conservative, very right-wing Trump-like species who only have feelings for themselves. What’s in it for me?

The LNP is like the GOP. Both have lost the traditional values of at least having a heart. One only has to look at the decline in both their values over the past decade. They have sold them out to the corporations and the extreme right-wing of their parties, in other words, to the highest bidder who gives not a dam for the collective good.

America has proven that it can with the right people overcome the moronic-powerful like Trump, and this year Australia may have the same opportunity with Morrison.

The question is; Does Labor have the right people to do it?

My thought for the day

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

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Seven years later…

The Liberal Party have a very handy page that lists their achievements over the last 7 years, 4 months and 11 days (not that I’m counting).

Here are a few they neglected to mention:

The highest debt and deficit in history.

The first recession in thirty years.

The lowest wage growth in history despite company profits increasing by well over 50% overall and doubling for manufacturing and mining since 2013

Increasingly tenuous employment with contract, casual, part-time and gig economy jobs on the rise with the subsequent loss of workplace protection. Underemployment is a huge problem at well over 10%.

Relentless and unceasing prosecution and persecution of unions, from Royal Commissions to Double Dissolution elections, whilst corporate malfeasance goes unpunished, government accountability arms like the National Auditor and FOI office are decimated, and whistleblowers and journalists are hounded and threatened.

Slashing foreign aid whilst spending unprecedented gobsmacking amounts on defence.

Slashing the ABC budget and attempting to exert editorial influence whilst giving Murdoch’s pay tv tens of millions of dollars with no specific requirement or oversight or tender.

Abolishing carbon-pricing and replacing it with Angus Taylor handing over public funds to polluters. From 2007 until carbon pricing was repealed in 2014, emissions dropped by 94.8 Mt CO2-e. From 2014 to 2019, they dropped by 8.6 Mt CO2-e.

Disproportionate and increasing rates of Indigenous incarceration, child removal, and suicide. In December 2019 the incarceration rate was 2,536 prisoners per 100,000 adult Aboriginal population, compared to 218 prisoners per 100,000 non-Aboriginal population.

A brand new $50+ billion dollar NBN that gives us speeds slower than India, Kazakhstan or Latvia – 68th out of 177 countries.

International condemnation and hundreds of billions wasted for the illegal indefinite incarceration of asylum seekers in offshore gulags and the negligence in failing to protect, let alone care for, people who came seeking our help. (For pity’s sake, or purely economic and common sense reasons, free the family from Biloela.)

Knifing two sitting Prime Ministers. I wonder if Michaelia Cash has had a chance to revisit her Sisterhood screech since appearing with Judas Cormann in the courtyard.

Huge increases in university fees, childcare costs, and private healthcare.

Scandalous water theft leaving waterways dry and millions of fish dead.

Refusal to listen to warnings about catastrophic fire threats and the need for a domestic airborne fire-fighting capability resulting in overwhelming loss of flora, fauna, infrastructure, property and human lives.

Disproportionate increases in private school funding, a skewing of the history curriculum to an homage to white supremacy, and the removal of sustainability and Indigenous culture/history as core components.

A Foreign Minister who, for the sake of something to say on a morning tv show, showed that we can out-Trump Trump on the ‘China virus’, leading to a total breakdown in trade and diplomatic communication. That’ll shirtfront ya!

Government contracts are bestowed on friends, associates and donors with no tender process, and grants are sweeteners to be doled out where politically expedient. Jobs for the boys and girls are blatantly handed around, and they keep preselecting and enabling the likes of Craig Kelly and George Christensen…

And a significant number of them thought Peter Dutton would be a good Prime Minister. That, in itself, makes them unfit to govern.

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The Trumpists are thriving in Oz

“Facts sometimes are contentious, aren’t they? And what you may think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue. And that’s part of living in a democratic country.” (Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack, January 12, 2021).

