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New Parliament promising but Team Dutton disappoints

On the opening of the forty-seventh parliament with thirty-five new members, a nineteen gun salute and one cool, new diverse, vibe, 26 July, a decimated Opposition – twenty-two fewer in the House of Reps – reverts to playing dirty pool.

In contrast, the extra virgin, Albanese government begins with a show of compromise. Can we deal with Greens and teals? Labor makes a big deal of agreeing to make its emissions reduction target of 43 percent by 2030 based on 2007 “a minimum”.

It’s no flaw to have a floor and even if we won’t match it with a ratchet mechanism our target will rise over coming years vows Chris Bowen. Bowen is the federal government’s Climate Change and Energy Minister and must know he’s a marked man. Peter Dutton, promises to pick on Bowen because you go for the “weak links”.

Yet to be seen, however, in Labor’s newly “Dutton-proofed” draft legislation – which will now – as the UN framework mandates – spell out that future emissions targets can only increase – is any pledge to phase out gas and coal exports.

Nor is there a ban on new gas and coal. But while the law is set to come before the lower house, Wednesday, it will not be before the Senate until September. With the clock at one minute to midnight on The Doomsday Clock, there’s more room than time for improvement.

Reform could begin with repairing a democratic process long hijacked by lobbyists, especially the monstrous fossil fuel lobby guzzling $12 billion in federal government subsidies, $8 billion of which is a fuel tax credit scheme, entrenching the use of petrol, diesel and natural gas.

It costs a billion in subsidies just to fuel the rigs to get the stuff out of the ground.

It won’t be easy for Labor, given its business friendly election promises and the links already forged which brought it $75 million between 2012-20 from mining or banking and finance for example, or media, alcohol and gambling but anything less than independence and integrity will be political suicide.

What’s certain, however, is that after nine years’ failure, the Coalition needs to get out of the road. Australia’s action on climate is ranked as dead last in the world by the UN.

Alas, for Dutton’s mob, (corporate receipts ($125 million 2012-20) it’s deja vu all over again. Back to the future. Bugger the concept of an opposition offering an alternative vision. It’s learned nothing and whatever he believes, $coMo’s political road-kill. There’ll be no resurrection. So what does it do?

Dutton reprises Abbott’s wrecking-ball, hyper partisan politics. At least opposition for its own sake is a game it knows. Team Dutton has no concept of collaboration and even less idea of what it means to be out of power.

For four years, $coMo & Co sought power for its own sake while servicing corporate sponsors, within a carbon captured state. Responsible or democratic federal government was just window dressing at best. At worst its gas-led recovery was nothing less than open surrender to Santos.

But let’s be fair, why bother trying to be taken seriously, when you already get more than enough attention for self-parody? Much to our Murdoch controlled media’s delight, “Boofhead” Dutton, another useful, disposable idiot, will head an insane clown posse out to attack Labor on everything, foot and mouth, climate, environment.

Disorganised? It can’t even get its act together on whether we should close our borders to Indonesian foot and mouth disease. But who needs coherence when you’ve got sound and light?

Dutton calls for “the border with Indonesia” to be closed, unlike Big Dave Littleproud who sides with totally objective industry leaders, who – Deidre Chambers what a coincidence – want no such restriction, while the Nationals leader calls for more science.

It’s a remarkable pivot given that only last August, Dave wrote to the CSIRO protesting at its inclusion of fake meat in its digital tuckerbox suggesting science should be a little less scientific or perhaps not so mean to meat, “provide balanced support to Australian industries”.

Agriculture minister, “Murray Grey” Watt has the Opposition’s number. Muzza tells RN Breakfast that the opposition’s calls to close the border are damaging our nation’s agricultural reputation. But, as The Monthly’s Rachel Withers asks, “when has the national interest ever stopped the Coalition from trying to score a political point?”

Dutton is struggling to keep his team on message. But what has the serial dud ever succeeded at? He’s The Peter Principle personified.

Media signs are promising. Team Spud may better its predecessor’s record for SNAFU-driven negative advertising. In the hotly contested teamwork event, Karen Andrews pushes her former PM under a bus when he uses her to create a refugee boat arrival election stunt. Not only is Sussan Ley busted for suppressing a major report on the environment, she doesn’t give a fig.

The Fourth State of the Environment (SOE) Report from the CSIRO is a comprehensive assessment of the state of our environment put out every five years by the Australian Government.

It has to be. Independent and evidence-based, the review is mandated by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It’s not something you throw in your school bag and don’t show your parents.

But what to do? It’s an indictment. The report shows the adverse effects of climate change on the health and well-being of Australians. Climate change is exacerbating pressures on every Australian ecosystem. Australia now has more foreign plant species than native.

Australia’s environment is terminally ill. Pressures of climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining have deteriorated over the past five years. Our natural world holds the key to human wellbeing and survival, scientists warn.

The Morrison government acts with typical maturity, responsibility and openness. It sits on the report for six months lest it jigger its re-election prospects. The SOE would have just been quietly buried had $coMo & Co been returned to office.

Two years ago the federal government was told it had failed in its duty to protect the environment in its delivery of Australia’s national conservation laws in a scathing review by the national auditor general. It ignored that, too.

Former Minister for no responsibility to future generations for climate change or the Environment, Sussan Ley is unavailable for comment, last Tuesday, the day of the SOE’s final release. Or since. But Ms Ley is planning a national listening tour to discover why women didn’t vote for the Coalition.

The Coalition blames voters for the Morrison government’s rout -(just not listening, says Deputy leader Su$san Ley- especially women) – only to be upstaged by reports that boat whisperer, ScoMo, architect of his party’s near-death experience whistled up a Sri Lankan boat, or two, right on polling day, 21 May, to stop the votes-for Labor.

Karen Middleton gets the scoop for The Saturday Paper. A Sri Lankan contact says that the departure of two asylum seeker boats bound for Australia “was being facilitated” by Sri Lankan authorities. They are scheduled to arrive in Australian waters “around the 21st of May 2022, election date”, he says. It’s designed to be “an election stunt”.

There’s the usual Canberra flap. The PM’s Office puts the hard word on Home Affairs to go from “caretaker to scaremaker”, in Phil Coorey’s phrase on ABC Insiders.

Karen Andrews defends the heroic resistance of her then Home Affairs staff who refuse to do a press drop to journos. Yet a blizzard of spam text messages tell voters of an “illegal boat” from Sri Lanka being intercepted by Border Force as it tries to enter Australia 21 May.

“Keep our borders secure by voting Liberal today,” the text message ends. There’s a link to a Liberal-endorsed website, vote.liberal.org.au.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrews defends her role in the Morrison government’s decision to publicise the turnback of a people smuggling vessel on election day.

Andrews tells Today that the former PM got her to issue the statement. Ouch. No chance of another curry in a hurry chez ScoMo and family. She rejects any suggestion of her department being pressured.

One press gallery journo joins the dots. Did Morrison engineer the departure of the boat to fit the Coalition fear campaign that boats would start again under Labor?

Bruce Haigh has little doubt. “In my belief, the Australian government has been involved outside of normal channels with various agencies in Sri Lanka to prevent the boats coming to Australia,” Former Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Haigh tells Karen Middleton of The Saturday Paper.

“Within that relationship, there was the capacity to also send boats.”

It’s a revelation that eclipses Scotty’s “We don’t trust in governments … or the UN”, sermon and love-in with fellow evangelical, homophobe, Margaret Court at Perth’s Victory Life Centre, pentecostal church. Morrison’s all-God’s-children-got-to-chill theme in his fifty-minute harangue, however, is alarming. “Be anxious for nothing” is his Biblical text.

For the true believer, God has overcome fear Morrison believes. But it sounds very close to “I just don’t care” as he explained his composure to Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet.

Founder, Marg’s a big fan of Scott; not just because of a $500,000 plus a $50,000 “cash-flow boost” her Centre got from JobKeeper in 2020.

Most of this went into a bank account, $37,000 in the red in 2019. Like Lazarus, the balance was brought back from the dead; a $258,000 surplus by June 30, 2020.

Money can’t buy you love, however, and Liberals have colourful pork’n rort spreadsheets to prove it. It’s pretty clear Morrison’s desperate bid to cede the party’s inner-city heartland to woke greenies and teals and put transphobia first in a ploy to win big in the outer suburbs was a dumb idea. Just as cynically courting the far right undid him. Just as it undid Howard, whose calculated shift to the right ultimately cost him his own seat of Bennelong.

Today’s Liberals can always rely on right wing nutjobs to rally around in a crisis. Like flies around an outback dunny. As PM Albanese’s dusting off the mining lobby’s “clean coal” bullshit disgusts the teals, the Greens and many in his own party, the LNP’s lunatic right dives into the dustbin of history to recycle garbage.

“There is a real risk that the wrong lessons will be learnt by the Liberal Party about the reasons for the federal election loss, and the path back to government.”

Amanda Stoker, self-proclaimed “misunderstood conservative”, a dry, white former Queensland LNP Senator, veteran Coalition content creator and now team coach, wags her finger from a new pulpit, scolding players for “caving to leftist positions” in her post-election rout analysis- in a bold new column in The Australian Financial Review.

Don’t adjust your set, the fault lies with reality. Let other, misguided, souls see the Coalition’s defeat as part of its alienation of women, or its being a front for the fossil fuel industry, or a judgement on its catastrophic ineptitude on climate, energy, economy, environment and pandemic, Stoker’s urging a return to the same – only harder right.

Our former assistant Minister for Women-who-want-to-be-crumb-maidens already fixed the Coalition’s women problem. In her own low-rent attack on Julia Banks’ book in July 2021, the veteran attention-seeker accuses Banks of seeking a “cheap headline”, adding the Liberal Party line on its endemic, sexist bullying:

“I certainly haven’t seen in my personal experience the matters of which she complains.” In 2018, she calls Banks’ allegations “pathetic” and “bizarre”.

“Solidarity” Stoker is “the voice for Morrison’s quiet Australians”, Janet Albrechtsen (paywalled) purrs in Liberal Party Pravda The Australian, another money-losing Murdoch publication, $60 million in the red in 2021. With that type of backing, Stoker’s a shoo-in for the next LNP casual vacancy in the senate, which is only ever a parachute away.

Oxymorons pave the race to the bottom. Not only does the voice of Morrison’s quiet Australia belong to one of our loudest Tories, the headline-seeking lunatic right complains bitterly that it is silenced. Cancelled.

“Captain’s pick” for Warringah, unsuccessful Liberal candidate, the transphobic Katherine Deves, had Scott Morrison swear he wouldn’t let Deves be “silenced” as the party split in two over her candidacy.

Matt Canavan nails defeat down to his party’s failure to heed quiet Australians, such as Senator Hollie Hughes. The self-effacing Hughes, shadow assistant minister for Climate Change Denial takes us back at least to 2014, with a reheated fossil fuel lobby leftover as she declares “climate change is not an Australian problem.”

Not our problem? Australia should try that line on Pasifika Leaders who fear Labor’s climate policy of an inadequate emission target of 43% by 2020, paired with plans for new gas and coal. Hughes knows Australia is directly responsible for just over 1% of global emissions (1.13%). Yet, when added to emissions from fossil fuel exports this rises to 3-4%.

