Turnbull may be standing in front of the…

Tony Abbott is being widely dismissed in the media as having little…

Emma Husar – Yet another institutional failure

By John TonsBy now most Australians will have moved on from the…

Beware of rabid zealots

By Ad astraLet’s remind ourselves of the meaning of ‘zealot’. Historically, it…

Great Barrier Reef Politics

Australia’s environment has been in precarious hands since European settlement found its…

Never allow racism to disguise itself in the…

Thursday 16 August 2018I don’t think there is a greater societal problem…

Let's Just Remember That Bloke In The Senate…

It's important to keep a sense of perspective here. I read somewhere…

Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne loses to…

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has gone about its annual business of…

Walk together in respect

We have a choice in Australia.We can succumb to the increasingly shrill…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: featured

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!

What do you want to hear from Labor?

With an election some time in the next ten months, the end of this government is in sight. It has been an ugly ride that has seen Australian politics sink to new depths.

Howard may have started the rot but Abbott embraced it, using the attack dog approach with relish – go after the person, lie about the real state of affairs whether it be debt or climate change, promise anything, promote fear and division – whatever it takes to win and if that includes destroying people’s lives, so be it.

The sigh of relief when Turnbull replaced Abbott was short-lived. It is gobsmacking to hear Turnbull trying to outdo Abbott in appealing to the far right of both his party and the electorate. African gangs? Seriously? He has not only abandoned any pretence of honesty and integrity, he has abandoned every principle he ever espoused and is now being led by the dumbest bullies with the loudest voices.

There is no hope of principled governance from the current crop of Coalition politicians so we must work on the alternative government.

Labor have already announced many good policies. They are certainly worthy of discussion but today I would like to ask what more would you like to hear from them?

I would like to hear climate change brought loudly back into the conversation. Labor talk a lot about their renewable energy target and higher emissions reduction which is good but rarely do the politicians reinforce the real danger we are facing, the urgency of taking action now, and the economic and social cost of not. We talk a lot about power prices and very little about the cost of damage from more intense weather events and the health and environmental cost of pollution and global warming.

Subsidies for fossil fuels should be stopped. That money could be spent so much more productively. Give subsidies to developers to include solar panels on new constructions and to include building efficiency in their designs to reduce the need for heating, cooling and lighting.

As was discussed at length on another thread, Labor should commit to increasing Newstart. Any homework on how it will be done (a flat increase, different indexation or whatever) should be done now. This is a crucial and obvious measure that must be taken to help lift people out of abject poverty.

Labor should be working with Indigenous representatives to immediately form the First Nations Voice to advise on how to empower the traditional custodians of the land to take their rightful place in their own country.

The refugees incarcerated on Manus and Nauru must be freed. Labor have policies that will make it easier for people to get here via official channels but these people can no longer be held hostage. If agreeable third party countries cannot be found to take them, we must bring them here. Perhaps this is one that cannot be said before the election but they must have a plan for the immediate rescue of these people.

The rollout of FttN NBN should be halted. It is a giant waste of time and money which has caused no end of aggravation and frustration and is already inadequate for today’s needs let alone tomorrow’s.

Electric cars are coming so we have to build the infrastructure and industries to support them. Labor should get ahead on that one.

Education has always been a Labor strength but they have become embroiled in the notion that any changes in funding should leave no school worse off. It is utterly ridiculous that wealthy private schools receive enormous government subsidies. It is also questionable that a secular government should be funding religious schools. At least they could can the school chaplains program.

I would like to hear more about scholarships for tertiary education in areas where there are skills shortages.

It would also be good if every candidate was prepared with ideas about local job creation opportunities. The NDIS is one that covers every area for starters and involves all manner of different skills.

Labor should also make clear their intentions about a federal corruption and integrity body. The idea that we don’t need one has been well and truly shattered. Some tightening up of politicians’ expense claims would also be welcome.

Political donations and election spending are two areas that need reform but no-one seems to be the one who wants to blink first on that.

Labor should win this election based purely on the fact that they aren’t the Coalition but they haven’t been sitting back relying on that. They have announced courageous policies well ahead of time so the electorate can properly understand the implications of what is being proposed.

Before I get hammered by irate Labor supporters, don’t look on this as criticism. Look on it as suggestions for consideration and discussion.

1943 – AN EPIC YEAR: Turning the Nazi-fascist tide (part one)

On 25 July 1943 – as Primo Levi recalled – came the internal collapse of Fascism, the piazzas jammed with happy, fraternal crowds, the spontaneous and precarious joy of a country to which liberty had been given by a palace intrigue’: the king, who had made Mussolini his cousin by conferring on him the Collare dell’Annunziata (a Catholic ‘gong’), betrayed the Duce and later abandoned the country to the Germans. Outsider remembers: ‘Italy comes back to smile’ edtorialised the Corriere della sera that day.

The Resistenza against the Fascists, which had begun in 1919, turned against the invading Germans. The partisans acted with a solemn commitment: ‘To suffer, to die, never to betray’, in the name of Justice and Liberty. Liberation in April 1945 cost 100,000 dead.

By Outsider

(Go raibh maith agat, Macushla!)

Consider this: by the middle of 1942, the Germans had overrun the bulk of continental Europe; only Andorra, southern France, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland remained unoccupied. The U.S.S.R. was unconquered, but in dire peril. Leningrad and even Moscow were under siege; the Ukraine, Byelorussia and the Don basin were in enemy hands; there were Germans on the right bank of the Volga and thrusting towards the Caucasus. Western north-Africa had preserved a precarious neutrality under the regime of Vichy France. In eastern north-Africa, Rommel was preparing to pounce on Alexandria. German submarines controlled much of the Atlantic and even of the Caribbean. Japanese submarines were raiding across the Indian Ocean; the Japanese navy controlled the western Pacific, the army most of coastal China and of south-east Asia.

From this nearly catastrophic degree of defeat the Allies managed, in a little over three years, to recover. The naval battle of Midway in June and the officially still unrecognised first battle of El Alamein early in July raised hope of a change of fortunes; but only the epic defence of Stalingrad in the late autumn of 1942 encouraged such hope.

The year 1943 opened with an event which radically altered the whole course of the war: the defeat of Hitler’s army at Stalingrad. It became immediately apparent to all that the tide of hostilities had decisively turned against the Tripartite forces (Germany, Italy and Japan) and that their fate was sealed. The Germans, who had continued their victorious advance up to the end of the summer of 1942, now began the long retreat which was to end in 1945, in Berlin. By then victory over Japan was a question of time. When the battered remains of the Italian Expeditionary Force to Russia, reduced from 220,000 to only a few thousand men, straggled back to Italy after the appalling disaster of the Don, hatred for the German ‘allies’ began to seethe. It was hatred for those who, according to a statement issued by the Italian Supreme Command, had “not only refused all help to Italian troops, but had seized every available armoured car and truck, and had abandoned Italians wounded, leaving them with no means of transport, no provisions, and no medical supplied.”

