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Tag Archives: Howard

The ABC of Bias, Perspective and Reality

After telling me the way that it was, he concluded with, “Don’t think I’m racist or anything!”

I replied, “Gee, I expect that I am. I’ve grown up in a country that endorses predominantly white Anglo-Saxon attitudes. I don’t see how I can avoid some of that rubbing off on me.”

He looked at me.

“I know that I shouldn’t be, and I try to notice if I’m being racist, but I’ll bet that some the views and values that were around as I growing up affect the way I view things.. Still, the points you were making about the apology to the stolen generation strike me as quite reasonable. LIke the bit about people thinking that they were doing the right thing. So long as a person thinks they’re doing the right thing, there’s no need for an apology. It’s only when people knowingly do the wrong thing that you should apologise. Sort of like speeding because you’re in a hurry and having an accident, no need for an apology because you believed that you were doing the right thing by trying to get home as quickly as possible…”

“What the f*ck are you talking about?” he interrupted.

  • * *

From time to time, some Tony Abbott supporter will post a comment along the lines of me being a Labor-supporting looney, as though being a member of the Labor Party automatically disqualifies you from an opinion.

Pointing out the fact that I’m not a member of the Labor Party and have criticised them in the past doesn’t seem to matter. The next assumption is that I’m a supporter of The Greens.

You see, unless you support the Liberals and Tony Abbott, their logic goes, you must be biased.

Normally, I just laugh such things off or put truly outrageous arguments back. Or just thank them for their intelligent contribution and say how nice it is to hear that people are reading what I write and actually thinking about it – it’s gratifying to know that I’ve changed someone’s mind. Their abuse when they tell me that I haven’t changed their mind and that latte-sipping lefties like me should be taken out and shot enables me to tell them that I’m about to have another Chardonnay – which in case they haven’t heard is making a comeback. Probably thanks to Tony Abbott.

But lately the debate on the ABC has made me truly worry about the state of some people’s mental health.

Let me see if I can give you my perspective. Of course, it will be biased. Everyone is, because everyone has a different perspective. By sharing perspectives, we can work out whether one’s perspective is similar to everyone else’s or radically different. If the latter, why? What experiences have lead one to question the orthodox view? And through this process, we gain greater understanding and greater perspectives.

  • * *

All right, stop the bleeding heart stuff, next you’ll have us all singing “Kumba Ya”.

Why are you complaing about alleged ABC bias, didn’t the Murdoch Press attack the Labor Government ceaselessly?

The Murdoch Press is allowed to criticise the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government because it was truly incompetent – the “worst ever”.

How do we know this?

Well, the Murdoch Press told us.

Isn’t this showing bias?

No, it’s just stating the facts!

Isn’t “worst” an opinion?

Well, the Murdoch Press is privately owned, why shouldn’t it be allowed to express an opinion – are you trying to stifle free speech?

No, but on the ABC last week…

The ABC! It’s left wing bias has to be stopped.

Didn’t you just say that the media should be allowed to express an opinion?

The privately owned media, the ABC is taxpayer funded – it shouldn’t be biased

Yeah, but what’s the evidence of bias?

Their presenters often disagree with the Murdoch view. They never have a right wing perspective, as Josh Frydenberg said on ABC radio last week, backing up the point Piers Akerman made on “The Insiders” a few weeks ago.

Aren’t they a right wing perspective on the ABC?

Yeah, but they’re the exception.

Well, there’s a weekly show on ABC radio where a member of the IPA debates a more left-wing person on the events of the week.

Why couldn’t the IPA person debate without another leftie being there?? And where’s the right wing equivalent of Philip Adams on the ABC?

Philip Adams, the millionaire who writes for The Australian? Is he the most extreme example of the left on the ABC?

That just shows that the Murdoch Press give a variety of views! The ABC needs to sold.

  • * *

Of course, perhaps Howard’s appointments to the ABC were an attempt to ensure that it had no bias. Let’s see, there was his close friend, Donald McDonald, as well as Janet Albrechtsen and the “anti-blackarm- band” campaigner, Keith Windschuttle. Balanced appointments there! And Michael Kroger, ex-president of the Liberal Party.

