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Journalists need to be watchdogs in the marketplace of ideas

When Donald Trump launched his ‘birther movement’ in the lead up to the 2012 US presidential candidate race, his accusations about President Obama’s place of birth should never have been published in mainstream media. By publishing these demonstrably false accusations, aimed at delegitimising America’s first black President, the media gave the accusations, and in-turn Trump, an unjustified legitimacy. This coverage gave him a key step-up in his eventual rise to power in 2016. We all know how badly that ended.

Do the media ever adequately reflect on the part they played in this international abomination?

The answer is no if you consider the publishing of similarly egregious conspiracy lies in Victoria this week. When Louise Staley, the Victorian shadow treasurer, publicly asked questions about the ‘truth’ of Premier Daniel Andrews’ fall, she was promoting ridiculous and outrageous lies which had been spreading via social media and text message in Melbourne for weeks, all aimed at delegitimising the Premier while he recuperates from a near-fatal back injury. She chose to spread these unsubstantiated and frankly absurd lies as part of an ongoing aggressive Victorian Liberal campaign to smear Premier Andrews and the Labor government.

Did the media have to report these ‘questions’? No, of course they didn’t.

When media professionals complain about fake news, they are usually referring to the spreading of false information on social media. There is no doubt that fake rumours and conspiracies on social media – hello QAnon – are a huge problem which society is yet to adequately address. One way that the mainstream media could help in this fight, a fight to stop the erosion of public decency and trust in evidence and fact – a trust which represents the glue that holds society together – is by correcting false information when it is clear it is spreading out of control on the internet. Such correction would constitute the media fulfilling their most basic role as watchdogs for society – this time not as watchdogs on the powerful, but watchdogs for the quality of information spreading around the marketplace of ideas.

I describe fake news as the publishing of demonstrably false information on any platform whether it be social or mainstream media. By undermining the legitimacy of fake news, journalists are working in the public interest.

The opposite is also true. When the media give unearned legitimacy to fake news, like promoting Staley’s devious ‘question asking’ about the circumstances of Premier Andrews’ injuries, they are working against the public interest. And, they’re giving free rein to illegitimate behaviour, such as Trump’s dishonest birth certificate claims, and Staley’s deceitful spreading of politically motivated gossip.

Another example of the media failing to be watchdogs in the public interest when it comes to correcting false and damaging misinformation was the publishing of outrageous anti-vax conspiracies after a Queensland hairdresser banned covid-vaccinated customers from attending her salon. Her lies about vaccinations seeping out of the vaccinated and causing infertility had already gained unwarranted traction on social media. So why would mainstream news platforms give the misinformation not only more reach to a much wider audience, but also un-earned legitimacy? During a pandemic. When vaccination hesitancy is already a major issue. For clicks? What does that say about the ethics of some in the news industry?

Obama regularly mentioned his frustration at media norms in his memoir ‘A Promised Land’. He said from the start of his presidency, he was not just surprised at how much his Republican opponents peddled ‘half truths or outright lies’, but also by the media’s willingness to publish them. Trump used this willingness to his advantage by making lying a political weapon. His former chief strategist and editor of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, famously admitted this, bragging: “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with sht”. Much sht was thrown, and much was published – The Washington Post tracked Trump’s lies, which counted 25,000 during his presidency. If the strategy is working, why would he do anything differently?

Pleasingly, not all Australian journalists reported Staley’s conspiracy mongering as legitimate questioning of the Premier. And some chose not to report them at all. Yet, too many lazily followed the usual script of blindly repeating every public statement made by a prominent person as if it is automatically newsworthy and legitimate until proven otherwise. This is how fake news flourishes. Once the genie is out of the bottle, there’s not much you can do to put it back in.

Some media insiders do self-reflect, but even when they identify the problem, it does not seem to have an impact on media routines. For example, after Trump was dragged kicking and screaming from office, retiring executive director of The Washington Post, Martin Baron, admitted journalists and editors should have done a better job holding Trump to account for his lies:

“We had to be much more forthright about Trump’s mendacity, his lies over the course of the administration. We needed to call them that from the very beginning. We were very much operating on good principle; and let’s be fair, he was president, he was duly elected. But he was exploiting that. He was exploiting our principles.”

These ‘principles’ have been weaponised in bad faith by right wing politicians who give no thought to the long-term damage disinformation does to society. As evidence of just how bad this situation has got, a recent survey found one in seven Americans trust the QAnon conspiracy which peddles the laughingly outrageous accusation that the world is run by a cabal of cannibalistic pedophiles. It would be funny if it weren’t so scary. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has a close family friend who has been a leading spreader of QAnon nonsense. And of course, QAnon followers made up a huge number of the unhinged crowd who stormed the Capitol Building after being revved into an irrational frenzy by the only voice they seem to trust: Trump.

The sooner the news media act as watchdogs to maintain society’s fragile-grip on reality, rather than undermining it, the better. It is up to journalists if they want to use their power to be part of the problem of disinformation, or help solve it.

This article was originally published on Media Inequality.

Why no one can believe Anne Ruston and the LNP when it comes to the Cashless Debit Card

By The Say No Seven

We could provide you with dozens of individual examples of ministers from Tudge to Pitt, Fletcher and Tehan all lying openly in parliament and misleading parliament about the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) but we won’t. Instead, we will focus on what happened during the last CDC “bill process” in the Senate in December 2020 as it’s fresh in everyone’s minds and offers perhaps the clearest insight into just how little trust anyone can place in this policy, and in those who are promoting it.

First things first, please watch the video below as it provides context for this article.

 

 

People need to be aware that the CDC bill that was eventually voted on and passed in the Senate in December 2020, was an amended alternative mashup of the “Continuation Bill” that was originally sent to parliament. It was not the same bill that had been presented by LNP and put up for debate in the House of Representatives or Senate prior to this night’s vote. Amended so heavily as it was, what eventually passed was a resultant mess of amendment vote-buying and deal-brokering that completely altered key areas of the original bill.

Continuation Bill 2020 was itself a bill that was rushed out after LNP withdrew the original expansion and extension bill they wanted to present “Transition Bill 2019”, after campaigning raised enough community and political awareness that that bill was doomed to failure and we suspect, after Centre Alliance (CA) indicated they would not support it.

With me so far?

In any case, on this night of the final Senate vote and as you can see in the video, Senator McCarthy questioned the validity of the amendments being offered by Anne Ruston and the amendment’s impact on understandings agreed to by people who had been involved in the year long process until that time. She pointed out that the bill then before the chamber was completely different and asked the pertinent question about who Anne had consulted about the last-minute changes.

Anne then openly lied right to everyone’s faces, even using the opposition members themselves as ‘reasons’ and justification for her apparent ‘change her mind’ last minute in merely ‘offering’ a voluntary transition process via amendment after the second vote – a vote that ordinarily, would have been the end of proceedings.

Then something remarkable happened. Raw fact-sharing hit the chamber in the form of Senator Jacqui Lambie, who called out Anne Ruston for lying about the “hows” and “whys” and chastised her for her obfuscation and dishonesty. Sen. Lambie then further revealed that in fact no one had been consulted about the amendment changes made on the night and then told the Senate that the amendments had stemmed from a private deal, suspected and alluded to by Sen. Siewert and others earlier, that had been struck she states, 24hrs earlier in a senate chamber backroom moshup between LNP and Centre Alliance.

 

 

While Jacqui is certainly and absolutely to be commended for her own honesty, and for highlighting Anne Ruston’s lies and overall dishonesty, she also tried to paint CA in a positive light as somehow responsible for ‘rescuing’ people from the bulk compulsory transfer to CDC government wanted, by providing a ‘voluntary transfer’ amendment option to Anne Ruston.

This is not the case, however. In reality, had Stirling Griff (CA) simply voted NO in the Senate at the second vote, the cashless debit card trials would have ended right then and there, as the Centre Alliance vote WAS the deciding vote LNP needed to pass it.

No amendments were necessary had Centre Alliance genuinely planned to vote against the bill as they publicly stated they were going to.

Whatever deal was done, the inducements offered by LNP to gain the CA vote remain unknown to this day, and to our view, these inducements were clearly offered before the bill even made it to the House of Representatives (HoR) earlier in the week.

We can say this with some confidence, as in the HoR process earlier in the week, Rebekah Sharkie, Bridget Archer and Zali Steggall teamed up to block ALP amendments bought in by shadow social services minister Linda Burney that would have ensured the bill never made it to Senate at all.

Later, both Zali and Rebekah easily voted ‘no’ to the bill at the final HoR vote in order to save political face, as they were both by then fully aware that Archer’s much-publicised abstention would give the bill a one vote majority for LNP, and see it passed on to the Senate anyway.

Had Zali and Rebekah backed Linda Burney’s amendments, the bill would have been blocked then and there in the HoR, and CDC would have ended on schedule, Dec 31st, 2020.

Twice Centre Alliance formed unreported alliances with others and the LNP to affect the passage of this bill though both House and Senate.

The entire process surrounding Continuation Bill 2020 was crooked and a rot from the get-go, with CA promising people publicly and on record, that they would not vote for extension and expansion of cashless debit cards before seeing the evidence contained within the Adelaide University Evaluation Report (AUER) – a report that was due in June 2019, that was intentionally withheld by Anne Ruston until Jan 2021, after this vote had taken place.

It remains, that not one member of the HoR or Senate who voted for this bill ever saw that evaluation and so much as glimpsed the data that showed horrendous Domestic Violence and Child Welfare in the AUER.

