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Tag Archives: Government

Would you give your bank statements to Births, Deaths & Marriages?

For reasons of privacy, I don’t like giving my bank statements to the government – but I’ve just been required to do exactly that.

After four marriages the time had come: I’m reverting to my birth name. While most people married and divorced within Victoria would have no problem reverting to their birth name, I am sure many other women in Victoria fall into my category: getting married overseas causes issues.

It starts when you get married overseas. While Australia recognises overseas marriages for most legal purposes, an overseas marriage certificate is not recognised for legally changing one’s name. For that (in Victoria at least), a Change of Name is required. Once you have had one Change of Name, you can forever thereafter only change your name by applying for another Change of Name.

To apply for a Change of Name at Births, Deaths and Marriages you must provide proof you have lived in Victoria for the preceding twelve months. There are four ways you can prove this, as shown in the above photo.

I had been living with my daughter and her husband for ten of the twelve months. Therefore I have no utility accounts covering the period. I did not have a lease agreement with my daughter (although Centrelink accepted a rent certificate from her). I was not enrolled in a Victorian tertiary institution (I was enrolled at an RTO). That left me with only one option – providing twelve months bank statements showing Victorian transactions.

When I objected on the grounds of not only privacy but also security (Births, Deaths and Marriages now has all the information required to impersonate me on the phone to the bank) I was told everything was strictly confidential as they are a government registry. Excuse my concern, but in my experience that doesn’t absolutely guarantee security. One just needs to look at the Trump leaks at the moment for evidence of that.

I also asked why a statutory declaration from my daughter was not acceptable. After all, Centrelink had no issue with accepting the situation. “Centrelink and us operate differently“, I was told.

So, much against my better judgement, I handed over twelve months worth of bank statements.

I can understand a car registration not being acceptable as proof I have been living here. After all, yes, I could live in NSW but own a car in Victoria which I let a family member drive. I’m not sure why my mobile phone records would not be acceptable, but then again do I want them knowing who I have called any more than I want them to have my purchasing history? We are required by law to change our address with VicRoads within fourteen days of moving, so I am not sure why my licence was not acceptable proof.

My situation is, I admit, rather unique. However I can’t help but feel this is yet another example of “big brother” being just a little too brotherly. There are other ways to prove I’ve been living in Victoria: payslips from employers, Centrelink communications to me in Victoria, licence (as noted above), medical bills from Victorian providers, a statutory declaration.

This whole situation made me feel decidedly uncomfortable. I am seriously considering closing that bank account and opening a new one. For security purposes.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages staff were lovely. They don’t write the policies, they just have to follow them.

Day to Day Politics: Polls Apart in Policy.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

1 Malcolm Turnbull still has a handsome lead over Bill Shorten in the preferred Prime Minister stakes but yesterday’s Fairfax-Ipsos showed a growing disquiet about his Government’s performance.

Opinion polls, especially so far out from an election, are but a guide to people’s thinking and not an indication of how they might vote. Trends are what we look for and recent polling suggests one is taking shape.

Crickey’s Poll Bludger says:

‘The latest Poll is another weaker result for the Coalition, whose two-party lead of 52-48 compares with 56-44 at the previous such poll in mid-November. On the primary vote, the Coalition is down four points to 44%, Labor is up three to 32% and the Greens are up two to 15%. Malcolm Turnbull takes a solid hit on his still very strong personal ratings, with approval down seven to 62% and disapproval up eight to 24%. Bill Shorten is little changed on 30% approval (up one) and 55% disapproval (down two), and his deficit on preferred prime minister has narrowed slightly, from 69-18 to 64-19. The poll was conducted Thursday to Saturday from a sample of 1403.’

2 The dissatisfaction stems from Turnbull’s promising much and delivering little. Yesterday he said that he would not be rushed into decisions. At the moment it seems like Shorten is making all of them and Turnbull is acting as an Opposition Leader criticizing all his announcements. He promised real tax reform, which actually means structural change.

He said everything was on the table but from it takes things that could mean real change. The GST and Superannuation concessions. There is not much left that you can structurally reform.

In a couple of months ‘Gunna’ Morrison has to deliver a budget. Given the state of the economy it requires a harsh but fair one. Given that Health, Welfare and Education are the three areas where the big dollars are it will be interesting to see how he balances the country’s needs with the politics.

3 Tim Wilson resigns $500,000 job to face preselection for Andrew Robb’s old seat.

Kaye Lee sums it up rather nicely:

‘Freedom boy has quit the HRC to run for Robb’s seat. I sincerely hope that he loses the preselection. What a cynical user. No qualifications, no experience, no talent. He is the epitome of the naive but highly opinionated Young Liberal. His arrogant certainty is belied by his failure. His campaign to repeal section 18C failed. His campaign on marriage equality failed. His religious freedom summit was a farce because he didn’t even bother inviting the Muslim community. Why on earth would he even be considered?’

4 Posted my piece about lying on ‘Australian Political Debate’ and didn’t get a comment from those on the right. Rather odd that.

5 Ian McFarlane’s retirement gives the impression of a mass exit.

6 Right wing shock jock Alan Jones is advocating the removal of Aboriginal children brought up around alcohol abuse and drugs declaring they should be taken away from their parents.

He hasn’t indicated if he thinks that the same should apply to white children.

7 So the Turnbull Government has met with members of the Australian Christian lobby to discuss how much of the taxpayer’s money they will need to oppose equality in marriage.

Has there ever been a more outrageous misuse of the public purse? Turnbull should hang his head in shame.

My thought for the day.

‘We all have to make important decisions in our lives. None more important than the rejection of those things that tempt us into being somebody we are not’.

 

Day to Day Politics. The pigs still have their heads in the trough.

Saturday 5 December

1 After all the furore a few months back politicians expenses are in the headlines again. Julie Bishop ordered an empty RAAF Challenger jet to fly from Canberra to Perth to pick up her and her boyfriend from a charity dinner on October 18.

Ms Bishop and her partner David Panton were reportedly the only two passengers on the flight, costing $30,000 for the red-eye journey.

The bill dwarfs the $5000 helicopter jaunt that cost Bronwyn Bishop the Speaker’s job but now we learn that she spent more than $50,000 on a country-hopping South American trip earlier this year.

The taxpayer is entitled to be offended. I suppose we shall have to wait on a report into MP’s entitlements due early in the New Year. We can only hope that the age on entitlement will then be done with. Having said that, they will probably find another way to rip us off.

2 The political year is fast coming to a close. For me, it and the preceding few years will be etched in my mind as the years where the lying of Tony Abbott reached proportions unheard of in Australian political history.

At the pinnacle of his lying he told us that the best way to understand the truth of what he was saying was to have it in writing. Otherwise what he was saying was just idle chatter for an audience.

So I became a little confused. You see, what he was saying was that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he said something and I took it to mean one thing, he had the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant?

I remember that at the time thinking:

“I know that I have the odd senior moment but usually I know what I mean and what is meant by what I say. I also know that people understand what I’m meaning”.

Oh well, he is gone now. Or has he?

An observation:

‘Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths’.

3 Peter Hartcher’s series on the demise of Abbott is extremely insightful. He is an extremely well-sourced journalist. He would have to know someone very much in the know to write what he has. In his latest piece he suggests that:

‘It was a sign of his gathering confidence and hardening determination. Abbott and the only adviser he still listened to, Peta Credlin, had persuaded themselves that Turnbull would never challenge’.

‘They sometimes described him in private as another Peter Costello, all pose and no pluck, they decided’.

‘They were fascinated by him and frequently speculated about his manoeuvres’.

Seriously, what on earth did they think he was in parliament for? Just to make up the numbers. He was there because he wanted the top job. Nothing more, nothing less.

4 Hartcher’s revelation that Turnbull commonly told colleagues that Abbott’s capacity for self-delusion, his lack of comprehension for the feelings of those around him, showed that he was ‘basically a psychopath’ comes as no surprise to those who have keenly followed Abbott’s career.

5 I have an American friend named Ben Williamson. He is a fine writer on many topics. Especially Religion and Gun laws. On his Facebook page this morning I found this:

‘355 mass shootings in 2015, and Democrats see that we have a gun problem. 355 mass shootings in 2015, only TWO of which were committed by Muslims, and Republicans say we have a Muslim problem’.

6 The backlash against Liberal turncoat Ian Macfarlane continues with former colleagues accusing him of defecting for his own advantage.

They got that right.

7 Barrie Cassidy writing for The Drum succinctly sums up the Mal Brough saga with this observation:

‘Mal Brough’s mere presence as Special Minister of State is dragging down the Government. If the Prime Minister stands by him, he will have a lame duck – indeed, a next to useless minister – on his hands’.

A point not widely canvassed is that if the AFP decided to extend its investigation to include Roy and Pyne and he stood Brough down then he would have to do the same thing with them.

8 As the year draws to a close one Liberal minister was heard to say that 2015 had been a rough one for the government but he still had hopes that good government would start sooner rather than later. Or was that soonish?

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

‘The right to participate in an election is the gift that democracy gives. Therefore, it is incumbent on the voter to at least have a rudimentary understanding of politics and to take an interest in the political landscape’.

Early warning. Day to Day in Politics will be taking a break over the Christmas and New Year Periods.

 

Winning back trust

When Greg Hunt appointed Gregory Andrews to be our first ‘Threatened Species Commissioner’ in July last year, few people other than Chris Graham at New Matilda paid any attention.

Andrews has a very dubious past. On June 21, 2006 he appeared on a Lateline story, entitled ‘Sexual slavery reported in Indigenous community’. He was incorrectly described as a “former youth worker” and his identity was hidden.

At the time, Andrews was an Assistant Secretary in the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, and was advising then Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, on violence in Central Australian Aboriginal communities. Andrews told Lateline Aboriginal men were trading petrol for sex with young girls, and that children were being held against their will and traded between communities as “sex slaves”.

Andrews cried during the interview, saying he had made numerous reports to police but had withdrawn them in fear for his safety.

This was revealed to be a lie. No such reports were made and a lengthy police investigation found “no evidence whatsoever” to support Andrews’ claims.