Now, that should have helped provide some balance, I would have thought. Or was the culture so entrenched that they somehow thought that these people might be showing a bias of their own, rather than realising that – like Murdoch – they had an implicit understanding of the Truth, and any disagreement displayed an entrenched bias and a refusal to recognise the Truth.


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Australia Cannot Afford the Coalition

This isn’t an article about economics. This is an article about something far more precious: Culture.

Australia is losing the best parts of itself and at the speed, this slide is happening we’re going to be culturally bankrupt before we get a chance to save the farm.

Things started to go bad during the Howard years. Australia’s most reactionary leader and government sought to unravel the fabric of the social reforms of the Whitlam era, particularly in regard to the rights of women, whose proper station in life had clearly been forgotten.

What he couldn’t achieve in that specific respect he made up for with his own ideas on how to reverse the progressive trend of the Nation’s growth pattern.

He took our famed and admittedly somewhat exaggerated “egalitarianism” and thoroughly trashed it with middle-class welfare programs.

He is the progenitor of the modern illness of a sense of entitlement amongst the not-so-badly-off classes. He is the force behind the demonisation of people seeking asylum in this country.

He took the long-standing and genuine humanitarian impulses of thinking Australians – from all parts of the political spectrum – and threw them into the frothy wake of a ship called Tampa.

He took the children of moral decency and reason and threw them overboard like so much burly and watched the sharks of racism circle.

He ignited the anxieties of the more conservative and insecure elements of our society with jingoistic rhetoric about border control and who should and should not come to this country.

He openly and brazenly traded in fear and loathing.

It wasn’t just desperate foreign people using desperate measures that he sought to demonise. He managed to do it to all sorts of Australians as well.

First, it was single mothers, the perception of whom he changed to lazy sluts (with a lot of help from pathologically sanctimonious media types like Ray Martin).

Single mothers in the worst financial positions (getting little or no maintenance) received less GST compensation than any other families.

During this time single mothers were perceived as a threat to the institution of marriage itself. Not merely symbolically, but quite literally, at least in Conservative terms. Fifties’ Conservatism.

Then there was the welfare class more generally. Howard gave life and breath to a deranged individual by the name of Pauline Hanson, whose single greatest contribution to Australian culture is the sickly pious and demented mentality of “downward envy” – envy and judgement directed at people who get something that you don’t, even if they have nothing in the first place, or as one analyst put it, “The unhealthy desires of some people to ensure that anyone they deem to be lower on the social and economic scale than themselves, stays there.”

The Liberals let Pauline go soon enough, only to enthusiastically embrace the worst characteristics of her social policy and sell them wholesale to a public keen for a cheap deal.

Howard also allowed greedy, profiteering insurance companies all across this country to make it nigh on impossible for community groups to continue with publicly staged events.

Fairs, fetes, festivals, concerts and markets closed down all across the land. Many have never returned. This particular loss to Australian culture is still being felt today.

Far too little has been made of it. It is a hugely significant matter to communities everywhere because it is precisely these sorts of events that make communities; these are the things that bind and unite.

Howard’s complete inaction with respect to insurance company profiteering was nothing less than cultural vandalism. No effort was made to protect communities legislatively.

Then along came Kevin Rudd and a couple of moderate Coalition leaders and it seemed for a second that things might turn around a little.

But by this time Labor had shifted so far to the centre-right that nothing much was going to change. Some of us thought that at least we might have some respite from the cultural and spiritual decline. No such luck.

Tony Abbott and the Mainstream Media were soon on hand to ensure that no such respite was to be had. There was work to be done. There were institutions to sully, minds to manipulate and demons to exorcise.

If you thought the Howard years were an exercise in abject cynicism, you hadn’t seen anything yet.

Six years of incessant Opposition negativity, mendacity, manipulation, backed, promulgated and codified by a sycophantic media, has reduced this Nation’s heart and soul to a lump of cold, dark charcoal.