We have a big problem. We are the world’s largest gas exporter and second largest coal exporter. Although only 0.33% of the globe’s population, we rank with the world’s top culprits. Our average carbon footprint of 16 tonnes per capita, is over three times the global average.

Government figures project an increase in coal production of 4%, a 12% increase in gas production and a 32% increase in oil production up to 2030itters of carbon emissions with an average carbon footprint.

And we’re increasing it. Yet the line Dutton’s opposition will push is the lie that any energy source other than fossil fuels will lead to huge price rises. It’s old mining company propaganda but it’s run on Sky News by Stoker among others.

Stoker, aka Draymilla Burt, in Shaun Miccallef’s Mad as Hell puts a lot of spin into her political shtick, a caricature of gob-smacking sophistry, hot-button-bigotry and lies. The religious right loves her. Parachuted into the senate, only to crash and burn in a term, Stoker can’t wait to lecture the Liberals on how they can win next time.

Stoker’s seen her patron, Scott Morrison, another of the Lord’s anointed, whose persona also taps pathological exhibitionism, egotism and unwitting self-parody, not only fudge an election but gut his own party. So? It’s just that he didn’t go far enough right.

Shunning safe inner-city seats to woo a mythical, horde from outer suburbia; a HiLux ute muster of King Gee Liberal tradies, Morrison’s blunder is a gift to the teals. It also unseats the odd dud. Josh Frydenberg is snapped up by Goldman Sachs, the giant vampire squid of what we call the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, a world recession to everyone else.

Goldman Sachs was fined $5bn for its role in the 2008 financial crisis in a settlement holding the bank accountable for its ‘serious misconduct’ in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages.

It’s a neat fit for a former feckless treasurer whose idols are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. So he accidentally gave away fifty billion of JobKeeper to the likes of Gerry Harvey? They could repay it if they wanted to.

Scotty partners Margaret (hard, clay, grass or carpet) Court. Doubles can be tricky because, as Maggie says herself, “Tennis is full of lesbians.” But not only does Morrison find a fellow homophobe, the spotlight enables our greatest failure to imply he’s a winner because God loves him. Its politics and governments that are fallible.

It’s practically a badge of honour to stuff up as PM;

“We trust in Him. We don‘t trust in governments. We don’t trust in United Nations, thank goodness. We don‘t trust in all of these things as fine as they might be and as important as the role that they play. Believe me, I’ve worked in it. But as someone who’s been in it, if you are putting your faith in those things, like I put my faith in the Lord, you are making a mistake. They are fallible.”

Sadly, many tradies hate ScoMo for his ineptitude, cynical pragmatism and repudiation of duty of care. Especially aged care, climate and environment. Many follow their parents’ political preferences leftward. But let’s not confuse a popular cause with a populist cause.

Both Morrison and Stoker are like Trump who turned anti-abortion only when he saw votes in it. Stoker’s truckling to Dutton who returns from Washington pumped with Republican culture war tactics to follow his war on woke classrooms.

Pete’s head is on the one-eyed god in the lounge room. ABC TV. We could be at war with China or Russia any minute, he rants. Imagine if we locked in a 47% by 2020 emission target! His plan is to attack Labor’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas with his own mob’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas.

What could possibly go wrong?

“The greatest challenge facing the defeated federal Liberal Party is not whether to move to the right or the left, nor whether to court voters in the outer suburbs or try to win back its once blue-ribbon seats. It is how to stay relevant and it’s a challenge the party seems barely to recognise,” writes Judith Brett.

The major challenge for Labor is not what the emissions reduction target should be so much as stopping new coal and gas and how soon it can kick big coal and the oil and gas industry out of the temple before its true believers lose their faith entirely.

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What’s the go, Albo? (Part 1)

OK, Albo’s no Italian stallion – despite the euphoria of love on the rebound – especially after our abusive relationships with a series of cads, war criminal Howard, then “me myself and I” – Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison-too much in love with themselves to brook any rival – whose neoliberal religion sees people as mere consumers; or commodities in a transaction. So it’s not quite love at first sight yet and we’re not quite over the moon, however wonderful it is to see a normal human being become Prime Minister.

Barely a month has passed since amateur DJ, Albo moved his shaving kit into The Lodge bathroom and stashed his Midnight Oil, Spiderbait and Powderfinger amongst his trove of classic vinyl into the spare room yet we’re wondering about the new bloke. OK. He sounds decent, speaks sense and doesn’t lie his head off. That’s refreshing.

But is it enough? Did anyone expect Albo to be in such an oil-fired-nuclear-powered hurry to kiss Biden’s arse? Suck up to Soekarno puppet, Joko Widodo? Where in the pre-nups does it say that, We the People, agree to turn Darwin into a US Marine Base of over 2000 troops on a rotational basis? Whatever that means. The Marines are part of a Top Secret Plan in which Australia helps the neo-con hawks in the Pentagon goad China into a nuclear war over Taiwan. Soon. What could possibly go wrong?

Madeleine King certainly strikes a bum note when she calls for coal to step up to fill the void to push power prices down. There is no void. But our generators can play funny buggers with the supply if they want to create a crisis. Hold a gun to our heads. We know that Australia is a carbon capture state but King still shocks us.

Has Labor learned nothing from the Teals’ performance at the last election? Does it want to alienate the very MPs it will need to support its legislation in the Senate?

And who isn’t blind-sided when Albo dons the Morrison cloak of a secret National Cabinet – or COAG on stilts? Doesn’t he know that the cloak is a poisoned robe like the shirt of Nessus? Look what it did to Bulldozer Morrison.

COAG is a Keating stunt from 1992. It doesn’t need re-heating. There are already calls for local councils to participate. But why stop there? Those at home, such as age pensioners who must choose between paying the power bill and eating could join those who will now be sick with worry that they won’t even get Jobseeker.

All could rack up points just by logging in. Amazing Julie Bishop didn’t think of it. In 2015, her DFAT was gutted but she did get her hipster innovation Hub? A “gorgeous little funky, hipster, Googly, Facebooky-type place” it was supposed to come up with clever ways to run foreign aid on no money. Yep. Look where we are now.

The poor and needy will just have to eat less. So the minimum wage is lifted by 5.2%. An extra $20 per week? Whoopie do. It won’t even cover the rise in the price of petrol. With inflation tipped to hit seven per cent by market whisperer, the superbly reserved, Phil Lowe, by this time next year, our lowest-paid workers will suffer a cut in their real wages. Phil’s the lad from the Reserve Bank, an outfit from 1960, who knows we’ve all forgotten that nowhere in its charter is the notion that it will control inflation.

It can’t. You can’t control inflation caused by external causes including Putin’s genocide in Ukraine and the global Covid pandemic that, with the blind eye of authorities, is on track to kill 15-18,000 of us before the year ends. Our COVID case and death rates are one of the highest in the world. Super news, for all of us but Rupert who controls our mainstream news, seems to have kept the facts away from his newshounds.

You wouldn’t read about it in any mainstream news, including our ABC, which Morrison’s captain’s pick, Ita Buttrose, decides needs an entirely redundant Ombudsman to report directly to its Liberal-stacked Board. It’s a slap in the face for hard-working investigative journalists such as Four Corners, even if they do get Matthew Carney to replace Sally Neighbour. OK. Joel Tozer from Sixty Minutes gets 7:30 but he’s ex-ABC.

Covid is your own responsibility now, kids. Inflation? Think of the economy, (amen) as The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss reminds us, “while high inflation is bad news for the budgets of 10 million Australian households, it’s good news for the bottom line of the commonwealth budget. While rapidly rising prices for groceries, coffee, petrol and building supplies mean tough choices are being made around Australia’s kitchen tables, those same price rises mean government revenue from the GST are set to surge.”

Those left jobless, by the recession we’re rushing into, carrying a trillion dollars in debt – thank-you Josh Frydenberg – will be further pilloried by the seven billion dollar Morrison scheme of requiring job seekers to rack up points before getting forty dollars a day to live on or $200 a fortnight below the Henderson Poverty Line.

Can’t be fixed now. Tony Burke tells us he’s inherited a war on the poor that’s too late to end. Far too hard to raise Jobseeker above the poverty line? What’s the go, Albo?

Unfixable is the Morrison-Taylor energy crisis. He may sound a bit dim but don’t be deceived. Angus Taylor’s a smart cookie. There’s not only the family firm that former Water Minister, Barnaby Joyce gave $80 million to in the Watergate scandal, involving the Taylor family’s East Australian Agriculture with an HQ in the Caymans. Plus another firm which sprayed Roundup on endangered native grassland that he has to manage. With a bit of help from a mate. Cayman Islands? It’s all a mystery, but as Gus assures sticky-beaks, such as Fran Kelly, all the best companies do it.

Thank goodness newly appointed US Trade and Investment Commissioner Giovanni Pork Barilaro is able to draft Taylor’s family firm a cool $130,000 in 2018 for a project to prove that it wasn’t poison. Grass has its bad days, too, you know. Best of all, Gus Taylor is able to keep the lights on just until Labor won the election. Doubtless Gus will be cheered to learn that a federal ICAC, an election promise, the PM is determined to keep, will be set up by December.

Well done, Albo – and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus QC. But The Greens want the ICAC up and running before the October Budget. Helen Haines, they argue, already has a model ready to go. And the cross bench will have the power.

So what’s the go with Coal-Keeper, Albo? The Energy Security Board (ESB) is one of a bevy of at least half a dozen, vital to ensuring that coal remains king, while government subsidises the massive profits of largely private companies which don’t pay tax – with the exception of Queensland whose state generators are into profiteering anyway. The ESB claims in its newest report that it isn’t a coal-keeper at all, yet the fine print admits that keeping the coal fires burning – using public funds to subsidise a few fabulously wealthy multinational corporations – just might happen anyway.

The wonderfully named Anna Collyer, chair of the ESB, is in The AFR, Monday, 20 June

“… in the past, the concept of a capacity mechanism has been dubbed ‘coal-keeper’. It is a catchy line, but it is not the intent. The intent is to design a tool that provides more certainty around dispatchable capacity – that is capacity that can respond to a dispatch signal on demand.”

Yet as Crikey’s Bernard Keane notes, the ESB admits that, in the fine print, “a capacity provider may decide to factor in refurbishment or retrofitting costs into their bid and if this is cost-competitive against new capacity, then customers receive the reliability benefit of this asset remaining in the market.”

Now Chris Bowen is shovelling money into the off-shore accounts of our nation’s energy racketeers, paying generators to keep the lights on in a system rigged to reward the big investor while it leaves families in the cold and dark. We’ve shacked up with Labor for at least three years? Single-term governments are rare in Australian politics.

Of course, it’s early days. Of course, we’re jumpy. Years of suffering abuse, neglect and gaslighting in a serial relationship based on lies, the demeaning cruelty of coercive control and gaslighting is enough to give anybody PTSD.

And when the wide boys in power have been milking the till, fiddling the books and colluding in the game of mates behind a thick veil of secrecy – all to enrich the top end of town, almost anyone honest, decent or fair would be better.