Andrews also had to apologise for misleading a 2006 federal Senate Inquiry in Petrol Sniffing in remote Aboriginal communities. Andrews told parliament that he lived in Mutitjulu for nine months, when in fact he lived 20 kilometres away, at the five star Ayers Rock tourist resort. He also told Senators: “Young people were hanging themselves off the church steeple on Sunday and their mothers were having to cut them down.” Police confirmed at the time that no child has ever hung themselves from the Mutitjulu church, nor has a mother ever had to cut her child down.

The woman who blew the whistle on Andrews’ lies, Tjanara Goreng Goreng, was later convicted of leaking government information, sacked and bankrupted. Andrews was a key witness in the case.

Greg Hunt was aware of all this when he appointed Andrews who was, at the time, managing implementation of biodiversity conservation programmes, including management and evaluation of National Landcare Programme and 20 Million Trees initiatives.

One reason for this story resurfacing is the image of Andrews’ old boss and architect of the Northern Territory Intervention, Mal Brough, walking alongside Malcolm Turnbull during the leadership spill, an image which sent a chill down the spines of Aboriginal Australians.

Speculation is rife as to what role Brough will play in Turnbull’s new cabinet. One rumour was that he wanted health. Chris Graham conjectures that Brough may be interested in the environment portfolio. Mining giant Adani has employed David Moore, Brough’s ex-chief of staff, as one of its key lobbyists. Or perhaps defence, being an ex-military man.

We will know soon enough if Brough is to be promoted. It seems a judge finding that he abused the judicial process for the “purpose of causing significant public, reputational and political damage to Mr Slipper”, and the disgraceful debacle where Julia Gillard was described in very unflattering sexist terms on a menu at a Brough fundraiser, have done nothing to hinder his political resurrection.

If the government wants to win back the trust of the people, promoting liars and cheats is not a good way to start.

 

Political Realities, Leadership Change and why Democracy won

Democracy There are those on the left who desperately wanted Tony Abbott to be Prime Minister at the next election. They rightly saw his unpopularity as Labor’s best asset. I thought that there was a greater imperative. As a believer in representative democracy first and foremost I felt that our political system would be better served if he was given the boot.

There is no individual in Australian political history who has done more to damage the conventions and institutions of our democracy, and indeed the Parliament itself, than the former Prime Minister. Personally, I hope he leaves politics altogether and takes the stench of his confrontational politics with him.

Abbott in both his tenure as Opposition Leader and Prime Minister had a breathtaking, pungent absurdity about him. A Christian man of unchristian demeanor.

Australia has never elected a person more unsuited to the highest office. He was a Luddite with little appreciation of science, the needs of women, and was out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

In hindsight the Australian people have learnt a valuable lesson. In future they should check out the credentials and character of the leader of the party they support. It was an experiment we cannot afford to have again.

The election of Malcolm Turnbull provides an opportunity to wipe the plate of democracy clean. Debate will now be able to take place without the negative pugilistic dog eat dog style of Abbott. It can still be assertive and robust but at the same time conducted with intellect and decorum. Given his sense of superiority (already displayed during question time) and ego don’t inhibit him perhaps his panache and wit might insinuate itself on the house and generally raise the standard of discourse.

Whatever you think of Turnbull’s policies, and he has many detractors in his own ranks, there is no doubt that he is a tough competitor with a formidable mind. One who can debate with true elasticity of intelligence and skill.

He will be a daunting opponent for Shorten and Labor. It is, however, an opportunity for Shorten to rise to the occasion and Labor supporters should challenge the party to also rise above itself.

Already the early polls are suggesting a resurgence of Coalition support. If Turnbull plays his cards correctly he will take many advantages into the next election campaign.

A ministerial reshuffle that rids itself of ministers with a perception of nastiness like Dutton should go over well with the public. As will a more refined and decent political language that no longer reflects Abbott’s crassness and sneering sloganeering.

Unlike Abbott who thought he was above the independent senators and the Greens, I believe Turnbull will seek to take them into his confidence to get legislation passed.

A major advantage he has is that the public are sick and tired of revolving door leadership. If my calculations or indeed my memory serve me correctly we haven’t elected a PM who has served a full term since 2004. That’s about a decade ago.

Unless he stuffs up in a major way the electorate will be reluctant to change again. Continuity of governance with the pursuit of ideology for the sake of it is not what the people want. Added to that is the fact that Turnbull is not beholding to the media. He has in the past told Murdoch, Bolt and Jones where to go.

During the Republic Referendum I worked assiduously for the Australian Republic Movement. I came to admire Turnbull’s capacity to present his case in the face of Howard’s rat pack that included Tony Abbott and Nick Minchen. Turnbull’s account of the The Reluctant Republic still resonates with me.

But if there is much to like about Turnbull there is equally as much to dislike. There can be no doubt that he has prostituted himself to gain power. All of those things that set him apart from the conservative wing of his party he seems to have been willing to capitulate on, and in so doing displayed an hypocrisy unworthy of him. He has spent the first week defending Abbott’s policies.

“No more Captains calls” he said. Then without even swearing a new Cabinet, he prostitutes himself (again) by reneging on his previously respected and long held beliefs on climate change. He then does a deal worth $4 billion with the Nationals and at the same time outrageously sells out the Murray Darling Scheme.

In his initial comments after becoming PM he made a big pitch about the future of innovation, science and technology. He would therefore know that a large part of our future is tied up in renewable energy. That the jobs of the future are in the technology sector, as is our economic future which makes his decision to stick with Abbott’s policy on climate change all the more disappointing. Conservatives around the world acknowledge these points, why can’t ours.

He has at this early stage left himself open to the charge that he is not his own man but rather a captive of the conservative right. It can arguably be said that the policies remain the same and an abrasive Prime Minister has been replaced with an eloquent but no less deceptive one. How he will prosecute the case for a Republic is unknown. It will be odd that we have a Monarchist Government led by a Republican Prime Minister.

Even the hypocrisy he shows on same-sex marriage has the smell of betrayal.

It is of course far too early to judge him but based on his immediate decisions it is obvious that he had to do deals to get the job.

For me his willingness to betray long held beliefs and principles has been nothing short of pathetic. I predict however that the general public will overlook it for what they will perceive as better attention to the economy.

As for the Leader of the Opposition. well according to the polls Bill Shorten is about as popular as Abbott was. He carts a lot of baggage that he will carry into the next election.

There is now no point in holding back on policies and allowing Turnbull to make all the running. He should in some way adopt the Whitlam approach, create a narrative, and release policy showing an innovative futuristic approach to economic issues and government. But above all Labor must attract the younger generations. It is the under 50s that will determine who governs.

Having said all that, if the polls continue in an upward trajectory Turnbull would be well justified in going to an early election. The next month will see Turnbull stamping his authority on the party and his leadership. He has the charisma to sell them and the public is in a buying mood. I can only hope that Bill also has something to sell.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 4 July

1 Andrew Robb in response to a question about the Coalition’s attitude to the co-sponsored Private Members Bill on same sex marriage said:

“None of the millions of families out there who are concerned about their jobs and paying the bills will thank us for being preoccupied for weeks and weeks with this issue”.

Conveniently, it seems, forgetting the inconvenient truth that some of those families might – in fact, wait, definitely do – including same-sex couples. And to think he negotiated three international trade deals.

jac

2 Jacqui Lambie’s (the terror from Tassie) comparison of the Greens to Islamic military extremists has left them demanding an apology.

Addressing a mining conference in her home state of Tasmania on Friday, Senator Lambie opened her speech with ‘a little joke’.

“What’s the difference between the Greens and ISIS?” she asked an audience gathered for the third and final day of the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council annual conference.

“Not very much. They both want to take us back into the dark ages.”

It seems she is not only unintelligent with a big mouth she also tells jokes in poor taste.

Midday thoughts.

It seems, according to the Fairfax press, that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office knew Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had misled Parliament about Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis three days before the government eventually owned up to the mistake.

The delay in correcting the parliamentary record until the end of a sitting fortnight meant the government faced no scrutiny in question time over its handling of the case.

A Senate probe into the blunder had already discovered Senator Brandis knew about the letter late on. However, it has now emerged Mr Abbott’s office also knew about Ms Bishop’s false evidence that same day.

It was a cover up of the highest order.

Misleading Parliament is a grave offence and usually means someone gets sacked. ‘Heads should roll’ as the PM is fond of saying.

An observation:

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

Sunday July 5

1 Keep this in mind when the PM is forcing National Security down your throat: Sure there are people in our midst who would do us harm, who despise who and what we are, but the threat they pose, statistically, is far less than any of us being involved in a road accident.

And ask yourself “why it is that The Border Force Act is targeting doctors, nurses, teachers and aid workers employed in our detention centers?” They face a two-year jail term if they disclose whatt is happening in these places.

And while you’re at it ask yourself why Asylum seekers must always be seen as threats, queue jumpers and illegals, and never as desperate human beings, men, women and children.

Ask yourself “why it is under Abbott’s tenure Ministers who mislead the Parliament don’t resign?” It used to be that way when we had a democracy.

When you have thought about this and the many other issues facing the nation ask yourself why he’s been so busy scaring the nation with an overblown terror threats he can’t find time to address them.

Flags

The most pressing issue I see into the future is the shortage of material for the production of flags. Our manufacturing industry is under threat. At the least he should attend to this.

sportsmanship

2 Not on my usual topic but it claws my gut. I just wish some of our young sportspeople would show respect for the sport they play, their peers, its history and its capacity to make them very wealthy. Young intelligent people by comparison in the sciences and many other career pursuits will never earn what they do but do it none the less. Pampered petulant full of their own importance with an expectation that the world owes them.

An observation:

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you”.

Monday 6 July

It’s only Monday but I can already hear the sound of heavy journalistic breathing at the Murdoch press. By Wednesday Bill Shorten’s appearance at the RC might bring on a serious case of exaggerated bullshit.

MY OFFICIAL WARNING

“If a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency”.

Climate

Three observations:

“In terms of the environment, I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today”.

“If we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment, what’s the point?”

“We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet”.

4 What was I saying most of last week? Well just to confirm my thoughts:

“Poll reveals 76% think family violence is as big or bigger threat than terrorism and advocates call for it to be funded in proportion to the scale of the problem”.