Not one of them saw or knew, that for 85.4% of people forced onto the program there had been no positive result; even worse than the 77% NPI from the Orima report. None of the wider impacts or any of the plethora of embarrassing non-results the AUER revealed were taken into consideration, at all.

Yet they voted to extend and expand the CDC despite no forward estimate’s costings being available, and not for publication clauses on all spending.

They voted knowing full well that people were suffering, becoming homeless and even ending their lives as a result of the impact of this policy on their mental and financial health.

They voted it through anyway, and with not one shred of evidence of policy accountability or efficacy ever being sighted at all.

And along with a raft of other in legislation instrument changes and expansion measures, in doing so, they removed the last of independent oversight from the entire CDC process; they removed innocent people’s statutory rights, and removed the last of protections for vulnerable payment nominees and those who had been exempted due to weekly payment exemptions rules, meaning that for the first time, the most disadvantaged and acutely at risk people in the Australian community, are now open targets for predatory private enterprise.

That lie told by Anne Ruston on this night, about the deals she had made with CA with the LNP was not the only lie on the night though.

Anne Ruston earlier claimed in her testimony that the entire BasicsCard legislation would apply and come across to protect people in the NT if they chose to ‘transition’ across to CDC claiming that transition was all just ‘ a matter of a technology change’.

This is not true and, on many levels, the least of which is the glaringly obvious and fundamental difference between the two policies; that anyone transitioning across will be subject to unaccountable Indue Ltd income management and control, not under accountable government run income management.

The reality today is that only those persons within the FRC controlled region of Cape York will have anything remotely like those pre-existing protections and obligations they had under BasicsCard legislation and no one else. Both NT and FRC’s Cape York region appear in the CDC legislation with no reference in that document to any BasicsCard legislation crossover or IM protections in place for the NT cohort who may choose to transfer between the two mandatory programs. This ‘hobson’s choice’ as Senator Wong aptly called it on the night, will leave transferee’s subject to a new and very different regime of compulsory income management than they have previously known.

The cashless debit card legislation, while being a compulsory third party income management program, is governed by independent legislation that is an express legislative exemption to the Social Security Act, making it a standalone program and not, to the best of our knowledge and research, included or even listed as being a program that falls within government’s overall Income Management ‘tree’ of programs and policies that BasicsCard does stem from. We know this, as under general IM and BasicsCard rules, there are several rules and obligations and limitations in place that are simply not offered to people on the “Indue card”.

These ongoing lies have already cost lives and they are the worst kind of lie because they are lies of omission that impact the innocent and most trusting and often, the least educated. As lies of omission they tell half truths, and leave out key details that completely alter the entire context of the information being given to people.

Omission lies are a truly deceptive, deceitful, and a dangerous political tactic that has been in place since the very beginning of the Cashless debit card process and you need only read the words of Ceduna “stakeholders” to see that for yourself, here.

If LNP and their allies now face a serious “trust” problem, and they clearly do, it is wholly because of the pre-existence of their “lie by omission” problem, proven through each heart-breaking CDC bill cycle in their tactics of desperation and their willingness to continue to deceive the Australia constituency and even their own party members and parliament colleagues. Perhaps like the boy who cried wolf, even if they are sincere in their recent protestant claims, no one remotely aware can trust them at their word. They are victims of their own deceptive ‘success’.

When the independent evaluation data clearly supports those who are speaking out and truth-telling, the thin veneer of lies presented to the press and public by this government is left with no leg to stand on and this naturally leaves LNP with an increasingly visible and obvious integrity problem.

Like most propaganda and forms of denial, lies of omission also have an end date, as more people even without effort on our part are beginning to see the same patterns and wake up to the facts and reality of what is really going on too.

Can we trust the LNP not to put age pensioners on cards?

This is a moot question and argument for the simple fact that people on Age pensions and people of pensionable age unable to get the Age pension (people with no birth certificates) are already on the mandatory cashless debit card in Cape York, right now, and they and all service pensioners, are also on the BasicsCards program right now too.

Further, people aged up to 67yrs are already on cards right now as well, in all current CDC “trial” zones except the Hinkler electorate zone. Only relatively recent changes to the age limit on Age pensions means they are not on that payment now.

Australian pensioners, like the rest of us, are just one bill, one backroom deal and one pen stroke away from being ‘captured’ by the card. And that is all it would take from here to advance inclusion of Age pension into the program in any location any time.

While having no desire at all, in fact a high resistance to creating a panic, we cannot and will not aid and abet LNP to allow anyone to avoid the reality of this risk, and in so doing, leave people sitting ducks, or idle in their comfortable bubbles of denial.

LNP have also cut the Age pension twice since coming into office and if you count indexation changes, they have already placed seniors travel concessions onto a cashless card with a company (Heritage) that is a Indue Ltd shareholder, and they have withheld the 900-page Audit commission report that recommended tightening seniors concessions even further. You don’t commission audit reports without intent.

Given the aged care sector was one of the first to be privatised (and see how that has turned out) we have no doubt this pattern of exploitation will continue with regards to Cashless debit cards.

Indeed, on the ground work to ‘encourage’ the elderly to sign up in current CDC trial sites is ongoing and indicative of their intention. We see the process of ‘inclusion’ as being already well underway.

In current trial sites, the same “reasoning” revealed just last week by LNP’s Dr Gillespie’s staff is being used right now and that is, that there are “no problems with the card” and it will be “good for their safety”.

You will note that no mention is ever made about why elders may be unsafe in their own communities in order to ‘need’ a card in the first place, so we view these pushes to get more pensioners volunteering now, as yet another LNP deflection from the impacts that cashless debit cards are having IN affected communities.

So the LNP clearly have a pattern of acting against the best interests of the elderly in this country and a pattern of using deceptive incremental tactics to fundamentally change pensioner rights and freedoms. They do not see our elders as a ‘protected’ group as much as some would like to think they do and that, if nothing else, is a reason for mistrust.

Can we trust Anne Ruston’s claim age pension won’t be included in any national roll out?

No. And for two reasons.

One, you need only ask Ceduna about their one year ‘targeted trial’ that is now six years long and a blanket measure imposed by force through deceit onto everyone without any assessment of individual needs to see what is said and what is done are two different animals.

LNP, lie. And they do it very well.

This entire policy has been rolled out in similar steamroll fashion to the Ceduna experience, and roll outs since 2016 show a practice of carefully crafted incrementalism is in place, that has seen mission creep after mission creep ‘justified’ and manipulated through the parliament in a series of backroom deals and sold to the ignorant public by Orwellian spin and extensive public money funded propaganda power.

The reality masked by LNP’s publicly funded propaganda is, that last two bills to pass the Senate expanding and extending this policy, passed only by one single vote, and solely due to the private deal making between single vote senators and the LNP. This policy has not passed on the programs merit, it has not passed on the evidence need or efficacy of the policy at all. Just backroom deals.

Secondly, Anne Ruston herself, though she’s not alone in LNP, is uniquely accustomed to and even fluent in lying by omission about this policy. So much so her heartbeat barely even raised a notch as she stood there and lied in Senate in December 2020, right in front of her colleagues that she claimed to respect and in front of the cameras feeding her lies to the Australian people.

A liar of such skill simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth to anyone, even herself.

While we don’t expect Age pension to end up in the next bill, it is fair to say that due to the temptation of the sums of money involved and LNP’s pattern of incremental mission creep on CDC, that we do genuinely feel it is only a matter of time they are included wider scale.

This is especially true if the LNP are re-elected, and that is a big IF we are each and all responsible for when the time comes. ALP say they will scrap it, LNP will expand it, those are the facts, and that is the simple choice we all have here and now.

It is highly unlikely no new CDC bills, including further Age pension expansion or not, will arrive before the next election. Unless that is, LNP do wish to commit political suicide which is a possibility as they appear tired and have created such a mess, they seem to want to be opposition again.

Given the push to change Medicare this week is something similar to what Howard did with Work Choices which he knew would see the end of their term then, it’s not a far fetch to assume LNP are done laying whatever groundwork they needed and want a rest now.

It is also entirely plausible that they will make some grand announcement excluding Age pensioners from the CDC as a whole, in attempt to curry the pensioner vote for the election, only to let that promise go at first opportunity as they have any mention of a ICAC.

We simply don’t know and we simply, can’t trust them either way.

What remains at the end of the day is the fact that under the Social Security Act governing this abusive policy, and under Vol2 Part 3D “Cashless Welfare Arrangements” Division 2 Section 124PD, “Definitions” of the Act, the Age Pension remains listed as a “restrictable payment” in the CDC legislation for the NT and Cape York. It is IN the Act as a mandatory payment.

While a caveat is in place for the NT (not Cape York) in their entry in the Act at this time, one that does remove age pensioners from the list of quarantined payment types there, if there was indeed no ongoing plan or intention to include any more age pensioners on the program as Anne has suggested this week, then the inclusion of Age Pension as a mandatory restrictable payment in the Act at all would simply not be necessary.

It would be far simpler and more genuine to have included special caveat for the FRC region/ Cape York under their proscribed entry in the Act and leave only voluntary participation clauses everywhere else. While this payment remains included as a mandatory restrictable payment in the legislation, Age pensioners everywhere remain at as much risk as we all are.

For now, at least, there is no immediate threat, to Age pensioners as there is no bill before Parliament at this time. Age pensioner concerns about what may come, especially given the legislation’s contents, are valid however, and ALP and Greens MP’s and Senators may have more insight into any impending risk than we do given our limited connections.

