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So the LNP want to help the unemployed. What could possibly go wrong?

By Nick Chugg

The latest “brilliant” brain-fart to escape Scott Morrison’s (or as I prefer to refer to him – ScumMo) orifice is a doozy.

As many LNP members have stated, we currently have the smartest most qualified party to ever grace the halls of Australian parliament.

Of course, according to Scotty, the LNP’s latest attack on the unemployed is all about “helping” them to get work and earn money. What could possibly be wrong with the LNP’s self-described “brilliance”?

Channel 9 reported the LNP’s latest attack on the unemployed. Of course, ScumMo coined it in more “double-speak” terminology – “helping” the unemployed. The grand plan is that unemployed people who refuse to take-on fruit picking work will have their “dole” cut for 4 weeks. (Sorry, Channel 9 – it is called ‘social security’ – not ‘the dole’ – and it is a right under social security law).

Firstly, one has to wonder how the LNP have managed to get around social security law and stop social security payments as a form of punishment. Particularly as social security is a right, inscribed into Australian law.

So, what will be the impacts of withdrawing a person’s social security payments for 4 weeks? Well firstly they would be unable to pay their rent or mortgage. Secondly, they will be unable to buy food and pay for any utilities and services such as power, water, gas, insurance, registrations, qualifications, transport, etc. The minimum outcome from stopping a person’s social security payments for 4 weeks is HOMELESSNESS! Homelessness is already a massive issue in Australia and adding to this problem is only going to make it worse. Although it may help the LNP’s mates and their share portfolios by filling up all the PRIVATE prisons the LNP have approved! Our society requires people to have money just to survive. So people without any money will be forced in to begging or crime just to survive. Combined this with the moves of LNP state governments to make begging and homelessness ILLEGAL, and you can clearly see ScumMo and the LNP truly have these people’s best interests in mind – NOT!!

It will certainly help the LNP’s unemployment figures as homeless people are unable to claim social security benefits (you need a permanent residential address to claim social security benefits).

With our current crop of LNP MPs being the smartest and most qualified to ever govern Australia we have to assume they are completely aware of ALL the negative ramifications of this evil, twisted, dysfunctional policy. The LNP seems to be masters of ignoring all academic, considered policies from sociologists, psychologists, ‘welfare’ specialists, NGOs and entities that actually deal with the unemployed. There are still 2 million unemployed and under-employed Australian’s fighting for <250,000 available jobs – of which 25% of those jobs are for highly qualified people with 5+ experience. Unfortunately, creating sufficient jobs for unemployed and underemployed Australians or enabling people to survive in our casualised workforce and society just seems beyond the “brilliance” of the LNP.

So let us assume a person decides to try and work picking fruit, rather than becoming homeless.

With less than 1% of rental properties being suitable for someone receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance, and no ability to save even a minor deposit what happens when an unemployed person force to do fruit-picking needs to find accommodation? What happens when they return to an urban centre to find work again after the 2-6 weeks of fruit-picking is over? As most fruit-picking jobs pay less than the minimum wage how will someone doing temporary work be able to afford two lots of rent? As surely under the current housing and rental crisis no one would want to give up their current rental properties! People on minimum wage are already in rental and mortgage stress, so what are the ramifications for someone on less than the minimum wage having to pay lots of rent, or rent and a mortgage?

Have you actually calculated how many people will end up homeless, ScumMo?

Remember this is the very same LNP which wants unemployed people to move to places where there is a greater chance of finding employment. Under social security law, if you move to a region with higher unemployment (and cheaper rent) you can have your social security cancelled for 13 weeks!

People on social security are already living well below the poverty line. How will they afford transport and relocation costs? Particularly as they have no savings.

So, are ScumMo and the LNP going to pay for their rent on their existing accommodation, relocation costs and transport, when people are forced to move into a rural area for a few weeks work; while the fruit picking lasts? It appears ScumMo is unaware of the rental crisis going on in Australia (most likely ignoring the state of play), where ~1% of Australian rentals are suitable for someone who is on social security. Also, landlords are reticent to rent out their properties to people who are working casually. Nor can casuals get loans or mortgages. Will the LNP provide monetary assistance to people they force to move to rural areas for fruit-picking?

So, is ScumMo going to guarantee landlord’s rental payments while he forces the unemployed to go and fruit-pick in rural areas? Will ScumMo also provide accommodation, schooling and/or childcare for unemployed single parents? Will ScumMo provide suitable accommodation or pay for pet-sitting while unemployed people are forced to travel to rural areas to pick fruit for a few weeks while the work lasts? Or will the unemployed have to share a mattress on the floor with their children and pets, sharing a room with 4-16 other people? (As is currently the case with many people picking fruit).

Of course, said fruit pickers will get a $280/night for accommodation, $188 per day for their food allowance and free childcare and pet care, just like all our politicians? Lol

Will ScumMo guarantee a minimum wage for every unemployed person forced to go and pick fruit? I doubt it, as the LNP currently allow people on internships to be paid far less than the minimum wage; and those forced into ‘work-for-the-dole’ programs, to not be paid at all for their work! The current stories from people on working visas and working-holiday visas to Australia tell a story of chronic underpayment, abuse, substandard accommodation, substandard food, and constant intimidation and threats. Here are just a couple of the many recent stories regarding the abuse of fruit-pickers and seasonal workers in Australia:

One-third of backpackers paid half the legal minimum wage, study finds

Aussies are being ripped off more than ever before, study shows

ScumMo, only 2 days ago you were spruiking you wanted to help people on social security. ScumMo, you and your criminal LNP cronies really are some bizarre form of bipolar, schizophrenic, evil, DUMB, psychopathic numpties.

What future does PM Morrison guarantee?

We are to face a federal election by May, maybe earlier. Our accidental PM hopes the electorate will then legitimise him as its very own prime minister.

The only reason he’s PM now is that he was foisted on us by a gaggle of Liberals hell-bent on replacing Malcolm Turnbull with Peter Dutton via a poorly organised coup by Dutton’s innumerate mates. The coup became so badly unstuck that it left us stranded with Scomo, as his colleagues choose to tag him.

Never known for taking a backward step in any situation, Morrison seized the prize as if it was his entitlement, and was soon out and about in baseball cap expounding on any issue that came his way in his characteristically voluble Dalek-like style, replete with that knowing smirk we have seen so often, starkly reminiscent of Peter Costello’s infamous grin. Doubt seems never to cross his mind; he behaves as if he is gifted with the omniscience of a sage – just listen to him expound on any subject at all.

Yet he is still to spell out what a Morrison Government will do, what it will guarantee.

What he does spell out though is the disaster that will befall us all should Bill Shorten win and legislate his “fair go action plan”: ”improving schools and hospitals, standing up for workers, easing pressure on family budgets, ensuring a strong economy and investing in cleaner and cheaper energy.” Morrison’s carefully considered comeback was: “Bill Shorten’s five-point plan is – more tax, more tax, more tax, more tax, more tax.” Clearly, he intends to emit the ‘more tax’ line every time Shorten offers a solution to the nation’s problems. It’ll be as easy as that!

Our newly minted PM wants us to believe that whatever Shorten proposes will cost taxpayers heavily. He paints a picture of money being forcibly extracted from our pockets in hand-fulls. In contrast, whatever he proposes will be free. Money will appear by some mysterious force from cracks and crevices in our burgeoning economy, stimulated by the inspired policies of his government. There will be no shortage of cash – our strong economy will see to that. Only Shorten and his high taxing outfit will screw us into poverty.

What’s astonishing is that Morrison and his sidekicks seem to actually believe that the electorate will swallow this nonsense and rush to vote for the no-taxing Morrison Government. They expect voters will blindly accept that the great economy the Coalition is fuelling every day will lavishly fund all of his initiatives.

So what are his initiatives? What is he guaranteeing?

He hasn’t said.

He insists though that as the economy is going gangbusters, there’s no need to worry. Just let it grind along throwing goodies into the bank like sugar cane into the cane trains ready for the mill. There’s plenty of cash to sweeten anything he wants to do. Indeed so much that just days ahead of the crucial Wentworth by-election, he’s brought forward by five years his tax cuts for small and medium businesses at a cost to the budget of $3 billion!

But what is it he wants to do?

It would have been comforting for Liberals to hear him quote Robert Menzies whom he said brought various groups together to form the Liberal Party, to unite them about what they believed in…“Because you can’t just be about what you’re opposed to. You’ve got to be about what you’re for: as a country, as a political party, as an individual, as a family. It’s about what you’re for, not just what you’re against.” What an astonishing utterance from a man who tells us every day what he’s opposed to – and it’s always got Shorten’s name written all over it.

What then does he believe in? Here’s the mystery. Let’s look.

The recent report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which amassed the opinion of thousands of the world’s climate scientists, starkly highlights the perilous state of our climate. Predictions of disaster abound. Look here and here. But what does Morrison believe? What will he do? The heat is now on him. Will he dare ignore their opinions?

Will he still fondle his lump of coal as if its continued use is of no import? Will he try to resuscitate his moribund NEG? How will he keep his promise to reduce household energy bills by ‘around $550’ and still meet his emissions targets?

Will he ever get round to developing a climate policy that has any chance of reversing our rising emissions and combating escalating global temperatures? You know the answer. He keeps trying to convince us that Australia will meet its emissions targets ‘in a canter’. So why change course when he knows we’ll sprint over the finishing line like Winx, way in front of the field!

If you need any more evidence of the antediluvian views of the Coalition’s climate dinosaurs, read the response to the IPCC report of Melissa Price, his environment minister. Although the report contended that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach zero by about 2050 in order to stop global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that the use of coal must be phased out by 2050, Price (who hasn’t read the report) insisted that the climate scientists were “drawing a long bow” in calling for an end to coal power, and that it would be irresponsible to do so. Morrison agreed. Expect him to do nothing.

