Feraladjective(especially of an animal) in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication.
“We have to be full of confidence and optimism for our country’s future,”
Feraladjective(especially of an animal) in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication.
“We have to be full of confidence and optimism for our country’s future,”
The Intergenerational Report was released today.
It was late. Which, I understand, is illegal. But this is a government that seems to believe that, well, it’s the government so therefore nothing they do is illegal, because, as governments make the laws then there’s no need for them to uphold them because they can just change them if it’s inconvenient.
Or ignore them.
But, I’m not going to write about the failure of the current mob to understand such things as the separation of powers. I’m going to write about their failure to understand two other rather important things.
First, projecting forty days into the future is fraught with difficulty because all predictions make certain assumptions, so predicting forty years into the future is only useful in terms of asking ourselves if it’s where we want to end up and if not, what do we need to do to make sure that it doesn’t happen that way.
Second, when you’re in politics you need to pull the right face at the right time. And I’d like to suggest that when the message you’re trying to sell is that we’re all ruined. You should not have such happy faces so soon after announcing the bad news.
But then, Joe’s never quite understood that last point. Neither has Tony for that matter. Tony always looks very angry, or extremely happy that he’s now PM. Every now and then, he can pose for a photo opportunity and look concerned, but then he’ll break into a beaming grin which suggests that he thinks he’s done very, very well and he can gloat because he’s PM, after all and look at all the losers who never made it that far.
Which brings us to Hockey.
He looked far too pleased to tell us that Labor would have increased the debt by so much. He almost seemed to be enjoying it. Look where Labor would have taken you, he seemed to be saying, so isn’t it great that we’re the government?
Except that brings me back to my first point. It’s ridiculous on any level to say this is where the debt would have gone under Labor. I’m not even going to suggest that this little graph seems to assume that Labor would have been in power for then next 40 years…
Although, given Abbott and Hockey’s performance, I wouldn’t like to entirely rule it out.
I could also point out that – according to the Liberals – Labor are the party of high taxes. They’d tax far, far more than the Liberals, which would suggest to most folks that they’d have more revenue and therefore be better able to pay for their spending. But then I’d get into some convoluted argument about how high taxes – such as the mining tax or the carbon tax or, indeed, asking highly profitable companies like Apple to pay any tax above two percent would mean that they’d close all their stores and only sell their products to people in third world countries – destroy the economy and thanks to the abolition of the carbon tax our economy is STRONG again.
But I’m done with all that.
I’m not playing the game of using logic and reason because it seems to lose out to the Andrew Bolts of this world, so I’m going to accept that the debt is enormously high and Labor would have just let it grow like that. Let’s just say that’s a given. After all they introduce things like Medicare, which forces people to have access to a doctor when it’s be much better to have a “price signal” so a person could decide whether they’d be healthier by visiting a GP or feeding themselves. That’s choice; that’s the Liberal Way. Let’s just accept that Labor are incompetent with money and it’s all their fault that the debt is so unacceptably high. Yes, yes, Joe, so let’s just say that they should never be given the opportunity to govern ever again like many of your front bench seem to argue.
Take away that red bit at the top of the graph. Just imagine that only the blue bit is visible, because after all this is not really a comparative thing. I mean, you wouldn’t say that I convinced you to not to eat at my competitor’s restaurant because he gave you food poisoning, whereas, I just let my dog defecate in the restaurant while you’re eating, and I always clean it up withing five minutes. (Actually, maybe you would!)
Anyway, focus on where the blue bit is headed:
LOOK AT HOW BADLY YOU GUYS ARE DOING.
LOOK AT HOW MUCH THAT DEBT IS GROWING.
YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING.
I mean, you can’t say that just because you’re not as bad as Labor then it’s all ok. LOOK AT IT…
It’s grown enormously in the forty years since you made this a one party country by seizing the Opposition’s metadata and jailing them because they weren’t on Team Australia.
No, don’t just blame the Senate. Call a Double Dissolution now, before it’s too late. Because if you don’t, we can all see the way things are heading.
Turnbull will be PM before the end of April. And who wants that?
Ok, ok, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Over the past week or so we have witnessed examples of possibly the most mistake prone bunch of ministerial amateurs we have seen in the past 60 years. Each in their own way would qualify as a contender for the title, “Own Goal of the Year” award, should such a title ever become a reality.
Joe Hockey is claiming that Australia’s gold plated credit rating will be at risk if parliament fails to approve a path back to surplus. Joe is starting to sound desperate but I’m not sure if it has more to do with sharpening his leadership aspirations than his concern for the health of the Australian economy.
His comments to New Zealanders that our economy is in good shape are in stark contrast to what he has been telling us. His suggestion that our credit rating is at risk is simply laughable.
But now he is fighting off allegations that he was deliberately hiding budget papers prepared by Treasury that show low income earners to be bearing the brunt of the budget cuts. Did he not realise that we would see through that in a flash? One own goal.
