Australian workers are 'standing on the outside looking…

Monday’s MYEFO will apparently include yet another downgrade to forecast wage growth.According…

El Paso - the United States' descent into…

By Europaeus *Continued from Part 5In her 2018 book, Bring the War Home:…

Our mate: Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (part 2)

By Dr George Venturini  Now it is time to progress to the libretto.…

El Paso - the United States' descent into…

By Europaeus *Continued from Part 4In the United States, the Immigration Act of…

A Mined History: The Bougainville Referendum

It would be an understatement to claim that Bougainville, that blighted piece…

Tis not the season to be jolly

As one day merges with the next and the year moves rapidly…

Indigenous Discovery project among prestigious ARC grants announced…

Southern Cross University Media ReleaseNew research into the impact of environmental changes…

El Paso - the United States' descent into…

By Europaeus *Continued from Part 3The El Paso shooter (Patrick Crusius) performed with…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: Julia Gillard

Abbott is Murdoch’s dream come true

Abbott and Murdoch (image courtesy of smh.com.au)

Abbott and Murdoch (image courtesy of smh.com.au)

The Australian’s Christian Kerr was the one called up to last bucket the Labor Party’s leader.

There is nothing unusual about this but I was struck by the column inches wasted on what can be only labelled as an infantile array of unnecessary and completely un-newsworthy cheap shots at the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

He bases his commentary on Bill’s initial response to the closure of Toyota in Australia.

He derides his passionate press stop with Labor colleagues, saying Shorten’s ‘jumble of thought and emotion served neither his cause nor his constituency’.

He then gives a backhanded compliment to him:

‘But it was a different Shorten who appeared in question time. He looked smart; well-groomed, well-dressed – even well-pressed’.

Well I’m glad he met your standards, Christian.

To top off this childish spray he says:

 “The schoolboy hair and rumpled suit were gone, but the Opposition Leader may have spent summer in class in elocution lessons.”

What a puerile effort!

The only opinion writers you will find in The Australian that present the other side of the debate are either former or present Labor Party MPs.

The list of Liberal acolytes and staunch conservatives at “The Heart of the Nation” is extensive. Judith Sloan, Henry Ergas, Chris Kenny, Grace Collier, Janet Albrechtsen, Nikki Savva, Peter van Onselen and Dennis Shanahan all speaking in one voice.

To be fair, Peter van Onselen does occasionally stray into the territory of supporting Labor occasionally but it is always uncomfortably done and in a backhanded manner.

He becomes indignant, his glass jaw on display, when it is suggested he is a Liberal.

He’s a former Liberal staffer, who writes for The Australian and has his own show on Sky News, along with the TV host-cum-shock jock wannabe Paul Murray.

Do I really need to say anymore? He knows which side his bread is buttered on.

All this isn’t an accident. They are paid to push the IPA Fox News conservatism Rupert Murdoch is so in love with.

A quick look at Murdoch’s Twitter stream is enough to make me ill. A pulpit from which this self important man lectures governments and guides his minions.

This is done both for self-interest, to keep the Abbott Government in his pocket, but also to drive the resurgence of Murdoch’s ideology in Australian society.

Abbott is Murdoch’s dream come true. A willing accomplice in dragging Australia back to the bad old “Golden Age” of Howard or, better still, back to the visionary Menzies era. An era where Australia stagnated as a conservative bastion and complete backwater.

A lot of his opinion writers seem to enjoy trying to immaturely bait and annoy progressives and are making a habit of constantly defending the bungling Abbott Government at all costs.

Can you imagine the commentary if Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd started their terms in office how Abbott has? The cabal of Murdoch facilitators would be feverishly speculating about leadership challenges from the front pages of the entire News Corp Australia stable of publications.

All this is completely fine in a free press but who does The Australian serve?

Would it not be best to try and present news in an unbiased manner, without riddling it with opinion?

Would it not be best to have a balanced stable of opinion writers from across the spectrum to present the diverse array of views in our nation?

For somebody as experienced as Rupert Murdoch you would think he would respect the values of “fairness and balance”.

Given the tagline for his joke of a “news network” Fox News is “fair and balanced” it would seem Murdoch has no concept of the most basic of journalistic principles. Or maybe he simply doesn’t care?

Can I make a suggest Rupert? Don’t call The Australian “The Heart of Australia”.

“The Voice of Rupert Murdoch” has a ring to it I think.

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

Enough is enough.

larry pickering

I am ashamed.  I am ashamed of the appalling treatment handed out to our first female Prime Minister.  I am ashamed of the inhumane treatment of traumatised people seeking sanctuary in our country.  This is not the Australia I know or understand.  This is not how the people I know think or behave.  So where is this hatred coming from?

In a recent article, I pointed out the part Larry Pickering played in the harassment of Julia Gillard, bombarding politicians with hate filled emails about her accompanied by tasteless cartoons, and how it had been allowed to continue uncensured.  Apparently his talent at drawing cartoons showing politicians’ penises makes him a formidable man to take on.  After all, it’s better to pull your head in and say nothing than to have him draw you with a turtle dick.

Surprisingly, Pickering has some reach online with his facebook page and blog The Pickering Post.  A quick visit to his page, which I don’t recommend for the faint-hearted, shows he is still fixated with all things Gillard, the more “scandalous” the better.  It appears to be an obsession he cannot let go.

Unsurprisingly, he also hates Muslims – all 1.6 billion of them.  Today he wrote of the story of a 26 year old man marrying a 13 year old girl in an Islamic ceremony in NSW.  The man has been arrested because this is illegal in our country and not tolerated in our society (unlike some other societies) – a point that Pickering neglects.

He uses this incident to incite hatred towards all Muslims.

“Islam brandishes its endemic paedophelia as a badge of honour, but we try desperately to protect our children from sexual abuse while turning our backs on the Islamic outrage rather than risk the “racist” label.”

Has he not been following the Royal Commission?  How many Muslims were there in the Catholic priesthood or the Salvation Army or YMCA or Scouts?

“Religion is about the power of numbers. Islam demands the ovarian cycle must be used to its maximum and at the earliest possible age. Catholicism merely bans condoms, but both edicts are designed to have the same effect… an increase in numbers!”

Pssst Larry – the Catholics WAY outnumber the Muslims in this country, and can you tell me which religions are looking for a decrease in numbers?

“Cannot one appreciate the incompatibility of the weak, compliant Christian to the person born to Islam?”

Ask the asylum seekers we have detained illegally about how weak and compliant we Christians are.

“If your parents tell you, when you are young, that the colour red is actually blue or the World is actually flat, you will believe everyone else is wrong. You will have no choice but to believe your parents. This is the power of religious indoctrination of a child.”

Larry I live with a man who was firmly indoctrinated into the Catholic faith until he was 18.  It is amazing what safe haven, education, and love can do to overcome religious indoctrination.

“Therefore their base culture demands the total destruction of non-believers. The non-believers are dangerous apostates likely to convert others to their evils and must be eradicated at all cost.  This is what they are taught from birth and this is what they believe with a passion that has no equal.”

There are no doubt some fundamentalist groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda that may think this way.  That is why moderate Muslims flee from places where these people carry out their reign of terror and oppression.

“The congregational togetherness (mosque) is designed to reinforce the disgusting policies of inhumanity toward anyone who is of a different faith.  Christianity uses its congregational churches in the same way. There are many fiercely competitive Christian churches but there is only one Islamic mosque… can you see why we are losing?”

Losing our marbles from the sound of it.  My local church does not want to “reinforce policies of inhumanity” any more than my Muslim friends want to.  This is 21st century Australia Larry, not the Crusades.

“The Islamic preoccupation with decapitation is also clear! If you don’t believe what I believe, my prophet’s command is to behead you, that is my scriptural command. I am commanded by Allah and the Prophet Mohammed to do this! I cannot disobey, I am Muslim!

Islam is the only World religion to legitimise beheadings.”

Now you are getting seriously delusional.  You seem to want to project the actions of individuals onto an entire religion.  How many people have been beheaded in Australia Larry?  Or even worldwide?  You obviously have the stats at your fingertips.  Or did you just see that Youtube clip?

“Islam is anything but a “religion of peace”. It is a way of life, a barbaric, base culture born of Mongolian inspired historic violence and inhumanity toward non-believers, and women.”

Gee I seem to remember something called the Spanish Inquisition not to mention the practice of burning witches.  Does Joan of Arc ring any bells?  The barbarism of history is a burden shared by us all Larry.  Quoting things that may have happened in 768 or 1086 is hardly relevant to today’s society.

“The terms “extremist” and “fundamentalist” are misnomers of the weak apologists for Islam. There are no extremists, they don’t exist… just faithful, obedient, adherents to the one blind Islamic faith.  The people next door who you would borrow a cup of sugar from (as the 9/11 bombers were described to be) have been ordered by Allah to kill you.”

Are you suggesting that my neighbours are Islamic jihadists who should not be kept behind a pool fence?  Or that the kid that I gave a lift to to cricket all those years was just waiting for an opportunity to behead me?  Get a grip man!

Far be it from me to make a psychiatric evaluation but can I assure you Larry, I do not lie awake at night expecting to be murdered in my bed.  Such fears are often described as paranoia.  I suggest you discuss them with someone more qualified than I.

I am not a lawyer but it is my understanding that the laws involving hate speech and discrimination towards a race or religion are similar.

The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 forbids hate speech on several grounds. The Act makes it “unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person, or of some or all of the people in the group”

The Racial Discrimination act states that racial hatred is against the law.

Racial hatred (sometimes referred to as vilification) is doing something in public based on the race, colour, national or ethnic origin of a person or group of people which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate.

Examples of racial hatred may include:

• racially offensive material on the internet, including eforums, blogs, social networking sites and video sharing sites

Few Australian jurisdictions prohibit religious vilification, but almost all prohibit racial vilification; if a complaint is made about conduct that was because of a person’s religion/race, it can be dealt with and recorded as a “racial vilification” complaint. In this way the abusive treatment of a Muslim can be addressed and resolved even if – as is usually the case in Australia – the law does not cover religious vilification.

I would call on Attorney General George Brandis to enforce the law and stop people like the odious Larry Pickering from spreading his hate-filled venom and religious vilification, and I would call on all Australians to say enough is enough – this has to stop!

Tony Abbott’s problem with the truth

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

People lie for a number of reasons: sometimes it is accidental that through the person’s own ignorance, statements are made which gives the appearance of being deliberate; the aim being to deceive.  However, and of course, all is forgiven because it is abundantly clear to the reader/listener that the “lie” was purely accidental and its consequences unintended.

People also lie as a defence mechanism, that via that person’s emotional and mental immaturity they are incapable of providing an honest answer, but must resort to a simplistic lie.  Ego also comes into play with the person incapable of accepting responsibility for the fact that they have made a mistake.

