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Rather than public office, Mark Latham should seek help

After being dropped by virtually every media outlet in the country, Mark Latham is aiming to return to what he (thinks he) knows best – sucking on the public teat.

After finishing an economics degree, Latham was elected to the Liverpool City Council at age 26, becoming mayor at age 30.  At 33, he was gifted a safe seat in federal parliament via a by-election and nine years later, became leader of the Labor Party, leading them to an ignominious defeat in 2004 and resigning a year later.

And it’s all been downhill from there.

Latham is, to use the words of Media Watch’s Paul Barry, “offensive, abusive and a bully.”

I would add a misogynistic, racist, homophobic boor with a vastly over-inflated sense of his own intellectual capacity which seems to have been spawned in the front bar of pubs in Western Sydney – oh for the days when the snowflake sheila’s were banned from darkening the doorstep.

I mean a man want’s the right to say “fuck, cunt, poo, bum” whenever he feels like it as Latham told a bemused audience at the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival.

It’s people like Rosie Battie, that “spokeswoman for the left feminist movement”, who have spoiled it for Aussie blokes.

“I worry that the domestic violence debate is being used as a trojan horse to push a left wing feminist position saying that we are a patriarchy.  Demonising men and making them feel worse about themselves isn’t going to solve the problem,” Latham said on a Triple M podcast.

“I don’t think it’s about how men look at women, it’s how the men look at themselves. Blokes have lost their self esteem, they’re welfare dependent, they’ve got other troubles, drugs, alcohol in their life, it’s that loss of self-esteem where I think they use the domestic violence as a coping mechanism to get over all the other crap they’ve got in their lives,” he said.

“Surveys show women are safer than ever before, that, sure, there are some unacceptable incidents of domestic assault in the community, but they’re no worse than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Why this big national push?”

And any male who sticks up for women is a “dickhead [or] gay”, as Latham described a group of students from Sydney Boys High who made a video in support of International Women’s Day.

Mark seems to revel in picking on women and kids.  When the governor of the Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe, revealed in a speech that it was a comment from his 15 year-old daughter that had motivated him to think about the equality of opportunity for women at the RBA, Mark attacked the kid on that silly show of his on Sky that he later got sacked from.

“Her concern, the daughter of the governor of the Reserve Bank, of one of the most privileged households in the country, her concern wasn’t about poor and disadvantaged people, it was about people like her, and Lowe has taken this up and said he won’t be making appointments strictly on merit, he’ll be shoehorning women in,” Latham said.  “This daughter is getting a bigger say at this taxpayer funded institution than any Australian voter.”

When Wendy Harmer tweeted that she was  unimpressed and may cancel her Foxtel subscription, Mark turned his popgun on her.

“Now Wendy, of course, we know her well. She’s a proven commercial failure, so naturally she got a job at ABC radio at the sheltered workshop there for all the lefties. She fits the criteria: she’s female, she’s got a disability – that’s what they mean by diversity.  So we say to Wendy Harmer on this Sunday morning: get a life, love.”

He has tweeted vile abuse at all and sundry.  To Australian of the year finalist, Cate McGregor, he sent this raving rant:

… When you were wearing a nappy asking to suckle middle aged women, you looked like a he/she. Or was that a different person?

— Twitter, @RealMarkLatham, 10 August, 2015

Considering all that, and a whole lot more I could add, you’ll be pleased(?) to hear that Latham, who according to Antony Green, will be elected to the NSW upper house in a couple of weeks’ time in his latest iteration as NSW state leader of One Nation, has an education policy for a total reform of our schools, their curriculum and staffing.  Despite having zero teaching experience, he knows what’s best for our kids!

The idea of Latham sliding in on the coattails of Pauline Hanson is hilarious.  His education policy is not.

Commonsense tells us that critical and creative thinking is impossible without a strong foundation in knowledge, logic and rationality – that is, the qualities of the Enlightenment and the classics of Western civilisation. Extensive research studies in education have confirmed this point. Pressure and resilience also play an essential role in the learning process.

Under the banner of ‘mindfulness’ and ‘mental wellness’, NSW schools are dropping their standards, testing requirements and homework expectations to achieve a different type of classroom result: less stress, less anxiety, less discomfort. Naturally, some students are milking this new approach to minimise their workload. Like other parts of society, ‘anxiety’ (what we used to call ‘worrying too much’) has become an all-purpose alibi for avoiding effort and responsibility. The rise of the ‘snowflake school’ model in NSW has coincided with the State’s slide down international league tables.

There has been an attempt in NSW schools to sideline parents and indoctrinate children with notions of ‘gender fluidity’ as a regular, even desirable part of life.

They hope to make young people confused about their gender and sexual identity, dismayed by what society has supposedly done to them. In these circumstances, young people are more likely to rebel against the existing social order – a key Marxist goal. Gender fluidity teaching is not designed to help young people but to use them for political purposes.

Schools need to drop the modern obsession with turning themselves into political laboratories, gender fluidity factories, mental health clinics, social work centres and cultural propaganda tutorials. Students have parents, extended families, local communities and other government services to help them address non-educational issues in their lives.

I wonder if Latham has actually looked at suicide rates in our young people, or domestic violence statistics, or if he would even care.

People of NSW … we MUST prove Antony Green wrong.

This man is dangerous.

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Cry me a river; the Murray-Darling is being destroyed by greed and ignorance.

A stench of putrefaction wafts over a troubled nation, this week, all the way from the tiny, dusty, outback settlement of Menindee, in far west NSW. Mass media is full of shocking images of an horrific mass fish kill in the millions and distressed, hapless, trapped wildlife; hopelessly mired in the deep mud of a dessicated  Lake Cawndilla, nearby, confronting Australia with the catastrophic failure of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, (MDBA), a $13 billion lemon.

The MDBA’s failure is a metaphor for our nation’s ruling elite, who, like Trump, inhabit the eternal now and are in politics solely to look after big cotton, big mining and their other corporate sponsors. Bugger the science. Bugger the future. Just like Trump, Melissa Price, our own climate change denying environment minister has mining connections.

The environment can look after itself.

Or not. Set up by the 2007 Water Act to rescue the basin’s fragile ecosystem, by returning water to the ailing rivers, the MDDBA, its conflicted, compromised and corrupted, dark angel, instead, is achieving “perverse outcomes” – jargon for making things worse. It is, as some locals suggest, as if we’ve put mother in a home notorious for elder abuse.

Evasiveness, secrecy and deceit, experts testify, are part of the rotten culture of the MDBA – a test case in good policy stuffed up at every turn; a clusterfuck from foundation to nearly every stage of its implementation. It’s almost (apart from the policy) in the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government DNA. Except that Labor had a spanner in the works, too.

The MDBA is  “a fraud on the environment”, Royal Commission lawyers declare, on the other hand. Put simply it has not merely watered down a noble plan whose rational aims are enshrined in The Water Act of 2007 – it has subverted it.

The Water Act 2007 recognises that too much water is being extracted from the river system and seeks to reset the balance between the amount required for human consumption and the amount needed to sustain the environment. By 2011, however, as the Royal Commission will find, The MDBA seems to have subverted the intention of the act with the support of key National Party figures including current leadership rematch contender, Barnaby Joyce.

Psst… No-one says nothing. The 2017 Royal Commission is due to report in a few weeks, but it’s stymied by states and authorities’ refusal to cooperate. Had the banks behaved in this fashion during the Hayne Royal Commission there would have been an uproar. Not so rotten in the state of Renmark, South Australia, alone, agrees to give evidence.

Unimpressed, Counsel Assisting, Richard Beasley S.C, an eminent specialist in environmental law notes, acerbically, in his summing up for the Commissioner, Brett Walker S.C., that the state governments’ submissions were,

“..either totally unhelpful or not particularly helpful.”

The MDBA itself excels in chutzpah and contempt by writing to the Commissioner saying it is unavailable because it is “busy”. Our finest scientists, on the other hand, provide the commission with a wealth of expert, testimony.

“Systematic mismanagement, cover up and maladministration has undermined the proper implementation of the Murray Darling Basin Plan”, Maryanne Slattery, a Senior Water Researcher at The Australia Institute sums up.

“Implementing the Plan for political expediency, without transparency or accountability by the Murray Darling Basin Authority, has resulted in a fraud of a Basin Plan. It has benefited big irrigators, at the expense of everyone else, including Aboriginal people, regional communities, floodplain graziers, small irrigators and the environment.

MDBA has ignored the science it was set up to apply in favour of pleasing its political masters. Now, the fish kill creates a big stink for both major parties but especially for Barnaby Joyce, former Minister for Agriculture and Water resources, who is on record boasting publicly to farmers in a Politics in the Pub-demonise a Greenie session in Shepparton, Victoria of how his mob, heroically, was able to take the water meant for the environment and return it to agriculture.

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

Former Director of National Farmers’ Federation, Mal Peters, claims Joyce tilted the Murray-Darling Basin Authority towards irrigation interests over the environment when he was agriculture minister. It may be impossible to tilt back.

Joyce is popular with irrigators for killing off water buybacks and substituting subsidies for efficiency, effectively government handouts but efficiency reduces the run-off back into the river system with predictably disastrous effects.

Above all, “hard ask” Joyce insists on his rhetorical triple bottom line which gives economic and social needs priority over environmental; subverting the environmental aims and the entire intention of the Water Act.

“It’s a public relations sound-bite made up by the Basin Authority” says Counsel Assisting Beasley. There can be no trade-offs between environmental objectives and socio-economic ones, as the environmental objectives of the Act are subordinate to Australia’s international environmental treaty obligations. We are committed to Ramsar, a treaty to preserve wetlands, which takes its name from the small Iranian town where in 1971, the agreement was drawn up.