Then, there is the Minister for Employment, Eric Abetz, who announced a revised work for the dole scheme requiring unemployed people to apply for 40 jobs a month if they want to receive benefits. That is spectacular in its absurdity. Professor Jeff Borland from Melbourne University says, “The international evidence is overwhelming. It’s hard to believe that the government couldn’t understand that this isn’t the best way to improve people’s employability.”
Professor Boland conducted an empirical study of the Howard government’s work for the dole scheme and concluded that such schemes are unlikely to help people looking for work. That’s hardly surprising. I could apply for 40 jobs in one week if I put my mind to it. Just how many replies I would receive is another matter. Just how many interviews I could attend if given the opportunity is questionable. Just how I would do all this while trying to fit in 25 hours of work for the dole is to question my capacity to replicate Superman. Abetz has even upset the business community. Collectively, they have voiced their concern that companies will be overwhelmed by job applications that could amount to 32 million a month. Pity the bulk of them couldn’t find their way to the office of the minister. I can’t believe Abetz didn’t see that one coming. Two own goals.
Now, we know that Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, wants to scrap the 90 minute rule that is used to determine how long is too long for someone to travel to work each day. Now, he is attempting to influence those couples in de facto relationships to get married for their own protection. Why the sudden concern now, or are his comments that de facto couples are more likely to separate, masking nothing more than Catholic Church teaching? His call is unlikely to result in any sudden rush to the altar though. His $200 coupons for marriage guidance have attracted just 1400 applicants from a budget of 100,000. Three own goals.
Attorney General, George Brandis and Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull are at odds over piracy laws. Brandis says that internet service providers were not ”innocent bystanders” and should contribute to the costs of an anti-piracy crackdown.
Malcolm says that rights holders concerned about copyright infringement should sue those who illegally download material. One would have thought that such senior government ministers would have consulted one another before releasing statements that contradict each other. Neither seems to understand the internet very well. Four own goals.
Last week, Environment minister, Greg Hunt approved the multibillion dollar Carmichael Coal Mine development by Indian company Adani, which threatens the Great Barrier Reef. Hunt has incurred the wrath of Greenpeace which now plans to mount a campaign targeting any Australian bank that might be inclined to provide finance for the project. Putting aside Adani’s woeful environmental track record, Kate O Callaghan’s expose on the potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef and the dubious economic benefits to Australians spells out, all too clearly, that this decision will haunt Hunt for the foreseeable future. Five own goals.
But the “Own goal of the Week” must surely go to Tony Abbott for his ‘Leadership Call’ on the shelving of plans to alter Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. It’s another broken promise and has even drawn criticism from trusted friends (Bolt, et al.). It has also caused great distress among Liberal party members who have flocked to their beloved Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), threatening to quit the party. Wow! Six own goals.
What a mesmerising collection of mixed messages that these utterly rattled and hopelessly confused people are sending out to the good folks in voter land; all of them, it would appear, determined to lead the charge to electoral disaster. I guess we can only hope that they will be spectacularly successful in achieving that.
Did Hockey really just “threaten” a Double Dissolution? Dare we hope? You can literally hear the collective gasp of anticipation rippling out over social media. The mere possibility we may be able to get out of our electoral contract with “Hobott” (yes I just made a couple contraction of Hockey/Abbott….), before they manage to totally wreck the joint has people right across the nation on the edge of optimism for the first time in months.
Much as I would love to join them in preemptive celebration, I’m fairly certain Hockey is bluffing. It looks to me like “Hobott” are, in the absence of any better plan, playing chicken with their own back bench, and what we have here is an empty threat designed to put the fear of impending unemployment into their own MPs.
Like all new parents, Hobott are deeply proud of their first born budget, and would do almost anything to save its little life; however I believe they will stop well short of a family suicide pact, and opt instead to turn off its life support, and hope their second child might fare a little better.
While Hobott have yet to give up on their first born, (like all good parents, they are prepared to fight like caged tigers to see their child survive, no matter what the collateral damage), Hockey’s recent rhetoric on the senate;
. . . it is disrupting the role of government but if it just continually says no without any capacity to negotiate an improved outcome, then the Senate becomes irrelevant,” he said. “It’s simply a roadblock. We either have to smash through that roadblock or the Australian people get the chance to change the government.
. . . is just their latest desperate salvo in a fight they are now beginning realise they may not be able to win.
Admittedly it’s a brazen move, playing chicken with a DD when the polls are looking totally hideous for them; but I predict Hobott will blink first and abandon their much unloved bruiser of a budget in favor of a more mild mannered progeny.
As Liberal elder statesman Malcom Fraser famously pointed out on QA,”Tony Abbott would do what he needed to do to have power“. According to Fraser Abbott is man who is capable of Olympic level back flips on policy… so watch this space!
More articles by Letitia McQuade:
‘This budget is devastating for the vulnerable, and pays no mind to their survival’ writes Jennifer Wilson. It says much about the character of this government.
It can’t be denied any longer, conservatives really do believe they have no responsibility to the vulnerable, and it is perfectly acceptable to the Abbott government that those who can least afford it endure the most harsh of financial limitations.