Yes. We know Albo’s got to keep his head down. But is it a small Target Strategy or no bottle? Labor won the election. It now holds seventy-seven seats in the lower house and the senate has enough Greens and Independents to be workable. Even with one UAP senator in the upper house. If they don’t stick their heads up soon, the ruling Murdoch-Stokes-Costello-ABC media oligopoly will destroy Labor.

It’s a relief not to see a PM giving out ukuleles to Pacific leaders. But Albo has to be decisive. He is. But it’s all a bit frantic. Nine years too late to put the dumpster fire that the LNP made of our financial aid to our Pacific neighbours.

ScoMo didn’t carry a hose. Albo’s dashing all over our the Pasifika dousing embers. Our formidable Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, is run ragged. But it’s been nine years since Abbott and Hockey slashed $4.5 billion from Foreign Aid, a move they followed up in their second budget raid on Julie Bishop’s kitty with another $3.5 billion “efficiency dividend” of a billion dollars a year over three years.

Much as he may and try to please our US masters who fear that Pacific Islands nations now turn to China after being given the cold shoulder by Australia, it’s a bit late. China has outbid us in the battle for hearts and minds. The China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision is a plan extended to at least a dozen Pacific states.

Granted, Penny Wong is on to it. She says; “China has made its intentions clear. So too are the intentions of the new Australian government. We want to help build a stronger Pacific family.” Is the language right? It’s dangerously close to the patronising duplicity of the previous regime. Island leaders scorn “boomerang” aid that largely benefits the Australian donor. But there’s more, Wong touts more of Kanaka 2.0 where Pasifika workers fly in and pick our fruit, tend our vines and labour in our vegetable market gardens but she’s got to combat the lived experience of workers who have made the long trip, worked all season only to return out of pocket to their labour contractor.

In a desperate pitch, along with “our Pacific labour programs” a modern form of slavery for many, she offers new permanent migration opportunities.” The last bit’s tricky. It may, sadly, be just practical given the rate at which our heavily subsidised fossil-fuel industry contributes to rising sea levels through exported coal and gas. Emissions rise as other countries burn our exported fossil fuels. They are now more than double Australia’s domestic emissions.

But won’t The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun have fun with the permanent migration? Morrison used to go off his chops about “sugar on the table.” Pull factors only in the Murdoch-approved Coalition fiction of events. No hint that people get into leaky boats to escape hell on earth at home.

Rudd stopped the boats, by declaring that no-one arriving by boats would be settled in Australia in his flawed, 2013 Pacific Solution. But expect a re-run of the lie. Already there are images of boats of asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka appearing in Murdoch’s gutter press. The implication that boats are arriving because Labor is soft on borders ignores the worst economic crisis to ravage the nation since 1949, forcing the nation to default on its loans and creating grave political and social unrest.

And as we love-bomb bemused Pacific Islanders, we are doing very little for Sri Lanka, save turning back at least three boats in violation of UN law on refoulement and in repudiation of our obligations under international law.

Hockey and Abbott hollered for years about a debt and deficit disaster and how there was a budget emergency. Then Hockey went on The Nation in New Zealand in July 2014 and admitted he’d been making it all up. Luckily our ABC did the right thing and no-one else in the mainstream media picked it up either. In case you missed it, here’s what he said.

“The Australian economy is not in trouble… There’s no crisis at all in the Australian economy.”

Of course, Sleepy Joe Biden’s got Albo on the hop. The big shock is not that Labor’s all the way with the USA. That’s the Labor path, not that history exists anymore given the eternal present bestowed upon us by Odin’s Eye, our MSM Cyclops, working tirelessly around the clock to produce a virtual national frontal lobotomy. If the past and its study were permitted to exist, we’d know that Labor is very much in favour of the alliance. Or we’d form the foolish notion, even after the publication of Jenny Hocking’s research in the Palace letters, that we are in charge of our own destiny.

And our great and powerful friend, Washington, has never upped the peppercorn rent that we charge for its bases at Nurrungar and Pine Gap that are so handy in guiding its missiles and drones. If we’re squaring off to go to war with China, Pine Gap is critical, according to a couple of high-ranking military types who fired a shot over our bows down under, ahead of the Morrison’s government’s massive loss on 21 May.

Admiral John “Lung” Aquilino, boss of the US Indo-Pacific Command, last year declared that war against China was “much closer than most think,” described Australia as an “extremely high-end partner.”

“Lung” is a hawk and was Trump’s pick for the job in December but after Biden’s victory, he needed to be reviewed. Nice work, Biden.

On backup vocals during the visit, is General James Dickinson, another hawk, head of US Space Command. Australia is a “critical partner” in space warfare, including to monitor Chinese space operations, he gushes – guardedly.

“This is the perfect location for a lot of things we need to do,” he tells London’s The Financial Times. “Things” include going to war with China over Taiwan, another military adventure in which Australia will tag along without any tedious parliamentary debate. Or gesture towards democratic process.

Even Little Britain goes through the process of parliamentary debate. (Not that it stopped Thatcher’s madness in The Falklands, another coup for Rupert’s press.“Stick it up the argies” one tasteful banner screamed. Nor did it impede the neocon New Labour’s Tony Blair from war crimes in Iraq.)

Shooting down China’s hypersonic missiles is also on Aquilino’s list whilst – another “thing”- the US expands its base in Darwin to accommodate storage of 300 million litres of fuel.

Third, what is described as “over two thousand Marines” are now deployed in Marine Rotational Force-Darwin. Could be two hundred thousand as far as we know.

“Marry in haste repent at leisure” my Dad, a Royal Navy veteran, used to say, in that way he had of firing bits of folk wisdom, wise old saws and music hall ditties into the void between us; along with shafts of rebarbative dockside-matey’s wit that you suspected were aimed at you. “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes, son.”

Not that we’re married to Albo or his Labor government. Indeed The Narrative, aka “The National Conversation” on vacuous chat shows like The Drum, refreshed each morning by The Australian, the Pravda of a uniquely concentrated, inbred and incestuous Australian mainstream media oligopoly, says no. Our MEDIUM says we’re having a fling and the Coalition is still the government in exile and eternally newsworthy.

Insiders features serial failure, Spud the dud, Peter Dutton while Dave Littleproud bones Barnaby Thomas Gerard Barnaby Joyce, the knight in shining armour and Riverview Old Boy, a loving silver-spoonful, who brags that his parents are “quite rich” is on Sky in his heroic fight for the Weatherboard Nine of Warwick and the shareholders in Santos.

“I didn’t give a toss for where power comes from, but one of the greatest afflictions for people in the weatherboard and iron is they can’t afford power,” he says in 2018. That’s working well for BJ at present, as the other remarkable cartel in all our lives, the electricity generators get the red card from the regulator for withholding supply to bid the spot price up. An industry allowed to set its own regulations by captive politicians

Abusive relationships seldom end well. There are the highs; elation when you discover that your new partner seems to care, like when the Biloela family is allowed to come home. We hope it’s not just a token. Or joy when you see he can lead a team; delegating to capable ministers instead of overshadowing, upstaging, micromanaging and having an affair with his own image in the lens of his personal photographer.

But then there are the lows. Julian Assange? Letting Jobseekers suffer a new set of petty cruelties? Keeping Morrison’s National Cabinet – and keeping it top secret? An energy Minister sucking up to the mining oligarchy? Madeleine King, a coal shill?

When Employment Minister Tony Burke says it’s too late to abandon the Morrison misgovernment’s $7bn point system Pbas to qualify for a jobseeker payment that is well below the Henderson Poverty Line, it’s a worry. Burke says contracts have been awarded. But try telling that to Emanuel Macron. Burke is saying all the right things but it does seem as if the Coalition has booby-trapped the incoming government; poisoned the chalice of electoral victory.

“What the government’s designed, some of it’s more punitive than actually getting the job done. We want to make sure, and I’ll be changing it over the course of the next week, to make sure that we can have a system that’s designed to get people into work, rather than some media stunt to punish people.”

Burke needs to speak to a few job seekers. There’s enough of them around. Half don’t make it into official statistics. They’ll tell you how demeaning it is to prove yourself worthy of a pittance. It doesn’t matter how much you dress it up or claim you have a system up your sleeve, it’s completely irredeemable. Any civil society worth its salt knows that support for the needy and vulnerable should be unconditional. Scrap it. Put the money into fixing the NDIS which the Liberals have done their best to scupper.

But there are lows and lows, Albo. You dash off to Tokyo like Joe Biden’s bellhop. Far too keen to get your riding instructions as deputy sheriff of our bit of the Pacific. You’d barely been sworn in? Putting Penny Wong on how many charm offensives to counter China’s designs? She’s barely time to re-pack her travel bag. What’s the go Albo?

Snap out of it. Yep, we’ve all got PTSD thanks to being monstered by the fat controller Morrison and his gaslighting, happy clapping bullies, still feted and enabled by the gang of five led by Lizard of Oz.

We all get the face we deserve, but Murdoch’s wizened, fissured mug looks like an elephant’s scrotum, with apologies to David Hockney who on seeing WH Auden said if that’s his face, imagine what his scrotum must look like. One comfort is that having sunk half the family fortunes into Disney +, the patriarch has halved his family’s net worth. Another small consolation is that only about half the population “use news” on any given day. Then, there’s the tragic decline of print media. Rupert’s rags may have to fold. Or they may already be sold. Given News Corp’s secrecy, we’d never know.

Don’t let it spook you, Albo. The Pacific Islanders want us to commit to zero emissions. That’s better than your charm offensive. No matter how brilliant she is, Penny Wong will never match the Chinese budget for aid. War with China? Hold your nerve. Don’t fall for the cock and bull of neocon loonies in the Pentagon. Look where it’s got us in the past. A winnable nuclear war? Mutually assured destruction? MAD. Nah. Just madness.

Hold your fire. There’s heaps to do at home. A Voice to Parliament. Energy. Welfare. Education. Higher Education. Health. Wages. The Arts. Climate. Everything worthwhile’s been neglected under the fossil fuel muppets of the last nine years.

And do bring on the Royal Commission into Murdoch. As soon as you can.

Morrison didn’t just drive the Liberal Party into a mountain. He and his predecessors dismantled our democratic, civil society. You call yourself a builder in the election campaign. Let’s see some of that. So what’s the go, Albo?

Link to Part 2

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Staindl v Frydenberg: a pyrrhic victory for Josh?

By Sandi Keane

Currently, unless he can find $410,000, Kooyong electorate local climate hero, Michael Staindl, faces bankruptcy and the loss of his house to our Treasurer after unsuccessfully challenging Frydenberg’s eligibility to sit in parliament.

That is, unless Mr Frydenberg shows clemency, forgives the debt or has the Commonwealth declare the case to be of public interest and picks up the costs – as with the other dual citizenship cases. According to Frydenberg’s Register of Public Interests, Arnold Block Leibler acted pro bono for Frydenberg. Did they in this case? Who knows but a choice of options appears to be within his power and, importantly, his own interests. To explain …

Background:

In 2017, a constitutional crisis saw 15 Federal MPs caught by Section 44 of the Constitution. Josh Frydenberg’s name was raised. With a one-seat majority and the additional prospect of having the validity of his decisions as Minister for Environment challenged under Section 64 of the Constitution, the Liberal Party set the propaganda mills in motion. On 3 November, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched forth with a thunderous barrage ‑ “lynch mob witch hunt” and “Mr Frydenberg’s mother was a Holocaust survivor who was rendered stateless in the Nazi era.” [Note: Hungary never adopted Nuremberg Law which stripped Jews of their citizenship].

