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Nuclear White Elephants: Australia’s New Submarine Deal

It does not get any messier or more chaotic than this. Since 2009, when Australia’s Future Submarine Program (FSP) known as Project SEA 1000, began to take shape, strategists and policy makers have been keen to pursue the next big White Elephant of defence spending. And few areas of an already wasteful area of public expenditure are more costly – often mindlessly so – than submarines.

The Australian effort here is particularly impressive. Pick a real winner by signing a contract for a yet to be designed attack class submarine, supposedly necessary in an increasingly dangerous region. Ensure that this design is based on a nuclear model and remove that attribute, aptly described as “dumbing down a nuclear submarine by removing the whole basis of its superior capability, and then charging at least twice as much for a far less capable submarine.”

Just to make things interesting, make sure the order is for 12 of these yet to be designed and built creatures. Make sure, as well, that they are only ready sometime in the 2030s, by which time they risk being obsolete in a field of other contending submarines with superior capabilities.

The dubious honour for this monumentally foolish contract, with an initial cost of AU$50 billion, fell to the French submarine company DCNS (now called Naval Group). It nudged out German and Japanese contenders with pre-existing designs. “The decision,” a government announcement in April 2016 explained, “was driven by DCNS’s ability to best meet all of the Australian Government requirements. These included superior sensor performance and stealth characteristics, as well as range and endurance similar to the Collins class submarine. The Government’s considerations also included cost, schedule, program execution, through-life support and Australian industry involvement.”

The contract warmed the French military establishment. It was praised as the “contract of the century.” Le Parisien’s editorial lauded the prospect of thousands of jobs. President François Hollande could say that he was also capable of pulling off a contract to aid the French military industrial complex, despite being a socialist. A “50-year marriage,” claimed French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with honeymoon exuberance, had begun.

The post-nuptials were not promising. Rear Admiral Greg Sammut had to concede in an estimates hearing before Australian senators that another AU$50 billion would be required to sustain the submarines for the duration of their operating life. “Many of the detailed costs of acquisition and sustainment will be determined during the design process through choices made but at this point early estimation of the sustainment costs for the fleet are of the order of up to $50 billion on a constant price basis.”

Tiffs and disagreements over distribution of labour and further costs started to bite. How much of the work would actually be undertaken by labour based in Australia? Would the French company be keeping the lion’s share? With such problems, and the pace of development, another idea started to gain momentum in the halls of defence: a competing, cheaper design, based on a rejigged version of Australia’s existing Collins Class submarine, might be a suitable alternative. In the meantime, perhaps a German alternative might also figure, namely the Type 214 diesel electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerker-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW).

In May, Naval Group’s Transfer of Technology program manager Fabrice Leduc solemnly told his staff that the submarine project had been subjected to a “political timeline” following a change of minister in the Australian Defence portfolio. The new occupant, Peter Dutton, was biding his time because “he wanted to have some strong warranties from the industry and especially Naval Group in terms of cost and schedule.” The marriage had truly soured.

On September 15, the press gallery in Canberra was awash with rumours that a divorce was being proposed. In the early hours of the following day, the question as to whether Australia would be dissolving its union with Naval Group was answered. In place of that union would be a ménage à trois with the United States and United Kingdom, a security three-way with Australia as the subordinate partner. The glue that will hold this union together is a common suspicion: China. In place of the Attack Class submarine: a nuclear powered alternative with Anglo-American blessing, based on the US Virginia class or UK Astute class.

In their joint statement announcing the creation of AUKUS, a name deserving a place in a science fiction glossary, the joint leaders of the three countries “guided” by their “enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order” had resolved “to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.” AUKUS would be a new “enhanced trilateral security partnership” to further such goals.

The agreement is nothing less than an announcement to powers in the region that the Anglophone bloc intends to police, oversee and, if necessary, punish. The three countries will “promote deeper information and technology.” Security, science relating to defence, technology, industrial bases and supply chains will be further integrated. Deeper cooperation would take place “on a range of security and defence capabilities.”

The first initiative of the agreement stands out: “we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.” Expertise to “bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date” from the submarine programs of both the US and the UK would be drawn on. AUKUS unmistakably ties the countries into the same security orbit, meshing them to principles of “interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit.”

Australia’s submarine policy has previously eschewed nuclear propulsion. Now, as a dowry for receiving such largesse, Canberra is offering up Australia as a confirmed US asset in policing the Indo-Pacific. In any conflict situation, the wallahs of the antipodes are unlikely to say no to any request to do battle with the Middle Kingdom. US Navy commanders will also be smacking their lips at maintaining attack vessels in Australia as part of the arrangement.

In the meantime, neighbours will be troubled, despite assurances that the vessels will only have a conventional weapons capability. Nearby Indonesia is unlikely to be glowing in admiration.

The dissolution of the union with Naval Group will also be costly, with the defence company bound to push for a generous compensation package. (AU$400 million is a suggested figure, though this is unlikely to satisfy either Naval Group or the Parisian overlords.) To this can be added AU$2 billion already spent.

As the divorce costs are sorted, some Australian politicians have pledged to make dissenting noises, with the Greens leader Adam Bandt already warning that the decision promised to “put floating Chernobyls in the heart of Australia’s cities.” Protests from anti-nuclear activists and advocates are in the offing.

 

 

Then arises that enduring problem of actually building these naval beasts. US lawmakers will be rooting for the construction of the submarines on home soil, a situation which promises to mirror the headaches caused by the Naval Group contract. Australia also lacks a shipyard able to build or maintain such vessels.

In playing its part in the creation of AUKUS, Canberra has exchanged one white elephant of the sea for another. But in doing so, Australia has done so in manner more threatening, and more significant, than anything associated with the Naval Group Contract. The small space Australian diplomats might have had in keeping Canberra out of any foolish conflict in the Indo-Pacific has become miniscule. The war mongers will be dewily ecstatic.

 

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Why are ‘religious’ organisations given tax free status?

There would have been few people who were not deeply shocked by the revelations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Now we have similar concerns revealed about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I spent a considerable part of my school years studying the Bible, followed by examination of Comparative Religion, at a C of E secondary school in the UK.

The picture that this presented to me was that the Jews, followed later by the Muslims, and unlike the Greeks and Romans, chose to believe that there was one god, and that he effectively existed for the Jewish people.

Muhammad, of course, did not acknowledge that Jesus was, as claimed, the son of god – he saw him as another prophet, and, originally, maintained a more favourable view of the Jews than might be the case for modern Muslims.

Jesus’ message, that the god of the Jews loved everyone, was not accepted by the Jews, who did not oppose his crucifixion by the Romans.

The process followed by his disciples has resulted, over the centuries, in increasing numbers of groups developing what have, in many cases, become cults, which have enabled mainly men to exert a level of unholy power over their flocks!

The essential message, that Christ wants you to love your fellow beings, has been warped and distorted by many of those cults, and the longest enduring of them, the Roman Catholic Church, has concentrated on developing a level of power which has proved highly destructive.

Pope Francis would, it seems, if left to his own devices, try to bring the church into the 21st century, but, even for former Catholics, the attitudes of the church seem to implant guilt rather than love.

The conflict between much of Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament, and the practices of most of the so-called Christian sects, leave me totally puzzled that anyone could genuinely believe that could say they were spreading his words.

And all of that assumes that a god actually exists.

I became an agnostic decades ago!

The recent examination of the Jehovah’s Witnesses throws grave doubts on the extent to which its existence is actually desirable.

The Pentecostal branches, like that to which our Prime Minister adheres, seem to love money more than the people outside their organisation, and my personal feeling is that religion should be a private matter and receive no support from governments.

For many that might seem too radical, if not actually blasphemous, but, given the appalling behaviour which has been revealed in so many of these sects – including just a few like the Catholic Church, The Plymouth Brethren, Scientology and the Pentacostalists – I seriously think we have to ask whether they deserve the favours they are granted.

Same sex marriage has been a major bone of contention for many of the ‘religious’, who cling on to ancient biblical messages, ignoring modern science.

And recent events in Afghanistan have highlighted the fact that many religions refuse to recognise that the knowledge of the founders of the religions were ignorant of much that has since been revealed by scientific research.

We have to stop living in the past, teach science properly in all schools, let people follow any beliefs they choose – as long as they do not harm others in so doing – and teach ethics in all schools, while the money saved from ceasing to give tax benefits to existing bodies – except for genuinely philanthropic activities – should be used to help all the people who are currently struggling to survive.

Far more important than religion, is ensuring that all can survive, and that demands attention to climate change!

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JobKeeper : Welfare for the Wealthy ?

You probably are aware that the first version of JobKeeper was plundered by businesses who, in many instances, were not adversely impacted by COVID-19 and in quite a few cases these were businesses who actually increased revenue and profits during the first twelve months of JobKeeper.

There has been a massive government coverup mainly to protect the architect of the scheme, Josh Frydenberg, from the adverse publicity and blame surrounding the bungle.

Newscorp have so far been silent on the matter and Sky after Dark have actually been mounting a protection racket for Frydenberg and blaming Labor for voting for the scheme. Not so the normally Right leaning Spectator Australia who, through their conservative columnist Judith Sloan, have stuck the boot right in ; this is Sloan in the Spectator Australia :

“But when it comes to government outlays, the wildly expensive JobKeeper will rank as the single most irresponsible and reckless spending program ever undertaken by a government. Lasting only 12 months, JobKeeper has ended up costing the Australian taxpayer close to $90 billion. It makes the Pink Batts and Building the Education Revolution programs look completely amateurish in terms of government spending for dubious benefit.”

The problem started with Josh, in his haste to show business that he was on their side, announcing a massive public spending scheme called JobKeeper. Payments of $1500 a fortnight were to be available to workers at firms that, depending on the size of the company, saw their turnover fall by at least 30 or 50 per cent during COVID-19. Josh told those businesses that if they reckon – perhaps on the toss of a coin – that they could lose revenue attributable to the impact of COVID on their business then they were entitled to dip into a pool of public money to enable them to continue to pay their workforce. Quite naturally many business enterprises snapped up the offer particularly when it was realized that the handout was open ended ; in other words you could keep the money even if you business did no suffer a revenue downturn and even if your business prospered during COVID.

So, the money was only meant to go to employers suffering material drops in revenue, yet it is estimated that $368 million was paid out to entities that more than tripled their revenue in the June quarter last year.

Clearly in a scheme dealing with public funds, you would expect that recipients of the government handout would be obliged to refund the money if in fact their revenues did not diminish during the period under review and particularly if they were able to increase revenue and profits. But according to Josh that’s not the way the scheme was designed – unlike Robodebt – so in effect it was a handout with no strings attached.

To be fair, some businesses have repaid some of the money received from taxpayers. Most notably retailer Harvey Norman repaid $6m in JobKeeper in August after it posted record profits in the 2020-21 financial year. The repayment is less than a third of the estimated $22m the company and its franchisees received.