Tuesday July 6

1 The captain of team Australia has chucked a wobbly and decided that its members are unable to play with Q&A anymore. Yes, in a display of childish petulance tough Tony has taken his bat and ball and gone home. Barnaby Joyce was heard to say something like: “Can’t bat. can’t bowl, can’t field, but excellent at sledging”.

The big test will come next week. Will he allow Malcolm Turnbull time at the crease, on a sticky wicket, or indeed, will the ever popular Communications Minister be forced to play with a dead bat? He will need balls though. Either way someone should tell the Captain that one side is playing cricket, the other isn’t.

Anyway, Barnaby Joyce’s appearance on ABC Insiders yesterday confirmed one thing in my mind. When it comes to matters of deep human consideration, matters pertaining to life and relationship he is like so many of the Coalition, simply out of his depth.

Some parts of south-east Asia could view Australia embracing same-sex marriage as “decadence”, the deputy Nationals leader, and possible future deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, has said.

What more can one say except “he is a buffoon of the first order”?

2 Today’s polls confirm that both Shorten and Abbott are on the nose with the electorate. Abbott because he always has been and Shorten because the punters are unsure of him. Wednesday may very well decide for them.

Fairfax has Labor on 53/47 and Newspoll 52/48. A clear lead to Labor.

Things that go unnoticed:

3 The Climate Council tells us that electricity emissions have jumped since the repeal of the carbon tax. The increase of 4.3% has undone part of an 11% fall in emissions during the two years the tax was in place.

“The news that emissions have gone up in Australia will do little to counter the impression that Australia is acting as a ‘free rider’ on the back of other countries’ efforts” the Climate Council chief executive, Amanda McKenzie, said in a statement on Sunday.

q

Wednesday 7 July

1 Do you ever wonder who appears the most on Q&A and how the figures stack up? Well prominent Coalition politicians have appeared 139 times to March this year and Labor 110.

Prominent left leaning journalists 9. The right, 23

Bias anyone?

And might I add that on The Drum one would have to be forgiven for thinking that the IPA has a permanent chair at the desk.

2 New emails show Prime Minister Tony Abbott may have known Parliament had been misled about the Sydney siege gunman three days before the government corrected the record. Is there a smoking gun?

3 It looks like Barnaby was not too happy with the Captains call. Will Turnbull have the guts to hit him to square leg? But look, the fact is that a reasonable captain would just get on with the game. A reasonable leader, however, our PM is not. He hates better than most.

4 At least our two leaders presented a united front at the meeting on Indigenous recognition in the Constitution. Unfortunately it might all come to a sudden end with Indigenous leaders demanding protection against racial abuse together with anti-discrimination protection. Symbolic recognition might be one thing but can you imagine journalists like Bolt having their right to abuse taken away?

Midday thoughts:

1 Amanda Vanstone’s rant on ABC 24 this morning was hogwash. Current affairs programs will always be confronted with accusations of bias if only because they are confrontational. For Amanda to say she couldn’t get a word in belies her capacity to do just that.

Often what influence you have on these panels is dependent on one’s media savvy, quickness of mind and an ability to speak better than others. Some are just better at it than others regardless of ideology.

Hawke and Keating always thought the ABC were biased against Labor.

2 In addition it’s interesting to note that almost universally the PM has been condemned, even by people on the right, for banning appearances.

A thought:

“The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved”.

Thursday 8 July

1 Did you know that the Abbott government ministry is one of the worst in the developed world for gender balance?

Well I expect you did. It’s fairly obvious. A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development says the gap between women and men in ministerial positions in Australia has actually worsened since 2012, despite the government’s reshuffle in December. It says Australia now has fewer women in its highest ranks of government than every OECD country except for Greece, Korea, Turkey, Hungary and the Slovak Republic.

An observation:

“At some time in the human narrative…..in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you”.

3 This week’s Essential Poll has Labor 52 and LNP 48.

4 Nothing gives me greater pleasure than when our young people achieve success on the international stage be it in sport, entertainment, the arts and sciences. Nothing offends me more than when their petulant behavior misrepresents our sense of fair play and societal decency.

Friday 9 July

1 Politicians frequently update things undeclared. Commercial interests etc. Hockey recently did. Abbott is guilty of doing so. Political donations are dodgy on both sides. ICAC in NSW showed that. Everyone would agree that it needs to be cleaned up. But a Royal Commission costing $80 million. Strewth.

2 “The idea that Malcolm Turnbull should not be allowed to appear next Monday night is too ludicrous to believe” (Paul Kelly, The Australian).

Malcolm Turnbull still has views that spring from old Liberalism. In his address to the Sydney Institute all he was doing was expressing them. I could not imagine any other leader, other than Abbott, talking about terrorism in the way he does. Leadership requires character. Politicians on both sides of the divide could do with an injection of it.

“Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibers from which it is woven”.

3 Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says “the world has gone mad” after his own government approved the highly contentious Shenhua Watermark coal mine in his NSW electorate, despite his vehement protests.

“I think it is ridiculous that you would have a major mine in the midst of Australia’s best agricultural land” Joyce said. He obviously doesn’t appreciate coal as much as the PM. They are becoming more laughable by the day.

Midday thoughts:

1 The Royal Commission into Unions that the Prime Minister orchestrated for no other reason than to embarrass Bill Shorten has achieved its aim. But that is all. There has been no knockout punch. However the residue of of mud thrown will hang around until the next election. Its report might conveniently come in at a time beneficial to the Government. The pity is that if Labor had a squeaky clean leader victory would be assured.

2 Tony Windsor, the maverick rural MP who helped Labor keep office during the last parliament, says he is considering running again for the seat of New England after the Abbott government gave its approval for a huge open-cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains.

I am currently reading Windsor’s book “Windsor’s Way” and I hope he does return. He decides issues on what is best for the common good.

3 Combined polling for the week has 52.2-47.8 to Labor. Primary votes for both major parties have fallen. Both leaders have disastrous ratings. The big winner was the Greens.

4 The collapse in the iron ore price will almost certainly mean a collapse in the budget forecasts. Surely Hockey would have taken this into consideration.

This is the week that was.

Two final thoughts:

1 “The most simple way to turn the profession of politics on its head would be to demand they tell the truth”.

2 Wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Abbott, instead of spending an estimated 200 million on three Royal Commissions to damage his opponents, spent it on reducing domestic violence?

dom

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday June 27

1 Do you ever wonder what happened to the debt crisis? That time when Abbott and Hockey used every negative description they could to describe Australia’s budgetary position as a disaster. Well in less than two years in office, the Abbott government has added almost $100bn to the level of Commonwealth government debt. This is a 35% increase from the $273bn level of gross government debt at the time of the September 2013 election. This increase flies in the face of the Coalition’s pledge prior to the election – and occasionally since – of reducing debt and at some stage, paying it off.

By the time the next election is held, most likely in the latter part of 2016, the Budget papers indicate the Abbott government will have increased government debt by around $150bn in its three years in power and three years of implementing its economic policy objectives.

2 Now I ask you, if the ABC is as biased as Abbott and his acolytes reckon why would they produce a series as damaging as The Killing Season?

3 President Obama had two significant victories in the Supreme Court this week. Firstly they overwhelmingly endorsed Obamacare as legal. The Republicans had tried to bring it down 50 times in the Congress. This will cement him as a great President. Secondly the Court gave its blessing to equality in marriage in all States further enhancing the President’s progressive political views.

It is now difficult to imagine how our Prime Minister could possibly prevent gay marriage becoming a reality here. He has been on the wrong side of history on so many things. Climate change is but another.

Sunday 28 June

A Sunday reflection:

The Australian flag, for me at least, has little relevance. It is simply another nation’s flag with a few stars surrounding it. It speaks of our past and not our future. But of late, I must confess to being pissed off to see it, or more precisely, many of them being used as background for a Prime Minister to spew unwarranted divisive inflammatory language about national security.

The security of a nation’s people is of course a government’s first priority. There can be no doubt about it. How you go about it is another thing. John Howard was accused, when using the term, “Be alert but not alarmed” of being just that, a alarmist. Tony Abbott on the other hand with his inflammatory language “DAESH IS COMING, IF IT CAN FOR EVERY PERSON AND FOR EVERY GOVERNMENT WITH A SIMPLE MESSAGE. SUBMIT OR DIE” makes no secret of the fact that for nothing more than political reasons he is about not only scaring you, but making you petrified. His aim is to have the entire population in a high state of anxiety.

Why? Well history shows that people are inclined to support an incumbent government in times of crisis. So everyday Tony Abbott creates crisis with National Security. He places it front and center. He makes it his top priority to imply that at any time something catastrophic is about to happen. Making people feel insecure is of the utmost importance to him. Everyday there is a reason for new laws to be passed, more money to be spent on security with explanations scant or nonexistent.

If it were all true a leader with character, judgement and discernment would, without conflicting National Security, take the people and their well-being seriously by creating a comprehensive calming statement of fact and intent that the people could digest with trust. This of course is beyond a leader like Abbott who thrives on gutter negativity.

An observation: “If the Coalition has, as it’s fond of telling us, natural economic qualities superior to anyone else in its DNA, why is it hiding behind the cloak of national security?”

What then are the facts?

When using the language of terrorism, in my mind is a 9/11 or a suicide bomber – a car bomb. Not a couple of confused kids with a sword and a knife.

So without playing down the importance of vigilance I am trying to bring some perspective to the government’s alarmist language when talking terrorism.

ABS stats on deaths by terrorist activity for the period 1978-2014 show that 113 Australians lost their lives. Yes, that’s right. In 36 years 113 people have died from terrorism.

By comparison this year around 730 will die from Domestic Violence and around 2500 will take their own lives.

You be the judge.

For me I just wish we had a leader whose voice was as loud for the victims of child abuse, domestic violence and suicide as it is for terrorism.

An observation:

“You cannot possibly believe in democracy if at the same time you think you’re party is the only one that should ever win”.

In view of the rise of far right Neo conservatism I am currently reviewing my position.