No-one can possibly engage in such scurrilous behaviour for an extended period of time and not expect that it will have social repercussions. Political apathy is a real problem in this country and it’s been made worse by the political environment of the last six years.

Labor is certainly not innocent in this, but their role is far less sinister than that of the Coalition and the Mainstream Media.

But lack of political engagement is not something any political party has to fear when the media is on your side. In fact, it’s in the interests of such a party to try and increase it. An ostensibly passive audience can be told most anything and have it be believed.

You simply have to be the one in control of the message. The Coalition has offered the electorate what amounts to a policy vacuum and many have been sucked into it.

Over the last six years, the Coalition has debased the Parliament by their actions and behaviour within those very chambers. Labor’s leadership problems were unfortunate (and not entirely of their own making), but they had nothing to do with the Parliament or the Government per se.

They functioned perfectly well on the Government’s side of things despite the dramas happening in the Party Room. The tragedy is that the Coalition will not be punished in any way for their abject disregard for this Nation’s most significant institution.

The deep cognitive dissonance that has been engendered by a long and consistent campaign to demonise successive Labor Governments will likely be successful. They honestly think they are Pavlov and we are their dogs.

Sadly, the bell will toll for far too many Australian electors. Conservatives use demonisation at every turn. They know this taps into the worst parts of the Australian psyche and they don’t care – or perhaps more accurately don’t see it because that’s precisely the realm they inhabit themselves.

Like an emphysemic lung, the soul of the Nation has been gradually darkened by this mentality and the only available oxygen is laced with a toxic blend of Conservative Carbon and Murdoch Monoxide.

Political cynicism and passivity, a rampant sense of entitlement by those who have no cause to feel it, xenophobia, downward envy, loss of charity, loss of our egalitarian spirit, loss of sense of community, loss of trust in important institutions, loss of tolerance.

These are all facets of the cultural decline Australia has been suffering since the Howard Government. They are all consequences of the Conservative mentality.

It seemed for a moment in 2007 when the Nation flushed the Howard Government down the toilet we’d done so in a moment of genuine insight into what had befallen us.

It’s as though we woke up briefly, but have now returned to our default state of ‘somnambulance.’ At this election, we have the opportunity to slow the cultural slide or to add lubricant to it.

Be in no doubt, an Abbott led Coalition Government will be a return to the Howard brand. A Coalition loss would instead see a movement in their ranks to something more reasonable and moderate, with Malcolm Turnbull at the tiller.

Be in no doubt also that a vote for the Coalition will be a vote for nine months of political and policy chaos.

There is no chance that the Coalition can govern effectively given that the current make-up of the Senate does not change until July next year. The Greens have the balance of power in the Senate.

Just how much of the Coalition’s policy agenda is going to see the light of day? Are we headed for a full election of both houses early next year? The Coalition is certainly chest-beating about that prospect. I guess that’s part of their plan to Stop the Waste.

Will Abbott instead back away from his policy agenda and tear up his “contract” with the Australian people?

Will he indulge in the mammoth hypocrisy and contradiction of doing deals with the Greens? No-one knows.

What we do know is one of those scenarios will unfold and nothing resembling stable governance will happen for the first nine long months of a Coalition Government.

By contrast, the re-election of the Labor Government will mean a neat segue from a static carbon price to a floating carbon price, and in most other respects, business as usual.


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Tony Abbott: At war with the Universe

It’s not unusual for a politician to stand against, rather than for something. John Howard’s dismissal of climate change (until he reckoned there were a few votes in it) and Julia Gillard’s opposition to gay marriage are a couple of recent stand outs. Taking a stand against a popular issue is not a crime, however, even if it does go against public opinion.

But in Tony Abbott we have an unusual case. He is against every social, environmental and economic reform imaginable. I cannot think of anything in the known universe he might agree with.

Let’s hear what he has to say about these issues, some of which you may of course agree with.

Same-sex marriage: Mr Abbott has said marriage is between a man and a woman not just to fulfill their own personal happiness ”but because we have obligations to the children that come with families”.