A few days later, on 6 November, 2GB’s Ray Hadley was one of the first to respond with his podcast headed ‘EXCLUSIVE: Josh Frydenberg’s mother had passport on arrival in Australia’. “It appears they were not stateless,” said Hadley, on receipt of a document showing Frydenberg’s mother, Erica Strausz arrived with a valid Hungarian passport and Landing Permit signed by the Commonwealth Migration Officer. Whilst acknowledging the “Holocaust was a dreadful, dreadful piece of history”, Hadley reluctantly concluded “Mr Frydenberg has a significant problem” and called for a full audit of both sides of parliament.

But this never happened.

The race card worked for nearly two years until after the 2019 federal election when a ticking time bomb again threatened the federal Coalition’s hold on power.

Enter lawyer, anti-logging, anti duck-hunting campaigner, novelist and poet, Trevor Poulton and his Team Law website. On it, a copy of a letter dated 19 July to Prime Minister Scott Morrison stating there was a case for a Petition to the High Court backed up with an alarming array of evidence and documents. Not only did the Coalition scrape in with a one seat majority at the 2016 election with Frydenberg’s decisions as Minister challengeable but ditto for the 2019 election and his decisions as Treasurer.

The documents exploded the myth that Frydenberg’s family had “fled the Holocaust” as claimed first by PM Turnbull then by PM Morrison. The family left Budapest for Vienna in September 1949 originally en route to Israel as emigrants. They left under a communist regime which took over in 1945. The Prime Minister at that time, Mátyás Rákosi, was actually Jewish by birth.

 

 

Other documents included detailed Hungarian Citizenship Law. As mentioned, in Hungary, there was no equivalent of Hitler’s Nuremberg laws, which stripped Jews of their citizenship. Citizenship was inherited via Ius sanguinus. (Note: Frydenberg stated his mother lost her citizenship in 1948 under the communist regime but no proof was offered.)

But here’s the irony: Poulton himself was a ticking timebomb – he’d written a book called ‘The Holocaust Denier’. Housed in the State Library, it’s about a Melbourne policeman and illuminates the danger of obsessively embracing extremist views in the search for an identity. Ends with him losing his humanity and his life. Hardly the ending an anti-Semite would concoct, one would have thought.

 

Playing the race card

I was editor-in-chief at Michael West Media at the time, but ours was a business focus back then. This potential scoop was not for us. I contacted Hugh Riminton at Channel 10 recommending he interview Poulton. I warned Riminton that discrediting Poulton as an “anti-Semite” would be a piece of cake thanks to ‘The Holocaust Denier‘. Unfortunately, when questioned, by Riminton on 16 July 2019, Poulton failed to get the message of the book across. Sadly, it also appeared I was the only journalist who bothered to read it.

Goaded into action, recriminations were swift. The Prime Minister responded on Channel 10 two days later about a “planned High Court challenge” calling Poulton a “Holocaust denier” and “anti-Semite”.

Just weeks later, on 31 July 2019, Kooyong climate activist, Michael Staindl, filed his Petition against Frydenberg and the destruction of the reputations and financial livelihoods of two Australian citizens who’d never been in contact but shared a mutual concern for the planet was about to begin.

Using the race card to discredit Trevor Poulton’s damning evidence was easy. Week by week, he’d come out swinging with another bagful of what seemed unassailable facts in the form of evidence-based articles on Independent Australia which the Libs would put to fire and sword using the good old “anti-Semite” label. Staindl and Poulton were in lockstep, a tag team, they claimed as they hounded and vilified them as “anti-Semitic” and “pro-Nazi”. It sent MSM scuttling to the sidelines and cowed even the other independent media.

The “race card” worked a treat. The University of Sydney even went so far as to post the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s (ECAJ) Report on antisemitism in Australia 2019 naming not just Trevor Poulton and Michael Staindl but Kooyong candidates Oliver Yates (Independent) and Julian Burnside (Greens) who were deemed to be in league with Staindl and Poulton!

When I spoke to veteran Jewish anti duck-hunting campaigner, Laurie Levy, recently, he spoke highly of fellow wildlife lover and environmentalist, Trevor Poulton, who’d campaigned alongside him for seven years flying up to the Victorian wetlands scaring the bejeezus out of the ducks (and no doubt the shooters) at the start of each season.

Their public awareness campaign to end recreational shooting of native waterbirds resulted in a 90% reduction in the kill-rate, Levy said. As a Labor Party member, Levy believed Poulton got up the nose of Labor over its failure to ban duck-hunting. When asked about the “anti-Semitism” label, Levy was surprised. “I knew him well. I’d call him idealistic if anything.”

Yet we saw Morrison call Staindl “despicable” and an “anti-Semite” because he was falsely accused of working with Poulton, (who in turn has been falsely accused of being a “Holocaust denier”). [Updated]

 


Michael Staindl is a long-term local champion of action on climate change (Photo by Julian Meehan)

 

So much for the background. The following timeline is revealing as far as the outcome of Staindl’s case is concerned:

2 November 2017

Minister Frydenberg applies to the Hungarian Embassy in Canberra for his solicitors, Arnold, Bloch Leibler to make enquiries to clarify his citizenship status.

2 November 2017

Embassy of Hungary Canberra responds to Frydenberg attaching an Application for Verification of Citizenship to be completed and sent to the Office of Immigration and Nationality, Budapest. We can assume this never happened as we see in the timeline nearly two years later that Frydenberg asks again but avoids the recommended procedure. [Note: I interviewed 2019 Greens’ Candidate Tim Hollo – also Jewish with a parent born in Budapest who left after WW2 – who followed the correct procedure. He was issued with a citizenship certificate. He then had to officially renounce his citizenship, thus receiving a second certificate signed by the President of Hungary.]

Update:
As originally reported, I interviewed 2019 Greens’ candidate, Tim Hollo – also Jewish with a parent born in Budapest who left after WW2 – who followed the correct two-step verification procedure. He was issued with a citizenship certificate signed by the President of Hungary. He then had to officially renounce his citizenship, thus receiving a second certificate signed by the President of Hungary.

Since publishing this investigation, we have new compelling evidence that the “stateless” argument that the Strausz family left Hungary in 1949 on a one way ticket thus rendering them stateless was at odds with Hungarian law, specifically Law 55. The document below is of Tim Hollo’s grandmother. It is an American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Vienna index card from 1956, on which she is identified as “stl” (stateless), former Ung.

 

 

The rules in practice in 1949 were the same as in 1957.

In an interview with the ABC back on 15 February 2019, Hollo told journalist Jake Evans:

“I had always assumed that because [the Hollos] defected, I wouldn’t be entitled to citizenship. I thought I would be struck off,” he said.

“The weird thing is in Hungary it’s kind of the opposite – they’re keen to repatriate people who fled. I automatically became Hungarian even though I didn’t know it.”

“It took me months of research to find out that I was actually automatically a Hungarian citizen, and then it took many more months, a big effort, searching for documents across the world and lawyers in Hungary to renounce that citizenship I didn’t know I had.”

We have two other similar statements. Given the popularity of EU passports, it would be safe to assume that thousands of descendants of former “stateless” Hungarian-born citizens have been taking advantage of the welcome mat proffered by the Hungarian Government. The proof is in the pudding as they say, so where does this leave Mr Frydenberg? It’s a simple task to fill in the form from the Hungarian Embassy and follow the correct procedure, is it not?

31 July 2019

Petition filed by Staindl against Frydenberg.

1 August 2019

Michael Sukkar attack/smear/slander in Federal Parliament.

14 August 2019

Tim Smith attack/smear/slander in Victorian Parliament.

28 August 2019

Frydenberg served with Petition.

4 September 2019

Just days after Staindl’s Petition is served, former Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Liberal MP Kevin Andrews visit Budapest. According to the report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 6 October 2019, Abbott gave two speeches at Danube Institute. But here’s the interesting fact: he had a private meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orban as well as the Parliamentary State Secretary, Balazs Orban (no relation).

Abbott’s cosy relationship with the Hungarian PM is well known as is the Liberal Party’s links to the Danube Institute. Mark Higgie, Abbott’s former international affairs adviser, thereafter Australia’s ambassador to Hungary, is a senior fellow at the Danube Institute and is the Europe correspondent for Spectator Australia. Brian Loughnane sits on its international advisory board. Married to Abbott’s former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, he directed several of Abbott’s federal election campaigns.

11 September 2019

Andrew Bragg Attack/smear/slander in Federal Parliament.

15 November 2019

Expert witness, Dr Peter Lang (legal expert from Hungary on dual citizenship and university professor) files Expert Opinion stating in his expert opinion Frydenberg was entitled to Hungarian citizenship via Ius sanguinus – unless he had completed a certificate of renouncement to the President of Hungary.

23 November 2019

Just a week later, The Australian reports (paywalled) that Frydenberg had received a letter Minister Gergely Gulyas from the Hungarian Prime Minister’s office to say “Hungary rules out Treasurer Josh Frydenberg as citizen”. (See “Hungarian government letter reportedly clears Josh Frydenberg of citizenship“). Like “the dog that didn’t bark in the night,” a close reading of the letter divulges by omission that Erica Strausz was not stripped of her Hungarian citizenship. Likewise, it references no records of Erica Strausz after her departure from Hungary in 1949 so again, by omission, fails to confirm whether there were records listing her as a Hungarian citizen prior to her departure in 1949. (cf. Poulton’s response on this.)

Furthermore, we know that Frydenberg obtained advice from the Hungarian Embassy back in November 2017 on the correct procedure which was to apply to the Office of Immigration and Nationality in Budapest. Clearly, he failed to do so given he felt the need to contact the Hungarian PM directly two years later. So, given the above and the fact that the letter from Gulyas would appear to have no credence under the ‘Act LV of 1993 on Hungarian Citizenship’, was this just a politically-executed piece of hokum to breathe life into the “non-citizen” claim?

Furthermore, according to Dr Lang in his Expert Witness Statement:

“The period to be investigated for the expert is 1943 to 1971. It is irrelevant is Mrs Frydenberg lost her Hungarian citizenship in any way after 17 July 1971. If Mrs Frydenberg was not divested from her Hungarian citizenship, her Hungarian citizenship has not ceased, therefore at the time of Mr Frydenberg’s birth on 17 July, 1971, she remained a Hungarian citizen.”

Interestingly, during the court case, Frydenberg’s legal team was unable to find any concrete evidence his mother had lost her citizenship.

24 November 2019

Removal of Report on antisemitism in Australia 2019 on the ECAJ and University of Sydney Law School websites and Facebook Accounts naming Trevor Poulton, Michael Staindl, Oliver Yates and Julian Burnside following Concerns Notices pursuant to the Defamation Act (Vic) by Trevor Poulton.

23 January 2020

Star Witness, Dr Peter Lang, writes to say he cannot attend court because of a “health status”. According to Staindl:

“On 9 February, Vanessa Bleyer from Bleyer Lawyers wrote that she hadn’t heard from Dr Lang since 5 February. No answer to her emails or phone calls.”

