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We won’t be lectured to about anything – and we make no apology for screwing the country

Any pretence at transparent, accountable government has been abandoned.  Evidence based policy making and expert advice are no longer necessary for the Coalition who seem to think they are there by God’s grace and are therefore beyond scrutiny let alone reproach.

Freedom of information has become a farce.  The excuses for not providing information are ridiculous.  The amount of time and money spent fighting court orders is contemptuous and wasteful.  The length of time to comply when forced, and the material that is then redacted, makes the whole exercise futile.

The Coalition don’t need advice from anyone.  Infrastructure Australia, Sports Australia, the Human Rights Commission, the panel who shortlists board appointments at the ABC, The Australia Council for the Arts – what would they know?

Surely they realise that infrastructure is most important where it might win you votes, sports grants are photo opps for aspiring or struggling candidates, the AHRC are soft on borders, the ABC is full of woke capital-city greenies, and what arts are there beside ballet and opera?

They got rid of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.  We don’t need forward planning when we have Special Envoys like Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott, Warren Entsch and Jim Molan on the ground telling it like it is to the boys in the bar.

Water management has morphed into a lucrative trade, as Angus Taylor can attest.  Despite towns running out of water and farms turning into baked earth, we can always find plenty of water for mining and large cotton farms and plenty of money for non-existent flood water or land flow trapped by unnapproved earthworks.

Apparently we have something called the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR).

“AIDR is supported by its partners: the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, the Australian and New Zealand National Council for fire and emergency services (AFAC), the Australian Red Cross and the Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.”

One would have thought they would be front and centre during this crisis…except they are part of Peter Dutton’s mega-portfolio and Poida don’t need no stinkin’ advice from alarmists.  Sick refugees invading our shores is by far the greatest risk to our nation.

Everybody, including the RBA, the Business Council and ACOSS have pleaded with the government to raise Newstart – to stimulate the economy, to help people get job ready, and to lift people out of abject poverty.

But that’s not the way of the party who will give a go to those that have a go.

Who cares if property tax concessions have skewed investment away from more productive enterprises and made housing unaffordable.  Who cares if excess franking credit refunds result in companies paying no tax.  If they didn’t give it to their shareholders they would be hiding it offshore anyway.  Who cares if wages are stagnant, workers are exploited and their rights eroded.  The only reason they have a job is because the Coalition gives their employer a helping hand.

Religious freedom and freedom of speech are extremely important to a government who has no clue how to govern.  Except religious freedom seems to mean that religious people have the right to discriminate against anyone they don’t like and they are to be protected from anyone calling them out on it.  Likewise, freedom of speech will be afforded to bigots but not to protesters or journalists.

The government has great respect for our First People – look, they even finally gave the portfolio to an Aboriginal man.  But don’t think that means constitutional recognition, a voice to Parliament, self-determination, a treaty, changing the date of Australia Day, the right to manage your own financial affairs, or even to receive utilities or services.  Being disadvantaged is a lifestyle choice.

The Auditor-General has written countless scathing reports about grants without due process, contracts without tender, a lack of value-for-money assessment, poor record-keeping, no follow-up appraisal, and a myriad of other concerning issues – so the government even gagged him when he produced a report they didn’t like about their huge cash splurge on military equipment.

But make no mistake – they are taking a methodical approach to screwing this country and they will make no apology for it!

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The Morrison Government’s failure to act on a predicted disaster is damning

It’s only fitting that the nation’s capital should be drenched in thick smoke while the country burns. Canberra; home to the Parliament of Australia, the city where politicians stamp their mark and influence, and where law is passed. Canberra, where policy comes to life; policy which may spell the difference between suffocating never-ending seasons of smoke-hazed skies, homes razed to the ground, lives lost, wildlife, ecosystems and communities destroyed, or alternatively, strategised long term coordination, preparation, prevention, and management, and a national, unified approach to disaster.

When the catastrophic fires first burned through forests and bushland in the early days of Spring 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quick to push back on the states. Fighting fires was a state responsibility, he maintained, and thus nothing to do with the Commonwealth. He, along with senior members of Cabinet and other Coalition politicians, continued their approach of implicitly endorsing anti-climate change rhetoric, twisting the facts on what Australia was doing to address climate change, demonising  protestors, and positioning environmental activists alongside groups and ideologies which threatened national security such as neo-Nazi terrorism and a pro-terrorist Islamists.

On a practical level, before the bushfires raged, the Federal Government had already rejected the National Aerial Firefighting Centres call in May 2016 to expand the fleet in preparation for hotter and more extended bushfire seasons. It had already dismissed warnings from ex-emergency chiefs in April 2019 that a catastrophic fire season was on the way and ignored requests to discuss the escalating climate change risks. This was despite there being 18 warnings that the impacts of climate change were leading to increased bushfire risks since the Coalition was first elected in 2013.

The 18 warnings were in addition to the 2008 Garnaut Climate Change Review’s final report which predicted a horror bushfire season in 2020; a report commissioned and supported by state and federal politicians, and which examined the long term impacts of climate change on the Australian economy. The Government had steadfastly ignored warnings and predictions from over 40 years, that the impacts of climate change would increase the risk of catastrophic bushfires.

Over the months that catastrophic fires burned through 10 million hectares, taking nearly 30 lives and killing more than a billion animals, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework lay buried in Canberra; a crucial report prepared under former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and ready to publish just weeks before he was ousted by current Prime Minister Scott Morrison in August 2018. The Framework, ready, but sitting unactioned for over 18 months by Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, warned that the changing climate was exposing the country to natural disasters on ‘‘unimagined scales, in unprecedented combinations and in unexpected locations’’.

While the Federal politicians passed law after law with the promise to keep Australians safe and protect them from hypothetical national security risks, while the Home Affairs Department warned the Government again in May 2019 of unprecedented “disasters” exacerbated by climate change, and called for national action in a now public briefing, while Morrison chided climate protesters for imposing ‘needless anxiety’ on children over the impact of climate change on their future, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework sat idly in a metaphorical Canberra drawer.

It’s only fitting that the city drowning in smoke is home to the most damning of evidence that the Morrison Government willfully endangered Australia and its people for ideological and political purposes.

It is now indisputable that the lack of national coordination, prevention strategies and preparation for the predicted bushfire disaster is not because of departmental policy failures, or the absence of experts to advise, or the unwillingness of bureaucrats to recommend tangible action to the Prime Minister and his Government.

It’s painfully clear that the gaping hole that is national leadership is because the Prime Minister either does not appreciate the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility to mitigate the devastating impacts of a changing climate, or he simply does not care.

Morrison’s sloth-like response to the emergency crisis, the reactive, hastily drafted, shoddily communicated recovery and support policies, and the extraordinary Liberal Party ad spruiking Morrison’s belated actions, demonstrate that Morrison was not prepared at all for the disaster which presented over Christmas and New Years 2019/2020. The absence of collective preparation, preventative action, and long term national management strategy wasn’t for lack of internal knowledge or expert information being available, it was because Morrison chose to ignore it.

The scientific evidence demonstrates that “as the world warms due to human induced climate change, we experience an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.” The science has shown this for over 40 years. And yet as soon as the Coalition Government was first elected in 2013, it set about repealing the key legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions. And in the years that followed it has persisted in obfuscating on scientific fact, slashing funding to bodies tasked with researching climate related issues, and dismissing international criticism of its policies.

The Coalition Government’s failures are twofold;

  • globally, by failing to take appropriate action on climate change, ranking 57 out of 57 countries on climate change policy, yet still defending Australia’s policies as acceptable, and
  • nationally, by failing to provide and implement national, long-term strategies for prevention, preparation, management and recovery for the growing incidence and severity of natural disasters linked to climate change.

The Coalition Government has obstinately refused to take the threat of climate change seriously, even as bushfires burned simultaneously across every state of Australia and Canberra was drenched in smoke. The deliberate public policy vacuum, Morrison’s fierce defence when called on the Government’s insufficient action, and the refusal to implement long term, national risk reduction strategies, despite evidence the Government knew about the increasing risk and the predictions of a disastrous bushfire season, is unacceptable.

The Government’s own reports, briefings and reports demonstrate it knew about the risks posed by lack of appropriate action to mitigate the consequences of climate change, and yet it did nothing tangible at all. The Morrison Government’s multiple failures, which have arguably contributed to the loss of life, homes, communities, wildlife and over 10 million hectares, must be seen as a gross act of negligence.