This piece in the Sydney Morning Herald reveals that while high income couples stand to lose scarcely at all, families on benefits may lose up to 10% of their income. Known as “Detailed family outcomes,” this information was withheld from the budget, contrary to custom, by Joe Hockey, obviously because it reveals the Abbott government lie that everyone will be doing their fair share of the heavy lifting allegedly required to get the budget back on track.
Abbott also stated in an interview with Alison Carabine on Radio National Breakfast this morning that the highly paid, such as politicians, judges and senior public servants, will suffer a pay freeze for twelve months, costing Abbott something like a $6000 addition to his $500,000 plus benefits salary package. Not even the most witless among us could possibly believe this can be in any way comparable to the situation of a young person without resources denied Newstart benefits, and low-income families and pensioners having to choose between a middy, a treat for the kids, the doctor’s bill, and medicine, for which they will also have to pay more.
Pensioners also stand to lose extras such as free car registration, and reductions in rates, water and electricity. These concessions were made available to the people in the community who were recognised as vulnerable and needing assistance by governments unlike this one, governments who were capable of making such acknowledgements.
The question I am waiting for a journalist to ask the Prime Minister and the Treasurer is, why are they placing an intolerable burden on the most vulnerable while the wealthy are called upon to do comparatively very little?
What is it in the conservative psychology that makes such unfairness acceptable to them?
No country can afford to be governed by people who hate and fear vulnerability, as do these Australian conservatives. Far from being adult such people are dangerously immature, incapable of understanding any life experience other than their own. Convinced of its superiority, this government asks little or nothing of those best placed to contribute to the country’s needs, while demanding that those least able, relinquish what little they already have. In other words, the Abbott government is determined to punish the vulnerable for their vulnerability.
All cruelty springs from weakness, declared the philosopher Seneca. Wealth and power do not guarantee strength of character, and it’s hard to detect that quality in Abbott and Hockey. Strength of character requires the ability to identify vulnerability and refrain from taking advantage of it. Hockey and Abbott have indeed identified the vulnerable, and have proceeded to take the most appalling advantage, of the kind they would never dream of imposing on the wealthy and comfortable.
Conservatives are, in general, weak and cruel. Our government is weak and cruel. We are in dangerous times, with this weak and cruel government. As we have seen with the treatment of asylum seekers in this country, (and this has been demonstrated by both major parties) once the bar has been lowered for the treatment of a particular group of human beings, it is very easy to escalate ill-treatment.
This budget is devastating for the vulnerable, and pays no mind to their survival. This budget will lower the bar on the treatment of vulnerable people in our society. It will become easier to treat them even more harshly, to consider them even less worthy, to demonise them as threats and parasites, just as has been done to asylum seekers in the last fourteen years. And in the way of things, as history has demonstrated over and over again, ill-treatment becomes normalised, and scapegoats become the bitter focus of a community’s fears and discontents.
Beware of cruel governments. They will only become more cruel. Because they are, at their heart, cowardly and weak, and when the cowardly and weak attain power, the vulnerable will be the first they destroy.
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Recently elected, Secretary of Moyhdiddy Turf Club, Mr Hoe Jockey, has released the report from the Independent review that he had commissioned from his father-in-law, Mr Point, respected businessman, Mr Lot, and the well-respected ex-mayor, Ms. Amanda Simpleton. The report has concluded that, in fact, the Moyhiddy Turf Club will not be apply to save enough ink in printing costs by simply changing its name to MTC which was one of the platforms on which Mr Jockey, and the president, Mr Tiny Habit were elected leading some people to accuse them of breaking their pre-election promise. In an exclusive interview, Mr Jockey explains to me exactly why this is wrong:
Me – So is this a broken promise?
Mr Jockey – Absolutely not. Our main promise was to get the finances of the MTC back in order and we intend to keep that one.
Me – When exactly?
Mr Jockey – Look you have to understand that the previous administration left this club in quite a mess. Even though it was clear that other clubs in the area were going broke and folding, they continued to spend and run race meetings.
Me – Yes, but your club survived and is actually doing quite well.
Mr Jockey – We’re in debt! Don’t you understand? If we’d saved money by not running any race meetings last year, we’d be much better off.
Me – But wouldn’t there be a lot of people – you know trainers, strappers, jockeys, even catering staff – who wouldn’t have a job now?
Mr Jockey – But the debt. It’s ballooned out to almost as much revenue as the club turns over in a single race meeting.
Me – Weren’t you aware of the debt before you ran for office?
Mr Jockey – Of course, we’d been warning about it for ages.
Me – So wasn’t it irresponsible to make some of those other promises? Like not sacking the course racecaller.
Mr Jockey – We didn’t like the horses he was suggesting had won – the private racecallers all thought that my horse had won. Besides, we haven’t sacked him. We’re just reviewing which part of the car park he can call the races from and whether he actually needs binoculars.
