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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.

Why we need more corporate tax cuts

 

ATO data shows that 36 per cent of large companies paid no tax in the 2014-15 financial year. 679 companies including McDonalds Asia Pacific, Chevron Australia, Vodafone Hutchison and News Corp made $462 billion in revenue in Australia last year without contributing a single cent to the nation’s health, education, defense or welfare.

Of the large companies who did pay tax, the effective tax rate on profits was 25 per cent – 5 per cent below the statutory rate of 30 per cent.

Of the 200 largest corporate taxpayers in Australia, companies in the health care, energy and financial sectors paid the lowest effective tax rates of 19 to 24 per cent on a combined income of over $330 billion.

Investors in Australia assume taxpayers will bail out Australia’s big four banks in the event of any of them becoming insolvent. As a result, investors lending to such large banks are prepared to accept lower returns for risk, which lowers how much banks pay for funding. The Reserve Bank of Australia estimates that Australia’s major banks receive an implicit subsidy worth between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion due to this assumption.

An international report on G20 subsidies found that the Turnbull government is continuing to subsidise fossil fuel production to the tune of $5.6 billion a year. Nearly $6 billion a year is paid to Australian corporations though the Fuel Tax Credit scheme. In 2014 it was estimated that State Governments alone had paid $17.6 billion in subsidies to mining companies over the previous 6 years.

Oxfam Australia estimates that the Australian economy is losing up to $6 billion a year in tax revenue due to Australian-based multinationals shifting money to international tax havens.

The federal government remains committed to doing bugger all about this problem, but they are pushing ahead with their plans to cut corporate tax rates. This means that while we’ll still be up to $6 billion a year down on revenue, corporate tax avoidance will be a lot less of a problem in Australia, because the less tax you’re meant to pay, the less tax you can avoid paying.

So the government would like to wish big business a happy and prosperous 2017. For the rest of us, they’ve had to made make some cut backs.

 

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.

 

Day to Day Politics with John Lord

Monday 23 November

1 An illustration of just how much the hard right resents the demise of Tony Abbott was illustrated by Gerard Henderson’s sarcastic comment on Insiders about the media fawning Malcolm Turnbull. They make no secret that Abbott’s leadership style is the far right’s preferred option. This was further empathised when at the end of the program I switched to the Bolt Report where he was giving the PM a similar serve.

The problem for the right wing extremists like Bolt, Jones, Hadley and others is that they rely on extremism to titillate their audience. Turnbull’s moderation doesn’t suit and they feel threatened. It’s difficult for them to sustain an audience on a menu of temperance when what they want is a diet of intemperance.

2 How decidedly hypocritical of Julie Bishop to say that Australia doesn’t act unilaterally. That is exactly what we did in Iraq.

3 Tony Abbott is entitled to express a view on any subject he so desires. It’s just that it takes an enormous ego, after having so abysmally failed as a leader, to continue to express views that contributed to the fact. His comments on National Security were untimely and unhelpful.

An observation:

“In the information age those who control the dissemination of news have more power than government”.

4 Did you know that nearly 11 million children under the age of five die every year?

5 Clive Palmer was also on Insiders perpetuating his irrelevance. Although it has to be admitted that he did stop a few pieces of nasty legislation early on.

6 Another guest was Greens leader Richard Di Natale who becomes more impressive as time goes on. He made a valid point on the monetary cost of Climate Change. One that I have expressed with the following statement many times:

“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”.

7 My Coalition broken promise reminder:

A. Broke an election promise to build replacement submarines in South Australian shipyards, spending more than $20 billion on Japanese submarines instead.

B. Broke an election promise to a publish a proposal for constitutional recognition for Indigenous people and establish a bipartisan process to try to bring about recognition as soon as possible within the first 12 months of Government.

C. Broke a promise to achieve a surplus in the Governments’ first year in office, instead overseeing an estimated $? billion deterioration in revenue.

D. Broke a key election promise to bring in 26 weeks parental leave paid at a working mother’s actual wage

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow”.

P.S .The purpose of this daily post is not just some commentary on everyday political events but also to promote discussion.

 

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

DemocracyThere 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.