Until we see deliberate action from the LNP to move on CDC again, and one to include Age Pensions on cards more widely, we, as you, must simply remain on watch and we will all have to wait along with everyone else to see what their next moves are.

If we spot any advancement, we will post it. Be sure to check back with us and keep fighting this monstrous shameful racist classist policy everywhere you can.

 

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The life of a little girl and our dignity as a nation, hang in the balance

Peter Dutton has a particular view on children born in this country of parents who had sought asylum after entering Australia without the proper paperwork. ‘Spud’ called them Anchor Babies.

What ‘Spud’ was trying to imply was that asylum seekers who had babies, frequently whilst in detention, did so for the purpose of using their babies to ‘anchor’ their ability to stay in Australia.

This is nonsense as the The Australian Citizenship Act does not confer Australian citizenship on a person simply by virtue of them being born in Australia. Section 12 of the act states :

Citizenship by birth

(1) A person born in Australia is an Australian citizen if and only if :

(a) a parent of the person is an Australian citizen, or a permanent resident, at the time the person is born; or

(b) the person is ordinarily resident in Australia throughout the period of 10 years beginning on the day the person is born.

So the notion of ‘anchor babies’ as applied to the ‘Biloela family’ is a mischievous fallacy promoted by the Morrison government as Australian law does not allow the parents to use their Australian born babies – Tharunicaa and Kopika – as an automatic right to residency. However, the minister does have discretion to allow them to stay but this is rarely if ever exercised : this government it seems would prefer to fight the matter through the courts and in the meantime hold the family in detention, at a reported cost of six million dollars a year

Now three year old Tharunicaa is in hospital in Perth, she had reportedly been unwell for ten days with high temperatures, vomiting and diarrhoea, as her family called for more medical help. It now appears that she has untreated pneumonia that led to a blood infection.

Tharunicaa, together with her parents and her sister, Kopika, have been in detention on Christmas Island since August 2019.They are the only two children in immigration detention in Australia.

The family had initially settled in the Queensland town of Biloela where they were welcomed and quickly became contributing members of the community until early one morning their home was raided and the family was taken into custody by Australian Border Force personnel in March 2018 – they have been detained since.

The family has been engaged in legal appeals since 2012. Tharunicaa’s father and mother are both Sri Lankan nationals who arrived in Australia by boat seeking asylum in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They arrived without visas and are considered in law to be “unlawful maritime arrivals.” Although Tharunicaa and six-year-old Kopika were born in Australia, they too are “unlawful maritime arrivals”.

Former Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton (now Defence minister but with considerable authority within Cabinet) has repeatedly said the family is not owed protection. They are part of a caseload who had their claims for refugee status determined and denied under a “fast track” process. The Australian Human Rights Commission has found significant issues with the “fast track” process and has called for a compassionate response to this family.

The current drawn out legal action centres around the obligations of the government to consider whether Tharunicaa can apply for a visa in Australia. This can only happen if the new Home Affairs Minister (Karen Andrews) personally intervenes, which it seems she must in the prevailing circumstances.

Only minister Andrews or Immigration Minister Alex Hawke have the power to allow the family to live in the community whether it be on Christmas Island or in Biloela on bridging visas. Andrews recently said she was still taking advice on whether she would allow them to live in the community. Her difficulty will come from Dutton who is taking this issue personally. But both he and Morrison are alert to public calls for this to end. They would both be aware that in 2018, following a similar medivac situation a Queensland coroner found delays in diagnosing and removing Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei from Manus Island directly contributed to his death from septicaemia.

Karen Andrews, as the senior minister responsible, is under increasing public pressure to do more for the family and she should now accept an offer by our more compassionate neighbours, New Zealand, who have indicated that they are happy to take the family and resettle them.

However, we know from past experience that what seems sensible, humane and compassionate doesn’t necessarily intrude on the stubborn intransigence of ‘Spud’ Dutton. Morrison could step in but he is wary of the Right wing faction led by Dutton. So this could be a big test of his authority as prime minister.

Whatever happens, the next few days are critical and this little girl should she survive, cannot be returned to detention on Christmas Island or elsewhere.

 

 

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An open letter to members of the Parliamentary Labor Party

To all parliamentary members,

As a member of the Labor party, I am pleading with you, the federal parliamentary members, to stop what you are doing for a moment and ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want to be the next government?

Do you want to win the next election?

Two simple questions, both of which should evoke a resounding, YES response. If they don’t, you should not be there.

One more question :

Are you willing to do what is necessary to achieve an election victory?

If the answer is NOT YES, then for Christ’s sake, get out of the way!

This brings me to the matter of what you need to do to WIN the next election. At the moment you look like a dull grey train crawling along a disused track somewhere, with a driver, who might be a really nice guy, but who gives the impression of having no idea where the train is heading.

You need a new driver!

You need someone who will electrify the party, the media and the public. Not one of your faction ridden hacks, or some compromise candidate who has the charisma of a turtle crawling toward the safety of the sea.

The reality you need to face up to, is that there is not a man among you who can win the next election, be it held this year, or next. There is not a man among you who can electrify the public consciousness to a point where sufficient numbers out there in voter land, will change their minds and vote for you.

There is not a man among you who can win seats in Queensland and hold on to seats in the rest of the country. Face up to it! You are destined for another three years and beyond, on the opposition benches, if you don’t wake up to yourselves and do what is necessary TO WIN!

You may be under the mistaken impression that people vote on policies and promises. They don’t! They vote on what they think will be better for them. There’s a difference. They can be persuaded not to believe you on policies; they can be persuaded by lies to distrust your promises.

And we saw how well that worked against you in 2019. So what do you need to do to WIN?

It is no longer a question of finding the best candidate to lead the party. That ship has sailed. You need to find the candidate who can WIN!

There is only one member of the parliamentary party who can win the next election and send Scott Morrison packing.

That person is Tanya Plibersek. And before you roll your eyes and think, ‘oh god, not a woman,’ or ‘she doesn’t want it, ‘ get up off your comfortable office chairs and face reality.

Tanya Plibersek is not your best choice. She is your ONLY CHOICE.

Apart from electrifying the party, she will light up the imagination of the broader electorate. Remember this: people also vote on who they think will be the better prime minister and it’s not hard to see how much better she would stack up against Scott Morrison in that category.

The people are tired of Scott Morrison. His failures to deliver on a range of promises, are now legendary. They WANT to see him gone. But when they look to the alternative, they are sufficiently unimpressed to bother doing anything about it.

Anthony Albanese is the Bill Hayden of today. He is a nice guy, but he is not prime minister material.

You have an opportunity right now to get your act together and be proactive in the one crucial area that will put you in a winning position. But, if you allow your factional interests to exceed your good judgement, be prepared to spend the foreseeable future on the opposition benches.

Someone needs to tap Albo on the shoulder and tell him the truth. Then, you need to replace him with Tanya as leader, who will become the next prime minister of Australia. No messy contest, either. Just a seamless transition, just as it was done when Bob Hawke replaced Bill Hayden.

There are moments in history when opportunities are grasped with fervor. AND OTHERS, WHEN THEY ARE MISSED ALTOGETHER. You can grasp this moment, or, you could just keep on disappointing your loyal following.

It’s your call.

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A Humiliating Backdown – Really?

Christian Porter just doesn’t know when to leave sleeping dogs lie – he just has to have another twist of the tail, another kick in the guts.

After agreeing during mediation to withdraw his expensive defamation action against the ABC and their investigative journalist, Louise Milligan, to wear his own legal costs, not to insist that the ABC report in question be taken down and not to receive any of the damages he had been hoping for. He took these body blows like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail responding that this was just a scratch, a mere flesh wound, and that the ABC had been forced into a “humiliating backdown”.

The facts of the matter are that he was wisely advised during mediation to drop his dalliance with defamation which, had it gone into the court room could have left him with a shredded reputation and very light on in his bank account; although it had been rumoured that a well-heeled and ABC hating Liberal Party donor was funding his legal costs.

While Porter was trumpeting that he had had a win and the ABC a humiliating backdown, the ABC issued this statement:

“Christian Porter has decided to discontinue his defamation action against the ABC and Louise Milligan.

All parties have agreed to not pursue the matter any further. No damages will be paid.

The only costs that the ABC will be paying are the mediation costs.

The ABC stands by the importance of the article, which reported on matters of significant public interest, and the article remains online. It has been updated with this Editor’s Note:

On 26 February 2021, the ABC published an article by Louise Milligan. That article was about a letter to the Prime Minister containing allegations against a senior cabinet minister. Although he was not named, the article was about the Attorney-General Christian Porter.

The ABC did not intend to suggest that Mr Porter had committed the criminal offences alleged. The ABC did not contend that the serious accusations could be substantiated to the applicable legal standard – criminal or civil. However, both parties accept that some readers misinterpreted the article as an accusation of guilt against Mr Porter. That reading, which was not intended by the ABC, is regretted.

The ABC stands by our investigative and public interest journalism, which is always pursued in the interests of the Australian community.

The ABC stands by Louise Milligan, one of Australia’s foremost and most awarded investigative journalists, and all our journalists in their independent and brave reporting on matters about which Australians have a right to be informed.

Media contact

Sally Jackson | ABC Communications”

Perhaps Mr Porter could learn something from Kenny Roger’s The Gambler – all together now:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.

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A message to Quiet Australians®

Lies, corruption and incompetence are the new normal

In a world awash with psychopathic tyrants, kleptocrats, killers and loons such as Trump, Putin, Bolsinaro, Netanyahu, Erdoğan et al and their hordes of grifting toadies it is still so very easy to loathe a comparative non-entity, a vapid mediocrity and serial underachiever like Smirkin’ Scotty Morrison.