Me – Well, what about those other promises. You know, free membership, increased prizemoney, abolition of the surcharge to fix bit of the track that floods, the campaign to get the Melbourne Cup brought here and so on…
Mr Jockey – Can I just stop you here? Our absolute priority is getting the club’s finances in order.
Me – Yes, but I’m just saying that you promised all these things knowing you’d need to break them.
Mr Jockey – We’re not breaking any promises. We keeping our main promise to return our budget to surplus.
Me – And when are you planning to do that?
Mr Jockey – Sometime after the next election.
Me – So you won’t be keeping any promisess until after the next election?
Mr. Jockey – Hang on, hang on, we’ve already stopped the people camping illegally in centre of the track.
Me – Yes, but you did it by shooting at them.
Mr Jockey – We were concerned that they may drown in the swamp.
Me – Just on that, how are you going to fix the track if you remove the surcharge that was going to help in draining the swamp.
Mr Jockey – We didn’t believe that the surcharge was going to fix anything. We were going to pay the local companies not to put their polluted water in the swamp.
Me – The companies that your Independent Committee run?
Mr Jockey – I’m not sure. What are you suggesting?
Me -So what happens if that doesn’t stop the track from flooding?
Mr Jockey – We’ll just tell people not to ride on that part of the track.
Me – But isn’t fixing the track a priority? I mean, you can’t run race meetings without a track.
Mr Jockey – You can’t run race meetings with a budget that doesn’t balance.
Me – Actually you can. You just need to make sure that you have a plan for ensuring that the debt doesn’t get too big. On the other hand, your plan to make the public responsible for running their own race meetings doesn’t seem like it’ll work to me.
Mr Jockey – We support personal responsibility. The age of the committee running race meetings is over.
Me – So no apology for all the confusion you seem to be causing?
Mr Jockey – Confusion?
Me – Well, you insist that the number one promise is getting the budget in surplus, but you can’t even tell us when you’ll do that!
Mr Jockey – Let me just remind you again, we have inheritted from the previous administration an untenable black hole and I intend to fill it.
Me – I think that would be an excellent idea, but could put the rest of your colleagues in it as well?
At this point, I thought it wise to conclude the interview as Mr Jockey was muttering rather angrily.
What is the Liberals’ obsession with boats?
We need to stop them, buy them, tow them, give them away, and, now in Joe Hockey’s economic plan, we need to lift them. A key strategy in this is the removal of the carbon tax, so that we speed the rising sea levels, because apparently that will be good for all boats.
Some of the leftist media are suggesting that the Liberals have no jobs plan. One person was even unkind enough to suggest that Tony Abbott’s pursuit of the Prime Ministership was like a dog chasing a car, in the unlikely event that the dog caught the car, he’d have no idea what to do with it. But, this is unfair – people who are in the newspaper industry have a very limited view of economics. Anyone who understands economics would leave the newspaper industry, because it’s so unprofitable.
The Liberals have a clear jobs plan which can be summed up in a few simple points.
So, as you can see it’s very clear where the Abbott Government is taking us. My one bit of advice is to make sure that you have a spare paddle, because apparently it’s not very nice to be caught without one when we get there.
“Paid parental leave is a workplace entitlement, it’s not a welfare entitlement, and that’s why it should be paid at people’s wages in the same way that sick pay or holiday pay is paid at people’s wages.” Tony Abbott
Then, is the entitlement in this sentence from Mr Hockey, different? “I say to you emphatically, everyone in Australia must do the heavy lifting. The age of entitlement is over, the age of personal responsibility has begun,”
“We will strive to govern for all Australians, including those who didn’t vote for us.” Tony Abbott on being sworn in as PM
Of course, when you think about it, it’s a fairly meaningless statement. Can one ever imagine a PM announcing: “We will govern for those who voted for us, the ones who didn’t can please themselves about whether we’re the government or not.”
Yes, I know that Tony is trying to imply that he’ll be trying to help everyone. He does go on to say:
“We won’t forget those who are often marginalised; people with disabilities, Indigenous people and women struggling to combine career and family.
“We will do our best not to leave anyone behind.”
But I can’t help wondering what it means to not be left behind. I mean, where are we going apart from into the future. And, if anyone’s been left behind when it comes to the future, does that mean that they’re stuck in the past? Mm, stuck in the past, now where have I heard that…
Then again, our Prime Minister – who it’s alleged dropped out of the priesthood when he discovered that, even if he achieved his ambition of becoming Pope, some Catholics would still consider God in charge – did suggest that the ABC was un-Australian when it reported certain stories. Should one conclude that – in governing for all Australians – the government won’t be governing for those who are “un-Australian”? Surely, if all those foreign owned news outlets can suppress stories that are unflattering to Australia, then surely, surely the ABC should do the same.
For example – apart from the un-Australian ABC – should we also consider those people who gain citizenship here but still want a connection to the country of their birth, in-Australian? Now, I don’t mean our English PM, Abbott, who argues against a republic and wants to maintain our links to Britain. I mean, Italians and Greeks who cheer for their heritage in the World Cup instead of the Socceroos.