In November 1942 had come the Allied landing in North Africa, in December came the Russian and finally victory at Stalingrad, and – as Levi would write in The periodic table: “we realised that the war had drawn closer and that history had resumed its march. In the space of a few weeks each of us matured, more so than during the previous twenty years.” “Out of the shadows came men whom Fascism had not crushed – lawyers, professors, and workers – and we recognised in them our teachers, those for whom we had futilely searched until then in the Bible’s doctrine, in chemistry, and on the mountains.” … “Fascism had reduced [those men] to silence for twenty years, and [those men] explained to us that Fascism was not only a clownish and improvident misrule but the negator of justice; it had not only dragged Italy to an unjust and ill-omened war, but it had arisen and consolidated itself as the custodian of a detestable legality and order, based on the coercion of those who work, on the unchecked profits of those who exploit the labour of others, on the silence imposed on those who think and do not want to be slaves, and on systematic and calculated lies.”

When Levi first connected with member of the Resistance is hard to establish. The only precise reference in The periodic table is victory at Stalingrad: 2 February 1943. When Levi writes of  “the men whom Fascism had not crushed: and how they talked to us about unknowns: Gramsci, Salvemini, Gobetti, the Rosselli brothers: and asks ‘who were they?’” the question must be taken as rhetorical. It must be read for the purpose of introducing the next question: “So there actually existed a second history, a history parallel to the one which the liceo had administered to us from on high?”

The battle of Stalingrad had been very long and divided into two periods: the defensive period (17 July – 18 November 1942) and the offensive period (19 November 1942 – 2 February 1943). The objective of the German command for the summer of 1942 was to crush Soviet forces in the south, take the oil regions of the Caucasus and the rich agricultural regions of the Don and Kuban, cut the lines of communication connecting the centre of the country with the Caucasus, and create conditions for a favourable conclusion of the war. By 17 July the front assumed the defensive on a 530 kilometres zone. In all the Soviets deployed more than 1 million troops, 13,500 guns and infantry mortars, more than 1,000 anti-aircraft guns, 115 rocket artillery battalions, about 900 tanks, and 1,115 aircraft. The main invading forces, which had operated in the Middle Don-Stalingrad region and areas to the south, included the Italian Eighth Army, the Rumanian Third and Fourth Armies, and the German Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army. The grouping had more than 1 million troops, 675 tanks and assault guns, and more than 10,000 guns and infantry mortars. They were supported by more than 1,200 aircraft.

From 24 to 30 November the forces of the Don and the Stalingrad fronts, waging bitter battles against the surrounded German forces, had reduced the area they occupied in half, forcing the enemy into an area 70-80 kilometres from east to west and 30-40 kilometres from north to south.

On 8 January 1943 the Soviet command sent the German Sixth Army commander an ultimatum to capitulate, but under orders from Hitler the ultimatum was rejected. In the course of the counteroffensive two Rumanian armies and one Italian army were crushed in addition to the two German army groups.

Total losses for the invading forces to 2 February 1943 were more than 800,000 troops, nearly 2,000 tanks and assault guns, more than 10,000 guns and infantry mortars, up to 3,000 combat aircraft and transports, and more 70,000 motor vehicles. As many as 1.5 million invading soldiers and officers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.

1943 became a year of re-dedication to the case of freedom – both at the individual and at the collective level. In January the Jewish Fighting Organisation, which had been formed in the Warsaw ghetto, declared that those who had been spared from deportation would rather fight and die. German attempts to enforce a second wave of deportation would be met with armed resistance.

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by one ineffectual, but wholly honourable resistance movement, the ‘White Rose’ group, led in Munich University by Hans and Sophie Scholl, sibling students who were better Christian than they were Nazis. Thus they too saw Hitler as Antichrist. They circulated anti-Nazi letters around a group of friends. After Stalingrad, on 1 February 1943 the Gauleiter of Bavaria who had seen some of these letters – for the hand of the secret police reached everywhere – addressed the student body with his habitual coarseness; and was shouted down. The Scholls had a leaflet printed, denouncing him and his master, and distributed it between lectures three mornings later. They and over a hundred of their friends were all dead within ten days, most of them after torture; at lease they had spoken up for what they believed in.

In faraway Norway, on 27-28 February 1943, one party of nine men carried out what was reasonably to be claimed as the most important act of sabotage of record. Succeeding where a large part of airborne commandos – whose glider crashed far off the target – had failed, they attached the Norsk Hydro heavy water plant in a gorge at Vemork, near Rjukan, some 120 kilometres west of Oslo. With a few well-placed plastic bombs, they destroyed several months’ production of heavy water, and incapacitated the plant. A further large stock of heavy water was destroyed, by a separate operation, in its way to Germany.

In Italy, in March 1943 there were some important protest strikes, particularly in Turin, followed by others in Milan. They were to be renewed in November that year, and in Genoa in December, under German occupation. The March strikes dealt Fascism the first deadly blow. They were the outcome of the economic chaos into which the war had plunged the country, the ever-growing disparity between wages and prices, the worsening of conditions in the factories, the exhaustingly long shifts, and the powerlessness of the workers to protect their families from the devastating raids carried out by British and American bombers. None of the resulting grievances in themselves, however, either singly or together, accounted for the sudden upsurge of feeling which had led to the mass downing-of-tools.

At 10 a.m. on 5 March 1943, even though the management had prevented the siren – which was to have been the signal for the strike to begin – from sounding, the operatives of the Fiat-Mirafiori Works downed tools and walked out, demanding full payment of the sum which had been promised to them for the cost of evacuation, and shouting in unison: “We want a subsidy for the high cost of living! We want peace!” We want peace – this was the ardent wish of the majority of Italians, at home and abroad, irrespective of whether they were working in the factories and offices or fighting on the various fronts.

It was in part the regime’s attempts to keep the news of those strikes off the press which gave a young student then at senior high school and not yet fifteen a special meaning to the word connect.

News of these strikes, passed on by mouth, magnified the events, built up hope, increased the commitment to liberty. One day my school was inundated with the copy of a poem, attributed to this Paul Éluard. Who was he?  What did it matter?  Remember?

Sur mes cahiers d’écolier

Sur mon pupitre et les arbres

Sur le sable sur la neige

J’écris to nom.

 

Sur toutes les pages lues

Sur toutes les pages blanches

Pierre sang paper ou cendre

J’écris ton nom.

 

Et par le pouvoir d’un mot

Je recommence ma vie

Je suis né pour te connâitre

Pour te nommer

Liberté.

 

That was enough.

We were studying French, but had never been told about Éluard, of course. Too many things we would come to know only after the war.

We had never heard of the Jewish Fighting Organisation. German attempts to enforce a second wave of deportations from the Warsaw ghetto were met with armed resistance. For twenty-eight days, 19 April to 16 May 1943, SS units sent in with tanks and flamethrowers destroyed and burned the ghetto. Those days of absolutely hopeless, absolutely heroic revolt provided a passionate denial of that other stereotype: of Jews who shambled off unprotesting to their destruction.

That was what Jews had often – not always – done before, over twenty centuries of persecution. This time they fought back. And of that we heard from Radio London as we were preparing for the onslaught in and on Italy.

What we did not know had to wait for the end of the war: in time, besides Warsaw, sixteen Polish ghettos would rise against the oppressor.

Radio London did not tell us, of course, that solidarity with the Resistance was growing everywhere overseas – even in far away Australia. In April 1943 some Melbourne citizens had joined Omero Schiassi and Massimo Montagnana in the founding of Italia Libera, the Australian-Italian Anti-fascist Movement.