If climate change is too hard for him, how will he manage social issues? Now that Philip Ruddock’s review into religious protections has been leaked after five months in hiding, we will see how he tackles its recommendations. Early signs are that he will go along with religious schools being able to reject children based on their sexuality or gender identification, in other words, to exclude gay kids. His convoluted response to date is that this is the law anyway – a guarantee that he will vacillate.

On another front, we still have to hear how he intends to tackle the disunity in Coalition ranks, the paucity of females on his benches, the continuing threat posed by the conservative rump that haunts his party, the ghostly presence of Abbott, Dutton, Cormann, and all the other miscreants. How can he purge his party of these disruptors? Will he even try?

Perhaps the most disconcerting aspect of Morrison’s prime ministership though is the unnerving way he floats from one issue to another, always supremely confident that he has everything under control, ever ready to smother any question, any problem, any matter (even advertising on the Opera House sails), with his obtuse gibberish, always embellished with that all-knowing, just-leave-it-to-me, smirk.

Meanwhile, as we cup our ears straining to hear his vision for our nation, his guarantees for our future, and his plans for the time ahead, all we get is perilous emptiness and sonorous babble: “A fair go for those who have a go”.

Therein lies the dilemma.

This article by Ad Astra was originally published on The Political Sword.

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I haven’t read it but I’m sure it’s wrong

I wonder if Coalition politicians understand how ridiculous they sound when they disagree with, or cite, things they admit to not having read.  It’s a recurring theme.

The latest is our new Environment sock puppet, Melissa Price, who, despite not having read the latest IPCC report, was quick to tell us how wrong they were about coal and how they had ignored technology that doesn’t exist in their recommendations/warnings.

Just like Christopher Pyne, who was able to give us his opinion that the original Gonski report was rubbish immediately after it was released and before he had seen it.

Or Tony Abbott who assured us that BHP’s Olympic Dam project was not going ahead because of the carbon and mining taxes despite the fact that it would not have attracted any mining tax because it wasn’t a coal or iron ore mine and despite the stated reasons from BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers, none of which were tax.  Tony admitted he had not read the report.

Then there was Ian MacDonald who chaired a Senate inquiry into children held in offshore detention.  He slammed the report from the Australian Human Rights Commission — but then admitted he hadn’t read it.

“I haven’t bothered to read the final report because I think it is partisan,” Senator MacDonald told the hearing.

Back to Tony Abbott, who loves to quote Ian Plimer to back up his claim that climate change is crap, the climate has always changed, yet he hasn’t actually read his book.  He has read what ‘others’ have said about Plimer’s book.

Scott Morrison’s response to the IPCC report was that it did not “provide recommendations to Australia” and that his government’s focus would be “to ensure that electricity prices are lower” for households and businesses, alike.

Kinda like, we will decide how high our emissions can go and the manner in which we will increase them.  Or fuck off, you can’t tell us what to do.

The ultimate example of how this government couldn’t give a shit about informed advice from experts was the appointment of Tony Abbott to fix Indigenous education.

They tell us they are pragmatists, not ideologues.  What crap.  Their idea of being pragmatic is to tell whatever lies are necessary to allow themselves and their mates to stay in control of the gravy train.

Prosperity Christianity and Neoliberalism – a match made in Heaven

Our new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is quite open about being a long-standing member of Horizon Church, a Pentecostal Christian faith affiliated with Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God denomination. As outlined in an article in Saturday’s Canberra Times, he stated his faith in his maiden speech in 2008, thanking Hillsong pastor Brian Houston for his ‘great assistance’. Hillsong is also affiliated with Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God denomination.

No one can dispute that Mr Morrison has every right to profess whatever faith he pleases. And according to his pastor Brad Bonhomme, as reported in the Canberra Times, there is no connection between Mr Morrison’s faith and his role as Prime Minister:

Unfortunately there will be some that assume whatever policy direction the Liberal Party might choose to take, some would assume I or our church will be involved in that. Nothing could be further from the truth … As far as the Liberal Party is concerned, we have no involvement in their policy and their decision making.

Well we hardly expected Brad to have a seat in the Cabinet room.

What’s more important, though, is what Mr Morrison believes as part of his religious faith. I have no personal knowledge of this, and can only go by what senior members of Hillsong – and presumably Horizon Church – have to say. Mr Morrison has been involved with this Church for many years, so presumably agrees with them. If he doesn’t, perhaps he can tell us so – but then what’s the point of being part of a Church if you don’t believe what they preach?

And what the Hillsong Church believes in is known as ‘prosperity Christianity’. According to Wikipedia, this is:

a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.

In other words, if you’re rich and healthy, that’s God’s will. And if you’re poor or sick, then that’s God’s will too. It’s your own fault for not believing in the right things. Or giving enough money to the Church.

On the other hand, Wikipedia states that:

Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders from various Christian denominations, including within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, who maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture. Secular observers have also criticized prosperity theology as exploitative of the poor.

So maybe Hillsong doesn’t believe in it? Well, a strong hint that they do comes from the title of a book written by the very same pastor Brian Houston whose ‘great assistance’ Morrison acknowledged. It’s called You Need More Money: Discovering God’s Amazing Financial Plan for Your Life. Houston of course denies preaching prosperity theology. But even his denial is equivocal:

I do believe God blesses people but I also believe in purpose. When God blesses a business person it’s for God’s own purposes. It’s a huge mistake if people teach others to be blessed but don’t help them to understand there’s purpose behind it and it’s not about them but what’s God called them to do.

So being rich is fulfilling God’s purpose for you. Nice to know.

What this means is that the former Treasurer and now Prime Minister couldn’t care less about poor people because it’s their own fault. The rich are blessed. The poor are not. It doesn’t matter if Pastor Bonhomme is sitting beside him or not; we know what Morrison believes because it is what he practices. And what he practices is a defence of wealth and an attack on the poor. Company tax cuts, robo-debt, small government, deregulation, a shrinking tax base – an enthusiastic embrace of the whole panoply of trickle-down economics – have been the hall mark of his time as Treasurer and will without a doubt be carried over to his Prime Ministership. What better argument for rising inequality is there than it’s God’s will?

But you know, even if he denies any religious influence of this sort on his politics – forget any other sort, like kindness or compassion – it doesn’t really matter. Because Scott Morrison is a neoliberal as well as a Hillsong adherent. The only difference is that most neoliberals rely on the God of the Market to justify their faith – and the inequality it promotes – whereas Scott has two strings to his bow. Prosperity Christianity and neoliberalism are truly a match made in Heaven for him.

Is Scott Morrison really on our side?

Nothing sounds more hollow than a statement in need of some truth. As an opening salvo from a pretend new leader, it was an insult to our intelligence.

If the revolving door of leadership in the Liberal party has demonstrated anything, it is that their loyalty and dedication to serving the people has never been very high on their list of things to do. If it was ever there in the first place.

For our newest prime minister to feel the need to say that he is on our side, infers that he was concerned that we might think otherwise.
Why on earth would we think that our elected government was not on our side? Perhaps because it wasn’t? It isn’t?

If you woke up this morning thinking that you had just emerged from a nightmare of near inescapable despair, be assured you were not alone.

This excruciatingly, agonising charade of a mortally wounded government still has some life in it, albeit devoid of oxygen. The Hillsong happy-clapper’s, ‘I’m on your side’ gasp, was a plea for mercy; a mea culpa, an apology for his party’s appalling behaviour; an internal blood-letting vendetta that has made the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd episode look like a vicarage tea party.

What has Scott Morrison ever done that might lead us to think that he is on our side?

This hard-right conservative disguised as a moderate, who won the nation’s top job, not because he was the best candidate, but because he was less hated than the others, has presided over the most disproportionate allocation of public funding since Harold Holt was treasurer in the early 1960s.

Never have we seen a treasurer demonstrate such blatant disregard for public need in favour of corporate excess, as Morrison.
Our only positive hope is that his tenure will be short-lived. His time as prime minister will, more than likely, be shorter than that of Tony Abbott.

No doubt polling will take place over the weekend to gauge public reaction to what has been the most disgraceful week of Liberal party acrimony, in living memory.

But regardless, the next six months will just be more of the same, with the defeated continuing to plot, with more recriminations, more bloodletting, more destabilising activity.

The ‘I’m on your side’ mantra will soon fade from Morrison’s mind as he tries to hide the ongoing war inside his disintegrating party.

Don’t wait for the next challenge, Malcolm. Call an election now!

It would be safe to say that, as a prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull has been a disappointment. Displacing Tony Abbott, as he did in 2015, was supposed to be a new start, correcting the bizarre image of a bumbling, buffoon leading the country.

That’s how it was supposed to be.

Malcolm was seen as a move to a more statesman-like candidate, one who would not embarrass us either here or overseas. We had every right to expect, not just a more polished, professional approach to government and recognition of much needed social reform, but also a more mature approach to tackling the issues of climate change and energy.

The one social reform he did give us was same-sex marriage, but its execution was akin to extracting teeth while simultaneously amputating a limb after the patient had woken from the anaesthetic and fallen off the operating table. In other words, it was a horrible, bloody mess.

Since then, Malcolm has failed miserably in achieving anything of note during his three-year reign. He had an opportunity to be the man to drag the Liberal party out of the 19th century and effectively blur the line between Liberal and Labor party policies.

He could have been so effective, that Labor would have struggled to display its more socially-minded platform. He could even have surpassed John Howard’s tenure as prime minister.

So what went wrong?

For some inexplicable reason, Turnbull, in many ways a leftist, chose to be a prisoner of his party’s hard right. This hard right conservative element, led by Tony Abbott, operates in tandem with the highly sinister, clandestine group known as the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

It is so committed to turning back the clock, socially, industrially and religiously, it has lost sight of the principles that gave its party’s founder, Sir Robert Menzies, the legacy he enjoys today.

And Malcolm Turnbull has done its bidding from day one. As the saying goes, “if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” There should be another saying that explains how, if you don’t cleanse yourself of fleas, even the dogs will desert you.

That’s what is happening to Malcolm now. By sucking up to the hard right he has had to compromise his own belief system and forsake any chance he had of being a great prime minister.