There are several aspects of this bungle that are disturbing. The first is that it occurred at all on such a large scale but more importantly that the government have tried to cover it up and put the Treasurer in witness protection. At the very minimum there should be an open enquiry probably a Royal Commission.

Tonight, Sixty Minutes is doing a piece on this massive rorting of public money but evidently Frydenberg was not available to be interviewed : perhaps he had to wash his hair !

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

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Has Australia ever had a Prime Minister so devoid of leadership qualities?

Has an Australian political party ever elected a man or woman so characterless to be its leader? So ignorant and open to corruption? So unaware of truth and transparency? (His lying has indeed become pathological.) So insensitive to those who cannot help themselves yet amenable to furthering the interests of those who can? So willing to endorse and foster inequality? So illiterate when it comes to science and technology? So oblivious to the needs of women that he needed the advice of his wife?

So against change. So inept at policy formation and its implementation. So prone to the language of absurdity. So self-righteous in attitude toward others. So aggressive and dismissive of those who seek fairness and equality. So out of touch with a modern pluralist society. A person so unsophisticated in deep worldly insight or discernment, yet profoundly devoted to his religion.

In other words, a person so uniquely devoid of all the requirements of leadership.

The answer to the above headline is that we have been blessed with quality people in leadership. People who have risen to the top in their particular fields even inspired the nation to fight above its weight in times of war.

Or, by example, led the world in sporting endeavour, in academia, science, medicine, entertainment, education, law and order, the arts and more, but very few when the category of politics is raised.

The only one to stand out in all categories to come near Scott Morrison is Tony Abbott. He was the most celebrated liar ever to soil the plush green carpets of the House of Representatives.

Having said all these things against the incumbent Prime Minister, perhaps I should explain myself. This article picks up some of the accusations made in my previous post and gives them further consideration. In the calmness of thought and without reverting to anger, I examine the Prime Minister’s lies, mistakes and character.

I was generally speaking about leadership and the fundamental qualities necessary to be successful at it. Morrison’s actions, together with his inability to speak the truth, have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of leadership that leaves the nation in terminal decline.

Scott Morrison is nothing more than a fast-talking politician whose record speaks of nefarious decision-making that is always on the borderline of immorality or corruption. There are some tenants of Christianity that are intentionally sacrosanct and cannot be broken. Morrison cherry-picks Biblical laws he thinks he can get away with and blames others for the rest.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the facts. During the COVID-19 crisis, the states have made most of the running. In May, Morrison put his four-step plan to the National Cabinet, and the states accepted it. The point of the goal was to reach 80% vaccinations and then do away with the need for lockdowns.

The plan was also to promote Morrison’s position as a national leader who could bring people together for the common good while having no authority over states and their borders.

There is a conventionally accepted view that the position of Prime Minister has an unspoken power. A power that has some clout when used judiciously. The states were given their authority when our founding fathers wrote our constitution giving sufficient power to the states to ensure they were no pushovers.

Regardless of the argument, be it economic reform, climate change, national disasters like bushfires, floods, pandemics or just good policy, he is consistently found wanting. He struggles even to convince women that he is concerned with accusations of sexual assault and harassment.

I must say that his early efforts in keeping the government on top of the pandemic were commendable, particularly the economy and could be compared favourably with Labor’s efforts during the Global Financial Crisis.

However, his efforts seem to have deteriorated to the point where the public is rapidly losing faith in his leadership. The latest Morgan Poll has Labor at 54% and the LNP at 46%

If delegation is a fundamental of leadership, then he doesn’t seem to know how to disperse it. Either that or his ministers are incompetent to the point of worthless.

Public opinion, in favour of the LNP only months before an election (my tip is February) is rapidly declining, and the government is in serious trouble.

These weaknesses have become dramatically clear. Challenges like those currently experienced by the Prime Minister bring out the best or worst of a leader’s character. That he isn’t the leader for the times that Australia needs is becoming patently clear.

He has no sense of urgency about anything. He is slow at responding to anything. There was lethargy in helping those who helped us in Afghanistan. An indifference to take a position on workplace vaccine mandates when the business community was seeking clarity. Despite a decade to do something about climate change, he still walks at a snail’s pace in making decisions. He still needs to confront his deputy leader, who vehemently opposes the government’s policy on climate change. Not that he has one himself.

I can see nothing in his character that shouts “Leader.”

It has been the winter of our discontent, and political historians will record that the bleakness has come chiefly from a lack of leadership.

We had no one with the leadership qualities necessary to paint a picture for a spring of hope. He hopes for a Christmas retail reopening gift to boost the economy after or if our kids are vaccinated. That is, if the parents are willing to expose their unvaccinated kids?

Katherine Murphy reports in The Guardian that our Claytons leader is so desperate to undo his past sins that he is opening vaccination appointments without even having the vaccinations. Now that’s leadership for you.

Unlike Howard, among others, Morrison doesn’t have a genuine feel for politics, that instinct compels a leader to think about consequences before actions. Yes, he should have known and had ample time to prepare for a rush of Afghanistan’s wanting to leave the country, just as he had ample time to purchase covid19 vaccinations instead of allowing the consequences of not doing so to overtake him.

Good leaders anticipate emerging issues and act accordingly.

Other decisions that showed little leadership included; a) the number of people we will take, and b) the unwillingness to grant them permanent status and c) crying “Stop the boats.”

“I want to be very clear about that. I want to send a very clear message to people smugglers in the region that nothing’s changed,” he said on Wednesday.”

Writing for the ABC, Michelle Gratton said:

“In this Afghanistan moment – which is one of reflection and regret for the failure of the allies’ aspirations for that nation – we show the world what sort of country we are. We should display a more generous character.”

There is a fight about to begin. It is about leadership and who will make the better leader after the winter of our discontent.

Niki Savva wrote last week in The Australian (paywalled) that:

“Anthony Albanese has to make Scott Morrison unacceptable and hope that by the election, there will be more voters not only happy he is not Shorten, but that he is not Morrison.”

Anthony Albanese will have to show that he can make the decisions of a genuine leader. Leadership that requires action, and not just be a do-nothing blame-shifter.

Now that Scott Morrison’s leadership has been found wanting, he will likely set out to try and prove that Anthony Albanese is every bit as corrupt as he is and tells as many lies as he does. Good luck with that.

And in the time that passes by until the election, he will have to ensure that the vaccines arrive on time without telling lies about anything while at the same time winning back people to the Liberal Party – all this while at the same time having his reputation trashed.

On top of that, he has to persuade those that the party has lost to accept that he can take us back to pre-COVID-19 normality when vaccinations reach 80%.

If not, the Prime Minister must ready himself for the political consequences of unvaccinated kids falling ill and an unknown number of Australians suffering long-term effects from the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Making such a decision takes authentic leadership.

In a piece for Pearls and Irritations titled “Morrison has the smell of political death about him,” Jack Waterford has a view similar to mine:

“I do not know whether prime minister Scott Morrison will be run over by a bus, be deposed by his colleagues, fail at the next election or survive, for the short term at least, by another miracle. But the smell of political death is about him, and it is not because of bad luck, circumstance or treachery. What will destroy him, I expect, are things already done, character traits already on display, idiosyncrasies that might once have seemed almost attractive but which now repel. The values he once proclaimed – not least of active Christian temperament – are ones he appears to have repudiated.”

That he isn’t the leader for the times that Australia needs is becoming patently clear.

My thought for the day

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

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Australia: To where are we advancing?

 

This is far too good not to share, and a big hearty thank you to Jaqueline for giving us the opportunity to do so.

Let’s help this go viral.

PS: Play video with sound turned on.

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If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention

A nation’s character is reflected in the calibre of the politicians it chooses

When there’s an idiot in power those who elected him are well represented.” Anonymous.

They think they’re smarter than the rest of us. They don’t think of themselves as our employees but as our betters. They are the smug, entitled born-to-rulers, the haw-hawing, self-righteous ponces, the snooty, be-coiffed scolds and rural oiks who have come to believe the Big Con – that they are exceptional, the lifters, the elite, the superior managers.

This honking nonsense from a cloistered cohort who’d struggle to colour coordinate the dildo display in the prayer room let alone run a country is hard to swallow in the good times. In a pandemic and climate crisis, their misplaced vanities are killing people and helping to kill the planet.

They come from the self-titled leader class of the toffy private school breeding grounds of Tory privilege – jumping vaccine queues ahead of healthcare workers or fleeing lockdown to a ski-fields campus, they are the pampered, pallid Barclays and Gabrielles from the Young Lib set and the IPA twat factory, they’re the sanctimonious hypocrites from church pews supplemented by the Chosen One from the Jesus Inc. merch industry, the rustic oafs and the graduates from the ranks of smart-arsed party apparatchiks. Their contempt shows in their haughty tone, their cloth ears, their shameless dismissiveness of rampant corruption, the arrogant disdain for accountability and in the entitlement and the self-regard of the worst people imaginable.

From the loopy fringes to the hardcore spivs they live in an alternative reality where their self-esteem entirely exceeds their worth. Crony-capitalist doctrine and the counsel of party political hacks trumps expert health advice and the inconvenient facts of pending environmental catastrophe where the very survivability of the planet is subject to a cost:benefit analysis.

The Tory’s flexible version of integrity allows for a large overlap in the Venn diagram of arseholery/nutbaggery, indulging lunatic causes as free speech whenever it accommodates their agenda. No Notion stalwarts Edna Bucket the ginger minge and her strap-on Malcolm Frodo Baggins-Roberts normally mop up much of the cognitively challenged vote but it’s contested territory.

When captain’s nose-pick Cray Cray Kelly MP, failed furniture salesman and member for Hughes shakes his head you can hear the metal ball rattle but it was only after his glue-sniffing idiocy on vaccines was undermining the government’s efforts to gaslight the public that he was politely asked to tone down the finger sniffing.

Cray Cray’s fellow party balloon and pie connoisseur Gorgeous George Christensen is similarly inclined (should an orb be able to be inclined) to believe he’s been blessed with special insights and wisdom. Georgeous and Cray Cray have their tyres pumped by a large social media following from the trailing edge of the IQ bell curve, Qrackpots, horse punchers, sovereign citizens and assorted tattooed anti-vaxxers. Having celebrity handrail licker Pete Evans in the tent must be quite the validation for two plonkers with the physical allure of a sweaty Uncle Pervy and the comprehension skills of a kelpie attempting a cross-word puzzle. It could be imagined that Gorgeous’s antipathy to facemasks stems from his dispensing with personal protection during his cultural exchanges in the Philippines.