We had never heard of the Raad van Verzet (Dutch, of course, for Resistance Council). In March 1943 it had brought off an interesting coup when it raided Amsterdam Town Hall and destroyed most of the register of births: an aid in hindering German search for Jews. They also took the leading part in organising the great strike of April 1943. This was in protest against an order that all Dutch who had been taken prisoner in 1940, and had later been released, were to report for labour service in Germany. The strike covered most of the eastern Netherlands, and was forcibly repressed, with 150 deaths. But the order was rescinded.

Nor would we be told of Jean Moulin. In 1940 he had not only been the youngest Prefect in France; he had become an early resister. On being arrested soon after the German invasion, he cut his own throat, lest he may talk. He was able to escape to London, and returned to France to fight in the Resistance. We learnt after the war of how he was captured in June 1943, was tortured to the point where he could no longer talk. On being handed a pencil and paper by a Gestapo agent, Jean Moulin scribbled a caricature of his tormentors. Here was this new Daumier – a beaten man perhaps, but with absolutely silent lips.

As the war ground on, and Italy’s unreadiness for it and incompetence at it became clear for all to see, resisters grew more vocal. On 9 July 1943 the Allies landed in Sicily; three days later Rome was bombed for the first time. The Allied landing and the rapid advance to Palermo – liberated on 22 July – had created an anomalous situation: while the position of the Fascist regime was rendered extremely precarious, the danger of a national revolt, which might have resulted in the overthrow of the ruling-class as well as that of Fascism, was definitely averted.

The international situation, the action taken by the workers, and the Allied landing in Sicily were the determining factors in what took place on 25 July. And this is how the coup d’etat came about.

On 19 July Hitler and Mussolini met at Feltre (Belluno). All hoped that the latter would succeed in saving the situation, in extricating the country from the deadly embrace of its Nazi ally. When the two dictators met face to face, however, Hitler ranted and raved to such an extent refusing point-black to send even one German division to the aid of Italy in her extremity, that Mussolini remained completely tongue-tied. That same day, one thousand civilians were killed in Rome during a massive Allied air-raid; the tragedy of other Italian cities was being repeated in the capital where, as elsewhere, terrified people could do little to save themselves from the death which rained from the skies. Two days later, when the king (henceforth let me refer to him as the Savoyard) visited the devastated quarters, angry crowds threw stones at this car, and shouted: “Tell him to come along and see us”. (Him was Mussolini, by now the most hated man in Italy).

In the tragic irony of history, the same Minister Grandi, who had earlier enjoyed Mussolini’s confidence as leader of squadristi in the province of Bologna and subsequently as Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Grace and Justice, proposed a motion – the Bottai-Grandi-Ciano motion – of no-confidence in the Duce before the Grand Council of Fascism, the supreme body of the regime. The motion called upon the Savoyard to resume command of the armed forces and to carry out his constitutional duties. The leaders of industry had actually, since the beginning of 1943, begun attempts to approach the Allies, principally through the medium of Ciano, who had been appointed Ambassador to the Holy See. In addition, the magnates of the hydro-electric enterprises had made it abundantly plain that they would not tolerate the Funk Plan, a kind of economic pool which entirely subordinated the financial interests of Italy to those of Germany.

The strikes of March had put industrialists and politicians on the horns of a dilemma: while they now realised that the time had come to liberate themselves from Fascism, they were mortally afraid of the large part that people would play in this liberation. As usual, they were afflicted by the hereditary disease of the Italian ruling-class: mental palsy, which made it impossible for them to grasp to the full what it was that the people really wanted. Hence, they were to shilly-shally until the anti-fascist parties reached an agreement and set up in Milan the so-called Committee of Opposition which represented the Action Party, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, and the Christian Democrat Party.

The monarchy and the ruling-class which gravitated around it, Fascist through and through up to this moment, suddenly decided to act at once. Probably none of the members of the Grand Council had any clear idea of what the outcome of the passing of the Bottai-Grandi-Ciano motion would be, least of all Mussolini himself. At five o’clock on 25 July the Duce had an audience with the Savoyard, and informed him of the Grand Council’s decision; plainly, however, he still counted on remaining in office. When Victor Emmanuel curtly informed him that he would be replaced by Marshal Badoglio, Mussolini’s sole concern was for his personal safety. When he was stopped by a Carabinieri captain as he was leaving Villa Savoia, and invited to step into the ambulance which was waiting outside, he did so without hesitation, fully believing the captain’s assurance that this was purely a measure taken for his protection. The Savoyard put Mussolini under custody, and formed a new government under Marshal Badoglio. Mussolini sent a note to Marshal Badoglio, still blissfully unaware of what was in store for him. “It is my earnest hope that success will crown the grace task which you are undertaking by order,” he wrote. The institutions of the Fascist regime were suppressed as much as possible.

Between 25 July and 8 September, the fascists, or rather those fascists who were most deeply compromised, vanished entirely from sight.  But, the moment Badoglio announced that the Short Armistice had been signed, they immediately began to show signs of life, mainly because of the oxygen supplied to them by the Germans for reasons of their own. The Savoyard’s chosen man made a mess of things. First he proclaimed that the war would continue, then – secretly – he concluded an armistice with the Allies which was rendered public on 8 September 1943. During the night of 8 September, the Savoyard and Badoglio ran away – without leaving orders.

Quite the contrary had done the king of Denmark. When the Germans let it be known that they intended to deport all Danish Hews, Christian X placed the star of David on his uniform and went out on his horse among the Danes. Of 7,000 Jews only 50 lost their life; indeed only 800 were arrested. All the rest were either hidden in the Dutch fashion, or smuggled across to Sweden – not an impossibly difficult journey.11,000 other Danes made it as well. In a cold midwinter, when the Baltic was frozen if one had the strength and the courage one could walk: the Sound is in places under six kilometres across.

Levi remembered that time in The periodic table: “on July 25 came the internal collapse of Fascism, the piazzas jammed with happy, fraternal crowds, the spontaneous and precarious joy of a country to which liberty had been given by a palace intrigue; … At 10.45pm on 25 July, it was announced over the radio that the king had assumed the Supreme Command of the armed forces and that Badoglio was now the military governor of Italy with full powers. Listeners could hardly believe their ears when, a few minutes later, they heard the famous, the fateful, words that killed so many hopes and heralded a new and far more terrible phase of the struggle, “The war continues”. For the time being, however, the future was lost sight of in the wholehearted rejoicing which greeted the news that the twenty-year dictatorship had at last come to an end.”

I vividly remember those events. And I remember the Corriere della sera coming out on 25 July 1943 with an editorial headed L’Italia torna a sorridere – Italy smiles again. I will come back to that date.

While the anti-fascists were doing their utmost to save Italy from total ruin, the Badoglio Government was attempting to reassure the people by reiterating that the situation was in hand. This reassurance only added to the general and mounting confusion; it was taken to mean, it could only mean, that the Government had a secret plan in readiness for the salvation of the country, but the question was: what plan? Surely, it was argued, it would not allow without protest, almost lying down, as it were, the mass influx of Hitler’s troops unless it had some trump card up its sleeve.