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Some Of Us Owe Scott Morrison A Big Apology!

Some people will be surprised that I’m suggesting that we owe our PM an apology, but anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a fair man. And anyone who doesn’t think that I’m a fair man obviously doesn’t know me…

Yes, there are certain things that our PM has done recently that I’ve criticised:

  • Tweeting about how good the summer would be thanks to the cricket, while the bushfires were raging
  • Going on holiday in the midst of a crisis
  • Coming back
  • Having his office lie about his whereabouts
  • Shaking people’s hand against their will
  • Suggesting that the firies didn’t need any compensation, changing his mind, then telling us that they’d been working on it for a while
  • Making the compensation harder to get than a subsidy to start a coal mine
  • Telling people that Kangaroo Island still had two thirds not burnt so it was open for business.
  • Saying that it was good that nobody on Kangaroo Island had died only to be corrected by someone who pointed out that two people had
  • Implying that bushfires were all the fault of arsonists.
  • Calling arsonists “Un-Australian”. (What nationality promotes arson. Is it an English thing? A Canadian thing? A Greek custom? An Italian habit?)

But I’ve taken a step back over recent days and had a good long think about our PM.

When in New Zealand, he left his job as director of the Office of Tourism and Sport with a year to run on his contract for reasons unspecified. He was sacked from Tourism Australia, and not just because of the appalling “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign.

After failing to gain preselection, losing to Michael Towke 82 votes to 8, he managed to become the candidate, after Towke was disendorsed by the NSW executive of the Liberal Party after allegations of branch stacking against Towke. These allegations were later proven to be false and “The Daily Telegraph” settled a defamation case for an undisclosed amount.

Once in Parliament, Morrison quickly became noticed. One of the highlights of his career was when he complained about the Gillard government paying for relatives of the Christmas Island boat tragedy to attend the funerals. This early demonstration of his empathetic nature was something that made him a natural for advancement in the Abbott Ministry.

As Immigration Minister in the Abbott government, he introduced weekly briefings where he would tell the media nothing about boat arrivals or turnbacks because such things were a matter of “security”. When the media said that there was no point in having a weekly meeting where all that was said was that nothing could be said, Morrison quickly agreed and stopped the meetings altogether.

When the Australian Human Rights Commission issued a report in 2014 which asserted that Morrison failed in his responsibility to act in the best interests of children in detention, the Liberals suggested that the report was poorly timed because they were in power and it should have been critical of Labor who couldn’t retaliate by appointing Tim Wilson to the Human Rights Commission.

Morrison moved from Immigration to Social Services where he found that his strategy of locking up people and refusing to comment was a little trickier to implement. He announced that he didn’t want to take a combative approach to the portfolio, so if people would just agree with him that would make it a lot easier.

It was as Treasurer that Scott could really shine. Treasurers use lots of words like “fiscal”, “macroeconomic policy”, “market efficiency”, “superannuation” and various other phrases that even when understood, tend to make the listener drift off into a semi-hypnotic state where they conclude: “This guy is so boring, he really must know something about how to handle money.” (Ok, I did note the use of the male pronoun. I was going to change it to something more generic, but then I realised that Australia doesn’t have female Treasurers…)

Morrison had a natural advantage in that he was boring even before he was made Treasurer. Once he was made leader after Dutton’s aborted coup, Morrison managed to keep people in their semi-hypnotic state throughout the election campaign by talking about such things as curries and a fair go. Somehow he managed to have various people think that they were back in the fifties and it was a bonza country, but he was just a little bit alternative because he embraced these curry things, while Jen could whip up a mean salad.

All of which brings me to the apology…

Given his total and absolute inability to demonstrate empathy or competence in any job he’d ever held, and his ascent has only been through bastardry and nastiness, why on earth would we expect any better once he became our PM. Really, it’s our fault for electing him to a position far beyond his capabilities. He’s possibly doing the best that he can.

And so, on behalf of the Australian people, I’d just like to say, “Sorry, Scottie. We’ve expected far too much of you.”

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What a competent government would have done …

Who said there’s no difference between Labor and the LNP? I thank Henry Johnston for pointing me to this media release by Bill Shorten (on 17 March, 2019) which provides us with one glaring difference. Read on, and be the judge:

A Shorten Labor Government will boost Australia’s firefighting capabilities with a national fleet of aircraft and dedicated smokejumper units to keep Australians safe from bushfires.

All Australians understand the devastating impact that bushfires have. Lives are lost, homes destroyed and communities shattered.

Our firefighters and emergency services personnel are among the best in the world, and they do a tremendous job, often putting their own lives at risk. But they need more support from government.

At the moment, Australia doesn’t have a government-owned fleet of water bombing aircraft – making us reliant on borrowing from private companies domestically and from overseas.

The bushfire season in Australia is lengthening and already overlapping with the northern hemisphere, increasing the risk that we won’t be able to access the aircraft we need at times of peril.

At the same time, the Federal Government’s contribution to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre has plummeted from 50 per cent of funding to just 23 per cent, reducing our overall firefighting capability.

The Bureau of Meteorology has identified this summer as Australia’s hottest on record, which included devastating bushfires in Victoria and Tasmania. Now is the time to invest in giving our firefighters the resources they need to keep us all safe.

Labor’s national firefighting package will deliver:

$80 million to establish the National Aerial Bushfire Fighting Fleet of aircraft

This fleet will provide standing aerial firefighting capacity that can be used on demand in emergencies.

It will include retro-fitted Black Hawk helicopters as they are phased out from active use by the Australian Army and Erickson S-64 Air-crane helicopters (or ‘Elvis’ as they are commonly known) which has a 2,650 gallon tank capable of snorkelling or scooping fresh or salt water.

It’s expected that the national fleet will include a standing capability of up to six Large or Very Large Air Tankers, and up to 12 heavy rotary wing helicopters.

The benefits of aerial firefighting are clear. Aircrafts offer speed, access and observation advantages over ground crews. Containment is more effective and the final fire burned area minimised using aerial capability, thereby reducing demand on ground crews.

Australia’s first ‘smokejumper’ units

Smokejumpers are firefighters trained to be rapidly deployed by helicopters at remote fires during the short window during which those fires can be contained.

Smokejumpers usually rappel from helicopters and use chain-saws, hoes and other dry firefighting tools to establish a containment perimeter around the fire. They then patrol the perimeter to ensure the fire does not jump containment lines while working with water-bombing aircraft to ensure the contained fire is fully extinguished.

California and other US states currently have a number of smokejumper units which have proven successful.

As part of the $80 million commitment to establish a fleet, Labor will work with the states and territories to establish smokejumper units across the country.

$21 million for the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC)

A Shorten Labor Government will stop the Federal Government’s reduction in funding for our firefighting capabilities by returning to a 50-50 funding split between the states and territories and the Commonwealth.

Labor’s investment will ease the burden on state and territory governments, develop new national programs including a national risk management model, and national research and development programs including trials of new aircraft and night firefighting activities.

Labor can pay for new firefighting aircraft the smokejumper units because we are making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes for the top end of town.

 

Well, at least people who receive franking credits are happy and Clive Palmer will get his mine.

 

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The Liar from the Shire, caught out again

In May 2016, when Scott Morrison was Treasurer, the National Aerial Firefighting Centre called for a “national large air-tanker” fleet to confront a growing bushfire threat.  Despite a Senate inquiry backing the proposal, the government rejected it in September 2017, “noting that bushfire responsibility is a matter for each state and territory.”

Are firetrucks or planes to come to a screeching halt at the border?  Do we ignore another state’s need to keep our resources in case we need them?

Smoko has defended his decision not to meet with former fire chiefs last year, who were also calling for more aerial firefighting capability, saying he chooses to listen to those ‘in their jobs now’.

Then up pops NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons who says the federal government has sat on a business case for a boosted national aerial firefighting fleet for at least 18 months.

Former fire chief Greg Mullins confirmed that.

“The Prime Minister keeps saying that whatever the fire chiefs request, they get, but that’s not true,” Mr Mullins said. “The business case has been on the desk for two years. Had the fire chiefs had certainty with the $25 million, we would have more aircraft in the sky.”

Last November, Mullins was saying that, not only had the government refused to meet with former fire chiefs, but those currently in the job were not included in discussions and were told not to mention global heating.