 

It’s a Taxing Time for ”All But the Rich”

Never in the history of this nation have corporations, rich individuals, and the Government that supports them, been so openly brazen. The Australian Tax system is absolutely riddled with rorts for corporations and the privileged.

The Abbott Government has shown an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. Ideology and governance for their supporters has determined every decision they have made since coming to power.

But ordinary Australians, those who believe in a fair go, recently have, by virtue of a factual avalanche of evidence, come to realise the extent of the unfair pampering that this government is giving the top end of town and wealthy individuals.

Yet it’s the pensioners, the unemployed and welfare recipients who are being asked to tighten their belts in the public interest.

The recent Senate enquiry into the amount of tax that giant corporations like Apple, Google Transfield, Ikea and others pay in this country has opened the eyes of the average Australian who during an extended period of affluence have had them closed. Now with clear vision they can see the unfairness of it all. In fact there is more than just a perception of anger. There is palpable wrath.

Unfair was the word that so characterized Hockey’s first budget. A budget framed on the pretext that Labor had stuffed the economy and that a crisis of monumental proportion was about to hit. Repair had to take place, he would do it, and the poor pensioners and others would bare the brunt.

It’s a pity this compassion starved Government didn’t have the same fervor for cutting tax avoidance by the rich and privileged as it does for cutting welfare for the poor.

And all from a man who takes advantage of Negative Gearing for the privileged by paying off homes with his living away from home parliamentary expenses.

And while he and Abbott blamed Labor for the countries woes Joe was busy adding $45 billion to the country’s debt.

Now he is faced with presenting a second budget while at the same time major cost savings from his first still have not passed the senate. It would not surprise if he has the gall to carry over the savings.

The problem for Hockey is that ideology forbids the raising of new taxes. It is anathema to them. And of course further cuts to health, education and welfare would be unpalatable by the electorate.

This quote by Scott Morrison is indicative of the Governments disdain for the concept of fairness and governance for the common good.

‘’I know the business community wants to see the budget come back into balance ; well if that’s the case I would like to see them out there supporting the changes to family tax benefits, the changes to retirement savings that we put in place in the last budget’’

The word unfairness has struck a chord with the electorate. They are now asking questions. Why does the Treasurer and the Prime Minister lie so much about the economy?

Why are they so out of step with other ministers, ands indeed each other, when talking about the framework of the next budget?

Why are fabulously wealthy international corporations able to manipulate the tax system to the extent where they virtually pay no tax at all. And when they are asked to explain, mock, laugh and act deplorably toward their Senate inquisitors.

Their collective belligerence would have sickened the average PAYE Taxpayer and the many Australian based companies who do the right thing.

Why is it, according to the Australian Tax Office, that 75 Australians who made more than $1 million in 2011-12 paid zero tax?

Why is it that 900 companies so effectively claim deductions that they only pay a tax rate of 19.3%

Why is it that high income earners are given a tax discount on their superannuation which means they effectively pay 15% less tax. The unfairness of it is staggering, but understandable if you look at this government’s ideological approach to its decision-making processes since being elected.

It is now faced with explaining to taxpayers, in its budget, just why the less well-off should subsidise these unjustifiable and immoral tax breaks. In the next few years they will be costing as much as the pension.

There is a consensus that the current concessions to wealthier retirees are unsustainable and unfair. Unfair because the poor are being asked to pay for them.

Official government data shows that 24,000 of the richest superannuation holders each with more than $2 million in their accounts receive about $5.2 billion in tax-free income annually. And that’s not all, a further 51,700 retirees with $1 million to $2 million in their accounts receive $4.9 billion tax-free. It’s a legacy of the decision of the Howard–Costello government in 2006 to scrap taxes on retirement income from superannuation.

Why is it that the taxpayer is subsidising enormously profitable mining companies who send their profits overseas and pay little tax themselves?