Monday 29 June

1 The LNP should rename themselves the Lost Negative Party.

2 A decent, reasoned leader governing in the public interest would concede that despite his own views the momentum for equal marriage requires immediate action. My fear is that even with a free vote there are enough LNP MPs so influenced by religion that they will ignore the public’s overwhelming desire for change.

3 Malcolm Turnbull said on Insiders yesterday that under its charter the ABC has a higher duty of objectivity than any other media outlet. He is right of course and this is evidenced by the Q&A furor. It’s just a pity that commercial outlets are not subjected to the same rules of objectivity. But that of course would be infringing on their right to free speech.

For a belly laugh read this.

Tuesday 30 June

1 The Morgan Poll shows that Federal LNP support is up 1% to 46.5% down 1% to ALP 53.5%. No doubt Labor had a bad week last week but Abbott is still on the nose. 62% of Labor support comes from the 18-24 group. LNP is favored by 57% aged over 65.

Labor also improved its position in the Essential Poll and now leads 53/47.

You work it out.

The National Security scare campaign hasn’t worked.

isis

2 Sad to see long-term head of the left-leaning think tank, the Australia Institute, Richard Dennis stepping down. Hope he continues to write.

3 Isn’t it ironic that while the LNP is facing a bitter internal dispute within its ranks about the science of climate change a new group has been formed to put pressure on them to come up with a reasonable emissions reduction target from 2020 onwards, warning against “piecemeal” policies and arguing that avoiding dangerous warming and reconfiguring the economy requires tougher and more urgent action from the Government?

Members of the group include the Australian Aluminium Council; Australian Industry Group; The Climate Institute; Australian Conservation Foundation; Business Council of Australia; WWF Australia; Australian Council of Social Service; Energy Supply Association of Australia; Australian Council of Trade Unions; and Investor Group on Climate Change.

When diverse groups such as these come together for a common cause it simply demonstrates just how far Tony Abbott is out of touch on, not only this, but many other issues.

An observation:

‘Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability’.

4 “This is not a question of a boycott” Malcolm Turnbull said referring to the fact that no one from the LNP is allowed to appear on Q&A. What is it then one might ask? An attack on free speech?

5 The children of terrorist Khaled Sharrouf are victims of the sins of the father and it amounts to child abuse. As such they should be afforded the same considerations available to other victims.

6 The proposed changes to the current successful management of Super Funds amounts to nothing more than Union bashing. Conservatives certainly know how to hate.

Another thought:

‘We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups’.

Wednesday July 1

1 Despite Bill Shorten’s horrendous week last week Tuesday’s Newspoll shows Labor is ahead of the Coalition 53% to 47%, nearly a direct reversal of the 46.5% to 53.5% result at the September 2013 federal election.

2 On Q&A the champion of free speech, Tim Wilson, the individual who goes to great lengths to protect the right of people like Jones, Bolt and other right media extremists to spread their hatred, denied it to someone he disagrees with. Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner has a very warped sense of what free speech is. As does Turnbull when it comes to the word independent.

3 Labor has left the door open for the caucus to reverse Kevin Rudd’s rule that makes it nearly impossible for the party’s elected leader to be toppled in a midnight coup. Its draft national constitution, published on its website, includes changes made to the way the leader is elected by an equally weighted ballot of caucus and party members. That’s more like it.

4 The Four Corner’s revelation that key Liberal fundraising body took Mafia money for access is of major concern. Shorten offers a bi-partisan approach to political donations but as yet Abbott hasn’t taken it up. Is it any wonder that politicians are so un-trusted?

5 Joe Hockey received $200,000 in a defamation case but the real problem is in the reason for the case in the first place. That is that for a fee of $22,000 you could be guaranteed attendance at lunches and other events with the treasurer. Reeks of . . .

6 Now out of the blue the PM has taken his unusual manner of talking into another zone.

“May God bless you, may God bless your work, may God bless the country you are helping to protect and prosper.”

Read about it here.

Thursday 2 July

1 I seems that documents obtained under FOI by The Australian Financial Review reveal that the Coalition Cabinet considered similar taxation on superannuation to that proposed by Labor but dropped it when Labor announced its policy.

So they dropped what they inevitably will have to do simply to avoid being embarrassed.

2 A question about National Security. Would you say our Prime Minister is seeking to calm our overblown fears or is playing them for all he’s worth?

3 The former well thought of Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson who was sacked by Abbott because he believed in the science of climate change, has heavily criticised the Abbott government’s renewable energy target and Direct Action policies, saying they will be a far costlier way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than an emissions trading scheme. When the truth comes back to bite you. And the truth is that we are being governed by untruthful fools.

An observation:

“Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process make the most contribution to its demise”.

“Seriously, if our Conservative politicians go any further to the right they will be in danger of falling off”.

4 Has Labor Party morality sunk so low that it would support legislation that would see someone jailed for up to two years for reporting the abuse of asylum seekers? Have we really reached the point under Abbott that for revealing the truth, that someone is being ill-treated, even raped, you can be jailed? Shame shame. Without transparency democracy cannot exist let alone flourish.

Friday 3 July

1 The response to a Private Members Bill on equal marriage from the conservative side of politics is both predictable and illuminating. Reading between the lines of the Prime Minister’s statements it seems he is prepared to delay it for as long as he can.

And this from government whip Andrew Nikolic who heads the committee that decides on what legislation comes before the Parliament. MPs who expect a vote on same-sex marriage any time soon must have “rocks in their head”.

2 When the Abbott government’s Energy White Paper was released it made headlines for its curious reluctance to mention climate change – but the looming Defence White Paper may prove to be a different story.

A report on community consultations associated with the Defence White Paper flags the consequences of climate change, extreme weather events and environmental pressures as a significant security risk for Australia – second only to the risks posed by terrorism.

It’s all catching up with you Tony.

3 In case you didn’t know, the Attorney General and Arts Minister, George Brandis, will have the final say on all grants allocated through the newly established National Program for Excellence in the Arts, draft guidelines published on Wednesday suggest.

Doctors

4 Are Australians aware that yesterday was the start of the GP Tax by stealth? Yes that’s right yesterday saw a four year freeze on the Medicare rebate, meaning that doctors over time will be $8.43 worse off each visit so its expected they will pass it onto the patients.

Gay marriage 2

And this is the week that was.

Anthony Albanese summed it up rather nicely when talking about Tea Party conservatives and Eric Abetz’s piece on gay marriage in the SMH:

“They are stuck in the past and they want everyone to go back there and keep them company”.

One last thing:

The fragility of life and relationship is once again demonstrated with the murder of Adelaide football coach Phil Walsh. I hope the greatest game on earth stands tall in the circumstances.

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday June 6

1 The Prime Minister’s and Minister Dutton’s responses to Senator Hanson Young’s objection to allegedly being spied on in Nauru was appallingly sexist and political overreach of the worst kind. For the PM to say she was “looked after” was insultingly gratuitous and condescending regardless of the rights or wrongs of the situation. And Dutton’s childish temperamental outburst was a reflection on his inadequacy as a politician. He should have stayed in the Police Force. Creepy indeed.

2 It has always fascinated me that unions can be so maligned for the slightest whiff of wrong doing yet business criminals like Bond, Skase, Elliott and others are considered by many to be folk heroes.

Sunday June 7

Did I see last night an advertisement promoting the budget? Is it taxpayer-funded? That would be a first.

Monday June 8

Peter Dutton’s inability to get his facts right on the statement by Human Rights commissioner Gillian Triggs about Ministerial powers suggests that he is the last person to decide on one’s citizenship. Or anything else for that matter

1 As if to demonstrate, yet again, he and his government’s apathetic out of touch governess, Joe Hockey, the treasurer of Team Australia, in answer to a question about housing affordability said: “The starting point for first home buyers is to get a good job that pays good money”.

House

I would have thought it’s a problem easily solved. All they have to do is produce all the jobs they said they were going too. (Sarcasm intended)

2 The Abbott government appears to be running an orchestrated campaign to “destabilise or even destroy” the Australian Human Rights Commission, according to the nation’s first federal human rights commissioner Brian Burdekin.

They are at war with everyone who disagrees with them. Vindictive bastards.

GAY MARRIAGE

3 Scott Morrison said: “If you say that you don’t get on board with the same-sex marriage bandwagon, then somehow you’re a homophobe or something like that – I don’t think that’s very helpful”.

“I think it’s time for people to have a bit of a breather about this and consider what the other options are.”

Could someone tell me what the options are to inequality?

Tuesday June 9

Nile

1 In NSW it seems Rev Nile is doing a deal with Premier Baird to get his Power legislation passed. It’s a sneaky Religious one of course. Parents of public school children will only be offered the Ethics course for their children AFTER they have turned down Religious Education courses. They won’t be told they are available on the course curriculum. Now that’s Christian transparency. Lying by omission.

2 “I’m for individual freedom … to the max. So you can imagine my profound disappointment, bordering on despair, when I see some on ‘my team’ thinking it is OK for a minister alone to take away a citizen’s rights – indeed, take away citizenship – in the blink of an eye. No appeal, no judicial process, just a ministerial decision. What were they thinking?” (Amanda Vanstone).

3 The conservative Christian forces in the Coalition are gathering their forces to confront Abbott on marriage equality. Extremists like George Christensen are determined to go against public opinion and govern for the minority.

4 NBN have let contracts to try and speed up its implementation.

An observation:

On the NBN: “The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow”.

5 Now hear this: Labor put in place laws that guaranteed 700 companies (including Packer, Reinhardt etc) would be more transparent in terms of tax liability. They respond by saying it would make them more susceptible to kidnapping, privacy, personal security and extortion. Without any evidence from any law enforcement agency to back up this assertion, the government decided to shield these companies from any disclosure. Rotten to the core.

Wednesday June 10

1 “Even as a cabinet minister, sometimes it’s hard to pay a Sydney mortgage and I know over the years I’ve earned a lot more than the average person” (Tony Abbott).

If he finds it hard, what hope the average wage earner? Just as well he got free education and didn’t have to pay University fees. Gee you have to feel for his hardship being the world’s highest paid politician can’t be easy.

Meanwhile Treasurer Joe Hockey is selling his $1.5 million farm. Umm, it all reeks of privilege and elitism. And Glen Stephens thinks the housing market is crazy.