“This government fundamentally doesn’t like talking about climate change,” Mullins said. “We would like the doors to be open to the current chiefs, and allow them to utter the words ‘climate change’. They are not allowed to at the moment.”

Our leader (cough) has gotten the international attention he craved but I don’t think 2GB and the Murdoch rubbish are going to help this time.

Those who know are calling bullshit, Scotty.

And it’s only gonna get louder.

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“Let them watch fireworks:” Gladys Antoinette, Sydney 2019

The sickening irony of letting off millions of exploding flames into a city sky already thickened with the smoke of bushfires that have surrounded Sydney for weeks, and then calling it “welcoming in the New Year,” seems entirely lost on Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

According to both women, the fireworks will demonstrate that NSW is a “resilient” state that looks towards the future with hope. “Coming together as a community in times of great trouble” is another justification for persisting with a fiery celebration many other centres, including Canberra, have chosen to abandon. Some because it’s too dangerous, others, like here in northern NSW, because we suffer an unpleasant visceral and emotional reaction to the idea of fireworks at this time. It just does not seem right to celebrate the New Year in this way when people are dying, communities are being left bereft, millions of hectares of country across the state are burning, and untold numbers of animals are frying to death or living in agony.

The symbolism is terrifying. The lack of leaders’ ability to comprehend this symbolism is unnerving.

In fact, cancelling the fireworks would send the powerful message that climate change is irrevocably rearranging our lives and our expectations, and action must be taken by governments right now to address this reality. Indeed, this is a rare and brilliant opportunity to sheet home to negligent authorities the urgency of our situation, something LNP governments both federal and state seem to be slow to grasp.

“Listen, chaps. If you don’t act on climate change and with urgency, fire prevention and management, you won’t be able to have fireworks on New Year’s,” seems an accessible example of cause and effect, even for those practised in denial.

Apparently, cancelling the New Year’s Eve fireworks on Sydney Harbour would cause a loss of some $130 million to Sydney businesses. Perhaps this overnight loss might stimulate those city businesses to demand that politicians face up to the financial impact of climate change and its manifestations, on our economy. I would also love to hear exactly why Sydney businesses must be protected from loss, when across the state, indeed, across the country, individuals, businesses and entire communities are being financially destroyed, even as we watch the fireworks. Increasingly, we read of under-resourced fire brigades, exhausted volunteer firies, and inadequately resourced aerial fighting facilities, yet Sydney businesses are a protected species, indeed, the only protected species in this entire catastrophic state-wide conflagration.

Of course, cancelling the Sydney fireworks would be an acknowledgement of the gravity of our situation, an acknowledgement the Berejiklian and Morrison governments do not want to make. Even the Sydney City Council, usually considerably more aware of the peril we are facing than either government, cannot see the smoke for the fireworks in this instance, and insists on giving priority to marketing and tourism. This is a short-sighted perspective. The impact on tourism of past weeks of air quality readings, at one point the worst in the world, has apparently been omitted from the council’s evaluations. It will be interesting to see how the fireworks are reported internationally.

“Let them watch fireworks!” appears to be the slogan of leaders who think a little bit of bread and circuses will momentarily distract from the catastrophes currently engulfing much of the state. Tomorrow, however, we’ll still be burning with no end in sight, the fireworks forgotten, the fear, anger and sorrow still in our hearts, the failure of our politicians seared on our memories.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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A dangerously dysfunctional state of decay.

“The Prime Minister is testing the theory that the best way to resolve a crisis is to be as far away from it as possible,” Julie Bishop tells 150 “prominent” Liberals – in Nine Newspapers’ Michael Koziol’s view – who gather for The Liberal Forum (LF)’s annual, festive, pre-Christmas binge, whinge and back-stab over champers and canapés at former NSW Liberal president; serial company director, Fat Cat Kevin McCann’s, Mosman Gatsby mansion.

Her wicked dig is also an in-joke. Libs always cast Bishop as a “loyal girl” as Abbo aptly put it in 2009.

Bishop could also titillate guests with the PM’s other brilliant “out of sight out of mind” tactic of delaying or refusing FOI requests. How good is Morrison’s, latest attack on transparent government, a war begun by Tony Abbott, now a heroic Volunteer Fire-fighter bigging up his image in The Daily Mail at Morrison’s expense?

The PM, aka Scotty from Marketing, orders staff not to release texts which Drought Envoy, Barnaby Joyce says justify $675 thousand in expenses – rung up as he ventured outside his electorate for less than three weeks to assiduously report on The Big Dry. As with Brian Houston’s invite to the White House, Scotty clams up.

Joyce was demoted for violating Malco’s Ministerial code’s no bonking clause, but to keep Joyce on side, within days of knifing Turnbull, ScoMo bought the support of the former Nationals’ Leader by creating an important job, Drought Envoy with expense account and staff to find out how no rain affects farmers.

Joyce has filed no report. He did not know he needed to. But he “sent heaps of texts,” he tells Channel 7. 

“An awful lot of texts,” he tells our ABC.  But he’s not showing them to anyone. Nor is the Prime Minister. Barnaby’s insights will remain hermetically-sealed, like the top secret agreement between the Liberals who need the Nationals numbers, come hell or high water. It’s as if some secret Freemasonry is the heart and soul; the life-blood of our can-do Coalition government which is always rolling up its sleeves to set up inquiries.

And stymie others. “I’m not going to tell you what they said, they were directed to the Prime Minister, if he wants to tell you what they said, that’s up to him … I can assure you, I directly sent reports,” Joyce blusters.

Can-do? If it’s OK with the Nats and their Big Cotton, Big Mining bosses, the Liberals can do it. Or not.

The PM’s Office refuses a FOI request for “any correspondence, including text messages and WhatsApp messages” between Joyce and Morrison “regarding his work as drought envoy”. Why? It claims it “would substantially and unreasonably interfere with the prime minister’s functions”. What a crack-up.

But ScoMo’s a no-show at this function. The Big Kahuna is still rushing back from Hawaii as guests arrive. But should the right wing warrior and climate change denier, Dutton dressed up as lamb, even get an invite?

The Liberal Forum runs on pure idealism, unsullied by the Party’s need to please its mining and banking lobby bosses’, its bigamous marriages of convenience to the Murdoch Press – and to The Nationals, its day to day chicanery or its Machiavellian pragmatism.  It’s a platonic affair, not a cabal of leadership plotters.

An “ideas group” of pure, if not lofty, intent, formed in secret in 1985 to offset “the conservative tide”, The Liberal Forum‘s noble, clandestine, mission was, alas, rapidly outwitted by “forces of greed and self-interest” recalls former NSW Senator Peter Baume, a small-l Liberal known to cross the floor on issues of principle.

Nowadays, The Black Hand, as wags quickly dubbed the Forum, is like The Cheshire Cat, a creature which has disappeared, leaving only the grin of its good intentions behind. The LF’s reduced to organising social events for what it fondly imagines is the modern Liberal Party’s moderate faction; a species which is much talked about  – in awe but never sighted- a type of Sasquatch or Loch Ness Monster, as Greg Jericho so aptly puts it.

Conspicuously missing in action (or “doing a ScoMo”) was any small-l Liberal in last February’s vote on the Medevac Bill. (Before it was so heroically repealed, early this month, thanks to Jacqui Lambie’s secret deal.)

Back in February, not one MP appears from Liberal ranks to be in favour of human decency. Not a word of protest is heard. Not one MP even hints that this niggardly act of humanity was OK, let alone fair or right.

Not a word is heard from any Liberal pleading to help our fellow human beings – all vulnerable, innocent people fleeing war, rape, genocide, political repression and murder. No-one speaks up for those whom we illegally detain indefinitely – an ugly, morally repugnant type of sadistic torture in our offshore prisons.

All the Medevac Bill proposed was that MPs agree to get all who are sick, or driven mad to a doctor. Twelve people have died in offshore detention to date. Coroner Terry Ryan’s inquiry into the case of Hamid Khazaei showed that he died as a direct result of the Australian Government’s refusal to follow medical orders.

Similarly, not one moderate protests last February’s gaming of parliamentary process by extending question time in order to avoid a vote on a Royal Commission into disabled care. But they do know how to party.

A former Liberal deputy leader, whose deputising was also near invisible, Ms Bishop wows the crowd when she mocks Scott Morrison as a PM who disappears just when we might need him. How good is her aim? But has Morrison become just another political joke?  Is the king-tide of Liberal support now fast running out for “miracle” Morrison, given his calamitous captain’s call to holiday while Australia burns?