The Productivity Commission, notes in its recent report available in draft form – (its final report is with government on the understanding that it will be released in 2019) that cancelling buybacks has resulted in more than doubling the cost of water savings. The commission concludes that the current progress on implementing water efficiency measures “gives little confidence” they would be completed by 2024, as planned. But when will the report be released?

Joyce, Morrison’s government, the states and the authority itself show true leadership by keeping eerily shtum.

Hilariously, ScoMo, our chameleon PM becomes “Prime Minister for standards”, he declares, at the end of the week, as he cynically but shrewdly comes up with another spectacular diversion; a truly cunning stunt. Sunday, our own political head prefect decrees, that Australia Day citizenship ceremonies will be compulsory. And formal. No flip-flops.

Not only must councils run ceremonies for new Aussie citizens on Australia Day, they’ll have to hold another on 17 September. But watch what you wear. ScoMo’s bold new citizenship shindig has a dress code. No thongs and shorts. In brief, you can become an Australian at a citizenship ceremony only if you shun Australian casual national dress. It’s bonkers, but it has to be to distract from the biggest stink of the Coalition’s odoriferous last five years in office.

Bill Shorten sniggers at ScoMo’s cynical ploy. “You sort of know when Australia Day’s coming up don’t you, when a couple of weeks before we get the annual conservative outing to put politics into Australia Day,” the Labor leader tells reporters in Melbourne Sunday. “It’s what the conservatives do to keep their base happy.” As do the reactionaries.

Edicts and bad odour are no novelty to our nation’s history. Menindee also felt the full force of government authority on January 26 1935 when, during the first rally against Australia Day, twenty-five Aboriginal men were nicely told if they did not perform the role of ‘retreating Aborigines’ in a re-enactment of the First Fleet, their families would starve.

Echoing Morrison’s current concern for a good show, officials were to recruit the best singers and dancers and take them back to Sydney to perform. Their women were terrified. Ngiyaampaa elder Dr Beryl (Yunghadhu) Philp Carmichael, born and raised on the mission, was only three at the time, but her memory of the fear in the community never left her.

“Whether they were taking them away to be massacred or what, no-one knew. The community went into mourning once they were put on the mission truck,” she recalls.

Menindee is a richly resonant site, historically, politically, ecologically and countless other ways including our vast, interminable, inscrutable legacy of heroic colonial stupidity – and our forbears’ barbarous cruelty to Aboriginal peoples.

In the light of Morrison’s decree on the observance of Australia Day, another typically vacuous, bogan slogan which reveals his ignorance of his nation’s history, (“I think people want Australia Day to be Australia Day, it’s for all Australians”,) it is timely to acknowledge the testimony of Edward Wilson who wrote in The Argus, 17 March 1856,

“In less than twenty years we have nearly swept them off the face of the earth. We have shot them down like dogs. In the guise of friendship we have issued corrosive sublimate in their damper and consigned whole tribes to the agonies of an excruciating death. We have made them drunkards, and infected them with diseases which have rotted the bones of their adults, and made such few children as are born amongst them a sorrow and a torture from the very instant of their birth. We have made them outcasts on their own land, and are rapidly consigning them to entire annihilation.”

Menindee unwittingly played its role. The first town on the Darling, Menindee is the oldest, European colonial settlement in western NSW and was the advance base for Burke and Wills’ 1860 expedition, a grand folly half-cocked, a noble failure, which, not unlike the MDBA, or the Morrison government, set out before its instructions were finalised.

Today, the putrid smell of decomposing carcasses of millions of golden perch, bony herring and Murray cod drifts up over the Darling River bank and into Maiden’s Menindee Hotel whence on 19 October 1860, Robert O’Hara Burke and his third in command, William John Wills, set out into terra incognita; their fatal expedition and the beginning of the end; a shocking new chapter of disease, dispossession and genocide for the traditional owners of the land.

“It opened up the way for the pastoralists,” says Joshua Haynes from Newcastle, a director of the Yandruwandha Yawarrawarrka Traditional Land Owners Aboriginal Corporation -, “and the moment someone took up ownership of the land we could be moved on, or disposed of, just like a kangaroo.”

After the pastoralists came the irrigators; cotton and wheat farmers who took both water and land. “Without the river, us Barkandji people, we are nothing. We’ve got no land, no name, nothing. This is our lifeblood, this is our mother,”

Barkandji Elder “Badger” Bates laments in a letter read in NSW parliament by Independent MP. Jeremy Buckingham.

After waiting 18 years for their Native Title to be acknowledged, his people watch the Barka (Darling river) dry up.

Menindee, today, is thus, the site of a massive environmental disaster, a site layered with all the historical associations of dispossession, alienation and worse; of Burke and Wills grand folly, now overlaid with the folly of irrigated agriculture, unsustainable – environmentally and economically not only here, but throughout Australia. Add a failure of political will.

Big irrigators with big party donations have recruited politicians of all persuasions. It’s a dramatic, tragic reminder in microcosm of how poorly governments of a corporate state have mismanaged energy, environment and health for example when too much power resides in a few massive corporations and oligopolies. Yet we don’t lack in ideas.

In 2006, a meeting of western NSW mayors, chaired by local state MP Peter Black, voted for the Commonwealth to buy the 96,000 hectare Cubbie Station, in southwestern Queensland, the largest landholding in the nation and also the biggest irrigation property in the southern hemisphere, enjoying rights to 400,000 megalitres of water, equivalent to all the water licences downstream in north-west NSW, but it was sold to a Chinese-led consortium. It’s a scandal.

There were two Australian bids on the table, both more generous than the $240 million winning bid, as the ABC’s Stephen Long reported on Radio National’s PM programme in 2012. At the time Fairfax’s Ann Kent puzzled,

“There is something odd about Australia. Our politicians expend huge resources and even more hot air wrangling over how to exclude a pitifully small number of legitimate Asian and Middle Eastern refugees from our shores, while they allow, almost without a murmur, the purchase of Cubbie Station, the largest landholding in the country, comprising a number of properties the size of the ACT, by a consortium headed by a Chinese enterprise, Shandong Ruyi.”

What’s not odd is the all too familiar way authorities rush to scapegoat. They duck and weave to evade responsibility. In this popular political pantomime, it is forbidden to admit the role of climate change or of disastrous mismanagement.

Officials are quick to claim the fish are killed by a toxic algal bloom but locals say the primary cause of the catastrophe is poor water management and irrigation agriculture. The drought and algal bloom are secondary stressors on a system which has failed to use water specially allocated to protect the foundations of the river’s aquatic ecosystems.

“Droughts would have contributed to the blue green algae outbreak,” says Richard Kingsford, Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW,  “But the river droughts are happening more often and they’re more intense as a result of the irrigation industry in the Darling diverting water from the river over the last 10 to 20 years.”

Leading scientists agree.

The NSW Irrigators Council would have us believe it is all about the drought. It isn’t. It about taking too much water upstream so there is not enough for downstream users, and the fish,” says Professor Quentin Grafton, UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance.

What would Grafton know? He’s just a scientist. In the media show which follows, it’s all the fault of the drought of course. In a rare display of synchronised swimming, Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, climate change denier David “don’t give a rat’s” Littleproud, ducks for cover, as does his counterpart, NSW Primary Industries and Water Resources Minister Niall Blair in a hilarious visit to Menindee, where he is seen in a boat speeding past a group of local protestors – only for safety reasons, of course, a technicality which local police do not support.

Unsafe at any speed, The MDBA has, of course, long been warned by scientists that things are hotting up in the basin; hotter periods are lasting longer. Climate change can happen very rapidly and abruptly. Even to denialists.

NSW Labor wants a special inquiry into the ecological catastrophe – as if there’s been no Royal Commission. They want a commission or an inquiry to determine why the Liberals and Nationals sought “changes to water rules that reduced river flows and allowed the over-extraction of water by lobbyist irrigators who were National Party donors”, while ignoring warnings from the Wentworth Group of Scientists and local communities.

Professor John Quiggan has the last word by reminding us that irrigation never was the solution. He notes that agricultural economists recognised long ago that the environment in Australia, especially in areas like Menindee, was not suited to irrigated agriculture. Yet, as he wryly notes, the converse recognition, that irrigation schemes are often disastrous for the environment, came much later. Or as in the case of the MDBA, or the National Party not at all.

The stink from Menindee ought to be enough to bring down any respectable government. On the other hand, it is clearly capable of distracting the Morrison government into outrageous, ill-considered and divisive stunts like his new edict for Australia Day.

In all the fizz and the fuss over the fiasco that is the MDBA debacle, not to mention the frenzy of finding scapegoats and blame-shifting and just plain lying it is worth taking a longer, broader view especially as Australia Day approaches, albeit still on the 26 January. Above all it is worth recalling the rights and the role of the traditional owners of the land and their suffering both past and present – for it far surpasses, in all dimensions, the losses of the corporate cotton farmer.

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The true guardians of Australia

History, so goes the old saying, tends to repeat itself. But the tragedy unfolding in the Murray-Darling basin is unprecedented. This is new. You won’t find a parallel in the history books. It is a tragedy caused by human intervention. It is a tragedy caused by today’s governments trying to alter the course of nature.

Oh what poor custodians of this land white Australia has been. The Murray-Darling is but one example.

But why?

To answer, we must look at the attitudes of land, from a non-Indigenous and Indigenous perspectives. It’s not a simple case of black and white.