A neat four years ago Antique Barbie and Trump flunky Kellyanne Conway set the tone for a post-truth Trumpworld when she defended the tangerine tyrant’s ludicrous claims of an outsized inauguration crowd by invoking the Orwellian notion of “alternative facts”(1).

Fast forward from Trump’s Year Zero to when the seditionists and rioters obeyed the command of the despotic, half-sucked mango seed by attempting to literally torch American democracy, aided and abetted from within by treasonous, mercenary GOP urgers and spivs. All the result of four years of accumulated alternative facts and “fake news” gaslighting.

Across the Trump years tens of millions of willing dupes, oiks, the useful idiotista, Qrackpots, slope-shouldered racists and stool samplers wallowed in a steady effluvium of post-truth ordure that megaphoned Trump’s self-aggrandising lies and whiney grievance mongering.

But, the introductory quote at the start of this rant is not from some Trump vassal pissing out of the tent, it is not an artefact from crazy-town nor is it from the toxic bile factory that trades as the Dirty Digger’s Fox News. It is Australia’s acting Prime Minister Mickey The Dip McCormack speaking mere days after an attempted coup that was fuelled by “contentious facts”.

Apart from its timing the context of the quote is two-fold. Firstly, Mickey has an intellect that would not challenge foliage. He’s as thick as a coal miner’s sandwich yet he’s apparently the best and brightest the National Party has to offer – i.e. the least worst option. Secondly, he was defending the Trumpist effluent of two of the most egregious examples of the far right dross that has infected our own politics – specifically the swivel-eyed, Pete Evans-level Covid quackery from failed furniture salesman Fatty Carbuncle and, by extension, the trumpetings of Gorgeous George the Manila back street trawler and blubbertigibbet.

The BMI of these two globular nongs is such that they affect weather patterns, but that is not particularly germaine other than that these self-proclaimed champions of free speech should not have any problem with the deployment of a gratuitous sledge, yeah? The hypocrisy and idiocies of their flatulent gibberings have, following Trump’s attempted democrocide, received wide exposure and deserved ridicule but the bigger picture is the refusal of their respective masters to either call them to heel or penalise their Trumpian fanboy distortion of pandemic science and their anti-democratic blatherings and what that says about the mindset of the Tory side of our politics. Trumpism is a dangerous psychosis but both Scooter Morrison and Mickey Mac have now acknowledged by default that it has a home in the L/NP.

As the Tories go about their routine tasks of shovelling public money and assets to themselves and their cronies their ideological slide to the loony right has developed a distinctly orange tinge.

When Josh Freudenberg and Call Me Dave Sharma, two prominent Jewish Tory MPs, one an ostensible Prime Minister-in-waiting, the other an ex-Ambassador to Israel, jump aboard the anti-Twitter “free speech” ruse that propagates Nazi rhetoric and promotes Proud Boys’ fascist merch then something is deeply, deeply awry.

Scooter himself, interrupting his holidaying lifestyle to spend a few days attending to photo ops, has pointedly refused to criticise Trump in any way. Perhaps that’s down to Trump’s bestowal upon him of the Legion of Merit – the Right does so appreciate shiny baubles, ostentatious trophies and grandiose titles. The absurdity of a cowardly draft dodger gifting a militarty honour to a bloke whose first instinct is to flee from a crisis is lost on Scooter of course. Coming from Trump that medal merely symbolises Morrison’s membership of the cult of the citrus clunge.

From birtherism to The Big Lie (“the election was rigged”) Trump has long signalled his character. His betrayal of America is not new despite which Scooter has gone beyond the protocols of relationships between national leaders. His embrace of Trumpism was always enthusiastic, unquestioning and compliant with Trump’s grotesque adulteration of accepted norms and institutions. As one example Scooter, champion of the economy-first neo-lib mindset, jeopardised Australia’s economic interests on the altar of Trumpism by leading with his chin at the orange one’s urging to openly and loudly insult China.