* * * * *

Watching this hi-vizzed, be-moobed, smirking dimwit gyrate around his paunch while mugging for the cameras like a fat Wiggle should trigger a Pavlovian gag reflex in any sentient observer. But on their own his staged routines are no more than a suitable explainer for, say, a curious kindergartener’s innocent question – “Miss, what’s a fuckwit?”.

ScoMo’s BoJo mojo is merely as contrived as that of his UK equivalent’s distractive idiocies, he’s comfortable with letting people die but he’s not straight out murdered anybody, he’s no Lukashenko nor a Duterte but he’s still worth backing at short odds in a crowded field for the title of ‘most likely to fuck up an entire country’.

Lacking imagination, foresight, curiosity or the work ethic to earn full despot status it’s his ability to trash Oz on such a broad scale with so little effort that keeps him competitive.

Complementing his neglect and general uselessness is an innate nastiness that is untroubled by scruples, honesty or shame, where there are no moral dilemmas only political problems and opportunities. Ethics and standards are treated as roadblocks and openness, morality and principle are entirely dispensable. His awfulness is as obvious as to require a Riefenstahlist propaganda unit within the PMO’s Kunkel-Gaetjens’ laundromat, a 24/7 personal photographer, the payment of protection money to Murdoch’s turd polishing rags and a collection of focus-grouped personas to provide the quick change artiface for his endless smarm offensives.

Smirko’s hold on power is tenuous. The fragility of his authority is perhaps best illustrated by recent revelations that within the plain sight of this overt Pentacostalist, Parliament House became a 5 star knocking shop and masturbatorium for sex pests, drink spikers and rapists. If the hired help is not shy about jizzing on a minister’s desk then perhaps he’s not held in the high regard that he holds for himself.

As with any kakistocrat he protects himself via a horrendium of thralls and lickspittles and of like-minded Old Testament moon units and prosperity cultists and proto-nazi authoritarians and he presides over a criminal cartel eager to share in the spoils of the grift that he enables.

The Tory front bench is a police line-up; the entire Coalition is a combo deal of sex offenders’ convention, tent revival and mobster expo. This slurry, often accompanied in news stories by the term “alleged”, has not one redemptive member to offset their repulsiveness. Not one. Not since WW2 have we had to trust a government more and never has one done less to earn it.

According to Smirko, and an eagle painting, he’s been “called to do Gods’ work“. The surreptitious laying on of hands as some sort of covert conversion therapy seems to be the methodology that Smirko has adopted to meet his celestial KPIs. Clearly, fulfilling his earthly duties is not something he seems to be particularly bothered with and he’s happy to sub-contract the BAU Tory bastardry to his stooges.

 

 

Nosferatu replicant Stuart Robert, a missionary creep and very unattractive man, is one of Smirko’s favourite acolytes. His illegal persecution of the unemployed has earned him a new gig – persecuting the disabled and blowing up the NDIS. Robert’s inability to form an image in a mirror likely explains his lack of self-awareness. Not a handicap in this government but surely they should’ve appointed someone capable of working during daylight hours.

Health Minister Elmer Fudge’s vaccine rollout is so lethargic the back of his head is covered in bug splatter and his messaging is as coherent as a man whose tongue is caught in his bicycle spokes. What he’s saying, I think, is that the Tories don’t like targets without a plan, or a plan without a target, thereby disappearing up his own arse.

Chubby exchequer Joshie Friedenberg, the numbers guy who allows himself a +/- 100% margin of error is the blowie slowy circling the lounge room. He’s counting the days til Smirko’s demise so that he can assume the position and unleash his beloved Thatcherite austerity onto the vulnerable. Nothing cheers Joshie more than further enriching billionaires while withdrawing job support during a pandemic and telling knock knock jokes to the homeless.

The Nationals, partners in crime and fossil fuel co-conspirators from Cockheads’ Corner are “led” by Deputy Dag Michael McComack, a bleached, dull-eyed Elvis with the intellect of a bi-valve who grins like a shot fox at his cleverness whenever he’s able to recite the speaking notes he’s been handed by the PMO. This dullard is so stupid he thinks a Vol-au-Vent is the air-con outlet in a Swedish car and that the red ones were triumphant in the War Of The Roses. He would wear a baklava on his head if he were to ever rob a Lebanese pastry shop. McCormack’s role apparently is to prove that no matter how appalling the Libs can be in the worst of circumstances, the Nats can always outdo them.

Addressing each one of the odious brown baggers, shrubbery-lurkers, dead ends, weirdos, humbuggers, liars and thieves would challenge the most robust of attention spans so, back to Smirko.

Government for the Tories is a treasure hunt, an opportunity to settle scores and to prosecute their culture wars. The coronavirus was Morrison’s gift from his homicidal god – a political opportunity to distance himself from his Fibonacci accumulation of corruption and failures that will be the catalyst for Australia’s decline towards failed state status. He’s tried to exploit the virus for his own electoral advantage and as per historical precedent he’s fucked it up.

Belief in his own exceptionalism, ironically trading on his very ordinariness as a sales pitch for grooming the apathetic, the stupid and the complacent that he fondly brands as his “quiet Australians” will bring him undone. Fortuitously the virus has shone the spotlight on what a cowardly, useless spiv he is and it may be the end of his long, lucky run.

* * * * *

References:

A dossier of lies and falsehoods. How Scott Morrison manipulates the truth. Crikey.

Dennis Atkins: Scott Morrison’s four favourite ways to bend the truth. The New Daily.

Dennis Atkins: We’re heading for an early election, and Scott Morrison has revealed his script. The New Daily.

 

This article was originally published on Grump Geeser.

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Tim Wilson epitomises so many things that are wrong with the Morrison government

Two photographs taken by Alex Ellinghausen last week pretty much sum up Liberal Member for Goldstein, Tim Wilson.

The first shows Tim joining the Parliamentary Friends of Running (yes, there is such a thing) and the Indigenous Marathon Foundation members as they head off together on a four-kilometre jog to promote active lifestyles in Indigenous communities.

Tim, clutching his mobile phone, is wearing a Liberal-blue t-shirt, jogging shorts, and what appears to be some sort of compression skins underneath the shorts. I am assuming that was to protect his groin when he did a rapid u-turn when the cameras stopped filming. Tim only ran 100 metres before Ellinghausen snapped him returning alone to the warmth of parliament house.

It’s all about self-promotion as Tim freely admitted in a 2014 interview.

He became heavily involved with student politics, eventually becoming president of the Student Union in 2001, thanks in part to his talent for favour-trading – plying opponents with “a whole bunch of delegateships” in return for their support. He also had “this really clever little trick”, using a digital camera, “which very few people had back then”, to take photos of himself at university club functions, several of which he would attend in a single night. He would then send the photos to the club magazines the next morning. “They didn’t have any photos, certainly not that immediately. So they’d run them, and of course I was in half of them, and it made me look as if I was the centre of everything.”

How very Morrison-style Liberal of him. It’s all about the photo ops and trading favours.

It’s not just running where Tim does his rapid back-flips.

After years campaigning for the Australian Human Rights Commission to be abolished during his time at the Institute of Public Affairs, he was chuffed to immediately accept a very high-paying job with them when, after a pleasant evening spent together at the IPA’s 70th birthday bash, George Brandis rang out of the blue to offer Tim a job that didn’t exist.

And Wilson wasted no time taking advantage of his new role, spending $77,763 in expenses in his first year on the job in addition to his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of the extremely competent Disability Commissioner, Graeme Innes, as Tim’s new job didn’t come attached with any new funding, so someone had to go.

But Tim was just marking time, waiting for another IPA party-goer, Andrew Robb, to retire from his plum Liberal seat of Goldstein, at which time Tim very quickly resigned from his sinecure at the Human Rights Commission which had only ever been to give him something to put on his CV. Tim was now a Member of Parliament in a seat that has always voted Liberal – barring disaster, a lifetime gig (unless a better offer comes along as it did for his predecessor).

In his previous life at the IPA, Wilson had also spent his time writing witty bon mots ridiculing those who urged action on climate change.

The success of Kerryn Phelps at the Wentworth by-election caused Tim to do another spectacular u-turn when he realised his Inner-city Melbourne constituents were possibly more concerned about climate change than coal-mining jobs. So obvious was Tim’s about-face, the Quadrant magazine labelled him Tim ‘Windvane’ Wilson.

Wilson’s very public championing of freedom of speech is also inconsistent.

During the Occupy Melbourne protests in 2011, he tweeted “all people who think freedom of speech = freedom 2 b heard, time wasters … send in the water cannons”. Yet, in 2019, he was tweeting selfies taken at democracy protests in Hong Kong, extolling the importance of their voices being heard.

During his IPA days, Wilson was a constant panellist on the ABC whilst his organisation was calling for its privatisation. Use it to raise your profile and then demand it be sold off to appease the doyen of the IPA, Rupert Murdoch.

Tim Wilson, as chair of the parliament’s economics committee, collaborated with a relative and investment partner to use publicly funded hearings to attack Labor’s franking credits policy, co-ordinate protests with committee meetings, use a petition to collect signatories contact details, and enlist new members to the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Speaker of the House, Tony Smith, expressed his concern about Wilson’s actions which he said could be “seen to have caused damage to the committee’s reputation and damage to the house committee system more generally”.

Wilson was bemused. ‘What did I do wrong?’

I can understand his confusion.