On 25 July there were seven German divisions, a total of 100,000 men, in Italy; in addition, the Nazis occupied all the airfields. As for the Italian Army, the larger part of it had been scattered to the four winds; it now had only seven effective divisions, and two were in process of formation. Even then a further eighteen German divisions descended. These constituted Armoured Group B and Armoured Group A which established themselves respectively in the north and in Central and Southern Italy. The Badoglio Government did not increase its forces to any appreciable extent.  During the following months the German consolidated their position and moved in fresh troops.

“[A]nd then – as Levi reminds us – “came the eighth of September, the grey-green serpent of Nazi divisions on the streets of Milan and Turin, the brutal reawakening: the comedy was over, Italy was an occupied country, like Poland, Yugoslavia and Norway.” Then the regime was to resurrect itself with the liberation of Mussolini by the Germans. His ‘Quisling’ regime continued to cooperate with the Nazis. Its November 1943 political manifesto declared that Italians Jews were enemy aliens; a December 1943 police order called for the internment of all Jews. The same ferocity was applied as had fallen upon Jews in the rest of Europe, from Poland to Norway to Greece. Jews had lived in Italy since before the Christian era. Of the 45,000 in 1943, more than 6,800 – 15 per cent – would lose their lives in the Holocaust.

Meantime, from 25 July onward, with the exception of a brief lull, the British and American intensified their bombing of the peninsula. This was the prelude to ‘operation Avalanche’, the object of which was the capture of Naples by a British and U.S. army corps landing on the beaches of Salerno. Salerno had been chosen because it was at the extreme range of fighter cover from the captured Sicilian airfields. Once the Naples-Foggia line was in Allied hands, air attacks could be launched on the Balkans. A landing further north had been ruled out, partly because of the danger of being caught between two fires, but chiefly because of the new disposition of troops: part of the Sicilian Expeditionary Force was earmarked for the opening of the Second Front, so long awaited, so often deferred, and now imminent.

Continued tomorrow …

IPA: Institute of Pathetic Authoritarians

By Christian Marx

Australia has a big problem. The democratic processes and freedom of the press is under threat. Not content with having an out of control Murdoch-owned media, the Institute of Public Affairs is now attempting to destroy the only balanced mainstream media outlet in the country: the ABC.

This deplorable organisation is made up of some of the wealthiest people in Australia. The IPA was founded in 1943 by none other than Rupert Murdoch’s father. It is a pressure group, and increasingly is now enmeshed into the political system itself, with over a dozen politicians in parliament affiliated with this partisan, extremist group.

The sheer Orwellian guile from these soulless cretins is a sight to behold. The IPA claim that private companies should be able to print what they like (irrespective if much of it is lies, spin and outright persecution). However, if it is a tax payer funded media organisation, it must remain within its charter and more disturbingly the reason it is funded by taxpayers negates its right to exist! Their mantra is state-owned media is evil … So in their warped world, private media can lie and spin, but if a balanced and neutral media dares to expose any inkling of corporate corruption, it must be gagged and/or put into private hands. This reeks of Fascism, and the hypocrisy of the IPA is breathtaking.

These rats at the IPA do not want a well-informed populace, as critical thinkers move away from conservatism in droves. Universities are meant to be halls of science and learning. IPA is fearful of this though, as their anti-science, climate-denying agenda upsets their fossil fuel donors.

Their recent shrill of fear mongering regarding Western Civilisation is another leitmotif of the IPA.

Apparently, learning about the horrors and mass deaths and slavery caused by Western Imperialism is taboo, and all must be turned into pro-Western Civilisation robots.

Those pesky hundreds of millions slaughtered for land, oil, gas and other minerals are to be ignored and the supremacy of the white man is all powerful. The ancient regime of Neoliberal capitalism must be maintained at all costs … even as its demise is glaringly apparent throughout the West. Forty million live in poverty in the United States and 3 million in Australia.

Compounding their hatred for human rights is their rampant attacks on anyone who is not wealthy or white. The IPA will do anything to create division within society. They do this to throw shade on the rampant theft and erosion of social services by their wealthy donors. Instead of fighting for equality and a harmonious society, they seek to dislocate all that is decent and good, and push their “Political correctness is stifling free speech” mantra.

Demonising minorities in the mainstream press can lead to holocausts … but heaven forbid if the media is regulated in order to stop this cancer of hatred from flourishing in society. The Institute of Public Affairs need hatred and division. Their policies are so toxic and detrimental to the majority of Australians, this goon squad needs scapegoats in order to enrage those who lack critical thought and are poorly educated.

Unless this horrendous lobby group is tackled head on and exposed to the general public, the damage they will do is catastrophic. The IPA have already implemented many disgusting policies from their 75-point manifesto. The IPA are the very definition of a Fascist organisation. They seek to limit human rights in favour of private, corporate rights. Here is the definition of Fascism according to Wikipedia:

“A form of radical authoritarian nationalism. Characterised by dictatorial power, forcible opposition and control of industry and commerce … Opposed to Liberalism, Marxism and Anarchism, Fascism is usually placed on the far right of the traditional left/right political spectrum”

Unless the mainstream populace wakes up to this horrendous putsch from corporate Australia, we the people will lose everything we fought for over the past 100+ years. This includes pensions, our national broadcaster, unemployment safety nets, health and safety laws, our education system and our universal healthcare. The Institute of Pathetic Authoritarians must be fought with the fire of 10,000 Suns! The future of Australia depends on it!

Below is the 75 IPA manifesto for a dystopian Australia. Be very afraid!

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change

3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

6 Repeal the renewable energy target

7 Return income taxing powers to the states

8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission

9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities

12 Repeal the National Curriculum

13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculum

14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

18 Eliminate family tax benefits

19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

22 Introduce voluntary voting

23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations

24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns

25 End public funding to political parties

26 Remove anti-dumping laws

27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board

29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency

30 Cease subsidising the car industry

31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction

32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games

33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books

34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws

35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP

36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit

37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food

39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities

40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools

41 Repeal the alcopops tax

42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:
a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams

43 Repeal the mining tax

44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states

45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold

46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent

47 Cease funding the Australia Network

48 Privatise Australia Post

49 Privatise Medibank

50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

51 Privatise SBS

52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784

53 Repeal the Fair Work Act

54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them

55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors

56 Abolish the Baby Bonus

57 Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant

58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state

59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16

60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade

61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States

62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts

63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport

64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering

65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification

66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship

67 Means test tertiary student loans

68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising

71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling

72 Privatise the CSIRO

73 Defund Harmony Day

74 Close the Office for Youth

75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

Christian Marx is a political and social activist interested in making the world a fairer place. He has a Bachelor of Social Science and has a keen interest in sociology, politics and history. He was one of the organizers of the March in March rallies in Melbourne and is the founder of the progressive news and information page, “Don`t Look At This Page”, and is also a co-founder of “The Global Revolution” website.

America’s 51st state: North Australia

By Tony Ryan

Australia’s celebrated Arnhem Land aerospace project, rather than being dedicatedly civilian as the nation was media-led to believe, will have a US military component.

This was admitted quietly in the Northern Territory Government’s Estimates Committee Hearings (28 November 2017, P49).

Just a little bit military? This is like being a little bit pregnant. When military are involved this becomes, by definition, a military project with the usual tight security provisions; and the only kind of military rocket that makes sense in today’s tense global context is an ICBM; inevitably aimed at China.