Two deluded non-entities shouting at clouds from the backbench should be an amusing sideshow, after all the Tory goat rodeo had Abbott and Joyce in the two top jobs for a time. But Carbuncle and Gorgeous G are symptoms not abberations. With one notable exception(2), and Morrison’s dissembling weasel words aside, no Tory MP has condemned the radical right insurrection in the US last week.

Across the board the self-proclaimed champions of free speech hypocritically loathe any free speech that is not their own. They always have. Scrutiny, questioning, dissent, alternative views, truth…they don’t like it. Parliament, journalists, unions, the ABC, judges, scientists, academics, environmentalists, whistleblowers, safe schools, you and me…we’re all existing or potential targets for their mendacity.

RWNJ opinion is now the news. The Tories all watched Trump, they all liked what they saw. All the little lies are useful and the Big Lie almost worked.

What most citizens of Oz are not watching is our own Trumpist, post-truth creep to far right shitfuckery and that suits the Tories just fine.


(1) “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” George Orwell. 1984.

(2) Matt Keane, NSW Minister For The Environment

 

Image from 98five.com

 

Image from time.com (Photographer: Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 

This article was originally published on Grumpy Geezer.

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When your government thinks banning Trump from Twitter is the real injustice

The response of the Australian government to US President Donald Trump’s incitement of the January 6 attack on the US Congress was, shall we say, muted.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his “distress” and his hope that order would soon be restored. However, he stopped far short of condemning the President, an extraordinary omission for the leader of a liberal democracy, considering Trump’s goal was to violently overthrow the results of a democratic election and retain his power.

It seems reasonable to expect that the government of a country that regards the US as its closest ally would express considerable alarm at a violent anti-democratic insurrection in which five people died, and yet…

Members of the Morrison government have saved their loudest outrage for Twitter, the social media platform Trump used to incite his followers, and the platform that has finally banned Trump for life. This, it appears, is the great injustice, an affront to “free speech,” and, wait for it, censorship.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly, Nationals backbencher George Christensen, Member for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack are among government members who have condemned the “silencing” of Trump. (Trump has a pressroom in his house & can summon the world corps at any time, but that spoils the narrative so let’s not mention it).

Several MPs have called for the introduction of regulations that will ensure the state has control over the terms of service of private businesses such as social media, a most extraordinary demand from the party of small government, and one made with absolutely no sense of the irony inherent in the demand.

Christensen has started a petition demanding legislation to rein in the big tech overlords. Sharma is calling for a “publicly accountable body” to control who social media companies can and cannot refuse to host on their platforms. Frydenberg says he is “uncomfortable” with Twitter’s decision to dump Donald, leaving this writer to wonder how “uncomfortable” Mr Frydenberg is with the spectacle of Trump’s anti-Semitic foot soldiers wearing shirts declaring that “6 million wasn’t enough.” Mr Frydenberg has remained silent on this outrage.

Michael McCormack (some of you may know him better as the Elvis Impersonator) has this morning doubled down on his assertion that the insurrection at the Capitol last week was no different from Black Lives Matter protests, an assertion that has been strongly repudiated by Indigenous groups and Amnesty International as deeply offensive and flawed.

McCormack went on to state that “violence is violence and we condemn it in all its forms,” except, apparently, when incited by President Trump, whom McCormack has conspicuously failed to condemn.

What actually happened was that Twitter warned the President over several weeks that his content was violating their terms of service. Twitter then placed warning notices on many Trump tweets, while still permitting their visibility. They offered Trump the opportunity to delete his more troubling posts, and he declined. Finally, after weeks of what many perceived as irresponsible tolerance on the part of the social media platform, Twitter banished Trump.

The President received far more warnings and chances than any other user in the history of Twitter.

It is a manipulative leap to equate the breaching of a private company’s terms of service with “censorship.”

As Garry Kasparov remarked on Twitter:

 

 

Let’s not forget as well the enthusiasm with which an LNP government, under John Howard, took us along with the US into the invasion of Iraq, claiming as one of their justifications the delivery of democracy to that country. And yet, when democracy is under threat from domestic terrorism inside the US itself, there’s an orchestrated effort on the part of the LNP to distract attention from these momentous events and focus instead on Twitter allegedly “censoring” the leader of that insurrection.