In most western societies land ownership is considered a form of security or an expression of status. Most non-Aboriginal Australians aspire to own a piece of real estate, and to meet that dream they work, they save, borrow and mortgage their lives away. Land ownership is confirmed with a Title Deed which is identified with a Volume, Folio and sub-section number on which the land dimensions and boundaries are clearly marked. On this land the owner may build a dwelling, grow or raise produce for income, or rent out the land for profit.

In rural Australia most land is used for growling cereal crops or raising live-stock. This is done within the boundaries of the owner’s land. These ventures are filled with risk: Dramatic seasonal changes; fluctuating market prices for the produce; diseases; cash flow problems; farming on unsuitable land (poor land management) and a host of other variables could force ownership to be relinquished.

Image from library.ststephens.wa.edu.au

Traditionally, Aboriginal people do not own land. Instead, they are a part of the land and this link was formed during the Dreaming. In the Dreaming, people were created from the land and this is the land they still inhabit. It is on this basis that Aboriginal people are claiming legal title to land, supported by the belief that the spiritual ancestors who shaped the land still inhabit it; the land still embodies the sacredness of the Dreaming events. Traditional ownership was validated if your Dreaming Ancestors inhabited a particular area of land. Traditional ownership certainly does not shield Aborigines from some of the dangers that face western land owners. However their land management techniques and their attitudes to the environment make the land more sustainable.

As Aborigines are not land owners they feel that they have a responsibility to the environment. The environment, the land, and even the sky were created in one – as were the people – and all are related. With this attitude/belief is it any surprise that the Aboriginal people never took anything from nature? Aborigines are the original conservationists and their use of land management promoted ecological health.

An example of this is fire stick farming: The burning of undergrowth in wooded areas that would promote the germination of new plants, and thus attract the animals that were an important part of an Aborigine’s diet. This burning was carried out before the dry season and was done carefully and systematically. No more was burned than necessary. Burning was also more than just sound land management; it was evidence that the land was healthy and being fully utilised. There was also a religious significance to burning: As the Ancestral spirits of the Dreaming still inhabit the land, the burnings provided these spiritual inhabitants with lands on which they could hunt.

Conservation was also extended to all practices of hunting and gathering. No more food was taken than required and no food source was over exploited. In some societies prohibitions were placed on the taking of immature plants or animals. In times of crisis, such as drought or flood, land ownership need never be relinquished. The resources have been preserved.

The western attitude to the land did not encourage sound management or preservation techniques. Whereas the Aborigines were careful in their exploitation of resources, the westerners unwittingly created vast tracts of land devastation. For instance, the over grazing of stock has rendered many areas infertile. The senseless chopping down of forests has destroyed delicate eco-systems. The salinity of the waterways is largely due to pollution. It is evident that no consideration had been given to the protection of natural resources. How little are the changes of attitudes since 1788? Land exploitation was used to advance British colonisation and became the rationale for European land ownership. It is ironic that most European-Australians view Aboriginal lands as inhospitable, barren or unforsaken, when it could be argued that the reverse could apply. Need we say more:

Image from finterest.com.au

Whose guardianship do you trust?

It has only taken Europeans 230 years to destroy what the First Australians preserved for over 60,000 years. In another 230 years there may be nothing left to preserve.

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Is it really taxpayers’ money?

A short and simple tutorial…
“It’s taxpayers’ money,” is an all too familiar cry, from media reporters when they try to expose spending waste, welfare cheats, or excessive expense claims by politicians. It resonates well with taxpayers. It’s good promotional advertising for those with an agenda, whether it be a current affairs program, a publicity-seeking politician, or community groups unhappy about their latest funding cuts.

It even floats into the general conversation around the barbeque or the dinner table. Everyone uses it to add emphasis to their point of view.

The problem is, it’s not true.

Taxpayers’ money is never spent. Taxpayers’ money does not fund federal government spending. As hard as it might be for the average worker to grasp this simple fact, when the penny does finally drop, it can’t be un-dropped. Once the average person understands the purpose of taxation and its relationship with public spending, an intelligent conversation can begin. But not before.

So, pay attention

The simple example of the bucket with a hole in the bottom should be enough for people to realise how wrong their perceptions about taxation have been. The tap that fills the bucket with water, is government spending, the hole at the bottom is the collection of taxation. They are two quite separate functions.

All federal government spending is new money created by the government through the agency of the Reserve Bank. It deposits funds into the commercial banking sector to generate economic activity. It guarantees the reserves required by the banks to lend money. All it needs, is one computer to digitally transfer a set of numbers to another computer. That’s it!

At the other end of the process, money is drained out of the system to maintain a balance that ensures just the right amount remains in circulation to maintain stability. We call it taxation. How hard is it to understand this?

What happens to the taxation money that is drained out? It is credited against the money the government has spent, thus reducing the overall level of money created. In the banking system, that is what happens when you repay a loan. Your repayments are credited against the outstanding balance, thus reducing your liability to the bank.

Taxation reduces our liability to the government that created the money.

So, is that so hard to grasp? If you have ever borrowed from a bank, you should know how that works. Now simply apply the same procedure to government spending and taxation. Voila!

So, the next time you hear anyone complain about taxpayers’ money being wasted, you should be able to say quite comfortably, “It’s not taxpayers ‘money.”

Of course, there will be those who will counter this explanation by saying that there is a limit to the amount of water in the tap. Not our tap! It can’t run out of water anymore than a scorer at a football match can run out of scores, or a mathematician can run out of numbers. A currency issuer (our federal government) can never run out of money to issue.

Furthermore, a shortage of taxation revenue, in no way, restricts a currency issuing government from spending.

There are those who know all this and try to explain it to others only to be rebuffed and ridiculed. Perhaps it is because the explanations have been too complex. Perhaps it has been because the recipient has been so indoctrinated by the media, our schools and universities that for someone to come along and challenge such time-honoured maxims is too much to absorb.

There’s an election looming. Perhaps they could be reminded that a flat earth was also once a former time-honoured maxim. Bon chance mes amis.

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PaTH to Misery

By John Haly 

Internships ideally are supposed to equip young people with valuable skills for the development of modern work in the economy of the future. Yet our Australian Government believes entry-level jobs are logical points for internship training. Why else would Hungry Jacks be the skills development centre for young people seeking internships to launch them into their employment future?

Fast food restaurant employment requirements are low enough in status to be considered, entry-level, part-time or second jobs. It is a labour market with large turn-over, low pay and requires a skill set an unskilled teenager can quickly learn. The businesses themselves are often franchises with a formulaic capacity to direct food production, staff training and profit margins. 

Hungry Jacks is such an environment. While it can be argued that more significant skill sets are available, they would usually only be available to regular employees over timeExemplified by moving into administrative roles – such as managing inventory, training and supervising other employees. This is not the training that would be provided to unemployed interns doing 25 hours a week to cover Christmas demand under the Liberal’s PaTH program.

Social media has been reacting badly to the inclusion of Hungry Jacks in the Liberal’s PaTH program as depicted by this Meme. Having seen a significant reaction to it in my corner of social media, I thought of expanding on the response it generated, as well as correcting some impressions.

Hungry Jack social protest meme

Misperceptions

First: The initial statement is technically correct, but it does imply – incorrectly – that the $200 a fortnight is all the intern receives by way of compensation. That is not so! The $200 is on top of their dole payment.  Newstart Allowance maximum is $550.00 per fortnight for a single person. This still leaves the intern with an income less than the minimum wage($18.93 per hour or $946.50 for an equivalent 50 hour fortnight) and under the poverty line ($433 a week for a single adult living alone or $866 a fortnight).

Newstart verses pension and wages

Second: Because some people don’t even read the meme properly, I have repeatedly read comments that suggest Hungry Jacks is somehow responsible for the underpayment. Morally perhaps, but in real terms, not at all. The truth is more venal, as they pay nothing for these interns and get a $10,000 bonus if they take them on as staff after the internship. These interns are paid out of the public common wealth of our government.

Third: Young job seekers don’t have a lot of choice about taking the internship because their job network provider threatens penalties if they don’t take the “job”. As Employment Minister Michaelia Cash confirmed, “It will be compulsory for all young job seekers within the first five months of being in receipt of welfare.” Like “Work for the dole”, which it is replacing, it is difficult to opt out. PaTH work also impedes one’s ability to spend time in search of serious work opportunities. This is aside from the question of whether serious work opportunities exist at all.

Fourth: Despite some passionate debate on social media, PaTH has little crossover with issues surrounding 457 visas (now called TSS visas) for foreign workers. The PaTH program is aimed at Australian workers on the dole, and foreign workers have no access to this. TSS workers already have paid work, and their numbers are small relative to the unemployed and job vacancies. Their impact on unemployment issues is highly exaggerated. The previous and current existence of TSS/457 workers were primarily a product of failures in education provision for Australians. Although both groups do have a common enemy, in employers rorting of the system for the exploitation of TSS and PaTH workers.

The distribution of 457 visa workers

Fifth: Hungry Jack’s misuse of the PaTH program was absolutely predictable, especially in their case – if you look back to 2011 – when they were fined $100,500 after underpaying almost 700 of its Tasmanian employees. The underpayment was over six times the amount of the fine – $665,695 between March 2006 and August 2008. They were a company whose track record demonstrated a predilection for seeking a way to abuse the system. There are no surprises here and very typical of corporate greed expectations.

PaTH’s Reality

Those explanations made, let’s look into what PaTH is designed to achieve.