While these two bloviating buffoons shout down the hallway at the home for the perpetually befuddled they have company in the ga-ga lane on fuckwit highway (come on – mixed metaphors have their place). Black-face revivalist Matt King Coal Canavan has expanded his repertoire from monetising climate denialism to include covidiocy by simultaneously megaphoning his pro-life sentiments and suggesting keeping your relos alive via lockdowns and masks is not worth the effort. This performative onanism is possibly just for the schitzengiggles (as the Germans might say) given Matty would guide Alan Jones into a glory hole if it got him some exposure on Gloria After Dark.

 

Crème de la crème bun (from Twitter)

 

The vibe of this whole pelican parade is set by the front of house. The quality of their management is a reflection of the character of their party – the best of their best whose behaviour under pressure is a cockroach stampede after the lights are switched on.

PM Schmozzle’s practice of hiding behind the curtains has required a re-think but still within the boundaries of his reflexive blame-shifting and credit-seeking. The new champion of lockdowns and EVs brags that his quarantine and vaccine stuff-ups have saved 30,000 lives and that, extrapolating his prosperity doctrine, it is the poor countries that are responsible for climate change and it is god’s will that they suffer – as if we occupy separate planets.

It should be remembered that the first act of Morrison’s COVID Commission was to fund a new gas pipeline and that he refused to buy or lease firefighting aircraft but spent $250M on his VIP jet.

Schmo’s deputy, the florid fornicator Roger Thystaff, a cerebral colossus, an idiot savant (but without the savant bit) has his wit and wisdom scribbled on beer coasters in pubs and taverns across New England. Roger has come to think of himself as something of a sage – his cleverness extending to his observation that given he’s been a senior member of government for 7 years it’s up to others to assess the implications of a changing climate.

Ex-Head of Inquisitions & Persecutions and team therapist Pyrrhic Porter, fresh from his victory of dropping his defamation case against the ABC has copped a tab of some 500 large because, as the once most senior legal figure in the land he did not understand the nuance of the workings of our legal system. Porter sets a fine example of the openness and transparency principles of this best of all possible governments by expending considerable additional investment to prevent the evidence of his professed innocence of rape allegations from being disclosed. Schmozzle had no problem with reconciling his Jen-endorsed “believe women” rhetoric with his promotion of Porter to acting Leader of the House.

NSW head prefect Gladdy Two-shoes sailed through her scandals and incompetence with the “Poor Sad Gladys” schtick and Schmo’s gold star stuck on her forehead. “Daryl done her wrong” is scant cover for the hubris that let loose the Delta – a once-cozy media is finally applying some scrutiny and it’s the hardest hammering she’s received since she handed Dirty Dazza’s house keys back.

The only way the Tories can keep ahead of criminal charges is to stay in power. As an election nears these creeps, bottom feeders, toad lickers, thieves and liars will do all they can to game the system.

They stole our money when you weren’t looking and as soon as your back is turned they’ll steal some more and the greatest efforts they’ll take in addressing climate change is to look for excuses to do nothing at all.

Re-election will be treated as endorsement of blatant rorting, their corruption of institutions and their bullying and bigotry. Dissent will be persecuted, they will ramp up the pandering to the privileged and punching down at the poor. Australia will be dragged backwards and further to the right. While priests and parsons are feted public universities, scientists and the ABC will be defunded and institutions will be stacked even higher with cronies.

Anyone voting Tory at the next election is complicit in their crimes.

As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.” Noam Chomsky

This article was originally published on Grumpy Geezer.

 

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Making important decisions requires meticulous judgement – it is something Scott Morrison lacks

Is a commitment to using critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry rather than emotion and ill-founded falsity the best way to solve human problems?

On the one hand, it takes much time and effort to reach a considered view on many matters. On the other, it takes little time to make a judgement. Good leaders make good decisions.

Was Scott Morrison’s decision to partake of a holiday while the flames of hell were destroying New South Wales a good one? Was his decision to ask the US to invite Pastor Brian Houston to dinner any better?

Was his decision to give Christian Porter his old job back as Leader of the House (even on a temporary basis) any better?

Worst of all, what about his decision not to buy the Pfizer vaccine when it was available. There are many more, but these will suffice for now:

On September 7, 2020 The Guardian reported that:

“The prime minister announced a $1.7bn deal with two potential vaccines: the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca to provide 33.8m doses and the University of Queensland/CSL to provide another 50m doses.”

On November 5 2020 the government announced a deal for 10m doses of Pfizer and 40m from Novavax, saying Australia was at the “front of the queue” for mRNA vaccines. Note that The Guardian said that “Pfizer had already signed agreements to provide about 1bn doses to 34 countries by this time.”

As an aside, Greg Hunt, on Insiders 8/8/2021, on a question from David Speers on this subject, said, “There was no other deal available.”

Just who is telling the truth?

Scott Morrison says:

“We aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket and we will continue to pursue further vaccines should our medical experts recommend them.”

The Government announces the vaccine rollout will begin in March.”

Then in December, the front of the queue” changes to “front-row”, and the turmoil of the rollout continues.

Politics often comes first in the decision-making process. Well, more often than not, but always because the retention of power is uppermost in the leader’s mind.

How often is logic thrown out the window when emotion clutters the politician’s mind and clinging to power rises above all else?

Indeed, the decision to take his children on a trip to Hawaii was an emotional one. The kids had been nagging him for weeks, and no matter what, he wasn’t going to let them down. After all, he didn’t hold a hose.

It could be argued that it was an indefensible decision that could only be made by a father desperately wanting to please his children. Those of us who are fathers could all plead guilty to that one.

But we are not necessarily leaders. The consequences didn’t occur to him. I believe that he tried to hide the fact that he had taken leave. It was a dumb decision.

Morrison was the Prime Minister; first and foremost, it was his responsibility to look after the health and safety of Australians.

At the time, the prime minister’s office refused to say if he was on holiday or where he was. McCormack admitted he was Prime Minister. The aftermath of bad decisions can be worse than the decision itself. Remember the slinky handshakes. For someone who prides himself on his spinning ability, the marketing guru had made a terrible decision.

Perhaps a few days with wife Jenny and the kids were more important than the security of the people he was supposed to protect.

Eventually, as reported in The Guardian, he was forced to apologise, saying that:

“Any offence caused to any of the many Australians affected by the terrible bushfires by my taking leave with family at this time.”

His decision to give Christian Porter his old job back as Leader of the House was another example of his poor decision making and brought his judgment into question. Once again, the Prime Minister’s judgement, and morality, was bought into question with this woeful decision. One that humiliated and slapped the face of every Australian woman.

The utter impertinence of the Prime Minister to do such a thing after the continual beating women have taken under his leadership has been beyond belief.

The allegations against Porter are amongst the gravest in our criminal code. The bare minimum test of his fitness to hold ministerial office would be an independent inquiry. At this point, it looks as though the Prime Minister has made yet another ill-considered decision just to let it pass. How damming would that be?

 

 

Yet again, his judgement comes into question when he decided to include Pastor Brian Houston’s name on a list of invitees to the White House. Houston had been a mentor for many years. He even got a mention in Morrison’s maiden speech.

It has long been known that when Houston gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, he admitted trying to protect his father. He even disobeyed church rules and allowed him to preach after admitting the violation.

Frank Houston had abused up to nine boys in Australia and New Zealand.

Now Brian Houston has been charged, and justice will take his course. Here we must try to fathom Brian Houston’s morality and state of mind before judging him. In Morrison’s case, it is more straightforward.

Presumably, he would have been aware of the evidence, as would the White House, so why had he refused to answer questions for months on the subject?

Let’s not pretend that good decision making is easy; it isn’t, but we make many minor ones daily. However, we expect our leaders to make significant decisions regularly with sound judgement.

The ones expressed above used poor judgement by a poor leader, and unfortunately, there are many more examples just like them. Climate Change (for instance) and the decisions required for our survival are paramount and must be made by people who know how to listen to the opinions of science.

To choose the correct path, our nation’s leadership must have a clear set of priorities together with an open mind that takes into account new or alternative ways of doing things.

They must use whatever experience they have and make common good, common-sense decisions with a willingness to change as knowledge changes.

The decisions politicians make define their judgement. It is better to be informed by the truth than be controlled by lies.

When you look at the decisions made by this Government during their tenure of office, well, to put it bluntly, they have been simply appalling, and given the criteria I have laid out for making them cannot be excused. That’s my judgement, anyway.

My thought for the day

People often argue from within the limitations of their understanding and when their factual evidence is scant, they revert to an expression of their feelings.

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Typhoid Mary, Gladys, no longer PM’s poster girl, gets the Delta blues.

There’s no roadmap out, wails NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, Typhoid Mary of our Delta blues, parroting Scott Morrison, the PM for NSW, who savages his gold-standard, open for business poster-girl; turns on her to save his own hide. Hand-ball Morrison gets JJ Frewen to fire the bullets in Friday’s national cabinet. It’s like the scene in Apocalypse Now where the water buffalo is hacked to death.

There’s no exit for Gladys. Yet there are plenty of entrances and an upstaging – notably from JJ – not The Beatles’ “Get back JoJo (to where you once belonged) – Lt General JJ Frewen, the Grim Dig who rips into a woman Premier, ostensibly, for having the hide to ask for more vax in a cabal a big-noting PM calls his “national cabinet” – a COAG of competent, experienced, leaders who have long since taken over the controls, carrying a PM poseur who is just not up to the job as Crikey’s Bernard Keane puts it, a verdict which skips the Machiavellian in Morrison and his theatre of cruelty.

That Morrison’s not up to the job is something Keane’s been saying since 2018. And many others, not part of a sycophantic, Pravda-like media which blankets Australia.

Is Scott a dangerous incompetent? It’s a view that is rapidly taking hold even amongst Quiet Australians who vote purely for self-interest. Anyone can see ScoMo & Co™ are artless dodgers. Incompetent. Fail vaccination supply, distribution and quarantine – but excel in creating confusion and vaccine hesitancy, yet always with a nod to their tin god ATAGI which Morrison says he bends to his will, like Yuri Geller with spoons.

The virus is in control. And out. When it comes to anyone doing anything useful, you have to applaud most premiers. Morrison’s on the nose with voters. July 19, Newspoll shows Morrison’s handling of the pandemic fell nine points in the past three weeks to 52%, far below the 85% rating at the previous peak of the pandemic in April last year. Confidence in the vaccine rollout slumped to 40%.

57% of respondents are dissatisfied while even Coalition voter support is lukewarm.

Other pollsters agree. Since March 2021, when the attributes questions were last put to respondents in the Essential poll, Morrison is down eight points on voter trust, nine points down on being seen to be in control of his team and a nine point drop on vision.

Rating the PM as good in a crisis drops 15%, while increasingly, Morrison appears out of touch with ordinary people (up eight points since March); a PM who avoids responsibility (up six points). And (well-done pollsters), 73%, also believes that Morrison plays politics. It’s the only game he knows.