Richard Dennis director of leftist think tank The Australia Institute states that over the past 6 years, state mining subsidies could have delivered:

 Queensland: $9.5 billion, or 9 major hospitals

  • Western Australia: $6.2 billion or 52 new airport terminals
  • New South Wales: $872 million or 116 new schools
  • Northern Territory: $407 million or 799 doctors
  • South Australia: $316 million or 620 nurses
  • Victoria: $206 million or 377 police
  • Tasmania: $54 million or 116 teachers

The Federal Government throws in an additional $4 billion which includes:

$1,900 million in fuel subsidies

$550 million in reduced tax payments for the gas industry’s production of condensate

$368 million on tax write-offs for capital works

$330 million on deductions for exploration and prospecting

$312 million in accelerated depreciation write-offs.

Significantly, this is likely to be an underestimate as it does not include State subsidies (the Queensland Government alone is spending $1.4 billion each year in subsidies to the mining industry) or sweeteners like fringe benefits tax exemptions, benefits from publically-funded infrastructure projects.

Why is it that our taxation laws are so open to exploitation that you could drive the proverbial truck through them?

Why is it that Negative Gearing and Capital Gains Tax which so disenfranchises first home buyers isn’t subject to some review. Perhaps it’s because many politicians, including the Treasurer use it as an investment contrivance to minimise tax.

A recent ACOSS report said that over half of the benefit of “negative gearing” deductions goes to the top 10 per cent of personal taxpayers, earning more than $100,000 a year. Eliminating negative gearing would save 1billion and make it easier for new home buyers to enter the market.

There are any number of methods available to the privileged of society to avoid paying tax. John Howard was cynically nicknames ‘’honest John’’ during his tenure as treasurer for not dealing with the Bottom of the Harbour schemes of the 1980s.

Of course they are not confined to just a couple of schemes. They have a five-star menu. There’s sure to be something on the capitalistic menu from which to choose. Tax havens, Family Trusts. Profit shifting, Asset shifting.

Alas we live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.

 So why does all this tax dodging arise. Well on the one hand you might say that people or corporations are simply taking advantage of laws that enable them to do so. On the other hand you might also say that it is pure greed. Greed of the most lamentable kind

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy Hydro, Neoliberalism and the NSW Government: The Ugly Visage of Privatisation Rears Again

Australia’s energy policy is subject to regulatory and fiscal influence from all three levels of government, however only the State and Federal levels determine policy for primary industries such as coal.

Coal, natural gas and oil-based products are currently the primary sources of Australia’s energy usage, despite the fact that 38% of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions stem directly from the coal industry. In the year 2000, Australia was the highest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita in the developed world.

After the Second World War, New South Wales and Victoria began integrating the formerly small and self-contained local and regional power grids into state-wide systems, run centrally by public statutory authorities. Workers were able to confer with one another and pass legislation with the consent and input of the public through these statutory authorities.

Enter the Snowy Mountains Scheme: a hydroelectricity and irrigation complex in south east Australia, sixteen major dams, seven power stations, pumping station and 225 km of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts. It was largely constructed by European immigrants and is seen by many as “a defining point in Australian history, a symbol of multicultural, resourceful, independent Australia.”

A map of the Snowy Mountain Scheme, not Canberra, top right, and Thredbo, bottom left.

A map of the Snowy Mountain Scheme, note Canberra, top right, and Thredbo, bottom left.

The Scheme generates 67% of all renewable energy in the mainland National Electricity Market and provides approximately 2100 gigalitres per annum to the Murray-Darling Basin, providing additional water for an irrigated agriculture industry worth around $3 billion, representing more than 40% of the gross value of the nations agricultural production

Workers inside tunnels making up part of the Scheme

Workers inside tunnels making up part of the Scheme

The project at the time of it’s implementation was rumoured to be unconstitutional, and eventuated in the deaths of 121 workers. This excerpt from a discussion paper on the Scheme goes into some detail around the political concerns at the time of development and planning:


“Perhaps more daunting than the engineering challenges were the political ones… [then Prime Minister Ben] Chifley saw in the Australian Constitution a simple solution to the bickering that was occurring between the States. Each State wanted the greatest benefit to lie, understandably, within their own borders… There was one ready made solution for the Prime Minister, to invoke the 1909 agreement made between the Commonwealth and NSW, however that would still leave Victoria and South Australia to deal with. However, lurking in the Constitution was a solution, and that was to make the Scheme a national defence issue.