What I am concerned about is that we are missing the longer term strategy about making the coalition look successful. The Coalition’s PaTH strategy was never designed to work as a method of employing people. You’ve missed the point if you believe that’s what they sought. Some early statistics showed the initial “success” rate of the program ending in paid employment, was less than 7% of the advertised unique internship vacancies. While legitimate complaints have said that is an unfortunate result – it was a bonus for the coalition if they achieved that. A success rate of 7% just gave Michaelia Cash extra ammunition she could, and did use.

We need to communicate that the combination of ABS methodology for measuring unemployment relies on certain assumptions. For example, if a Newstart recipient works for more than an hour (paid or unpaid) in four weeks, they are no longer registered as unemployed by the ABS. Unemployed people who cannot declare they are ready to work immediately, whether because of other commitments (i.e. children in the case of single parents) or because they are in a state of dysfunction (i.e. disability) that they cannot respond, are also eliminated. Unlike the more reliable Roy Morgan unemployment measures, the ABS’s methodology hides unemployed people. Being on the PaTH program also excludes you from the count. By assuming they were genuinely seeking to have it work to reduce real unemployment, means Australians have missed the more cleverly nuanced purpose of the PaTH program. The real political objective is to create an illusion of “jobs and growth“.

Variance between ABS and Roy Morgan’s unemployment stats

While not counting the unemployed, you can guarantee the coalition is counting any jobs “generated” by businesses that can acquire workers at no cost to themselves. The business makes $1000 per head and – if they turn out to be exceptional workers – can employ them with a $10,000 bonus for doing so. Free labour and income is a significant boost for any business. Retail and service business are disincentivised from taking on casual staff they have to pay to manage increased demand over the Christmas/New Year period, in preference for the PaTH interns.

In short, ABS combined with the PaTH interns program is a masterful mirage that as implemented will create the “Jobs and Growth” in all the areas they want it to occur, but none of them the Australian unemployed really need! It is not about jobs but the “illusion of them” because the Liberals have no plan to generate significant numbers of real paid jobs. Instead, this rather ingeniously manufactured neoconservative illusion that is designed to pass back our common public wealth to the private sector. All the while conning the public that they are creating jobs and growth. Entirely predictable as I outlined back in mid-2016.

Coalition employment results?

Have our unemployment stats dropped significantly after my last PaTH article in 2016, according to ABS? Yes, June 2016 unemployment was at 5.8% and is now down to 5% in November! Have they dropped significantly for the same dates according to more robust unemployment measures such as those utilised by Roy Morgan? Very slightly it appeared, as unemployment measured at 9.6%, and it is now 9.5%! Keep in mind, although, that the size of the workforce in June of 2016 was 12,990,000 and it grew to 13,585,000 by last November. That means 9.5% in 2018 is way larger than 9.6% in 2016. In 2016, 9.6% represented only 1,247,000 unemployed people whereas in November of 2018 9.5% grew to 1,291,000 unemployed citizens. Draw your own conclusions.

Poor Job Vacancy opportunities for the Under and Unemployed

This article was originally published on Australia Awaken – Ignite your Torches.

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The hounds are off the leash and it is your fault, Scott

In 2011, when 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, he was rebuked by senior colleagues.

Deputy leader, Julie Bishop, and the former immigration minister Philip Ruddock, strongly disagreed with the suggestion, pointing out that the Coalition had long supported a non-discriminatory immigration policy and saying it was not an issue that should be pursued.

But Morrison, seeing it as a vote winner, pushed on.  And Peter Dutton picked up the baton and eagerly ran with it, expanding the vilification to include second and third generation Lebanese Australians, African Australians and anyone else who offended his worldview of white supremacy and Christian domination.

Creatures like Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning crawled out from under their rock, emboldened to once again parade their ignorant bigotry and racism – something that was soundly rejected decades ago when Pauline was sent packing the first time.

Hanson, Anning and George Christensen have all willingly addressed far-right rallies organised by convicted criminals, leading us to the ugly scenes we witnessed at St Kilda Beach yesterday.

So excuse my cynicism when Scott Morrison took to Twitter to tell us “I thank Vic police for their efforts dealing with the ugly racial protests we saw in St Kilda yesterday. Intolerance does not make Australia stronger.  Australia is the most successful migrant country in the world. This has been achieved by showing respect for each other, our laws and values and maintaining sensible immigration policies. Let’s keep it that way, it makes Australia stronger.”

Far from being strong on national security, you are jeopardising it by alienating and marginalising groups in our society.

You unleashed the hounds, Scott and you did it for cynical political advantage.  And now we are reaping what you sowed.

If you care about a safe Australia, we must send this mob of shit-stirrers packing.  Get back under your rock and let decent people work together for all Australians.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

Neil Prakash was born in Australia, he is an Australian citizen, he is not the citizen of another country and whatever legal advice Peter Dutton claims to have been given, nothing will change those two facts.

Therefore, any attempt by Dutton to strip him of his citizenship would be illegal and frankly, a waste of time. However, when one reads between the blurry lines of political games, one suspects that impediment has not entered Dutton’s mind. Stripping Prakash of his citizenship is not Dutton’s intention.

Don’t be fooled. This sudden burst of strong-man bravado by Peter Dutton is just a warm-up tactic. He is testing the waters. He is trying to find a galvanising issue with which to pursue, in the lead up to the election in, March? April? May?

He is fighting for his political life. Not just is his government facing an electoral wipe-out, his own future in the seat of Dickson is under serious threat. If an election were held today, he would lose it and along with it, his ambitions to lead the country.

So, what we have here, with the attack on Neil Prakash, is an attempt to find something, anything, that can corral the good people of Dickson and convince them to let him keep his job.

Dutton’s games have begun. This is just the first salvo. There will be many more. To the majority of voters, the intention will be crystal clear, but for the people of Dickson, it might not be.

This is an early example of what we can expect to see fired out of the conservative cannons in the coming weeks and months from the Liberal party brains’ trust. They will try anything. Like a cornered animal, they will grab at anything as long as they have breath.

Their desperation to remain in government knows no bounds. That, as it happens, has been their undoing. They exist for one reason and one reason only. To perpetuate their own narcissism.

And do not underestimate the spin that their media friends will apply. Whether it be the economy, immigration, border control or, more likely, something they haven’t yet dreamed up, the desperation they will display will be something to behold.

Bill Shorten will be the focal point of their plans. His perceived lack of popular support is pretty much all they have. Their own lack of popular support, however, will be their downfall. So determined will they be to run a negative campaign, their lack of policy, lack of vision, their hypocrisy, their inept economic management, their pathetic attempts to create decoys that persuade us to look the other way, will ensure that they fail miserably.

Whatever they hurl at Shorten, they overlook the fact that we have witnessed Bill at the helm of the Opposition for over five years now. We know what we are getting. More importantly, we know what we are getting rid of.

Labor are ready. It’s their election to lose. But they will win, not just on policies that have been scrutinised and put to the test, but also their stability, their egalitarianism and their social platform. The question is, by how much?

Historically, their majorities have not been great. Even when Gough Whitlam ended 23 years of conservative rule, they were always vulnerable. Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard all ran it close. That, in some ways has been their Achilles heal. Governing while looking over one’s shoulder is not conducive to getting the balance right.

This time, however, all that might change. Let the games begin.

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This is why I vote Labor

The first time that I published this post was in 2012 on the old Cafe Whispers blog, and republished it on The AIMN prior to the 2013 federal election. I hesitate to publish repeat posts but on this occasion I have made an exception, and present it again (slightly edited).

Why am I doing this?

Two reasons. Firstly, I want people to know the LNP that I know and from what I’ve seen this makes Labor a better alternative.

Secondly, to shut the critics up. I am a Labor voter, despite some noisy people thinking otherwise. And to those critics who might ask; “If you’re a Labor voter then why are Greens voters given a voice on this site?” My short answer is; “They are allowed to and they’re welcome to. It is their site too.” We are a left-leaning site – I won’t hide from that – and we all do our bit to put an end to the horror nightmare currently governing us. My bit is to vote Labor.

Here’s my story …

I was too young to vote for Gough Whitlam in 1972 and until then I had no interest in politics, but it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the wave of excitement of his anticipated victory. I would have voted for him. The Vietnam War was still raging and kids my age and older were dreading their 20th birthday and the subsequent prospect of conscription. We didn’t like the idea of fighting another senseless war. I think we were the first generation to take that stand.

Although my short-lived interest in politics was well behind me, in 1975 I voted for Gough as I wasn’t happy at the way he was dismissed by John Kerr (with the help of Fraser, in my opinion). In fact, I was rather angry at the whole affair.

I stayed with Labor until the early nineties. Yes, I voted for Hewson and I voted for Howard. Hewson’s loss disappointed me, probably because at the time I was not a big fan of Keating’s, while Howard’s victory brought out the champagne, as by this time I quite despised Keating (for his arrogance). In my eyes Howard couldn’t do anything wrong. He was perfect. But again, my interest – or knowledge – of politics was not vast. Rather small, actually.

It wasn’t long, however, before I would mumble to myself: “Come back, Paul. All is forgiven”.

With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at their prime ministerships both history and I will/have judged Keating to be the far better of the two. And by a country mile!

But I digress.

After securing work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 1999 it soon became obvious to me that Howard was nothing but a political opportunist. Aboriginal people became political footballs and he soon caught on that ATSIC bashing provided him with the Midas touch. Despite having at his disposal hundreds of skilled and experience policy makers and Aboriginal people with their pulse on community needs and real contemporary issues, he found it was better politics to be driven by media demands and editorials. There were more votes in helping with the bashing than formulating some really beneficial programs to help these marginalised and disadvantaged members of our society.

It was sad having to visit remote Indigenous communities and make excuses as to why they were continually being ignored by Canberra. “Oh how different it might have been under Keating” I would silently mutter.