Revenge is also a motivator for lying.

However, with the exception of revenge, such behaviour can fall within the confines of what is considered normal.  It is not a pattern of behaviour but something which occurs in response to exceptional circumstances.  The abnormal is when lies are told by a person with a personality disorder, and an example is morbid narcissistic complex disorder whose traits include:

A sense of entitlement – an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable treatment or conditions.  Good examples in Tony Abbott’s case being; “I was robbed of becoming Prime Minister”.  “It’s all the Independents’ fault”.  “I want another election, and I want it now!” Ad nauseum.

Blaming – the practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.  I have never known of Tony Abbott to do other than blame the person, using even formal occasions as an opportunity to attack others.

Impulsiveness – the tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.  This is known in some circles as Abbott “brain farts”.

Lack of conscience – individuals who suffer from Personality Disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.  Turning to Tony Abbott, does he even recognise the hypocrisy of his alleged rorting of the travel allowance scheme, yet all the while expecting low paid child care workers to return money already paid to them?

Pathological Lying – persistent deception by an individual to serve their own interests and needs with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.

Consider that in 2010 Tony Abbott said, “The statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth are those carefully prepared, scripted remarks”. This was quite an extraordinary admission from Tony Abbott who was promptly dubbed “Phoney Tony”.

It is not the exaggerations which although not entirely acceptable, come under the general heading of “what else do you expect from a politician”, but rather the instances where Mr Abbott seems completely oblivious to the fact that he is telling an untruth.

Examples of Tony Abbott’s failure to be able to address the truth are numerous and no doubt inspired by any of the motivators provided above.  Here are but a few of the much publicised instances which come to mind:

The Indonesian government consistently told both Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop that should the Coalition be elected and if they persisted with their Turn Back The Boats policy, that they, the Indonesian government would find this unacceptable.  Abbott went to the election promising the authenticity of his statements and with the blatant lie that he had the full support of the Indonesia government.

In August 2012  Laurie Oakes wrote:

Abbott’s own truthfulness came under the microscope, however, after a blundering performance in an interview on ABC TV’s 7.30 program on Wednesday evening.

Earlier that day he had claimed BHP’s decision to put the Olympic Dam mining project in South Australia on hold was partly due to the Federal Government’s carbon and mining taxes.

That was porkie number one. BHP CEO Marius Kloppers had blamed such factors as the eurozone financial crisis, the slowdown of growth in China and weakness in commodity markets.

And:

When Abbott stuck to his claim despite what Kloppers had said, interviewer Leigh Sales asked: “Have you actually read BHP’s statements?”

Abbott replied: “No.” The next day he claimed he had read the BHP announcement after all – soon after it was made.

He attributed the damaging answer in the 7.30 interview to a misunderstanding of what Sales had asked him. But her meaning could hardly have been clearer.

Just in case there was any doubt, she had gone on to say in her next question: “You haven’t read their statements today but you’re commenting about what they’ve announced.”

The conclusion is inescapable that, in trying to explain away a dreadful gaffe, Abbott resorted to another falsehood.

Tony Abbott lies about the impact of the Carbon Price on a new car:

During a doorstop interview in Geelong on April 11, 2013, Tony Abbott claimed:

First and foremost we are not going to hit the motor industry with a carbon tax and the carbon tax is adding $400 to the cost of every car manufactured in Australia.

Where was the evidence that the carbon tax added $400 to the cost of the car?  And if the carbon tax was such a killer, why is he not blaming it as one of the reasons behind Holden’s closure?

Tony Abbott lies on Radio about not doing deals:

On February 20, 2013, Tony Abbott was interviewed by Neil Mitchell in the studio of 3AW.

Neil Mitchell: Will you talk to the Greens about cooperating with you?

Tony Abbott: Look, I think that’s been part of Julia Gillard’s problem. She embraced the Greens. This turned out to be a fatal embrace and I don’t do these sorts of deals with people. I mean, I wasn’t prepared to give the independents, I wasn’t prepared to give the Greens what they wanted. Julia Gillard was and I think her government, from the beginning, has been fatally compromised.

Neil Mitchell: So no deals to get into power?

Tony Abbott: I don’t do deals, Neil.

Neil Mitchell: You tried to.

Wednesday, 11th December 2013:

Holden did not make a bid to replace Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “C1” car and the existing eight-year-old fleet of nine armour-plate caprices for the government, The Daily Telegraph reported. According to the report, it was only Audi and Mercedes and two other car companies with submitted bids.

And today:

Holden angered by media reports it did not submit bid to supply ‘blast-proof’ vehicles for Australian government VIPs. 

The revelation appears to contradict reported Abbott government sources as saying Holden had not even submitted a bid in the tender because the car maker simply ”was not interested”.

These extraordinary events give every indication the government pursued a vendetta against Holden

Kim Carr

Holden viewed that claim – which appeared in a News Corporation newspaper on Wednesday, just hours before the car maker announced its withdrawal – as part of a deliberate negative backgrounding campaign by Coalition ministers designed to make the company look uncommitted to Australia.

Tony Abbott will continue to say anything and do anything regardless of whether he believes his statements to be true or not.  Why in this instance did Tony Abbott simply not tell the truth, that BMW were given the tender as the Holden model was not up to the standard expected, and for security reasons?  As reported by news.com:

The only options of a semi-local built car was believed to be a newer version of the retrofitted Holden Caprice offered by British Aerospace at a cost of $800,000 each, or a “ground up” model based on a Holden chassis, which cost $1.2 million for just one vehicle.

However, neither option is believed to have been able to meet international standards for protection against attacks.

The Federal Government is now expected to sign a contract to buy cheaper, off-the shelf BMW High Security 7-series vehicles, at a cost of $525,000 each, which meet higher international standards of protection against ballistic and gas attacks – and which can be serviced in Australia.

When lying becomes a compulsion (and a pointless exercise) one must consider that the person should not be in any position of authority or where they might do harm to others.  A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit who will bend the truth about everything large and small.  For the compulsive liar, telling the truth feels awkward and uncomfortable while lying sits well, giving the person a sense of empowerment and confidence.  Often when confronted with the absolute necessity to tell the truth, the person will enter into a state of panic, perhaps unable to speak, or physically fleeing.

Does this perhaps offer us an insight into Tony Abbott’s problem with the truth?

This isn’t good enough, Mr Shorten

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

Bill Shorten (image from theaustralian.com.au)

The Government, and in particular Tony Abbott and the education minister Christopher Pyne have come in for a caning over their education reforms which, by all accounts, are a complete back flip (and a lie) from what they promised during the election campaign.

There are two issues: they lied; and their proposed reforms dismantle the far better models negotiated by the previous government.

The outrage is being thundered across social media and a small whimper is also coming from some sections of the mainstream media. But who are raising their voices in protest? Mostly, the protests are from concerned parents via Facebook or Twitter and some State premiers via the non-Murdoch tabloids.

Thousands of people across social media are also asking; “Where is Bill Shorten?” Yes, where is he? This has been a monumental balls-up by the Government and he could, to quote a friend, turn this into a “turkey shoot”. The Government’s lie and back flips over education have been exposed yet he has gone mute. He should be hammering the point home and he should be hammering it relentlessly. It was a style that helped Tony Abbott win office. He can learn from it. Yet what has been the response from the Opposition? This wet lettuce leaf attack:

The opposition education spokeswoman, Kate Ellis, said the Coalition’s backflip was a betrayal of students, teachers and parents.

Wow. I bet that hurt.

I thought, just maybe, that the Labor Party might have something resembling a media release about this on their web site and the mainstream media were playing their usual game of ignoring it. After all, when Julia Gillard was prime minister the ALP site was loaded with media releases from both her and her ministers. Even though they were conveniently overlooked by the media, at least they were saying something. At least they were attempting to get their message out.

So I took a look. This was all I found; a blog post called Abbott Backflips on Better Schools by a person named Deb Boughton which reads:


Have you heard what’s happened?

As a teacher for nearly three decades, it’s absolutely ridiculous to find out that the Coalition Government yesterday announced that they “cannot go ahead with the Gonski funding arrangements”.

The Better Schools reform was set to deliver more resources for our kids and provide greater support for students who needed it most. It’s about making sure that none of my students are left behind no matter what their circumstances are. Now all of that is under threat.

What makes it even worse was that not only are they just cutting funding for our kids, but Tony Abbott and the Coalition lied about it. During the election, they declared they were on a “unity ticket” with Labor’s plan for Better Schools, but now it just seems they want my students and my school to get by with even less.

The NSW Government has already stood up to say that they will fight any changes, but we need to send Tony Abbott a clear message: we want our Better Schools.

I’m not usually a political person, but this is too important for me to stay quiet on. You and I have to speak up on this so we can have the better schools we were promised.

Yours sincerely,

Deb Boughton

Posted by Australian Labor on November 26, 2013

That’s all. Nothing else. It’s a good post and good on Deb Boughton for writing it, but notice the date? November 26. Nothing else and nothing since. Was it a media release? No. Was it by member of the Opposition? No. It was a blog post. A blog post almost a week old that has attracted not one comment. It has received a total of only 13 ‘Likes’ on Facebook and hasn’t even been shared on Twitter.

I would rightly assume that the Leader of the Opposition could command a wider audience than this humble blog. If we can write an article, for example, critical of the Prime Minister that attracts over 115,000 views in one day alone and be shared on 56,000 Facebook pages, over 460 Twitter re-tweets and 330 comments, then what could Mr Shorten achieve?

Bill, you’re obviously doing something wrong, and that isn’t good enough.

 

Letter to the Editor: “Morrie Hits Back”

LETTERS

Image by Keybridge Communications

Editor’s note:

Last week, with my permission John Lord published a letter from Morrie Moneyworthy. It is fair to say that it drew a number of derogatory remarks. Again in the interest of balance I thought we should give Morrie a right of reply.

A letter to the editor.

All those comments were just what I would have expected from the left wing latte sipping loonies of the proletariat. The chardonnay drinking Bolsheviks without any intelligence. All they could do was criticise a few grammamatical errors. Nothing better to do.

The thing is, you commies don’t understand the fundamentals of conservatism. The free market and capitalism. Conservatives (LNP) believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. We believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals unhindered by government regulations. Just before I go on. I read that piece by John Lord: “Why are the Right so Feral”.  (https://theaimn.com/2013/05/21/why-are-theright-so-feral/).

Fair dinkum. He wouldn’t know shit from clay. I’d suggest he gets himself a manager. It’s obvious he’s been handing himself too long.