Chins wag. Heads shake. There is much clutching of pearls. ScoMo’s snafu is generally held to be a monumental cock-up, except by News Corp’s Peter Van Onselen, who believes that Aloha Morrison has erred “while still on a honeymoon of sorts”. But, then, Van Onselen did predict a stonking Labor victory in May.

For most others, however, Aloha Morrison’s now a hopeless joke. (Hawaiians use Aloha both to greet and farewell.) Will “met his Waikiki” also enter the political lexicon as a colossal failure of judgement? Will Morrison’s dereliction of duty in time of crisis, be the only thing voters remember at the next federal election? Is Miracle Morrison already morphing into a political liability in the view of many nervous Liberal MPs?

But, let’s be frank, our Bronte bogan, the bad dad-joke who plotted day and night to get himself installed as PM over Turnbull’s politically dead body, but who didn’t have a clue what to do next, would still be the butt of derision even if he hadn’t cruelled Julie’s run for the top job or double-double crossed her pal, Malcolm.

Since becoming PM, Morrison’s wasted an inordinate amount of time and energy avoiding doing anything. At least Bishop gets in touch with her small-l liberalism by being cover star of Financial Review’s LUXURY Magazine September issue in a photo shoot. But it’s not all glossy photographs of Bishop rocking designer frocks and gowns. The former Minister for Women (2006-7) explains how she uses fashion for politics.

So this is what small-l Liberalism has come to? A photo-shoot in the exclusive LUXURY fashion-mag?

Julie loves a party, too. The former corporate lawyer knows how to have fun, as we all know, from her taxpayer funded trips to the Portsea Polo in 2016, a year when she racked up $1.2 million in travel expenses to her 2011, Reddy family celebrity Indian wedding in Hyderabad, a frugal, three-day event involving ten thousand guests, an intimate group of Indian politicians, Bollywood stars and a swag of international fashionistas. Bishop, Barnaby Joyce, Teresa Gambaro flew over in Gina Rinehart’s private jet.

But not back. Waggishly, Bishop billed tax-payers for a $3445 flight home to Perth from Hyderabad because, although she concedes she did attend the wedding, she was on a “study tour” which involved her in fact-finding, high-level trade and investment discussions with local energy and infrastructure potentates.

Bishop’s droll humour precedes her career in politics. In the 1980s, she worked as a solicitor for Wittenoom building company CSR, fighting workers’ claims and successfully delaying payouts to victims of asbestosis.

As Peter Gordon, whose firm Slater and Gordon won an historic class action for the workers in 1989, recalls, Bishop, then Julie Gillon, was a barrel of laughs, “… rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying.”

As a junior lawyer, Gordon had been told that it was too hard to run a case for negligence for someone with an asbestos-related cancer because “the victims died too quickly”. With his senior partner’s support, Gordon successfully approached the Court to fast-track the process “for interlocutory processes, discovery and interrogatories” to make sure victims got a trial in their lifetime. It was a hard-won decision.

Peter Gordon recalls, “We had to fight even for the right of dying cancer victims to get a speedy trial.”

Robert Vojakovic of WA-based Asbestos Diseases Society says Bishop “had a take-no-prisoners approach”.

Bishop is out of politics now but her legacy lives on in Morrison’s malignant narcissism; his ruthless ambition. His hyper-partisanship. And beyond.

Not only is the office of PM and Cabinet re-fashioned in his own Machiavellian image, his government has further cowed the public service into serving the party rather more than the people. And its Big Kahuna.

Back in the swim of things after his spectacularly ill-judged top-secret trip to Waikiki for a bit of quality time with his girls and his AFP Close Personal Protection squad, our roving PM takes time out from the rigours of defending his going AWOL by penning a blistering op-ed in The Daily Telegraph denouncing “reckless” and job-destroying proposals to cut coal coal-mining. He also takes a top photographer to Sydney’s Bronte Beach to snap him in his speedos for the press drop his boffins in the office make in crises of image management.

Charcoal-black budgie-smugglers,” The Daily Mail’s Tita Smith gushes.

ScoMo in speedos? The image conjures up a Lucian Freud nude – but our PM and his team of turd-polishers will go to any length to reassure an anxious nation that a PM who claims in his national apology that our nation’s clergy engaged in “ritual sexual abuse” of children is just a normal bloke. Even if he’s full of bull-shit.

Or even because of it. Australians love a tall story. It may help explain our nation’s weakness for Coalition election pledges. The coal industry employs less than 0.4% of the Australian workforce while its royalties contribute just 2% of revenue to the NSW and Queensland budgets – and that’s before the payment of subsidies. This week, our miners are hit by biggest thermal coal price plunge in over a decade. High coal prices cannot continue; Morrison’s Trumpista diplomacy has alienated our best customers in China. They are now buying less from us and more from other sources such as Mongolia in reprisal. Nice one, Trump fan-boy.

Morrison’s claim that we must choose between coal or prosperity is worse than nonsense. He’s just parroting coal lobby spin. Modelling shows we’d have just the same or better GDP growth with no mines. And with the damage done by his government’s diplomatic anti-China charm offensive, his rhetoric is even more vapid.

Yet with no coal mines our climate would be less overheated. Less likelihood, then, of catastrophic fires.

Fires destroy 4.6m hectares, across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. They burn with a ferocity and on a scale we’ve never seen before yet there is no hint that the government will acknowledge the link between the catastrophic fires and global heating. The PM makes a token concession.

Volunteer firefighters in NSW will be able to apply for up to $6,000 in compensation from the Federal Government, Morrison announces. Up to? Only NSW? Despite the cunning lack of clarity in the Coalition’s pledge, right on cue, there’s a howl of protest from Murdoch media, forever vigilant over the nation’s purse-strings and always eager to publish a government drop or spin story. And put the boot into unions.

“All prime ministers try to manage the media but Morrison is an extreme example. He is shameless about his use of favourites, whether individuals or outlets. The government regards The Australian as its bulletin board for announcements, frets even conservative Canberra Press Gallery veteran, Michelle Grattan.

Morrison’s offer is immediately denounced as against the “spirit of volunteerism” by Victoria’s CFA chief Steve Warrington. “We are always keen to explore opportunities to manage and reduce potential financial burdens on our members. However, it is my view and that of the CFA board that paying volunteers in general terms is not in the spirit of volunteerism,” he tells The Australian‘s Rebecca Urban.

A chorus of hard right commentators including Peta Credlin howls down the proposal. Incredibly, the same “spirit” nonsense is invoked. Worse, it’s a slippery slope. Credlin reckons there’ll be a rush of other applicants with their hands out for money. Imagine how we’d go to rack and ruin if we paid people for the work they do.

I’m a community volunteer. I can attest to the small fortune that local communities save governments with an endless series of fund-raisers, the donation of labour and the seeking of donations. At our Christmas community dinner, we helped raise $5000 to replace the chairs in three classrooms in the local primary school.

Chairs our state government is too tight-fisted to supply are part of the walnut and the thimble trick of global budgeting where the state shrugs off its responsibility leaving local principals teachers and school councils to do the hard unglamorous yards allocating forever shrinking funds to classroom and other programmes.

Imagine how our system would fall apart if we had fair and adequate government funding. Each federal education budget sees a further decline in real terms, although the Coalition loves to boast about total amounts spent. Population growth does that for them. In reality it’s always a per capita cut for the average kid in a state school. Greater hardship for working families. And support services increasingly harder to access.

Private schools continue to prosper but that’s all about giving parents’ choice as John Howard, pretended. Choice? Only for those who can pay. In a captain’s call, Howard also introduced poorly paid chaplains that schools must also raise funds to support.

What Credlin and Howard are about is the politics of division, where the wealthy prosper while the poor go begging, even though each spin their cuts as encouraging locally raised funds and community-building.

Decades of neoliberal management and federal funding cuts in education departments have seen countless rural schools become dependent for essentials on the “spirit of volunteerism“. Most teachers I know buy classroom materials out of their own increasingly casualised and contract salaries. Or go begging.

When the fires came for our place in regional Western Victoria, our local volunteers did a wonderful job. But if it hadn’t been for Elvis the giant Erickson S-64 Air-Crane, our little cottage in the woods would have gone up in smoke. Our neighbour M who is a former CFA chief gave us a video of Elvis dropping fire retardant on flames which licked across the dry grass, set fire to the trees, shrubs and fence-posts to within metres of our dwelling.