2 Scott Morisson said yesterday: “The institution of marriage came from religion. It was adopted by the state and I have always been a firm believer in the separation of church and state and the main reason for that is it protects the church – and I think the church’s institutions do need to be protected”.

He is factually wrong on the first count and on the second I am wondering what it is the church needs protection from.

3 Bill Shorten has moved to make the gender gap an issue for the ALP’s July national conference and for Labor more widely.

“Wanted: more female politicians”

An observation:

“At some time in the human narrative . . . in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you”

Thursday June 11

Wind farms

1 The PM was certainly out and about yesterday. He described wind farms as visually awful and a danger to people’s health. Of course there is no scientific evidence to say people’s health is effected and no doubt he finds the sight of coal stations spewing their filth more aesthetically pleasing.

Coal mines

I am an artist with a Diploma of Fine Arts. How anyone could say that Wind Farms are a blot on the landscape is beyond me. Thank God he didn’t pursue a career in industrial design.

A study conducted by the government’s own National Health and Medical Research Council recently found that there is no “consistent evidence” that wind farms damage human health.

On top of that he wishes a RET had never been implemented.

Farm

His ignorance of the way the world is headed in terms of renewable energy is breathtaking in its arrogance.

His new-found frankness contradicts claims he and his ministers made before and after the election about how committed they were to renewable energy.

2 Good to see the Member for Gippsland (my electorate) Darren Chester has become the first National’s MP to openly throw his support behind same-sex marriage. Not much we would agree on but on this one yes.

3 Labor is considering changes to capital gains tax rules as well as negative gearing if elected, but remains tight-lipped about the policy it will adopt before the next election.

The PM responded by saying:

“If you look at what the Labor Party is proposing at the moment they want to hit your super with more tax, they apparently want to drive down the value of your existing home and now it seems they want to put rent up by fiddling with negative gearing”.

He neglected to say they plan to raid your bank accounts.

4 It seems AMEX has not paid tax in Australia for 7 years on a turnover of 8 billion. How is that possible? I wonder if Hockey might know.

5 This week’s Essential Poll is unchanged with Labor leading 52/48.

6 Abbott’s terrorist language is becoming more alarmist and sensational every day. The adults are still yet to take charge.

Friday June 12

1 In denying to answer a question as to whether Australia paid people smugglers to turn boats back Tony Abbott has more or less confessed that we did. He just doesn’t like telling the truth. Does it then mean that we were complicit in people trafficking?

2 What a thoroughly detestable grub of a Prime Minister he is. A liar who will do or say anything that suits him at the time. His comments about wind farms are implausible. The one he referred to was on Rottnest Island, funded by the Howard Government, supplies 40% of the Islands power, and is perfectly acceptable to the residents. To say that they are ugly and noisy based on an experience some years ago is ridiculous. Any wonder international leaders call him a fool.

3 Speaking of political grubbiness. Radio shock jock Ray Hadley and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton have been accused of “sexist claptrap” after playing a song labelling Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young as the “Dumbest Politician in Australia”.

Must be Christopher’s turn next.

And this is the week that was. Well except that Bill Shorten made yet another speech about Australia becoming a republic. Perhaps he should just say that if elected a plebiscite is assured.

And I won’t comment on the Murdoch accession plan because its as clear as mud as to who is actually in charge.

 

Tony Abbott: Begging For His Job. Round 1.

Something truly remarkable is happening in Australian Politics. Unprecedented in my memory. An Australian Prime Minister is being given the chance to transform from bastard to saint. Or somewhere in-between.

Even after 40% of his colleagues have declared him unfit (and there were probably many more including 6 ministers) to lead our nation. Even in the face of polls that overwhelming reflect the public’s opinion of our leader.

Even after the media and his closest right wing supporters have condemned him. Even though he leads a dysfunctional and chaotic government.

They still think he is the best person for the highest office in our nation. Even after all the lies, his trust deficit, his support for inequality, his arrogance, inflexibility and hypocrisy, his governance for those who have, his inability to understand technology and science and an incapacity to understand women’s needs and sexual equality.

The captain’s calls, back flips, and his monarchist allegiance. His negativity, thuggish demeanor and his contempt for the conventions of parliament. Add to that his inability to adapt to the demands of office which stem from the fact that he is fundamentally a creature of the past. Yes, they still think he has all the characteristics of leadership.

If he is to transform himself who are we likely to end up with?

Leigh Sales on the 7.30 Program put it this way:

“We’ve had the Tony Abbott in opposition, the guy who promised no more chaos, the adults back in charge, the ‘no excuses and no broken promises’,” Ms Sales said.

“Then there’s the Tony Abbott we’ve had so far in government with the surprise policies and broken promises and the captain’s picks.

“Now you’re offering us a third Tony Abbott – one who’s going to change. Who are you?”

As David Marr puts it:

“The prime minister’s problem is not the captain’s picks, not his failure to consult, nor the micromanagement of the cabinet by his office. He just failed to grow”.

In his 20 years of parliamentary service he has been a politician of the past believing his duty is to save us from the future.

No Opposition Leader in Australian Political history has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than Tony Abbott.

No Prime Minister in Australian Political history has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than Tony Abbott.

Yet his party believes he can convert a lifetime of thuggish negativity into motivational, inspirational leadership. A Prime Minister in whom the people can trust. He deserves the chance they say. We owe it to him.

The conundrum of course for the LNP is that they don’t want to be portrayed like Labor who had little hesitation in dumping leaders but at the same time know they cannot win the next election with Abbott.

When the spill motion was defeated, what followed was an avalanche of contrived support spewed from the mouths of ministers and hangers on that could only be described as nauseating in its insincerity.

Everyone knows that the Abbott brand is dead. In all my years of political ears dropping, never have I seen such a cavalcade of fallaciousness from politicians who could only be described as silly enough to believe their own bullshit. Watching this line up of Abbott apologists was not only excruciatingly painful but seriously saddening. Do these idiots, I asked myself, really believe that I accept as true, the crap they are emitting?

Showing an exterior of suitable chastisement Tony Abbott announced that “Good Government starts today”. One was apt to wonder why it didn’t start when he said that the adults were in charge.

Then in Parliament the same day, when a no confidence motion was moved he immediately went to negative mode in a speech that amounted to nothing more than repetitive old Tony. Transformed Tony was nowhere to be seen. His near death experience seemed not to have registered. Perhaps he was blinded by the white light.

Later on The 7.30 Report the old Tony was still fighting like an Opposition Leader.

I beat Gillard, I beat Rudd and I will beat Shorten he said, missing the point that Australian’s are after a leader, not a pugilist.

It was as Malcolm Farr said on the Insiders program on Sunday:

“He can’t understand why people aren’t grateful”.

He, his Treasurer and his Ministers have never been able to admit that the budget was unfair. On the same program Mathias Coremann said that:

“no Minister had complained that the budget was unfair”.

He must have been lying because Malcolm Turnbull, the alternative leader that 50% of the party want as leader said this:

“it is vitally important, both as a matter of social justice and political reality, that structural changes are seen as being fair across the board”.

“That means not only must tough decisions be justified, but that the burden of adjustment is not borne disproportionately by one part of the community.”

An alcoholic cannot address his problem until he admits he has one. The Government cannot possibly govern for the common good until there is some kind of ministerial acknowledgement that indeed the budget was unfair.

The pugilist might have won round one, just, but the fight for Liberal leadership is far from over. He might have dodged a left hook but the Liberals remain deeply divided. They are all over the place with policy and a treasurer who seems incapable in the job. Pressure has mounted on Abbott to appease the back bench. It is demanding that Hockey and Credlin go.

Brand Abbott is dead. This is why.

For most of my working life I worked in marketing and advertising so I know how people are influenced, persuaded or swayed by such things as branding and repetitive advertising or recurring bullshit.

Companies spend millions of dollars to subtly brainwash you. To align you with a certain brand or product. They will use all manner of persuasive techniques including sex and deceptive packaging to solicit your good will and loyalty. They even measure the eye blink rate of women from hidden cameras in supermarkets to test colour reaction. Yes it’s that sophisticated. And brand loyalty is what they want. There are more psychologists employed in advertising in America than in the health industry. It is all calculated to take power over your decision-making.

Likewise, political parties want your loyalty, or at least they want to convince you that they are working in your best interests. They use the same repetitive techniques.

If you tell a lie often enough people will believe you. The Abbott government stating that asylum seekers are “illegal” and “she told a lie”, or that families received $550 dollars as a result of the removal of the carbon tax are but three examples.

The Abbott Government has taken persuasion to another level employing 37 communication and social media specialists to monitor social media and offer strategic communications advice costing taxpayers almost $4.3 million a year. In addition Peter Dutton’s departments employ more than 95 communications staff and spin doctors, costing at least $8million a year. In Dutton’s case it is about protecting a slogan. Nothing else.

That’s a lot of people to sell the brand, spin lies, omissions, monitoring social media and telling deliberate falsities. It’s about creating or promoting perceptions (rather than realities) about your political brand as opposed to that of your competitor. There are a number of ingredients in “successful” political branding. The product needs a positive image, and a leader with character who is surrounded by positive motivated people.

A fair dose of charisma is helpful but not entirely essential. What is essential is a well thought out narrative that the electorate can relate too and policies that are explainable. Even if they involve some pain. It doesn’t require popularism so long as it has credibility. John Howard was never popular but he had the perception of creditability.

Unfortunately the Abbott government and its ministers are nothing more than a compliment to mediocrity and intellectual barrenness. The brand has its genesis in contemptuous negativity and has failed to apply a label to any policy.

Its front bench is full of colorless dour depressive uninspiring types who will be intent on implementing a second budget of political expediency rather that economic necessity whilst the current one will remain an unfinished work in progress.

The collective personalities of Abbott (a self-confessed and proven liar and a PM for undoing), Pyne (arguably the most hated politician in Australia). Brandis (an Attorney General who believes bigotry is fine), Abetz (needs a personality transplant) Hockey (a serial blamer of everyone else), Joyce (potentially our next deputy PM, OMG). Dutton (cannot shake off his copper image), Hunt (no credibility on Climate Change after writing a thesis supporting a tax), Morrison (the un-Christian Christian. Don’t say I said that. It’s a secret.), Robb (still wanting Joe’s job), Truss (soon to retire) and Cormann (can’t throw off the accent), all of which reads like a list of appointments from a psychiatrist who specialises in personality disorders.