17 March 2020

Court’s Judgement: Whereas the onus was on the other MPs to provide proof that they were NOT entitled to citizenship, Staindl was asked to provide proof that Frydenberg WAS.

As already stated, Hungary had no equivalent of Hitler’s Nuremberg laws, renouncing citizenship required permission from the police. The government could “divest” you of your citizenship involuntarily, but only if it published that decision. There was no record that it had re the Strauszes. But with Staindl’s expert witness in Hungarian Law, Dr Peter Lang mysteriously going missing, the court decided that:

“The niceties of proof of the production or issue of documents by the political police in a totalitarian state, possibly lost or destroyed in revolution (in 1956 in Hungary) or in travel (by the Strausz family in Hungary, or on the way to Vienna, to Paris, to Genoa, to Fremantle, and eventually to Sydney) can be put aside when one recognises the realities of 1949.”

As Jeremy Gans reported in Inside Story:

“Staindl’s problem was that he never had the opportunity to put his “shell” theory [i.e. citizenship rights revivified with the fall of Communism in 1989] to any expert in Hungarian law.”

Well, yes, Jeremy… that’s because the expert in Hungarian law, had vanished and was uncontactable!

Fortunately, I was able to locate Dr Peter Lang last week. He doubled down on his original opinion:

“I uphold my legal opinion and claim that no evidence was available based on which Mrs. Erica Strausz had been stripped of her Hungarian citizenship,”

adding

“allow me to note that I find $410,000 in legal expenses awarded to the plaintiff as unproportionate,”

but he refused to respond to my question his health status, saying: “I have no intention to give you more details.”

Without the expert witness, it’s hard to see how Staindl could have won the case.

 

Kay and Michael Staindl

To conclude:

Was the loss of the case for Staindl a pyrrhic victory for Frydenberg? Should he quit while he’s ahead and forgive the debt? What do you, the reader, or more to the point – the voter – think? Having stood back and watched a much-loved climate hero’s reputation destroyed; labelled anti-Semitic in Federal and Victorian parliament, vilified in Newscorp media, attacked by the Prime Minister and even outed by Sydney University in its Report on antisemitism in Australia 2019 (thankfully now removed after Poulton’s defo threat), should Mr Frydenberg show the same compassion others granted him? After all, the case cannot be appealed. Michael’s was not a quixotic quest. Surely, the law is the law – a higher bar?

The latest poll results show Voices’ “Integrity and Climate” campaigner, Monique Ryan, a genuine prospect for Kooyong. Even Murdoch media’s headlines (paywalled) are warning ‘Kooyong isn’t safe anymore’. For someone with leadership ambitions, we know what happened to the last “mean and tricky” Liberal PM when Howard lost his seat to a first-time female candidate.

Furthermore, according to Dr Lang in his Expert Opinion (please also refer to update below):

“The period to be investigated for the expert is 1943 to 1971. It is irrelevant is Mrs Frydenberg lost her Hungarian citizenship in any way after 17 July 1971. If Mrs Frydenberg was not divested from her Hungarian citizenship, her Hungarian citizenship has not ceased, therefore at the time of Mr Frydenberg’s birth on 17 July, 1971, she remained a Hungarian citizen.” (Click here to upload Dr Lang’s full Expert Opinion.)

Update:

Want to get an EU passport and have parent/s born in Hungary? Couldn’t be easier than with the Hungarian Government. See “All You Need to Know About Hungarian Citizenship by Descent.”

As Dr Lang points out in his Expert Opinion, Law 55 of the 1993 legislation on Hungarian Citizenship means that even those declared stateless qualify since that date for citizenship as do their children.

 

 

Change.org: Mr Frydenberg, don’t take their house! Pease sign the petition!

Note: This petition is going to be presented to Frydenberg’s office at 10.30am this Friday. Let’s get as many signatures on this petition as we can.

Chuffed.org: Frydenberg’s Future – a citizenship challenge. Donations gratefully accepted.

Sandi was a former editor Michael West Media, and prior to that was editor at Independent Australia. Before that she ran a highly successful business which landed her on the front cover of Personal Investment magazine. Sandi has conducted corporate investigations, principally into the CSG and media sectors. Her investigation into the anti-wind lobby and Waubra Foundation was used to support Labor’s Clean Energy Bill, thus, making it into Hansard. One of Sandi’s investigations into the CSG industry saw Santos forced to pull its TV advertising. Sandi holds a Masters degree in Journalism from the University of Melbourne. You can follow Sandi on Twitter @jarrapin. Email her at keanesandi@gmail.com.

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Another nail in Australia’s coffin – the silence will be deafening

Another nail in Australia’s coffin – Facebook bans sharing news in Australia and Google backs big business – guess who wins? PS: But… we can still write, post and share our own.

Does that sound like a tweet or what! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears. Flying blind – The silence will be deafening on FB.

Game, set and match? This is not freedom of choice. This is political censorship by default and design. The Australian media news landscape embroiled, further compromised, falling off the edge of the continental shelf and the Australian public alienated from its own local news and rest of the world, like have we all just been sent to Coventry?

This was the LNP Think Tank’s intention and a golden opportunity to fulfil their primary goal – Can you and I, can we not see this!

This guy (Josh) and his buddy (Scomo), and the whole frigging LNP camp of degenerates really need to fuck off to the casino big time. We have them now to blame for ‘all of us’ becoming news blind in Australia on Facebook and Social Media. Going against their declared political principles of free trade, freedom of information, news and free speech for a bigger prize. This is a huge setback for Australians.

This is exactly what Frydenberg and Morrison want, to silence and deafen FB or more to the point Australians who use FB to share their news, thoughts, views and opinions. By doing so they get to control the flow of news, media and opinion. The public broadcasters, ABC and SBS were never going to be free to enter these deals and you would be grossly naive if you thought smaller independent news outlets would ever gain traction on this legislation with the corporate giants – That’s not how Monopoly is played. Google have taken a different path but can you see them entering into the plethora of smaller agreements and will our government under this legislation or policy direction give a damn!

 

Image from dailymail.co.uk

 

So Frydenberg and Morrison get to spread their shit here on FB and everywhere else for free, what hypocrites. The News giants like Murdoch and News Corps get to rake in the money and spread the pain for their shit everywhere – and laughing. There will be no informed democracy and elections in this game. The Liberals are doing this, not for equity, fairness or justice, but given all the run offs and stacked consequences, as planned; giving them massive control over news, media information available, not available, accessibility on public and social platforms. Will this be good for the economy even?

The chosen ones, yes.

I don’t condone FB’s decision, but Morrison and Frydenberg knew very well this was the likely path, and why indeed should FB as a business pay for users, other people’s decisions on what they share – What kind of fucked up business model is that? What next? Will the Liberals have ‘us’ pay for shared advertising too? Actually, we already are, out of the public purse.

Would you charge me if I offered you a lift to the supermarket to get your groceries? The government (the Liberals) are raving bonkers.

Australia totally screwed on this one, folks! This is political censorship, where only the sharks profit at the expense of freedom of choice, information and information sharing, one of the founding principles of the internet, and ironically democracy, fair dinkum. Yes, the Liberals, Nationals, News Corps, big business elites et al are pushing our noses in it and our heads in the sand – make no mistake. I can’t breathe!

End game – Erosion of political and electoral public intelligence and information, control of the airwaves, right wing power grab and supremacy, come next election. Not even Trump could manage this (Foxy News versus Washington Post), but here by any other means, with a swoop of the pen, Morrison, Frydenberg and the Liberals (image source: ‘elbows kissing’ courtesy of the Australian, how ironic) are banking on that ignorance turning in their favour, like it did for 74 million Americans! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears.

Eyes to the right where we can expect the procreation of more lies, hypocrisy, false (manufactured) news and proliferation of extreme right wing and fundamentalist opinion, especially from Murdoch, News Corps, Government, corporate mining elites and big business; and sadly, Facebook and Google are deserting the public camp for consumerism in their own separate ways. Did I mention tongues and fiery pulpit of the very holy Morrison-Frydenberg spirit – Holy cow!

They say no man is an island, Australia is and has just become even more isolated from the rest of the world, thanks to the LNP and our government – Regulation be damned (on this one).

But maybe we are all just about to become more creative – We can write, post and share our own news and opinion pieces with complementary piccies. Isn’t that what these social platforms and truly independent media are for?

This is democracy. Let’s get to it!

 

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Now is not the time for subsidy cuts, says ACTU

The timing of cuts to government welfare subsidy programs such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper still lacks an appropriate nature at the start of 2021 as the Australian economy still lags in times of a recession, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said in its New Year’s message.

Addressing the nation’s workforce, and speaking specifically to the plight of the unemployed, under-employed and those labouring in insecure jobs, Scott Connolly, the ACTU’s assistant secretary, said that while unemployment rates remain high, the Morrison government going ahead with its cuts to subsidy packages takes much-needed money out of the hands of those who can best boost the nation’s flagging economy.

Initially lauded for introducing subsidies to help the suddenly-unemployed when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, the government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison and federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has proceeded to slash JobSeeker recipients’ coronavirus subsidy from its original $550 per fortnight to complement the old NewStart base rate of $559.00 per fortnight, to $250 per fortnight as of 25 September to $150 per fortnight effective their first full fortnightly reporting interval in 2021.

Connolly cites that living on an average of $51.20 per day after the most recent cut leaves JobSeeker recipients struggling even further to spend money on life’s necessities of rent, bills, and groceries, let alone anything beyond them.

“After a year spent battling bushfires and surviving a pandemic, the last thing Australians should have to worry about now is how they will pay their bills or put food on the table,” Connolly said on Friday.

The JobKeeper subsidy is also meeting the government’s machete chops, to the tune of $100 per fortnight, taking it to $1000 per fortnight for workers that had performed part- or full-time positions, or $650 per fortnight for those working under 20 hours per week.

And Connolly stresses that the cuts add up, especially for those who had been used to the struggles of their normal everyday lives.

“For many Australians, the JobKeeper coronavirus supplement meant that for the first time, they were able to eat three meals a day, or purchase much-needed medications,” Connolly said.

“To take that away from them now as this difficult year draws to a close is both callous and heartbreaking,” he added.

As reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last month in its November figures, the national unemployment rate continues to hover at 6.8 per cent – which represents an improvement of 0.2 per cent from October as workers who were put aside by their employers at the start of the pandemic returned to their duties represented a portion of those responsible for the improved numbers.

However, as the union movement and the Australian workforce continue to struggle with the impact of the current state of unemployed and under-employed as well as those embroiled in a spate of insecure jobs, Connolly also cites the recent resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases in New South Wales and Victoria as another factor as to why Morrison and Frydenberg would have been justified to delay the current round of cuts.

In fact, Connolly and the ACTU claim that the failure to even consider this action revealed a lack of proper initiative on the part of the government.

“With COVID-19 resurging in NSW and the national economic crisis far from over, cutting economic support to millions of struggling Australians is also an extremely irresponsible act,” Connolly said.

Bill Shorten, the former leader of the Labor party now serving Anthony Albanese’s shadow government as its minister for government services, concurs that the timing is poor to go ahead with the scheduled cuts.