Three times the fire came and went; driven by high winds that switched north, south, north as they do in this area. After each wave of fire, local CFA volunteers, farmers with tanks on utes came to put out spot fires as ancient river red-gums along the road erupted into flame and century-old fence posts and battens caught fire.

The 2015 bushfire began in a vineyard, almost certainly started by a gas-powered bird-scaring device. I could see the smoke from our letter-box at the end of the street a kilometre away at lunchtime. I didn’t like way the wind was bringing it straight towards us. By the time I’d driven home it was time to leave. But you don’t just dash out. We had time only to pack up pets and a few essentials. We had to leave the chickens.

By 9:00pm the fire had burned more than 3,500 hectares. We stayed at our daughter’s place twelve kilometres away until we thought it safe to return. No way to tell if our place had survived. Just a line of cars crawling bumper to bumper. Each being stopped while ID was checked. Preventing rubber-neckers. Checking our destination. No time for police or CFA or SES to set up clear lines of communication to residents.

It is impossible to describe how it feels to drive through the smoke along your unsealed road while trees and fencing blaze. Or how it is to discover your gate posts are on fire but your house looks quite OK amidst a charred front garden which still has shrubs and mulch on fire and trees on the fence-line are burning.

The smell of eucalyptus leaves mingles with acrid smoke from the remains of your watering system burning.

We were lucky. Our house was spared. The fire came up within metres of the front and side. Thanks to the skill and sheer hard work of local volunteer fire crews and the expertise of our next-door neighbour. But Elvis was the star. Without the help of a leased US helicopter and its professional crew, our home would have been lost.

Now I note there is no sign of Elvis. Not for three years. No sign either of Morrison meeting with experienced fire chiefs who want him to get the gear to fight fires that in a few short years have rapidly grown into monsters. Heed the science of global heating. Invest in new equipment to cope with the new inferno.

The Coalition won’t offend its sponsors in the mining lobby or risk further internal friction by admitting there is a direct link between climate change, the genteel euphemism for catastrophic global heating. Nor will it imperil further its precious surplus, achieved partly by a contemptible underspending on NDIS. Because, in the end, the ideology of outsourcing has long usurped the desire to meet peoples’ needs. Exercise duty of care.

Wise up, Morrison. Global heating has wrought a terrible new type of bushfire. Cut the subsidies to miners and private health insurers; buy a few less F35s and submarines. Put the money into fire-fighting equipment that’s up the task of the monster bush-fires we have helped to breed.

Much fun has been had at Morrison’s expense over his unconscionable decision to leave Australia in flames while he took a secret holiday in Hawaii – and his scurrilous decision to blame the trip on his family. But it’s no laughing matter. While the Liberal Forum may make fun of the PM, his decision shows an arrogance, a lack of compassion, an alarming disconnection from reality and dud political judgement.

Worse, however, is his arrogant dismissal of former fire chiefs who call for a summit on the bushfire catastrophe. Morrison’s government is unwilling to listen. He can holiday in Hawaii but he can’t find the time to sit down and hear out those whose only motive is to help him save Australia from burning?

His Prime Ministership and his government are more than monumentally incompetent. Morrison’s intransigence and sheer perversity in preferring his own poor judgement to the advice of experts is dangerous.

As the year draws to a close some things stand out. The saga of the Medevac Bill reveals a government entirely devoid of humanity and human decency while the PM’s decision to embargo any text message that might have been sent from his faux drought envoy Barnaby “boondoggle” Joyce signal a government that has absolutely no intention of being accountable, whatsoever.

Instead it delights in thumbing its nose at democracy and transparency; turning its back on expert advice.

Above all, as the Liberal Forum annual gathering at Kevin McCann’s pad in Mosman last week so powerfully attests this is a government that has betrayed any ideals it may once have had in favour of Machiavellian pragmatism to keep itself in power for power’s sake and to serve the interests of its powerful corporate backers. It is not just a degenerate form of its earlier self; it is in a dangerously dysfunctional state of decay.

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My New Year Resolution: Goodbye, Morrison

By RosemaryJ36  

I seldom make New Year resolutions, but this year cries out for an exception.

So – here it is:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

That is a big ask for an individual, but I know I am not alone.

My head is currently in a total jumble because of anger and frustration at the lies, ignorance and hypocrisy of the current collection of f-wits who claim to be governing us – but whose inability to see that expansion of population is exceeding growth in available jobs, that working for money for one hour a week is not being in employment, that living in poverty hampers the ability to find work and that we need to find solutions to a global crisis – so I hope you can eventually distil a coherent message out of the incoherent ramblings which follow.

I have tertiary and post graduate qualifications in mathematics, education and law, but make no claims to being a great scholar. However, thanks to a very catholic (in a non-religious sense) education, I have a broad understanding of the importance of emotional intelligence – which appears to be totally lacking in our current politicians.

We hear constantly of the importance of the economy – but it is seldom expressed in any way that accepts that it is important because it is intended to benefit us. Economic growth is very obviously only benefiting a select portion of our population, as well as a great many international corporations and political parties!

Just this morning I was hearing the results of an investigation of the current job providers network – which was positively chilling in its revelations of private providers profiting from offering a third world service to desperate job seekers.

Sadly, not a surprise, given the revelations about Robo-Debt, which the government has been forced to put on hold.

‘Brave New World”, ‘1984’ are ominous portents, and, together with our rapid progress towards a police state, are clear evidence that those in charge do not see their job as making life better for us, but using us as pawns in some monstrous bid for overall power.

The man whom the Coalition have chosen to lead them has a very unsavoury history, gained as a marketer and salesman (you can readily find reliable sources to substantiate this claim) – which gives him no relevant qualifications to formulate policy for a country in a period when we are facing an existential threat.

He is a religious nutter of particularly stubborn nature, who refuses to seek, let alone accept, advice from experts on issues on which he lacks both knowledge and understanding.

A major thread of Coalition policy is privatisation. At a minimum, a privatised service will necessarily be more expensive for those receiving the service, because their fees not only have to cover the cost of the service, but also provide a healthy income to shareholders. And the latter do not care how poor the service provided is, as long as a profit is being made.

It must be nice to be able to sit back and let your money, invested in shares, earn money for you! That helps to support a case for paying part of the wages for workers in a publicly-owned company by way of shares in the company. It would be a very incentivising strategy, don’t you think? After all, they do it for directors, so it must be good.

That aside – the current, ever-increasing gap between the truly wealthy and the poor is becoming ever more massive, and government policies are accelerating the rate at which it is increasing.

I still have not even provided any detail about the elephant in the room.

We are at war with a friend turned foe, which has much more powerful forces at its disposal than we could ever muster.

Greed, addiction to convenience and refusal to recognise facts have led us down a cul de sac, and the road is narrowing behind us, threatening to block off retreat.

The warnings have been there for over a century. Vested interests have worked assiduously to extend the period during which massive profits can be made.

It says something about the sheer stupidity which accompanies greed, that those raking in the profits have not lined up a Planet B, so the fate which now threatens the world – catastrophic weather events like floods, inundations, storms, fires and droughts – accompanied by failure of crops and severe fresh water shortages – will challenge even the most forward thinking to maintain a viable lifestyle.

If – and it is a very BIG IF – we clear the Parliamentary benches of the current riff-raff and install an emergency government, comprising knowledgeable experts and competent business managers – we might be able to bring to the fore the solutions which are currently being ignored.

This IS a global crisis.

We need to work with every other government which accepts the need to put aside insularity and private gain and concentrate on solutions for mutual benefit.

And we need to try to persuade the other governments to join us.

Look round the world and you will see that the most peaceful countries are the ones where the least able are helped and protected and the wealthy give a greater share of their wealth to assist others.

Was not that what Christ taught?

In desperation, I have bought my Extinction Rebellion t-shirt because desperate problems require desperate solutions and since reason is failing, civil disobedience is the last resort.

Once more – this is my Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

Will you join me and get out on the streets – maybe Australia Day would be appropriate? – and tell those whom we rashly elected that they need to go because they are not governing for us!

The clock is ticking.

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Scott Morrison should resign

By RosemaryJ36  

When our accidental-Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, took office, he swore an oath to ‘be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law.’