A conversation related by the Governor-General between himself and the Prime Minster summed up the attitude of the day;

McKell – The Snowy is a national work and as Prime Minister I think you should do it as a national work,
Chifley – Yes, but you know I haven’t got the constitutional authority.
McKell – I know you haven’t, but do it. Go ahead and do it. And let’s see what will happen. Don’t forget this Ben, under this Scheme we are going to build generating stations thousands of feet under the earth.
Chifley – What are we going to do that for?
McKell – So the bombs can’t get at them. This is a defence job. This is for the defence of Australia.

Indeed, the Act was introduced into the Federal Parliament under the Commonwealth’s defence power. It was fortunate that the validity of the Act was never challenged, as it would very probably have proved to be unconstitutional. It was not until 1959, ten years later, that the Act was underpinned by appropriate State legislation, with the Snowy Mountains Agreement becoming effective from the 2nd of January 1959. It was during this time of constitutional limbo that the Australian Workers Union secured more favourable working conditions under the threat of a constitutional challenge to the Authorities validity.”


From the same document:

“7. Degree of Public Interest

The possible level of public controversy over the Scheme would be examined under this heading, as well as the possible generation or maintenance of social inequity.”


This is relatively unsurprising except for the obviousness of the language. Statements like these can be found scattered through reports generally only read by rich men whose interests are covered within them.

Tumut 3 Generating Station

Tumut 3 Generating Station

The Scheme, despite being rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as being a “world class civil-engineering project”, is in the process of being considered for privatisation. In December 2005, the NSW government announced it would sell its 58% share in Snowy Hydro, a publicly unlisted company that operates the Scheme, expecting to yield a billion dollars. This proposal was effectively vetoed by the Federal government in June 2006, by an announcement that the Federal government would no longer sell its 13% stake in the project, which forced the states to follow suit. Interest in privatisation was renewed in Feb 2014, when the National Commission of Audit recommended in its Phase One Report that the Commonwealth sell its interest in Snowy Hydro.

The National Commission of Audit was a commission formed by the Abbott Government on 22 October 2013 as an independent body to review and report on the performance, functions and roles of the Commonwealth government. The Commission has recommended slowing in the increase of the aged pension, an increase in retirement age to 70 by 2035 and the inclusion of the family home in new means testing from 2027. The commission was behind the recommendation of the Medicare copayment, also suggesting cuts to Newstart, NDIS, carers allowances, foreign aid, students, and homeless funding.

In this article over at The Guardian, it’s stated that the NCoA’s “few recommendations that affect revenue would pit states against each other with an ultimate aim of further reducing tax revenue in the hope that there will need to be more cuts to services similar to what has happened in the US over the past 30 years.”

These policy recommendations rest on a foundation of abject mythology. Baseline assumptions in the reports include: Australian governments have a lot of debt, that we are a high taxing country, with big spending from government and large deficits. In reality, Australia’s debt levels are historically small, out of 30 OECD countries only six have a lower net debt to GDP, on top of which we are the fourth-lowest-taxed country, paying around 26 percent in tax. We spend around 25% on average of the GDP, and our budget balance, according to this SMH article, is “around the middle to low end of observations elsewhere in the world at 1.8 per cent of GPD.’


SnowyHydro Discovery Centre

SnowyHydro Discovery Centre

So who are Snowy Hydro?

The mission statement at Snowy Hydro reads: “To deliver superior financial returns by being the preferred supplier of risk management products; developing our people, utilising and developing our water resources, physical assets and dual fuel capabilities, and exceeding customer and stakeholder expectations while demonstrating best practice in safety and health, asset and environmental management.”

Noel Cornish on his yacht

Noel Cornish on his yacht

BlueScope Steel’s former Australian and New Zealand steel manufacturing businesses chief executive Noel Cornish is now Interim Chairman of the Board at Snowy Hydro. Cornish is currently on the board of directors for AIG, or the Australian Industry Group, the purpose of which is to represent business interests. It has ties to the mining industry in the form of a partnership with MESCA, the Mining and Energy Services Council of Australia.