In terms of image the Abbott government comes across as, indignant angry men with chips on their shoulders. Make that logs. Haters of science and progressive policies. And some like Bernardi downright extreme.

In Abbott’s case you have to wonder if Australia has ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science. So oblivious of the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

In the latest polling the Labor Party leads the LNP by 14 percentage points.

More alarming though is the Prime Minister’s popularity. Or more accurately his lack of it. And 63% of people think he is doing a terrible job.

The best public relations company in Australia couldn’t do much with the individual images of that lot.

“Australian political history is filled with the incompetence of unexceptional conservative men with born to rule mentalities”.

It’s hard to promote a political brand that blames everyone else, lies continuously, won’t listen to advice, is secretive, won’t compromise and is full of its own self-importance. Never in Australian political history has a budget been so motivated by ideology.

The result has been a public backlash of monumental proportions which is reflected in the polls. So blind is Abbott to his own shortcomings as a leader that he cannot see how badly he and his cabinet are governing. Even the right wing media, Murdoch publications and the shock jocks have deserted him. Social Media is leading the criticism. With the young in particular seeming to hate the Abbott brand with a vengeance.

Former Conservative UK Environment Minister Lord Deben put it succinctly:

“I think the Australian Government must be one of the most ignorant governments I’ve ever seen in the sense, right across the board, on immigration or about anything else, they’re totality unwilling to listen to science or logic”.

“The Rise and Fall of Australia”

The-Rise-and-Fall-of-Australia Book Review by John Lord

Nick Bryant Is a BBC correspondent and author who often appears on Q&A and The Drum.

I made the dreadful mistake of reading some reviews of this book (that conflicted with my own analysis) before I sat down to write this. Now I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but in this case, I must say, they all had a clear misunderstanding of exactly what the author was on about.

That being an inability by some social commentators and critics to acknowledge that we have, to a large degree, thrown off our cultural cringe, our adolescence, and taken our place in the world.

We have come to realise the profound truth that we have gone through a period of becoming mature, knowing who we are, and feeling deeply about it. We have earned a national consciousness.

It seemed to me that the reviews I read resented the fact that we were being dissected by an outsider, and a bloody Pommy one at that.

But this is exactly what makes it such an enthralling read. He dares to go where our own self-consciousness about ourselves won’t, unrestrained by our provincial restrictions of self-analysis.

The directness and astuteness of his writing is impressive. His research impeccable and for a person of my vintage his writing gave understanding to my life’s Australian experience. From what we were to what we are. He exhaustively covers every cultural aspect of our society from sport, art, music, dance, theatre, science, medicine, government and our financial structures. He describes a full compilation of our assets and eccentricities.

In some chapters I felt positively enthused about how far we have come as a nation. How much we had achieved, often in spite of ourselves.
He states that today the characteristic that most defines modern Australia is “diversity”. In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation. That is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

But the contradiction, as he points out is:

The great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished.

It is in the chapters that deal with politics and our democracy that Bryant rightly portrays the sagacious ugliness of our system.

He abhors the fierce partisanship of our politics and the Abbott government’s currentattempts to take us back to an older Australia, a place that we no longer inhabit.

A place languid in the institutionalised comforts of post colonialism.

And this is the paradox the author speaks of. How is it that our politics has gone so backwards while at the same time we have progressed, in other areas, so much?

Might it be as the Prime Minister so sarcastically remarked when asked about the state of our democracy:

There is nothing wrong with it. It’s just the people who inhabit it from time to time.

Or might it be when he describes his cricketing skills.

I couldn’t bowl, field or bat, but I was a good sledger.

This is a refreshing look at this country with new eyes. Eyes that have taken, with simple exhaustive elegance and skill, the time to see us for what we truly are.

The most agreeable thing about, about this book, is the author’s confirmation of my own view. That being that we are being led by a moron.

Although I do concede that he doesn’t say it exactly in those terms. He in fact gives both sides of politics a decent serve. As Australians are so apt to say.

 

A Week is a Long Time in Politics

If ever a week in politics supported a headline it was the week that Gough Whitlam died. In the main the death of this undeniably charismatic, but gifted man was met with sadness by both supporter and foe alike.

gough

The exceptions who didn’t were Bolt and Jones. Yes, the two who write and comment outrageously on the basis of payment for controversy didn’t but eventually they will pass on as Gough did.

They will be quickly forgotten but he will go down in the annals of Australian history as a decent, sanguine, passionate and sagacious Prime Minister who made an enormous contribution to Australian society.

Something they could never aspire to do.

Yes the week was filled with controversy that only a government devoid of any semblance of leadership could muster.

barnaby joyce

In Parliament the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce (the probable deputy PM if Abbott wins the next election) got the details of how many Australians have received drought assistance completely and utterly wrong.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon called him out but as you would guess, Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer. It wasn’t until early evening he skulked back into the chamber and quietly corrected his answer. It’s hard to explain what Barnaby said. If you can decipher it you deserve a medal.

“…you actually get the money until the department decides that you are not allowed to get the money, and at this point in time. So you keep on getting the money, you keep on getting the money, until such time as, on the application being assessed, they decide you are not eligible for it. But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved, you actually get the money straight away.”

Anyway, on Tuesday of this week he got a whiff of his own ineptitude and tried to change the official Hansard record.

com bank

Then the Government for a Royal Commission into anything Labor did refused to hold one into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as part of its response to a landmark Senate inquiry. This is one of the worst scandals in Australian corporate history. It has ruined the lives of thousands of people but the government’s approach seems to be to let financial planners proceed as if nothing has happened.

During all this the boss of the corporate regulator, ASIC said.

‘’Australia is too soft on corporate criminals and increased civil penalties including more jail terms are needed.’’

“Australia is a paradise for white-collar crime.” He said.

On Royal Commissions that are politically motivated John Howard had this to say.

“I’m uneasy about the idea of having royal commissions or inquiries into essentially a political decision…”
“I don’t think you should ever begin to go down the American path of using the law for narrow targeted political purposes.”

Abbott obviously believes in the total obliteration of one’s opposition and will even provide cabinet papers if he has too.

tell tony

In senate estimates we heard from treasury officials that the Prime Ministers Paid Parental Leave Scheme has ground to a halt. According to senior insiders, it is in serious trouble and loathed by virtually every minister in cabinet.

Our Prime Minister once again showing that he is incapable of governance for the common good.

turnbull

In the midst of all this we had talk of Malcolm Turnbull replacing Hockey as treasurer.
“It’d be a game changer,” one minister summarised. No one disagreed with the soundness of the idea. True, he would bring competence and authority to the Treasury portfolio. He has the ability to articulate a message clearly and forcefully.

But the mere suggestion that this might happen is a reflection of the total incompetency of this Abbott led bunch of out of touch morons.

freya newman

We were greeted with another headline that the whistle-blower Freya Newman had had her sentence deferred until November. Did she break the law? She did, but in so doing revealed yet another instance of the Prime Minister’s use of his office for personal gain further defining his personal lack of integrity. As if it could degenerate any further.

The curriculum taught in our schools never seems to go away when conservatives are in power.

barry spurr

For its review the coalition appointed its usual array of religious zealots and those of indigenous indifference, all sympathetic to the government’s point of view. But this time one of the appointees, Professor Barry Spurr, further advanced his expertise in all things conservative with some emails that could only be describes as indecent. He said they were part of a ‘linguistic game’. Ah the games people play.

Perhaps the PM might consider some people of independent mind for future inquiries instead of the usual hacks.

But there’s more. It was a long week.

indexscott morrison

It seemed that Scott Morrison wanted to be the minister for everything. When interviewed on AM he denied that other ministers were resentful of him trying to take over part of their portfolios. But members of the press gallery confirmed it.

When asked in question time how his portfolio crossed over with Foreign Affairs, Defense, Agriculture, Health, Defense, Attorney-Generals and Prime Minister and Cabinet it wasn’t only the Labor side of the chamber laughing at him.

But Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer.

And to add to the weeks worries the Government still cannot get its budget passed. To quote Lenore Taylor in the Guardian.

budget

The Abbott government’s “Operation Budget Repair” appears to have morphed into “Operation Let’s Salvage What The Hell We Can”.

Kevin Andrews said he would consider “any reasonable offer” from crossbench senators in a last-ditch bid to get at least some of his $10bn in stalled welfare changes through the Senate. On top of that there is the fuel excise, that Medicare co-payment and the dramatic changes to higher education. What a bloody nightmare. It’s a pity Abbott doesn’t have the negotiating skills of Gillard.

He and Joe have never been able to admit why the electorate so comprehensively rejected the budget? We all know that the savings fell heaviest on those least able to pay. Now they are saying they will reveal more in the mid-year budget update. This can only mean more unpopular cuts. Or a mini budget.

essential

The Essential Poll during the week found 72% felt the cost of living had become worse in the past 12 months and 48% believe that over the past two years their income has fallen behind their cost of living. That figure rises to 57% for those earning less than $1,000 a week.

It was the worst received budget in many decades. Spending cuts have to be fair, and be seen to be fair, but people also need to understand the overall plan, the purpose, dare we call it the program.

Later in the week when talking about Federal and state responsibilities Abbott said.

“It is in this great country of ours possible to have a better form of government”

I would have thought a good place to start would be to stop telling lies.

ret

Having appointed a group of climate deniers to report on the Renewable Energy Target and Tony Abbott wanting it removed altogether the government, in the face of public opinion, now finds itself in a dilemma. It wants to compromise on the 20% target saying electricity usage has already declined. Shorten should not fall for that nonsense. Add in their ridiculous Direct Action policy and you can see we have, in spite of their various university degrees, a bunch of dunderheads governing us. Perhaps I should have said dickheads.

To be honest I could go on for another couple of thousand words but I’m exhausted. I haven’t mentioned Bishops aspirations for leadership, the credit card negotiations with the banks on welfare payments and fact that his sisters have joined the chorus of condemnation for a privately owned aged-care facility on public parklands at Middle Head.