Surely it’s clear to everyone that we need to be free to pursue wealth. I mean I needed the freedom to accept my inheritance. The same with Gina. There will always be haves and have nots. Even Jesus said that. And Ronald Regan said. If we keep giving more money to the rich, everyone will have more money. It’s called tickle down economics. The poor will just have to wait a little longer to see it work.

Conservatives were born to control capitol. Labour comes after capital. Not everyone can be effluent. Had we had less regulation and let market forces have their way we wouldn’t have had a Global Financial Crisis. Now look at the mess Tony has to get the world out of

Oh and another thing.

I didn’t appreciate all the sarcastic remarks from that women Kaye Lee. I can only say that good manners is a basic tenant of conservatism. So she needn’t worry about what people think of her if she only knew how little they did.

Now where was I? Yes? There is no inequity in society. It’s just that some deserve more than others. We were born to rule. If we don’t have poor people who’s going to do the work.

That’s why I admire Christopher Pyne. It talks a lot of courage to change one’s mind and do what’s best for the country. The audacity to suggest that he told a lie before the election is ludicrous. I mean two many educated people can be dangerous for society. They might all want to be wealthy.

Well I don’t mind wealthy people so long as they aren’t as wealthy as me. If that makes sense.

It’s like my friend Wyatt Roy (I’ve always loved his name. It gives me the erps) said. ‘’Baby Boomers should stay in work longer. We are sick and tired of our generation propping them up’’

In Tony Abbott we have just what this country needs. An undoer. And there’s so much to undo that there will be little time left for doing anything else. That’s what conservatives value most. At this point in time we need an undoer, not a doer. That’s what Tony is.

And while it’s on my mind. I do hope Tony has the good sense to appoint a man as our next Governor General. I mean, fair dinkum, that sheila should resign now. Fancy supporting gay marriage and and a republic. Its bad enough being overrun by Asians and Muslims without giving in to poofters and Republicans. I truly don’t know what’s become of the Lucky Country.

He should appoint John Howard. He would make an excellent GG. Someone needs to saddle up against all these things. Just think, I mean really think about the contribution the Queen has made to our country. And I’m sure Charles will keep up the good work. When we see him.

I will finish with a few comments about the nasty things said with regard to my last letter.

I wont be writing again because I get the impression I am not welcome on this blog. I am at a loss to understand why because all I bring is wisdom and unbiased opinion.

carol sheridan

Surely that is not someone’s REAL thoughts???

I can only speak the truth Carol. There is no need to be so bloody cruel. I have feelings you know. Even if I am wealthy. I think you are so mean that if I paid you a compliment you would probably ask for a receipt.

Jessica

Hilarious! So terrifying that this is how some people actually think – and that they’re running the joint! ‘Morrie’ should post this as a note of support on some LNP Facebook pages and see how many likes and ‘hear, hear’s and ‘bravo, old chap’s he can get!

You’re disrespect is just revolting.

I think you’re that dumb that you must be three bricks short of a load or not the full two bobs worth. Either that or your three sanwhiches short of a picnic.


mludowyk

This has to be a joke – no-one can be that stupid and arrogant, unless they are members of the Liberal Party.

Well, whatever your name is. I could describe you as a pain in the neck but I have a much lower opinion of you.

There were over seventy comments regarding my letter on this blog last week. All of them in such poor taste that I feel I cannot avail myself to share my wisdom with you again. I can only hope and pray that someday the working classes will come to their senses and show their appreciation for the effluence we share.

Morrie Moneyworthy. Malvern.

An Open Letter to Bill Shorten

Dear Bill Shorten,

May I call you Bill?  I feel that after a lifetime of supporting Labor I’m entitled to that modest liberty.

Bill, I’ve just read one of the most shocking things of my adult political life.  I’m overtaken with competing emotions and reactions; I’m simultaneously bemused, disturbed, incredulous and thoroughly gob smacked.  It seems that you and the Labor Party are considering backing away, even if only temporarily, from your commitment to your established carbon pricing agenda.  It seems you’re considering allowing the Abbott Government to “scrap the tax” after all.  Is this true or just media speculation?

Excuse my candour, mate, but assuming it’s true: are you flipping insane?  Has Labor completely lost its capacity to read the electorate and the politics of this issue?  Its record of the last six years gives a certain pause for thought on that score.  I put it to you in the strongest possible terms that this is the worst move you could make with regard to action on climate change – or your political future.  I remind you that over the previous six years you’ve been on the wrong side of the politics on this, but on the right side of the policy.  The political failure is your (Labor’s) fault.  You were politically out-witted by an economic and scientific half-wit.  How does that feel, Bill?  Smarts a bit, I imagine.  Now you want to hand him the shovel with which he can dig an even deeper hole for you?

Here are some things I feel you should seriously consider:

#  Over the last six years you allowed your political opposition, with an overtly skeptical disposition to climate change, to control the narrative of this policy area.  You allowed this opposition to take one of the greatest dangers facing modernity and fudge it, misrepresent it, dilute it, re-characterise it, morph it from a scientifically based human imperative to a petty squabble over economic semantics.  You failed miserably.  I’m sorry, Bill, but there’ no other way to say it.

#  Soon after being deposed as Prime Minister by Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard expressed her regret at not having taken a more direct and aggressive stance with regard to the aforementioned dynamic.  You recall, in her Guardian piece she said:

… and in a political task that will require bravery, Labor must continue to stand behind the significant policies which are right but are currently outside the national political consensus. Clearly, carbon pricing is the political giant of this class. 

Without doubt, Tony Abbott won this public opinion war and dominated this political conversation. The times suited him. For most Australians the last long drought was perceived to be the result of climate change, and when the drought broke their concerns about climate change receded. The circus in Copenhagen and “climategate” fed scepticism. Then, at the worst time, the structure of the Australian electricity market delivered huge rises to the electricity bills of families. While cost of living pressures were easing in other parts of the family budget, the pain of these big lumpy bills was acute and remembered.

Labor’s failure to embrace Malcolm Turnbull’s bipartisanship when it was on offer, to campaign vigorously and go to an election early on carbon pricing in late 2009 or early 2010, and the twists and turns of Labor policy since have all fuelled this fire of opposition. 

I erred by not contesting the label “tax” for the fixed price period of the emissions trading scheme I introduced. I feared the media would end up playing constant silly word games with me, trying to get me to say the word “tax”. I wanted to be on the substance of the policy, not playing “gotcha”. But I made the wrong choice and, politically, it hurt me terribly. 

Hindsight can give you insights about what went wrong. But only faith, reason and bravery can propel you forward. 

Labor should not in opposition abandon our carbon pricing scheme. Climate change is real. Carbon should be priced. Community concern about carbon pricing did abate after its introduction. Tony Abbott does not have a viable alternative. 

While it will be uncomfortable in the short term to be seen to be denying the mandate of the people, the higher cost would be appearing as, indeed becoming, a party unable to defend its own policy and legislation: a party without belief, fortitude or purpose.

Please take note.  You’ll find a very significant number of Labor supporters are in complete sympathy with the sentiments expressed in that quote.

#  Whilst in Government you allowed a ratbag bunch of guttersnipes to take the momentum and high ground away from you – on this and other issues.  Now, unfathomably, you’re considering handing that back to them, only magnified.  Do you not understand how such a move will be interpreted by much of the electorate?  No?  Well, I’ll tell you – it will be seen as a confession that Labor was wrong and the Coalition was right all along.  The truth of that doesn’t matter, as you well know.  Much of the electorate has an entirely plebian rather than substantive and sophisticated engagement with policy.  Tony Abbott’s campaign proved that beyond question.  The average person on the street will see your action as an admission of fault and failure – on policy and not just politics.  Do you have any idea what that will mean?  Again, if not I’ll tell you – it will mean that the Abbott Government will have the issue all to themselves.  They will have the high ground.  They will lead the political discourse and will posses the enormous political luxury of having the only climate change response out there in the public market place.  That will inevitably lead to their position, their attitude, their policy gaining acceptance with the electorate.  Frogs in heating water, Bill.

Time to toughen up, Bill Shorten (image from the guardian.com)

Time to toughen up, Bill Shorten (image from the guardian.com)

You will not be able to offer any credible opposition to, or criticism of, the entire philosophy of Direct Action if you have tossed aside the alternative.  The criticisms of an Opposition that walked away from its own policy will ring completely hollow and will be effectively and rightly dismissed by the Government.  And should you go into policy hiatus on the issue, which is what is being suggested, it’ll amount to going into a fistfight without hands.   Saying you will “scrutinise” Direct Action is the language of the weasel.  What’s to scrutinise?  You know perfectly well what’s wrong with it – that it cannot achieve anything meaningful and that it’s a total cop-out.  Scrutinise?   What the hell?  That, mate, is tantamount to implying you might come to accept it yourself.

#  You have to stand firm.  You must recognise the political failure and naiveté of Kevin Rudd’s hopeless attempt to take some of the political momentum away from the Coalition during the election campaign by indulging in the rhetoric of “dumping the tax”.   No such thing was happening.  You were moving from a static price ETS to a floating price ETS.  You were simply re-scheduling.  You weren’t doing anything with a tax that didn’t actually exist.  You were playing catch-up with the politics and you looked stupid for doing it.

Do you seriously think there will be no social and political impact from years of nothing but the Coalition’s attitude and actions with regard to climate change being the political soup du jour?  Do you seriously think that whatever new strategy you come up with, which will inevitably cost the electorate something, will not be immediately characterised by the Coalition as a “tax”?  Do you really think you can avoid that?  You can’t and you’ll have to deal with it.  It’ll be a hundred times more difficult to cope with the politics of it in the future than if you stand up and deal with it right now.  Do you really want to have to virtually start from scratch on this?  Do you really imagine a decade of inaction on climate change by this country won’t have all sorts of repercussions?  What do you think is going to happen to the Australian mind-set during months and years of the Coalition quietly taking climate change off the political radar?  You want to be faced with having to prosecute a whole new case for real climate change action in that sort of environment?  Really?

Selling an ETS ought to be as politically simple as selling the NDIS was.  It’s about our children and our future.  You need to think about why you couldn’t do it and fix that.  Running away from your failures is a coward’s response dressed up as the pragmatism of politics.  Seriously, Bill, when was the last time the Labor party showed some genuine political courage and statesmanship on something?  No, I can’t remember either.

The rot started when Uncle Kim began to capitulate on asylum seekers and it’s only gotten worse from there.  Polls have replaced ideology in terms of political priority in the minds of far too many in the Labor Party machinery.  Your support base is heartily sick of it.

#  Call Tim Flannery immediately.  Speak to him about making the new Climate Council an official Opposition research and advisory board (or whatever is politically appropriate).   Show the Australian people that the Abbott Coalition cannot simply dump important Government advisory bodies like the Climate Commission and get away with it.   You must send some positive, unapologetic and strong messages on this.  If you do not, you are gifting the Coalition two terms in Government.  That is unacceptable.  It is also utterly avoidable.  Do you actually want to avoid it, Bill?