The disappointment I detected in the Howard Government in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia was nothing compared to the detestation of him I felt within the Public Service when moving to Canberra. Frankly, it was quite a surprise and one that found me asking questions as to why.

The answers weren’t that complex.

From working closely with him and his government, Public Servants saw first hand what a mean-spirited, conniving, lying bunch of individuals those in the LNP government were. And it t didn’t take me long to discover this too! Policies were formulated to ensure their own political survival while ignoring the needs of wider Australians. Lies were told to the media about how successful their policies were when in fact they were failing miserably, and public servants were bullied into providing them with confidential information in order to secure a political advantage over the then Opposition. I am not at liberty to disclose what I witnessed, but let me say that in my eyes Howard was still perfect. The perfect a###hole, that is.

I often wished that those people interstate who worshipped him in their millions could come to work in the Public Service and see first-hand for themselves what a miserable #### he actually was. It’s a pity that the truth never ventured past the boundaries of Canberra.

On the Monday morning after he lost office, the sight of public servants going about their business with a spring in their steps and a smile on their faces gave Canberra a good feel about it. The bullying had stopped and the Public Service was again apolitical, which is how it should be.

But it was after they lost office that I saw how miserable and mean-spirited the Liberal Party was (and still is).

I am not at liberty to give exact details, but I was involved in formulating many policies for the Rudd/Gillard Governments that were aimed at assisting both disadvantaged and mainstream Australians. To see something finally being done for the wider community was inspiring. Sadly, the programs went nowhere or somewhere at a snail’s pace, keeping disadvantaged Australians disadvantaged. Why? Because the Abbott Opposition made every attempt possible to ruin these programs because the delivery of them would bring credit to the Labor Government. And naturally, the Opposition would then shout to the media that this Government was doing nothing for the average Australian … and the wider community started to nod in agreement. If the wider community knew of the billions of dollars that were wasted because of the Opposition’s tactics they might not have nodded so obligingly.

At about this time it was very easy to become demoralised as a public servant; working your arse off to get this country moving then watch everything crumble because the Liberals didn’t want it to move. They exhibited no interest whatsoever for the community or its needs. Adopting Howard’s manipulative trait, they were only interested in ruining a duly elected government and having parties in The Lodge. They haven’t changed much, have they?

I saw enough of the Liberal Party in my dozen or so years as a Canberran to carry a hatred for them for many years yet. I’m definitely Labor to the core and not afraid to admit it.

In my opinion, however, I think that since 2007 Labor have done a lousy job selling itself. Here they could take a leaf out of John Howard’s book of telling anybody with a microphone or a TV camera how good he was. Howard drummed it into us, and we heard it that many times that many actually believed it.

It’s the same manner Tony Abbott used to shout to everybody how bad the Gillard Government was. And the friendly media were happy to keep printing his lies.

Again, I’m digressing.

The point is, I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment: the Australian Labor Party.

Can I really believe that the LNP would put ordinary Australians first? Can I really believe they’d be a better alternative for pensioners, parents or minority groups? Can I really believe they’d offer a better system for education, health or technology? No. Of course not. I’ve worked for them and not once did they convince me that ordinary Australians matter.

Can I believe that they would offer a better form of government for the upper class, the media barons or the mining giants? Yes.

I repeat: I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment … and that’s the Australian Labor Party.

It’s time. Again.

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Grab some popcorn – things are about to get interesting

2019 is almost upon us and Scott Morrison must be sweating bullets.

Not only will he have to hit the road running to contest an election, the first few months of the year are littered with land mines which have the potential to explode all around him.

The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission’s final report will be provided to the South Australian Governor by 1 February 2019.  That has the potential to embarrass both the NSW government and Barnaby Joyce right before elections.

February 1st is also the deadline for the banking Royal Commission to deliver its final report to the Governor-General.  We have already heard enough to know that it will be damning which only underlines the government’s poor judgement in characterising it as a “political stunt” by Labor.

February is also the month when the Federal Court is due to hear the case regarding the media tip-off from Michaelia Cash’s office about the raids on AWU offices, providing she hasn’t succeeded in having the subpoenas set aside as she has said she would.

The case against Kathy Jackson, that ‘lion of the union movement’, may take a little longer.  It is due for court mention in January but a tentative trial date of April 29 has been set because “she’s yet to secure funding for her legal representation.”

In the few sitting days available, the government will have to deal with a crossbench determined to facilitate medical evacuations from Manus and Nauru.

And there will still be the question about what to do with all those pesky gay teachers.

Jenny Macklin and Ann Sudmalis will be back from their jaunt to the UN.  I doubt Macklin will retire quietly and it remains to be seen if it was enough to shut Sudmalis up about the bullying allegations she made before she was gifted the $100,000 trip to New York to get her off the scene for three months.

Sooner or later they are going to have to release the five-yearly State of the Forests report due in 2018 which will have the fact-checkers working overtime to compare the emissions reductions claimed for the LULUC sector with some actual data – presuming they provide any because they keep saying in the National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory that they haven’t had access to satellite images for the last two years.

Matt Canavan is going on Adani overload trying to convince us all that it is a happening thing, but the challenge to the Indigenous Land Use Agreement will likely be heard in May after the W&J people crowd-sourced the funding to continue their fight.  There are also issues remaining about water and threatened species management plans and unapproved bores.  It is extremely unlikely that Canavan will be able to point to any progress before the election.

The December quarter national accounts will be released on March 6th, less than a month before the budget is handed down.  The government is running on a campaign of good economic management but there are indicators that the updated figures might not be quite as good as they would hope for.

There is a $10 billion war chest of “decisions taken but not yet announced” but spending up big, presumably on tax cuts, will make claims of frugality and a promised but never achieved surplus harder to sell.  Not to mention gross debt rapidly approaching $540 billion and net debt at $350 billion.

Yup.  It sure will be an interesting few months.

Tony Abbott: Why I Intend To Campaign For Him To Keep Warringah!

“Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” attributed to Henry II.

The headline warned us: “ANTI-ABBOTT ARMY ASSEMBLING IN WARRINGAH”. The writer, Tim Blair blared: “Identikit independents, all of them obsessed with climate change and other non-local issues, are set to swarm Tony Abbott’s electorate in the next federal election.”

Well, I never. What’s wrong with these people? Apart from being an “identikit independent”, whatever that is. Being obsessed with non-local issues and actually wanting to take action about an issue that could be the end of life as we know it…

All right, I’ll stop being “alarmist” and deal with the issue at hand.

Apparently, Mr Blair is concerned that people are trying to unseat a good local member who only ever worries about local issues.

Oh wait, it’s Tonan The Destroyer we’re talking about here. I would have thought that, if they had any brains, the whole Liberal Party would be united over removing that troublesome non-priest.

Ah, I see the flaw in that plan.

Anyway, I’d personally hate to see old Tones removed as Member for Warringah, and there’s a number of reasons for this.

For starters, he’d probably get a gig on Sky News. You know, something like Abbott & Credlin or Bolt & Nut. He’s been bad enough in Parliament, but imagine if he was trying to be controversial.

Secondly, imagine the damage the Liberals could do if they went back to the old days where they were content to pretend to like each other in public just so they could win elections. I mean, if they started presenting a united front some people might not realise what a rabble of confused ideas they actually are. Having Tony in Parliament has meant that every time they put the latest National Party MP scandal to bed, then up pops Mr Abbott to create a headline.

But foremost in my mind is the future. I have to think of the future and if the Federal elections goes the way it’s predicted, then there’ll be only a handful of politicians to poke fun at. True, once Labor is in power, I can pick on them for not fulfilling all of their promises. I can attack Bill Shorten for his lack of charisma, because we all know that’s what’s important. Without Tony Abbott, however, I’ll actually have to work at satire.

Now I’m not writing the Coalition off completely. As Scott Morrison said when trying to stop doctors saving the lives of people on Manus and Nauru, he was prepared to do whatever it takes. And I’m sure that’s how he feels about the coming election. Anything would justified to prevent Bill Shorten from becoming PM. He’s a threat to national security. Maybe ASIO could take him into custody and interview him for a couple of weeks during the election campaign.

Energy prices don’t seem to working… Mainly because people would like to see them actually coming down and not just be told that they will but high prices are all because Labor and The Greens hate Christmas and don’t want you to have enough money to buy presents for your kiddies.

Yes, it’ll have to be terrorism. That’s probably the reasoning behind the revoking of Neil Prakash’s citizenship today. Ok, you may wonder why it’s taken this long given his history, and given that we were trying to extradite him from Turkey earlier this year. Simple. There’s an election in the offing. Prakash has a Fijian father and even though he was born here, we’ve decided that he’s now Fijian…

I wonder if Dutton’s thought of revoking Abbott’s citizenship!

“We’re into big ideas; they’re in New Idea”.

“It’s fun to shoot some people,” Defence Secretary Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis notoriously remarked in 2005.

“Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot … I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.” Mattis says, bringing a little Tarantino, perhaps, to a panel discussion in San Diego, California.

A Marine general voicing his enjoyment of killing causes military members of the audience to laugh and clap.

More worryingly, Mattis goes on to become famous as the Trump’s administration “only adult in the room”.

This week, Mattis exits; slams the door. Trump is pulling 2000 US troops out of Syria; 7000 will leave Afghanistan. It’s two steps too far. Mattis quits his post in a “Dear Mr President” letter of resignation and protest.

Adult to the end, Mad Dog drops fifty copies of his resignation letter around the Pentagon. As you do. Helene Cooper notes in The New York Times, it’s the most public condemnation of Trump’s isolationism the president has ever received from his administration. Mattis ups the ante; throws down a back-handed challenge.