“The government should reconsider it,” Shorten told Nine’s Today program on December 29.

“We are not out of the woods yet with this pandemic and the economic effects. They are reverberating around the economy, especially in regional towns and suburbs where there are a lot of casual workers who have bourne the biggest brunt.

“For the less well off, we shouldn’t be cutting their circumstances at this point in time,” Shorten added.

Youth unemployment remains another factor which the unions and government figures alike are grappling with, as the recent round of cuts will likely hit workers aged 16-to-24 years of age even worse.

According to the ABS in its November statistics on employment, youth unemployment currently sits at 15.6 per cent – and noting a 12-month increase of 4.1 per cent over the year before – and while that figure calculates to more than double of the national general rate of unemployment, fears abound of what impact that may have on the economy.

Especially when disabling demographics of people who are otherwise motivated to spend money to inspire a struggling economy.

“Cutting the rates of JobKeeper and JobSeeker is only going to worsen the impact of the coronavirus crisis on young workers and our community. We need jobs, not cuts,” Young Workers Centre manager Arian McVeigh said back in September, when the first cuts to JobSeeker and JobKeeper were on the eve of occurring.

 

Arian McVeigh, manager of the Young Workers Centre, who warned about the impact of JobSeeker and JobKeeper cuts back in September (Photo from abc.net.au)

 

Moreover, when the initial JobSeeker and JobKeeper cuts took effect, it was forecast to stifle the Australian economy by $31.2 billion according to a joint report from economics analysis firm Deloitte and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) – and while real figures to confirm the degree of impact have yet to be released, agreements range widely outside of government figures which confirm that consumers lack the confidence to spend money.

Advocates for the “Raise The Rate For Good” hashtag trending across social media would claim that a move to raising the old NewStart rate permanently – which has not occurred since 1994 – would help restore that confidence.

And while the ACTU has pushed for that payment to resemble the original JobSeeker amount, Labor ministers such as Shorten and Linda Burney, the ALP’s shadow minister for families and social services, have vowed to attack the issue when Parliament sits for the first time in 2021 next month before the current rate of JobSeeker and JobKeeper subsidies are set to expire at the end of March.

“Around two million Australians will be impacted by the government’s scheduled cut to the coronavirus supplement next March,” Burney said last month when announcing a similar bill to the upper house.

“Returning unemployment support to the old base rate places millions of Australians at risk of hardship and jeopardises local jobs,” added Burney.

 

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MYEFO missing points on long-term recovery: ACTU

Unemployment numbers were reported to have improved on Thursday while federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg claimed that Australia’s economy was rebounding – but the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) sent out a message of its own: increase wages and help the insecure workforce, and the nation can be guided out of recession.

As the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was reporting two divergent numbers relating to the nation’s employment figures – unemployment had improved by 0.2 per cent to 6.8 per cent for the month of November, but also noted that underemployment figures had improved by 1.0 per cent to 9.4 per cent – Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president, insisted that wage growth was the best way to ensure a faster and stronger economic recovery.

And as O’Neil’s comments come in the wake of Thursday’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) presentation update by Frydenberg and Simon Birmingham, the government’s minister for finance, she pointed out that the government’s update lends very little hope for those who had sacrificed close to a year of their working lives in 2020.

“The government had an opportunity to show that they do really care about the future of so many unemployed and underemployed Australians, but failed to deliver that today,” said O’Neil.

“We must not forget that 2.2 million Australians will be facing the end of the year with no job or not enough hours, and the government’s mid-year economic statement does not deal with this fundamental issue,” she added.

The ACTU also advised that the nation’s under-employment figures come with a caveat: while it is encouraging that people are returning to work, the government, as well as the ABS, defines anyone who works as little as an hour per week as being employed.

It also said that any current signs of recovery out of a once-in-a-generation recession possess a shaky foundation – of that recovery being quite fragile, warning that the jobless rate could possibly return to COVID-level rates without the proper vision and leadership to create jobs and increase wages.

“They had an opportunity today to redirect unspent JobKeeper to reverse the cut in payments coming at Christmas and to fund programs that would deliver decent secure jobs that help rebuild our economy, but have shirked that responsibility,” said O’Neil.

“Further, there is no plan to lift wages which have now seen eight years of low growth including the lowest on record – and we know that unless workers have confidence to spend the economy will suffer. Instead, the Morrison government has introduced industrial relations legislation which will cut workers take-home pay,” O’Neil added.

Meanwhile, both Frydenberg and Birmingham used the occasion of the MYEFO to thump the collective chest of the Morrison government, claiming that economic recovery is underway.

“Today’s [federal] budget update confirms Australia’s economy is rebounding strongly,” Frydenberg said.

“The updated numbers are encouraging and better than what was expected at budget just ten weeks ago,” the Treasurer added.

“This Budget update tells a story of resilience, of recovery and of Australians getting back to work. Stronger business and consumer confidence means more Australians are in jobs [and] there are fewer demands on government programs and stronger than expected revenue,” said Birmingham, who has forecast that the budget deficit is expected to be $24 billion less than previously anticipated.

“These forecasts, along with the other economic forecasts, stand Australia in incredibly good stead, relative to many other comparable nations. In summary, Australia’s economic and fiscal strength enabled us to enter the COVID-19 crisis with resilience,” added Birmingham.

O’Neil also put the government’s figures – which also included a line from Frydenberg saying it could take up to four years to return the unemployment rate to pre-pandemic levels – in a perspective, that revenue numbers over deficits wouldn’t be possible without tax-related incentives to businesses.

And she feels that a long-term plan for growing the economy, raising wages for all workers, and jobs-based growth has been lost in the government’s feel-good messages.

“The government has chosen the ‘low road’ recovery, with un-tied tax cuts to big business, and failed to deliver a nation-building approach to job growth,” O’Neil said.

Previously, the ACTU had called for the Morrison government to adopt and implement its National Economic Recovery Plan (NERP), a jobs-based economic recovery blueprint geared towards getting Australia out of recession, on several occasions since unveiling it in July.

Areas such as creating more secure jobs, extending childcare and early learning free of charge, investing in job-training facilities and programs, such as the TAFE system, investing in the nation’s university system, and placing a focus on jobs and investment in the manufacturing sector, were among the items on that blueprint.

But as wage growth has stagnated under successive LNP governments since 2013, the view of O’Neil and the ACTU which holds that area as the most critical means of pushing economic recovery is shared by Brendan O’Connor, Labor’s shadow minister for employment and industry.

 

Shadow employment minister Brendan O’Connor, spruiking direct action to combat a jobs crisis (Photo from TWU Vic/Tas)

 

“If the economy was as strong as the Treasurer claims, there wouldn’t still be a million Australians stuck in the jobless queues, 1.4 million workers underemployed and more left out and left behind in this recovery,” O’Connor said earlier in the week.

“While too many Australians and communities are hurting, the Liberals and Nationals are reverting to form and using the pandemic as an excuse to cut workers’ pay, cut super and strip protections from borrowers,” added O’Connor, who earlier in the month announced on behalf of the ALP what it calls a Pandemic Recovery Jobs and Industry Taskforce.

As the ALP’s initiative could be viewed as a complement to the ACTU’s NERP blueprint, O’Connor says it runs counter to what the Morrison government has been alleged to be doing in the heart of a jobs and economic crisis – leaving people to go at it in a survival-of-the-fittest regimen.

“The Taskforce will travel around the country – particularly to outer-metropolitan, regional and rural areas – to hear from employees, employers, unions, industry bodies, academics and experts about what is needed to best respond to the Morrison recession,” O’Connor said.

 

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Josh Frydenberg Seems Confused But He’s Not The Only One!

When I saw a brief headline saying that Josh Frydenberg was calling for a roadmap from Dan Andrews, I thought, Josh obviously has trouble using that tricky GPS because anything that came after the 1980s is a problem for him. Then I read the article and I realised that he was actually wanting to know the plan for bringing Melbourne out of Stage-4 lockdown.

Mr Andrews rather pathetically suggested that it would all depend on future events which is not something that the Liberals ever do. They always have a plan even if it isn’t exactly clear what it is. And they can tell us about the future. I mean, who could forget Scott Morrison’s: “We’ve brought the Budget back into surplus next year!” They even have the coffee mugs to prove that it happened. Unfortunately, there was no Budget delivered in the May so the predicted surplus didn’t happen but that – like everything else – wasn’t their fault.

Dan Andrews has been upsetting quite a lot of people recently… although it’s mainly Liberals who are frustrated that some people are failing to blame him for not being in total control when he should be, because it’s only when he assumes control that they can call him “Dictator Dan” which is their best nickname for a Labor leader since “Electricity Bill”. Someone I know has accused Dan Andrews of a) trying to spread a vicious lie that COVID-19 is more deadly than your average cold, and b) completely incompetent because he let the various spread killing thousands… I’ve read somewhere that the mark of an intelligent person is the capacity to hold two ideas simultaneously so I’ve decided that said person is in the Einstein category.

However, 2020 has produced a number of people who seem similarly blessed. For example, just a few weeks ago, Sam Newman was suggesting that he might run for Lord Mayor of Melbourne on a platform of stopping the lawlessness and anarchy that this city has been witnessing. However, just recently he was calling for 250,000 people to ignore the lockdown and congregate in the city to protest the silly restrictions placed on Melburnians. It has since been discovered that Sam has donated his brain to science sometime in 2019 because he personally hadn’t found a use for it and very much doubted that he’d be using it at any time in the future.

Still, Sam was an ex-sportsman who recently lost his long time job as a resident idiot on “The Footy Show”, so it’s only reasonable that he should consider taking on the only other job where being an idiot is an advantage: politics.

And, while on the subject, isn’t it good that Tony Abbott is going on welfare in Britain. I mean he always said that the best form of welfare is a job and it looks like they’re going to give him one that suits his talents down to the ground. He’s going to be negotiating agreements and he has a lot of good form on that. Remember how successfully he negotiated with Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeschott, or his success at getting legislation through the Senate, or even convincing his back-bench to keep him as leader. Yes, it seems it’s one of those schemes to give a person a job just to keep them busy because there’s no way they’d get it on merit.

It’s been a confusing week all round, but the one thing that’s really got me confused is the suggestion that the MSM wants to be paid for Google or Facebook “using” their stories. I’m going to ignore Facebook for a second because it’s a bit more complicated but the basic point remains.

  1. Google started as a search engine which was just that. It made no money. It just gave you a way of finding things you wanted.
  2. Google became a capitalist and started doing things so that it could make money by getting people to pay it to advantage them in searches.
  3. Historically, media companies didn’t use the internet, but like everything if you’re not on the internet you don’t exist. (If anyone argues with that, I will make the obvious point that they are on the internet!)
  4. Some media companies put up their news content for free; others have a paywall.
  5. Because news is available on the internet, advertising revenues are down for traditional news outlets.
  6. The media now want Google to pay them because Google is sending people to media companies’ websites without giving them any money for sending people to the media companies’ websites.