When one takes on the citizenship of another country, one should forget all affection for one’s previous homeland. Take Rupert Murdoch, who after renouncing us to become a US citizen has never shown the slightest concern about Australia. He’s the sort of role model that we want for our migrants.
Cory Bernardi had it right when he expressed concern about Muslims who want to impose sharia law which is opposed to sexual permissiveness, promiscuity and gay marriage. We shouldn’t allow Muslims to tell us what should and shouldn’t be allowed in Australia – that’s the job of Christians like him.
Words matter. They have meaning, but when Joe Hockey says that we all have to the “heavy lifting” I have no real idea what he’s talking about. When Abbott talks about being “un-Australian”, I find it as confusing as when he suggested that the asylum seekers were “un-Christian”. When Barnaby Joyce talks, I’m just confused!
So when we hear that the age of entitlement is over, that wages are too high, that penalty rates are unnecessary and that because some unions are corrupt we need a Royal Commission (why was there no Royal Commission into the AWB?), I can’t help but wonder if Joe’s actually saying that the age of work place entitlements is also over. We were told that Work Choices was dead. How long someone tries to argue that meant eliminating choices in work was part of the Liberals’ mandate?
“Around the time of Oliver’s ninth birthday, Mr. Bumble, the parish beadle, removes Oliver from the baby farm and puts him to work picking oakum at the main workhouse. Oliver, who toils with very little food, remains in the workhouse for six months. One day, the desperately hungry boys decide to draw lots; the loser must ask for another portion of gruel.” Wikipedia
From time to time, it’s suggested that the school curriculum is too left wing and that we should go back to the “classics”. John Howard was particularly concerned that we no longer studied Dickens. So for your consideration, I offer this excerpt from “Oliver Twist”.
For the next eight or ten months, Oliver was the victim of a systematic course of treachery and deception. He was brought up by hand. The hungry and destitute situation of the infant orphan was duly reported by the workhouse authorities to the parish authorities. The parish authorities inquired with dignity of the workhouse authorities, whether there was no female then domiciled in “the house” who was in a situation to impart to Oliver Twist, the consolation and nourishment of which he stood in need. The workhouse authorities replied with humility, that there was not. Upon this the parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved, that Oliver should be “farmed,” or, in other words, that he should be despatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws, rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, under the parental superintendence of an elderly female, who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week. Sevenpence-halfpenny’s worth per week is a good round diet for a child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable. The elderly female was a woman of wisdom and experience; she knew what was good for children; and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself. So, she appropriated the greater part of the weekly stipend to her own use, and consigned the rising parochial generation to even a shorter allowance than was originally provided for them. Thereby finding in the lowest depth a deeper still; and proving herself a very great experimental philosopher.
Everybody knows the story of another experimental philosopher who had a great theory about a horse being able to live without eating, and who demonstrated it so well, that he got his own horse down to a straw a day, and would unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and rampacious animal on nothing at all, if he had not died, four-and-twenty hours before he was to have had his first comfortable bait of air.
Of course, Oliver Twist fails to realise that the Age of Entitlement is over.
“Please, sir, I want some more.”
The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.
“What!” said the master at length, in a faint voice.
“Please, sir,” replied Oliver, “I want some more.”
Not only is Oliver failing to understand that he’s not entitled to more, he fails to see that he’s not entitled to any. If he wants food, what’s he doing in the orphanage? Personal responsibility and all that…
But some of Dickens is far from appropriate for today’s youth. Take the old idea of the workhouse, which. of course, is very much an outdated one. For those of you whose history is rusty, the workhouses were where those unable to support themselves were forced to go for accomodation and support. Life in the workhouse was meant to be harsh in order to deter all but the most destitute from using it. It was rather like a work-for-the-dole scheme except that – in the those days of entitlement – they actually provided you with a roof over your head. We don’t want today’s unemployed expecting luxuries like that.
However, many of Dickens’ tales will be ok with a rewrite. For example, in “A Christmas Carol” when Scrooge is shown the scene at Bob Crachet’s table by Christmas Future and notices that there’s a place missing, well, obviously, he’ll understand that with the abolition of penalty rates, there’ll be no problem in asking Bob to work on Christmas Day.
Of course, not all the concepts from Dickens’ time have no potential application today. For example, the “Bastardy Clause” in the Poor Law effectively made children the responsibility of the mother until they were sixteen. If she were unable to support them, she would have to enter the workhouse. Perhaps, we could apply this principal now – but only in relation to single mothers, of course – and raise the age to thirty, thus removing a large number of people from the dole.
Yep, with so much I’m sure that we can find a place for Dickens in the curriculum. I think I’ll leave the last word to John Howard who said in 2006
“…we also understand that there’s high-quality literature and there’s rubbish.”