Big tech de-platforming Donald is what they want you to think about, not Donald trying to destroy the US democratic process. Ask yourself why this is.

It is deeply troubling when your government decides the issue is a president being chucked off Twitter, and not a president attempting to violently interfere with the results of an election in an attempt to retain power. In its refusal to condemn Trump, the Australian government leaves us with little alternative but to assume its tacit support of the outgoing US President.

If what you take from the events of the last week is that the outrageous injustice is Twitter banning Donald Trump, you are either complicit or incomprehensibly stupid. Which is the Morrison-led Australian government?

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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How to clean up Australian politics

Hidden away in my ‘To read’ file I found a piece written by former Liberal Party leader John Hewson. I shall have to clean my list out more often in the hope of finding more gems. Hewson’s piece is important and I’m not sure how I missed it because I have witnessed him going through a Fraser-like conversion in his approach to politics in the past few years.

The piece was written almost 12 months ago and spoke of a favourite subject of mine: how to clean up our politics to make for a better democracy for all Australians. John Hewson proposes six Rules of engagement.

To make his case, Hewson recalls the time:

“Scott Morrison had his Trump Lite moment when he stared blankly at the Australian people and told them that an internal report – which they were not allowed to see – had found $100 million in sports grants were legitimate. It said much about the lack of transparency that is at the heart Australian politics and its parlous state.”

He goes on to recite other examples of Morrison’s oft-quoted adventures into fooling the Australian people and says that voters are sick to death of it. All of which is true except it doesn’t seem to hurt him in the polls. Even as I write, the public is being tricked into believing that the COVID-19 vaccines only a month ago could not be brought forward, yet now they miraculously can.

Hewson continues:

“The National Party carries on, seeing such programs as slush funds for the Nationals’ interest, not the national interest, blithely disregarding the erosion of their standing in regional Australia. On they go, pushing for the government to fund a new coal-fired power station in North Queensland in defiance of all logic: there is no net demand for electricity in North Queensland; banks won’t fund it; insurers won’t insure it; renewables are cheaper and have significant export potential.”

He notes that this is all to do with how we fund our political parties and who can lobby them in Australia. He also points to the standards and methods parties use to select their MPs and Senators.

“All political parties know these systemic weaknesses but, rather than fix them, and they seek to exploit them.”

Point one, he proposes cleaning up both campaign and party funding:

“While I would prefer to confine donations to individuals, to say $1000, and ban all corporate, union, foreign and institutional donations, I recognise some Constitutional questions. Hence, I recommend, with regret, that all campaigns be publicly funded, with tightened eligibility, and any administrative donations to parties and their affiliates are fully declared, on line, as they are made, and banning all foreign donations.”

The only thing preventing this is the major parties themselves who both have a vested interest in seeing that the status quo remains.

Second, he wants to:

“… make lobbying more transparent. Ministers and key bureaucrats should be subject to full and real-time disclosure of who they meet and when, and to what end.”

Of course, this would add a great deal of openness to how the public understands their representatives spending their time. Appointments should be fundamental to any MPs’ diary. It wouldn’t be hard to display a list of meetings/appointments daily and in real-time.

Thirdly, Dr Hewson says we should:

“… introduce truth-in-advertising legislation to politics. It would be independently monitored and enforced, with a limit on campaign advertising spending.”

Again, not challenging to monitor. The amount of money spent on government advertising in the guise of information when it is nothing more than political propaganda. This also to party advertising during elections where the truth seems to be ignored completely.

Fourth:

“… introduce legislation to identify and penalise false, deceptive, and misleading conduct, as is done in business. Politicians need to be held accountable for what they say, promise and do.”