“While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.”

Trump hates the letter. He is particularly hurt by the widespread view that he sometimes needs adult day-care.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there,” he tweets. It’s a full four Pinocchio on The Washington Post Scale after failing to persuade any senior Pentagon figure to publicly back his withdrawal. Or lie for him in his war on the truth.

Official White House fabulist, mythomaniac Sarah Saunders is left to spin Trump’s tweet. She settles for ‘clarifying’ that the recall of US troops over the next 2-4 months will mark a ‘transition to the next phase of the campaign’ against IS.

It’s standard Saunders’ Orwellian double-speak. Trump’s abrupt, unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Syria is more chilling. It illustrates, again, just how much US policy and power rest largely on the whim of one man-child.

Trump thrives on chaos and disruption, of course. He’s desperate to distract from Mueller’s investigation. He’ll do anything to evade the net. And in January, he’ll have to account to a Democrat Congress. They’ll ask for his tax returns. These may well expose his links with Putin’s government. But there are many other hazards.

CNN suggests that virtually every House investigatory committee will pursue something from his administration.

Even worse, no longer can he count on the Republican majority in the Senate as any guarantee of united support.

North Carolina’s senator Richard Burr, Republican chair of the senate intelligence committee, releases two independent analyses, this week explaining how Russia’s Internet Research Agency, (IRA) was able to use hacking and disinformation strategies to help Trump get elected and later boost his presidency.

On the other hand, Patrick Lawrence, queries the reality of the troop withdrawal. The Washington Post and other papers report that Raqqa “unofficially” has 4000 US troops, which control virtually a third of Syria. In September, these troops were told they were to remain until the Syrian conflict ended, as a bulwark against Iran.

Luckily for Australia, our troops in Iraq still get a visit from Scott Morrison (Afghanistan is too dangerous). ScoMo is photographed handing out a couple of deflated footballs as part a stunning pep talk-presentation. But will the soldiers get time to pump them up – let alone have a game? ScoMo is in the dark on Trump’s latest new world order.

As becomes an ally “joined at the hip” to the US, the Morrison government responds to America’s troop withdrawals with a vow that Australia will continue to hold the line, (whatever or wherever that may be).

The Weekend Australian runs the spin that Scott Morrison, Christopher Pyne and Marise Payne promise Australia will continue to hold the line with international partners, including the US and NATO. In other words, no-one has a clue what to do.

“Australia will continue to provide security, humanitarian and development assistance in the ­region.’’

There’s a good side. Happily taking selfies with soldiers means that ScoMo cannot field questions regarding Andrew Broad or George Christensen’s claim that his eight innocent trips to the Philippines are subject to a “vile and defamatory smear campaign”.

Broad says he won’t stand as Nationals candidate for Mallee in the light of his “sugar daddy” scandal which involves his visiting Hong Kong in September to hook up with a sugar baby almost twenty years his junior. He’s only done once and they didn’t have sex. The liaison is arranged via a website, “Seeking Arrangements”

Broad’s story appears in veteran celebrity gossip magazine, New Idea, this Monday. He subsequently steps down; issues a statement as any sugar daddy would.

Broad’s statement blames the media. “After recent media stories about my private life, it is clear that the people of Mallee will be best served in the next parliament by a different Nationals candidate.”

Proving, surely, that travel broadens the mind, is the fact that the member for Mallee was one of the first to criticise his former leader, Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce when details of Joyce’s affair with his staffer became public.

Broad does pay back a $400 internal airfare in case you think he’s misused funds but there is a bit of a fuss when a Guardian Australia article shows that he and George have been guilty of copying and pasting their fact-finding reports. It’s not a good look.

More damning is that his current National Party leader, the dynamic Michael McCormack knew about the matter six weeks ago, a fact which seems to slip his memory. McCormack’s explanation for not bothering Scott Morrison who learns about sugar daddy only this week, is that the PM was too busy.

“I don’t tell the prime minister everything about every member of parliament. He’s got enough on his mind at the moment and quite frankly I thought it was a matter for Andrew to sort out with his family.”

Naturally, Christensen chooses to defend himself in a Facebook post, Saturday morning, as his response to media recent media reports about AFP blackmail concerns over an unnamed federal MP visiting seedy neighbourhoods overseas notorious for drugs and prostitution. The whole affair is the work of his political opponents.

The allegations were “mainly” spread by a former senior government MP and one of his former senior staff members, he says he’s been told. He does not identify either. As for any allegations about him made to the AFP, these are vexatious, fake and made by a “senior Labor MP”, he says. That clears that up then.

On the lookout for fake Labor, or forged unity, scribes attend an over-orchestrated Labor gang show in Adelaide.

“Managed to an inch of its life”, sniffs Michelle Grattan. On the nose is The Fair Go, Labor’s 48th National Conference-travelling salvation show, which winds up beyond peak puke in North Terrace, Adelaide, city of Light, Tuesday. Newly ordained life member, Kevin Rudd, bestows a tongue-in-cheek benediction on his mortal enemies.

“You know, we had our occasional disagreements … Just here and there, at the margins, but you know something, we all have written our bit and I just have a simple suggestion: Let’s let history be the judge of these things.”

Rudd also jogs history’s elbow by reminding Labor that Murdoch is not so much a news organisation as a political party, warning Bill Shorten that “dealing with the Murdoch mafia is … like dealing with a daily evisceration”. We’ll take his word for it.

It is true that his press loves to hammer Labor but the experience in Victoria recently shows that voters ignored the trumped-up nonsense about African gangs and how a Liberal government would restore law and order and other fictions. Do his papers have the influence they once did? Or did they ever have the influence they claim?

Murdoch may like to style himself as a king-maker but two Australian academics disagree. Rodney Tiffen and David McKnight, argue that while his media outlets routinely excoriate Labor, Murdoch is more likely to trust in his political intuition; sniff the political wind before he makes a case for backing the favourite.

Even then, he insists that he’s not responsible for what his editors may write. (As if they don’t pick up his views.)

Perceptions do matter, nevertheless. Andrew Probyn argues that when Murdoch concluded Malcolm Turnbull was a dud, it rattled the then Prime Minister.

Probyn then reconstructs the infamous “Malcolm’s got to go” meeting where Rupert Murdoch is reported to have told Kerry Stokes, “We have got to get rid of Malcolm. If that’s the price of getting rid of him then I can put up with three years of Labor.” The Australian Financial Review reported a remarkably similar story.

Even accepting that Murdoch is shrewd rather than all-powerful, there are, nevertheless, changes in the complexion of Australian print and electronic media since Fairfax’s corporate merger with Nine, attracted by Stan and Domain and little else, is likely to lead to more cuts to journalism and a drift to the right, with a senior Liberal, Peter Costello taking over the nation’s biggest media company.

Then there’s recent confirmation of active interference by the Coalition in the ABC, with pressure on the national broadcaster not to be critical of government policy while savagely slashing budgets to help ensure compliance.

None of this seems to unduly bother Labor’s 48th conference. It survives some desperate attempts at upstaging on Monday by the government’s MYEFO castles in the air future surplus and hint of income tax cuts stunt – self-sabotaged also by the member for Mallee’s sugar daddy broadside – prompting a zinger from Deputy, Tanya Plibersek – “We’re into big ideas, they’re in New Idea.”

There are some bold proposals. Shorten commits a Labor government to subsidise the building of 250,000 homes for low and middle-income earners over ten years, even if it is not prepared to raise Newstart or to increase the age pension or fix a liveable minimum wage.  Ensuring the Fair Work Commission was not unfairly stacked with employers’ representatives might help with core issue of the suppression of fair and reasonable wage increases, too.

A pledge to fund 15 hours a week of subsidised preschool for every three-year old, acknowledges the importance of early learning, but fails to include a ParentsNext scheme reform that will not see young mothers forced to attend activities such as playgroup or swimming lessons to keep their parenting payments.

Nor is there any hint of a recall of the RoboDebt programme and a reform of other Centrelink demands on low-paid workers’ time.

Among other worthy but often general aims, James Button includes the following in his report of the conference:

“New funds for schools and TAFE, a commitment to higher pay for “feminised industries” such as child, disability and aged care, and restored penalty rates for 700,000 workers. 

While it’s promising to learn “The refugee intake would be lifted over time from 18,750 to 32,000” It’s inexcusable that the aim to empty offshore detention centres on Manus and Nauru cannot be made effective immediately.

Similarly, it’s distressing to learn that asylum boat turn-backs are a policy now accepted by the party’s Left. These are neither legal nor humane. As it is, it’s enough to drive Peter Dutton nuts as evident in his wild attack on Bill Shorten – still the best game in town amongst the Liberal right wing. Dutton sneers.

“In fact what he has committed to is unravelling Operation Sovereign Borders – the Coalition’s successful policy – that stopped the boats after Labor’s last disastrous term in government.”

Dutton must believe Australians can’t read the reports of bullying in the ABF or the tragic reality of suicide amongst its staff. He also assumes, contrary to opinion poll evidence, that the old canard that the Coalition stopped the boats with Operation Sovereign Borders has any currency. It’s just a lie that is endlessly repeated.

In fact, the boats slowed to a trickle under Kevin Rudd in July 2013, with his announcement that people arriving after that time would not be resettled in Australia.

Furthermore, as John Menadue never tires of pointing out, “Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison kept the door open for tens of thousands of boat people arrivals by opposing legislation that would have enabled implementation of the Malaysia Arrangement of September 2011.”