#  The Australian public deserves, and I suspect, desperately wants you to be the strongest Opposition you can be – right from the start.  Your support base is crying out for it. They are quietly pleading for it.  Well, in some quarters not so quietly.  Surely you understand that this Government has no real mandate for anything.  They went into the election with the most sorry looking policy platform seen in this Nation for decades.  The election was not a referendum on Carbon.  You know that.  Labor lost the election – the Coalition did not win it.  You know that too.  This means this Government is vulnerable.  It has to earn its stripes, its credibility.  It’s imperative that it does not achieve this by default of there being no effective Opposition.  Backing away from a signature policy on climate change is to take a gigantic step in the direction of doing and being nothing.  Find a way to do the politics better.  Be a leader. You don’t have the luxury and this country can’t afford the luxury of the Labor Party sitting back contemplating its navel and its policies.  You had a vision for the future; you had a policy platform – and it was perfectly fine.  For the most part it had broad community support.  You didn’t lose the election because of your policies (and the Coalition sure as hell didn’t win because of theirs); you lost it because you screwed up the politics.  You put a disunified Labor Party on the front page of every newspaper every stinking day.  Seriously, Bill, who the hell was going to vote for that?

Ok, I’ve made my points.  I apologise if I seem rather agitated.  It’s only because I am.   There is no reason whatever for Labor to back away from its climate change agenda and a multitude of reasons for them not to.  Big reasons – the sorts of reasons that are above politics.

You are risking my vote on this.  And whilst I can’t speak for others I dare speculate you may be risking quite a few more.  In the most recent Labor Party email blast, National Secretary George Wright – you know him, right? – said,

‘The Labor Party my parents introduced me to was courageous, visionary and striving for equality and opportunity. ‘

Mine too.  Has it gone, Bill?  If not, now would be a really good time to show us.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Rowden

Writing the Narrative, or should that be “Righting the Narrative”?

narrative

 

“As a result, a story has emerged about Labor that goes like this. Faced with the transformation of its old supporter base, and having failed to build a new one, it has lost belief and self-belief. Machine men predominate. Policy is made only with an eye on the focus groups.

 

But another story is also true. Through a traumatic period, Labor ministers have focused on producing good policy. They deserve more credit for it than they have got. Their response to the global financial crisis led the world, and they have kept the economy strong since then.”

A Year in My Father’s Business James Button

 

“Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has admitted Labor did not have a mandate for introducing a carbon tax, naming it as a major policy the party “got wrong” during its term in Government.

Asked on Insiders this morning why the Government deserved to be re-elected, he said all governments make mistakes.

ABC NEWS 25th August, 2013

We initially were told that Gillard was the worst Prime Minister since Whitlam before it was decided that she was the worst PM ever. So, I’m going to throw a couple of questions out here, just for fun.

How much net debt did the Fraser Government inherit from Whitlam?*

Which Australian Government left the highest debt to GDP ratio when leaving office?

The answer to those two questions may surprise you. The answer to the first is “None”#, while the answer to the second is the Fraser Government, with Howard as Treasurer.

Howard’s record as a Treasurer is impressive, he remains the only one to get the 10% inflation while unemployment was also 10%. When Howard was PM, rather than use the proceeds of the mining boom to build infrastructure or to invest in our future, he established more middle-class welfare like the Baby Bonus or the private health insurance subsidy

Yet, somehow the Liberals have been able to write the narrative that they’ve been good economic managers. Whitlam had to deal with the oil shocks of the 70’s, and Rudd/Gillard had the Global Financial Crisis. And somehow, the Liberal narrative ignores these to suggest that it was thanks to Labor that these things occurred.

How?

Well, Labor doesn’t exactly help itself. Kevin Rudd’s mea culpa on the Carbon Tax is symptomatic. “We made mistakes, but we’ve learned” seems to be the way Labor approach being voted out of office.

Rudd, of course, made that comment while still Prime Minister, so he got in early. Labor reacts like someone who feels the relationship break-up was all their fault. “I know that it’s not you, it’s me. What can I do to get you back?”

The Liberals react like someone who should have a restraining order. “I’m going to stand here throwing rocks through your window until you realise you should take me back!”

Labor thinks they get voted out because they’ve made too many mistakes, whereas the Liberals seem to think that it’s the electorate whose made the mistake.

I’d like to see someone from the Labor side of politics say that Whitlam was a far more successful Prime Minister than Malcolm Fraser. He achieved most of his agenda and is probably proud of the way he left Australia. Medicare, for one thing.

Hawke and Keating transformed the economy. Rudd and Gillard saw us through the GFC and established the NDIS. I know there’s more. but it’s Labor who should be selling the narrative of their achievements, not apologising for the bits they got wrong.

(When did you ever hear Abbott or Hockey say that the Howard Government was anything less than perfect?)

Howard? His greatest achievement was the Goods and Services Tax – he said so himself. (Although, I think most of us would have said gun control.)

And Fraser? Well, he promoted Howard to the role of Treasurer. Perhaps, there’s something I missed.

  • http://www.marketeconomics.com.au/2024-labor-or-liberal-government-debt

#Many dispute this. I read the reasons. It’s a bit like an argument that Isaac Newton didn’t contribute to Science because Gravity hadn’t been invented then, and anyway, the story about the apple tree isn’t real.

A New Narrative

narrative

Image from smh.com.au

It’s really frustrating to find that respected commentators like Jonathan Green persist in suggesting that there are no material differences between the LNP and the ALP. Writing in Mamamia, in an otherwise thoughtful article about Julia Gillard and the importance of gender, he said ‘our parties are in broad agreement’ and that ‘heartfelt views that test the status quo are out of favour in a mannered modern politics that is an often loud contest for whatever unique but slender toeholds might be found in the narrows of the middle ground.’ I think that the few short weeks since the election show how shallow this view is.

On one hand, we have an Abbott government doing exactly what we thought it would; denying the reality of climate change and championing the unfettered free market’s right to exploit Australia’s natural resources without let or hindrance by government. Sacking the Climate Commission and supporting fracking  – despite having said during the election campaign that they favoured restrictions – are only the beginning. I

t’s true that the LNP’s ‘small government’ rhetoric hasn’t always played out in practice in the past, and it will be interesting to see how they react to the small government right wing nut jobs that have, perhaps inadvertently, been elected to the Senate.

Will the blocking of such ‘big government’ initiatives as direct action to meet the carbon reduction target, or Abbott’s signature paid parental leave scheme lead to a double dissolution? Will we see an Abbott election campaign supporting the intervention of government into the free market? I won’t be holding my breath.

Don’t get me wrong; Liberals – and especially Nationals – don’t really believe in ‘free’ markets – they are perfectly happy to distort markets through things like fuel subsidies and negative gearing, to say nothing of state aid to private schools. They want interventions that protect the already privileged. They just don’t want interventions that make society more equal, and, heaven forbid, use government to do anything that could possibly be done by private enterprise, no matter how inefficiently or inequitably.

Abbott himself seems confused between populism and the politically correct Liberal free market line, but the weight of neo-liberal opinion in his party and among his big business mates will prevail, and they’ll forget about the carbon reduction targets and the paid parental leave scheme.

Like the conservative parties in Britain and the US, the LNP stands for smaller and smaller government and the broadest possible play of the free market consistent with the interests of their mates. And that’s what we’ll get.

On the other hand, the contest between Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese for the leadership of the Labor Party has given us the opportunity to focus on ALP policy in a way that wasn’t possible during the election – or for most of the last six years.

The reasons for this failure are complex and include the mainstream media’s obsession with political trivia rather than policy, the difficulties of working in a hung parliament and the ALP’s inability to break free of the daily grind and enunciate a broader vision.

How many times did we hear them criticised for not having a ‘narrative’? (No one seems to criticise the LNP for not having a narrative – perhaps it’s just taken as a given that power is all they care about.) In fact, I think there is a Labor narrative, and it’s just easier to see it when someone – in this case, two people – have to enunciate it publicly.

There are a couple of caveats here. It’s easier to talk about Labor values to Labor Party members who mostly share them than it is to talk about Labor values to swinging voters, who are very likely interested in what’s in it for me. Labor’s not like the Greens. As a major party, Labor needs to appeal to something approaching a majority at any election. They can’t just aim at policy purity for the 8-10% who support them. Thus the rhetoric for the internal audience probably isn’t going to be the same as that for the population at large. One of the challenges for the ALP is, however, to align the two sets of rhetoric.

Second, the Labor narrative has, of necessity, changed in the last twenty years. There might still be references to ‘the light on the hill’, but Chifley wouldn’t recognise the current Labor Party or the political landscape it finds itself in. Paul Keating’s embrace of neo-liberal economics – financial deregulation, dismantling of tariffs, privatisation – has seen to that.

There are now far fewer rusted on Labor voters, far fewer unionists, far less sense of common cause than before economic rationalisation reduced us all to single competing units in a market economy.  It’s because both major parties accept market capitalism that we are told that the parties are the essentially the same. But I don’t think that’s ever been true.

What have the two candidates for Labor leadership been saying about Labor’s narrative? Essentially both agree that the ‘fair go’ is central to Labor’s worldview. Both are committed to improving the lives of Australians in the future.

Now any party could say this. What do Bill and Anthony have in mind? Both seem to be looking at gaps in the current activities of government, in areas like urban public transport, better provision for old age and science and innovation, as well, of course, as defending the gains of the Rudd and Gillard governments in education, disability, and health.

Call this a defining narrative? Well yes. Implicit in Labor’s embrace of economic rationalisation is the promise of an accompanying social wage which ensures that the market does not simply reward the strong or the lucky. It is this social wage that is eroded by small government and low taxes. It is this social wage that requires active government intervention in the market. Only a Labor government can deliver this – the other side doesn’t recognise either the need or the means to achieve it. The narrative is thus government intervention in the market to promote greater equality.

Neither candidate has put their vision in quite these terms; support for greater equality is the nearest they’ve come. I think it’s time for Labor to stop being afraid to say that greater equality can only be achieved through government and that it is the party of government intervention. Given the apparent success of the mainstream media’s anti ‘pink batts’ campaign, they may need to find better ways of saying it. But, thank you Jonathan Green, it’s what makes them different from the winner-takes-all views of the free market Liberal Party.

There are lots of areas where Labor needs to work harder for greater equality than it has so far acknowledged. One stands out: the need to ensure that the rigours of climate changes do not fall most heavily on the already disadvantaged – and this includes many rural communities.