Then there’s the criticism of the proposed Medibank float that has been described as laughable. Oh, then of course reports that Chrissy Pyne was backing down on his university policy. He said he wasn’t but then I’m not that sure he would know himself.
Goodness I have left out the most serious issue of Ebola. The government’s response has been abysmal to say the least. Just another example of their ineffectiveness. The AMA was right to give Abbott a serve.

In an effort to sound amusing and to allay the fears of those who think I am being overly negative I will close with this.

indexCarbon tax celebration

“I promise this is true”, said Tony Burke: “Greg Hunt, is the man who some people refer to as the Environment Minister.

In Opposition he advocated for the protection of the Tasmania Tiger, extinct since 1936. In Government he’s turned his attention to the Antarctic Walrus – population: zero. Walruses live in the Northern Hemisphere”.

Oh wait, bugger I almost forgot. Were you also aware that Catherine King exposed how it would soon cost up to $2,207 for someone to have their liver metastasis diagnosed? Tony Abbott refused to say how many people will miss out on being diagnosed as a result of the hit to imaging and diagnostic services.

But the week did began with the Speaker announcing she would not continue with the policy of segregation which had been announced as Parliament rose a fortnight earlier.

Hopefully we can now go back to segregation being something kids learn about in the courtroom scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird not during their excursion to Canberra.

The final word for “A week is a Long Time in Politics” must go to Newspoll which had the Opposition six points up on the Government without so much as them striking a blow.

Making Sense (or Nonsense) of Political Polling

If you are as concerned with Australian politics as I am then no doubt you take an interest in the polls.

What do they tell us? Are they legitimate? How do pollsters arrive at their conclusions? What about their accuracy? Can we have confidence in them or are they overrated?

Whether you like them or not it seems that Australians have a great appetite for them. The media recognises this and promotes them as the definitive measurement of the political standing of all parties. The Australian newspaper even creates stories around its Newspoll. Often an exercise in how to just make things up.

But how do we know the difference between Australia’s most popular pollsters and the diverse techniques they use.

However, one thing for sure is that we do have a morbid fascination with polling. Political leaders may brush them off as being meaningless but surreptitiously they are taken very seriously.

Modern political polling began in 1936, with two polls attempting to predict the outcome of the American presidential election. The Literary Digest conducted its poll by sending out 10 million post cards asking people how they would vote. They received almost 2.3 million back and said that Alfred Landon was leading Franklin Roosevelt by 57-43 per cent. In contrast, market researcher George Gallup employed a much smaller sample of only 5,000, but because he ensured that it was representative of the American voting public, he predicted Roosevelt to win by a landslide. In the event, Roosevelt won 60% and Landon just 37%. The Literary Digest lost credibility and subsequently merged with Time magazine in 1938.

We can be assured that the polls are not going to go away. They will in fact intensify as we get closer to the next election. So it is important that they are of the best quality possible. We need to know the differences between the good ones and the bad ones. Or at least how each arrives at its conclusions. But how can we?

Australia has a number of national pollsters.

The Australian newspaper publishes Newspoll. It usually publishes a poll on federal voting intentions every two weeks but at the time of writing has not done so for some time. It does not disclose the criteria it uses on its website but rather espouses its expertise and track record. It is known that it polls land-line phone accounts only. The problem with this is the diminishing access to a variety of people of younger age groups. Telstra estimates that it will lose 60% of its land-line users over the next few years. Even now one would have to question where they source enough younger folk to participate. Are people on landlines, the stay at homes, truly representative of the populace?

Fairfax: The Melbourne Age and The Sydney Morning Herald parted, after a 19 year association, with Neilson in June of this year and are seeking a new partner.

Roy Morgan is the only poll that takes in landlines, mobile telephony, face to face and the internet. It delivers its findings fortnightly via email. It usually delivers a sharp contrast to the other polls.

Galaxy is an independent research company operated by Jamie Briggs. It doesn’t outline its methodology for political polling but its web site does indicate a broad spectrum of media usage.

The Essential Report is based on a weekly sample of 1000 and is usually accompanied by a survey of questions of social interest that usually gives a fair indication of how people are thinking on various issues.

Then, there is Reachtel. It relies on both land-line and mobile telephony for both marketing and polling using recorded messages. It’s a relatively new innovation that it yet to be fully tested over time. People press numbers (interactive voice response) in relation to answers but they aren’t asked age or sex.

All of those listed use different methodology for the vital ingredient of preferences. The two party preferred is the figure that matters most. They all allow for a margin of error using different criteria.

You can add to these the preponderance of online polls like The Drum that saturate the internet and poll every policy and controversy. Of course there is not an online newspaper that doesn’t poll something every day which usually just reflect the readership of the newspaper.

Then we have the Television news polls that are meaningless, only reproducing the views only of those with an earnest interest in whatever the subject is.

Should I mention audience polling?

The media is obsessed with polls. Donors, supporters and political parties really do fret over, or use them tactically to create impressions about how well their party is doing. Conversely, polls are criticised as biased, inaccurate, or simply wrong if they don’t support your view. So what’s in a poll? How do we measure the veracity one to the other?

The fact is we cannot. Polls need to be put into perspective. They are snapshots that reflect public opinion at a specific point in time.

Of utmost importance to polling is the credibility of the sample and we are not able to test this.

It is the same as trying to understand why the voting on talent shows is never revealed.

There are however, some things we do know.

We know that by historical evidence poll samples under 1000 are untrustworthy and inaccurate. We also know that the way in which a question is framed will often determine the outcome.

And we also know that they can be very accurate if measured over a long period. They can also be a precise gauge of public opinion at the time, but in terms of predicting an election result two years away, to be utterly useless.

They can tell us, for example, that the Rudd/Gillard governments were very unpopular, but their policies were popular, and that the Abbott government never received the usual honeymoon period gifted to a new government. Or that an unpopular leader can benefit from a national crisis or at least the perception of it. They can show us how different age groups are thinking. For example most polls are showing that young people hate Abbott with a vengeance.

Some polls like Morgan poll over a two-week period rotating between face to face interviews and telephone. The rotation might include a particular event or controversy in the cycle or miss it altogether.

And to confuse matters more, we currently have a situation where the incumbent government has almost drawn level with its opposition despite a budget in turmoil and a universal acceptance that it has governed badly – and its policies being rejected by the electorate.

How can this be? Are we to believe that at this stage of the electoral cycle around 50% of people would vote for a conservative party who had so badly governed?

We are in an era of market research, surveys, media journalistic opinion, reaction to 24 hour news cycles, inquiries, case studies, focus groups and polling that all seem to determine government policy or public opinion.

The best way of to evaluate what the polls are saying at any given time is to take an average over several different polls on a continuous basis. This has the advantage of combining different sample sizes and methodologies to give greater precision.

The online media blog Crikey under the banner The Poll Bludger publishes comprehensive analytical data of national and state polling. They have both Labor and the LNP level pegging. Take a look and read into it what you may.

As for me I’d ban the bloody things. Just joking.
Why isn’t The Australian publishing its Newspoll? Don’t they have a story to run with, or aren’t there enough young people at home when they ring. Oh I forgot. They weight the responses to equalise ages and sex. Weighting polls is trying to equalise the demographics.

Of course polling is a competitive business and pollsters won’t disclose how they weight. That would be like giving away your favorite recipe. Getting too complicated. How about this then?:

The only poll that matters is the one on polling day.

Abbott – “It’s a Matter of Trust”

Those with long memories will recall that Sir Robert Menzies said that he had received, in the form of a letter, an official invitation from the South Vietnam government to participate in the war against the communist North. When the cabinet papers were released thirty years later it was disclosed that no such letter existed. 521 young Australian men lost their lives in a war that Menzies said was in our best interests.

It’s a matter of trust.

Prime Minister John Howard went to war in Iraq based on information he repeatedly said was true. That being that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

It’s a matter of trust.

Recently in an interview he said he felt embarrassed when he had found out that there were no such weapons. Not a hint of regret that, in part, as a result of his decision 195,000 innocent people lost their lives.

It’s a matter of trust.

Politicians in general place a lot in the trust of the people. Howard went to many an election shouting the mantra ‘’who do you trust’’. Tony Abbott, despite being a pathological liar, often invokes the ‘’just trust me’’ principle as if he has some form of ownership on righteousness when in fact trust is born of truth. A concept beyond his comprehension.

Usually trust between people is formed by way of respect and a mutual understanding that each can trust the other to be honest, one to one. Put another way truth is a companion of trust and one cannot exist without the other. Trust defines the validity of truth.

But in politics somehow there is this expectation that the collective should take the politicians good will, cart Blanche.

In matters of national security where the interests of state supersede all else there is an obvious reason for secrecy. But it must be a confidentially that is obtained by government by means of a willingness to take the people into its confidence. They have to give the people reason to trust them. That means providing enough information to justify your actions.

It is not enough to say; “Just trust me”. There needs to be a transparent, evidenced and justifiable case put forward to back decisions. Otherwise the public cannot but be cynical that decisions are politically motivated. It’s about making an unpopular government and its Prime Minister more popular.

It’s a matter of trust.

On the subject of Climate Change the Prime minister, a known climate denier, who a couple of years ago said it was just crap wants us to trust his opinion on the subject over and above the facts provided by 98% of climate scientists. Just trust me. John Howard said he would rather trust his instincts than science. I wonder if Abbott will be as equally embarrassed when he finds out the truth of Climate Change as Howard is about WMD.

The same of course can be said about immigration strategy. It got to the point where Scott Morrison decided that secrecy was the best policy. That the public had no right to know anything. Just trust me.

It’s a matter of trust.

Four polls taken after the recent National Security upgrade and the decision to return to the Iraq war have thrown up remarkably different results. The independent Morgan and Essential polls have retained the status quo. That is that they have shown little variation in recent months.