This means that the Arnhem Land rocket base will become one of China’s automatic nuclear strikes. Other probabilities are Darwin airport; the two Echelon spy satellite bases in rural Darwin; Tindal air base; Pine Gap; and at least one other in coastal Western Australia. This is Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘clever’ defense policy. But wait, there is more.

Only 40 kilometres from the proposed rocket base is Melville Bay, a deep-water harbor long coveted by the Pentagon as the Southern Hemisphere Asia-Pacific naval base, now urgently required considering the demands of the people of Guam and Okinawa that Americans depart pronto. The host nations have good reason to want the Americans out: day and night aircraft noise; their women regularly raped by servicemen; and the usual toxicity associated with military aircraft bases polluting their drinking water.

Tindal air base has already poisoned Top End water, polluting the Katherine River. This was oh so predictable.

What will happen if Turnbull approves a Trump-owned Melville Bay? Based on the security exclusion zones applied to other foreign US bases, everywhere within a 20 kilometre radius of Inverell Bay, within wider Melville Bay, will be accessible only to people with US military and/or intelligence security clearance.

The rocket base will feature an even tighter security exclusion zone, both bases forming a geographical figure eight. As this would entirely encompass the Central Arnhem Highway for a distance of 40-50 kilometres, it is likely that Yirrkala Aboriginal community will also be removed. And goodbye Garma Aboriginal Festival.

Exclusion will also mean that Ski Beach and Wallaby Beach Aboriginal settlements will have their populations relocated, no doubt the land redeveloped to become beachfront accommodation for US Naval personnel.

Can the town of Nhulunbuy be permitted to survive? Probably not. Rio Tinto’s bauxite mine will soon close and the only other functions of the town are as a servicing hub for local Aboriginal communities and as a staging post for tourism. Obviously, both roles will end.

How will this affect Nhulunbuy’s population? There will be no compensation. The White House will apply its own lucrative corruption of the US Law of Eminent Domain, which was originally intended to pay market value for real estate acquired for public service. The cunning Catch 22 now applied is that once word is out about the security exclusion zones, the value of Nhulunbuy real estate will collapse and all properties will be unsaleable. Australian government valuations will follow the inevitable pattern of descent, following in the footsteps of the tragic US experiences (i.e. New York and New Orleans).

And the Indigenous population? Without access to Songline sites, morale will collapse, and Arnhem Aboriginal culture will go into terminal decline.

No prizes for now guessing what wider part of Australia Malcolm Turnbull has turned over to the US military in return for Trump’s tariff concessions; the new colony of American Top End. Sixty per cent of Australians believe we must pay any price to keep the US as our ally. Malcolm Fraser, a former Prime Minister, vehemently disagreed. He warned Australians that America cannot be trusted.

Fraser pointed out that there is no treaty requiring America to protect Australia and that the US has already betrayed us; twice taking Indonesia’s side against Australia.

Moreover, he said, the US intends confrontation with China and Russia, which will mean WWIII and several pre-emptive or retaliatory nuclear strikes on Australia. If the Melville Bay and rocket base deals go ahead we will certainly experience nuclear strikes right here in North East Arnhem Land.

As they say, if you want to lose everything, just do nothing.

© Copyright Tony Ryan 2018. Arnhem Development Research Unit

This article was originally published on Gumshoe News.

Tony Ryan is a cross-cultural researcher and geopolitical writer. Previous careers have been in cattle, education, welfare, government research projects, safari operations, real estate, and landscaping. Contact tonyryan43@gmail.com

Bill Shorten’s Mistake And The Media’s Lack Of Memory

A few days ago I wrote about the problem that the left had with “framing”. In the light of Bill Shorten’s terrible, terrible mistake, I thought it was perhaps instructive to just consider how Bill is being framed by the media.

Now, just to clarify, by “framed” I don’t mean that he’s being set up to be convicted for a crime he didn’t commit; I’m talking about how we’re being asked to view the whole thing.

Let’s start with what he actually did. He answered a direct question with a direct answer. Unfortunately, the answer he gave wasn’t a Labor policy that had gone through caucus or the shadow cabinet. So far, so bad. Then, on Friday, he turned around and announced that he was wrong. It wasn’t Labor policy and wouldn’t be Labor policy.

Politically, I think it would be fair to say that this was not Bill Shorten’s shining moment. And we can go down the path that the media is framing for us and talk about his leadership, his lack of charisma, the fact that Turnbull is still prefered PM, Bill’s bad breath, the fact that Albanese made a speech where he said that Labor would work with business… Why, I could even tell you that someone in the Labor party – who I haven’t named – has expressed unspeciified doubts about Shorten as a leader.

There’s just a few things wrong with this, however. While I’m sure some of you will happily use this to trash Shorten, I come to neither to bury Bill nor to praise him.

The first point I’d like to make is one I’ve made many, many times before: The incumbent usually has a healthy lead over the challenger in any opinion poll when it comes to prefered PM or prefered Premier. It’s the long term two party prefered trend of polls that really matters. More accurate is the betting markets. Shorten – or Albanese or the drover’s dog – won’t really matter when it comes to election day. Sure, it would be great if there was a Hawke – who was a well-known, popular Opposition Leader for the few weeks before the 1983 election – to lead. However, I can’t think of anybody in the current party who’s a current day Hawke.

The second point is one that seems to be being ignored in the discussions about Shorten’s future is Kevin Rudd. What’s he got to do with anything?

Well, for those of you with short memories, way back in 2013, when Rudd took over the leadership, he introduced what I’d call the “No More Ides Of March” rules. And when he lost the election, Labor had to choose a new leader. While once they could have played spin the bottle and just picked the person it landed on, now there needs to be a ballot of members, as well as a vote by the parliamentary party. You may remember that after a process lasting several weeks, while Bowen was temporarily leader, Albo won the popular vote, but Shorten won the latter, and according to some complicated algorithm, which put all the votes together, Shorten was declared Leader of the Opposition.

I bring this up because with less than a year to go before the next election, any move to replace Shorten would have to be agreed to by Bill himself, or else there’d need to be a period with a caretaker leader while the whole mess was sorted out. In what world do you imagine, Turnbull not calling an election during this time? I mean, they called the by-elections on the day of the Labor conference. I know, I know. That was just a coincidence. Would Labor really take such a risk?

But let’s just forget all the technicalities here. Let’s just look at what happened last week in the cold, harsh light of political apathy.

Just stop for one moment and ask yourself. How much do you care about the tax rate for the companies affected? I mean, did you even know what their tax rate was before last week? Was it something you discussed at your last barbecue? Did you hear anything like the following conversation during the week?

“I was going to vote Labor until last week. I mean, the reversal of the tax cuts for businesses turning over between $10 million and $50 million was a deal breaker for me.”

“Yeah, I was pretty upset about the cuts to my penalty rates, but the poor boss isn’t going to get the full benefit of that if Labor gets in. It hardly makes my sacrifice worth it!”

“That’s right. They just hate aspiration. I’m not going to do 36 hours overtime a day so I can earn enough to benefit from the tax cuts to higher income earners.”

“It’s not just that it’s their whole class war, politics of envy thing. As Malcolm said, Labor want to keep the workers in their place, whereas the Liberals want them to…”

“Yeah? Finish your sentence.”