It’s heartening to learn that Labor also promises to hold a referendum to recognise First Australians and create an Indigenous advisory body to Parliament in the Constitution. The voice to parliament was cynically misrepresented by the Turnbull government as constituting a third chamber and dismissed out of hand.

Finally, among the edited highlights, the conference makes new commitments to fight climate change, yet side-steps Adani, a project which Labor maintains will not go ahead instead of boldly exposing the lies about promised employment and opposing such issues as environmental degradation and the energy subsidy it represents.

Despite its delusions and mining backers, the Coalition is not going to win the election on Adani. The Australian Conservation Foundation has already come up with a powerful campaign. Labor simply needs to get on board. It even has a ready-made pitch.

“If it goes ahead, Adani’s mine and its coal will wreck our climate, steal our groundwater, trash Indigenous rights and irreversibly damage the Great Barrier Reef. Adani’s mine is a climate crime – a crime against humanity and our planet.

Life memberships are also bestowed, in absentia, on two other former Labor PMs, Paul Keating and Julia Gillard, as part of the conference’s spirit of ecumenism and public unity. Shorten pays tribute to Keating as a “hero of the true believers” and to Gillard for her “continuing inspiration for women and girls”.

No mention is made of Gillard’s NDIS which is being wilfully cut back by the Coalition. It has already pruned a handy $2.5 billion off the cost by making it harder to qualify. Autism advocates have protested, for example, at cost-cutting in the case of autistic children. The government changed the qualification criteria so that many people would have to be individually assessed to determine their need for support.

No Keating quote? Keating’s insults are surprisingly current. “He’s wound up like a thousand-day clock! One (more half) turn and there’ll be springs and sprockets all over the building. Mr Speaker, give him a Valium.” Scott Morrison? Josh Frydenberg? PJK could have had any number of the current front bench in mind.

No. The mood and the rhetoric is curiously subdued, over-cautious, over-controlled rather than inspiring .

Karen Middleton mistrusts the display of unity at Labor’s triennial conference. The party may boast that it holds an open shop but all that’s on show is a window display writes another. Veteran Canberra Gallery-slaves appear to mourn a lack of ill-discipline, confusion or open insurrection in The Fair Go. After all it is a Labor shindig. For weeks, scribes predict nothing else. Someone’s got to keep the hoi-polloi on script.

In three days of public debate over the party platform – if debate is not too robust a word — observes James Button, just one issue is taken to a contest, when the Left faction’s push to introduce a Charter of Human Rights loses by just three votes. Can a Labor conference lose such a vote and still have what it takes to run the country?

The peoples’ voice is not entirely excluded. Resourceful protestors make colour photocopies of passes; gain entry. But, again, all is not what it seems. A lad with a promising mullet tells the press ,“young working class people like me aren’t racist dickheads”.

His cotton protest tabard-cum placard bears the legend: “ALP CLOSE THE CAMPS”

Contentious issues are dealt with in caucus. In 2015 this was not the case and clearly some commentators hanker for a return to the past so that the (largely fictive) narrative of a faction-riven, fisticuffing Labor Party may yet again play out in public.

Middleton and Grattan are right. The Fair Go is more your Whitby collier, built broad of beam and shallow in draft to lessen the drama of running aground in uncharted waters. It’s no man o’ war or flashy transport of delight.  Yet Shorten easily brings her up alongside after four days of left-hand down a bit and steady as she goes.

“There has been a lot of pain,” Shorten consoles by torturing an analogy. “But today I say to the conference, it is time for healing, to make peace with our past in the same way we are united about our future.”

All hell breaks loose on the other side. Mozzle Morrison, aka Captain cluster-fuck, our mini-Trump – whose gift for turning chaos into catastrophe surpasses Turnbull the PM Scott somehow deposed in August’s mystery coup – is stumped . Moz still can’t explain why he’s Prime Minister. Judging by his wondrous stuff-ups, nor can anyone else.

Take a bow, Moz.  True, you haven’t cocked it all up on your own. There’s your own self-effacing Santa’s elves on your largely invisible front bench. Tirelessly, they ply their skills to erase all trace of any ministerial responsibility.

And the states. The NSW government is pressing Morrison to do what predecessor Turnbull had planned – go to an election in early March, before the NSW state election at the end of the month, rather than waiting until May.

Don Harwin, NSW Energy Minister, bags his Federal Coalition colleagues for being “out of touch” on energy and climate policies in an op-ed for The Australian Financial Review.

“We need to end the ‘climate wars’ and put science, economics and engineering ahead of ideology,”Harwin says.

The “big stick” energy policy – now no stick at all – frightens mining and business lobby horses. It is against Liberal principles. Yet can a party which has this abject, jargon-stuffed line in its credo really claim any right to govern?

“We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.”

Finally, t’is the season to be giving. And for every giver there must be a receiver. Top marks to Tassie Nationals’ senator, Steve Martin, who manages to spend $531,000 to refurbish his new electorate office (and more than $50,000 in temporary office costs) after he quits the Jacqui Lambie Network and relocates to Devonport.

Four snouts, Stevie!

Creating conflict

By Stephen Fitzgerald 

What started out as a pathetic little grab for votes in the Wentworth by-election, by the LNP, has now been escalated to include threatening every Australian citizen and Australian trade.

Wentworth voters see embassy relocation as a targeted pitch to Jewish voters“:

The response to the proposal relocation of the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem met with outrage across the Muslim world. That includes protests from our closes and dearest neighbour, Indonesia.

Protest call to occupy Australian embassy in Jakarta“:

Several hundred Indonesian protesters have demanded Canberra drop any plans to move its Israel diplomatic mission to Jerusalem, calling on other Islamic groups to occupy the embassy, raising security concerns over an issue that already threatens to derail one of Australia’s most important relationships. And derail it has.

Australia warns citizens on travelling in Indonesia ahead of expected Jerusalem move“:

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia on Friday (Dec 14) warned citizens to take care while travelling in neighbouring Muslim-majority Indonesia, ahead of an expected but contentious move by Canberra to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In addition, our trade with Indonesia has been directly threatened by Scott Morrison stupidity.

Jerusalem embassy proposal delays Australia-Indonesia trade agreement“:

The Australia-Indonesia free trade deal has been put on hold with the Indonesian Trade Minister confirming there will be no agreement while Australia considers moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Australia to recognise Jerusalem as Israeli capital, delay embassy move a report“:

It was not clear if the government intended to recognise the entirety of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, or just West Jerusalem, which Israel has held throughout its existence, as opposed to the eastern sectors of the city that it captured in the 1967 Six Day War.

The announcement was welcomed by Israel, but heavily criticised by Palestinians and a number of Muslim-majority countries in Asia, including neighbouring Indonesia, with which Australia is trying to clinch a landmark free-trade deal.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority delegation to Australia slammed the reported upcoming announcement, with envoy Izzat Abdulhadi saying his people should not have to pay the price for some kind of face-saving move. A face saving move by our esteemed prime minister has threatened Australian trade and exposed every Australian citizen to extremist Muslim reprisal.

Why would any thinking clear minded government do that? It certainly plays into the hands of the right-wing. If you don’t have sufficient national threat create some! A national threat, a terrorist threat, a Muslim threat plays into the hands of right-wing governments who wish to act as our guardian saviours. They do this to divert attention away from governing for themselves, corporates and the financial elite?

So, Morrison thinks; “Tick, tick? Geez I’m clever. Let’s save face and, as a bonus, kill two birds with one stone”:

(1) Instil a bit of fear in to the community so we can save them, and (2) Give the burgeoning Australian arms industry, a bit of a kick start, by creating some more global conflict.

Australia’s bold plan to become one of world’s top 10 arms exporters“:

Australia’s expansion plans come amid increased global demand for military hardware, prompting criticism from aid agencies who argue Australia could make human rights violations worse if weapons were sold to the wrong buyers.

Australia will create a A$3.8 billion fund to lend to exporters that banks are reluctant to finance, a central defence export office and expand the roles of defence attaches in Australian embassies around the world. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that with A$200 billion budgeted to increase Australian defence capabilities in the next decade, Australia should rank higher than 20th among arms-exporting countries.

The planned Australian military build-up was the largest in its peacetime history, he said. Given the size of our defence budget, we should be a lot higher up the scale than that. So, the goal is to get into the top 10, Turnbull said. And, Scott Morrison is with him.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has been accused of being an arms dealer amid secrecy over Australia’s military exports to Saudi Arabia“:

But they insist whatever equipment has been exported is not being used in the Yemen conflict and a Saudi-led coalition bombing campaign.

So, once again the LNP create terrorist fear in the community and escalate global conflict to improve Australia’s chances of being in the top 10 arms manufacturers and exporters. Moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has precisely this effect.

Just like big brother America, recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and just like America become a war economy. In other words, along with pandering to the financial elite and corporates, go after the big ‘arms dealer’ bucks to throw at cohort main stream media to lie, cheat, deceive, bribe and buy your way into government?

Are the LNP completely insane? This right-wing Liberal National Party government, under the leadership of Scott Morrison, are showing signs of being homicidal maniacs. What won’t they do to try to stay in power?

The people have spoken

By Stephen Fitzgerald 

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer! With record corporate profits as wages stagnate and living standards for workers plummet this saying is starting to ring true. This is not just happening in France but, across the entire western world where right-wing political bodies govern on behalf of the financial elite.

Thousands of protestors have taken over the streets of Paris, setting fire to cars, smashing shop windows, and attacking military police. These protestors are angry. They say they can’t afford their mortgages and their bills. “France is a rich country,” one protestor tells 9News. “There’s no reason for us to live like this.”