In return, his party have demonstrated their contempt for him, time and time again. They have bullied him from post to post. A drover’s dog could have told him it was never going to end well.

So why would he reward them any further by continuing to lead them? Would he not be well justified in calling an election now and allowing the people to decide if they want this charade to continue? Isn’t that the way bullies should be treated?

Would this not be a way to repay the Liberal party for their treatment of him; reduce their tenure from three years to just two and let that reality sink into their dim-witted brain cells? After all, he has nothing to look forward to, beyond another challenge to his leadership.

Yes, he will lose the election, but would that not be the more honourable thing, rather than sitting around waiting for the next challenge?

Cut your losses, Malcolm. Isn’t that what bankers do?

Australian Psychological Society Medicare review submission betrays members and clients

The Australian Psychological Society’s (APS) submission to the Commonwealth Government’s Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) review is an astonishing attempt to restrict access to psychology services for the most vulnerable of Australians. The submission, which was only made available to APS members on Friday, 17 August 2018, represents a kick in the guts to over 60% of Australian psychologists, who may have their ability to provide affordable and accessible services to clients with complex mental health needs significantly reduced.

The submission preferences psychologists who have been “endorsed” by the APS above all other psychologists, for treating clients with “Severe and Chronic/Unremitting Disorders” and “Moderate – Severe Disorders and more Complex Disorders”. This includes disorders ranging from bipolar, autism and ADHD, to obsessive compulsive disorders, trauma disorders, eating disorders or anything else a referring practitioner thinks is “moderate/severe”.

The APS explicitly excludes four “Area of Practice Endorsements” (AoPE) categories from providing MBS rebated services for “Severe and Chronic/Unremitting Disorders”, recommending, and thus inferring, that only practitioners holding endorsements for Clinical, Counselling, Forensic, Health or Education and Development Psychology are competent to treat clients with complex health issues. These endorsed psychologists make up less than 34% of all registered psychologists in Australia.

Additionally, the proposal excludes over 66% of registered psychologists from providing MBS rebated services to clients presenting with “Moderate – Severe Disorders and more Complex Disorders”. It states that these clients should be treated only by AoPE practitioners, or “psychologists who can demonstrate equivalent competence”. While on the face of it, the addition of demonstrated equivalent competence implies that other experienced practitioners will be able to access the MBS for clients with moderate/severe disorders, sources have revealed that the APS requires onerous and unrealistic requirements to be met to demonstrate experience and competence (eg, failing to recognise relevant qualifications which were obtained prior to a psychology degree), which will effectively exclude the vast majority of experienced practitioners from treating clients with a broad range of moderate disorders.

All psychologists are registered with the Psychology Board of Australia. They are required to have a minimum of 4 years of university training and two years of supervised experience, and engage in yearly professional development to keep up to date with knowledge, and supplement  their skills, experience and training.

Less than 38% of registered psychologists are “endorsed” by the Psychology Board of Australia across nine separate areas of practice. However “endorsement” does not equate to better clinical skills or greater practical experience. It is not a confirmation of demonstrated and practical expertise. It simply means that the practitioner may have attended university for an additional two years. This study does not necessarily provide the AoPE practitioners with further people and practice skills required to form and build relationship with clients. The endorsement purely recognises an academic achievement which over time becomes less relevant compared with decades of actual practical experience in a specialist field.

To fully appreciate the offensiveness of this proposal, its estimated that up to 50% of “endorsed” psychologists do not hold the higher qualifications now required for AoPE. Historically, what preceded the “endorsement” was simply paid membership of an “interest group” or “College”. When the APS changed to a qualification based endorsement system, paid members of Colleges were grandfathered into the AoPE. The “grandfathered” practitioners may only hold undergraduate qualifications, yet are now preferenced by the APS above psychologists who did not pay membership to an interest group, but hold requisite qualifications.

The proposal is a brazen attempt by the APS to monopolise the market in favour of a select few endorsed psychologists. If accepted by Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP, it may see registered psychologists with decades of experience and expertise in specialist areas lose their livelihoods. Vast swathes of the population, including the most disadvantaged in the community, may lose access to crucial services, particularly as many AoPE practitioners do not bulk-bill.

Under the proposal, a client with autism, ADHD or or schizophrenia would potentially be restricted to seeking services from less than 33.4% of registered practitioners. A client with a trauma disorder would be restricted to accessing less than 40% of registered practitioners. The remaining 60% of practitioners would have their client base severely curtailed, almost certainly resulting in the closure of many rural and regional practices, where dedicated professionals have formed and built relationships to ensure the best possible services are provided.

Psychologists have slammed the proposal, which they claim is unethical and potentially exposes them to claims of professional negligence, with the APS inferring that general practitioners lack the experience, skills and qualifications to treat complex health issues.

The APS strong inference that a practitioner who was formerly a paid member of a special interest College, or a recent university graduate, is capable of providing better service than a general practitioner who has diligently gained experience by working with clients in the community while maintaining professional development requirements, is plainly offensive.

Australians should be able to choose a medical specialist based on their skills and experience and expertise. If the APS proposal is accepted, clients with complex issues will not be able to access Medicare benefits for their preferred practitioner.

Each year in Australia, approximately one in five people will experience a mental illness. However a recent national survey showed that only 35% of people with a mental disorder had accessed a health service within the 12 months before the survey.

Research by Meadows et al (2015) of MBS items claimed under the nationally funded mental health program, Better Access, shows unequal distribution across the Australian population for psychiatry and clinical psychology services, compared with the equal distribution of general practitioner and non-clinical psychology services. This suggests that distribution of practitioners in the community has an impact on the accessibility of services. It is evident that the APS proposal to reduce number of practitioners able to access Medicare benefits for clients with complex mental health needs will significantly impact on levels of care and outcomes.

If accepted by Minister Hunt, the APS proposal will have the effect of funneling vital health funding to psychologists preferenced because of their privilege/access to higher education, rather than to those with proven and demonstrated skills at treating clients with complex mental health issues. It will result in reduced access to health services and consequently lead to poorer outcomes for Australians who require mental health services. It will restrict access to necessary and vital services for the most vulnerable of Australians. It will unfairly impact on Indigenous Australians, the homeless, those disadvantaged through circumstance, trauma or financial status, those in lower socioeconomic groups and rural and regional areas – in fact, the APS proposal will impact unfairly on exactly those people the Better Access program is intended to support.

Tony Abbott is responsible for our high energy prices

Commentators blame successive governments over the last ten years for our lack of a coherent energy policy resulting in excessive power bills but that, in my mind, is completely unfair.

This whole debacle can be sheeted directly to Tony Abbott.

Many blame the Greens for sinking Rudd’s emissions reduction scheme but, had Labor and the Liberals continued with the agreement they had reached before Abbott rolled Turnbull, the Greens would have been irrelevant.

When the 2010 election did not produce a clear winner, Gillard negotiated the support of the Greens and Independents to form government by promising to introduce carbon pricing.  The policy was introduced in 2012 with the effect of bringing down emissions and prompting a surge of investment in renewable energy projects.

With old coal-fired power stations reaching the end of their ‘technical’ lives, this investment was crucial to help cover the transition as they closed down.  Gas could have been an option to help during this period except the government had agreed to export it with no compulsion to retain sufficient to cover domestic needs, leading to skyrocketing prices locally which are unlikely to come down any time soon.

Then the wrecker won in 2013 and threw out any certainty the industry thought they had.  Investment in new generation ground to a halt.  No-one was going to invest in coal and the rest of the world were more than happy to accept their investment in renewables.

Emissions started rising again for the first time in a decade and energy prices continued to rise astronomically, much higher than any increases due to the carbon price.

But Tony couldn’t care less about that as his tweet this weekend showed.

“To have a chance of winning the next election, the Coalition must create a policy contest on energy, not a consensus.”

So there we have it.

Abbott does not want a solution.  He wants a fight.  His political future is more important to him than any real effort to give the industry the certainty they need to invest in new generation to lower prices and emissions.

And he most certainly will not allow Malcolm Turnbull to come up with a solution.

Tony Abbott is a narcissistic anachronism who seethes with anger and resentment at being dumped by his own party less than two years into the gig he felt he was destined for.

Any idea that he gives the slightest shit about energy prices, or anything other than himself and his all-consuming desire for revenge, is laughable.

Beware of rabid zealots

By Ad astra

Let’s remind ourselves of the meaning of ‘zealot’. Historically, it denoted a member of a fanatical sect in Judea during the first century AD that militantly opposed the Roman domination of Palestine. Today it describes a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of religious, political, or other ideals.

We still have zealots in our midst. This piece exemplifies two instances of zealotry: the zealots that deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming, and those that cling tenaciously to trickle down economics.

Climate zealots
It is hard to contemplate that in the face of steadily mounting evidence that our planet is warming inexorably, there are still those who deny it strenuously.

In early August we saw Europe sweltering in record heat. Climate scientists insist that this was due to the superimposition of contemporary weather events, to wit intensely warm air sweeping up from North Africa, on the established and a well documented increase in global temperatures worldwide. Record high temperatures were experienced in Western Europe, particularly in Spain and Portugal. Fires burned out of control.

How do climate deniers explain that?

This year we saw three of California’s biggest wildfires ever.

In the state of Virginia, after six inches of rain fell in just a few hours, floods resulted that were so severe that the College Lake Dam near Lynchburg that holds back millions of litres of water was threatened with collapse. Should that have occurred, the surrounding countryside would have been flooded to a depth of 17 feet in 10 minutes, wiping out all before it. Mass evacuations were carried out just in case the catastrophe occurred. Fortunately it didn’t.

Could these events be a side effect of global warming?

In our own country, we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in our long history of severe droughts. Again, climate scientists implicate global warming. This week’s Essential Poll shows that 54% of respondents agree; only 25% don’t. The scientists assert that such extreme weather events will increase in frequency and severity as the planet warms. The zealots that deny anthropogenic climate change disagree. They argue that we’ve always had such events, and that they represent just ‘normal climate variability’. And they’re still calling for more heavily polluting ‘base-load’ coal-fired power generators as they debate the NEG.

Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce and Co. are still calling for the NEG to be scrapped on the basis of its inappropriate emphasis on reducing emissions! If you have the stomach for it, take a look at the first seven minutes of Abbott being interviewed by Leigh Sales on 7.30.

There is no way of persuading such zealots to another view. Denying global warming is an entrenched belief; no matter how convincing is the evidence to the contrary.

Trickle down zealots
Lets’ look briefly at another example of zealotry: the entrenched belief that giving tax cuts to large corporations is sound policy. It’s what Australia needs, the Coalition insists. Treasurer Morrison, Finance Minister Cormann, PM Turnbull, and all his ministers push this line every time they are challenged about the wisdom of giving tax cuts to large corporations. The argument goes that with less tax to pay, corporations will become more competitive on the world stage, more investment will result, businesses will expand, more jobs will be created, and wages will rise. It stands to reason they say, and to many who have no evidence to judge the validity of their claim, it does sound reasonable, but it’s just good old trickle down economics all over again.

Predictably, following the revelations of the Banking Royal Commission, the public is strongly opposed to giving tax cuts to large corporations, as the Longman by-election showed. This should hardly be a surprise. Alan Stockman, a Republican in Ronald Reagan’s administration way back in the 1980s, admitted ‘Trickle down is hard to sell’.

So what is the evidence to support the ‘trickle down’ theory of economics? None. From when it was first proposed in the 1890s, then known as the ‘horse and sparrow theory’, it has been consistently debunked. To trickle down zealots this is immaterial.

There is a mountain of evidence that corporate tax cuts do not end up in workers’ pockets. The most recent evidence comes from the US where corporate taxes have been cut under the so-called ‘Tax cuts and Jobs Act’ (TCJA). The US Economic Policy Unit has a helpful analysis of what actually happened. Here is some of the Institute’s analysis:

The Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers released a paper last year arguing that cuts in the statutory corporate tax rate would lead to gains in business investment, productivity, and wages. We noted in the report released shortly thereafter why this was unlikely to be true. The simplest reason that cutting corporate taxes will not boost American productivity or wages is that the past history of corporate tax cuts in the United States shows no such relationship.

A figure in the analysis displaying the top corporate tax rate, productivity growth, and growth in typical workers’ hourly pay since the 1950s, shows clearly that productivity and pay actually grew more rapidly when tax rates were higher.

The analysis concluded:

The case that large, deficit-financed corporate tax cuts will boost capital investment, productivity, and wages in the United States is extraordinarily weak. Evidence from past changes in federal taxes, from cross-national comparisons, and from the experiences of individual U.S. states all argue strongly that wages for typical Americans will not benefit from the tax cuts…All in all, the tax cuts will serve to boost incomes for the already-rich while doing nothing to help the wages of typical American workers.

How much more evidence will convince the trickle down zealots that they are wrong? No amount. They will never be moved from their entrenched views.

Beware of rabid zealots!

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Turnbull snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, in its Super Saturday massacre 28 July, (National Drowning Prevention Day) the Coalition is quick to spin its five seat rout in Braddon, Longman, Mayo and its uncontested by-elections in the Labor electorates of Perth and Fremantle into a “typical by-election swing of five per cent against the government”.

It’s “normal”, Liberal MPs’ chorus; all on song from their dot points Monday as they sally forth in damage control; voices strident with performance anxiety. Inwardly all are inconsolable; mourning unexpected, unfathomable loss. Corporate tax cuts are on the nose with voters but can the party heed the feedback? So far it is incapable of listening.

Worse, the hoax that The National Energy Guarantee, (NEG) which is said to be “technology neutral” yet deliver cheaper, more reliable, electricity is rejected by most voters as just another coal-lobby con, aimed not at them but at Abbott’s black rock cult that rules Turnbull’s government, a “ginger group”, Peta Credlin calls them, that is deluded, misinformed and in thrall to mining company propaganda and funding.

Their mutual ignorance will shape the nature of our next ten years of energy policy.

It’s NEG week, an arbitrary deadline imposed to forge consensus on a National Energy Guarantee agreement so complex, lengthy and so recently handed down without consultation that few who will vote on it have read it, let alone understood it.

Yet the Liberal spin machine this week is all over the media telling us it’s all or nothing; now or never. Sadly the push coincides with the release of government data revealing that we’ve just wasted a billion dollars planting trees and restoring degraded habitat under Greg Hunt’s fabulous Direct Action emissions reduction fund climate policy.

Increased forest-clearing in other parts of the nation since 2015 has released over 160m tonnes of carbon dioxide wiping out any Direct Action carbon abatement gains. Emissions projections data estimates another 60.3m tonnes will be emitted this year – equivalent to 10% of national emissions. Hunt’s policy’s a costly, ignominious failure.

In NSW, data obtained under FOI by The Guardian and only after an eight month battle from the Berejiklian government which had not published information for three years, shows it gave permission to clear over 7,000 hectares of native vegetation in 2015-16, the second highest rate of clearing in a decade, while the creation of new conservation areas and restoration of bushland has slumped while it has held office.

Environmental groups and the government’s own Office of Environment and Heritage warn that the new regime will lead to a major increase in loss of habitat, on a scale only seen in Queensland, our nation’s worst state for land clearing and degradation.

To be kind to Hunt, rates of land clearing have been underestimated. In Queensland, moreover, LNP politicians pressured government to withdraw federal department of environment notices demanding landowners explain suspected of illegal clear-felling.

All of this provides context to the Coalition’s urging the states to accept a NEG with woefully inadequate emissions targets of just 26% below 2005 levels for the electricity sector, by 2030. Not only will new investment, least of all in renewables receive no clear signal, the NEG effectively will lock in Tony Abbott’s targets for ten years.

Breezily, commentators and government spin merchants urge states to sign up to targets which can be increased later. It’s a bit like a mobile phone sales pitch.

Sign up now, change your plan later. But it’s not that easy. A federal government committed to higher emissions targets may struggle to gain senate support.

Our total national carbon emissions continue to rise. The most recent national greenhouse accounts showed a 1.5% increase last year. More than $1bn of public money spent on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees and restoring habitat under the Coalition’s fairies at the bottom of the garden Direct Action climate policy will have effectively been wiped out by little more than two years of forest-clearing elsewhere in the country, according to official government data.

Could the coal warriors snap out of it? Is the Coalition seduced by its own party spin machine? Can it not abandon its futile Kill Bill strategy? Will it stop its tiresome pantomime that Anthony Albanese is after Shorten’s job? None of this is working for it.

Nor does insisting that unfunded tax cuts help the whole nation to prosper win over those who experience at first hand wage theft, the loss of penalty rates, too little work, dangerous work or the half of all workers who are now in insecure employment.

Trump’s American provides clear evidence that corporate tax cuts go into share buy-backs, executive bonuses – anywhere but increased wages or the creation of new jobs.  History in both Australia and the US suggest wage rises are highly unlikely.

By Sunday, a new diversion is required. Turnbull announces the government’s $12,000 drought assistance package to farmers. Yet he’s mugged by reality. Ashley Gamble, a Toowoomba Queensland farmer says the cash payments promised by the government for struggling farms are inadequate. He could add insulting. Heartless. Cruel.

“To be honest, that’s absolutely nothing. $12,000 doesn’t even buy a load of grain.” Gamble’s completely out of stock feed. Nothing in the package for him. Nor many others like him. The government’s package looks like a stunt.

Turnbull spins the federal government’s generous plans to provide immediate financial support to farmers with a “$190 million package” to help farming communities fight one of the worst droughts of the past century. You can get one inadequate handout or you may qualify for a type of Centrelink support. It’s a whopping $16,000 PA.

99% of NSW and more than 58% of Queensland is now officially in drought, yet no-one in government is bold enough to publicly make any links between land-clearing, drought and other extreme weather and climate change. We’ve politicised our own survival.

Capitalism is also unquestioned. Farmers now face unprecedented prices as feed becomes scarce, just as transport costs rise steeply as they are forced to seek sources further and further afield. Then there’s higher fuel and power costs.

The meagre drought assistance looks like a cheap publicity opportunity, especially given last week’s news that the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a hitherto obscure “charity”, run by wealthy business leaders, receives $443 million from Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg without prior consultation or even being required to apply.

There are no set expectations of accountability and the donation appears to have bypassed cabinet or the party room in a captain’s call.

Again, Turnbull’s government is remote, aloof and high-handed. It’s not heeding the people, nor serving the people, however sensitive it may be to Newspoll and media opportunities. Yet rich corporations get a $65 billion handout in a tax cut.

But look over there! Senses heightened by fear, the Coalition pack is hot in pursuit of Emma Husar; MP for Lindsay, a Western Sydney electorate. The single mother of three, they allege, bullies and abuses her staff. Not only must staffers walk her pet Labrador, they have to pick up dog poo and pop into Aldi for bread, milk and toilet-paper.

Husar has misused entitlements such as the Comcar travel service, some staff allege. Yet there’s no hint of any chartered helicopter hire, such as helped to ground Bronwyn Bishop. Husar’s not used RAAF VIP jets, such as Tony Abbott would use to fly to Melbourne, to attend a March 2015 birthday party of mining millionaire and top Liberal donor Paul Marks.

Nor is there any allegation that Emma’s abused her role to secure a job for anyone not-her-partner-at-the-time; nor a whiff of any dubious paternity, a “grey area” for Barnaby Joyce who has been cleared of wrongly procuring jobs for his paramour.

Nor has Ms Husar broken Turnbull’s “no bonking ban” which admonished our former deputy PM indirectly; unfairly over his affair with staffer Vikki Campion. “You can’t help who(m) you fall in love with,” Barnaby, the helpless victim explains.

The pursuit of Husar is a magnificent distraction, however, and a pent up Coalition fond of blood sports pounces on it.