Unfortunately, nobody has since asked him if he considered the Liberal “Our Plan. Real Solutions for All Australians” high-quality literature, or whether it’s part of the latter category. Or, indeed, whether he considers the coming publication: “Zombiechoices – dead, buried and cremated, but still it rises!” one of the classic works of fiction this century.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has bluntly warned Australians that the days of governments saving businesses and jobs had passed, telling them, ”the age of entitlement is over, and the age of personal responsibility has begun”.
Mark Kenny “The Courier”, 4th February, 2014
So I guess, he’s also talking about this:
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce billed taxpayers more than $4600 for ”official business” travel to attend rugby league games, including the 2012 State of Origin. The revelations come as the Abbott government hinted it will tighten rules on politicians’ entitlements.
Mr Joyce, who was given free tickets to watch the 2012 State of Origin and NRL finals in corporate boxes, claimed flights to Sydney, Comcars and overnight ”travel allowance”, costing taxpayers $4615. His spokeswoman told Fairfax Media that attending the matches was legitimate ”official business”.
The Sydney Morning Herald November 6, 2013
But what exactly does Hockey mean by the “age of entitlement”? In the lead-up to the election, he used to refer to what he called “middle class welfare”. And, of course, those people on the dole need to forget any ideas of entitlement.
So, basically the Government’s subtext seems to be: We don’t owe you anything – get over it!
And in the debates about company bail-outs, middle-class welfare and work-for-the-dole schemes that message might be lost. Yes, we’ve been told over and over again how the Liberals believe in “small government” but like so many words that are used we often overlook their actual meaning. Does small government mean reducing the number of MPs or reducing their staff and entitlements? Of course not, just the number of public servants, because public servants are just a burden. You want to speak to a public servant? The Age of Entitlement is over! I mean, trying ringing Centrelink, they don’t even answer the phone, so who’s going to notice that there are less?
But let’s just remind ourselves of what words mean because, as I said before, when we hear them over and over they can lose their meaning.
Entitlement: the fact of having a right to something
So, is Joe Hockey saying that the age of having a right to something is over?
Ok, maybe I’m just being tricky with language by pointing out the actual definition of what he’s saying. Maybe we shouldn’t presume that Hockey means what he’s saying. After all, that’d be rather unusual for a Minister in the Abbott government. (Although one of their backbenchers, Sharman Stone was rather forthright.)
But it’s also the concept of corporate and middle-class welfare that probably needs to be questioned. Again, consulting the dictionary:
- the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group.
- statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need.
When we talk about middle-class welfare, then we’re clearly either using the first definition, or we’re using an oxymoron. As I don’t think that many in or out of government wish to eliminate or reduce the health, happiness and fortunes of the middle class, let’s presume that it’s the second defintion of welfare that we’re talking about. Therefore, if it’s the provision of the basic needs of people, then it can’t be given to those who have already provided these for themselves.
So, if we assume when people talk about middle-class welfare that they’re not talking about “welfare” at all, the use of the phrase suddenly becomes loaded. It implies that these people should not be receiving whatever handout, money, subsidy, tax relief being discussed, because it’s not welfare. We’re already being encouraged to think of it as government largesse and extravagant.
Economics is all about making decisions, of course, and all governments have a right to decide how money is spent. However, providing “welfare” is not the only role for a government in deciding who receives what.
When the government announced that it wouldn’t be supporting Holden or SPC-Ardmona, they were making a decision that has consequences. I’m quite prepared to have a discussion about whether it’s the right or wrong thing, but a decision like that can’t be defended with a glib, “the age of entitlement is over”. (With this government, I suspect that the age of reason is also over).
Similarly, just because a person is not on skid row is no reason to argue that they shouldn’t receive any assistance from the government for anything ever. We all pay taxes in some form or other – even if only the GST on what we purchase – and we have a right to expect something back. An entitlement, if you like. And as I said, who gets what and when they get it, is something that needs to be decided by government. Will the money be spent on a non-means tested baby bonus, or would the money be better used building another freeway or supporting the opera? Different people will have different priorities and will see some things as a waste. Whatever, people are entitled to expect that the government will be giving something back in return for our taxes. It’s a large part of what election campaigns are about. You know, that time when politicians sympathise about the cost of living pressures for working families.
Don’t expect anything from us is Joe’s message. Personal responsibility, he says. You’re not ‘entitled’ – unless we say that you are! And that includes what information we think that you should know and the broadband speed at which you know it.
And, by the way, if you’re earning less than $80,000, you’re paid too much!
“Arbeit macht frei“
Now let’s just say that I’m asked what to do about unemployment by a Labor government.
“Well,” I suggest, “why not create a number of part-time jobs, and give preference to the long-term unemployed. They could be things like building walkways, maintaining gardens or helping out in organisations that are stretched. These jobs may help the long-term unemployed develop skills and give them a sense of confidence. At the very least at least we have better gardens.”
Brilliant, says the Labor government, let’s do that!