They gathered before sunrise at the Arc du Triomphe, men and women – many of whom have come from outside the capital, hurled rocks and other projectiles at police, who retaliated with tear gas canisters. Further down the Champs-Élysées, it was chaos. One group set fire to vehicles filling the sky with black smoke, as riot police send protesters running.

Authorities were prepared, deploying 89,000 police and security forces around France and 8000 in Paris. All in all, 135 were hurt in protests across France, while about 1000 were detained. There were similar scenes of violence in the French cities of Marseilles and Bordeaux. And the yellow vest movement has spilled across Europe, with clashes in Brussels and the Netherlands. And, it’s not about petrol prices. There is something much bigger going on.

This is a rebellion against an elitist government. Emmanuel Macron is a right-wing president for the rich, pandering to the rich, as inequality escalates and the workers in society struggle to survive? Macron is pandering to those who exploit society and the people have had enough. In true French Revolution and Bastille Day style the population has rises up against the financial elite, and the right-wing government who panders to them, in an attempt to win back democracy.

So, what’s going on?

The arc of history only bends towards justice when people of goodwill wrench it in the direction of justice.” You will get that from the good people of France and not the financial elite or the right-wing president who run the country to favour themselves.

The new Populism is an ideology which presents “the people” as a morally good force against “the elite” who are perceived as corrupt and self-serving. Populists typically see “the elite” as comprising the political, legal, corporate, church, and media establishment, all of which are depicted as a homogeneous self-serving entity who feed off society and are accused of placing the interests of themselves and other groups—such as foreign countries and immigrants etc, above the best interest of society and the best interest of the majority of citizens.

Right-wing governments pander to the financial elite in return for election funds to stay in power. They pander to the media in return for favourable editorial. They attempt to control and censor the media in their own interest. These governments run on lies and deceit and focus on denigrating opposing progressive government. They drag down those progressive governments who represent the best interest of society and the best interest of the majority of people.

To maintain power and control, right-wing authoritarian governments give corporates and the top ends of town whatever they want to gain financial favour. They throw money at the church to win the religious vote. They go after secular groups to win things like the Jewish vote. They lie and accuse the opposition of everything bad they themselves are doing to win the ignorance vote. They expand the police force and give the military call out powers, with shoot to kill authorisation, anticipating social rebellion and, instil fear into the community with exaggerated security threats.

They are climate change deniers who pander to the fossil fuel industry and they refuse change like renewable energy. They govern with fear and deny the needy and most vulnerable in society. They employ henchmen to constantly drag down opposition leaders and opposition parties. This is the right-wing LNP government in Australia and if they are allowed to continue, Australia is heading in the same direction as France and the other western countries being plundered by right-wing governments and the wealthy elite they represent.

To save Australia’s future, the future of our children and democracy as we know it, the Liberal National Party must go! We need to usher in a progressive government, a government who is looking out for the best interest of all Australians, Australian society and the future for our children.

Image from defenddemocracy.press

The people are getting uppity and Scott doesn’t like it

When the crossbench moved to end the shameful practice of holding innocent people hostage in the pretence that this is a valid way to keep our borders secure, Scott Morrison went ballistic.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure that these suggested changes … never see the light of day,” Mr Morrison said. “I will do whatever I can. I will fight them using whatever tool or tactic I have available to me to ensure that we do not undermine our border protection laws.”

And what were these dreadful changes being proposed?  That refugees that we have incarcerated get the medical treatment they need.

We can’t have that now can we.  Because if we actually looked after the people who came to us seeking our help, it would render our navy and border patrol forces impotent to stop the fleet of fishing boats just waiting to set out from Indonesia.

Which raises a few questions.

If our defence and customs security can be foiled by a few fishermen, then why are we spending hundreds of billions giving them state of the art equipment?  And why didn’t the armada set out in response to the hundreds of people who have already been brought here for medical treatment?  Or after hundreds were resettled in the US?  And if the government knows the number of asylum seekers sitting in Indonesia ready to board a vessel, why aren’t they setting up a processing centre there and shutting down the smugglers?

How about those pesky kids, missing school to express their anger and despair at the older generation’s inaction on climate change.  They must have been put up to it by radical lefty socialist teachers.  They should be in school doing some rote learning about how wonderful Western civilisation is rather than emulating the dole bludgers by protesting.

That young lady who wrote to the PM about her disappointment at the standard of behaviour in parliament should stop worrying her little head about grownup tactics that she couldn’t possibly understand.

And then there are those uppity women who are objecting to being objectified.  If Sarah Hanson-Young wears a dress that shows a portion of her upper chest she should expect to be ridiculed.  How can we take anyone with breasts seriously?  She was obviously asking for people to focus on her tits.  What was she talking about again?

If women can’t stand the heat of men bullying and slut-shaming them, they shouldn’t be in parliament.  And if they happen to be there, any idea that a conscience vote means you can vote with your conscience about things like a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy will be viewed as a mark against you come preselection time.  Understand?

And what about those Indigenous people who think they should have some say in policies that affect them?  They have no right to interfere in whatever Tony Abbott has planned for them because he obviously knows best.  More truancy officers, more gaols, mandatory sentencing, tougher penalties for dole infringements, income control with pocket money dribbled out, pay the people that are forced to deal with them a bit more, and make them move to where services are.

Then there is the “gay agenda”.  They weren’t happy with just being allowed to marry the person they love – they are trying to stop all discrimination against people based on their sexuality or gender identity.  Surely they understand that Christians must be allowed to vilify people on the basis of their interpretation of an ancient book that has been rewritten over centuries by men with their own agenda.  Homosexuality is unnatural.  Praying to mythical beings whilst engaging in mock cannibalistic rituals is, on the other hand, the rock on which society is built.

The Coalition cannot understand why people are not satisfied with the fact that some people are getting much richer.  Company profits are at record highs after all.  Women and children should be happy that the men are taking care of things.  Indigenous folk should recognise how much better off they are since the white man took control.  And gays should be thankful we no longer lock them up.

After 27 years of continuous growth in GDP, and a surplus budget sometime soon, surely people appreciate that the government is doing its bit.  If you are not well off, it’s your own fault for being born to the wrong parents.

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Extraordinary and Reprehensible Circumstances.

In 1975, the then Whitlam Labor government, which had been in power for just three years after 23 years in opposition, was being hounded ruthlessly and viciously by the press and the Opposition, over a series of events that pale in comparison with what we are witnessing in Canberra today.

A seemingly innocent, if not poorly thought-through attempt to raise overseas funds for infrastructure projects went horribly pear-shaped. Ministers were replaced for misleading parliament and the whole affair prompted a calculating Opposition to block supply. This ultimately led to the sacking of the government by the Governor-General, on the grounds of ‘extraordinary and reprehensible’ circumstances.

Comparing that episode in our political history with the farcical events of today, we must wonder why the Governor-General has not stepped in already, to resolve what is a much more serious example of ‘extraordinary and reprehensible’ circumstances.

In just over five years, the government has had three prime ministers, lost its majority, refuses to account for the legitimacy of one of its senior ministers and has a serious undermining factional issue that threatens its ability to govern effectively.

To ignore the oncoming impact of climate change, and trash a bi-partisan National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan that would ensure distribution and supply of electricity, is a disgraceful abdication of its oath of office.

The NEG was designed to provide certainty to the business sector and its future investment plans, something which is critical to the economic well-being of all Australians.

Then came the resignation of Julia Banks, the threatened resignation of Craig Kelly who is about to lose preselection, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for an early election to save the NSW Liberal government and the very public statements of discord by Craig Laundy, Julia Bishop and others. It demonstrates all too clearly, the government has become so toxic, it cannot govern.

The Labor Opposition has ruled out blocking supply, presumably to maintain the high moral ground and probably comfortable in the knowledge that a federal election is only six months away. Its consistent lead in the polls over the past two years almost assures it of winning in May 2019.

But can we afford to wait that long? With such chaos in play, a prime minister who appears unable to control his party and the internal party blood-letting only threatening to worsen, surely it is time for the Governor-General to act.

We are entering a critical time, economically and diplomatically and are entitled as a people and a nation to have this matter addressed.

Our economy is slowing as we speak, in line with a slowing of the Chinese economy. Confirmation of this can be seen by the fall in clearance rates of weekend auctions in the housing market. They have fallen from an average of 69% a year ago to 48% today. Furthermore, our growth rate is insufficient to cater for what will be rising levels of job seeking in 2019.

Tensions between the USA and China and the emerging conflict between Russia and the Ukraine will be a testing time. The present government has lost its credibility with our international partners and is in no position to deal responsibly with these issues.

We need certainty in decision-making and confidence in our administrators. At the moment, we have neither. Without sufficient prompting, the Governor-General will not interfere. We need a movement to campaign for a March 2nd election.

There are too many reasons not to act. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, is clearly out of his depth and his parliamentary and party woes further weaken his government’s ability and its competence. They should present themselves now to a bewildered and increasingly unsettled people. But they will never do that. The prospect of an electoral wipeout makes them shudder.

They will stay in government until dragged kicking and screaming from the government benches.

Something has to give. What will it take to mobilise a protest movement? If a small group of schoolgirls can mobilise a national one-day school strike on a non-existent budget to protest inaction on climate change, how hard can it be for Bill Shorten and the Opposition, Get Up, Change.org and other such groups with all the resources at their disposal, to mobilise and bring the government to account?

We should be demanding an election on March 2nd, 2019 on the grounds of extraordinary and reprehensible circumstances, just as happened in 1975. To wait until May only allows this pathetic collection of misfits to inflict further damage on our economy and our international reputation.

 

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