Damned by her accusers, prejudged in the media, Husar takes leave after threatening messages are left on her phone. The bullying allegations are being investigated by the Labor Party with expert assistance from barrister, John Whelan.

Whelan, who has a reputation as a straight-shooter, previously worked for Labor leaders including Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Kim Beazley and Bob Carr before he set up his mediation business which specialises in workplace issues.

Turnbull calls for Shorten to stand Ms Husar down but he risks ridicule as a hypocrite, given recent Liberal history. Some prominent staffers have gone beyond the call of duty.

Niki Savva’s revelations in Road to Ruin quote an unnamed Liberal who witnessed Ms Credlin feeding then PM Tony Abbott food from her fork in public at a restaurant; resting her head on his shoulder.

Savva, who is married to veteran Liberal staffer Vincent Woolcock, records an insider’s poetic observation of a Credlin Abbott relationship moment which appears unusually intimate. “She fed him tenderly as if he were a baby bird.”

Was this duty detailed in Credlin’s job description? Capping her image of tender familiarity of not intimacy, Savva cites an anonymous minister who says he saw Mr Abbott slap Ms Credlin on the bottom not knowing he was watching the scene.

Emma Husar’s alleged misconduct, includes revealing herself to Jason Clare in a “Basic Instinct” move. Buzz-feed is agog despite Jason’s refutation.  Can a woman “reveal herself” to a man who does not notice her? (So he swears.) What law is broken?

So far, despite the best efforts of The Daily Tele and other News Ltd papers, the allegation is baseless. But none of it need be true. All that’s required is a series of unfounded allegations and assertions. Mud sticks.

Metaphysical conundrums aside, Husar is a gift to apparatchiks eager to divert attention from the Coalition’s by-election flop. Her case evokes low journalism in support of a government over-eager to smear Labor. The lynch mob is a beast which feasts on salacious gossip; kindergarten tittle-tattle rather than rational political reporting and analysis.

Expect more of this type of “reporting” as Nine’s takeover of Fairfax, which is already forcing the share price of both companies down, forces Fairfax to “let go” its investigative reporters in favour of infotainers and ambulance chasers.

Will gossip also prevail on the ABC? In the run up to its IPA-ordained privatisation, the ABC announces the launch of ABC Life its new “lifestyle” website, next Monday, in a move which will make it more attractive to prospective buyers when the government privatises the national broadcaster. Lifestyle programmes outnumber all others categories.

Already there’s a fuss over the nonsense dignified by “competitive neutrality” which boils down to the government’s diktat that the ABC not compete with Murdoch’s’ or any other commercial oligarch’s rival lifestyle media “product”. It’s unfair. Our government-protected commercial media oligopoly rules. An inquiry is in place but no-one is certain of what it is or why, except that it is a Pauline Hanson condition on her accepting the first tranche of the Coalition’s brilliant new tax cut legislation.

What happened to the Productivity Commission? It has a section set up to hear competitive neutrality complaints. It’s been gazumped by an ad hoc inquiry.

Happily the Husar hue and cry also takes some of the heat off Malcolm Turnbull who has yet to explain how he could dole out a grant to Liberal Party mates who form the board of The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a little-known charity comprising captains of industry and finance such as John Schubert, former CBA chair and Australian Business Council’s chairman, Grant King who also chairs the foundation’s board. Chalk it up to a captain’s call.

Along with many in the Business Council of Australia, Grant King is always calling for accountability from government but, as Bernard Keane notes in Crikey, he is not available to answer questions about the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Perhaps he can’t comment on underwater matters.

Joining Grant is John Schubert also of the Business Council, and also “not available”. On board also is Suncorp’s Michael Cameron, toughing out a 16% drop in profit on a “weather and strategy spend”.

Powerful gold-plated poles and wires head honcho, Origin director, Steven Sergeant brings our warm and fluffy but hard-nosed electricity racketeers into the reefer madness zone, while Boeing Australia head Maureen Dougherty is there to represent a company which is a big arms manufacturer and totally non-polluting major global aircraft builder.

The Foundation is set up to allow our biggest polluters to greenwash their inevitable destruction of the reef, a scandal in itself, but this week, Turnbull feels the pressure over his unsolicited gift of $443 million of taxpayers’ money. He could begin by getting the body to undertake studies into the run-off from the land newly-cleared in NSW and QLD which will help accelerate the destruction of the reef.

Turnbull is long accustomed to spontaneous displays of support for experimental schemes. Or duds. Most memorable is his 2007 donation of $10 million, when, as Environment Minister, he financed Rupert Murdoch’s nephew Matt Handbury for his rain-making testing scheme, despite expert advice from Environment Department experts that the scheme would not work and was worth perhaps $2 million at best.

Handbury, in turn, strenuously denies any relationship between the grant he received from the then Environment Minister Turnbull and personal pal and his subsequent donation to Turnbull’s campaign for the seat of Wentworth.

Normalising electoral defeat helps re-build esprit de corps; a nod, perhaps, to the spirit of ANZAC, another nation-building catastrophe. At least it’s a public show of courage against the odds, as Dutton and at least seven other LNP MPs whose electorates adjoin Longman have reason to fear losing their seats, sneers Abbott’s soapbox, The Australian.

Axe the tax cut, some whimper privately, while yobbo Tony Abbott and others go public, white-anting their PM’s leadership, in the cheeky larrikin spirit of defiance of authority that marks out the true blue Aussie hero but with an obsession that betokens mania.

The anti-Turnbull pile-on via Sydney talkback radio helps ease the stigma of being infected by the viral disease of climate change denial, a malignant metaphysical meningitis, which causes rapid atrophy of the critical faculties.

Climate change denial helps incubate an aberrant strain of “thought”, as Greg Jericho flatters our current Coalition psychopathology in The Guardian “that has decided the way forward is to ignore evidence and instead pursue an ideology of wilful ignorance.”

Of course the government’s ruling Monash Five’s retreat from reason and its climate madness may both stem from larger causes, but the effects of wilful ignorance are pernicious.  Giving the top end of town a tax break is another corporate sponsorship we can’t afford, which, judging by its record profits of 6% quarter on quarter, big business clearly doesn’t need. Profits increased faster for mining (10.9%) and electricity and utilities, (11.9%).

A record 94% of companies reported a profit this year.

By Tuesday, MPs return to backbiting, sniping and finger-pointing. What’s left for the desiccated dries and the dissidents of the Monkey Pod room who dictate government policy on environment and energy to fall back on but Dutton’s African gangs and Andrew Bolt’s rabid racist scaremongering and immigration?

Another dramatic scandal-ridden week in national politics sees further breaking of the ranks in the Turnbull government. Some call to walk back its tax cuts while others remain steadfast; loyal to their principles of looking after their wealthy corporate mates, the sainted capitalist entrepreneur at the expense of everyone else; a retreat into economic folly which entails abdicating their obligation to a just and fair society.

“Everyday Australians would be appalled to know that the annual company tax saving for just one company could pay for 7,610 teachers, 8,450 nurses or 6,310 police officers, says Executive Director, Ben Oquist.

The Australia Institute’s (TAI) new Revenue Watch Initiative calculates that based on Rio Tinto’s half year report, the Coalition’s company tax cut would represent a $7.67 billion gift to Rio Tinto over the first decade of the cut.

Oquist maintains that his institute’s research shows that the company tax cuts are “economically unsound.” Cutting company tax will reduce revenue available for community services and productivity enhancing public infrastructure.

Others duck and weave to dodge the brickbats from Super Saturday as rifts widen within the Coalition over energy and tax cuts for the rich, which Abbott wants to ditch, Scott Morrison wants to keep and which Dutton won’t commit to.

Caught between snafu, self-sabotage and frantic damage control, the PM’s unsolicited $443 million largesse to his party’s mining and finance pals in The Great Barrier Reef Foundation blows up in his face, whilst Health Minister Hunt is left looking unwell when he’s proved wrong on the ease with which others can access patient data on MyHealth.

Of course, he’ll simply fiddle with the wording of the legislation. The opt out concept violates patient’s rights.

Figures for the first quarter of 2018 from Australia’s data breach notification scheme show that over all sectors, around half of breaches were caused by human error.

The scheme found most breaches came from the healthcare sector, reports ABC’s Ariel Bogle.

What could possibly go wrong?

“No-one should be punching the air in the Labor Party. There is not a lot to crow about”, says Turnbull when he finally emerges from his blue funk, Monday. Party Pollyanna, Christopher Pyne, surpasses peak absurdity, in his verdict on Georgina Downer’s crash and burn in Mayo. He’s almost as upbeat over his party’s overall performance.

Downer, Pyne opines, has “created a good base to win in May next year”. Just a little more public contempt for the electorate’s intelligence, should help seal her victory. In all three seats, he lies, it’s “a good result” for the Liberal Party.

Good? It’s a disaster. And it’s unprecedented. Until Saturday, a five per cent swing against the government has never occurred in by-elections in Opposition-held seats, as all five, on 28 July, were. Sixty such byelections have been held since Federation, writes Peter Brent. Half were uncontested. Results from the remainder range widely.

In the thirty seats which were contested, fourteen swung to the government. Of the remaining sixteen, the size of the swing to the opposition averages 1.5% while the mean is a meagre 1.2%. Yet the Liberal spin is quickly, widely repeated.

Incredible Sulk, Tony Abbott is on air with Ray quick as a rat up a drain pipe. Although 2GB boasts it’s number one with 11% of Sydney’s radio audience, according to its own figures, nearly ninety per cent of listeners listen to someone else.

Yet Abbott and Dutton love 2GB’s shock-jockery. Or used to. Monday, Abbott tells Hadley’s fans that his government needs to change policies after its disastrous showing in the three by-elections it bothered to contest. Its policies are just as much of a problem as its leader, Abbott tells listeners. Who’d invent a 30 dud Newspolls’ test of success?