However, Newspoll and Reachtell, both show an out of character swing to the Coalition. Newspoll of course is owned by Murdoch who is an avid supporter of the coalition. In the Morgan poll the only group supporting the government is the over sixty fives. They poll over all mediums (they openly disclose their methodology) where as Newspoll only cover landlines. So given that around 80% of Australians use mobile phones a healthy degree of cynicism arises about Newspoll. They ask us to trust their figures but do they find young people using land lines?

It’s a matter of trust.

Without seeming to be trivial even TV talent shows ask us to trust them. Shows like X Factor ask us to take them on trust when they reveal results without letting the viewing public know what the actual votes are. This trust thing permeates itself throughout society. In advertising, in journalism, medicine the law etc, etc. No wonder we become cynical.

It’s a matter of trust.

In terms of trust, politics and its institutions, in the public eye, have never been at a lower ebb. It is all part of the decline of our democracy. Politicians like Christopher Pyne , and others, are seemingly outraged when interviewers dare question their truthfulness. “I don’t agree with the premise of your question” you will hear him say, “Just trust me”.

trust me Tony Abbott, before being invited, decided to commit to returning to Iraq. No debate, no discussion no consultation. Just trust me. Then he decided to raise the terrorism threat under questionable circumstances. There was a likelihood of a terrorist attack. No evidence to speak of just speculation. Then we had the raids with 850 police running around doing something or other. All based on some social media chatter. Something the agencies monitor on a daily basis.

This time however it required a media presence all because the PM tells us we are under attack from someone but he can’t give us any information. Just trust me. The problem is that no one does.

We are all just so cynical of the motivation behind his decisions. Why the need for so many police. If we were really under threat why alarm the public. Why would you knowingly incite people to take out their anger against others? Why would you raise, with the politics of fear, alarm bells in the community?

The timing of the raids and the manner in which they were carried out seemed intent on whipping people into a frenzy of hysteria. It looked like a manufactured spectacle.

The result is that the inflammatory language of the brain-dead comes to the fore. People like Cory Bernardi, MPs Craig Kelly and Alex Hawke all protesting the Muslim voice. Add to that mix the unflappable Jaqui Lambie and the flames of ignorance are further fed.

You would only do it if it were to your advantage. If it enhanced the perception of you as a strong leader.

Thus far all that has come of this is that a few men are being questioned and one has been charged with some minor offenses. Only time will tell if it is just all bullshit and timed to coincide with the government’s new National Security legislation which is designed to further augment the power of a few.

After a year in power in which the government has proven its own ineptness it is now asking us to trust it with new draconian powers to thwart the risk of terror attacks.

And to make matters worse the opposition supports their every move unquestioned.

I have a healthy cynicism of our Prime Minister based not just on ideological differences but an ongoing assessment of his character.

It’s a matter of trust.

You’d have to be joking.

Author’s note:
Whilst writing this piece an event occurred in Melbourne that has been described as an act of terrorism. I recommend you read the transcript of this interview.

Tony Abbott Changes Liberal Foreign Policy

Image source: truepolitik.blogspot.com

Image source: truepolitik.blogspot.com

“Let’s wait until we’ve got all the facts in before we come to hard and fast conclusions. But obviously it is the clear and settled position of the Australian Government that larger countries should not bully smaller ones, that countries should not aid people who are in rebellion against their own government and that international disputes should be settled peacefully in accordance with international law.”

Tony Abbott, 18th July, 2014

 

Waiting for the facts, now there’s a change for a start. Ok, it didn’t stop him directly blaming Russia for this tragedy before the investigations even begin, but that’s a vast improvement from when he interrupted Question Time earlier this year to announce that the missing plane was on the verge of being found.

Still, it’s an excellent move that the Liberals are now adopting the policy that “larger countries should not bully smaller ones”! This will, of course, prevent our future involvement in such events as:

  • The Vietnam War
  • Both Iraq wars
  • Our attempts to screw East Timor on oil
  • The G20
  • Trade agreements with the USA
  • Support for the Japanese effort in World War Two

As for “aiding people who are in rebellion against the their own government” – apart from annoyance at the foreign countries who may have contributed to Clive Palmer’s wealth – this probably stems from the fact that Abbott – being English – is still upset over the American War of Independence where tea was tipped into Boston Harbour, while colonials dressed as Native Americans chanted, “No taxation without representation”. The current Tea Party have drawn their name from this event, but left out the word “Boston” from their name. Similarly, in order to achieve consistency, they’ve also left out the words “without representation” from their slogan.

Now, I know some of you will object to me calling Mr Abbott “English” given that he’s lived here since childhood and that he took out Australian citizenship in his twenties. (And, as Parliamentarians aren’t allowed to be dual citizens, he’s clearly revoked his British citizenship – even though there appears no evidence of that.) However, when I complain about referring to Mr Murdoch as an Australian, I’m told that he’s born here so that makes him Australian, even if he has given up his citizenship. As Terry McCrann put it yesterday:

“In the 1960s Murdoch went to Britain, in the 1970s to the US, in the 1980s to the very different universe of Hollywood; that, and a lot more would, as they say, be and is continuing to be history.

But all through this dizzying roller-coasting cacophony of activity he never left Australia.

That’s obvious in business terms. NewsCorp is now the country’s unequalled private sector media player — bizarrely, challenged and increasingly confronted only by the nominally publicly owned but “their” ABC.

BUT he never “left” Australia in even more core personal terms. He always will be quintessentially Australian.”

So, I guess that Rupert is “Australian”; one might almost say that he’s “the Australian” – well, the only one whose opinion counts. (Who needs scientists when Rupert can tell us that the best way to deal with climate change is to build away from the sea?) Of course, we just had the celebration of fifty years of “The Australian” – that newspaper which advocates free enterprise and not relying on handouts, while itself not actually making a profit in the fifty years of its existence.

Ah well, yesterday’s front page of another Murdoch Media Misinformation unit, assured me that Bill Shorten just doesn’t get that we have to find billions of dollars worth of savings while simultaneously celebrating the fact that the Carbon Tax is gone and we’ve removed a $9 billion impost on the economy. And we also want to get rid of that Mining Tax. Because if we get rid of taxes then that’s money that the government doesn’t have and Bill Shorten doesn’t seem to get that when you get rid of taxes like that you need to find spending cuts.

(Typical Labor. When it was announced last year that they’d require people to keep log books on their business-related leased cars, they didn’t understand that this would lead to the death of the car industry because apparently most people weren’t using them for business purposes and if you stop a business rort, that’s bad for the economy – stopping rorts by pensioners, parents, the disabled, the unemployed and anyone else who may not have voted Liberal, on the other hand, is a good and just thing. And let’s face it – any money you take from the government is a rort unless you’re someone whose leasing a car.)

Nevertheless, I can’t understand why – even if they still try and remove the spending associated with it – the Liberals are so concerned with removing the Mining Tax, because, after all, it’s raising so little money, it could hardly be a disincentive to investment. And given some of the things that have been cut because of the “dire emergency”, you’d think every bit would count.

In the Dark Shadow of Conservative Rule

Chifley As a senior Australian and one who has witnessed a variety of social reforms over the past 60 years, today I feel profoundly sad. This is the first such occasion where, instead of being proud that we are a middle world power with the vision and foresight to lead the world to a better place, I feel a sense of betrayal that we have, in fact, now gone in the opposite direction. While I can remember occasions where we have been at the forefront of innovation and cutting edge technology, I can’t recall a previous time where we have chosen to go against all the scientific advice and taken such a backward step as to reverse a progressive climate change policy using a market based mechanism.

As I reviewed the period that spans my life it became patently obvious that our progress, economically and environmentally over that time, has come predominantly from Labor governments. Over that period we have criss-crossed from conservative government to reformist on seven occasions. From Ben Chifley’s post war reconstruction of the Australian economy including our first locally produced car and the beginning of the politically divisive Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, we then sat through 23 years of conservative rule where the baby boomer generation essentially grew up parallel to a trajectory driven by an influx of European immigrants and the augmentation of manufacturing, construction and overseas commerce.

Whitlam In short, our economy, like most western economies of the time, was on auto pilot; a development not driven by any major reforms of the Menzies government, just a natural growth pattern born of a determination to give baby boomers something better. At the end of the sixties, sick and tired of a mistake-ridden, boring conservative ruling class, we looked to Gough Whitlam’s refreshing and progressive approach. It was here we saw the end of our involvement in the Vietnam War, the end of conscription and the introduction of social reforms based on compassion for an underclass and included a world class Medibank/Medicare social health system. The people, however, thought that the rate of change was too fast; it frightened them. The previous government had lulled them into a half sleep.

Hawke keating Then after a seven year period of economic turmoil under Malcolm Fraser where the cash rate peaked at 22% under the management of the then treasurer, John Howard, we turned once more to Labor for relief and witnessed the great economic reforms of the Hawke and Keating governments.

Thirteen years later the conservatives returned and rode fortuitously on the back of a mining boom they thought would never end. It took a while to see through them but we finally got sick of the blatant hypocrisy of a conservative government that said one thing and did another. Kevin Rudd looked like the light on the hill with his, “great moral challenge” but it was Julia Gillard’s introduction of a carbon pricing mechanism, that confirmed Labor as the only party capable of showing the way forward.

Gillard Labor’s demise in 2013 had nothing to do with the carbon tax or the influx of asylum seekers; they governed the country well under difficult circumstances but couldn’t govern themselves. Internal disunity is one thing Australians will not tolerate; nor should we. But the long standing tradition of reform begun by Chifley continued under Gillard’s watch.

Today we live once again under the dark shadow of conservative rule where the ideology of protecting the strong continues. Any agenda that smells of social equality is anathema to these proxies for big business and the free flow of capital and deregulation.

Now, with the carbon tax legislation repealed we are back in that vacuum of denial driven not by science but a theology so false and so evil at its source that it contradicts everything that has previously generated pride in our achievements. In time, the people will once again tire of seeing their living standards fall; they will be wiser to the broken promises, the pious rhetoric of dishonest men, the incessant greed that drives their masters so relentlessly. They will witness the rest of the world adopting some form of carbon price mechanism and eventually be forced to play catch-up. Then, they will long for the great reformers of the past. Frankly, it can’t come soon enough

To echo the words of Lenore Taylor of The Guardian: “It is a sad and sorry place for Australia to be after such a long and rugged process.”