The Prime Minister and many of his cabinet are an example of what Dr Hewson is suggesting here. The pace at which they speak. The half-truths-lies by omission and full-on lies are just calculated to mislead the public on the true meaning of the words they use. The voter doesn’t need to be lied to at all, let alone at the Coalition rate.

Fifth:

“… set independent standards for those who stand for election. The parties would still vet and verify their candidates – their CVs and their citizenship – but they would also be accountable for lapses and subject to penalties.”

Hewson again is correct. As a Coalition, the standard or intellectual quality of its MPs is nothing short of deplorable. People like Christensen, Kelly, Canavan, McCormack, Price, Robert and others would be passed over in private enterprise for a job of a similar standard.

And sixth, Dr Hewson recommends:

“… a fully-funded Independent Commission Against Corruption to oversee all activities of our politicians, bureaucrats and federal government, with the capacity to receive anonymous references, and with defined links to the Australian Federal Police for prosecution.”

Being elected to politics is not a ticket to put your snout in the funding trough.”

Such a body wouldn’t be necessary if politicians were honest, but they aren’t. However, the problem is that the party with the most corrupt offences is expected to write the legislation.

As justifiable as Dr Hewson’s six points may be l would, if reshaping our democracy is the purpose, treat his suggestions as the first salvo in a more significant reconstruction.

There still remain the questions of what sort of democracy we want to be and how far we are prepared to go to achieve it.

Nothing goes on forever without some form of repair work so we could start with the Constitution. What about Question Time and states’ rights? Then we might have another look at becoming a republic. And of course, the recognition of our First Nations People in the Constitution.

What about the voting system? Is it fair? What about the breakdown in the conventions and institutional arrangements of our democracy that Tony Abbott wrecked?

The reader might like to add to my list.

There was a time when we trusted our politicians to do the right thing while we got on with life. It was a time when politics was a principled occupation. Those times are long past.

My thought for the day

Debate is not of necessity about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purest form, it is simply the art of persuasion.

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How come a pathetic government leads in the polls?

“How come?” with almost three terms of pathetic governance is the Morrison government able to maintain such a lead in the polls?

On this very subject, I posted When ‘sorry’ seems to be the hardest word in which I wrote:

“… leaves me with the most puzzling of questions. That being, that at the end of their third term in office, the government will have served close to nine years with three prime ministers. During that time, they have committed numerous severe misdemeanours, including the rejection of climate change. The current prime minister has a list as long as the Flemington straight. So how come his popularity sits at 68 per cent?”

The “How come?” question is a perplexing one that leads to many others.

1 Is it because the people always look to its government in times of crisis for protection and leadership? History proves this to be so.

In Australia Scott Morrison, despite a holiday in Hawaii while parts of the country were going up in flames, became more popular when he gave the COVID-19 virus more of his attention. This is not a phenomenon confined to Australia.

“Leaders of wildly varying characters presiding over differing responses to the pandemic are seeing a similar coronavirus popularity dividend. Emmanuel Macron has become better regarded among the French. Germans are more appreciative of Angela Merkel. Despite the grim state of affairs in Italy, Giuseppe Conte, the leader of its strange coalition government, has seen his approval rating leap from 44% in February to more than 70%. Donald “it’s going to disappear” Trump’s sensationally reckless responses to the crisis have been accompanied by a rise in his ratings. Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, has never been more popular.”

During times of crisis, people seem to entrench the leadership they have. However, this only goes some way to explaining the popularity of our Prime Minister. One would have thought that the electorate would have also recognised his contradictions and what he was responsible for. Deaths in Aged care, for example.

2 Might it be that Scott Morrison is a consummate politician? In my view, he has “believability” even when telling the most outrageous lies. When questioned about his lies, he shows the right amount of chutzpah. “What! You don’t believe me?” He is forever confident, (thinks he) knows everything and talks like a machine. He is a “move on politician”, meaning he doesn’t allow mistakes or being found out to linger. He moves on as though nothing happened.