Now there are a lot of implications and there are a number of things that need to be ironed out, like how do we keep investigative journalists going if there’s no money in it, however, when you boil it all down, it’s media companies’ business model that’s collapsed. The idea of making Google pay for sending people to the website is so contrary to the original concept of a search engine that you can only see it if you look it in principle. Consider these and explain the difference:

  1. Imagine that I run a chain of cinemas and business is down. I decide that film critics should pay me for reviewing any film in my chain.
  2. My clothing brand has its name on the T-shirts it sells. Business is down so I decide that people exhibiting my brands logo on the shirts should have to pay a fee every time they wear it.
  3. A judge on “Masterchef” recommended people eat at my restaurant. I want payment if he ever mentions it by name again.

In all these cases, you can see that the “get stuffed” element is likely to be very strong. Where does it leave me if nobody mentions me again?

Similarly, if Google simply changes its algorithm so that no Australian media company pops up when people do a search, what’s Rupert’s next step?

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Just not cricket, Mr Morrison.

“Going to be a great summer of cricket, and for our firefighters and fire-impacted communities, I’m sure our boys will give them something to cheer about,” Morrison tweets Wednesday, at the Gabba, prompting former Wentworth MP and AMA President, Kerryn Phelps, to reply that it must be the empathy consultant’s day off.

Reading between the lines, the PM is overwhelmed by nostalgia for a simpler, quieter, Boys’ Own Australia where flannelled fools at the wicket and muddied oafs at the goals” commanded a man’s full attention and respect.

Australia’s Dear Leader is looking forward to kicking back at the end of a big year of getting in touch with his inner totalitarian; denouncing Labor at every turn in a perpetual campaign of hyper-partisan hysteria, union-bashing, evading scrutiny if not accountability and reforming his Party Room. Discussion and debate are all but eliminated.

Now MPs meet to view a PM’s PowerPoint of his latest talking points and vacuous slogans in silence. No smartarse remarks. Apart from his own. Morrison continues to put his foot in his mouth whenever he goes off script.

Something for the burnt-out to cheer about? It’s a shocker. Any self-respecting empathy consultant would run sobbing from the room, in search of another job. A gig with the Duke of York’s media team holds more appeal.

Opportunity beckons. Bond University and RMIT are cutting ties with Pitch@Palace, the disgraced Duke’s business mentoring charity, which once held a business pitching contest every October at Government House in Perth. The UK’s The Daily Telegraph reports that Andrew is no longer leading Pitch which will continue sans royal support.

Ironically, Bond could not recall $50 million stashed overseas when he appeared in Sydney’s Federal Court in 1994. Later, he served three and half years in prison, for stealing $1200 million from Bell Resources’ shareholders. It is the biggest fraud in Australia’s history, maintains Paul Barry. But Bond University still bears his name.

Shocking memory problems also now plague Prince Andrew, former host of Pitch@Palace, who claims he has no recollection of having ever met Virginia Roberts, a seventeen year old, whom convicted paedophile and financial hustler, the late Jeffrey Epstein, is alleged to have procured for his royal highness. His account is hotly contested.

Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, tells the BBC’s Emily Maitlis the Duke had sex with her three times. The interview will screen 2 December. Giuffre claims Epstein trafficked her to powerful people and then used her as blackmail.

In New York court documents, prosecutors allege Epstein “enticed and recruited, and caused to be enticed and recruited, minor girls to visit” his homes “to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars in cash”. They say that “to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by him.”

The Duke insists, in an interview with The BBC’s Emily Maitlis, he was at home after a family party, a right royal pizza with the lot at Pizza Express in Woking? He can remember the day, date and year. It’s a lot to swallow. Never met Ms Roberts, no. Sex? No. He’d know “… if you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody.”

Naturally, The Duchess of York, a title she may keep as long she does not remarry, Sarah Ferguson, rushes to Instagram to defend her ex-husband. Andrew’s “a giant of a principled man” but after his gigantic train-wreck BBC interview, he may need a little professional help. As could our cricketers – with a very different type of pitch.

With “our boys”, Morrison instantly dismisses women’s cricket as anything uplifting. Australia is number one in the world in women’s cricket but you’d never know it from his utterly thoughtless and insensitive comment.

Does he not know, moreover, that our boys’ ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, last year, has brought the men’s game into grave disrepute? Cricket Australia (CA) itself is in trouble.

Last year, an independent review found that players live in a “gilded bubble — disconnected, for much of each year, from families, friends and the grounding influence of community”.

CA’s review findings are resonant with meaning for all walks of corporate life and contemporary politics.

Cricketers, today’s gladiators, see themselves as being part of a “machine that is fine-tuned for the sole purpose of winning”, reviewers tut-tut, deploring CA’s win-at-all-costs culture. Imagine. “The reputation of the game of cricket as played by men has been tainted.” Moreover, CA has an “arrogant, controlling and commercialised” culture which reacts to adversity by bullying or ostracising. In brief, it acts like any other corporate enterprise.

Above all, however, CA lacks accountability to its stakeholders, the public. Its independent report is redacted despite all promise of transparency from CA chairman, David Peever. Nor will it publish minutes of its meetings.

It’s not just cricket. CA’s reviewers could be talking about the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Coalition government or its backers, the banks, especially Westpac, which is also in the news, this week, over twenty-three million breaches of money-laundering laws. Happily, after an emergency meeting, CEO, Brian Hartzer, gets to keep his job.

As do the board of directors and the “senior executive team”. The show must go on. And on. The best the PM can manage is to tell 3AW’s Neil Mitchell and ABC Radio’s AM that it’s not up to the government.

“It’s not for the government to say who should be in those jobs or not, but they should be taking this very seriously, reflecting on it very deeply, and taking the appropriate decisions for the protection of people’s interests in Australia. These are some very disturbing, very disturbing transactions involving despicable behaviour.”

Work experience boy, Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg is asked on ABC Insiders what would he do. Do? “Hard Discussions,” is all he can manage. No-one now seriously believes he has the will or the authority to take a bank to task.

Yet it’s a serious breach and it exposes major flaws in the system. Banks are exploiting loopholes. Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws have been broken by Westpac, alleges AUSTRAC – on 23 million occasions. This includes failing to adequately monitor the accounts of a convicted child sex offender who was regularly sending money to the Philippines. Morrison says it shows the system is working.

Westpac more generally failed to “carry out appropriate due diligence on customers sending money to the Philippines and South East Asia for known child exploitation risks,” the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre – Australia’s financial intelligence unit and its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator, AUSTRAC alleges.

Westpac is unlikely to be alone, writes regulatory expert Nathan Lynch. The story behind the story is industrial scale tax avoidance, the concealing of enormous cross-border payments. Yet it’s not up to the government?

Morrison’s hands-free policy with a bank is in complete contrast to his government’s Ensuring Integrity (EI) bill which seeks even greater state regulation of unions and a further curtailing of workers’ rights to organise.

If passed into law, the provisions of the EI Bill would directly interfere with the rights to freedom of association and independent functioning of trade unions guaranteed by, among other international instruments, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, writes Anthony Forsyth, Law Professor in the Graduate School of Business and Law at RMIT University.

Granted, all this could take your mind off the odd bushfire – including the monster in NSW which, at its peak, had a front stretching 6000 kilometres- or from Sydney to Perth. And back. But Morrison is making a grotesquely tone-deaf proposal with “… our boys will give them something to cheer about.” Does he lack all compassion?

Can Morrison, or any member of his government or PMO seriously believe, that those suffering bushfire’s devastation, the six hundred and twenty-three traumatised by losing their homes; all their earthly goods, or livelihoods, or the six households grieving the loss of a family member will be diverted by a game of cricket?

Because nothing fixes broken people in anguish, & blackened communities & animals in pain like random blokes doing something meaningless on an oval somewhere. “Fire trucks anyone?” “Nah, just some cricket thanks” tweets independent researcher and writer, Ronni Salt.

At least the Pentecostalist PM hasn’t repeated his promise to burn for Australians every single day. Yet.

Our “Prime Minister for standards” as Australia’s Prime Buck-Passer proclaimed himself last January, may be a sandwich short of a picnic when it comes to personality, policy or people-skills but you have to hand it to him, he certainly has the gift of the gaffe. Plus a tin ear. Tone deaf. It will prove his undoing.

Cook’s circumnavigation of Australia? You heard it first from The Gaffer. All Asians look the same? Morrison’s cheery “Ni Hao” to a Korean woman in Strathfield, the little Korea of Sydney’s inner-west. Understandable. He’s got China on his mind, after his mid-year monster diplomatic gaffe when he declared it “a developed country”.

Some gaffes suggest a malignant narcissism. In 2014, something more than a compassion bypass was evident in Morrison’s hostile response to allegations that underage asylum seekers on Nauru had been forced to have sex in front of a guard, and that women were being told to strip in exchange for showers of longer than two minutes.

Morrison announces an inquiry into the allegations but adds that the review will also look into whether the allegations had been concocted. In the meantime, he will remove ten Save The Children staff from Nauru?

“Making false claims, and worse allegedly coaching self-harm and using children in protests is unacceptable.”

They are “employed to do a job, not to be political activists”, Morrison makes his own false claims in a written statement, repeated verbatim at his press conference. Political activists? It’s a damaging and false slur.

Later the Immigration Department, he heads is forced to admit that there is no cause for the staff members to stood down. “No reason to cause doubt to be cast.” The review results in full compensation being paid.

No censure or penalty is imposed on Immigration Minister Morrison, who goes on to become Treasurer.

As Treasurer, Morrison is questioned by Barrie Cassidy on ABC Insiders. Typically, Morrison denies all responsibility for his error of judgement, his fabrication of a damaging slur. He is as intractable as a mule. Morrie the mule.

“I drew no conclusions on the material that had been presented to me at the time.”

Cassidy tries to hold him to account. “Well, yes, you did.”

“No, I didn’t, Barrie.” He tells Cassidy to go back and check the transcript. Cassidy: “I have.” Shrugging aside all ministerial responsibility, denying any personal accountability, Morrison resorts to the Nuremberg defence:

“I did the job that I had to do in that situation, just as I am doing the job now as treasurer …”

Under pressure, this week, Morrison retreats into climate science denialism, a tactic which John Hewson hazards in The Sydney Morning Herald is “doubling down”, a phrase which originates in blackjack. If you are confident of winning after being dealt only two cards, you can double your bet but may take only one extra card.

High risk can yield high reward in blackjack. Figuratively, the phrase means to “to engage in risky behaviour, especially when one is already in a dangerous situation.”

Doubling down is now applied to any fit of intransigence. Hacks abuse it trying to explain the equally bizarre behaviour of Morrison’s mentor Trump who is now totally consumed by his own impeachment. Gone is all pretence of a Presidential role. He emerges from his obsessive monitoring of coverage only to whinge to his aides.

Or he doubles down; repeats his allegation that it was “Ukraine not Russia”, a political interference conspiracy theory which nobody is buying. Even Republicans have trouble with it. In desperation, in a phone call to Fox, Trump admits he demanded a quid pro quo from Ukraine, tantamount to a public confession that as US President he resorted to extorting another nation to support his own political witch-hunt of Joe Biden’s son.

Doubling down can be admirably bold or woefully foolhardy. Morrison’s resort to a palpable lie about Australia’s contributions to greenhouse gases shows a contempt for his audience’s intelligence that will be his undoing.