Tim is the archetypal Liberal. No expertise other than self-promotion, jobs for the boys, rapid u-turns for political expediency, maximise your expense claims, deals for mates, feather your financial nest, and get your photo taken a lot. He will probably go far.

And isn’t that … so disappointingly inadequate?

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After a paltry increase, Morrison vows to crack down on welfare recipients

By Mark Thompson

While the rate will be raised, the Morrison government has promised to be tougher on those who need welfare in order to survive.

In handing down the Federal Budget, the government offered welfare recipients both the carrot and the stick. In the same breath where they promised an increase to JobSeeker (by $50 a fortnight), the Morrison government announced stricter measures, designed to crack down on those who are “not genuine” about receiving welfare.

It’s worth noting that the minor increase will be applied to the original pre-COVID welfare rate, which gave recipients $40 a day on which to survive. A raised welfare rate has been repeatedly asked for from welfare groups, the opposition, and even former Liberal Party Prime Minister, John Howard, who said that the “freeze had gone on for too long.” The reality of $40 a day is brutal. In 2019, Lisa Carberry spoke to The Guardian about her life on welfare, stating that: “I now have $9.95 to last me for the next two weeks… I have to either not pay a bill or access charities for food and things in order to continue to tread water… that’s really what it is. It’s treading water. It’s not swimming.”

After the increase, recipients will receive $44 a day.

Indeed, as Evin Priest of News.com.au discovered, there are three rental properties in the entire country that those on JobSeeker can actually afford.

Yet, while more and more Australians face the very real possibility of homelessness, the Morrison government has announced that they’re going to be tougher on those who receive welfare. The government says it is “strengthening mutual obligations” allegedly to provide “better support for job seekers in their search for work.”

Per News, “The government will spend $197 million to ‘enable’ job seekers to take part in an ‘intensive activity’ after six months of unemployment, including participating in approved intensive short courses, with some job seekers required to participate in the Work for the Dole program.”

Heinously, they’re going ahead with a ‘dob-in’ line where employers can snitch on those who they feeling aren’t trying hard enough. In February, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert described the move as, “an abuse of power that will hurt the most vulnerable in our community”.

“The job provider system is already rife with bullying (and) harassment of people being ignored or treated very poorly by their job providers and now the government is empowering employers with the means to intimidate and bully job seekers,” she said.

The increase will be applied to the original pre-COVID welfare rate, which gave recipients $40 a day on which to survive. After the increase, they will receive $44 a day.

Social Services Minister Anne Rushton said, “In doing this, we have balanced their incentive to work and making sure we have a sustainable welfare system into the future… not only today but into the future.”

Labour market economist Jeff Borland said there is “no evidence” that the increased coronavirus supplement stopped job seekers looking for work and even a “substantial increase” in unemployment benefits would not provide a disincentive to take a job.

In conversation with the Senate community affairs legislation committee, Borland said that there was “no evidence the higher jobseeker rate in 2020 has had any appreciable effect on incentives to take up paid work.”

As Paul Karp of The Guardian noted, “The evidence, supported by the social policy academic Peter Whiteford, contradicts concerns from Coalition backbench MPs and anecdotal evidence from employers that jobseekers are turning down work.”

In 2019, an article resurfaced that stated that the Morrison government will institute a plan to relocate jobseekers to go and pick fruit. The language of the piece is staggering. “Dole bludgers who refuse to take jobs at farms will have their Centrelink payments slashed as part of a national push to help Aussie farmers prepare for the upcoming harvest season,” Jack Houghton wrote in The West Australian.

Within the article, Morrison said that “Our government has heard from farmers…about how tough it is now to find workers, particularly at the height of harvest season for some crops…we want to highlight exactly where the jobs are and make sure jobseekers know where to be looking. While we’re tackling the labour shortage this also ensures job seekers on taxpayer support have no excuse to refuse opportunities.”

At the time, the fruit farmers excoriated Morrison’s plan. Under the proposal, the unemployed would be shepherded out of their homes and their communities under the threat of having their benefits cut. Whether this plan is dead, or not, is largely irrelevant, as it points to a larger pattern. Clearly, the Coalition loves a deterrent, one formed on the assumption that those who are unemployed are unemployed by choice.

“35% of the Federal Budget,” said Joe Hockey back in 2014, claiming we spent more on welfare than “on any other single policy area including health, education or defence.” It actually turned out to be 19.5%, which made us the 25th out of 30 OCED nations. In a 2018 measure by the same institution, our welfare spending shrank from 23.5% in 2015 to 17.8% of our GDP.

In 2014, the Coalition instituted stricter welfare conditions that saw applicants saddled with a six-month waiting period. At the time, The Guardian revealed that “failure to attend Centrelink appointments and mandatory Jobseeker activities will see prospective welfare recipients punished with a further two-month delay to their payments. This measure will disproportionately punish job seekers in remote areas with limited access to services.”

In February of that year, the ABS noted that there were 140,000 jobs for 700,000 applicants. Despite this, Hockey explained the measures as “an incentive… and if they have to move to get a job, that’s just the way it is.” In the words of the then Federal Minister of Employment Eric Abetz in the same year, the unemployed should just “try harder.”

In May 2020, Scott Morrison uncovered the ‘JobMaker’ plan, with the Prime Minister labelling it a “plan for a new generation of economic success.”

It was later revealed that the program created 609 jobs, well short of the 450,000 it promised.

Oddly, the paltry figure is viewed as a win. As Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy put it, “the program has done its work, frankly.”

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Is it fair to call Scott Morrison a racist? Where’s the evidence?

How much more proof does one need to advance the proposition that we have a racist government?

Moreover, its leader carries the tag of Christian more as a convenience than a truth.

The problem with that premise is that despite all the criticism of Morrison wearing his faith on his sleeve, he shows no inclination for using any Christian ethics in his decision-making.

I’m speaking of real Christian ethics like love, compassion, devotion, morality, sacrifice, loyalty, openness, truth, support, work, and human equality. Any separation of church and state doesn’t eliminate these words.

These are words or concepts that even non-Christians practice. Why are they absent from Morrison’s world view?

In many respects, he prosecutes a strange sort of separation of church and state. He practices all these things in his faith but not in his politics. Does that not seem rather odd?

It seems irrational to me. A practice dumber than dumb that invites its own dangerous problems.

I think what atheists find most offensive with religion is not only that they reject theist belief, but also the injustice, immorality and hypocrisy that often comes with it.

In 2015 The AIMN published Arise Scott Morrison, Lord Sixwords of Cronulla!, an in-depth series that examined the ‘real’ Scott Morrison. I offer this quote from Part 1 of the series:

“In December 2010, 48 asylum seekers died while attempting to reach Christmas Island by boat. Morrison’s attitude to the event was bitterly criticised by both the government and his own party for comments he uttered after the tragedy.

On February 15 2011, the then Shadow Immigration Minister questioned the decision of the Gillard Government to pay for relatives of the dead to attend funerals in Sydney.

Afterwards, fellow Liberal and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey denounced Morrison’s statements, saying that that he would “never seek to deny a parent or a child from saying goodbye to their relative.” Morrison acknowledged that the timing of his comments might have been insensitive but did not recoil from the comments themselves.

“Do you think you run the risk of being seen as heartless on the day of these funerals to be saying – to be bickering over this money?” asked ABC reporter Barbara Miller, whose report that morning was broadcast on the programme AM.

Here is what Morrison replied: “When it comes to the question of do I think this is a reasonable cost, then my honest answer is, ‘No, I don’t think it is reasonable.'”

The Fairfax press published a column which called him a “cheap populist”, with the outburst “harmful to the national interest”.

Caught unawares and always prone to equivocation, the Leader of the Opposition gave the remarks a lukewarm endorsement during the course of an interview with a notoriously Right-wing radio station. He said: “It does seem a bit unusual that the government is flying people to funerals.” Morrison’s comments were met with condemnation from former Liberal leaders.

One called the comments “inhumane”. Another expressed his hope that “Scott Morrison is just a fringe element in the party.

Herein lays my quandary. On reading the preceding words, you could not be blamed for thinking that the person must be a racist of sorts, as Morrison’s comments were directed at a particular cohort of people.

When he gives a directive to another group, who are citizens of Australia, that they cannot return home under threat of jail, one might be excused for thinking that this is also racism.

Thus far, we might at least conclude that our Prime Minister isn’t favourable to brown-skinned people.

Before going further, let’s examine just what racism is:

  1. The belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate the others.
  2. Offensive or aggressive behaviour to members of another race stemming from such a belief.
  3. A policy or system of government and society based upon it.

In the situation with Indian Australians, as mentioned earlier, is Morrison – in denouncing the costs of Australia paying for the funerals of those who lost their lives in such a tragedy – just playing politics or was he race-baiting.

Lenore Taylor, in The Sydney Morning Herald back in February 2011 delivered an opinion that suggests Morrison back then – seizing Coalition sentiment – saw vote-winning in racist strategies:

“The opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate… But after Mr Morrison’s comments this week on the cost of asylum-seeker funerals and his role in the controversial decision to cut a Howard government program to fund schools in Indonesia, colleagues are privately questioning whether he is trying to pursue an anti-Muslim political strategy unilaterally.”

On his website at the time, Mr Morrison, a member of the Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church, wrote; “My Christian faith remains the driving force for my family, beliefs and values.”

It was indeed a time when the conservatives in opposition and government tried to extract a view of Muslims with cynical manipulation driven only by race. Take the Cronulla Riots of which Alan Jones was found to have egged-on anti-Middle Eastern sentiment, or when Tony Abbott was delivering his own form of prejudice in an essentially racist manner.