Of course, you can image how this shocking waste of money will be condemned by Joe “let’s have no limit on debt” Hockey, and Tony “open for business” Abbott. I mean, unless the jobs are real – created by the market, then there’s no point to them. When they’re in power they won’t have these artificial job creation schemes. They’ll have a work for the dole scheme where people build walkways, maintain gardens or help out in organisations that are stretched
Essentially, there’s no difference between what I’m proposing and work for the dole. Except that in my scenario, the people getting the jobs would be “winners”, whereas under work for the dole, you’re being told that you have to work because you’re a “loser” who needs to give something back.
This is far more complicated than I can deal with in one blog. This is about economics, morality, labelling and a range of other things. If I inherit $23 million, nobody will care if I do nothing. If I inherit nothing, and don’t have any job prospects, I need to work for my benefits in the interest of “fairness”. Not because the economy needs me. And not because Australia doesn’t have its own inheritance which it could use to support me on the pittance that is the dole.
Of course, with work for the dole, there’ll be no saying that I’ve worked out a way I can contribute. You don’t need to have a bureaucratic system – remember, Tony, how much you hate red tape. But there’ll be no saying: I’m happy to go to a school and hear kids read, or I’m happy to help out farmers who can’t afford help.
It’s about telling you that if you’re on the dole, we suspect that you’re just bludging. We own you. Because we’re your boss. And, after all, work is freedom.
Now, where have I heard that before.
“The nicest word in the English language,” said Dick, “is holidays.”
“Don’t be silly,” said Uncle Joe, “they’re bad for productivity.”
“Well,” said Dick, “by holidays, I meant ours. And the places we can go at taxpayers’ expense.”
“But, only if it’s on official business,” said Anne.
“Pah, you’re such a worrier, Anne. Father Tony said it was ok, as long as we said it was official business. And as we’re always on an adventure, isn’t everything we do official business?” laughed Dick, as he licked the caviar off his fingers.
“Speaking of Father Tony, where is he?” asked Anne. “He should be here and he was bringing George, whose father is one of those silly scientist people and he gets quite cross like George does. It’s probably because she wishes she was a boy, although that’s strange because the only boy she likes is Timmy, her dog.”
“That’s quite enough sub-text for you, my nervous little sister. I just hope that he’s bringing some food, I’d really like to stuff myself tonight,” said Dick.
“Weren’t the sausages at tea-time enough for you?” asked Julian entering.
“You know me,” replied Dick. “I can never get enough to eat.”
“Hang on,” said Anne, “I think that I hear a car.”
The children cheered, but Uncle Joe remained unmoved.
“What’s the matter, Uncle Joe?” asked Julian.
“I expect that Father Tony will prefer to give you the bad news himself,” replied Uncle Joe.
“Bad news, oh no,” said Anne, “I don’t like bad news.”
“Poor Anne,” said Dick, placing his arm round his sister, “you’re such a girl.”
“You better not say that when George is here,” said Julian. “She’s so politically correct!” and everyone laughed, including Uncle Joe.
Suddenly, the door flew open and in bounded Timmy. First, he bounded up to Anne, licking her face, then he moved to lick Julian, and Uncle Joe, before carefully avoiding Dick, because after all this is a children’s story.
“Stop that, Timmy!” yelled George. “I’ve had a perfectly wretched journey. Father Tony has something very important to say to all of us.”
She stepped aside to let Father Tony in.
“What’s the matter, Father Tony?” asked Dick.
Father Tony held up his hand. “It’s the economy. It’s a big mess. And I need you to help save it.”
“Another adventure,” squealed Dick, excitedly, while Anne looked worried.
“You can count on us,” said Julian.
“Right,” said Dick, “what do you want us to do?”
“Well,” said Father Tony, “it’d help if you stopped going to school. That would be a great start.”
“Excellent,” said Dick, “then what.”
“Ah… nothing,” said Father Tony, “that’s as much as Uncle Joe and I have worked out for you. But it’s all right. Just wait here, while the adults work out what’s meant to happen. Uncle Joe, can we talk privately, there’s no need to tell the children any more.”
“Of course,” replied Uncle Joe.
As they left, Father Tony added, “And put that dog outside where he belongs.”
George scowled. “As if those two could fix anything,” she murmured after they’d gone.
Although nobody said a word, even Anne knew that, if the economy was going to be fixed, then it’d be up to the Famous Five, because the adults clearly didn’t have a clue.
(End of Chapter 1)
Ok, here’s today’s quiz. Who said the following, The Joker in “The Dark Knight” or Tim Wilson, Australia’s new Freedom Commissioner:
The Joker said all the even numbers.
Tim Wilson said all the odd things.
Other Good Quotes
Joe Hockey said, “No country ever taxed itself to prosperity.”
Tony Abbott said, “No country has ever subsidised its way to prosperity.”
So they have a clear idea on how a country doesn’t get to prosperity.
I suspect that in the next few days we’ll hear the following:
“No country ever created disability schemed its way to prosperity.”
“No country ever educated its way to prosperity.”
“No country ever broadbanded its way to prosperity.”
“No country ever planned its way to prosperity.”
“No country for old men.” (No wait – that’s a film)!
When will we hear how they plan to ACTUALLY NEED TO DO to get to prosperity!