There’s been some acknowledgement that Labor’s agenda has to include sustainability as a core filter for all other policies; for example, there’s no point creating jobs that simply add to the problem of greenhouse emissions. Even the British Conservatives can see that a low carbon economy can create new jobs; Labor’s challenge is to promote growth that is not only sustainable but also equitable. Pricing carbon – which is, of course, a market mechanism – is a good start, but is by no means a sufficient response to the changes that global warming will force upon us.

There’s no doubt lots of other areas where modifying market outcomes is necessary; housing provision and taxation policy come urgently to mind. Labor has time to develop policies in such areas, so long as it is true to its promise to listen to the needs of ordinary people.

The Liberals and their friends in the mainstream media can be relied on to call such policies class war or the politics of envy. This is rubbish. As Warren Buffett says, ‘There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’ He should know.

Labor doesn’t oppose capitalism, or profit, or entrepreneurialism. Nor, these days, does it want class warfare. But it does want to use the power of government to create a more equal society, and it needs to say so loudly.  And it needs to build new constituencies in support of this.

There is much at stake here. It isn’t just about Labor. It’s about rekindling the belief in the efficacy of government action that twenty years of neoliberalism has eroded. The market, as it is currently configured, is not serving us well. We need to revive the belief that government can, and will make things better. Next time Jonathan Green says Labor and Liberal are the same, can someone please send him this article?

By Kay Rollison

“Tony Abbott Worst PM in History” lacks Irony: Paul Sheehan lacks grip on reality!

tony abbott

Image from 2gb.com

Paul Sheehan devoted two columns to a Facebook group called, “Tony Abbott Worst PM in Australian History.”

Now, I’ve always thought that there are certain opinion writers who set out to make themselves controversial in much the same way that shock jocks work. There’s no point in saying something reasonable; controversy and angry argument sells. If the topic is about doctors prescribing too many drugs because of kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies, we don’t want people who’ll rationally discuss both sides, we want someone who believes in alternative medicine against a representative from a multinational drug company. So I had mixed feelings about giving Paul Sheehan any attention at all.

But there was one thing that gnawed away at me. It’s a concept that I think is worth fighting for. The idea that everyone has a right to participate in the democratic process. Paul Sheehan wrote: “But, otherwise, this site is fake on every level. It is the work a single social activist troll, which means unemployed, who shall remain nameless at this point.”

I am reminded of the late Lionel Murphy, who, when presiding over court case where it was stated that the defendant was a “well-known agitator”, made the wonderful statement: “Mr Neal, is entitled to be an agitator.” The idea that the site was “a fake” because it was the work of someone unemployed, or because they were an activist is part of an argument that I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of over the next three years. We’ll be told no-one is really opposed, it’s just the greenies or the unions or the usual suspects or professional demonstrators. (“Where does one apply to be a professional demonstrator? – I’d like to get paid!)

So, I set about to get the other side of the story. Who was this unemployed male who acting alone, but who had enough money to pay for likes? Mm. Straight away something doesn’t make sense. So I decided to get more information.

In order to keep their identity from the right-wing nutters, I asked I suggested that I call the creator of the page, “Trevor”. She was ok with this but thought a more feminine name would suit her. So I suggested that I call her, “Carrie”.

So, would you like to comment on Paul Sheehan’s article?

Despite what Sheehan has concluded, I am, in fact NOT a male. I am in fact, a single white female in my early 40’s. I don’t fit into any of the stereotypes scribbler Sheehan has described. I work full time and have done so for 30 years (I started work at 13). I am a member of a union and have been for most of my life.

Well, Paul Sheehan isn’t a journalist so I guess he didn’t have time to check his facts. Wait, is he a journalist? Ah, doesn’t matter, I’ve got a deadline.

When did you set up the Facebook page?

I actually set up the page back in March 2013 and had hoped I wouldn’t have to use it. I activated it on the night of the federal election. Within 12 hours the page received 150,000 likes (not one of them paid for). 

What do you want to achieve?

At first, I just wanted the page to be a piss-take on “Julia Gillard – Worst PM” and really only expected a few hundred likes, mostly from my friends. Now that it has exploded,  I want to be able to offer a “safe haven” (as best I can) for people to be able to post their anger and frustration about Abbott and his government without the standard hate-filled vitriolic responses one usually receives on “pro” Abbott pages. 

I noticed a post where you said that any racist comments would be removed and the people making them banned from the site. Are there any other rules about who can comment and what they can say? 

There are no rules as such and to be honest, for a page with our numbers, it is very hard to police.  I do not allow racism as I absolutely abhor it.  I make no apology for singling that out but we do also monitor sexist comments and hate-filled speech.  I have also asked our moderators to delete any comments they see that contain any references to assassinating Abbott.  I have 9 moderators and they are all real-life friends with the exception of 3 who are Facebook friends of friends. 

I suppose that you read the Paul Sheehan article. Any comments?

Sheehan’s opinion is not one I have ever valued. He is unashamedly Liberal biased.  I don’t have any time for Murdoch’s minions and long for the day when journalists with integrity return to the fore. Sheehan may think the content of the page is fake but therein lays the true irony.  Much of what we post comes from the media outlets he works for.

I’m not sure how people having the ability to post what they like on a Facebook page is a display of closed-mindedness. On the contrary. Isn’t it our democratic right to form our own opinions and share our thoughts and ideas? Our members have had enough of the en masse brainwashing that has occurred for the best part of the last 5 or 6 years via our one-sided mainstream media.  They are looking for an alternative voice which is why pages like ours are so popular.  It is why people are turning to AIMN, Independent Australia and The Guardian for unbiased reporting.  Or at least, the other side of the debate. Balance.

And as for his charge that you a buying “likes”?

I’m sorry to disappoint Sheehan but not one of our likes is fake. Yes, we have some members who use fake profiles but they are usually Liberal trolls too ashamed to post under their real names with their real pictures. We flick them pretty quick.  I know it would be convenient to Sheehan for our page to be bolstered by fake likes but the reality is, we didn’t need to buy our members.  Unlike of course Tony Abbott with his unusual overnight number explosions on Twitter and Facebook.  Yes, it is most inconvenient that Abbott is just not well liked. Not well liked at all.

It seems to me that many of the accusations from Paul Sheehan were easily verifiable. He, for example, suggests that the group’s number of Facebook likes is “bogus”. He gives no reason for such a conclusion, and it seems he’s either misinformed or just being provocative in the hope of gaining attention. Rather sad really, when someone with a column in a widely read newspaper feels that the most important subject that they can discuss is their inability to believe that there are 166,000 people who are opposed to Abbott. Personally, I believe – and I think my beliefs are just as good as yours, Paul – that the figure 166,000 is rather low. I could cite evidence, but that’s not what an opinion piece is about, is it, Mr Sheehan?

Kevin Rudd Must Resign

In order for the Labor Party to have any chance of limiting the Coalition to a single term in Government, Kevin Rudd must leave the Parliament as soon as possible.

Before I present an argument in support of that proposition, let me first say a few things about the situation as it stands.  In case you hadn’t noticed, because Home and Away is especially compelling just now, or something you just bought from IKEA is taking up far too much of your time, Labor just lost an election.  They did so, substantially, though by no means entirely, due to their own political ineptitude.  That is simultaneously a good and bad thing.  Bad in that there are forms of political folly that are just plain dumb and cannot be excused (whispered mutterings of discontent in the ears of a hostile media a case in point).  It’s good in that there are forms of political deftness that no honourable person would ever want to possess and express.  More on that later.  Labor leaked like a rusted-out colander.  You can’t do that and expect to maintain any political momentum and confidence.  If you cannot present a belief in your own unity and stability, you cannot expect it to be believed of you.

Labor made economic commitments, such as a return to surplus, they weren’t entitled to make, or should have made in a far more qualified and cautious manner.  A return to surplus was a reasonable enough goal, but to turn it into an actual time-framed commitment, one made ostensibly for purposes of political gain and leverage was pure folly.  Labor also allowed legitimate issues of class and sex to be taken out of their hands and placed instead in the hands of the opponent.  They failed to control the narrative.  You can’t hand your opponent and their multitude of mangy minions a bag of Bowies to throw at you and not expect to be subject to death by a thousand cuts.  You cannot depose sitting Prime Ministers – however much you feel your hand is being forced – and think this will not be self-inflicted political evisceration with a rusty butter knife.

In Opposition, the Coalition was unrelentingly, well, oppositional.  They stuck like garlic skin to a kitchen knife to a simplistic plan and formula.  It worked.  Apart from a few exceptional moments, Labor failed to respond.  They failed to communicate. They failed to be creative.  Edward De Bono would have been ashamed of them.  They could have utilized any number of methods to lift their voice above the Coalition’s conspiratorial cacophony.  They should have begun to utilise social and independent media environments the second it was clear that the mainstream media was against them.  Gillard, particularly, could have done a John Howard and have instituted regular Prime Ministerial addresses within which to communicate everything the Government was achieving.  Yes, in some quarters this would have been dismissed as government propaganda, but any message is better than no message at all – and certainly better than a consistently negative, redacted one.   Instead, the Gillard Government let things slip away, allowing a hostile Opposition and media to run rampant without meaningful challenge.  Let’s be clear about something: whoever is in charge of the political narrative is in charge of the political destiny.

The Labor Party in this country, despite its long history and what you would expect to be accompanying experience and wisdom, stands alone in its capacity for episodes of political artlessness.   Generally speaking, it doesn’t do “politics” well.  Or at least, it doesn’t do it as well as the Conservatives.  Now, that might sound on the face of it to be a bad thing, and in some respects it is, but not in all.  If we critically analyse what it means to be “good” at politics in a contemporary setting, and do so by candid and honest measures, it can hardly be said to be a virtuous thing.  I would much rather vote for a Party that was good at policy, but bad at politics, than the other way around.   Politics is dominantly about manipulation, exploitation and opportunism.  Lawyers aside, is there any profession on the planet that, in greater measure, employs both formal and informal logical fallacies in its daily rhetoric?  Is there any profession that does more to engender in the populace the egregious error of regarding an expression of passion as equivalent to an argument and opinion as equivalent to fact?  Whenever a politician speaks, something Latin always spews out.  Believe me when I say one of the worst things you can do is familiarise yourself with the litany of logical fallacies that humans employ because you’ll never be able to listen to a politician in the same way again.

But I hold that those of a Conservative bent evince these particular intellectual crimes and misdemeanours more often and more authentically.  This is part of why they do politics better than Labor, generally speaking.  It is my genuine impression and belief that one of the reasons Labor all too often seems clumsy and ineffective in the political sphere is that its representatives appear more intellectually and morally conflicted about engaging in such stratagems and speech.  Contrariwise, such things seem to roll off Conservative tongues like a second language they’ve been learning since birth.  The bottom line is that the Coalition won the election because they did the politics better.  They corralled their support better.  They ran with an “end justifies the means” philosophy and exploited the enormous cognitive dissonance that exists in the electorate to great effect.