No mention of his duties to his wife and daughters. They are a private matter and, as long as he remains Prime Minister, his duties lie to the high office to which he has (sadly) been elected, and for which it appears he totally lacks competence!

Prime Minister – this is not all about you.

You really don’t have a clue, do you?

It is not about your promises to your daughters.

It is not about sharing the grief of people whom you have let down.

It is not about getting a few more photo ops, showing the caring Prime Minister comforting the distraught property owner who has lost everything.

Or the grieving widow with a young family whose partner died fighting the fires because he cared about his community.

That is all hypocritical flim-flam which highlights your failings.

Australia, along with all inhabitants of this planet, is facing an existential crisis.

The Coalition climate deniers have also been denying their country the ability to take actions which might have – at least to some extent – mitigated the current catastrophic conditions, and without which we can guarantee this is not the end but the beginning of a growing disaster.

Yes – we are not the only country needing to take action – but we are the developed country with the highest per capita level of emissions of greenhouse gases.

Yes – countries like China, India and the USA are lagging behind in taking action, but that does not give us licence to do nothing. Instead it gives us an obligation to put them to shame by showing how a relatively small country can rapidly become carbon neutral.

Yes – action will adversely affect our economy, but – surprise, surprise! – inaction will affect it even more adversely.

Yes – emissions are not the only issue. There are also over-population, pollution and recycling needs, re-training for workers made redundant when fossil fuel production decreases – the list goes on – which all require long-term planning and immediate attention!

Has anyone thought about how and when to compensate the firefighters and their families for the losses and damage they are incurring, covered by no workers compensation insurance because the firies are volunteers?

Has anyone thought how the property losses will affect future insurance premiums – or state/territory budgets if/when they pay compensation to the uninsured?

Has anyone remembered that the CSIRO was once the envy of the world – but we lost our best innovators overseas because they lacked funds to follow up development of their inventions?

Are there communities in remote Australia where people have been unable to obtain information about their risk status during the fires because communications have not been adequate?

Are we running out of water, not only to drink, but also to dowse the fires, because foreign interests are making profits out of growing water-hungry cotton and rice using water bought from increasingly wealthy water traders?

Who is responsible for land management to ensure that the crops grown benefit all Australians?

This government has been totally asleep at the wheel as regards the interests of the electorate.

Environment groups have to fight in the courts to ensure justice for communities while the government supports its corporate mates and donation roll into political coffers.

Extinction Rebellion groups are being formed all round the world. They have met with opposition because people object to being made to feel uncomfortable.

Well – believe me! We are going to be feeling a hell of a lot more uncomfortable if this government is allowed to go on its merry way, ignoring the need for, not just action, but seriously rapid and well-planned action in an increasingly limited time frame.

Did no one realise that the driest continent on earth, suffering prolonged drought, was going to run short of water for just staying alive? And to have water-bottling companies draining bores dry to make a profit from selling the water is just the cherry on the cake!

Throw in continuing drought and continuing fires and we are really up the creek!

COME ON AUSTRALIA!

Don’t suck it up!

Get out there and force action!

You have heard all this before. So why is nothing being done?

Where is the land of the Fair Go?

Or has it just been cremated?

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Where is Scott Morrison and why is it a secret?

We awoke this morning to another day in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s whereabouts are unknown to the public, with his staff declining to enlighten us.

This isn’t the first time an Australian PM has gone missing: in 1967 Harold Holt went swimming and has never been heard of since. It’s unlikely Morrison has met the same fate, but we live in times when all things seem possible, generally not in a good way.

The secrecy surrounding the PM’s location is bizarre. Leaving the country in the midst of a national emergency with bushfires out of control and soaring temperatures threatening to elevate the danger to another level altogether is, in itself, an odd choice of timing. Shrouding his destination and the length of his absence in mystery only adds to the sense that we are in the hands of a very peculiar individual indeed. The man is already copping serious condemnation for clearing off,  why conceal his destination as well?

I’m trying hard to think of any other world leader who has simply disappeared from his country at any time, let alone when that country is in the crisis we’re currently experiencing. We’ve never had a PM who buggered off when there was a national disaster. They’ve all had their flaws, some of them major, but nobody ever buggered off and left the country rudderless and burning.

Rumours have placed Morrison in Hawaii, enjoying a summer break with his family. More rumours suggest Hawaii was merely a stop over in a much longer journey to New York, where his Pentecostal mentor, Hillsong’s Brian Houston, has just opened a church in a multi-million dollar property recently acquired by Hillsong in Manhattan. I couldn’t possibly comment. Well, actually, I could.

Many of us have been a bit slack about taking seriously Morrison’s commitment to his Pentecostal cult. Their beliefs are so wildly beyond anything any rational or even mildly irrational being can endorse, we’re inclined to laugh them off. This is a big mistake. Emeritus Professor in the History of Religious Thought at the University of Queensland, Philip Almond, has explained five aspects of Pentecostalism that we need to familiarise ourselves with if we are to understand where Morrison’s faith will take us. Here you are.

There is also this piece in The Monthly by James Boyce titled The Devil and Scott Morrison which is a longer read, worth undertaking if you want to know how the PM’s religious beliefs influence his politics, particularly his attitude to deadly, rampaging bushfires and apocalyptic heat, as well as beliefs on poverty and god’s preference for the wealthy.

During the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires in February 2009 Morrison, then an ambitious young Liberal MP, attacked Victoria’s Police Chief Christine Nixon for going out to dinner while her state was in crisis. He found her decision shocking, and not one a senior figure in public life should have made. However, not only has Morrison now buggered off in this current crisis, he’s gone overseas with no forwarding address giving no indication of how long he’ll be gone. Every criticism he made of Nixon must now be applied to him, tenfold.

In Morrison’s absence Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, a group that includes no fewer than 29 former emergency services chiefs, has announced it is prepared to take over if the government remains “missing in action”on the matter of future planning for emergencies similar or worse to the one we are currently experiencing. Group spokesperson Greg Mullins is the former NSW Fires and Rescue Commissioner. These are serious people with decades of experience. Mullins is still on the front line fighting fires.

There is, the group states, a “leadership vacuum” in Canberra and they will go ahead with planning for future emergencies whether Morrison is involved or not. I cannot remember a precedent for this in Australia or anywhere else, except when there’s a military coup. Essentially, the experts are declaring that the government is not functioning in these matters, and they are stepping in to take on responsibilities the government has declined to shoulder.

We are in interesting times. I have no idea how this will end, and neither does anybody else. Good luck, fellow travellers.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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Distraction, Diversion And Dereliction: A Government With No Real-World Vision

By Loz Lawrey  

In any democratic parliament, they waste so much space and time, bloviating incessantly and indulging in constant tribal self-aggrandisement.

Call them conservatives, right-wingers, contrarians, shallow-minded barbarians, knuckle-draggers, “Trumpanzees” (in the U.S.A.), “Morrison’s Morons”… call them whatever.

They’re a breed. Short on new ideas, but big on ideology and “belief”, they place little value upon facts and evidence.

How can in-depth thinking occur when so much available brainspace is already cluttered with Milton Friedman-style concepts of “free markets” and concerns over “political correctness”, bound together with the mortar of blind faith in an invisible, unprovable deity?

Political ideology and religious belief are siblings, really. How often in the past few years have we heard people say: “I don’t believe in climate change”?

I know I’ve often found myself shouting at the radio or TV: “It’s not a matter of belief! It’s evidence-based science!”

Mind you, I “believe” we all need a degree of “belief” just to get through the day. We have to “believe” in ourselves. We “believe” we’ll wake up tomorrow. When we start to think about belief we realise we’re already full of the stuff, in one way or another.

A mind already occupied by a fatalistic belief in “god’s plan” has little room for the creative thinking that leads to good policy development around nation-building or social equity… to governing, in other words.

Which brings me to… er… our current prime minister and his fellows in the “broad church” of the Morrison “government”.

While the Murdoch media trumpet Smuggo’s popularity with voters, I must say he appears to elicit the same outrage, anger and disgust from progressive Australians (roughly half the population) as did Anthony Abbott.

Does this make him vulnerable to a leadership challenge? If not now, then surely soon, when the gloss of his surprise electoral win loses the last of its sheen?

What will be the last straw for Morrison? I seem to remember that in Abbott’s case it was the offer of a knighthood to Prince Phillip that did the trick.