A decade ago Kevin Dunn, professor of geography and urban studies at the University of Western Sydney, published a study on racism in Australia. In it, he wrote:

“Research has shown convincingly that geopolitical events, political events and political statements don’t affect Australian attitudes on race very quickly, but they do affect behaviour. People holding a grudge or who are just ill-informed; or acting on the sins of the father will feel empowered to act on them. They feel more empowered to act on them.” Racist abuse and discrimination follow.

Words and how you use them carry profound national responsibility (think about our current diplomacy with China).

Before addressing India, let’s examine Morrison’s statement that “there was no slavery in Australia.”

 

 

The government led by Morrison loudly condemned the Black Lives Matter protest marches while at the same time completely ignoring the reasons that make people protest.

It also ignored the written history of slavery that our First Nations People experienced. His flippancy when defending his comment was that of a man either playing the race card or one who is entirely ill-informed. I must, in my writing, dismiss the latter.

Aboriginals worked for years on cattle stations for no wages. If that isn’t slavery, then I don’t know what is. People responded by posting historic photographs of our First Nations Peoples in chains on social media.

“It was a pretty brutal place, but there was no slavery in Australia… While some bad things have happened in our past, we have apologised land moved on,” said the Prime Minister.

When I first read it, I was taken by the stench of its blatant racism given that we would jail Australian citizens in India from returning to Australia.

For me, it is obviously racism born of an inability to comprehend that many of our people were born overseas, or are of second or third generation. That when politicians leave us alone, we get on reasonably well together.

This seems to be married to the recent scare about terrorism in Australia rated as a likely event. Why they seem intent on these major scare campaigns is beyond me. I guess it’s because they work. Unfortunately, the answer to this is because they work.

Undeterred by public opinion, Morrison has fended off criticism by his most prominent allies, who said it “stinks of racism.” Among these were arch conservative Andrew Bolt, who has been found guilty of racism himself.

Morrison later said that it was:

“… highly unlikely that Australians who flouted the ban would be jailed. I think the likelihood of any of that occurring is pretty much zero.”

This, of course, raised the question of why the threat of jail in the first place.

Within the next twelve months, Morrison and his government face an election. They will do so with a few fewer votes from the Indian community, and rightly so.

Now we are confronted with yet more odious loathing. This time it is directed at those from India. It doesn’t matter what their country of origin if they are Muslim, they will suffer the entire thrust of minorities xenophobia. Just as 99 per cent of Muslims want peace, so do 99 per cent of Australians.

We have a long history of finding fault with things we don’t understand. At various times we have blamed communists, Jews, women, the devil, Indigenous people and witches, even God for all manner of things.

I have been privy to the ignorance that history has recorded on these matters. I am angry with Pauline Hanson, Peter Dutton and our Prime Minister who would seek to deny Australia of others who desire to pursue their personal freedom and the opportunity to give themselves to the advancement of this great nation.

When I sit on the platform at Flinders Street Station and watch the passing parade of ethnicity, I can only admire a country I could never envisage from the same seat in the 1950s.

My thought for the day

Why does western art always depict Jesus as white when as a middle eastern Jew he would have been brown-skinned.

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Why my organisation leaked Scott Morrison’s “evil one” speech

By Dr Meredith Doig

Last week, my organisation published Scott Morrison’s infamous “God’s work” speech. But as citizens of a supposedly secular nation, our crusade continues.

Imagine if our Prime Minister were a hard-line atheist giving speeches about political matters at an atheist convention that he or she wanted to keep from the wider public. Imagine if this Prime Minister’s government were in the midst of drafting legislation that would have devastating impacts on religious communities. I am certain that Christian groups, other faith groups, the media, and the public would be eager to know what such a Prime Minister had to say. And so would the Rationalist Society.

Last week, my organisation made the decision to publish the video of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech to the Australian Christian Churches conference, held earlier in April on the Gold Coast.

We published the video because it was overwhelmingly in the public interest to do so.

Australians, on the whole, are uncomfortable with extreme worldviews, whether they are religious or political ideologies.

We also like to think that the religious views of individuals won’t unduly interfere in government. But, even in our liberal democracy, it’s quite possible for a politician to be elected without them fully disclosing their worldview.

We have a right to know what ideas guide the actions and decision-making of those who stand for public office.

If a Christian political candidate believes planet earth was ‘created’ a few thousand years ago and is eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus at the Apocalypse, voters have a right to know. Likewise, if a militant atheist candidate harbours ill intent toward religious people, voters have a right to know.

We published the video because it was overwhelmingly in the public interest to do so. We also like to think that the religious views of individuals won’t unduly interfere in government. We have a right to know what ideas guide the actions and decision-making of those who stand for public office.

Far too often religious views are deemed off-limits. In 2015, for example, then Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie refused to be drawn on questions about whether he believed in creationism, arguing that his religious views were irrelevant to voters.

Far from being irrelevant, the religious beliefs of political leaders are of great interest to Australians – as demonstrated by the public reaction to the video of Prime Minister Morrison’s speech.

There is a legitimate concern about how such beliefs may impact policy-making in the Morrison government.

The Prime Minister has pledged to deliver a Religious Discrimination Bill to parliament before the next election, even though the first two drafts drew widespread criticism from all quarters, including business groups, legal groups, human rights groups, LGBTIQ groups, and even religious groups.

If either of those divisive draft bills had become law, religious people and organisations would have been provided a ‘sword’ they could use to discriminate against and harm a wide range of people. Anti-discrimination laws are meant to be ‘shields’, not swords.

While the vast majority of Australians, including many Christians, support the concept of secularism – the separation of church and state – it is not clear the Prime Minister feels the same. In his maiden speech to parliament, he went out of his way to argue Australia “is not a secular country”.

In response to the release of the video, I have been heartened to hear public figures like Anthony Albanese and Kevin Rudd assert the importance of upholding a secular society which protects people of all faiths and none, and treats them equally.

Disappointingly, very few politicians speak up for secularism, even though Australia is a multi-faith and, increasingly, a non-religious society. With this year’s census expected to confirm a further decline in affiliation with Christianity, people increasingly want freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

The need for pro-secular champions in the community and in politics is becoming increasingly important, as religious institutions maintain and seek to enhance their privileged place in government institutions.

For example, in parliaments and councils across the nation, non-Christian representatives – atheists, agnostics, and people from minority faiths – are forced to observe exclusively Christian prayers before getting down to their daily work of representing their constituents.

In our military and our schools, government-funded pastoral care is reserved almost exclusively for the Christian religion, despite the fact that government schools are mandated as secular and the vast majority of recruits into our armed forces are now non-religious.

As Australia’s oldest freethought organisation that promotes reason and evidence as to the basis for policymaking, the Rationalist Society of Australia will continue to inquire into the beliefs of this country’s political leaders. We will, unwaveringly, continue work to advance the cause of secularism.

 

Meredith Doig is president of the Rationalist Society of Australia and also writes a daily bulletin called ‘RSA Daily’.

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

 

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The insane pinball game that masquerades as Coalition energy policy

Three years ago, then Treasurer Scott Morrison declared the government was not interested in subsidising any source of energy.

The days of subsidies in energy are over, whether it is for coal, wind, solar, any of them,” the treasurer said.

“That is the way I think you get the best functioning energy market with the lowest possible price for businesses and for households and that is what the national energy guarantee and our energy policies are designed to achieve.”

Fast forward to this week when Keith Pitt, the minister for resources, water and northern Australia, blocked a loan for the Kaban green energy hub which had been approved by the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (Naif) in January.

The blocked funding would have helped build a 157-megawatt windfarm and 100MW battery and included a 320km transmission line upgrade.

Pitt’s reason for overruling the decision was that investment in “mature technologies” like wind and solar energy would be driven by the private sector whilst the government’s policy was to support dispatchable generation.

I’m not sure what Mr Pitt thinks batteries are for.

Instead of giving a loan to a commercially viable renewable project that would have employed about 250 people in its construction, the government has announced hundreds of millions in direct funding to the already very-profitable gas industry.

In March, the AEMO published their Gas Statement of Opportunities in which they said:

“Industrial demand for natural gas is not forecast to grow in the next 20 years, and could potentially reduce significantly as industrial users in the gas sector start to decarbonise.”

Head of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, says increasing gas supply won’t bring prices down “when there are a whole lot of other things around that are cheaper in price, like wind, solar and big batteries, like pumped hydro and we’ve got Snowy 2.0 coming.”

“Nobody is going to build it from the private sector because it doesn’t stack up. Because it’s expensive power, it’s hard to see it makes commercial sense.”

After years spent trying to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the government is now trying to change the legislation to redirect money into their own preferred technologies, including carbon capture and storage, gas generators and hydrogen produced from fossil fuels.

In typical Coalition fashion, Angus Taylor has stacked the board at ARENA with handpicked appointments that he hopes will do his bidding.

Meanwhile, in March, the European parliament voted to forge ahead with carbon levies on products from countries with weak environmental laws.

Two senior European officials said the transition to green technologies would drive power shifts away from those controlling and exporting fossil fuels, mainly referring to oil rich countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, suggesting that traditional fossil-fuel exporters would need to diversify their economies and free themselves from the “oil curse” and the “corruption it so often fosters”.

As Professor Warwick McKibbin pointed out, “The economic cost of a carbon border adjustment mechanism is nothing compared to the issue Australia will have to deal with economically when its fossil fuel export industry dramatically declines over the coming decades. There needs to be a reopening of the debate on how to create a world-leading framework for climate and energy policy in Australia.”