“The Prime Minister has brushed off his failure to gain a speaking role at the Glasgow global warming summit as inconsequential. But the reality is that the Prime Minister and his government continue to fail us.”

Less informed voters, unfortunately, outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths.

3 Perhaps the people actually believe all the lies Morrison and his ministers tell. When Morrison tells straight out verifiable lies like meeting our carbon emissions in a canter and omits to say that it wouldn’t happen if we couldn’t use our carbon credits, he sounds – to too many people – believable and credible.

Have we reached the point in politics where truth is something that politicians have persuaded us to believe, “Like alternative facts” rather than truth based on factual evidence, arguments and assertions?

4 Another reason might be that all the propaganda by the Murdoch press over the years has worked. Murdoch media has been doing Labor over for so long in saying the big lie that; “They are bad managers of the economy” that it has become engrained in Australian polity. The Liberal Party, in unison with the Murdoch media, are the masters of the scare.

On the latter, in April last year I wrote about Coalition scare campaigns.

“As is my usual practice, I gather all my information and peruse it before beginning.

I always do a search on Google looking for facts to support my argument and for anything that might complement my own thoughts, or indeed, correct them.

In this instance, I typed in “scare campaigns of the Liberal Party”, and I was not surprised to find that the first three pages were full of links to [verifiable articles written] about Coalition scare campaigns.”

I wanted to show that the Coaltion are the masters of a scare. I also draw from a piece I wrote in 2016 (albeit rehashed).

We live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us. The shame is that we have normalised them and adjusted accordingly.

5Character assassination techniques do not need to be true:

” ‘Mud sticks’ as they say, and an accusation of wrong-doing is enough to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of others – witch-hunts, both ancient and modern use such methods.”

Just ask Julia Gillard!

Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics. But unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.

6 The people reject Labor on the assumption that Albanese won’t make a leader yet he is arguably the most squeaky clean politician in the parliament.

In the recipe of good leadership, there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. It, however, ranks far below getting things done for the common good.

In 2019 it was evident that Bill Shorten ran a good campaign with progressive policy and looked the winner. However, Morrison won because a) he showed a confident manner, he lied about anything he could get away with, and b) mainly because people had their doubts about Shorten. Although Morrison hadn’t been in the job for long, he was well-known. He had been Immigration Minister, Social Services Minister then Treasurer and finally Prime Minister. Shorten was merely a trade unionist with a shady past, apparently.

As for the Prime Minister, in the last Essential survey for the year:

“Morrison ends 2020 comfortably ahead of his opponent as better prime minister 50% to 24%. Still, the prime minister’s standing on that measure dropped three points in a month, with more voters moving to the ‘don’t know’ column (26%). The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus three points.”

It needs to be remembered, in Albanese’s defence that it is difficult for any opposition to get a word in at the best of times, but during a worldwide corona crisis, it’s almost impossible.

The answer to the question I pose; “How come?” lays somewhere in the supplementary questions. Or even in a combination of two or all. However, the reader might have other ideas on why the left is so often defeated by mediocracy.

My thought for the day

I found it impossible to imagine that the Australian people could be so gullible as to elect for a third term a government that had performed so miserably in the first two. And to think that it has amongst its members some of the most devious, suspicious and corrupt men and women but they did.

 

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Scott Morrison – you are a fraud

The man in charge of our government at present is far too similar to Donald Trump for comfort.

He tells lies – as do, it seems, far too many politicians – but he does so with a frequency and purpose that makes his behaviour seem unexceptional, because it is consistent.

His hubris is such that he does not even perceive, or, if he does, he does not care, that his plans to achieve, and retain a firm grip on, power are seriously damaging the future for most of those affected by his policy decisions.

He is, in consequence, a dangerous man to be allowed to hold the reins of power.

Recent revelations, by Gladys Berejiklian, give an alarming insight into the ready acceptance of ‘pork-barrelling’ as a political ploy – which is not confined to one side of politics and highlights the need for a Federal ICAC with teeth – as well as show-casing the way in which governments limit the effectiveness of existing corruption bodies, as in NSW, by cutting available funding.