Australians (even the conservative right) had had enough.

Overnight, Malcolm Turnbull was dusted off and reinstated as coalition leader.

In Morrison’s case, just a few more weeks of non-response to the actual real-world burning of Australia may do the trick, while he focuses on ideological obsessions such as legislating “religious freedoms” (ie. entrenching religion’s right to discriminate in law) and repealing the humanitarian Medevac laws.

Scott Morrison is the embodiment of right-wing evangelical conservatism. He champions beer, barbies, and “belief”. Oh, and “the Sharks”…

Does he champion big ideas? Does he read books? Does he nurture an active imagination? Is he able to visualise a better Australia? Do his “values” include truly valuing ALL of us?

History tells us otherwise. After all, he’s the proud “I stopped the boats” guy, the man who takes pride in Australia’s offshore gulag detention regime where desperate refugees have been detained without hope (ie effectively abused and tortured) for years simply for arriving by boat without a visa.

Why weren’t they simply given visas and allowed to lodge asylum claims? If they’d come by plane, most would arrive with a visa in hand, as this government document from 2015 makes clear.

The whole mess around boat arrivals and offshore detention looks like nothing more than bureaucratic hair-splitting spin, designed to win the votes of bigots by demonising poor people fleeing war zones in search of a better life, as though they seek to invade our country in overwhelming numbers.

The absurd, disgusting, ongoing inhumane offshore detention regime, sustained as it is by the old canard of “border security”, seems to pander to some sort of racist bigotry.

Why must it be offshore? Why not onshore?

The whole cruel business has always been nothing more than theatre, a shadow play designed to create the impression of a government in control, a protective government caring for its citizens. Sadly, its impact upon the health of detainees, both physically and mentally, has been disastrous.

All this while implementing uncaring policies that effectively demonise poorer, unemployed and disadvantaged Australians, such as those receiving Newstart allowance.

Surely the imposition of the cashless welfare card will bring some Australians closer to a state of slavery, with authorities exercising control over the financial choices of individuals?`

As an evangelical Christian espousing “Prosperity Christianity”, Scott Morrison embraces a form of religious exclusivism that says: “my religion is the one true faith”. Surely the exclusion of atheists, non-believers and other “unworthies” is an unavoidable consequence of our pentecostalist prime minister’s worldview?

Does his “lifters and leaners” ideological judgement of each citizen’s social worthiness not stem directly from such exclusivist thinking?

Perhaps our country’s social cohesion relies upon shared concepts, such as the idea that we are all basically well-intended towards one another, or that acceptance and inclusion are natural expressions of our humanity.

Oops! That sounds awfully like a “leftie” or “leftard” perspective.

Rank socialism, even.

Is anyone else experiencing the current assault on progressive Australians? Members of the coalition government seem to regularly attack Australian citizens, demonising some as “lefties”, “activists” (how did that become a dirty word?), “leaners”, “greenies”.

How can a government of civilised beings make such statements, which effectively constitute an assault on half the population?

It’s not belief itself I have a problem with; it’s the displacement of thought, of analysis and consideration that I object to.

Personally, I rejected the “left, right” conceptual paradigm when Abbott came to power in 2013.

That’s when the political divide coalesced in my mind into “empaths vs sociopaths”.

A simplistic generalisation, I know, but it’s the only way I can explain the two conflicting mindsets constantly at war in the arena of our democracy.

Like the U.S.A., Australia has two political tribes, with the brains of conservatives wired one way and progressives the other.

Never the twain shall meet, so how do we resolve this?

Under our current system, half the population or the other is perpetually disgruntled and dissatisfied, if not living in a state of constant outrage and anger.

Meanwhile, so much government energy is spent on what is, at the end of the day, nothing more than ideological puff stuff such as “border security”, “religious freedom” and the “ensuring integrity” assault on workers’ rights.

Right-wing brain farts, long-winded complaints about “political correctness”, ministerial conflicts of interest and controversies… so much of our arena of public debate is filled with swirling nonsense, leaving little time for big ideas and policies for future-building.

What’s worse is the fact that Morrison’s ideological entrenchment results in the casual dismissal of everything he just doesn’t “get”. The arts, for example.

His closure of the Department of Communication and the Arts displays a gob-smacking barbarian ignorance, a complete lack of understanding as to the role of art in society and its contribution to our national well-being.

That ignorance alone should preclude him from holding public office. Without a clear perspective on the elements that contribute to a healthy, well-rounded national mindset, how can politicians come to terms with their own role and serve the public effectively?

And he’s the prime minister, the leader… Surely leadership requires something more than Morrison’s vacuous “beers, burgers and how good’s cricket?” approach?

Today, as large swathes of our nation burn, what is the Morrison government focused on?

Angus Taylor’s lies to parliament, the “religious freedom” legalisation of discrimination, the repeal of Medevac laws, the “ensuring integrity” attack on unions and the right of workers to organise… Integrity? One has to wonder if this government knows the meaning of the word.

Just listen to the likes of Morrison and his ministers when being interviewed. Do we hear a nation-building narrative? Do we hear about the search for solutions to address the great challenges of our time? Do we hear proposals for real-world action?

No, we don’t. We get evasion, distraction, diversion and dereliction of duty.

Australia’s greatest shame is its own government, the one it has chosen…

As Elvis once sang: “A little less conversation, a little more action, please!”

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Medevac repeal is cruel, heartless and inhumane

Media Release

In a callous and vindictive political move the government has today torn down Medevac, with Senator Lambie finally voting with the government on the repeal. 

This law, which was passed in February after a historic loss on the floor of the House of Representatives, was about doctors not Dutton making medical decisions for people offshore. 

Nearly 200 people were able to get the medical care they needed under Medevac.

GetUp’s Human Rights Director Shen Narayanasamy said this government has torn down the small humanity of people being able to get the medical care they need:

“Today is a devastating day. What we’ve seen is Medevac, a law that has saved lives be ripped away.

“We all remember the crisis before Medevac became law, 12 people died offshore and people faced serious delays before they received medical treatment.

“The Morrison Government has chosen to deny sick people the right to medical care, against all expert medical advice. Medevac was by the overwhelming medical community and a majority of everyday Australians. 

“Medevac ensured doctors, not Dutton, were the ones making medical decisions for gravely ill people off shore. To repeal this law isn’t just inhumane, it’s heartless.
“The political debate has been dominated by fear and lies spread vindictively by this government, it is disappointing that it’s led to politicians like Senator Lambie voting for the repeal.  

“The reality is that we have more than 500 people in the offshore detention centres right now. They have been there for more than 6 years. They can not stay there forever.

“Right now, the true focus needs to be on the Government. They have held power while people have died on their watch. 

“It is now up to the Australian government to make sure these people still have access to the medical care they were able to receive under Medevac. They deserve nothing but a safe and secure future and that is what this Government needs to do for them.”

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Fear and loathing in the Tory Party

By Grumpy Geezer  

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” (Hanlon’s razor).

As we enter year 7 of the biggest fustercluck in our political history the ongoing, mind-numbing incompetence of this “government” may lead some to overlook the malignant mendacity and grift that is archetypical of our Tory kakocracy. Hanlon’s razor may be valid in many contexts including the ballot box behaviour of about half of the voting public but it does not apply to the malicious L/NP nightmare itself.

The primary, defining characteristic of a Tory is avarice. Many of them even reimage their deity to accommodate their greed and selfishness. The party once shaped by an old-fashioned protestant work ethic is now captive to hypocritical religious nutters of creationists and exit-through-the-gift-shop Mammonites.

Hand in glove with their covetous, bespoke piety is their fear and paranoia. Fear of the unknown, fear that science challenges their ooga-booga superstitions and biases, fear that change will threaten the inherent privileges of the status quo, fear that equality jeoparises their rightful place at the top  of the pile. Their paranoia is that for them to win others must lose. Where rational people see opportunity in change and equality they see only danger.

They fear anyone with alternative opinions, they fear those with facts and figures. They fear dissent, they fear Labor, the Greens, greenies, unions, GetUp, Extinction Rebellion, knitting nannas, Lock The Gate, school kids, Greta Thunberg, the ABC, the CSIRO, the BoM, NASA, social media, moderates, lefties and anyone not like them. They fear you and me.