Homosexuality: Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott has defended comments he made about homosexuality on 60 Minutes, saying gays and lesbians “challenge” the order of things.

Mr Abbott said he felt “threatened” by homosexuality on the program, a comment that has angered the gay and lesbian community and something he tried to back track from during an interview on the ABC.

“There is no doubt that it (homosexuality) challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things” Mr Abbott told Lateline.

Abortion: “Christians aren’t required to right every wrong in the political arena, but they can help change the nation’s culture, suggests Tony Abbott despite the debt that political institutions owe to the West’s Christian heritage, there is the constant claim that Christians in politics are confused about the separation of church and state. There’s also a tendency among Christians in the community to think that Christians in politics have to sell out their principles in order to survive. Christian politicians are often warding off simultaneous accusations that they are zealots or fakes. Indeed, the public caricature of a Christian politician is hypocrite or wuss, in denial about the ruthlessness and expediency necessary to wield power, or too sanctimonious to be effective. Take the challenge of abortion. The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience”.

Boat people: Tony Abbott claimed boatpeople were acting in an un-Christian manner. Err, so is sinking the boats.

Euthanasia: “Legalising euthanasia in Australia would put elderly people at risk of being “bumped off”, federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has warned, after an Australian man traveled to Switzerland to legally end his life”.

The needy: “We can’t abolish poverty because poverty in part is a function of individual behaviour”.

Women’s rights: Tony Abbott warns women against sex before marriage. And how about this brain fart: “I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons”.

Recognition of Indigenous culture: “Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that … Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage”.

Climate change: As a climate denier, Tony Abbott is most famous for his statement that climate science is “absolute crap“. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – he actually has a long history of denying climate change science. “The fact that we have had if anything cooling global temperatures over the last decade, not withstanding continued dramatic increases of carbon dioxide emissions, suggests the role of CO2 is not nearly as clear as the climate catastrophists suggest.”

Technology: “There is no way on God’s earth that we need to be spending $50 billion plus of borrowed money on what is going to turn out to be a telecommunications white elephant – school halls on steroids.”

Foreign investment: Tony Abbott made headlines recently when during a visit to China, he declared that “it would rarely be in Australia’s national interest to allow a foreign government or its agencies to control an Australian business”.

In other words: foreign direct investment by such entities would not be welcome.

Divorce: Liberal Party frontbencher Tony Abbott wants laws toughened up to make divorce harder. The opposition families and Aboriginal affairs spokesman has called for a return to the fault-based system of divorce discarded in 1975, which was replaced by a “no-fault” system. Mr Abbott’s plan, outlined in his book Battlelines, would see a grounds for divorce reintroduced, including adultery, cruelty, habitual drunkenness and imprisonment. It would be similar to the defunct Matrimonial Causes Act.

Pensioners: “Tony Abbott’s Liberals have re-confirmed they will claw back hundreds of dollars from Australian pensioners. The Member for Curtin, Julie Bishop confirmed on Channel 10 Breakfast that an Abbott Government will rip away the latest increase to the pension – $338 a year for single pensioners on the maximum rate and $510 a year for pensioner couples on the maximum rate”.

Low paid workers: “The Coalition has today confirmed that they would re-impose a 15 per cent tax on Australia’s lowest paid workers (earning below $37,000) including 2.1 million women”.

Democracy: In his address to the National Press Club this week he told us he likes democracy and: “Government is important – my colleagues and I are in the parliament because it matters and because we care about our country – but, in a democracy, the people must come first”.

Yes, of course. That’s why he has tried every trick in the book to bring down a duly elected Government; a Government he calls “illegitimate”, “inherently unstable” and “toxic” to name a few.

Small business: “Tony Abbott has confirmed that the Liberals will cut vital tax breaks for Australia’s more than two million small business men and women if elected in September. Mr Abbott has pledged to scrap the instant asset tax write-off, which allows small businesses to claim a deduction for the full value of each new asset costing up to $6,500 after one year”.

He certainly is a unique little package, isn’t he? But with such a suite of archaic views he belongs in a museum, not politics.

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