Newspoll gives a six-point lead to Labor – 53-47, two-party preferred – a shocking result for those all government MPs, especially those in key Victorian electorates.

Last Friday, premiers and chief ministers are on the job telling a lame duck PM to pipe down while they get on with practicalities over a crook NBN hook-up when our PM turns his back and stokes the fire. He’s peeved to be upstaged; redundant, but as always, it’s a calculated gesture. That he delegates much of the wrangling and arm-twisting business of the meeting to Frewen is alarming.

But getting JJ to blast Berejiklian is petty, vindictive, bullying.

Later, Morrison, Sorcerer of out-sourcing, stumbles as he reads out something the Doherty Institute whipped up for him earlier. He clearly is not across the detail of his own “National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response” which proclaims “early, stringent and short lockdowns” to be central to the current phase. Phase? A meaningless obligatory three-word slogan “vaccinate, prepare and pilot”.

When we reach 70% or 80%, the good times will roll or something. Not counting children. His word-salad is impossible to follow. The plan it’s so hedged about with provisos it’s impossible to follow. Besides, it’s bound to change next week.

The road map Glad can’t see is in Victoria, where the Andrews’ government has successfully dealt with Delta, twice in what shapes to be a long guerrilla war, as Covid re-infects us with ever new strains. Monday brings further evidence NSW is ignoring any lessons from Victoria’s experience. Sydney’s inner west sees a nursing home hotspot traced to a “superspreading”, Christmas in July party. An infected nurse at the centre works at several aged care facilities.

Shocked by polls suggesting poor leadership and a federal government that has let the nation down badly, Morrison resorts to a stunt. Fellow Hillsong congregation member, and Morrison’s neighbourly, curly-haired, bin retriever, NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller, calls in the army.

No. Not the ARMY, PMO press drops quickly quash that idea, but, instead, lads and lasses in uniform carrying hampers of health-foods to the needy as they sing We Are Family. It’s a fetching image but no-one in Western Sydney is fooled. Enforcing compliance is the name of the game. Making you do what you are told. It’s tricky. Instructions are unclear, changeable. Fuller shuns community leaders.

It’s nigh impossible, writes Paul Daley in The Guardian Australia for “non-Indigenous Australians whose families have been in Australia for generations to fathom the fear some former asylum seekers – from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq, for example – have towards police and the military.

But the NSW police have things all under control. What could possibly go wrong?

Enter a three hundred “civilian police-led armed forces operation” as it’s dubbed by a defensive Dave Elliott NSW Minister for Police-and-strip-searching-twelve-year-old-girls, (3919 searches in four years up, to last year, according to Redfern Legal Centre data). Monday, Job well-done-Dave’s keen to let us all know that it is not as if the army are being sent in alone. His cops will keep them in line. The NSW Police? Phew. Everyone’s at ease already. Last year, Elliott placated everyone,

“I’ve got young children and if I thought the police felt they were at risk of doing something wrong I’d want them strip-searched. Having been minister for juvenile justice, we have 10-year-olds involved in terrorism activity.”

The military helped the police with compulsory quarantining at Sydney Airport in March last year. They have been called in to help again.

Leaving Dave’s arresting turn of phrase with dangling participle to one side, the Premier is boxed in like Tulloch; Gladys is wedged betwixt Police Minister and PM and Lieutenant General JJ Frewen, who becomes “apoplectic” as he bawls her out over Zoom, a derisive -and utterly out of order- attack by an unelected public servant upon an elected premier. At least one state leader tells colleagues he would have “stopped the meeting had he been spoken to in that manner”, reports The Saturday Paper‘s Rick Morton. His sources tell him Friday’s atmosphere is “venomous”.

Morrison gives his take on the traditional Māori gesture of contempt, turning his back on premiers and chief ministers, as he bends down to poke The Lodge’s fire. Whilst he does not drop his dacks, Friday’s semi-whakapohane or bare arsed snub, may just be Morrison’s homage to his Kiwi heritage or his troubled two years as inaugural Director of Aotearoa’s new Office of Tourism and Sport, where he warred with the NZ Tourism Board. And lost. Got sacked. It’s the Morrison career paradigm.

Or it may just be another, calculated, gesture of contempt, like Phil Gaetjens’ inquiry into who knew what on or about 23 March 2019, when Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped by a senior staffer who worked for Linda Reynolds’ office. Justice delayed is justice denied. Two years later, she is still being denied justice.

A further show of contempt for due process is the PM’s decision to allow Porter to be leader of the house when Dutto texts in to say he won’t attend parliament next week, (so he’ll stay home plotting a Lib-spill, his revenge on Morrison)? Dutton’s had Covid. But he’s got to lockdown with his sons, is his message.

Is Christian Porter really the right choice? A fit and proper person to lead the house? Morrison’s career of serial failure suggests yet another dud judgement – even if the Machiavellian sociopath in him will have control at any price. Next week’s sitting will win him no friends, however. Labor may wonder aloud what is in the sealed envelope of testimony that is Porter’s bizarre condition of settlement in his botched attempt to bring a defamation suit against the ABC.

As Crikey’s legal expert, Michael Bradley points out “there could be myriad reasons for Christian Porter dropping his defamation case against the ABC, none of which appear to vindicate the former attorney-general.”

And before Porter moves that the member may no longer be heard, Labor may challenge his fitness to be a cabinet minister. But if this runs through Morrison’s mind, he is not distracted from enjoying the dressing down of Gladys. It’s got the works: misogyny, scapegoating and abuse of authority.

When it’s his turn at the conch, after JJ’s blast, Morrison says nothing. Silence is equivalent to applause here. Furthermore, he takes up from where Frewen leaves off, echoing the case of the man he’s just promoted to head the National Covid Vaccine Task Force. Like Oliver, Gladys asks for more. More vaccine, of course, but the idea of diverting precious resources sends Frewen into a frenzy.

Or does it? Has Frewen been worded up to publicly chastise Berejiklian? Help push her under a bus. Too much damage is done already to the Morrison brand for him to continue the public association? Besides, if Gladys continues to ask for more, it will reveal there is none, thanks to the reckless improvidence of a federal government which was equivocal about vaccination from the start and which was cut right down to size by Pfizer when a junior bureaucrat tried to haggle over the price.

Gladys is in an existential nightmare. She could be a character in No Exit (Huis Clos), Sartre’s drama where three damned souls are ushered into the same room in hell by a mysterious figure (wearing a Covid-Shield mask?). None at first will admit the reason for their damnation, a gambit adopted today by Prime Denialist, Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt and Gladys Berejiklian – and when they do things get a whole lot worse.

No Exit postulates that hell is not some place a cruel God knocked up in his spare time on the seventh day, after a hectic week at the creation works; hell is other people.

NSW records its fifteenth Covid death, Monday, a man in his nineties who had received one shot of AstraZeneca. 207 new local COVID-19 cases are recorded; fifty-one are infectious in the community. Tuesday there are 199 locally acquired cases. Suppression? The virus is rampaging out of control.

Ten children under nine years old have COVID among Queensland’s 15 new cases, Monday. Tuesday, brings another sixteen new cases.

“There’s no roadmap for Delta, there’s no perfect way to deal with it,” Berejiklian tells Sky TV, which deserves an Olympic medal for fewest viewers while continuing to metastasize all over real news websites. And beyond. On Monday, in the UK, Reverend Tim Hewes, 71, sews his lips up and stands outside News Corp’s London offices in protest at the climate emergency across the world which Murdoch completely ignores.

Vicar Sews His Lips Shut During Dramatic Protest Against Rupert Murdoch And News Corp

Australia’s FOX News, which is to be commended on providing a warm place out of the rain for RWNJ’s and other notorious fabulists, with no hope of gainful employ, can now deceive, mislead and disinform regional viewers -24/7.

The boss likes to keep his shock-jocks desperate for attention; last year, talking heads were told they could appear for nothing, or not at all. With Sky, Murdoch gets what he pays for, although some heads, such as Andrew Bolt, are on his payroll as columnists in his failing newspapers. Does the ABC still pay journos to do spots on Insiders? Each week, David Speers echoes Morrison’s framing of the news.

But it’s not just ABC Insiders looking through Rupert’s portal. Outpourings of grief clog ABC news airwaves, as young tanned, owners of coffee-bars, waxing salons, travel agents and other small businesses in NSW are cast in their own melodrama; encouraged to vent by a media obsessed with the epic battle of the poor little sole trader against the cruel state facing certain ruin under lockdown. It’s a moral fable, nurtured by the myth that small business is the backbone of economy.

This is as false as the claim that NSW is the engine room of the national economy, a claim which is used to boost NSW exceptionalism but one also made Friday for WA by Premier Mark McGowan. Victoria also makes the same claim.

“Victoria is proud of being the engine room of the Australian economy, occupying just 3 per cent of this vast continent, it is nevertheless responsible for a quarter of the nation’s economic activity. … In fact, Victoria has maintained its AAA ratings (Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s) throughout and beyond the crisis.”

Whilst small biz employs 45% of the workforce it accounts for only 5% of job growth.

It’s a resonant, deceptive and dangerous narrative. If lockdown were lifted, prosperity would return tomorrow. Businesses would hum; hives of industry where wage theft, overwork and underpayment would disappear. Implied also in the myth, is the notion that – after a little dose of ‘Rona – our two nations, rich and poor will bounce back. Because … freedom to exploit our fellow man and woman is divinely ordained or a human right or in the constitution.

Or something. It’s a narrative flogged to death on our middle-class middle brow ABC News which uses the Murdoch or the Morrison frame to peer through as it dons its Rose Bay spectacles. All that’s missing from the Sole Trader Tale of Woe is its unofficial anthem, Moving Pictures’ What About Me?

Auntie’s comfort-zone-only perspective clouds its view of Sydney’s workers; its less telegenic, “multicultural” precariat who face an even greater battle to survive. Or be valorised. Instead, they are patronised by Hazzard using othering terms “vibrant” and “multicultural” – code for strangers in silos we’d rather fear, blame and coerce, than reach out to; try to support and understand.

Western and South-Western Sydney residents are blamed, directly and indirectly, for not following unclear, contradictory – and at times half-baked – instructions for breaking lockdown. Berejiklian doesn’t help by telling a whopper.

Thursday, she claims that in NSW,

We have harsher restrictions than any other state has ever had.”

It’s a shambles writes David Milner, in The Shot.

“no curfew in place, in-person real estate inspections underway, no specified time limit on being outdoors, travel to holiday homes totally legal, day cares as open as Bunnings, golf courses still actually used by golfers and not yet taken over by BMX gangs and Northcote hippies. Masks were only made mandatory outdoors on Thursday, and only in eight local government areas.”