The Coalition government has done just that in relation to funding for the ANAO.

Hence the Sports Rorts affair – which still requires attention!

Without access to party meetings, I can only conjecture that there is a sufficient majority of Coalition members for whom being in power is more important than the methods by which they attain and retain that power.

I suspect that Malcolm Turnbull’s level of ethics was the reason for his downfall, as the concept of retaining power, by any means available, would have sat less well with him than, it seems, it does with too many of his fellow Coalition politicians.

The inquiry into Aged Care Homes was established before the pandemic, and it has confirmed what other evidence supports – that institutions subject to Federal Government regulations have been responsible for a majority of COVID-related deaths among elderly residents.

But there are even more important, international issues affecting life at present, which affect more than our economy.

GLOBAL WARMING IS A FACT OF LIFE AND A GROWING DANGER TO ALL LIFE ON EARTH.

That is a really inconvenient truth.

Ignoring it, and continuing to do so, in the face of mounting evidence, is criminal irresponsibility.

It is possibly even worse than leaving children and defenceless women in the control of abusive fathers and partners.

But of course, the relentless list of deaths from domestic violence spells out clearly that our ability to take effective action lags far behind our awareness of the need to take it!

To believe in anything, including the existence of a god who is all-powerful, requires an ability to ignore lack of evidence of any truth in the ‘belief’, and predisposes that believer to wash his hands of responsibility for his own actions.

The apparently warped mind of the soon to be ex-POTUS, enables him to believe that he has an entitlement to be re-elected, and the evidence indicates that he is incapable of accepting that he is no longer favoured for that honour by the majority of citizens of the USA.

We need to concentrate on facts.

A majority of observers of the voting process, plus, so far, an almost total majority of Courts to which the election process has been appealed, have failed to support Trump’s claims of fraud.

He has failed to produce the necessary evidence.

His unwillingness to take any effective action in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in escalating numbers of infections and death – clear evidence of faulty policy.

The USA is not alone in this. Second waves are common all round the world – only a few countries have managed as effectively as has Australia – and in our case, that has been despite the Coalition government’s policies, not because of them.

Immediately political point-making takes over from rational assessment of a situation, we are in trouble. Had Victoria had a Liberal government, the Coalition would have been in there, backing it to the hilt!

Putting the country’s economy above the lives of the population is literally putting the cart before the horse.

The government has a balancing act to perform, and all decisions have to put the lives of the people before the health of the economy.

Ideology prevents the government from seeing that a Universal Basic Income, balanced by tax reforms that mean those who do not need it, refund it, is essential IMHO.

It is not a perfect solution – what is? – but spending so much time and effort categorising people in order to determine which Centrelink benefit category they fit into, and ignoring the needs of many who are less readily categorised, is cruel.

We are a wealthy country.

No one should be forced to live on the streets or go without sufficient food.

No child in Australia should be allowed to live in poverty. Sorry, Bob Hawke, but your promise was an empty one.

Tax havens have to be controlled to ensure that we do not have a small minority able to use existing wealth to create more wealth, while others are living in abject poverty, reminiscent of Charles Darwin’s writings begging for a social conscience.

Perfection will never be attained.

Improvement should be a continuing goal.

And saving life on Earth from extinction should currently be government’s top priority.

Getting re-elected is really dependent on proving that the government is doing a good job for all of us – not just for those who vote in its candidates!

Life will never be perfect, but we all need to be making a massive effort to ensure that it has the right conditions to continue to be viable – along with all other life on earth!

We live in extraordinary times and we need to take extraordinary actions to ensure that life on Earth continues – and if that means overturning a corrupt government – so be it!

Now the fire season is once more upon us, is the PM planning a vacation?

And – just one last aside – when did Ministerial responsibility cease to be an issue, with almost automatic resignation being a consequence?

In other words – when did we stop expecting integrity from elected politicians?

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