So, what should our disposition now be with respect to the election result, when all the emotion, shock and disbelief have subsided?  Well, for the Conservatives, they will be pleased, and rightly so.  It’s always a nice feeling to come home to where you feel you belong.  But how confident should they really feel?  Conversely, how despondent should Labor feel?  The result was not a landslide or anything resembling it.  The Coalition does not have a result that would provide them with any confidence of a second term.  They are faced with a maze of electoral marginality.  There’s an old political adage that runs, “Oppositions do not get voted in, Governments get voted out.”  I personally don’t find that adage especially sound but it certainly applies to our current situation.  Tony Abbott will probably go down in history as the most unpopular political leader ever to attain the Prime Ministership.  The Coalition did not enter this campaign with a strong policy base.  It does not enter into Government with a strong policy base.  If one is to be candid about it, it’s a Government that doesn’t really have a lot going for it and one that was established by means both foul and superficial.  It will have to work hard and offer more if it wants to be seriously considered a two-term viability.

As for Labor, I feel there is every reason to be positive, especially if they are able to play it smarter and learn from the mistakes of the last few years.  Which brings me to the original purpose of this piece – to explain why Kevin Rudd must leave the Parliament for Labor to have any chance of a return to Government.  We know of Rudd’s sins – they have been chronicled by more literate and knowledgeable persons than I, so I won’t go over that territory again.  Suffice it to say Rudd is significantly to blame for putting Labor where it is.  He is now an albatross swinging silently around Labor’s neck, his efforts to mitigate the electoral damage for Labor notwithstanding.  There is nothing he can say or do, whether honestly or not, to reduce the danger he represents to Labor at this time.  No future Labor leader can operate with so-called “clean air” with Rudd sitting on the Backbench.  If he never opens his mouth for the rest of this Parliament, it won’t matter.  We are faced with a media that not only purports to report news but one that actively seeks to create it.   They will happily engineer a leadership issue if none authentically presents itself.

Here is the crux of it:  Rudd cannot be a meaningful representative for the constituents of Griffith without simultaneously being a corrosive force in Labor’s future.  When we speak of the “rusted-on” we must remember that rust isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Rudd is toxic.  Good representatives do not and cannot remain quiet, especially in Opposition.  They have to advocate forcefully and constantly for their constituency.  Rudd cannot be the sort of representative for the people of Griffith that he and they would like him to be without doing damage to the Labor Party.  The sincerity and/or purity of his actual desires and motives will be irrelevant to this.  He simply cannot have any profile lest he presents himself as a target for those will interpret his actions – or simply characterize them – as evidence that Rudd’s political ambitions are not dead.

As soon as the dust has settled on the “battle” for the party leadership and a quality candidate for Griffith is found, Kevin Rudd must resign.  Whilst I do not see this as a serious electoral risk to Labor I would venture to suggest that the peril to Labor that Kevin Rudd represents is far greater and far more immediate than the risk of losing the seat of Griffith.   Should Rudd be unwilling to resign for the sake of the Party, Labor ought to seriously consider the perhaps extraordinary step of disendorsing him from the seat (once that quality candidate has been found).   Hopefully, the former Prime Minister will see the wisdom and necessity of his resignation and take the appropriate action, and in doing so appreciate that he in no small way the architect of his own political demise.  He has the opportunity to bow out in as dignified a manner as Julia Gillard, thereby ensuring his contributions to the Labor Party and to Australia will be acknowledged and remembered without the soap opera antics.

Now, some might say that an announcement by him of an intention to retire from politics at the end of this term would be sufficient.  However, statements by Kevin Rudd on his political motives or intentions no longer have any semblance of credibility.  His resignation is the only option.

Labor cannot successfully navigate the path of the next few years if they have to carry the burden of the baggage of the last few years.  For this reason, I hope those whose duty it is to elect a new leader will consider who presents the lightest burden possible in this regard.  I respectfully submit that Bill Shorten is not that person.

Defending my right to say what I did about Tony Abbott

I copped a bit of flak for referring to Tony Abbott as the ‘circus clown with the big ears’ in my previous post, and probably rightly so and I apologise to those who were genuinely offended. Under normal circumstances, I would have considered it indeed an offensive comment and would not have included it, however, these are not normal times.

They were before Tony Abbott seized leadership of his party over three years ago.

“But should have I deleted it?” I asked. I thought long and hard about that until I recalled the tone of political debate in this country and how Tony Abbott had engineered it.

Tony Abbott introduced the gutter politics of the American Tea Party into our fair country and the adoring media seized upon it with filthy lust. Both they and Tony Abbott, as a glaring example, denigrated former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a manner that makes my “circus clown with the big ears” comment appear a very limp attack on the man by comparison.

During her term as Prime Minister, she was ruthlessly ridiculed for such menial things such as having red hair, a long nose, a big bum, a Welsh accent and her unmarried status.

We witnessed hatred inspired by the shock jocks, hatred inspired by Tony Abbott, and witnessed the denigration of Parliament by Tony Abbott’s Opposition.

We heard cries from either the Opposition or the media that she should be kicked to death or tossed overboard and saw placards littering the countryside that she’s a bitch or a witch.

Tony Abbott stood in front of those signs and smirked.

One media empire even fabricated a story that she engaged in criminal activity.

And don’t forget how tens of thousands of rabid right-wingers used to lap up Pickering’s pornographic portrayal of Julia Gillard.

Offensive and insulting not just to Julia Gillard, but to all women.

Now to Tony Abbott himself. I will use words that I’ve written before, so I apologise to those who are familiar with them.

I used to think that John Howard was a mean-spirited, nasty piece of work, but in comparison to Tony Abbott he appears as kind, caring and compassionate as Mother Teresa.

Tony Abbott is far, far more mean-spirited. He demonstrates this in the way he ignores human misery and the way he belittles those who are suffering from it. He is, in a nutshell, nasty to the core.

Stories surface that he’s been inherently nasty for as long as people have known him, but it wasn’t until 2005 that some of the public first took notice of his extreme level of nastiness and lack of compassion for human misery when it was hoisted onto the national stage.

It came only hours after the NSW Leader of the Opposition, John Brogden, had attempted suicide. The Age reported at the time that:

The day after Mr Brogden was found unconscious in his electorate office with self-inflicted wounds, Mr Abbott publicly joked at two separate Liberal Party functions about the disgraced leader’s career-wrecking behaviour . . . Mr Abbott was asked at a fund-raising lunch about a particular health reform proposal and reportedly answered: “If we did that, we would be as dead as the former Liberal leader’s political prospects.”

Nasty. To the core. And to a mate.

He also claimed that Bernie Banton was a mate. Not that he acted like one.

When Tony Abbott was the Minister for Health, the dying asbestos disease sufferer Bernie Banton obtained a petition containing 17,000 signatures of those who supported the listing of the mesothelioma drug Alimta on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

This petition was to be presented in person to Tony Abbott. If it wasn’t disrespectful enough to snub the petition, then his verbal response certainly was.

Yesterday, Mr Abbott was quick to dismiss the petition.  “It was a stunt,” Mr Abbott said on the Nine Network.

“I know Bernie is very sick, but just because a person is sick doesn’t necessarily mean that he is pure of heart in all things.”

He loves making fun of dying people. Does he expect we’ll all laugh along with him?

He even has a go at deceased people. Margaret Whitlam wasn’t even in the grave before Tony Abbott used her death to score cheap political points.

The death of Margaret Whitlam caused such an outpouring of saddened fondness that comments by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, linking her passing with the sins of the Whitlam government appear to have struck an extremely wrong note.

He said she was a ”woman of style and substance” and ”a marvellous consort to a very significant Labor leader and an epochal Australian prime minister”.

”There was a lot wrong with the Whitlam government but nevertheless, it was a very significant episode in our history and Margaret Whitlam was a very significant element in the political success of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Abbott said.

Nasty. To the core.

And let’s not forget the role he played in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. After One Nation shocked the Coalition by winning 11 seats in Queensland in June 1998, Abbott was determined to dig up every piece of dirt he could on Hanson. In his own words, on her demise he boasts this was:

“All my doing, for better or for worse. It has got Tony Abbott’s fingerprints on it and no-one else’s.”

And of course, there’s the now famous Barbara Ramjan incident.

His nastiness was contagious to the Liberal Party and many of its members and supporters have been affected under his leadership. It is a point that I and many others have expressed, but I do like what Dave Horton had to say some time ago, which I often refer to:

“In effect all shock jocks and populist politicians are painting targets on people who do not share their views. In Australia the people who said the Prime Minister was a “witch” or a “cheap prostitute whoring herself” who should be “drowned in a sack” or “kicked to death” were inviting violence in a way that should not be permitted in a civilised society whether applied to the prime minister or the unfortunate woman who was the partner of Car Park Man.

Bullying, in home, school, workplace is rightly taken very seriously these days. And it is clearly recognised that verbal bullying can cause as much distress and psychological damage as physical actions.

Yet we facilitate, protect, applaud, the bullying and incitement to bullying that takes place every day in our media. Target after target of helpless and/or vulnerable groups (Aborigines, gays, single mothers, unemployed, refugees, public housing tenants, environmentalists, unions) are chosen day after day by bully boy and bully girl shock jocks and politicians. And day after day there are attempts by the same people to denigrate, delegitimise, degrade, political and philosophical opponents. Day after day words are twisted, lies told, rage consequently incited.”

If you need reminding of how hateful the media has been, here it is in an early article Pedlars of Hate.

Dave Horton summed up the landscape of the last three years and those of the right-wing have, as Dave notes, applauded it. Am I right to assume that it is those same people who now take offence at me referring to Tony Abbott as the “circus clown with the big ears”?

Yes, it was inappropriate for me to use those words, and although I won’t resort in future to such wording, I defend my right to have used them.

For over three years the left has been subject to the most hysterical attacks of personal abuse and if those of the right now object to such behaviour being fired back in return, then all I can say is . . . deal with it.

Tony Abbott: a man whose words mean nothing

From the moment Tony Abbott emerged as a possible leader of this country the mainstream media went silent on his inability to keep his word. Instead, they echoed his claims ad nauseum that his opponent for most of that time, Julia Gillard, was a person who could not keep hers.

Her promise that “There will be no Carbon Tax in a government I lead” was upheld, yet it was distorted to present her as a dishonest politician. While all the time, Tony Abbott flip-flopped his way through the political landscape with verbal twists and turns and counter statement after counter statement.

They were repeatedly overlooked by the old media.

It appears they still are. But not in the independent media. The old media were happy to announce yesterday, without question, that:

Tony Abbott has put investment and free trade at the centre of the Coalition’s agenda to reignite economic growth by warning that other countries would “build walls against us” if the nation cracked down on foreign capital.