“One of the things you learn as leader over the years is don’t set yourself up to fail, don’t set tests for yourself that are going to be very hard to pass.”  Abbott should know. His own government dishonoured 85 policy promises in 88 weeks.

“There will be no new spending under a Coalition government that’s not fully-costed and fully-funded,” was one of his hollowest election pledges. Once elected, Abbott’s government proceeded to spend more relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than even the notoriously profligate Howard government. Unfunded or deficit spending doubled.

Thursday, Hadley calls Scott Morrison and Turnbull “numbskulls” and gives even Home Affairs supremo Peter Dutton a serve. Channelling Abbott, he bags the PM and his Treasurer for continuing to pursue their policy of tax cuts for businesses with turnover of more than $50 million, following the Coalition’s failure to win seats in Saturday’s by-elections.

Last week Abbott was beating Dutton’s drum. … why do we store up trouble for ourselves by letting in people who are going to be difficult, difficult to integrate?” 2GB Radio regular malcontent, Toxic Tony asks his “big question” relentless in his quest to destroy his nemesis, Malcolm Turnbull, even if it means cruelling the coalition’s chances in the process.

Abbott drips poison as he dog-whistles up racists.

It’s as good as anything his mentor, John Howard, ever managed, when in 1988 he began attacking the Asianisation of Australia, ending years of bipartisan agreement not to play the race card. Howard called for “One Australia,” neatly appealing to the followers of One Nation, which the Liberal candidate for Oxley created the year before when she was disendorsed by her party for racist comments which would be defended as “freedom of speech” today.

Confounded by reality failing to live to its rhetoric in Super Saturday’s debacle and the scandal breaking over Turnbull’s Great Barrier Reef Foundation scam, the accelerating land clearing that is helping kill the reef and the anxiety and stress that Health Minister Hunt is bringing to all of us over our medical data, not to mention Abbott’s sniping at his PM, the government retreats into dissension, reality and climate change denial and the comfort of reverting to the simpler, safer times when elder statesman and war criminal John Howard looked after us all by stopping the boats and rekindling our racism.

Corruption – Corruption – Corruption. The Coalition is in deep trouble. The case for a National Anti – Corruption Body.

Saturday 4 August 2018

There have been calls for a National Anti Corruption body for some time now but there has always been reluctance, mainly by politicians, to subscribe. The Greens have been onside, the Conservatives cannot see the reason for having one and Labor have recently declared an Anti-Corruption Body to be official party policy.

The reluctance of the conservatives is understandable because they are embroiled in so much corruption that it would make your hair stand on end. Well, not mine.

No, I’m not forgetting the corruption of Eddie Obeid. It combined with other scandals overwhelmingly presents the case for a national body.

What is corruption?

In general, corruption is a “form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit.”

There was a time when a suggestion that Australia, or indeed its citizens were corrupt, would be treated with disdain. You might accuse other countries of being corrupt but certainly not Australia.

Somewhere along the way, we learnt that greed was good and in all manner of ways, money meant power and money corrupted. And so like rust corruption spread itself in its many guises throughout the community. Throughout business, throughout religion, sport, politics and the media.

The stench of the corruption is so bad that I would be justified in saying that initially, we need more than just a National Anti-Corruption body. In some instances, Royal Commissions would be completely in order to precede the setting up of a permanent body.

As I will demonstrate with the words that follow Australia is inundated with political corruption of the conservative’s creation.

When Malcolm Turnbull took over the Prime Ministership Barnaby Joyce took over the water portfolio. It was part of Turnbull’s conditions of employment. The ones the people of Australia were not allowed to see. So much for transparency in government.

After a few too many drinks in a pub in Victoria on the 27 July 2017, Joyce let it all out saying that:

“We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask,”

“A couple of nights ago on Four Corners, you know what that’s all about? It’s about them trying to take more water off you, trying to create a calamity. A calamity for which the solution is to take more water off you shut more of your towns down.”

Two nights earlier Four Corners had raised allegations of water theft.

In the pub, Joyce said that he had given water back to agriculture through the Murray Darling Basin plan so the “greenies were not running the show”.

His remarks were completely opposite to a press conference where he compared water thieves to cattle and sheep thieves, saying people who broke the law would be dealt with by the proper processes.

From that, you would determine that Joyce himself had broken the law. Later, enquires were held but the terms of reference meant that Joyce would not be accountable.

If the matter had been refereed to a national corruption body he would probably be in goal.

Ashbygate: In December 2012 Mr Justice Rare’s found that an attempt was made by James Ashby (now Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff) and others with the express purpose of bring down the Speaker of the House of Representatives and in turn the government. Yes, you read correctly. He said there was a conspiracy to use the legal system to remove a government. Do I need to repeat that or does the reader grasp the seriousness of the judge’s findings? I hate to sound alarmist but when people are found guilty of crimes of this nature you would think it would prompt alarm bells in the community, the media, and dare I say it the AFP.

I WAS OUTRAGED WHEN THIS STORY BROKE AND TIME HAS NOT DIMINISHED MY ANGER.

You would think that after Mal Brough had, on national television, admitted complicity in the affair that some action would take place. But no,

The AFP decided that neither James Ashby nor Mal Brough would be charged over the copying of Peter Slipper’s diary. Then they dropped its investigation.

How the Liberal Party dodged a bullet and how the AFP reached its decision will remain a mystery. The only person to have gotten it right in my view was Justice Rare. And let’s not forget how complicit Christopher Pyne was.

How come a small almost undetectable charity by the name of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation was visited by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg and Environment Department secretary Finn Pratt and offered its Chairman John Schubert $443 million? No tender, nothing.

The company funds climate denial groups and managing director Anna Marsden at a Senate enquiry agreed that climate change was the greatest threat facing the reef. She rejected suggestions that this fact jarred with the membership of the foundation’s “chairman’s panel”, which includes executives from heavy polluters AGL, BHP, Shell and Peabody Energy.  

A bit sus you might say. Well, read these tweets. Wouldn’t pass the pub test and is the sort of thing one might refer to an Integrity Commission.

Rob Oakeshott

Want $443 million from Govt in Oz today? 1. Big political donations. 2. Form a group with a fluffy name – Ozn Water, Rain Corp, or even ‘Great Barrier Reef Foundation’ (a group of 55 large energy and banking companies who pay $20k membership) 3. Avoid tenders and go direct to PM.

Craig Emerson

OK, someone has to put a name to this scandal, or it will default to Reefgate

Bernard Keane

So the best part of half a billion was handed to big business pals in a private meeting with no process, no records, and no public servants.

This stinks. And rich indeed from @TurnbullMalcolm who demanded Rudd and Swan resign over faked Utegate allegations.

Kristina Keneally

The Prime Minister’s ‘private meeting’ with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, when he offered them $444m of public funding, was more private than first thought. It now turns out that there were no public servants present.  Just Turnbull, Frydenberg & GBRF Chair Dr John Schubert.

Rob Oakeshott again.

Want $443 million from Govt in Oz today? 1. Big political donations. 2. Form a group with a fluffy name – Ozn Water, Rain Corp, or even ‘Great Barrier Reef Foundation’ (a group of 55 large energy and banking companies who pay $20k membership) 3. Avoid tenders and go direct to PM.

This “captains call” looks positively corrupt. I cannot think of any circumstance that would justify it. Come Friday when I scan the morning papers there is nothing to be found on the subject. Well only another tweet from Bernard Keane.

“I’ve administered a Commonwealth grants program. I (briefly) ran a procurement area. I’ve worked on major procurements (Australia Network). I’ve read scores of ANAO reports. The $440m handout to the GBRF is the most egregious case of maladministration I’ve ever heard of.”

David Spencer summed it up nicely with this tweet.

“Absolutely. Imagine if a Labor PM, had given an unsolicited grant of nearly 1/2 billion $, with no transparent process, to a private organisation. The Murdoch press in particular, would be apoplectic, and rightly calling for full disclosure. But this is the LNP, so hardly a peep!”

My view is that giving all this money to a small company who specializes in grants to those who deny climate change, might be a way of securing the votes of those in the Coalition who are prepared to vote against the Energy Guarantee policy.

This one concerns the Employment Minister Michaela Cash. Now that the AFP has told the AWU that it was referring the matter of leaking to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and will formally refer at least one aspect of the investigation to it in coming weeks – meaning criminal charges could be laid.

There was a time when Ministers would resign for much less.

Every time the Minister hears a word with U at the front she seems to get her knickers in a knot.

The raid goes back a decade and concerns a donation the Union made to GetUp!

Cash has repeatedly contended she had nothing to do with any tip-off but it is very strange that the media arrive at these raids before the AFP. It has also happened with other raids of a different nature in the past.

Then we have the deplorable case of Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery and former intelligence agent Witness K who are facing prosecution on charges of breaching the Intelligence Services Act five years after details of the operation were initially reported in the media.

At a time when negotiations were taking place with East Timor over rights to oil and gas Australia was spying on them in order to gain an advantage.

That my country should seek to do this makes me sick in the stomach. It’s those who did the bugging that need investigating not the whistleblowers.

All the men involved did was to reveal the truth. Now 5 years later The Turnbull government wants to prosecute the two men where as in fact they should be giving them the order of Australia.

John Lloyd is the public service commissioner, appointed by Tony Abbott in 2014. Prior to that, he was a long time member and former director of the Institute of Public Affairs. The institute keeps the funding of its organisation private. Well, one did become known last week with a donation of a cool  $5 million from Australia’s richest women.

Lloyd has decided to retire after the release of some emails and a grilling at a Senates Estimates meeting that questioned as to who he was working for.

You can read about it here.

Yet another review of the ABC is to be undertaken by former Foxtel head Peter Tonagh. One would think there might be a conflict of interest given he is also involved in a quest for a billion-dollar government contract. He is part of a consortium that includes a friend of the Prime Minister, Scott Biggs, who just happens to be in the race for a Commonwealth government visa-processing contract?

Where is all that transparency Turnbull talks about? It raises the question as to why they should bother tendering when the Great Barrier Reef Foundation didn’t have too.