Innes Wilcox

Innes Wilcox

Its chief executive Innes Willox penned an opinion piece on the “bogus scourge of job insecurity”, proposing that the situation does not exist and that it is some kind of concerted effort by “misguided” academics, the Greens and labour unions to pursue restrictions on business. It is clear that Willox, and Cornish, subscribe to a neoliberal ideology and that workers rights are, in their minds, considerably less important than the rights of employers.

“Manufacturers in particular are facing considerable headwinds due to the combined impacts of the strong dollar, intense competition from the emerging economies, a legacy low productivity growth, relatively high unit labour costs and considerably higher energy prices. “While there are very exciting opportunities – particularly in the growing markets of Asia – taking advantage of these will require a new phase of investment and innovation,” Mr Cornish said.

In effect this is a stement that rising pay rates for workers and competition from worker run businesses are considerable challenges to the interests Cornish represents. He seems to advocate moving manufacturing to cheaper third world economies in Asia, undercutting the “relatively high unit labour costs” here in Australia. This seems like business speak for moving jobs offshore until Australian workers are prepared to work for third-world pay at third-world conditions.

It seems that the corporation has sought legal indemnity from any “liabilities” incurred by their members:

Consolidated Financial Report for the Reporting Period 30 June 2013 to 28 June 2014, Page 6, Indemnification of Officers and Auditors:

“During the financial year, Snowy Hydro paid a premium in respect of a contract insuring the directors of the Company (as named above), the company secretary and all officers of the Company and of any related body corporate against a liability incurred by a director, secretary or officer to the extent permitted by the Corporations Act 2001(Cwlth). The contract of insurance prohibit disclosure of the nature of the liability and the amount of the premium.”

Even if there was unethical or illegal conduct going on in the upper levels of Snowy Hydro, it seems in my opinion that there would be no way to prosecute those involved, or to legally request details about the offences.

Snowy Hydro was involved in a court case with the Australian Energy Regulator over claims that the company had contravened aspects of the National Electricity Rules. On the 12th of February 2015 the Federal Court of Australia declared that Snowy Hydro had breached clause 4.9.8(a), “A Registered Participant must comply with a dispatch instruction given to it by AEMO unless to do so would, in the Registered Participant’s reasonable opinion, be a hazard to public safety or materially risk damaging equipment.”

The Court declared by consent that the company had breached these rules on nine occasions in 2012-13, by failing to comply with dispatch instruction issued by the AEMO. On each occasion Snowy Hydro generated more power than the dispatch instruction required.

From aer.gov.au:

“The Australian Energy Market Operator issues dispatch instructions to generators, based on offer prices and other market conditions. AMEO’s instructions ensure supply and demand is safely balanced every minute of the day… Compliance with dispatch instructions is essential to maintain power system security. Market outcomes may also be distorted if these instructions are not followed. Where a generator is advantaged by not following dispatch instructions, one or more other players may be financially disadvantaged.”

It seems, in my opinion, that Snowy Hydro have been testing the waters to see how much they can distort the market without attracting suspicion.


A view of the Snowy Mountains from Perisher

A view of the Snowy Mountains from Perisher

What effect could this have on the environment?

The Snowy Scientific Committee is a key body set up through legislation to advise the governments on how to achieve the greatest benefits from the environmental water. The committee’s existence has come under threat from the NSW government, which wants to reform it into an advisory committee funded by Snowy Hydro. According to Environment Victoria, a document published by the NSW government critiques the SSC for being independent from government (which is, in fact, it’s legislated role), for it’s “inflexibility”, and lack of broad expertise. The report also singled out the single source of the committee’s funding and the focus of the committee on environmental issues as being problematic. This is despite the same report admitting on the first page that “projected water recovery entitlements have been achieved, some substantial environmental releases have been made and the Snowy River is showing signs of improved river health.”

The reshuffled committee would boast, instead of it’s current chair who according to Environment Victoria has expert knowledge of aquatic environments, a chair appointed by the NSW Minister for Primary Industry. It seems to me that this is a way to increase industry influence and potentially drown out environmental concerns about development of the region that stem from the public and it’s representatives.