Labor wastes money! We know this. Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and company have been banging on about Labor wasting money for years.
And today, Joe Hockey will tell us that the budget has blown out from the $30 billion estimated during the election campaign to a whopping $50 billion. That’s, of course, all down to Labor. Well may not, the $8 billion that the Coalition gave to the Reserve Bank. I suspect that won’t come up in the Press Conference.
“It’s blown out by a further $20 billion!” announces Hockey
So the obvious question is: “But isn’t more than half that, the money you gave to the Reserve Bank and the billions of dollars of tax revenue which you’ve decided not to go ahead with?”
Unfortunately, I doubt that one will be asked. I doubt that the press will even ask – if saving money is such a priority – why did Tony Abbott waste money producing a booklet of his first 100 days? If they do, Hockey will immediately say that Kevin Rudd did that too.
You see, that’s politics: Everything Labor did was bad, unless we’re doing it too, in which case it’s perfectly ok, because they did it!
But rather surprisingly, I’m not at all concerned about the recent booklet. I want to re-visit a more important booklet that the Liberals created. The Little Book of Big Labor Waste, where they list 60 areas where Labor had wasted money.
A few months ago, I actually read this booklet and wrote about it in a blog. And it seems to me that Liberals have either forgotten all about it, or are saving the big announcements for their committee of audit. Either way, I don’t think it’s good enough.
For example, where’s the announcement that they’ve stopped this outrageous waste of money! Public servants getting milk! 350 litres to 900 bureaucrats. That’s more than a third of a litre each! If they could just stop this altogether, then we’d the Budget would be a mere $49,999,999,890 (or should that be $49,999,999,999,890. Like Barnaby Joyce, I sometimes get my billions and millions mixed up)
There were a few other concerns, like Labor advertising the “schoolkids bonus” because people weren’t aware that they were entitled to it. A complete waste of money, because the Liberals are scrapping it, so there’s absolutely no need for people to have known about it!
In fairness though, there are some areas where the Liberals have delivered. For example, there were many complaints about money being wasted on research. And as for this one
Well, I’m sure that they won’t waste any money on equity and fairness when appointing anyone to anything. As for the ABC, they can just appoint Andrew Bolt to the board. That should ensure that there’s no bias against the Liberals. Because, after all, isn’t that what bias means? You write something against the Liberals. Everything else is just the truth!
1. My Maggie Thatcher Moment:
Joe Hockey said that most other countries were moving toward a “direct action” approach to Climate Change. My response: Name Two.
2. Tony Abbott wants to raise the standard of debate, but decides that making fun of Shorten’s first name is appropriate.
“TO celebrate his 50 days since winning the election, Tony Abbott made a special meal – of “Electricity Bill” Shorten.
What the Prime Minister did last weekend to the Opposition Leader in just one sentence should terrify Labor. He put a label on Shorten that will stick like Tarzan’s Grip, reminding voters Shorten is keeping power bills too high by stopping Abbott in the Senate from scrapping the carbon tax.”
Tarzan’s Grip? That brings back memories of my childhood. It was considered a very strong glue until superglue came along. Still perhaps, Andrew Bolt hasn’t heard…
But given that’s the way we’re going to raise the standard of debate. I suggest Labor start using names like “Tiny Tony”, Joe “Even More in Hock” key, or “Moron” Warren (You know, the Deputy PM)! That should make the Liberals shiver, shake and what didn’t Andrew Bolt – I know let’s call him Andrew Nut, that should really nullify him – say? Terrify, that’s it.
3. Tony Abbott: “This was a very, very big fire.”
Who needs experts when you have Tony Abbott to analyse the situation. Apparently, he was a Road Scholar, which explains why he won’t put into money into public transport.
4. Abbott on President Obama: “He’s a very busy man, and I don’t want to make his life more complicated by demanding an early meeting.”
Tony, I suspect that you wouldn’t make his life more complicated. I suspect that if he didn’t want one, you’d just be told no. So, if you demanded an early meeting, and he said no, you’d just have to find some way of saving face. Like saying:
Obama’s a busy man and there’s no need for us to meet any time soon.
5. From an interview with Lally Weymouth:
“So do you believe in climate change or are you skeptical?”
Tiny Abbott (teehee, that’s almost as good as “Electricity Bill”): This argument has become far too theological for anyone’s good.
Yet Abbott abolishes the Climate Commission, incoorporates the Science Ministry into other portfolios, dismisses evidence from the CSIRIO and other bodies and makes no comment about George Pell’s sceptism on Climate Change. Perhaps, he’s right – perhaps it HAS become too theological.
6. Apparently, he’s a “Rhodes Scholar”. Sorry, but easy mistake to make.
7. From the same interview:
“But Labor wanted to extend fiber to every household?
Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government.”
Giving everyone access to faster broadband without paying an enormous amount for it. How wacky is that? Labor haven’t done anything that wacky since they introduced health care to everyone whether they were sick or not, or since they introduced superannuation for all workers.