Despite all the dire warnings from climate scientists, the direction suggested by energy experts, the agreement from economists and the business community, and the threats of trade sanctions, a handful of politicians in Australia have put their short-term vested interests in front of the inevitable action we must take to tackle this global emergency.

Why is it that everything to do with the pandemic is predicated on “the best medical advice” but, when it comes to the health of the planet, it’s all about the profits for political donors and the electoral prospects of a few politicians?

When we have idiots like Matt Canavan, whose brother’s coal company recently went broke, saying “Renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy system, they only turn up to work when they want to,” what hope have we got?

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Morrison blames media for travel ban backlash

By TBS Newsbot

According to Scott Morrison, it’s the media’s fault for focusing on the punitive elements of his travel ban.

This morning, Scott Morrison has publicly claimed that it is the media’s fault for highlighting the potential gaol time and fines that Indian-Australians face if they try and return home. 3AW’s Neil Mitchell asked the Prime Minister; “I would argue you’ve perhaps made a mistake in emphasising punishment which is what happened. Would you agree that was a mistake?” In response, Morrison said, “we didn’t, but the media did.”

Which isn’t actually true. Per a media release on April 30, issued by Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health and Aged Care; “Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units (which equates to $66,000 – Ed), five years’ imprisonment, or both.”

After Mitchell highlighted this point, Morrison said; “There was simply a statement of what the Biosecurity Act does as a way of fact, this is not something that was accentuated by Greg Hunt or me or anyone else. It was picked up on (sic) in the media and they’ve highlighted that. But as I’ve said it’s highly, highly remote that the extremes of those sanctions would apply in these circumstances because they’ve been in place for 14 months and no one’s been to jail.”

The delusion is certainly real. Clearly, it’s the media’s fault for accurately reporting a government provision, but clearly, whether they enforce it (or not) is the issue that should be the focus. The people who haven’t gone to gaol, those who still might, but probably won’t. What?

Health commentator and GP Vyom Sharma thought the decision “incredibly disproportionate to the threat that it posed.” Sharma is certainly correct on this score in terms of international law, which requires the least restrictive or least intrusive way of protecting citizens.

As Dr Binoy Kampmark noted, “Then there was the issue of the previous policies Canberra had adopted to countries suffering from galloping COVID-19 figures. A baffled Sharma wondered, ‘Why is it that India has copped this ban and no people who have come from America?’ Former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane seconds the suspicions. ‘We didn’t see differential treatment being extended to countries such as the United States, the UK, and any other European country even though the rates of infection were very high and the danger of its arrivals from those countries was very high’.”

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Allow me to fill you in on how Scott Morrison sees himself as our prime minister

I finished my last piece with this quote and begin this one by repeating it.

“Power must be malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo the principles of a secular government and your country’s well-being for the sake of a theocracy.”

What is meant by a secular government?

It could be as simple as where religion and politics are separate. Where:

“Religion is not removed from the public sphere; rather, it is just one voice among many, including those with no religion.”

Arguably or ultimately, however, how you see secularism will depend on what version you use, for it can vary from country to country.

For me, as far back as I can remember, it meant religion should not interfere with politics in Australia. It can have a say, but that is as far as it should go.

Lenore Taylor tweeted and, in doing so, explained the right of the press to report on the religious activities of our Prime Minister.

 

 

Section 116 of our Constitution says:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.”

 

What is a theocracy?

It is a government or a state led by immediate divine guidance or officials who are regarded as divinely guided by God.

The Bible says in Romans 13 of the New International Version:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

The problem I see here for the Prime Minister is that the denomination he belongs to are literalists. By that, I mean they believe every word of scripture is accurate and literally true even if there is some difficulty in marrying the past with the present.

Scott Morrison has never been afraid to lay his faith on the line and, in doing so, has always taken the risk of upsetting those of little or no faith. Most politicians prefer to park their faith outside the house rather than taking it with them into a room of political debate. Not our PM.

His recent speech to those assembled at the Australian Christian Churches biennial conference raised a few eyebrows among those unfamiliar with the language of the Pentecostal church.

His use of expressions such as “speaking in tongues”, “called to do God’s work”, “laying on of hands”, the “evil one” when referring to the devil Suggests that God, without so much as an application, made him Prime Minister, going so far as to describing an encounter with a picture of an eagle after asking God for a sign during the closing weeks of the election campaign.

Unless you are of the faith, these things can be hard to fathom. As is this:

“God has, I believe, been using us in those moments to be able to provide some relief and comfort and just some reassurance.”

I think what atheists find most offensive with religion is not only that they reject theist belief, but also the injustice, immorality and hypocrisy that often comes with it.

In opining about the meaning of community, he walked both sides of the street.

“Morality is about focusing not on you but on the person next to you. It’s about focusing, for me, on you not me. That is the essence of community. You can’t pass a law for it. You can’t create a building for it. It is essentially what springs from each and every one of us. Community.”

A community was both individualistic and collective. Morrison concluded that community was everything but mustn’t express itself in “identity politics” – this to me seemed to be a contradiction in terms because identity politics is but a description of how individuals with shared values come together to form collectives and fights against oppression and injustice. However, it had to fit into the conservative philosophy about the individual.

Religion does not have a monopoly on morality. Or anything else, in my experience.

 

Social Media is a “weapon”

Scott Morrison sees social media as a weapon from the side of evil:

“… but those weapons can also be used by the evil one, and we need to call that out.”

Praying for people and “laying hands on them in various situations” would be confrontational if they knew and were affronted by the attention. Some would say this is an unwanted invasion of their space if they knew what was secretly being done.

Social media is a weapon “used by the evil one”, The evil one being the devil. Even Christians find it difficult enough to put together a coherent description of their God. You get that many variations; it becomes a word game. You can imagine what pictures people might paint of the evil one.

But perhaps the most controversial notion is that Scotty was put in his current leadership position by God. That’s a huge mouthful for people to swallow. Some would say impossible – no wonder the polling was so far out.

Does the scripture include leaders like Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler, or does it mean only the charismatic Pentecostal Christian ones?

There is sure to be another scripture you can refer to that will sought it out for you.

Most churches exist to do good works. Some see their existence as working for the poor or disadvantaged. Others like Catholics are institutionalised, while others like the charismatic churches see their presence as being to save souls.

Nobody can go to Heaven unless they confess that Jesus is their Lord and saviour. All others go to hell. That includes some rather fine people.

More from Scott Morrison’s recent speech:

“And this came home to me, importantly, during the last election campaign, in fact, and I was up on the Central Coast, and I was up there with Jenny. It was a pretty tough week actually, last couple of weeks of the campaign and I was at Ken Duncan’s Gallery. And I hadn’t, I didn’t know we were going to go to Ken Duncan’s Gallery, we were speaking at a rally that day and we had to go and hold somewhere as we often do before we go over to the next event. And, uh, I must admit, I was saying to myself “where are you?”, where are you? I’d like a reminder, if that’s okay”. And so I walk in, so I didn’t know i was supposed to be at Ken’s Gallery, and Ken’s a great Christian guy and I walked into his gallery and there right in front of me was the biggest picture of a soaring eagle that I could imagine. Of course, the verse hit me that soaring on the wings of an eagle, run and do not grow weary, walk do not grow faint. But the message I got that day was, “Scott, you’ve got to run to not grow weary. You’ve got to walk to not grow faint. You’ve got to spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle.”

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

And why the reference to an eagle?

“Eagles are the “king of birds”, and throughout the Bible, God likens Himself and His children to an Eagle. Eagles are mentioned 34 times in the Bible and are considered an international symbol of strength, stamina, power, majesty, authority, and freedom. You can’t fly as an Eagle unless you stay strong.”

Coincidence is never a possibility when it gets in the way of a good God encounter story.

As an expression of Christianity in practice, the Prime Minister travelled to the conference from Sydney using his taxpayer-funded aircraft.

There was no video of his address, nor was it promoted on his Facebook or official pages. His office has not released a copy of his speech, as usually occurs when he speaks in his official capacity as prime minister.

He never mentioned women in the current context or how the Bible traditionally portrays them. Just as well, l think.

My thought for the day

Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, is the best way of providing solutions to human problems.

PS: George Christensen is to retire at the next election. That’s a weight off my mind.

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The polls are in search of some lasting credibility

The polls have always held a sort of weird fascination for me. Whether they are right or wrong doesn’t bother me much. What I am after is their confirmation of the truth I’m writing about.

There is not an area in public life, be it sport, leadership, commerce, or whatever, where performance is not a key indicator of one’s success or otherwise.

Using that criteria, you would think the Collation wouldn’t have a hope in hell of winning the next election.

Under Abbott, Turnbull and now Morrison, they, by any standard, have governed abysmally. So much so that they really don’t deserve to win.

It would be fair to say that a vote for the Coalition would be a reward for governance that doesn’t even approach mediocrity.

One then has to ask how come they are still favourites to win. Why is it so, one might ask?

Since the last debacle, those who conduct these polls have tweaked their differing methodologies to see if they can’t resurrect their combined reputations.

I propose looking at the last poll last year and then coming forward to reach the present.

The statistics and comments I quote throughout this piece will be from the noted polls blog of William Bowe of The Poll Bludger fame.

January 2021: Essential published their first poll for the year on leadership. It showed that “Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister goes from 50-24 to 51-25.”

The accompanying survey showed a remarkable increase in the view that Australia was doing enough to address climate change. One year ago, 19% thought that enough was being done to battle climate change (now 35%) and a corresponding decline in the view that not enough is being done (from 62% to 42%), with the “doing too much” response up two to 10%. Despite this, 58% of respondents believed climate change related to human activity (up two on a year ago), against 32% who considered it part of normal climatic fluctuation.