Yet some government MPs barrack for the anti-lockdown brigade. Like Trump, hard-nosed opportunists see votes in any dissenting group. Dissenters are alienated from the major parties or just government of any stripe and need only your star to hitch themselves to. Tuesday in the house, George Christensen gives a huge ninety second speech on the anti-lockdown “freedom” protest.

He says he won’t hesitate to stand with them again.

Always back a nag named Self Interest. You know it’ll run on its merits. Covid-cowboy-MPs aid and abet conspiracy theorists, QAnon and a range of others organised by the “Free Citizens of Kassel” in Germany, whose Worldwide Demonstration (WD) organise 129 co-ordinated rallies in May alone. WD also is a big help with anti-lockdown rallies Down Under in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney 24 July. Things don’t turn ugly all by themselves. They help organise our own keen mob of paranoid conspiracy theorists, Antivaxxers, rogue MPs and others.

WD gets a lot of local help, reports Rick Morton, from Australians vs The Agenda and Harrison McLean, an IT worker from Wantirna, whose two groups have 30,000 followers. This is probably double the National Party’s total membership across all states. Little wonder then that LNP poster-boy and Member for Manila, George Christensen leaps aboard, along with the MP, who quit the Liberals but votes with them anyway, Craig Kelly.

Jason Falinski appears on Patricia Karvelas’ show busting with bluff and bluster, protesting far too much that he has nothing to do with anti-vaxxers. For him, a semantic quibble gets you off the hook. He doesn’t oppose lockdowns, but he supports the free speech which allows other people who do – along with their toxic lies and delusions about herd immunity and how it’s no worse than the flu. Let’s not get to 5G, microchips, or how Covid was deliberately cooked up in a lab.

Always quick to spot potential voters and promising alt-right trends to nurture, former furniture salesman, and loyal employer and defender of staffer Frank Zumbo, now charged with sex offences, Craig “Hydroxychloroquine” Kelly who poses as a medical authority when he isn’t giving character references, joins gorgeous George Christensen in wooing the loopy consumers of the lockdown vs liberty false narrative.

Similarly confused notions of “freedom” dog Berejiklian’s rhetoric. Perhaps she could upgrade and substitute the word survival. And offer some real support. Sydney, the backbone of the state’s economy, has an underclass precariat of at least a tenth of the NSW workforce on temporary working Visas. Yet construction is shut down in her belated and ineffectual lockdown.

Instead, workers cop a serve from NSW’s Health Minister, Brad Hazzard who is mad keen to put the boot into the poor and vulnerable whom he patronises as multicultural and vibrant, Lib-speak for un-Australian and therefore a public health hazard.

Despite not consulting community leaders, Mick Fuller, the PM’s fellow Hill singer and former neighbour and wheelie bin retriever, is happy to send in the troops to in a shoot-first-ask questions after approach that’s worked splendidly in other tinpot despotic states for decades.

“Boots on the ground” is a phrase helpfully offered by Health Minister Hunt.

It’s not just language that is a barrier to his target audience heeding his government’s injunctions to get vaccinated and stay at home. Stay at home? These are people who need to work to survive. For many of them there is not even an inadequate Centrelink “safety-net”.

Mick’s decision to butch up his police team baffles those compressed by necessity into extended family survival units or cramming “bijou gem” apartments where there isn’t room for Gran to take her teeth out or powder her nose without dipping her elbow in a grandchild’s nappy bucket. Families far and wide in LGAs across the nation are gob-smacked; “reeling” as the pandemic rages in NSW infects other states. Anti-lockdown lunatics, condoned if not urged on by George Christensen, play with fire in the street.

A man punches a police horse.

Whilst the Emerald City has colonised our popular culture and dominates a tamed, depleted and declining national media, its plight illuminates our two nations, rich and poor and the yawning gap between them, widened by a federal government obsessed with depressing real wages while boosting business profits and tax cuts for the wealthy. To which of course, Labor has dropped its opposition as it saddles up for the last long stretch before a May election.

What is certain is that those in federal parliament, who are able to travel, return this week for its winter sitting, but it’s no longer the springboard to an October election. Even The Australian‘s Dennis Shanahan concedes that Labor has the upper hand. Morrison’s made sure he’s there in person by quarantining in The Lodge, but he may have to contend with being upstaged by MPs in lockdown zooming in.

It’s a pincer movement. Covid advances crab-like from the right under a Coalition kakistocracy of dills, duds and drones which sells itself as Keeping Australia Safe while it keeps its mates out of jail and attacks workers in the name of an invisible hand, Adam Smith’s vision of market forces, or the power of accumulated self-interest to achieve public good.

Or not. At odds with its Let It Be songbook of laissez-faire, the Morrison government’s is a paid up member of The Game of Mates where favours bleed the country and its catastrophic ineptitude.

Add a dollop of state socialism. Even Michelle Grattan concedes that its decision to build a 660-megawatt gas-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley further shows a government preferring state control, to markets, in its bid to appease its mining donors on energy and climate change.

Let’s not pretend it’s got any real policies on either.

“Australia’s calamitous energy and climate policy is going from bad to worse with the government decision to build a $600m gas-fired power plant that will deter private investment,” warns the Financial Review’s Economics Editor, John Kehoe.

Labor says it is On Our Side but gives up opposing tax breaks for the rich. Negative gearing. Capital gains tax, both pet projects of former leader, Bill Shorten. It’s a policy of small target opposition. Don’t promise anything which a Morrison misgovernment with a Murdoch megaphone can trash.

Good luck. Already, as with Bill Shorten, Antony Albanese’s name is now a term of derision with our media. Or treated as if it were the punchline to some snide in-joke about hopeless incompetents in politics, by ABC’s The Drum‘s Ellen Fanning.

On the right are our Tories, the corporate-small business and aspirational tradies’ alliance led by The Swinging Big-Dicks, the Liberals in an unmade bed with The Nationals, Big Mining’s flea circus. It’s a dangerous liaison, spruiked as a coalition which is founded on victim blaming. Yet, it is still a shock to see the army sent in to quell Western Sydney; assist the police with Covid compliance – so desperate is the PMO to find scapegoats for its abject failure to protect us from a pandemic.

Covid is not spread by people being disobedient. Nor is NSW made any safer by its Premier’s pathetic pleading. Sending in the army is calculated to create confusion, anger and resentment.

On the centre-but somewhat-leftward (leaning in) is a Labor Party, which once held a torch for the poor. Labor’s sick of being a soft target; Labor will tax you to death, and now runs up the white flag on a fair and just income tax system.

But of course, there are more than two parties, even before we get into the division and disunity within a twin-set, the ABC loves to call “Both Major Parties”, or even Joel Fitzgibbon’s Hunter for Coal ginger group.

Greens’ leader, Adam Bandt does bag Labor for being gutless. Top income earners get up to 400 times the benefit of median income earners, he also quickly points out.

Labor’s backflip on high-end income tax cuts, notes Paul Bongiorno, has one aim. It seeks to make Morrison and his catastrophic bungling of the pandemic the key focus of the election campaign. The Australian Financial Review, reports an Utting Research poll, supporting Albanese’s tactic.

Greg Jericho reports that if Labor wants to fix the regressive tax regime they’ve agreed to they should implement a Warren Buffet Rule tax strategy where high income earners pay a minimum rate of tax on their earnings before any deductions are claimed – proposal by The Australia Institute.

There’s no anodyne for grinding poverty. A decent minimum wage and adequate pensions for the aged and those looking for work would, however, be a start.

As for part-time PM and moralist Scott Morrison’s self-help philosophy – his have a go to get a go – it’s a kick in the teeth, a wanton disregard for the causes and consequences of poverty. You do have to work hard to acquire his level of ignorance and prejudice. Like most of his maxims, it is a patently absurd lie – hurtful in times of economic recession measured by hours worked and underemployment, however much neoliberal treasury boffins choose to define it as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. Rick Morton reflects,

What is a recession but surplus insecurity, the loss of opportunity and scarcity of hope?

Three and a quarter million people in Australia are poor; more than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line. How do they cope with half the population in lockdown due to the federal government’s catastrophic failure to buy vaccines, set up a quarantine system – let alone look after the elderly or provide for those out of work or underemployed?

“No poverty” is the first of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Australia is a signatory yet it has the 16th highest poverty rate out of the 34 wealthiest countries in the OECD.

Labor’s decision to agree to the Coalition’s third tier of its fat-cat, flat tax, policy with its tax cuts for the rich to be paid for by the needy is distressing. Those earning between $45,000 and $200,000 will all pay thirty cents in the dollar.

It’s a volte-face, “a political triple backflip”, Paul Bongiorno calls it, from Albo; Anthony Albanese, the leader of a party that once, famously, sought the light on the hill, as former Labor PM and engine-driver, Ben Chifley put it, seventy two years’ ago, after four years as leader to the 1949 NSW ALP Conference.

“I try to think of the Labour movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody’s pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people.”

The Whitlam spirit has gone from the Labor Party, laments Crikey’s Guy Rundle, who notes that the party’s base is fractured and reflects that a progressive tax policy may as well be just a Chifley a pipe dream for a political party whose voters are now as much knowledge class as working class.

Gone? That may be a little premature. And Whitlam did own up to his own pragmatism: only the impotent are pure. He understood that vision without executive power is the prerogative of protest groups, not of a party wanting to govern.

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A government with such little respect

Like many other Australians, I am an avid sports fan. I competed for as long as possible, and when my body could no longer perform to my satisfaction, I turned to a daily routine of running, lap swimming or walking, to keep fit. Why do I tell you this? I like to think that I paid due respect to my opponents, who generally returned the favour.

Presently I am in awe of the respect shown by our Olympians to their sport, coaches and families. It all seems to come so naturally and enthusiastically and has been an inspiration to us all. In the same way, it is a pity our government couldn’t show us the same respect and inspire us into an uncertain post COVID-19 future.

Now, let us look at the lack of respect the government shows toward us. They represent us but use lies to do so. And in doing so, they show us no respect.

1 So much for truth and transparency when the former Attorney-General Christian Porter can have redacted evidence from his dropped defamation case against the ABC scrubbed from the public record.

Nine and News Corp (forget their motive) have been asking for the documents to be made public, but Justice Jayne Jagot ordered that the documents be ditched from court files.

There is no longer any excuse for the Prime Minister to set up an independent inquiry into Porter’s fitness for office. That might show us some respect.

Porter’s seat of Pearce lost some safe Liberal ground in a recent distribution and is now under threat from Labor.

2 Talking about redistributions, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Victorian and Western Australian changes are now complete. It seems that those skilled in these matters agree that the Liberals have lost one seat; the former seat of Stirling in WA has been abolished. The ALP has gained one; the newly created safe Labor seat of Hawke.

These same analysts agree that no seat has notionally changed hands as a result of the boundary changes.