I say ‘without question’ because it was an announcement that blatantly contradicts everything Tony Abbott stood against when in Opposition and planning the ascension of his party. The article continued with:

In a news conference to announce his government frontbench, Mr Abbott said: “I want people here and abroad to understand that Australia welcomes foreign investment. It’s got to be the right foreign investment, which is in our national interest, but one thing we can’t do is build walls against the world.”

Without hesitation, they believed him. But only because they offer no scrutiny. They ignore that in August last year in their own discussion paper:

. . . the Coalition proposes the sale of farmland and agribusinesses be examined particularly closely, suggesting the Foreign Investment Review Board scrutinise all foreign acquisitions of agricultural land valued at over $15 million. The current threshold is $244 million.

As an aside, the wording in the ‘supportive’ Murdoch media at the time was a bit misleading. See if you can spot the difference.

. . . the release of a Coalition discussion paper that suggests slashing the foreign investment threshold to $53 million from $244 million for offshore buyers wanting to acquire agricultural assets.

Maybe the Murdoch media needed to leave out a ‘minor’ detail in order to sell the proposal, which, incidentally, will save the country from the great ruin the Gillard Government has deviously planned for us. Please try not to laugh at this from the above link:

South Australia’s food supplies will be increasingly at risk unless Julia Gillard adopts the Opposition’s new measures on the sale of farms to foreign investors, farmers warn.

Yes, the sky was going to fall in.

Yet most people think the sky was going to fall in on this proposal. Take, for example, the views of David Farley, the chief executive of Australian Agricultural Company:

“The Coalition partners, the Nationals, should actually study agriculture a bit more closely and understand what is needed to develop the industry in Australia.

“I am concerned that it is shouting out a xenophobic view rather than an informed view about what is best for the local industry,” Mr Farley said.

Mr Farley said there were was “plenty” of capital available to invest in Australian Agriculture, both through the trillion dollar domestic superannuation system and foreign investors.

“There are already enough hurdles to agricultural development in Australia, why put further barriers in place?

“If the pathways for Australian capital into agriculture are not attractive enough we definitely need to make sure that it is for international investors.”

Mr Farley said that as a major agricultural producer Australia had “big job to do’ over the next 20 years to meet the food needs of a global population tipped to reach nine billion people.

It did appear to be policy on the run. Populist policy at that. Just another thought bubble policy. A policy so bad that not even Joe Hockey could defend it, let alone explain it.

As at 2010 foreign ownership of agricultural land in Australia was a mere 6 per cent. If the Gillard Government didn’t do anything about this then the good folk of South Australia would have suffered from the effects of malnutrition and possibly scurvy. First only Whyalla was at risk. Then it was the whole state.

And all along the Coalition had been predicting that the Mining Resources Tax (MRT) would deter foreign investment in Australia. And isn’t it a surprise to learn that the mining industry in Australia is 83 per cent foreign owned?

What isn’t surprising is the Opposition’s hypocrisy.

On the run, they were producing policies that were promoted with the prediction that the country will be ruined if foreign ownership isn’t controlled, yet they opposed Government policies that they predicted – unfounded – that will deter foreign ownership.

Now we read that Tony Abbott wants to attract foreign investment.

I’m sorry, but hypocrites and policies don’t marry up too well.

This latest announcement simply reinforces that Tony Abbott is a man whose words mean nothing. He could possibly be offering this new policy with honesty and sincerity and if he is, it means that everything he said about this issue in the past was, in a word, bullshit.

Why can’t journalists in the mainstream media pick up on these obvious contradictions? Or better still, expose him as a liar?

Careless whispers nothing to dance about

In my years of being old enough to know what an election campaign is, I cannot recall one so inundated with media tales of what unnamed persons have to say.

The number of stories quoting unnamed Party sources, primarily on Labor’s side of the political coin has been nothing short of staggering – nameless “ministers”, “senior party officials”, “party heavyweights”,  “senior sources”, “powerbrokers”, “spokespersons” and the rest of that particular journalistic nomenclature.

It’s been incredible.  For my part, I’ve been deeply cynical and skeptical about it.  It was much easier to believe that a biased media was just making stuff up.  Mind you, in truth, there’s no way to show they are.

Then came the Gillard leadership spill of June 2013, about which there had been whispers aplenty.

On top of that, we’ve come to learn that Kevin Rudd has a weaker bladder than Julian Assange.  The journalists were seemingly vindicated.

But that leaves me, as a Labor supporter, with a terrible reality to face: Labor personnel are actively undermining their own party.  It beggars belief but it seems to be the only alternative to media mendacity.

Has the relationship between Labor and journalists become too cozy, too personal, too endowed with self-interest and ambition to be tolerable?  Or is Labor just politically inept?

Of course, the relationship between politicians and the media is a complex and important one, but I can’t help but think it’s become something corrosive to our political culture and especially dangerous to Labor.

Generally speaking, Journalists are supposed to report the news, not be part of it.

Brisbane’s Courier Mail ran a story today posing the question of whether it would have been better for Labor to have gone into the election campaign with Julia Gillard.

whispers

Courier Mail Website

Now, the story is pure, tabloid schlock, and goes so far as to use a manipulative photo taken from the funeral of Joan Child (Australia’s first female Federal Speaker), presumably just so they could slip in the Slipper.

It’s not the first time that the Courier Mail, or News Limited generally, have disrespected this sombre occasion in their opinion pieces.  But the interesting and pertinent thing about the story is that it contains multiple quotes from unnamed Ministers and “powerbrokers”.

Just two months since the Labor Party dramatically switched its leader, some senior members of the Government are now complaining that Ms Gillard would have performed better than Mr Rudd.

 

The minister said Ms Gillard would have slowly improved Labor’s vote, while under Mr Rudd it soared and then plummeted.

 

“One of the questions that will be asked is would Gillard have met Rudd on the way down? In the end, we’ll never know,” the source said.

 

“She made mistakes, no doubt, and she made mistakes under pressure. But she was much cooler under pressure and she coped with a greater intensity.”

If based on recent history, we’re forced to accept that these quotes are real, one has to wonder out loud: what the hell is going on?

Why would senior Party figures be speaking to members of the Murdoch press in such a fashion at a time when Labor is busily pushing the idea that News Limited is out to get them?

Why would they be saying things to journalists that they know will result in damaging “news” stories?  Are they mad?  I simply cannot fathom it.

I invite readers to offer their speculations and theories.  Heaven knows I could use a theory that doesn’t have me catching flies, mouth agape.

Not Every Untruth Is A Lie

Courtesy ETACherry2013

Courtesy ETACherry2013

A guest post by Dan Rowden

As much as we rightly desire that our political leaders – and representatives in general – exhibit as high a degree of propriety as we can sensibly demand, I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t gone too far in those demands.  Or, that we haven’t changed the rules in such a way as to make compliance almost impossible.

I wonder if we haven’t become a little hysterical about the whole issue of politicians “lying” to us. Actually, I think I just lied – I don’t really wonder, I’m in fact quite convinced we have. Let me expand and explain by way of analogy:

A parent promises their child a bike for Christmas, based on the fact they receive a Christmas bonus from their job every year and can thereby afford the gift. Christmas comes around but the bonus doesn’t materialise. Things are tough that year. Is the parent a “liar” for not being able to provide the bike?

Do we freely refer to and think of ourselves, and others, as liars every time an expectation is subverted by circumstance or that something we said turns out to be false? No, of course, we don’t. Such an attitude and behaviour would be grossly unreasonable.

So, why do we hold politicians to a standard that we would never expect of our friends or ourselves? It’s ridiculous to suggest that we’re entitled to do so because politicians are in positions of leadership and privilege.

What sort of person affords themselves the right to demand a higher standard of virtue of others than they are prepared to adopt themselves? It’s an extravagant arrogance to demand others be morally better than ourselves, whatever their station in life.

Sometimes, in our indecent haste to judge everything politicians utter, we unwittingly expand the meaning of “lying” beyond that which is reasonable and fair. A lie is a conscious and intentional misrepresentation of what a person knows to be the truth, or of what they really believe. There are quite a few things that don’t meet the definitional criteria of “lies” that we are nevertheless busily labeling that way:

1.  A statement that does not accord with our perception of what is true is not automatically a lie. The person issuing such a statement must know that the content is false for it to be a lie. This is no minor point. Remember we’re calling someone a “liar” here, with all the negative cultural force that entails. Data, facts, and events are all open to interpretation, sometimes widely disparate interpretation.

For example, I very recently saw a news item on TV saying that the number of “sickies” taken in Australia has fallen. The reason given for this fact was that the Aussie “work ethic” has re-emerged in all its glory. My own interpretation of this fact is that the near-complete casualisation of the workforce has meant that workers can no longer afford to take sick days – even when they’re genuinely ill.

Who’s right? I mean, I’m pretty confident I am but I’m not going to call the other commentator a liar because he suggested something that I think is patently wrong, or perhaps even a deliberate, politically motivated distortion.

Things are not always clear-cut.

Also, many politicians are so deeply ideologically driven that they can’t be expected to have a clear or objective perspective on matters. But bias isn’t mendacity in and of itself. Neither is stupidity. They are simply psychological forces that tend to produce distortion. Bob Katter springs to mind for some reason that I probably couldn’t justify.

2.  A subverted expectation or undertaking is not a lie. It may technically be a “broken promise” but a broken promise is not a lie unless it was known by the person making the promise that it could not be delivered.

Broken promises are part and parcel of human experience and the gravity we grant them in the political sphere has become almost surreal, especially in the face of constant pressure from various social groups for politicians to be seen to be doing things.

If we’re going to place our representatives under that constant pressure we have to expect that all sorts of overly optimistic undertakings will be offered, and broken promises the inevitable result.

  1. Changing one’s mind in response to changing circumstances is not lying and pragmatism and deceit should never be so much as implicitly linked in our minds.

  2. Errors of perception are not lies. When John Howard introduced the GST he was asked in an interview with Alan Jones of Radio 2UE, 14 August 1998 if the number of pages in the Tax Act would be reduced as a result of its introduction. He said it would. He was wrong.  Did Howard lie or did he honestly but mistakenly believe that would be the outcome?

Do we still recognize the difference between a statement of belief and something asserted as fact? Howard may well have lied on that occasion. He may well have known what he said was false. We’ll never know. We are not, after all, psychic.

I find it intellectually and morally wrong to accuse someone of lying in a case like that – unless we can provide evidence that the person knew what they’d said was false.

5.  Not everything that comes out of Tony Abbott’s mouth is automatically a lie. Sometimes he’s just belching.

But seriously, I feel we have to rethink our attitude towards the standards we demand of our politicians and of our concept of what is and is not an actual lie. The notion has become entirely liquid while the moral force of the alleged crime has remained quite solid.