It is clear from the actions of NSW Premier Mike Baird, who has authorised fracking programs that are likely to not only poison the water supplies that feed into major urban areas of NSW, but also permanently contaminate the enormous artesian well underneath the state, that environmental and public safety are not high on the priority list of the current government. There have been reports of children suffering nose-bleeds in towns and suburbs where the fracking has been implemented. Narelle Nothdurft, a farmer hailing from Queensland, in statements to the ABC, said that “I have 11 children and the little children have nose bleeds along with headaches and a metal taste in their mouth all the time and the noise is horrendous.”

It seems unlikely that a NSW government plan for the Snowy River Scheme will result in much more than expanded profits for corporations and further public health and safety risks for the majority of residents.


This article was originally published on the authors blog, which can be found here.

Choosing to Lie About Indigenous Australia: Why Tony Abbott Should Do More Than Just Apologize

Tony Abbott has, yet again, demonstrated his appalling lack of knowledge on even the most basic aspects of our society with comments made last week that claimed the problems Aboriginal people face are a result of “poor lifestyle choices”.

The irony of a rich, Catholic white male lecturing a people who have routinely been consciously disadvantaged by government after government after government in this country is palpable.

Anglo-saxon relationships with the indigenous people of Australia have been consistently poor, to understate the matter, since our cultures first crossed paths. The response of our “noble forefathers” to the presence of what they considered to be savages was to engage in mass killing, in genocide, to allow easier access to the land and it’s resources.

There are no Tasmanian aborigines left with 100% aboriginal genes.

Just think about that for a moment.

Imagine what it must be like to know that from an indigenous perspective, to understand that the white man has since the beginning been a force of slaughter, of death, of discord to your people.

Imagine then what it must feel like to hear one of these white men telling the nation he leads that it is the fault of the Aboriginal people that their living conditions rank among the worst in the developed world, that white police officers murder them in custody, that mining magnates such as Lang Hancock, Gina Rinehart’s father, have proposed they be sterilised.

In short, Tony Abbott is blaming the victims, and he’s not apologising for it.

“I’m not going to concede that. I accept people have a right to be critical of me, but I’m certainly not going to concede that.”

This statement made by the prime minister in response to journalists remarking that his framing of indigenous living conditions as a choice may have been a poor choice of words, demonstrates that this monkey in a suit has even less understanding of the situation than he does empathy towards it.

Was it a “lifestyle choice” that resulted in children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders being forcibly removed from their families for over a century?

Does the prime minister believe that these human beings are choosing to live seventeen years less than non-Aboriginal Australians?

This behaviour, from the man who is supposed to represent Australia on the world stage, is despicable. It alone is reason enough to oust Gina Rinehart’s praetorian guardsman and ensure he never holds a position of power in this country again.

For those wanting to learn more about Aboriginal Australia and the horrifying disparity between indigenous people and the rest of the populace, head on over to youtube and watch John Pilger’s excellent film, Utopia.

You can find it here.


This article was originally published on the author’s blog, which you can find here.

If it’s about Politics, I’m not interested.

Just how many people are interested in politics and what influence does the media have on our thinking.

I have always been of the view that Australians exercise their right to vote in our democracy every three years and after that the vast majority take little interest. Australians don’t engage in politics and there is a deep seated malaise. The reality is though that politics effects almost every part of an individual’s life and they should be more interested.

In a 2008 lecture ‘Politics and the Media in Australia Today’, Dr Sally Young said this.

‘’Who are the media audience for politics in Australia? An experienced political pollster estimated a few years ago that only around 10% of the population in Australia takes an active interest in politics.

There are two things to address here. Firstly that 3.000,000 people decided not to cast a vote in the last election indicating that they were totally fed up with politicians for many reasons of which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say that a recent Essential survey ranked political parties at 14% on the question of trust in institutions. Parliament at 25% and the ABC at 74%

As Lenore Taylor said two years ago:

“Parliament and the media, both reliant on public trust for their existence, ”should give long pause for thought about how that trust can be regained . . . for the media it now has to come down to meeting, and explaining how we are meeting, our responsibilities to be reliable and informative and interesting and fair”.

And secondly, and this is only a hunch based on antidotes or personal observation that the 10% mentioned by Dr Young has in fact grown to 20%.