With all this corruption going on the question also arises as to why it has taken years for the Coalition to sort out the what can only be described as a political scandal at its worst. The VET FEE – HELP scheme involving our Government handing out billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money to private Colleges when there was literally no public benefit.

Yet again the government has shown its capacity for corruption.

Then we find a person of moderate intellectual capacity, George Christensen, is flying to Japan at the expense of the Minerals Council of Australia to plead for a new coal-fired power station to be built here, at the request of Resources Minister Matt Canavan?. At the very least this is highly inappropriate and yet again demonstrates a Government in Turmoil.

10 Last but not least we need an answer from the Government as to why for two years it held firm against a Royal Commission into the financial sector. We already know that financial advisors acted corruptly for the big banks and that the banks and the government knew about it.

If you are thinking at this stage that I’m making it all up I’m not. I have already written enough about the Governments readiness to use our money to fund Adani and how politically expedient the Nine-Fairfax deal was for the Government.

There was a time in our political history when we could justifiably say in the midst of a discussion about corruption “no, not us” But not under this sleazy lot we can no longer do so. It is time to act.

Back in March 2018 the United Nations Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, delivered a major report following a visit in October 2016.

In the report, he made it clear that he was “astonished” to observe “mounting evidence of regressive measures” being pursued by the government.“ (See link above) and  “astounded” with the frequent public vilification by senior public officials” of charities, community groups and democratic institutions critical of the Government

“In February, Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index found that Australia was continuing a steady slide down the scale. Our country ranking had not changed – 13th for three years running – but our score had notably decreased over the last six years. In 2012, Australia scored 85 out of 100, but it had since slipped eight points to a score of 77, down from 79 in 2016. Transparency International’s local chairman, Anthony Whealy QC, told the ABC that Australia’s ranking suggested a failure to deal with serious public sector issues: “These include money laundering, whistleblowing, political donations and the effectiveness of our systems … the Government has simply not faced up to the need to have an independent corruption agency at a national level.” New Zealand topped the rankings, perceived as the least corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific, with a score of 89.

That’s where Australia should be, not third behind the Kiwis and Singapore. It’s time to arrest the slide before it gets any worse.”

And so I rest my case for an Anti-Corruption Body. I’m not fussed about what it might be called so long as it has some balls to investigate matters like the aforementioned.

My thought for the day.

“How utterly dispiriting it is when the hearts and minds of men and women are so utterly corrupted by this virus of political lies, but more demoralising it is that ordinary people catch the same infection.”

 

You are not above the law, Malcolm – show us your paperwork

In both the Senate and the media, questions are being asked about Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to gift almost half a billion dollars to a few mates to save the reef.

And they should be.

Much as the government may think it is a law unto itself and that the Treasury is its own personal piggy bank, there is actually legislation that covers Commonwealth Grants.

The Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines 2017 (CGRGs) came into effect at the end of August last year and is administered by the Department of Finance.

This instrument outlines the mandatory requirements and better practice principles for all non-corporate Commonwealth entities and third parties that undertake grant administration on behalf of the Commonwealth, including Ministers, accountable authorities and officials.

Requirements that must be complied with are denoted by the use of the term must in the CGRGs.

Officials must provide written advice to Ministers, where Ministers exercise the role of an approver. This advice must, at a minimum:

  1. explicitly state that the spending proposal being considered for approval is a ‘grant’;
  2. provide information on the applicable requirements of the PGPA Act and Rule and the CGRGs (particularly any ministerial reporting obligations), including the legal authority for the grant;
  3. outline the application and selection process followed, including the selection criteria, that were used to select potential grantees; and
  4. include the merits of the proposed grant or grants relative to the grant opportunity guidelines and the key principle of achieving value with relevant money.

Requirements for Ministers

In addition to the requirements under the PGPA Act, where the proposed expenditure relates to a grant or group of grants, the Minister:

  1. must not approve the grant without first receiving written advice from officials on the merits of the proposed grant or group of grants. That advice must meet the requirements of the CGRGs and
  2. must record, in writing, the basis for the approval relative to the grant opportunity guidelines and the key principle of achieving value with relevant money.

Sooooo Malcolm, show us your paperwork.  And while we’re at it, let’s see Mitch’s paperwork for gifting Rupert $30 million.

30 plus reasons why you shouldn’t vote for an incumbent government who couldn’t govern a kindergarten

1 August 2018

Newspapers and media outlets in a rush to make themselves relevant within a life or death struggle for survival, push all sorts of controversy.

Two things stood out during the by-elections. Firstly the importance they made of the constant flow of polls, and secondly, the “Kill Bill” campaigns.

Despite knowing from past evidence that individual seat polling is notoriously inaccurate, Murdoch news continued to push them as though they were God’s gift to determining the winner – and they didn’t.

Again, despite having run the same course many times the “Kill Bill” campaign by Newscorp and others, yet again fell flat because Australians don’t like “playing the man.” The naming of Bill Shorten as a liar every day by the PM doesn’t cut with a lot of people, and he would be well advised to stop.

The importance of reporting factually what was said, or the truth or otherwise of it, seemed to take second place to whatever controversy could be manufactured.

The media do it because they like to think they alone have the power to elect governments, forgetting that it is the public that votes them in or out.

Finding the truth and reporting it should be more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.

But Newscorp has started its pre-election propaganda in earnest. Not even the failure to influence will stop them.

Confronted with going to the polls in the knowledge that they would repeat it again in a few months time, punters were faced with a number of local issues. That aside, the average punter would be well aware of the many national issues that the country faces. The first question they might ask is:

What good reason do I have to change my vote from last time? Should I change my vote because of all the nonsense about citizenship?

Since the Coalition repealed the ‘carbon tax,’ a tax that had been working well and emissions were dropping, the Coalition who had put ideology before the common good, the Coalition has staggered like drunken adolescents from one side of the street to the other.

Abbott’s former department head admitted that his mission to axe the tax was only ever about the politics. Nothing whatsoever about reducing our emissions and honoring our commitment to the Paris accord.

Scott Morrison has admitted that bringing down the price of electricity is more important that reducing our emissions, and will rely heavily on the National Energy Guarantee to do so.

But wait a sec. Labor has decided not to go along with the Coalition and it will now require the support of Senate crossbenchers.

Really, you cannot blame Labor. This is nothing more than a monumental stuff-up and a con job to boot.

What erroneous spin they have been conducting since they repealed the carbon price.

Labor says it will oppose the policy even if it is approved by the states and territories. Labor’s energy spokesman, Mark Butler has described the NEG’s carbon emissions reduction target as “unrealistic” and warned that the policy will adversely affect jobs and investment in the renewable energy sector.

Smart Energy Council CEO John Grimes is of the same view, while Victorian Energy Policy Centre director Bruce Mountain has questioned the need for the NEG.

So after more than 10 years of the conservative far-right’s view that they know more about climate change than 95% of the world’s climate scientists, we are no further advanced.

The Prime Minister has nowhere to go other than to revisit his conscience, examine it and say that he should have stuck with his original principles. Or confess, at least, that he is controlled by the far-right of his party.

It has been suggested that the Government will have to write down the value of the National Broadband Network, however Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says they have no intention of doing so.

Ratings agency Standard and Poors has issued warnings that the value of its investment in the National Broadband Network is under threat from 5G mobile technology, saying that it will eventually supersede its hybrid technology.

The ratings agency also says that Australian consumers compared to other countries pay much more for an inferior product. Unless it finds a way to reduce its rates, the NBN will turn out to be a very expensive stuff-up. Just like so many others this Government is responsible for.

Other observations

In terms of the environment I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today.

On the NBN: The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow.

PS: I will leave the “My Health Record” debacle for another time, and I haven’t mentioned Robodebt, DVA and Comcare.

The Abbott/Turnbull Governments haven’t a record of achievements to fall back on. Those that the do list are; a) jobs and growth b) tax cuts to companies with an annual turnover of up to $50 million and Australians earning more than $80,000 c) dubious historic education reform: transparent, universal, consistent needs-based federal funding for Australian schools (what about the Catholics?, and d) marriage equality. (I think the public can lay claim to that).

Peter Dutton repeatedly plays the race card and this time the Prime Minister entered the fray. Men, women and children will next year enter their 6th year of imprisonment with no foreseeable release date. And they haven’t even committed a crime.

Will Dutton now continue with his wild almost crazy assertions that Labor will allow the boats to return if they win the next election?

Future leader they say. “Wow.”

An observation

A leader with any character would slap down members of his cabinet who roam the   road of racism with all the force of a heavy roller.

6 The isolation of the voice of Barnaby Joyce may have been a political masterstroke, but it has left the National Party isolated and without a voice.

Who is it that leads them?

Abbott is not done with yet. He is now advocating we opt out of the Paris Agreement and also cut immigration.

Having proposed tax cuts to big business, Turnbull now faces dropping them. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. If he keeps the policy it is nigh on impossible to sell it, but if he drops it he will be seen not to have the courage of his convictions.

In times of national security, fears the propagandists have successfully promoted the LNP as being best able to handle those fears.

Should we expect something terrible to happen before the next election? Or just a lie about the possibility?

10 In spite of doubling our debt, the economy is being promoted as being in good shape by the Murdoch media. That’s not the truth, of course.

11 Jobs growth is being promoted as outstanding, but is barely keeping up with our immigration intake. Do the punters really believe the line being fed to them?

12 Climate Change is still of major concern to the public. True colours, please. That means both parties.

13 The Coalition contains some of the most outstanding liars and hypocrites our Parliament has ever seen, including the Prime Minister. Is it possible the punters have finally seen through them?

14 “News Corp Australia has called on the government to review the charters of the ABC and SBS and to restrict the public broadcasters from unfairly competing with its newspapers, websites and Sky News.

Rupert Murdoch’s Australian arm has told a government inquiry the Internet has transformed the ABC and SBS into “news publishers” who have the advantage of being taxpayer-funded, while denying commercial competitors revenue.”