Their fear manifests itself in their attacks on scrutiny, their autocracy, their bullying, their constant lying and misrepresentations, their abuse of trusted institutions and conventions, and their protection rackets for their fellow-travelling carpet baggers, corporate grifters and thieves. But above all, what they fear is being found out.

What they want is “quiet Australians” – the uninterested, unquestioning, complacent sheep who’ll keep them in power. Unfortunately for them the signs of a ruined environment and its consequences are becoming too obvious for all but the morons to ignore. This is THE issue that will remove these malicious, corrupt cretins from power. Unfortunately for us, until that happens, irrevokable damage will be caused to the planet and to democracy. It’s up to the noisy Australians to make sure the Tory’s worst fears are realised and that collectively they all shit their pants one last time.

This article was originally published on The Grumpy Geezer.

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What have Newstart, the pension and aged care got to do with the environment?

When cutting up Australia’s economic cake all sorts of demands are placed on it.

So much so that this financial year our government couldn’t find enough money to increase the Newstart allowance despite every man, women and his dog saying it was desperately needed.

Nor could they find any money for aged care to fix problems identified by numerous enquiries, let alone by what the Aged Care Royal Commission came up with.

You can add to those a view that the Aged Pension needs to be increased.

Of course, there are competing demands because every department wants a larger slice of the cake than they got the previous year.

Those mentioned above would take a huge bite from a cake already draining economic cream at the edges.

And if you want to take a huge bite there are only three ministries large enough to open your mouth on. They are Health, Education and Social Services.

These are the three that Tony Abbott hit in his 2014 budget: The one that was universally acclaimed to be the unfairest ever.

So given that these three are crying out for more where do you raise the money? One suggestion is that you prioritise your spending better.

For example, is it necessary to spend $500 million on improvements to the War Memorial in Canberra, or $20 million to maintain Christmas Island to house 4 Asylum seekers?

There is a long list of questionable spending by this government such as the $500 million given to the obscure Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Perhaps you don’t give tax cuts while Newstart, aged care, the pension and NDIS are screaming out for more funding.

When fully implemented, the government’s tax cuts will cost a staggering $30 billion annually.

Or you could cut back on the concessions given to the rich and privileged.

In 2018 the Anglicare Australia Cost of Privilege report showed that:

“… revenue from the richest 20 per cent of Australians was more than $68 billion a year, costing taxpayers $37 a week.

This compares to just $6.1 billion in concessions for the bottom 20 per cent”.

A staggering $68 billion in taxpayer dollars is spent keeping the wealthiest households wealthy.”

That is greater than the cost of Newstart, disability support, or any other benefit.

The 2018 Cost of Privilege report also found that tax exemptions on private healthcare and education for the wealthiest 20 per cent cost over $3 billion a year, superannuation concessions to them cost over $20 billion a year, and their capital gains tax exemptions cost a staggering $40 billion a year.”

Not to mention franking credits which are “rorted on an industrial scale”, and negative gearing. From what I have revealed thus far it is easy to see that it is the Right who govern for those who have them and it is the Left who govern for those who don’t. In doing so the conservatives still cannot comprehend that economics serves and moulds society. Economics alone is but self-serving.

The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a countries wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.

There is, however, another source of possible revenue.

It is difficult to imagine that Taxpayers subsidise immorally rich energy companies, but they do. Try $12 billion a year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison chooses to hand out billions to a dirty and dying industry that pay little of the cost fossil fuels impose on our health and the environment. We now spend more on subsidies to mining companies than we do on our environment, and that is going down.

People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated.

An initial ACF analysis released last December found the federal environment department budget was slashed by 30% over the last three complete financial years, with further cuts planned out to 2020-21.

A new paper by the same group says that while the federal environment department’s budget had been cut to a projected $950m, the commonwealth is expected to award the mining sector $2.5bn in fuel tax credits this year. An estimated $980m of that would go to coal companies.

Matt Rose ACF economist said it was distressing that public investment in the environment was being slashed while government budgets were rapidly growing.

It shows that our elected representatives have made a clear decision to devalue our natural world and safe climate at a time when they are under enormous strain,” he said. “It robs people of the funding needed to make a practical difference for our environment through programs like land restoration, tree planting and removing invasive species.”

According to Market Forces each and every year the Australian Government hands out an estimated $12 billion in tax-based fossil fuel subsidies of public money to support the production and use of fossil fuels by hugely rich companies who don’t employ a lot of people. And might I add overcharge for their product.

Subsidies for the mining of coal have become a worldwide issue as renewable energy replaces coal.

The community should be asking why its government is providing billions of dollars to a dying industry.

The International Monetary Fund commissioned a report that said that global fossil fuel subsidies continue to grow, despite the growing urgency of the need to decarbonise the global economy.

Renew Economy said that the battle over energy subsidies has been a feature of Australian politics over recent years, with conservative politicians attacking renewable energy subsidies.

The growing evidence from groups like the IMF and the IEA shows that fossil fuel subsidies are a major drag on the global economy, with the true costs of their use being a burden on wider society.

Given all the evidence it would be better if these subsidies were spent on increasing the pension, increasing the Newstart allowance and better care for the elderly.

At least the money would give our economy a bit of a much-needed jolt.

My thought for the day

Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy, but the pain is worth it for long-term prosperity.

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We older ‘burdens’ on society

Here we go. Here we go. Yet again. Doesn’t pay to be over 60, does it?

Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will on Tuesday signal a drive to get people in their mid and late 60s to work longer and undertake training to keep in touch with the jobs market as the government confronts long term pressures to the budget bottom line. Mr Frydenberg will use an address to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia to argue a “new dynamic” in the way the country’s population is ageing will require new policies to ensure the nation’s economic heavy lifting is not left to a diminishing number of younger people.”

I get it that the balance between older and younger in our society is changing, and that in the future the number of older people in our society will increase, and that the Government needs to take all of that into account when planning future health, education, housing, and ‘where’s the revenue going to come from’ type policies.

What I don’t get, and don’t like, is the frequency with which words like burden, and economic heavy lifting, are used by politicians to condescendingly swipe us oldies over the head.

Are we burdens on society? Have we not heavy-lifted and contributed to the economic well being of the country over the course of our working lifetimes? Now that we have been pushed aside into the invisibility of older age are we, now, to be targeted and punished by this Government because employers steadfastly refuse to hire us?

The major problem with this Government is that they hold vulnerable cohorts within our society solely responsible for the condition that they find themselves in.

The unemployed for example, of any age, are tagged as bludgers and burdens and are subject to such a punishing regime of compliance including: the bad joke that is JobActive, the deliberate suffering that is imposed by the starvation level of Newstart, the restriction of even the tiniest amount of freedom of choice left available to the unemployed by the imposition of the Indue Card.

When you are an oldie caught up in all of the mess that is the Government’s Welfare Policy, whether you are currently stuck on Newstart, or whether you have managed to transition to the marginally more welcoming climes of the Old Age Pension, which at least allows you to breathe with some dignity at least once a week, it is enough to make you tear out whatever hair you are lucky enough to still have left.

Frydenberg and Co need a reality check.

We oldies who want to work are not the problem, the employers who will not hire us are the problem.

We oldies who are not rich are not the problem, a society that measures the worth of a human being by the level of their ability to consume, and spend, and accumulate wealth, and a society that denies the most basic social dignities to the disadvantaged and the old, is the problem.

And what is the Government’s answer to the issue of older Australians whose job applications are continually rejected? Well, we have a startlingly new brilliant idea, we’ll re-train you. Gosh … we’ll all be re-trained up as coders and data analysts and rocket scientists in order to secure our share of the ‘jobs of the future’. It would be funny if it wasn’t what it actually is – sad and demeaning.

And where will we be re-trained up? Not in the TAFES, they’ve been gutted. We’ll be re-trained up in the profit-making private training industry, that plethora of Registered Training Organisations with happy and profitable links with the JobActive network.

Josh and Co need to sit in on some of the job interviews where employers tell us oldies that we are too over-qualified for the job. Already too over-qualified for the job. And the Government’s answer to that pernicious form of ageism is to offer to add to the level of our qualifications thereby ensuring that the employment door that has shut closed on our feet, will shut even harder.

The fact is that the proportion of older people who cannot find a job is going to increase, and increase, and increase. It is not going to increase because we are burdens, or bludgers, or light-weight lifters, or any of the other crap mantras that this Government throws towards our aged bones. The number of older people out of work will increase because employers have made it brutally obvious to us that we are not wanted.

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