We’ve just witnessed the fading of a stellar political career largely on the basis of an accusation of deceit, one wholly contrived and particularly lubricious. I refer, of course, to the hapless Julia Gillard and the “carbon tax” cock-and-bull.  Do we want to plumb those depths? I hope not. You can’t claim the moral high ground while your hands are raised and full of mud.

Do we need to take the accusation of lying and toss it around like confetti in our attempt to show that a particular politician has a weak grip on reality, or perhaps even an openly flagrant disregard for it? I don’t think so. This is not to say that obvious and demonstrable lies ought not to be exposed and labelled as such. They most assuredly should. It’s just that it seems lazy to blithely dismiss someone by saying they have lied.

It’s arguably far better and more productive to show why a given statement bares little relationship to what is true – or what we perceive as true. That way you get to simultaneously reinforce your perception whilst minimising theirs. If we can’t do that then what merit does our accusation of mendacity actually have in the first place?

Finally, with particular respect to Tony Abbott – yes, he’s a fibster; we know that. Has there ever been in our political history a finer artiste in the craft of everything from outrageous misrepresentation to the paltriest tarradiddle? Hard to say, but I doubt it.

I don’t believe, however, this grants us carte blanche to call him a liar on a daily basis. I think if we reach saturation point (and perhaps we have?) the accusation will entirely lose its force and utility. I fear it’s, in fact, becoming an empty mantra – almost an Abbott-esque slogan.

I think it’s far wiser to concentrate on his ineptitude and inability to intellectually cope with the demands of high office and the task of properly weaving his mind around the complex fabric of policy detail.

The truth is people expect politicians to fib about things and will tolerate a certain type and degree of it. We don’t mind lies so much, especially if they make us feel good or reassure us in some way or if it’s just too hard for us to think about.

Why Politicians Lie (and Why We Let Them Get Away With It).

It’s better to present Tony Abbott as unequipped and unskilled rather than untruthful because even then his seductive fibs will lack credibility and power.

Dan Rowden is a freelance writer and philosopher who has been active in philosophical and political discourse since Malcolm Turnbull invented the Internet in Australia. For the last 15 years, he has contributed to and administered Internet philosophy forums. Politics is a secondary interest, but he recognises moments of significance in Australia’s political history and for him, this is very definitely one of them.

 

It’s official: Joe Hockey has lost the plot!

With the announcement that the Reserve Bank is tipped to cut rates today, Joe Hockey has pounced:

Mr Hockey says the expected cut shows Labor has lost control of the economy.

But, he adds:

“Of course interest rates on average should be lower but if interest rates come down today it is because the economy is struggling, not because it’s doing well,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday morning.

Is it just me, or does the above statement make absolutely no sense or offer no logic whatsoever? Have I missed something? Or has Joe Hockey finally made it publicly clear that he has well and truly lost the plot?

I suspected all along that he lost the plot eons ago. His history of erratic announcements on interest rates confirm this. And no matter what happens to interest rates today, he will see it as a result of bad government.

Last January I published Wiping the egg off Joe Hockey’s face where I showed he is all over the shop when it comes to talking about – or knowing about – interest rates. Given his latest gaffe it is fitting that I reprint the article (and the rantings of this laughable man) below. He has history.

Enjoy!

The Prime Minister’s early announcement that the election will be held on September 14 relegates the recent Liberal Party’s ‘Our Plan: Real Solutions for all Australians’ to the waste paper basket. It probably belonged there anyway; offering nothing but statements and bereft of strategies. They’ll be busy coming up with something more substantial over the coming weeks, one would expect.

I also expect they will retain this commitment from the Plan:

The Coalition will protect the Australian economy from economic shocks and create the conditions which keep interest rates as low as possible . . .

I wonder if Joe Hockey knows about this. Was he even consulted? Is the party aware that Joe has been telling us for some time now that interest rate cuts are a bad, bad thing?

Or maybe Joe was consulted about the Plan a couple of years ago when he trumpeted that interest rate cuts were a good thing.

After all, in August 2010 he told us he wanted them to come down:

. . . what I did say is I would want to see the Reserve Bank move further in cutting interest rates.

Then in September 2010 the thought of rising interest rates made him livid and it was all the Government’s fault:

The Gillard Government must accept the blame for higher interest rates.

History tells us that the rates were put on hold that month, incidentally. But Joe was livid nonetheless.

In November 2010 after a rate rise he was still livid:

Australian families were the victims of a government who was no longer talking about interest rate rises, childcare costs and other costs of living, Mr Hockey said.

Families would struggle to buy Christmas presents, he said.

“It hasn’t been the usual practice of the Reserve Bank to increase interest rates in December because that is like a body blow to the heart of retail in Australia.

“But that body blow has been delivered, it’s been delivered by the Reserve Bank, by the banks and it’s all come about by this government.”

Fast forward to his 2011 Budget Reply Speech a more relaxed Mr Hockey told Parliament that:

. . . this Budget does nothing to reduce the upward pressure on interest rates.

Funnily, however, there were no rate rises in 2011 up to the day of his reply. But he was about to get livid again.

On Oct 1 2011 in anticipation of an increase he pointed the fickle finger of blame at the Government:

Of course the Reserve Bank should not be increasing interest rates tomorrow, but if they do then it will be Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan’s interest rate increase because they have done nothing to address core underlying inflation pressures.

Guess what? They never went up. Nothing to blame the Government for after all. Good try though.

Like all hard working Australians he announced on Jan 27 2012 he wanted the RBA to cut rates:

“I think the Reserve Bank has the capacity to do much of the initial heavy lifting and to stimulate economic growth by reducing interest rates.”

And he alone could save us when on March 27 2012 he proudly announced that:

He would work though on realising lower interest rates that would prop up the finances of many Australian households.

But . . . when they did come down, on May 11 2012 he was back to his livid self:

 . . . shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the rate cut was a sign that the Government had lost control of the economy.

Yet he left us dumfounded on June 4 2012:

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey has conceded Australia’s economy is in reasonable shape and endorsed Wayne Swan’s commitment to returning the budget to surplus.

Speaking to an international audience on Bloomberg TV, Mr Hockey said Australia was vulnerable “like everyone else”, but its economic fundamentals were strong.

“Australia is in a better position than most other western nations,” he told Bloomberg’s Asia Edge program.

“We have an unemployment rate of around 5 per cent, we have strong demand for our commodities and even though they probably won’t get there we have a government that at least is promising to deliver a surplus budget.”

[yet] When the Reserve Bank lowered interest rates by 50 basis points last month, Mr Hockey said it confirmed the “weakness in the Australian economy”. In his budget reply he said economic growth under Labor had been “very poor”.

The very next day, after a rate cut he sniggered to the adoring media that:

The Reserve makes clear it is worried about Australia’s underperforming economy and deteriorating international conditions.

But before the month was over they were apparently going up according to Mr Hockey:

Well you know what’s interesting . . . we’ve been saying this for three years now, that if the government actually delivers a surplus then it’s going to take upward pressure off interest rates.

Which is good, because it fits in with his Nov 2010 prediction:

Australia is set for high interest rates.

And also in November that year after an increase he declared:

. . . the Gillard government and its ”insipidly weak Treasurer” owned the interest rate rises.

And when we didn’t get a cut he laments in June 2012 that:

“A week ago Australians were expecting an interest rate cut – now they are facing interest rises. That undermines consumer confidence, it undermines business confidence and it leaves Australians fighting higher prices.”

But when the rates went down on Oct 2 2012 it was back to the Government’s fault again:

The Reserve Bank has cut interest rates today not because the economy is doing well, but because parts of the economy are doing it tough.

And on Oct 10 last year he took on a dire tone:

Last week’s reduction in the cash rate, to 3.25 per cent, took it to levels only one cut away from the lows reached during the financial crisis. The Reserve Bank are cutting interest rates not because the Australian economy is doing well but because the Australian economy is deteriorating.

But also in October 2012 we learn he wished for an interest rate cut and his wish was rewarded. And he was happy:

Last Tuesday, at the Elmore Field Days, he called on the Reserve Bank to drop interest rates.

And lo and behold, an hour or so later, that’s just what the bank did.

So chuffed was Big Joe, he grabbed a tractor and raised it above his head, roaring King Kong style.

OK, it’s a toy tractor.

And when they don’t go down we get this statement on Nov 6 2012 to blame the Government for them being put on hold:

Joe Hockey claims the Reserve Bank did not reduce the cash rate because the economy is overheating:

‘This shows it is now manifestly clear that it is the policies of this government which are pushing up the cost of living and staying the Reserve’s hand in delivering further interest rate relief to home buyers and small businesses.’

Again in November last year:

. . . the carbon tax is going to make it harder to cut interest rates.

But he doesn’t like them being cut. Remember? It means the country’s in a mess and it’s all Labor’s fault.

Such as it was with this announcement on Dec 4 2012:

The Reserve Bank has today cut the cash rate from 3.25% to 3%. Clearly the Reserve Bank is trying to catch a falling Australian economy . . .

Followed by this the very next day:

The Federal Opposition says the RBA rate cut foreshadows tough times ahead for the Australian economy.

Coalition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey says the move shows the RBA is intervening to counter Labor’s big spending policies like the promised Gonski education reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

But he’s not alone. When joined by his boss in June last year:

Alas, Hockey was (inexplicably) joined at that press conference by Abbott, which reduced the average economic IQ of the room by 20 points. Abbott proceeded to lay out his understanding of the rate cut. Abbott thought the RBA had cut rates because “economic conditions are soft. The stock market is down. Profits are weak. Retail sales are weak. The property market is down.” Glenn Stevens’ statement that the bank had cut rates because of “modest” domestic growth, a weakening international environment and low inflation was politely ignored.

Yep, it’s all the Government’s fault. It’s only good if cuts come under a Coalition Government. To repeat the old Liberal meme, here’s what Joe had to say back on Aug 9 2010:

Mr Hockey also argued “interest rates are always lower” under the Coalition – an argument described by Mr Swan as one of the “bigger distortions” he’s heard in recent times.

Laughable, isn’t it?

I like what Leigh Sales asked him on the 7:30 Report on Nov 1 2011:

So, how come when interest rates go down the Government never gets credit, but when they go up it’s always the Government’s fault?

Follow the link if you want to see his answer, but don’t expect anything intelligent. You won’t find it.

If Joe Hockey keeps this up then between now and the election someone will be wiping a lot of egg off his face.

Maybe they should find a way to shut him up. Or maybe they could get rid of him. This economic buffoon could be our next Treasurer.

Frightening, isn’t it?

Scroll Up