3 Writing for The Saturday Paper last weekend John Hewson described our Prime Minister in these terms:

“He has accepted Barnaby Joyce back with no conditions – indeed, let him start to dictate climate and other policy. He has failed to deal effectively with claims of rape, bullying and harassment in Parliament House; has normalised pork-barrelling, corruption and wasteful expenditure; denies responsibility; is quick to blame others; and ignores the need for reform in response to the great social challenges of Indigenous recognition, child- and aged-care, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, mental illness and domestic violence.”

I have written in the same manner myself, and he is spot on, and Joyce is but one of many who has little respect for the electorate.

4 Morrison never seems to take charge when things are going wrong. He disappears then reappears to take the credit when things go right. He is gifted in thinking that he can make things better first for himself and secondly for you with the use of dishonesty.

We were in the front of the queue when the reality was, we were at the back of the pack. “This isn’t a race,” he said. How wrong he was. It is a race, and we are realising the price of his failure.

What sort of man would deliberately buy a lessor quality (AstraZeneca) vaccine after being offered 40 million doses of the higher quality Pfizer? Now we are paying the price for his stupidity with not enough vaccines to avoid lockdowns.

5 Whatever happened to those reports from Morrison’s chief of staff Phil Gaetjens? Morrison is still undecided as to whether he will release them publicly. I’m assuming that, like their ICAC proposal, they will let them lapse into the file of “no time left” before the election.

Like the Sports Rorts report that has never been published, a summary found there were “significant shortcomings” in the way McKenzie decided on the grant. But he also found that (Lord save me) how the minister’s office approved funds for different projects was not unduly influenced by reference to “marginal” or “targeted” electorates.

Where is the respect?

6 In the time I have spent writing for The AIMN, hardly a day has passed without the Government framing emissions reduction with all the negativity of Tony Abbott.

Writing for The Guardian, Katherine Murphy reported that:

“On Tuesday, the group Beyond Zero Emissions released a report based on economic analysis from ACIL Allen. This work found that establishing renewable energy industrial precincts in two Australian regions would create 45,000 new jobs and generate revenue of $13bn a year by 2032. The two regions the report identified were the Hunter in New South Wales and Gladstone in central Queensland. If you follow politics closely, you’ll know these regions will be heavily contested at the next federal election.

In the world envisaged by this report, dedicated renewable energy zones would support energy-intensive businesses during the transition to low emissions. I might need to repeat that sentence because the Coalition has spent more than a decade telling Australians that renewables and heavy industry are fundamentally incompatible.”

Over to you, Scotty. And show some respect.

7 The Prime Minister has apologised and accepted responsibility for the slow vaccine rollout.

“I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to achieve the marks that we had hoped for at the beginning of this year,” the PM said on Thursday.

“I take responsibility for the vaccination program. I also take responsibility for the challenges we’ve had.”

Does that pass as an apology? What do you think?

8 Speaking of apologies, I posted this on Facebook last week and received some criticism from those deemed to be unsuitable for the Astra vaccine:

WORDS THAT MAKE YOU THINK.

Isn’t it rather odd that the people who refuse an AstraZeneca jab are the same cohort who vote for the LNP? (70 and over)

It was insensitive to those who, for whatever reason, are unable to take the vaccine, and for that, I apologise.

9 Alarm bells ring when I turn on my computer to read this headline in The Guardian: Coalition to spend $19,000 send Tony Abbott on trade mission to India.”

Where is the respect in that?

10 Back in the time of Sports Rorts while in caretaker mode or, to be more precise, in the fortnight between 27 March and 11 April 2019, the Government announced 70 appointments to boards, statutory bodies and tribunals, and diplomatic postings. One in five of the people appointed to government bodies in that fortnight had links to the Liberal or National parties.

11 Did you know that Australia doesn’t have a comprehensive formal parliamentary set of rules governing the behaviour of our MPs.

Yes, where is the respect?

My thought for the day

The danger in looking back is that we lose the will to go forward.

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What’s next from Scomb-over?

What’s next from Scomb-over von Skidmark?

The Daggy Dad routine has been put on hold

We are eighteen months on from Scooter Morrison’s Hawaiian decamping holiday during the devastating 2019-20’s bushfires and signs of re-growth have been appearing – the ScoFro on the top of Scooter’s head.

In the middle of a pandemic with millions of stressed citizens in lockdown and a vaccine roll-out in a shambles we will at least be re-assured that in this time of crisis the Prime Minister of our nation remains focused on his image.

The ScoMo™ personality cult, carefully crafted and managed by a legion of spin doctors, image wranglers and media manipulators from the Gaetjens, Kunkel & Finkelstein stain removal service within the Ministry of Propaganda will likely have been undergoing some panicked revisions. Following clear evidence that their boy’s integrity deficit is becoming too evident to too many there will have been some collective shatting of dacks – there’s nothing like a dive in the polls to motivate the re-packaging of their dodgy product.

Don’t expect any tattoos, a moustache or Scooter learning the drums but ‘ScoMo’s homemade curries’ (sic) will probably stay on the PR roster – cynical shmaltz to help calm a wavering base of middle-aged white blokes who are increasingly susceptible to buyer’s remorse when their golf courses are closed and their jet-skis are stored under a tarp.

Bogan Scotty downing a champagne shoey to insert himself into Olympic successes? Maybe just some green and gold face paint – Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oik, oik, oik! Not likely – I’m betting that saviour Scotty the Dear Leader will replace Daggy Dad for some little while at least.

Let’s not under-estimate the challenge posed for his grooms and bag carriers. The nation has not grown along with the noble aspirations of an inspirational leader – a Chifley or a Whitlam; it is shrinking to fit the stunted vision of a small mind that is untroubled by scruples, honesty or shame. Grand oratory that uplifts a nation has been replaced by the unprompted denials on a radio talk show that he’d shat himself at a fast food joint. So proud, so uplifted that this contemptible turd is in the national wheelhouse. The re-invention of Scooter should at least be an entertainment during lockdown.

Dear Leader will need to control the smirk. This ever-present tic broadcasts his arrogance and is never a good look but less so when you’re responsible for the most spectacular fail since federation. Expect the default to now be serious Scotty – an earnest expression topped by the newly fluffy coiffe. There will be waves of gish-galloped, focus-grouped inanities – “all in this together”, “keeping Australians safe”, “saving lives and livelihoods” and on and on and on ’til your will to live is only saved by your desire to see this useless braggart removed from office.

Heroic, sad Jen the ever-reliable empathy prop should get a good run. Jen’s been stressed in lockdown, apparently. Uncomforted by the panoramic harbour views across manicured lawns yet Jen’s trivial tribulations should play well with the North Shore Range Rover set whose gardeners have been unable to tend to the topiary and the mums of middle Australia will swallow it like a rent boy in a prayer room just as they did for Gladdy Twoshoes’ Poor Sad Gladys schtick.

In keeping true to neo-liberal/Pentacostal win/lose principles, for Scooter to shine others must suffer. Fingers will be pointed, colleagues will be back-grounded, lambs will be sacrificed, rugs will be pulled from under friend and foe and never shall accountability or blame be assigned to The Dear Leader whose true self is there to see for those who bother to look. We’d be better off if, for PM, someone had filled a wetsuit with the contents from the spa filter at an eczema convention.

Fun with Schadenfreude

Not all is doom and gloom:

Christian Porter will never be Prime Minister.

Christian Porter and barrister Sue Chrysanthou may have to pay $500,000 in legal fees to Jo Dyer.

One Nation’s James Ashby failed to convince the Federal Court the Government should meet his legal costs to date via an “act of grace” payment of $4.5 million.

Cream bun connoisseur Gorgeous George Christensen and Flaccido Domingo Craig Kelly will both be missing from Parliament after the next election.

This article was originally published on Grumpy Geezer.

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Why Did We Need Katie Hopkins When We Have So Many Unemployed Bigots Here Already?

Ah, cancel culture strikes and Katie Hopkins is sent away simply because she refused to obey the law… The outrage industry strikes again.

I know I’m repeating myself, but well, isn’t history just littered with people who repeat themselves until somebody says why didn’t they say that before and when the person says that they did, they’re asked why they didn’t say it more often…

Ok, in capitals so we all hear it:

WHY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY PAID TO BE OUTRAGED ALL THE TIME LIKE BOLT AND JONES, THE VERY PEOPLE WHO ACCUSE OTHER PEOPLE OF BEING PART OF AN ‘OUTRAGE INDUSTRY”???

But then there’s a lot of things I don’t understand!

For example, what are we to make of this?

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government is in ‘constant appeal’ for the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to change its advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine.” Sky News

However the matter doesn’t end there with Scotty thundering at reporters: “Are you suggesting that the government when advised by the technical and advisory group on immunisation, some of the most senior level scientific medicos in the country, tell the government that the preferred vaccine for people of particular ages is 50 then they changed it to 60 that the government should refuse that advice?”

Yep, but the recent brouhaha with Katie Hopkins confuses me even more.

Ok, it’s true that there’s a certain irony that someone who is so hostile to lockdowns would come all the way to Australia just so she could be locked down in the Big Brother house, However, one wonders whether she was ever more than a publicity stunt for Channel 7. You know, “We’ll pay you X amount to come to Australia and be so offensive that we sack you. You can go back home and every news outlet will be giving us free publicity and then you can go back home and do some interviews about cancel culture!”

Win/win!

Anyway, I sort of have trouble when “conservatives” decide that they can break the law because they don’t agree with it. Yeah, yeah, I get that people need to break laws when they feel that they’re unjust or something… But when someone like Sally McManus – that union person – says something about being prepared to do just that, wasn’t she’s told that the LAW is sacrosanct? It’s not up to us to decide, to pick and choose what laws to follow – but hey, she wasn’t a CONSERVATIVE saying that we should break the law. She was one of those people who don’t understand their place and who thinks that they can break laws just because they want to, as opposed to people who have lawyers who can get them off…

Hmm, I’m tempted to make some tasteless joke about Gladys dating her lawyer because she needs someone who can get her off, but that may seem sexist to some and I may be forced to do that optional training that’s meant to solve sexual harassment and bullying in Federal Parliament. Oh wait, it’s optional. Yes, well that should make about as much difference as Scotty’s recent hair transplant makes to the vaccine rollout.

Yes, compare the favourable coverage some publican in Echuca received from Nine News when he decided to defy the lockdown and stay open with how they react when some poor casual worker decides to keep working in breach of health orders. One is doing it because it’s hard to keep a business afloat so we need to be understanding of the pressures, while the other is only doing it so that they can eat.