“Um, I think that Malcolm was making the point that we should aspire to be like him where we donate all our wages to a foundation which helps us to minimise our tax, but when I think back, he didn’t really make it clear!”

 

All in all, whatever happens, I’m intrigued to see how the media will manage to keep this one front and centre, after next week when Abbott will contradict government policy directly, Turnbull or Morrison will praise One Nation and a minister will make a mistake that dwarfs anything Shorten has ever done.

Ok, I mightn’t know the future, but you’d be brave suggesting that won’t happen!

Turnbull, the self-made man. Seriously?

I am an ambitious person, but I am not ambitious in the sense that I want jobs only for the sake of them … I am here to do things I think are worthwhile. I am always careful that the political positions I take are consistent with good policy. I would not want to be prime minister of Australia at any price.
– Malcolm Turnbull

A couple of days ago in The Weekend Australian, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton made an appeal for Australians to “guard against compassion” in the matter of refugees and asylum seekers held in offshore detention. I’ve written about this in some depth here at Independent Australia.

Yesterday, we heard from various members of the LNP that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is a shining example of the virtues of coming from tough beginnings, working hard and making a lot of money. This was in response to an advertisement authorised by the ALP, questioning how much the Prime Minister will personally gain from tax cuts his party introduced that benefit the so-called “big end of town.” According to the ABC report:

The ads state the Prime Minister has “millions invested in funds which hold shares in dozens of big businesses which would benefit from the tax cut”.

Labor also released analysis of Mr Turnbull’s financial interests register, showing he indirectly owns shares in 32 companies worth over $50 million.

“Who exactly is he looking after?” the ads asks.

Predictably the LNP, supported by friendly media, have worked as hard as Turnbull to confect outrage at the “personal nature” of the ALP ad. This reaction is enormously funny for several reasons,not least that just last week Turnbull personally attacked Labor’s Tanya Plibersek, and yes, irony is dead, buried and cremated:

Turnbull then appealed for the public compassion, claiming that the ALP was opposed to him and Lucy “having a quid.”

“They want to attack me having a quid,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“They want to attack me and Lucy for working hard, investing, having a go, making money, paying plenty of tax, giving back to the community.”

The rags to riches Turnbull fairly tale is just that. Here’s a couple of facts:

By the time Turnbull was in Year 10 and a long-term boarder at Sydney Grammar, his father Bruce was doing well enough to purchase a luxurious three-bedroom apartment in Point Piper, not far from Malcolm’s current dwelling.

Aged 28, with a couple of Sydney property deals already under his belt and his marriage into the wealthy Hughes family, Turnbull was left some $2 million according to reports, by his father.

There were undoubtedly a few tough years when Malcolm was small, but Bruce navigated them past those hardships well before Malcolm finished school. The reality is, Turnbull had the kind of good fortune most of us can only dream of, and he is the beneficiary of inherited wealth.

The ALP ad asks the question, how does a multi-millionaire Prime Minister justify introducing tax cuts that benefit him personally, as well as benefiting his multi-millionaire peers at the expense of ordinary Australians? This is not a “personal” question. It is a question any one of us is perfectly entitled to ask.

Let’s not forget as well, that in the 2016 election campaign Turnbull donated $1.75 million to the struggling LNP, who went on to win government by a margin of one seat in the House of Representatives. That donation could well have made the difference between winning and losing, we will likely never know. However, the question that has never been adequately addressed by the media is, is it good for our democracy that a wealthy Prime Minister can pay for his party to survive, and to retain his job?

A Prime Minister who used his personal wealth to keep his party afloat so that he could keep his job cannot at the same time claim his financial affairs are private. When a man has so much wealth he can buy himself the PM’s job, that is not a personal matter. It is entirely political. When that man, now in government, passes legislation that benefits him personally, that is also not a private matter. It is entirely political.

It is beyond me how any journalist can argue otherwise.

Opponents point out that there are wealthy men and women in the ALP ranks. This entirely misses the point. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having money. As far as I’m aware, the ALP are not promoting tax cuts that benefit themselves and their wealthy peers, while cutting penalty rates for ordinary workers, and defunding vital services to subsides those tax cuts. We don’t know the details yet, but they have to be paid for somehow. The Guardian’s Greg Jericho addresses this fundamental question here.

As far as I am aware, ALP policy is a better deal for all (other than refugees, and that’s another story) not exorbitant privilege for the 1%.

Oh, and it appears that Turnbull did indeed have a price. It was $1.75 million.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

Killing The ABC: The IPA’s Agenda To Dismantle Australia

By Loz Lawrey

I’ve been resisting the urge to write yet another “rant” because … geez, who wants to hear more whingeing? Another complaint, another letter to the paper from yet another grumpy old man who thinks the world’s going to hell in a handbasket?

Yet I awoke today to read that the Liberal Party Council has endorsed the IPA’s wet dream: the privatisation of the ABC.

Enough! I have to squawk and screech!

In 2013, realising that Australians were about to elect an Abbott government, I remember thinking about the dumbing down of our nation I’d been witnessing for years and the extent to which it had been driven by the right wing servants of the moneyed class, aided and abetted by tabloid newspapers and commercial TV.

At first, Abbott’s style as opposition leader seemed absurd and unlikely to be taken seriously by anyone with a brain and an inclination to use it.

How could moronic, simplistic three-word slogans possibly convince Australians into voting for a party so out of touch with the public interest, one which strives to entrench the power of wealth while leaving our disadvantaged struggling to survive?

Quite easily, as it turned out.

“Stop the boats”, “ditch the witch”… several years before the ascension of Trump in the USA, Abbott and his media champion Rupert Murdoch were hard at work normalising hate speech and the politics of division.

TV vox pops with Australians in the street showed them responding to questions about their electoral intentions with regurgitated slogans or headlines from Murdoch’s publications.

The ill-named “Liberal” party, then led by Abbott and now Turnbull, bears a greater resemblance to the anti-communist, white nationalist empire-loving Old Guard than it did to the party created by Menzies.

As adjunct Professor John Nethercote (Australian Catholic University) tells us, Menzies “expressly distinguished liberalism from conservatives … Menzies was mainstream, and believed in the mainstream, believed in the community and a middle class.”

While current Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull may pay lip service to Menzies and his “values”, the fact is that the party he now leads is a different beast to the one Menzies founded. Hard-right conservative cuckoos now inhabit the Liberal nest.

It’s hard for the outsider to comprehend what these people stand for, other than money and the power it affords in a capitalist society.

In other words, that is all they stand for: their own interests and those of their wealthy backers, to the exclusion of the rest of us.

This is fascism, the merging of government and corporate power.

Selfish and self-serving, they are the ideological descendants of Thatcher and Reagan, harbingers of a toxic worldview that eschews the very concept of the common good.

“There’s no such thing as society”… Whether or not Maggie Thatcher actually said this is uncertain, but this statement perfectly encapsulates the mindset of the political far right, a mindset which perceives fascist authoritarianism to be in the public interest.

Why would anyone vote for a party that celebrates “winners” (ie. the rich) but will throw you to the wolves should you need a little help at some point from a system to which you yourself may have contributed for years via your taxes?

Well … you tell me.