On Saturday, January 31, Newspoll released its first poll for the year, showing that the two major parties were 50/50. On personal ratings, Morrison is on 63 and Albanese on 43.

One of the oddities of political polling is trying to understand how 50% of the voting public would willingly return a party that has governed so abysmally.

On February 3, Essential showed that on a “2pp+: Labor was on 47 and the Coalition 44.”

In the same month, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate has been updated with the results. Currently, it records a slight Coalition lead of 50.4-49.6 and the beginning trend of a prolonged decline in Morrison’s net approval since its blowout in late March.

On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, the fortnightly Essential poll, which includes the pollster’s more-or-less monthly reading of the leadership ratings, recorded a four-point increase in Scott Morrison’s approval rating to 65% and a two-point drop in disapproval to 28%. Anthony Albanese is respectively down two to 40% and steady on 33%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister increases slightly, from 51-25 to 52-24.

Some countries (no names mentioned) make a habit of institutionalising mediocre minds.

Sunday, February 21, sees another poll from Newspoll. Bowe records that:

“It maintains its sedentary ways, which repeats the previous result three weeks ago to record a dead heat on two-party preferred. Labor is up a point on the primary vote to 37%, while the Coalition on 42%, the Greens on 10% and One Nation on 3% are all unchanged. Despite a seemingly tough week for Scott Morrison, he gains one on approval to 64% and drops one on disapproval to 32% and widens his lead as preferred prime minister from 57-29 to 61-26, as Anthony Albanese drops three on approval to 38% and rises two on disapproval to 45%.”

For more in-depth analysis, go to The Poll Bludger.

On the same day, The Poll Bludger published the results of Roy Morgan‘s regular federal voting intention. Its first findings for the year. In this case:

“Labor was credited with a bare lead of 50.5-49.5, from primary votes of Coalition 40%, Labor 34.5%, the Greens 13% and One Nation 3.5%… The poll was conducted over the previous two weekends online and by phone from a sample of 2824.”

Note: Roy Morgan uses face to face, internet and landline for its polling but not always at the same time.

So, we now have three pollsters in sync with each other. Is this an accurate picture of where the Nation is at politically?

Labor has just put its nose in front ahead 50.2-49.8.

Then on Wednesday, March 7, William Bowe had this to say:

“The conventional wisdom that the election would be held in the second half of this year, most likely around September, was disturbed by an Age/Herald report last week that the Prime Minister had ‘told colleagues to plan for two federal budgets before the Coalition government heads to the polls’.”

Then we had a new pollster hit the headlines. With a solid performance, YouGov was the only pollster that had published polling appear during the WA campaign. It should also be noted that the observation of local journalist Gareth Parker on ABC’s Insiders that Labor didn’t believe the strength of its internal polling, which proved in the event to be accurate.

We should all watch YouGov from now on. So far, it has achieved a satisfactory result in Queensland and an excellent one in Western Australia. It also has no priors to speak of.

Come March 14 Labor reports its best result for the year. Following a 50/50 result three weeks ago, Newspoll had Labor on 52 and the Coalition on 48. The Greens are steady at 10% and One Nation on 3%.

Wednesday, March 19, sees figures from both Roy Morgan and Essential. Roy Morgan shows Labor with a 50.5-49.5 lead on two-party preferred, unchanged from the last poll a month ago. The Essential survey is a research one and only touches on leadership and women.

Following are some results on the question of rape.

Thirty-seven per cent agree with Scott Morrison’s contention that an inquiry into the Christian Porter matter would “say the rule of law and our police are not competent to deal with these issues,” with 33% disagreeing.

Sixty-seven per cent felt it was “time women were believed when they say they have been assaulted,” but 62% also felt that “because the charge of rape is so serious, the burden of proof needs to be high” – a difficult circle to square.

Fifty-five per cent said there should be some form of independent investigation compared with 45%, who wanted an alternative proposition that “the police have said they will not be pressing charges and that should be the end of the matter.”

There wasn’t a question on his fitness to serve as a minister.

The BludgerTrack publishes a periodical aggregate. This one gives it to Labor which is now credited with a 51.2-48.8 lead on two-party preferred, following a dead heat when the numbers were last updated three weeks ago.

The Poll Bludger attempts to identify where women might have changed or affected Labor’s turn around along the way.

“The gender breakdowns notably fail to play to the script: Labor is credited with 51-49 leads among both men and women, which represents a four-point movement to Labor among men and no change among women. There is also nothing remarkable to note in Scott Morrison’s personal ratings, with deteriorations of 7% in his net rating among men and 8% among women.”

At the end of March, The Essential Report is trying to do the same. However, the real kicker is the accompanying gender breakdowns, which have Morrison steady at 65% approval and up two on disapproval to 30% among men, but down ten on support to 49% and up ten on disapproval to 40% among women.

However, on March 28, Newspoll records a 52/48 score to Labor. For the first time:

“Scott Morrison’s personal ratings have taken a hit: he’s down seven points on approval to 55% and up six on disapproval to 40%, comfortably his worst numbers since the onset of COVID-19. Anthony Albanese is up a point on approval to 43% and steady on disapproval at 41%, and his deficit on preferred prime minister has been cut from 56-30 to 52-32.”

This was the time of Lamingtons, upskirt photography and watches with unique timelines. Now the female factor had been recognised.

Then on Tuesday, April 20, another pollster enters the field:

“The Age/Herald have published their first poll of federal voting intention since the 2019 election. Dispensing with the services of Ipsos (who happened to be the least wrong pollster at the election), they have appointed Resolve Strategic, which is run by Jim Reed, who once worked for Coalition pollsters Crosby Textor.”

They come up with 38/33 to the Coalition until the preferences are added, for which they don’t give any criteria for how they are arrived at, then the result is 50/50. After all, that, are you any the wiser. Does it confirm any of my writing?

All I can say is that the Coalition are favourites to win the next election, but Labor is in with a show. Does any of The Poll Bludger‘s excellent analysis of the polls confirm anything that I write? Sadly, it doesn’t.

For a more in-depth analysis of what I have written, go to The Poll Bludger.

My thought for the day

The American conservative political strategy of painting everything as black as possible and then pretending it’s everyone’s fault, but theirs rings true. It seems Australians are falling for it. I thought we were brighter than that.

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Taking out the trash

I was prompted to start writing about politics when the spectre of the highly inadequate Tony Abbott as Prime Minister was first being seriously considered.

Having known Tony at university, it was completely unfathomable to me. We had always dismissed him as an inconsequential bovver boy, an overconfident loudmouth who spouted his indoctrinated views, a young man with anachronistic opinions and an overinflated sense of his own ability – a ‘second-grade footballer, third-rate academic and fourth-class politician.’

When the unthinkable happened, it didn’t take the country, or his own party, long to realise they had given the job to a man who wasn’t up to it, and Tony was disempowered. The people of Warringah then completed the disengagement.

Sadly, for all his high and mighty words, both before and after, Malcolm Turnbull turned out to be a Fizza, unable to lead a party that always viewed him with suspicion.

In part, that was his own fault. He, and subsequently Scott Morrison, intervened to ensure the preselection of nutters like Craig Kelly, Andrew Laming, and George Christensen.

These guys were not supported because of the great contribution they have made whilst in parliament. The politically expedient value of incumbency was put ahead of merit or the wishes of the local preselectors.

For different reasons, none of these three will be running for the Coalition in the next election. Good riddance.

But there is still work to do.

Peter Dutton has failed at every ministry he has been given. He is a plodder, a dull bully boy whose approach to everything is destructive. The negative reports about his administration from stakeholders, the ANAO, and his own departments, are endless.

And now they have given him defence.

This morning Dutton, the man now in charge of the guns, fired a shot at China on Channel 9.

“We’re not going to have our values compromised, we aren’t going to surrender our sovereignty,” the defence minister said as he admonished Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for doing the wrong thing in signing the agreements with China which have now been abolished by the Federal government.

“He shouldn’t be entering into agreements that aren’t in our national interest,” says the man whose government allows our gas to be sold to overseas buyers far more cheaply than to the domestic market, the man whose government continues to subsidise fossil fuels and the technologies that will prolong their use.

And what of the Country Liberal Party’s decision to lease the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company for 99 years?

At the time, federal trade minister, Andrew Robb, was an enthusiastic supporter.

“Landbridge’s commitment to the growth of the Port of Darwin will be a huge spur to the development of Australia’s north, serving as a catalyst for the entry of major investment right across the port’s upstream supply chain in agriculture, resources and energy and economic infrastructure,” he told the Guardian in late 2015.

The day before the 2016 election, Robb accepted a job with Landbridge paying $880,000 a year.

Dutton also took aim at China for building up military bases in the region and launching cyber attacks – topics the intelligence, foreign affairs, diplomatic and defence communities have been at pains to deal with circumspectly.

Not Dutton, who launches straight in.

“All of that is not the actions of a friend… We need to make sure that yes, we’ve got an important trading relationship, but China and others need to understand that Australia is not going to be bullied. We are standing up for who we are. We’ve got very important diplomatic relations with many countries including China, but we aren’t going to be compromised by the principles of the Communist Party of China.”

Dutton apparently wants to look like a hawk but the reality is that he is an albatross around the neck of this country.

It’s time for the people of Dickson to ‘take out the trash‘ before this idiot, as he inevitably does, makes things worse.

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