Whatever, it was good to see the PM demonstrate to us all that he’s still alive by holding a press conference where he announced that things were basically on target but just a little bit late and that’s mainly the fault of ATAGI… which, apart from the fact that he told us earlier this year that they wouldn’t be setting targets, does use the term «on target » in a rather unique way. «I was basically there for the ten o’clock meeting, apart from the fact that it started at ten and I arrived at midday! »

Of course, it was offensive of one journalist to suggest that the government do anything other than follow the health advice. That’s why the PM is adopting the Great Barrier Reef strategy. It would be wrong to ignore an independent body, so we’ll do the best we can to pressure them to give us the advice we want to follow. And if that doesn’t work, we can cut their funding like we did with the audit office… Mind you that only works if they’re funded by the government.

Yes, sometimes Scott Morrison just rambles on with meaningless waffles and lies, but other times, he disappears and says nothing.

Either way, his detractors are never satisfied… and speaking of Dutton and Frydenberg, apparently, Dutton thinks he has the numbers but without Mathias there to confirm them, he’s not willing to move. Josh was sure he had the numbers but after a recount, he discovered that he was short by sixty billion…

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Grabbed by The Column: Morrison Loses Murdoch’s Favour?

This time I want to discuss the seemingly ridiculous idea that Scott Morrison’s dog has a column in the Errograph. One may think that the obsequious propaganda (or stupidity) has reached new heights: the First Dog has a newspaper column. But all is not as it seems.

Dog Column, Part One: Lazy Scott?

The Daily Errorgraph is a well-known vehicle of COALition propaganda: the bias simply drips off the page. I do not have the link to the article this time but someone in my household buys this rag and I took a photo of the ‘piece’.

The first section of note is this little gem

Someone says they have a big important job running the country and then you are locked down with them and you realise just how much time they spend making cups of tea, playing sudoku and watching Cronulla Sharks highlights on YouTube

Did you catch it? Joke column or not, this is quite excoriating of the Prime Minister. He is not working, running zoom calls, or indeed doing anything to earn the more than $550,000 per year his job apparently warrants. Rather, he is watching his beloved sharkies on YouTube and doing puzzles. Hardworking man our Prime Minister is the clear message.

Dog Column, Part Two: Scotty from Marketing

The column then moves on to make a joke about Morrison’s perhaps overblown cheering for Ash Barty. As the piece puts it

So already he [Morrison] was tired the next morning when Jen suggested he go out and clean up the verandah instead of spending all that time on his phone updating his Twitter account and congratulating Ash [Barty]

It is easy to see this as a dig at Morrison using sport as a distraction from his various shortcomings. Whether it is cricket, the sharkies, or Ash Barty, the Prime Minister has often hidden behind sport. The idea seems to be that everyone can agree sport is awesome for some reason. Sorry Scumo, but I for one can mentally multitask you mental midget. Even the Errograph can see through his crap. Something has clearly changed.

Dog Column, Part Three: The Greatest Hits

The criticism of the Prime Minister continues with this slap to the face reference to Morrison and the bushfires. Referring to cleaning up the mess on the verandah, which the dog partially takes credit for, Morrison is quoted as snapping at Jen saying

I don’t hold a hose, Jen

Jesus christ. Trouble in paradise (and I do not mean in the Morrison marriage). That line could well serve as Morrison’s political epitaph. It portrays him as an out-of-touch elitist for whom mundane tasks are the work of lower-status people. For this to be printed in the Errorgraph of all places speaks volumes about the evident breakdown of the relationship between the Prime Minister and the man who truly runs Australia.

The column then proceeds to criticise Mr. Morrison with a clear dig at his temper with this line

Anyone would think he was tackling the press corps rather than a request from the cheese and kisses

That references not only Mr. Morrison’s temper but his adversarial (to say the least) relationship with members of the press who dare to criticise him. This column has not been subtle so far, but it saves the best for last.

Dog Column, Part Four: A Real Jab

The hits just keep on coming. The final topic is vaccinations, and it packs a punch. After Jen says that Morrison should get the dog vaccinated, the hound says

As a dog, I am a strict anti-vaxxer myself so I was heartened to hear Scott arguing that with the tight border controls around Sydney’s lower north shore there was no rush to get me vaccinated. Apparently he felt happy leaving me needle-free until after the election.

Somewhat speaks for itself, no? No rush to get him vaccinated? This fuels speculation that there will be a sudden influx of vaccines prior to the calling of an election. This is not subtle and really leaves the Prime Minister hanging.

Continuing, Jen says

“You were supposed to get this [dog shots] sorted last year, Scott,” Jen said furiously. “You only had one job and you messed it up”

That was a two-by-four to the face. The Errorgraph is not messing around here. This is also the first true thing this rag has printed in some time if we ignore the date on the front page and the price of the paper. Before digging a little deeper into what I think is going on here, the last few lines are worthy of note

“Come on Buddy, time for a run on the lawn” said Scott, grabbing the ball and heading out through the verandah doors. He loves throwing the ball for me and then trying to get it first.

“Remember Buddy” he said, tossing the ball. “It’s not a race”

Stop it! He’s already dead. Not a race? There are no words here. Of all the things this column shows, the most brazen is that Murdoch could criticise Scott Morrison (accurately we should note – all of this is true) but that he chooses not to.

Analysis

There is perhaps more truth in the phrase ‘COALition propaganda rag’ than I first thought. As much praise as this and other Murdoch rags have heaped on Morrison, he himself is not the target. Murdoch is not defending Morrison as an individual, but rather the Liberal Party as a brand.

So long as Morrison served the agenda of keeping the Liberal Party in power, he was defended and provided with propaganda. Now that his sheer incompetence and other foibles threaten the Party’s grip on power, Rupe has seemingly turned on Morrison. It says much about the dishonesty of the Australian Montgomery Burns that the criticism was published anonymously.

‘Scomo’s Miracle’ was the Errograph front-page headline after the 2019 election. Rupe’s decision to turn on Morrison now, after the legion of scandals that has plagued him for much of his term, does suggest that an election is forthcoming. Given that the two likely alternatives (Spud – Dutton and Friesenburger – Frydenburg) are each about as popular as hundreds and thousands in a braille book, Rupe’s next move should be interesting.

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Just who is this man named Morrison that he needs Murdoch’s defence?

Who is this man who would have you believe that he is God’s gift to all that bothers us?

Has the nation finally woken to his lack of leadership, his lack of character and his lying? Can he keep up this façade of broken promises and false credibility?

Journalists from the non-Murdoch media definitely don’t see the shine that is all too often portrayed in Murdoch publications. Here are some examples:

Peter Lewis in The Guardian June 22 noticed that:

“There has been an undeniable shift in Morrison’s rhetoric on climate since Christmas. He has softened his support for new coalmines, shifted focus to gas as a transition, and left open the idea of hitting zero emissions at a point that may or may not bear a passing resemblance to 2050. It’s not exactly embracing Greta Thunberg but at least he has stopped fondling lumps of coal in the parliament.

William Bowe in The Poll Bludger on July 7 said that:

“The shine continues to come off Scott Morrison’s COVID-boosted personal ratings, plus new evidence of a softening in support for the Coalition among women.”

Just how much longer is the Liberal Party and the Murdoch media going to keep supporting Scott Morrison?

Katharine Murphy, writing in The Guardian observed that:

“The public needs political leaders to put their interests first and be competent in a crisis. That’s the long and the short of it – and the past 72 hours has not inspired confidence.”

Greg Jericho, also for The Guardian, June 27 said:

“It’s 2021 and we have a government within sight of an election with no policy on climate change that endeavours to reach net zero emissions, and the National party has just re-elected as its leader Barnaby Joyce, whose main policy position appears to be to ensure such a target is never set.

Climate change denial continues to be the strongest force in Australian politics.”

On his current demeanour, one wouldn’t have any confidence in Scott Morrison conducting a chook raffle at the local pub, let alone running government business on a world scale. We should look at his latest promises regarding the Pfizer vaccine with doubt, given his history of lying to us.

Adding to the government’s woes of three terms of deplorable governance is the re-emergence of Barnaby Joyce, who has nothing to offer the country except negativity and gloom. He is undoubtedly a man lost when deep oblique thinking is required.

But we are indeed a weird lot, or should I say an accepting lot. One would, under normal circumstances, assume that we would have reached the bottom line of political management. What one would regard as reasonable government a decade ago has passed us by, and we can lament its passing. But there are no protests on the streets. Even the Union movement seems to have a passive attitude toward the government’s incompetence.

Many political observers (including me) are now saying Scott Morrison is the worst Prime Minister in the history of Australia. Yes, even worse than Tony Abbott.

Katharine Murphy writing for The Guardian made this observation:

“But if we look closely at what has been happening in recent weeks, we can also observe Morrison’s frustration levels building. When it comes to managing outbreaks, the states remain risk-averse, particularly in an environment when not enough Australians are vaccinated. That creates constant friction between the jurisdictions, given vaccine supply is a commonwealth issue.”

He has now opted for a “less of me” attitude to take Government off the front pages where even Murdoch is hard-pressed to hide his smart-arse smirking face, his announcements and his sense of entitlement.

His triumphant announcement that we were at the “front of the queue” when procuring sufficient vaccines to protect the Australian people was another unforgivable lie. One of the many announcements that were full of hot air without any measured result and all Calculated to deliver an ant nest of activity simply as a diversion from the lack of vaccine supply.

The front of the queue announcement, as it turns out, was nothing more than another Scott Morrison attempt to fool the Australian people into believing his every word. A belief that is waning with every week that passes.

His pronouncement that NSW was the “gold standard” for handling COVID-19 has proven wrong. So much so that he should turn to the Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, the man he so readily denounced and seek his advice.

The Prime Minister, however, doesn’t have ownership of stupidity when it comes to making announcements.

 

 

A wing and a prayer may be an attitudinal way for a Christian Prime Minister like Morrison to govern the country, but the problems of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow.

In other words, instead of announcements, just give us the facts without the maybe’s, for Christ sake. Things like putting the Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, in front of a savvy media pack to tell them that Australia’s doors were closed when all the evidence suggested otherwise.

Indeed, on the contrary, our borders are wide open, with the “Federal Government granting hundreds of exemptions for Business Travelers.” They freely travel in and out of Australia, whether they are vaccinated or not.

The Deputy Premier of Queensland confirmed this at a recent Media Conference, saying that the only thing “required to get a permit from the federal government to leave the country is proof you have a meeting in another country.”

How then, did Margaret Court get an exemption to go to Wimbledon and not Ash Barty’s parents?

As if to go one better, a brazen Scott Morrison issued a “Captain’s Call” that people under 40 years of age could now access the AstraZeneca vaccine. He did so without any discussion in the National Cabinet he had just left.

State and territory leaders only became aware of the decision when they sat down to watch the evening news.

Regardless of all this ineptitude and imbecility, there was a stampede of right-wing journalists ready to defend the Prime Minister. Newscorp, as usual, are the worst offenders.