In August 2012, the far right “think” tank The Institute For Public Affairs (IPA) published a wish-list of 75 suggestions for restructuring Australia’s system of governance.

If you have the time, please read this article, despite the repugnant Weasel-speak in which it is written, because it truly exposes the hypocrisy of the IPA and its agenda – one in which Medicare (ie. public health)is described as a “radical policy” and our “generous welfare safety net” (social security) as “unsustainable into the future”.

Item numbers 50 and 51 on this list were:

Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

Privatise SBS

This raised such concern in the Australian community that Abbott famously declared on election eve in September 2013 that under a Coalition government there would be “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

These were nothing more than glibly-delivered promises, spouted at the eleventh hour by a shameless aspirant to power who had not the slightest intention of honouring them.

And what have we witnessed since then, over several years?

An ongoing defunding our public broadcaster and a vitriolic assault on its journalists based on … what? The wishes of the loony IPA? The rabid ideology of the far right?

The fact is that independent journalism and reportage tends to make right-wingers sound stupid. When ideology is given precedence over evidence, the earth becomes flat. Shallow utterances based on nothing more than belief have little to do with the truth and much to do with the pursuit of an agenda.

Once the Coalition took office, the assault began: The ABC “takes everyone’s side but Australia’s” and should “show some basic affection for the home team” squawked Abbott.

Why? Well, the ABC was doing its job. Reporting the facts.

However, when the facts don’t suit politicians and their agendas, they complain bitterly.

Throughout its history, the ABC has occasionally upset governments, be they Coalition or Labor.

Of course, it’s quite natural for incumbent governments of all stripes to wish the national broadcaster was their own propaganda spin-machine, regurgitating official media releases without scrutiny.

But it isn’t, and never should be a mouthpiece for government. Its journalism is one of the vital checks and balances that sustain our social democracy.

This is the very reason that the independence of the ABC must be maintained – its reportage holds government to account.

Sure, all journalism should be “unbiased”. Opinion pieces in conservative publications masquerading as news articles are one thing. But real “news” journalism is about facts, facts and more facts.

In other words, real journalists serve the truth, in the public interest.

Forget “Team Australia” and “taking sides”. These statements of Abbott’s seemed to imply that the truth should sometimes be suppressed.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield, himself an IPA alumnus, has just lodged his fifth complaint against the broadcaster. This is not someone engaging in oversight and management. He is serving an agenda, and his complaints are part of a coordinated assault upon the ABC by a cabal of vested interests: far-right ideologues, commercial media owners and our own federal government.

The IPA recently released their book “Against Public Broadcasting – Why We Should Privatise The ABC And How To Do It”.

If I had the time and could be bothered, I’d read the thing and write a response that counters its toxic arguments and neo-liberal antisocial agenda. But sadly, I’m getting old and life’s simply too short.

What a miserable bunch of contrarians they are. So many of the “suggestions” on the IPA’s wishlist are about dismantling, demolishing, defunding and destroying or privatising institutions that were set up with the express purpose of improving our society and supporting Australians.

Is the Turnbull government hard at work implementing the IPA’s agenda? Yes, they are.

What sort of society do these people want? Their concept of “freedom” implies a  law-of-the-jungle world with no checks and balances, no empathy or inclusion, no equality or decency.

Clearly they want Australia to emulate the descent into darkness we are currently witnessing in Trump’s America.

Well, damn them all and damn them to hell.

We’ve let them do so much that is wrong since 2013. They’ve managed to make Australians condone torture and abuse being carried out in our name in offshore gulags.

History will not treat us kindly.

They have already reduced the ABC to a shell of its former self.

The lack of funding and resources is evident, yet still our ABC struggles on, for us.

Please, good people.

We can’t let these goombahs get away with this murder.

Save our ABC.

Rewarding incompetence – yet another scathing report about Dutton’s department

The 2014 National Commission of Audit decided there were “too many government bodies in Australia” and suggested abolishing, merging or privatising 99 of them.

One recommendation was the consolidation of border protection services which ultimately led to the formation of Dutton’s superministry.

“A consolidation of Australia’s border services has the potential to generate significant savings by removing duplication, better integrating and improving operational systems and practices, reducing staff, as well as consolidating back office functions and rationalising property. Savings could also come from greater efficiency in visa processing.”

However these benefits have not materialised.

A review published by the Australian National Audit Office last week into The Integration of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service highlighted significant and persistent departmental failings and no discernible benefit from the merger.

The report stated that the department “is not achieving commitments made to government in relation to additional revenue, and is not in a position to provide the government with assurance that the claimed benefits of integration have been achieved.”

Despite many previous criticisms and recommendations, “The department’s record keeping continues to be poor.”

“The audit found that the department did not maintain adequate records of the integration process. This finding repeats the outcomes of a substantial number of audits and reviews going back to 2005. The department’s own assessment is that its records and information management is in a critically poor state. The problems and their solutions are known to the department, and it has an action plan to address them, although numerous previous attempts to do so have not been successful.”

One gets the impression that the executive, having been granted their empire, aren’t really that interested in how it’s going.

“There was no evidence identified to indicate that written briefings were provided to the Minister on progress throughout the implementation process” and reporting to the Executive Committee had “minimal coverage of progress in delivery of the suite of 38 capability reform projects.”

 “In the Integration Business Case, the department committed to a detailed Benefits Realisation Plan. The plan was not implemented despite several reviews identifying this omission. As a result, the department cannot demonstrate to the government that the claimed benefits of integration have been achieved.”

And no wonder they don’t want to look at the evidence.

“Based on progress to the end of December 2017, if collections continue at the current rate the department will only collect 31.6 per cent of the additional customs duty revenue to which it committed in the Integration Business Case.”

The report also points to a “loss of corporate memory due to the level of turn-over of SES staff, with almost half of SES officers present in July 2015 no longer in the department at July 2017.”

When half of your staff quit, you know you have a management problem.

As we have come to expect from this government, they spent a fortune on consultants instead, but that also drew criticism from the ANAO for the lack of evaluation.

“The department made extensive use of consultants to assist it with the integration process. Despite a requirement to evaluate contracts upon completion, this did not occur in 31 out of 33 (94 per cent) of contracts with a value of more than $1 million examined by the ANAO, and therefore it is unclear whether these services represented value for money.”

The department initially identified possible risks to effective integration. However, regular reporting against those risks ceased when they chose to disband the Reform and Integration Task Force resulting in “a loss of momentum in the reform process and a drop-off in internal communication with staff.”

Despite endless scathing reports of waste and mismanagement, despite having completely botched the integration of customs and immigration and the formation of Border Force, despite half their staff quitting, Malcolm Turnbull decided to give Dutton and Pezzullo even more responsibility and more organisations to oversee.

On 18 July 2017, while this audit was in progress, the Prime Minister announced that the government had decided to establish a Home Affairs portfolio. From 20 December 2017, the Department of Home Affairs has assumed all of the department’s functions (including the ABF) in addition to functions from each of the Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet; Social Services; Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Attorney-General’s department.

In addition to the ABF, the Home Affairs portfolio also includes the following entities: the Australian Federal Police; the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission; the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre; and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

It seems, regardless of how many negative evaluations Dutton’s department receives, he and Pezzullo are untouchable.  The only conceivable reason to reward such incompetence, and to promote such incompetents, is to placate a political rival.