15 Please note: Polling in individual seats is notoriously unreliable. I told you so.

16 After having been dragged kicking and screaming by Labor and the Greens to have a Royal Commission into banking Malcolm Turnbull still wont contemplate a national ICAC.

17 Almost everyone besides the Coalition believes that unemployment benefits are one reason many Australians are poor. They are simply inadequate for people to live on.

18 The question is, “are we entitled to know?” When Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister after successfully challenging Tony Abbott the National Party placed certain conditions on him before they would form a Coalition.

Is he, or both, entitled to keep the secret to them selves or conversely are the voters entitled to know?

19 Last Wednesday morning Scott Morrison was doing a presser on News24. Addressing the price of electricity he said that if you wanted prices to come down you needed to support the government’s National Energy Guarantee policy.

He went onto say that higher emissions targets would result in higher electricity prices. The truth of that is very debatable however; my point is that if you believe what Morrison said then you can only conclude that the Coalition has entirely given up on lowering our emissions. What a con job they have been conducting since they repealed the carbon price.

You can almost get used to Murdoch’s lies and bullshit but this takes the cake.

22 We still await the outcome of the enquiry Michaelia Cash.

“What we know is [federal police] have referred the matter to the DPP,”

“They would not do that lightly … They only do that when they think laws have been broken.”

23 The Liberals have been in power 16 of the last 22 years. If people think the country is stuffed, they should know whom to blame.

24 For all ABC’s faults, I for one would march in the streets to demand it be protected, and I’m sure hundreds of thousands of people would do likewise. A comprehensive and factual news service is essential to democracy and the ABC is our only hope of ever having one.

25 Somebody sent this to me but for the life of me I cannot remember whom:

Five years since the Federal election campaign Labor lost ushering in the nationally destructive Abbott-Turnbull Government that has taken us backwards. Note: some items are already listed.

– No world leading NBN.

– No carbon price.

– No booming alternative energy industry.

– No Gonski scale school funding.

– A weakened NDIS.

– No republic.

– Damaged relations with China and our region.

– Subservience to the fascist Trump.

– Wage stagnation.

– Attacks on multiculturalism.

– Attacks on welfare for the poor and vulnerable.

– Massive tax cuts for the wealthiest. Australians and foreign corporations.

– Attempts to undermine Medicare.

– More expensive University degrees.

– $500 million cuts to university budgets and research.

– Shrinking home ownership.

– Every day cost of living up.

– Higher debt.

26 Although science tells the Government that sugar, salt and fat are the main causes of our health problems, it refuses to limit the amount of these toxic substances in food.

27 The Prime Minister’s refusal to acknowledge the Uluru Statement in our constitution is a tragedy and should be revisited ASAP.

28 A Facebook friend sent this list. The PM has FAILED abysmally to:

– Set a high standard in government

– Stand up to the IPA bullies

– Stand up to traitor Murdoch

– Hold his party to account

– Display moral leadership

– Call out racism

– Be truthful

– Respect Melbournians, one of the best cities in the world

– To dismiss racist Dutton

– To protect the vulnerable

He is totally UNFIT to be PM, ever. Disgusting coward. Like others he is racist, he backs racists, he fails to call out racists, he encourages racists.

29 The Coalition spent two years fending off a royal commission into the banking sector. When Shorten and to be fair, the Greens, got their way, look at the results.

Now they are trying to fend off a national ICAC.

30 Perpetual infighting between the ultra right neo-conservatives and the moderates has been a hallmark of this Government, and who knows, the Prime Minister might even resign.

My thought for the day

The real enemy of neo-conservative politics in Australia is not Labor or indeed democratic socialism. It is simply what Australians affectionately call. A fair go.

The dearth of Australian journalism

By Henry Johnston

ABCTV’s the Insiders broadcast 29/7/2018 the morning after Super Saturday demonstrated the parlous state of quality Australian journalism.

After interrogating Liberal Minister for Defence Industry and Leader of the House Christopher Pyne, and Opposition Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek about the results of the previous night’s Super Saturday by-elections, host Barrie Cassidy introduced the panel.

For me this is when Australian journalism slipped over and fell on its arse.

The Guardian’s Katherine Murphy, the Australian’s Niki Savva and News Corp’s jolly old Uncle Malcolm Farr, all but spat their coffee across the set when Cassidy suggested it is time for media to drop the Kill Bill / Anthony Albanese-is-waiting-to-challenge nonsense.

The Three Amigos came close to hyperventilation. I would not be surprised if half their press gallery colleagues did the same, as they swallowed Berocca and munched handfuls of Panadol to clear muzzy heads.

The gallery including the Conversation’s redoubtable Michelle Grattan, fell for a Liberal Government ‘drop,’ namely Albo is set to challenge Bill Shorten.

Never mind the fact Tanya Plibersek minutes earlier swatted the story as so much tosh, or Wayne Swan said much the same on an earlier ABC news programme, or that Albo had called the story rubbish. No. Three top notch journos turned face-on to the cameras and said in effect, ‘we reported a non-story and are sticking with our assertion’.

Journalism?

Arrant nonsense.

How do I know this, and why do I believe this morning marked a low point in the worst week in the history of Australian news media?

If these three reporters had squeezed into the Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain on the day then Prime Minster Kevin Rudd announced reforms to mechanisms to appoint Labor Party leaders, and thus forbid a repeat of the Rudd / Gillard / Rudd debacle, they would have witnessed Anthony Albanese (Albo) at his finest.

Albo is my local member and I am a rank and file member of the Australian Labor Party.

Anthony Albanese, his close friend and mentor, former Senator John Faulkner, and the nation watched acts of unparalleled bastardry, which spelt the imminent examination of the ALP.

Make no mistake; Labor as a collective knew it either reformed or experience a horrible death.

Neither Albo, Faulkner nor other party activists, were prepared to allow this to happen. If Savva, Murphy and Farr didn’t know this, then they should not be in the business of reporting.

Here is the rub. This trio and the majority of the Canberra press gallery – so called ‘insiders’ – no longer report. They comment. But commentary is not journalism. Rather it is a corrosive aspect of the global entertainment industry’s gleeful destruction of the integrity of the fourth estate. Witness the Channel 9 take-over of Fairfax.

Did Savva, Murphy, Farr and others ring Albo’s office and ask for an interview? I’m not sure, but if they did, they did not file a report; at least I cannot find one. Indeed, Savva and Murphy said to Cassidy, ‘according to unnamed sources we knew something was going on and we faithfully reported this.’

Huh? How is it small journals such as this news outlet, with unerring accuracy, called the story out as a non-starter?

By the end of Insiders Savva, Murphy and Farr on cue, wept crocodile tears about the demise of Fairfax, but avoided the perspicacity of Cassidy’s argument the Kill Bill strategy had failed.

The ‘Albo for PM’ yarn will stink-up the place for a few more days despite the fact a slew of ALP federal members would make exemplary prime ministers.

Consider the talent of Albanese, Bowen, Plibersek, Burke, Chalmers, Clare, Wong, Dreyfuss, Lamb, and others. Now imagine a Muslim PM, Ed Husic, or an Aboriginal Prime Minister, Linda Burney. I can. Compare these citizens to the nincompoops which comprise the LNP Government. Yet according to the Canberra press gallery, their version of the story – Albo, aka Beatrix Kiddo, aka the Bride – will faithfully follow the Kill Bill script. Yeah right, just like the fairy tale of South Australia’s darling of the IPA Georgina Downer, taking her seat as the new federal member for Mayo.

Pick up your redundancy cheques, boys and girls, and don’t bother switching off the lights on your way out.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney based author. His book, Best and Fairest is available at Valentine Press.

Like Spoilt Little Brats

It was not paranoia, it was real. The past three weeks saw our supposed free press, our once proud doyens of truth and justice forsake their role and barrage us with a one-sided attack on Bill Shorten, in a manner not seen since their failed attempt to hang draw and quarter him during the Trade Union Royal Commission.

What spoilt little brats, they are!.

We can only speculate on what drove them to try and make Super Saturday Shorten’s funeral, but just like the Royal Commission, it failed.

Super Saturday was an opportunity for the media to scrutinise a government in disarray, to anticipate the result as a measure of considerable broader electoral discontent. But instead, they chose to personalise and vilify the alternative prime minister, make it a test of his credentials, rather than call a dishonest, deceptive, unfair government to account.

Not a clever move as things turned out. All the speculation about the possibility of Labor losing Longman and Braddon was used, once more, to mask the Turnbull government’s lack of performance, lack of policy, lack of vision and lack of true leadership.

All the speculation about Shorten’s leadership, about his poor preferred prime minister ratings, about his trade union connections, seemingly orchestrated across all the various media platforms, seemed too concentrated to be coincidental. Someone was directing it.

What was promised? By whom? How much? And how soon?

For whatever reason, the media had climbed into bed with the Conservatives to convince what they thought was a small and gullible voting block, to rewrite history. Shorten was even lambasted for not turning up to either electorate the day before the election. As if that was the last straw.

So what now? Their campaign failed, not marginally, not barely, it failed spectacularly. The voters from Queensland and Tasmania brought the media back to reality. It was the electorate who would decide who would represent them and the size of the margin they would extend to their elected choice.

They ignored the media, they saw through the shallow, thinly veiled attempt to concentrate on the opposition and instead, sent an unmistakeable message to the government: you have not been honest with us, you have not been fair, you favour the wealthy, despise the weak, the sick, the disadvantaged. For this, you will pay.

They have put Longman and Braddon back in the Labor camp. They have seen to it that Bill Shorten’s leadership is no more to be questioned, that the preferred prime minister polling is irrelevant and that Australian voters will not be hoodwinked when we go to a general election sometime in the next ten months.

It can’t come quick enough. So let’s see where the media apply the pressure now. They have been put back in their place well and truly by their true masters. Like spoilt little brats, they have been given a good spanking. They put their money on the wrong horse and now, go home with empty pockets.

What a miserable lot they are. Serves them right!

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