“To suggest that with just 1.3 per cent of global emissions that Australia doing something differently — more or less — would have changed the fire outcome this season, I don’t think that stands up to any credible scientific evidence at all,” he tells ABC radio the following day.

It’s a nonsense response you might expect from a Craig Kelly, not a Prime Minister, deeply flawed in its logic and at odds with the evidence. Imagine if all the “little polluters” continued burning coal – worse, expanding their coal mining as Australia proposes. Or just be honest with the facts, Morrison.

As AIM writer, Kaye Lee, explains, “in 2016, we were the fifteenth biggest emitter in the world. If we don’t have to worry about our measly contribution, then neither do 180 other countries including the UK, Turkey, Italy, Poland and France, all of whom have smaller emissions than us, and I am not talking per capita.”

As for the evidence, RMIT’s fact check, for example, estimates that Australia’s domestic emissions plus the emissions embedded in its exports added to 1,712 million tonnes in 2016. This represents roughly 3.6 per cent of total global emissions for that year, the latest reliable figures for global emissions.

It’s inspiring stuff. Or contagious. Government by bullying, extortion, deception and denial. Only an Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government could send 6600 menacing debt letters to wrong addresses. When no-one responds, it uses income averaging to raise dodgy debts. Some are referred on to debt collectors.

Professor Terry Carney’s research finds when Centrelink asks for payment of alleged debts or evidence to disprove them, “most vulnerable alleged debtors will simply throw up their hands, assume Centrelink knows that there really is a debt, and seek to pay it off as quickly as possible”.

This week, the centrepiece of its three ring circus surplus-mania, the Robodebt extortion of over a million Australians – of money we mostly didn’t owe – is put on hold pending a class action from Gordon Legal, championed by Labor which is officially launched Wednesday, while Morrison is making his cricket pitch.

“There are a lot of our fellow Australians – single mums, pensioners, people who’ve been unemployed, people on Austudy, students – who’ve been forced to pay up under a regime which, in my opinion, is not validly based in law,” argues shadow Government Services Minister, Bill Shorten, who confirms that a separate class action will continue to argue that the government is “unjustly enriching itself at the expense of social security recipients”.

Government services ought to include “shakedown, outwrestling and exaction. Seven hundred thousand cases may now be opened to review should this single class action succeed.

Also still proceeding, is Deanna Amato’s imminent federal court case, which is due to be heard on 2 December, reports Victoria Legal Aid. The test case will continue to seek a declaration that the debt raised against Ms Amato is unlawful, despite the government’s announcement that it’s giving up granny-bashing and standover tactics in an unparalleled pause in its war on the poor.

It will, it promises solemnly, no longer rely solely on income-averaging to determine debts. No sense that it abused its duty of care in proceeding with an inherently flawed, cruel and unjust scheme which reverses the onus of proof on to the pensioner to disprove the alleged debt. No sense that it will compensate those whom it terrorised.

Some see the abandonment of Robodebt as likely to put paid to any surplus. The truth is that its net benefit never amounted to much any way. Crikey reports this week, debt-collectors have done very well out of Robodebt.

Over $2 billion worth of so-called debt has been outsourced. Yet it’s cost government $534 million – almost as much as the $658 million that has been collected. The model is deeply flawed as Paul Bongiorno observes

“This model of outsourcing government services, which so often sees taxpayer funds being funnelled to some of the government’s biggest friends and supporters, is increasingly problematic. It is operating in the National Disability Insurance Scheme and in the aged-care sector – where, as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has shown, millions of dollars of public money is going to the private providers’ profits.”

But this time, Morrison The Congestion-buster, can’t blame his office, which is whittled down to a skeletal staff of fifty mandarins -(where one in five is a former coal industry shill) – as he did, last month, when all thirteen pages of the day’s talking points were emailed to the press gallery.

A conversation scripted to reassure us about a prince’s judgement has the opposite effect. A chance to connect the royal family with the modern world reveals that it is marooned, remote and criminally out of touch.

Similarly, Morrisons tin-eared tweet about cricket reveals a PM who is in another world, a malignant narcissist who is pathologically incapable of feeling for others, a would-be tribal leader who has no moral compass; whose energies are invested solely in maintaining power at any cost and increasingly in the politics of division.

As the economy tanks and households find it harder to make ends meet, after six years in power, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has only more coercion to offer the average Australian. And cricket.

Above all, the Robodebt debacle shows a government which has no scruple in waging war on the poor. It has, moreover, connived at diverting funds from schools and hospitals to boost the profits of private providers.

As Christmas, a festival of giving approaches, a cruel and tricky government prepares to further punish workers with a law that is certain to reduce their power to negotiate a living wage.

Yet there is hope for some. The million – plus pensioners who have been caught up in Robodebt may take heart in the fact that the government has been forced to abandon the scheme, at least for now.

Just don’t expect any real reform from the banks under a Morrison government.

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Fiddling the figures while the planet burns – Fact-checking Frydenberg

In an interview on ABC radio last Thursday, Josh Frydenberg was eventually forced to admit that emissions rose again last year as they have every year since the repeal of the carbon price.

He then went on his usual obfuscation rant of cherry picking data and making dubious claims.

“If you look at the last quarter [emissions] went down, if you look at the trend it is improving”.

Actually, whilst the seasonally adjusted emissions decreased 0.6% in the June quarter 2017, trend emissions increased 0.3% when compared to the March quarter 2017.

Annual emissions increased 0.7%. If you include Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF), emissions rose 1.3% over the year.

Mr Frydenberg then stated that emissions on a per capita and GDP basis were at “their lowest in 28 years”.

Whilst these may be useful comparative measurements, they make absolutely no sense in the grand scheme of things because the atmosphere doesn’t really care how many of us there are. It is our absolute emissions that make the difference, not any per capita or GDP comparisons.

“What you need to focus on here is what is happening in different aspects of the economy as a result of policies we are putting in place,” he said. “What we are seeing is real improvements in various aspects of the economy.”

Mr Frydenberg pointed to the national energy productivity plan (NEEP) which aims to boost energy efficiency in the built environment by 40 per cent by 2030.

Except when you read the NEEP annual report it says “2015–16 saw Australia’s primary energy consumption increase sharply, slowing the rate of improvement in energy productivity to 0.4 per cent (compared to a 15-year average of 1.7 per cent a year).”

Frydenberg also referred to the emissions reduction fund, focused on agriculture and the land sector, which he claimed has abated up to 190 million tonnes of carbon dioxide at an average cost of $12 a tonne.

Except it hasn’t yet and probably won’t.

Some of the contracts last to 2025, the money is all but spent, and no new funds have been allocated. The government’s own goal is a “projected abatement estimate for the Emissions Reduction Fund to 2020 of 92 Mt CO2-e”.

A well-researched, well-sourced paper released in December shows how dubious the process for verifying and certifying emissions reductions under the ERF is, how it has led to “rent-seeking” from existing projects, and how the accounting is being fudged.

“Government claims regarding abatement of greenhouse gas emissions so far achieved under the scheme should be discounted. We are counting as new benefit steps that have either never occurred, or that happened in the past.”

According to the government’s latest quarterly update, in 2016-17, Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions were “0.8% below emissions in 2000 and 9.1% below emissions in 2005”.

Except the emissions projection report states the following emissions by year (Table 3 p12):

2000 551

2005 597

2017 554

2020 551

2030 570

We committed to a 5% reduction on 2000 levels by 2020 yet the projections are for no decrease at all. We then dodgily changed the base year and committed to a 26-28% decrease on 2005 levels by 2030 but the projections instead show a 4.5% decrease (or a 3.4% increase on 2000 levels).

The projections report states that “The 2030 target will require between 868 and 934 Mt CO2-e in cumulative emissions reductions between 2021 and 2030 to meet the 26 per cent and 28 per cent targets respectively.”

Not to worry.

Reminiscent of Nero, this government will continue to fiddle the figures while the planet burns, pretending they are doing something other than commissioning and ignoring reports.

 

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Jobs And Grr… Sorry, I meant to say Jobs and Gr…

Sorry, that was meant to be “growth” in the title but for some reason “growth” just stopped, and I think we all know the reason why it’s so hard to have any sort of gr…

Gro…

G-G-r-r-o…

Oh dear, it just won’t appear.

Anyway, I think we know the reason. It’s because of you.

Well, you all complained. You all ridiculed them about “Jobs And Growth”, so it’s your fault that the last quarter didn’t have any growth. It ran away because it didn’t like have to appear after “jobs” all the time. It couldn’t put up with the humiliation any more.

After all, it can’t be Scott Morrison’s fault that we don’t have “jobs and growth”. Couldn’t be. Ok, ok, maybe it’s not totally your fault. Actually when I think about it, like everything else, it’s Labor’s fault for blocking those company tax cuts. Now, I know Tony said that they were going to be a “no excuses” government, but this isn’t an excuse, it’s a reason. Besides, Tony’s not the Prime Minister any more…

Well, not at the time of writing, anyway, but if that changes before I hit publish then the rumours about him not launching a challenge until Malcolm’s approval rating goes so low that installing Ivan Milat as leader would give the Liberals a boost were wrong.

So, after giving the matter consideration, I think that we can safely say that the lack of growth can be put down to Labor’s decision to block the company tax cuts because reducing the government revenue from profitable companies would encourage all those unprofitable companies who pay little or no tax and the economy would get a boost somehow. I mean, remember the boost cutting the mining tax gave to the miners! Look at how cutting the carbon tax has the economy growing in a way not seen since the GFC!

And speaking of the carbon tax, thank goodness the Minister for Saving And Wrecking The Environment, Mr Frydenberg was able to clear up the confusion about an emissions scheme. Apparently when he said:”We know that there’s been a large number of bodies that have recommended an emissions intensity scheme, which is effectively a baseline and credit scheme, we’ll look at that,” he meant that they’ll view it, shake their heads, before announcing that they can’t consider it because not only is it the most cheap and effective way of reducing emissions but they can’t consider it because it was never on the table, unlike so many of the things that were on the table earlier in the year like the GST or the states having their own income tax. By “look at it”, many of those institutions peddling fake news like the ABC and Fairfax tried to imply that “look at” means the same thing as “consider”, in much the same way that they tried to imply that when Abbott said that he and Labor were identical on Gonski that it meant that they would both implement it, when Abbott merely meant that they had the same election policy. Really! Next they’ll be trying to ask us to believe that the jobs from the “jobs and gr…” slogan were meant to be jobs for people already living in Australia, which is the sort of xenophonic, racist nonsense that Labor and their union mates try to push…

Of course, if One Nation say exactly the same thing we should listen to them because they received nearly five percent of the vote in some states and you can’t ignore with people scoring that many votes in a democracy. In fact, you’re even allowed to disagree with them… but only after acknowledging that they have a point and maybe it is time that we replaced the High Court with the judges from “Masterchef”.

Anyway, it’s good to know that young Josh has come out and explained that on Monday he was misquoting himself when he talked about an energy intensity scheme and as our fearless leader, Malcolm Turnbull pointed out, there was nothing about an emissions intensity scheme in the review and that Josh Frydenberg was clearly being confused with someone who speaks on behalf of the Liberal Party when only Cory Bernardi is authorised to announce policy without checking with anybody on planet Earth.

 136 total views