Bugger the people who have to work for them or migrants who must deal with their department.  Dutton’s only function seems to be as resident shit-thrower on talk back radio, overruling court decisions for Ray Hadley’s listeners, and ignoring immigration laws for constituents in need of an au pair.

We are mired in the gutter of character assassination for political purposes

The Coalition’s political strategy has been, for some time now, to attack individuals in relentless smear campaigns.  This does absolutely nothing to advance policy.  It does nothing to encourage debate, inform the electorate, or garner support for action.  It does nothing to improve the lives of Australians.

Looking back over this century so far, it is hard to remember the good things that have resulted from political decisions.

Instead, we remember the tragedy of illegitimate wars and argue about how to deal with the innocent victims.  We attack people like Gillian Triggs who try to remind us of our obligation to protect human rights and to inform us of the harm being caused by our inhumanity.

We are told we should revere our civilised Western culture and our Judeo-Christian heritage, ignoring the way in which we built our wealth – invading countries, stripping them of their natural resources, stealing their land, massacring or enslaving the native population, instilling the fear of our god whilst spreading disease and debauchery.

We have sold off our common wealth, resources, crucial infrastructure, and profitable government businesses that provided competition to private providers, without consideration of future consequences.

We see inequality condemn millions to poverty as company profits soar, wages stagnate, employment becomes increasingly insecure and welfare payments fall further and further behind increases in cost of living.

We subsidise property investors ignoring the hundreds of thousands who can no longer afford anywhere to live.

We were briefly world leaders on tackling climate change until Tony Abbott convinced enough people that paying a few dollars a week to save the planet was an evil plot.  Reversing the trend of a decade, emissions have increased every year since they “axed the tax”.

As we endure coral bleaching, massive flooding, devastating droughts and bushfires, changing rainfall patterns, increasing temperatures and the melting of the polar caps and permafrost, we brag about economic growth built on the export of fossil fuels.  We attack Tim Flannery for passing on the warnings from the science community and disparage environmental protection through the legal system as green “lawfare”.

We wring our hands about falling educational standards as we pay teachers a pittance, pour more money into the private system whilst cutting promised funding to our most disadvantaged schools, decimate the TAFE sector, and burden university graduates with huge debts before they even start their working lives.  Bureaucrats and conservative think tanks push rote learning in opposition to the initiative, creativity, communication, teamwork and leadership skills employers are asking for.

The private health system, rather than easing the burden on public health, has led to rising costs for everyone and longer wait times in the public system.  Emergency departments are unable to cope as beds lie idle and jobs are filled by overseas visa workers.  Primary health has had funding frozen and private health insurance costs soar as do the government subsidies to prop it up.

We had a chance to listen to our Indigenous people about a way forward in addressing disadvantage and giving them a voice in determining their own lives.  Except we took their Statement from the Heart, screwed it up, and threw it in the bin without even a cursory glance.  I cannot imagine how that must have felt to the people who worked so hard to bring everyone together.

We almost had a world class NBN until Abbott and Turnbull decided to demolish it.  To all those lumbered with FttN, I empathise.  You wouldn’t want a job with the Telecommunications Ombudsman right now.

The outsourcing of services, whether it be the jobactive network, aged care, the NDIS, private colleges, call centres etc, has not improved efficiency or cut costs but has led to a myriad of problems and opportunities for unscrupulous rorting.

We chose to let out car industry die rather than subsidise it and then decided to subsidise arms manufacturing instead – a fraction of the jobs for immeasurably higher cost.  We cannot afford foreign aid but we have hundreds of billions for more weapons.

Rather than tackling the important issues facing government, we have endured endless scandals and directed attacks on opponents.

We have had three Labor leaders dragged before very expensive Royal Commissions.  Julia Gillard was subjected to months of attack in parliament over legal work she did decades ago.  Bill Shorten is now facing similar attack for a donation made over a decade ago.

In what has become a disturbingly familiar pattern, Craig Thomson’s arrest was televised.  The destruction of Peter Slipper’s life also occupied the Coalition for a long time.  Meanwhile, Kathy Jackson remains at large and no-one suffered any consequences for illegally sharing copies of the Speaker’s diary or for referring a possible debt of $900 to the police.

Sam Dastyari was forced to resign after asking a donor to pay a couple of small bills and then telling him that his phone might be tapped.  No-one ever answered who told the government that this had happened.  Is ASIO passing on information to be used for political purposes?  And what of Andrew Hastie using parliamentary privilege to reveal an ongoing investigation by the FBI into a donor?

As they throw mud at everyone else, the character of Coalition members and the integrity of their actions often avoids scrutiny as they refuse freedom of information requests, ignore court directions, withhold evidence and advice.

Even with the protection racket, the Coalition have had more than their fair share of controversy.

Tony Abbott told us, when asked about the qualities of a female candidate, that she had “sex appeal”.  Jamie Briggs was stood down for inappropriate and unwanted advances to a staffer.  Barnaby got a staffer pregnant and is facing sexual harassment complaints.  Both the head and deputy of Border Force stood down for affairs with junior staffers.  Allegations of inappropriately securing jobs for their girlfriends remain unanswered.

Peter Dutton texts that a journalist is a “mad fucking witch” and Greg Hunt tells a female mayor to “fucking get over it”, “robust” language he also admitted to using to bully a public servant.  Turnbull goes toe-to-toe with Abbott on a plane telling him “you’re fucking hopeless, you’re a fucking cunt, you should resign.”  And, in Parliament, Christopher Pyne calls Anthony Albanese a word that sounded a little bit like grub and a lot like cunt.

Bronwyn Bishop and Sussan Ley both lost their positions for abusing travel entitlements.

The head of the ABCC is found guilty of breaching Fair Work Commission laws and the Public Service Commissioner resigns amidst questions about his links to the IPA.  Michael Lawler also beats a hasty retreat allowing Michaelia Cash to bury the report into his protracted “sick leave”.

Tim Wilson went through no selection process for the job created for him at the AHRC, an organisation he had campaigned should be abolished, where he warmed a seat collecting a hefty salary for a short while whilst waiting for a safe Liberal seat to be gifted to him.

James McGrath was admonished for paying for tawdry dirt files to be complied on Labor members and was then gifted a job as Senator.

Andrew Robb and Bruce Bilson both took jobs before they left parliament which presented significant conflicts of interest.

Speaking of which, how has Stuart Robert survived the many controversies surrounding him?

The Coalition want proof of the process for approving the donation made by the AWU to GetUp in 2005 yet refuse to disclose the process for approving the $30 million grant to Foxtel Sports and the $443 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (whoever they are).  And why was Gina gifted $70,000 to host a dinner where she gave $40,000 to Barnaby?

The Coalition has spent all of its time attacking unions, attacking Labor, attacking individuals who question their policy, and fostering division by ‘othering’ various groups in our community.  Five years in and they still are looking for others to blame.

The rich have got richer but the vast majority of the population are feeling disappointed and uneasy, concerned about the future.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

The Coalition election strategy is, once again, to go for character assassination of the Labor leader – “Kill Bill” and “Unbelieva-Bill” and other such puerile nonsense

It is up to the public to reject this inadequate attempt at deflection and to demand a genuine debate of important policy.

Scroll Up