Whereas once we had an allegiance of a locked in 40% die hard support for the two main parties, and ten % for the greens with 10% swingers, now we have a sizable minority of thinkers who take their politics seriously.

A comment on my last post for THE AIMN prompted me to rethink the issue of media exposure and the power of it to influence, persuade and debate the issues. And of course accessibility to it.

The person I refer to is a Green supporting Billy Shorten basher who insists that Shorten isn’t doing enough. I pointed out that opportunities for Opposition leaders were few and far between.

The day he made his comment, while watching the Seven News, I conducted an analysis of the time given to politics. In the half hour to 6 to 6.30 14 stories were covered. Politics got roughly 90 seconds and Bill Shorten uttered one sentence about National Security.

By the time the program had finished I couldn’t recall what he had said. This prompted me to think further about the time devoted to politics on commercial TV and public broadcasting.

I decided to take a closer look at political media exposure generally and spoke to the editor of a television ratings magazine who provided me with some audience figures. He asked not to be named because I only asked for indicative figures.

The Bolt Report 132,000 (over two shows)
Insiders 227,000
The Drum 147,000
ABC News 24 93,000
Media Watch 72,000
Q & A 800,000
ABC News 700,000 which compares favourably with the commercial channels.
7.30 700,000

An interesting observation on Q&A is that of the last 240 appearances by politicians 137 have been from the right and 93 from the left. A similar comparison can be made with guests on The Drum where the IPA seem to have a permanent seat at the table.

There are of course other programs that cover politics in one way or another. Sky News for example. However, it is fair to say that without the ABC, exposure to politics would at best would be very minimal.

Now when you compare the numbers I have quoted against those of average or even top rating shows they stack up fairly well, indicating that there is a proportion of the population who are political tragic s like myself.

Of course the viewing of these television shows doesn’t solely account for my 20% assumption. Television audiences, are still a major influence, even if they are in decline.

Now back to Bill Shorten and the avenue for media exposure. let’s look at radio stations that cover politics seriously. We have the ABCs AM and PM, the drive shows and the Sydney shock jocks and Neil Mitchell and Jon Faine in Melbourne. All of these have formidable audiences of mainly non-working folk of an elderly demographic.

In a media twist so to speak just prior to putting my two typing fingers to work I was watching News24 with a televised cross to Shorten being interviewed by Jon Faine. Shorten was as cool as could be with Faine pressing for one line answers to highly complex questions which in the current political climate he would be mad to answer definitively.

Whilst Faine and Mitchell are comparatively fair he would be silly to appear on a Hadley, Jones or Smith, Sydney produced program and be ridiculed over nothing whilst at the same time the Prime Minister is in his political death throes.

Please note that Australia doesn’t have a left wing shock jock.

And in terms of a Murdoch dominated newspaper industry he should , while journalists of a conservative bent are giving the Prime Minister such a hard time, be foolish to enter conversations that are politically controversial. Well that’s the political wisdom anyway. Let them continue with their own goals.

So there are three issues I am trying to address here. The first is that yes, a huge number of Australians have withdrawn from the political process and the party who tries to win them back will reap a reward. I doubt that it will be the conservatives though because they are unlikely to be of their constituency.

The second is to identify the new 10% of swinging voters. Who are they? My belief is that they are the young internet savvy people who have found an online outlet for raised voices against unfairness, the environment and inequality. Young people more interested in the issues than the ideology of them.

Thirdly I am talking about what should shorten do and I have addressed this issue in two pieces. 1. What Should Shorten Do and 2. Bashing Bill Shorten.

There is no doubt that his day of reckoning is approaching and the book of opinion is wide open on him but at the moment he needs to remain calm, reasonable and statesmanlike. Just like Malcolm Turnbull who said this.

“broadcasters, or politicians or writers…who think that they are respecting ‘struggle street’, the battlers, …by dumbing things down into one-line soundbites are not respecting them, they are treating them with contempt”

Another reason is that the budget is only eight weeks away with the last still a work in progress. After the last one they will need to craft a document of unique fairness that not only is but seen to be and at the same time addresses the budget crisis they said we have. I doubt that they can do it. They are bound to be criticised either way.

 

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