Surly journalists have a more crucial moral principle to report the truth than to out of hand defend the Morrison’s lies.

In following the media moguls instructions, print media publications and their journalists commit themselves to destroy Anthony Albanese without the slightest thought that the 4th Estate must keep the Government of the day accountable.

Australia is seemingly governed by the whim of an ancient American who lives in that country. He owns much of this nation’s media, including its printing presses.

He gives our conservative coalition parties licence to make our rich richer and our poor poorer. Such is his ethics.

My thought for the day

Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s wellbeing for the sake of it.

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Josh Frydenberg: Why Everything Is Labor’s Fault But Liberals Are Just Victims Of Circumstance!

From the time of the oil shocks of the 70s, there’s been one consistent approach to the rhetoric of the Liberal Party: If Labor were in power when something happens, then it’s their fault but if the Liberals are in power, it’s also Labor’s fault… unless we can claim that it was obviously nothing to do with us and any suggestion from Labor is just playing politics with something that should be above politics… That’s the thing with Labor, they play politics, we don’t, we just get on with the job of finding some scapegoat and moving on in the hope that you’ll be upset that Labor dared to say anything when hindsight is easy from those people who warned us that this was likely to happen!

Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that over the past week a couple of interesting things have happened with regard to the whole pandemic thing. First, there was the brouhaha about whether or not Kevin Rudd had any effect in the acceleration of the Pfizer rollout. While the front page of The Australian told us that millions of extra doses were here, they seemed to be using the word “here” in a way that I don’t find consistent with the dictionary definition, and it seems to me that what we have is another announcement that we’ve moved from the front of the queue to further up the queue and our improved place means that we’ll actually be getter more doses sooner than was scheduled even though they’re not really needed because, apparently, vaccines wouldn’t have prevented the Sydney lockdown or as some people call it, « the ban on browsing in shops that aren’t big Liberal donors »!

But putting aside whether Rudd was successful or not, and putting aside any suggestion that Rudd was trying to make himself seem like the country’s saviour. Put Kevin completely to one side and don’t even start with the “at least he tried” or anything. If we accept that Kevin didn’t achieve anything, what are we left with?

It seems that the current Prime Minister (Scott Morrison, in case you’ve forgotten) could make 55 phone calls trying to get Marty Corman a job, but when it comes to contacting Pfizer, “he doesn’t hold a phone, mate!”! Of course, the government can soon jump to action when there’s a genuine emergency. Look how quickly they responded when Kevin was getting a bit of thanks. How quickly they contacted Pfizer and got a spokesperson to tell everyone that Kevin had no role in contractual negotiations. Speed of light when something’s really important…

Of course, I know some of you can’t help but point out that there was never any suggestion that Kevin was involved in contracts. And some of you will be wondering how high up the spokesperson was. But leave all that and give credit where credit is due. When it comes to patting themselves on the back, the current mob of Liberals are gold standard.

All of which brings me to Joshie from the now-marginal seat of Kooyong and his performance on 7.30.

I’m going to begin by saying that the obvious way to deal with things is to establish clear guidelines before an event. If you haven’t done that because the unexpected happens then put in place rules or guidelines for what happens in the future. For example, if worker can take time off to go with their partner for their baby’s ultrasound because we have a family-friendly workplace, does that mean that another worker can take time off to get my partner pregnant? Obviously not, and unless the rules are clearly spelled out then you have all sorts of questions about what’s allowable and what’s not and if the boss’s partner is given time off to get his or her hair cut, then you’re going to have resentment, even if you do say that in the future you can all get you hair cut on company time.

Apparently, we’re all sick of Daniel Andrews’ whinging. Now, I know that not everyone stands with Dan, but I find it hard to imagine that even his worst critics would suggest that he’s spent the past year or so complaining. As far as playing politics goes, Andrews seems to have worked constructively with Scott Morrison which is nearly as amazing as seeing « Scott Morrison » and « work » in the same sentence. But no, pointing out that Victoria has had to fight for every cent while NSW is presented with heaps of extra funding is just « whinging ». Josh and his state Liberal mates have never been guilty of that. They’ve never complained because there was a lockdown then complained that the lockdown wasn’t quick enough. No, they’ve just been terribly constructive.

Josh went on to dismiss any criticism as “bots and Trots”! That’s the sort of witty rhyme that must go down a treat at Liberal functions but will annoy anyone who doesn’t think they’re a robot and doesn’t identify with the Trotskyists… And no, I don’t mean the Maoists and Stalinists!

But I guess that’s the way the right-wing works. Any criticism is just envy! Why, who hasn’t made a mistake and vaccinated 160 boys who just happened to have consent forms? The fact that it was a private school has nothing to do with it: You’re just starting class warfare. This is political correctness gone mad. Refusing to buy something because you don’t approve of the people who are behind it? Why, that’s cancel culture. Once everyone’s on an Indue card, we will decide who you purchase from and the circumstances in which you purchase!

Is it too far-fetched to suggest that in the near future, we’ll have some Liberal-friendly commentator saying that the current mess is all the fault of Labor for not winning the last election?

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Corrupted census data on religion ‘gifts’ billions to Churches

By Brian Morris

On Tuesday 10th August every Australian will be asked to complete the 5-yearly census. A primary objective of each census is to collect accurate data from individuals and households, allowing the federal government to provide, “better services and infrastructure planning – and to responsibly allocate funding and resources.”

One section of the census – over many decades – has been anything but “responsible”. New academic research now validates what secular organisations have known for years – that census Question 23 on Religious Affiliation is a loaded question that corrupts the statistics. It inflates the status of religion and allows billions in unjustified funding to be granted to wealthy church institutions, to the detriment of secular public health and education.

Costing $470 million in 2016, and tipped to be higher this August, taxpayers expect the census to be reliable and accurate. It is not. It’s crystal clear that on one question in particular, census data is hopelessly corrupted.

Research specialist, Neil Francis, has completed an academic analysis of religion in society to produced a 152-page in-depth study; Religiosity in Australia. The findings are stark, with political ramifications that run deep.

“At the 2016 census, 60% of Australians indicated an affiliation with a religious denomination. This is widely assumed a reliable headline indication of Australians’ religiosity. It isn’t. Bias in the census religion question leads to overstatement of affiliation on weak family historical grounds, rather than actual religious belief and practice.”

ABS – the Australian Bureau of Statistics – is responsible for every aspect of each census. They should know their published results are misleading, so the questions to ask are (1) why is that so, and (2) how is it that ABS has for decades rejected calls from nation-wide secular organisations for a more “balanced” question? We shall come to that shortly, but first, what is the census question ABS has been asking for so long, and why is it misleading?

Headlining the religious question is a bold statement; Religious Affiliation. Instinctively, it helps contaminate the data by inferring a family affiliated bias. Then, the loaded question; “What is the person’s religion?” Implicitly it assumes every citizen has a religion, and it sets up a wrong conclusion that Australia is a “Christian nation.”

Following each census since 2006, hundreds of submissions have called for a more ‘open’ question but ABS has rejected them all. They claim the question should not be altered as it requires “continuity” – and their priority is only to test “affiliation”, not a person’s genuine belief or religious commitment.

But the question has indeed been modified in the past, and “affiliation” simply skews the truth of a current religious conviction – or lack of belief. It encourages regression to childhood, and a family-induced faith that is no longer followed or relevant.

Patently, ABS is not interested in collecting current “here and now” data on the religious beliefs of Australians – and we shall ask “why” shortly. In ‘Religiosity in Australia’ Neil Francis again points to how the data is corrupted.

“When expressly asked if they ‘belong’ to their religious organisation, a majority – 62 percent of Australians – say they don’t, including 24 percent Catholics, 44 percent of Anglicans.”

These are alarming statistics when ABS recorded just 30 percent ‘No Religion’ in 2016. And Dr Andy Marks, the vice-chancellor of Western Sydney University, says only 7.5 percent of MPs identify as “No Religion”. Measured against the realistic public figure at 62 percent, citizens are a staggering 8 times less religious than federal MPs.

Creating a false picture of religiosity in Australia has allowed governments to hand out billions in additional taxpayer funds to wealthy churches to run their private religious enterprises in nation-wide education, health, welfare and aged care – most of which has little to do with genuine charity or public service.

Historically, an unhealthy symbiosis between religion and government is well established

Over millennia, it is inescapable that governments foster and support religion as a means of calming the masses – and they continue to do so. It’s the tried-and-true ‘carrot and stick’ philosophy of Imperial Rome – cooperate and prosper, or face the consequences. Countless philosophers have written on the symbiotic relationship between religion and government. One of the first was Lucius Annaeus Seneca – the 1st century CE stoic philosopher – who stated; “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”

So why has ABS rejected every call for greater transparency?

It is a fair question, given recent events. Church leaders and a host of Christian activists lobby MPs continually for greater religious privileges – and increasingly so since Same Sex Marriage was legalised in 2017. And it’s not unusual that governments, too, will influence sections of the public service. Pork-barrelling has a long tarnished history – most recently with rorts in sport and car park funding.

The ABC’s Insiders program, on 4th July, saw journalist Karen Middleton refer to the growing concern over the “Car Park” rorts – where Scott Morrison is said to have signed off on a swag of car park projects in marginal Liberal seats, just days prior to the 2019 election. Middleton said, “so you’re seeing public servants now making a ‘political’ defence of the government”. She pointed to departments bowing to projects that were critically flawed.

And on 5th July, online journal Independent Australia published a report that senior figures at the Reserve Bank of Australia had made inaccurate statements in support of the government. Public servants are required to serve the nation without partisan bias. There’s concern, too, that Australia has lost its top-10 global anti-corruption ranking.

Has ABS come under any pressure to maintain the status of religion?

The question needs to be asked. All parliamentarians – and mainstream media too – would do well to read the full 152-page Religiosity in Australia. The report has amassed clear evidence that public support for organised religion is not simply “in decline”, it has essentially degraded to half the figure suggested by the 2016 census.

Primarily it’s a rump of devout Catholics, evangelicals, and Pentecostals who believe that only they are qualified to govern – much like PM Scott Morrison, and others, who claim they were called to do “God’s work.”

Combining religion and politics has never ended well – particularly when conservative governments enmesh with the new “puritan” strains of religion that are based on the beliefs of biblical literalism. They deny science, climate change, and human evolution – and tragically, these parents teach their kids the same misinformation.

Regrettably, ABS helps perpetuate this fallacy of a ‘Christian nation’. And they show another bizarre distortion of reality. In this August 10th census ABS will now include ATHEISM as an optional “religion” – the provocative claim of evangelists! Has the Bureau completely lost the plot, or somehow been influenced to play religious politics?

Brian Morris is a former Journalist and Public Relations professional and the author of Sacred to Secular, a critically acclaimed analysis of Christianity, its origins and the harm that it does. You can read more about him here.

 

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