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Tag Archives: Kevin Rudd

Hasta la vista, baby! I won’t be back.

I noticed a marked shift in sentiment this 4th of July. I admit to being a reader of tea leaves and a man who pays attention to stellar alignments. As a self-confessed hard-nosed rationalist I don’t know why I seek out these signs in the zeitgeist. But the resignation of Matthias Cormann and the ALP’s victory in the Eden-Monaro by-election, summarised in this ABC News clip, convinced me a cosmic flux is underway.

Despite a painfully obvious and ongoing kowtow by the ABC to the LNP, this news does not bode well for Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Rupert Murdoch was convinced ScoMo had it in the bag, but somehow Scotty from Marketing got it wrong. As we all know the Dirty Digger does not like his plans to go astray. More on the Murdoch/LNP cabal later.

The man who bungled the numbers for Peter Dutton’s tilt at Malcolm Turnbull, Matthias Cormann, knows only too well that the Queensland hard man is gunning for the top job. The LNP’s failure to win Eden-Monaro especially with the Prime Minister’s personal popularity ratings at an all-time high, (if you can believe Newspoll) gives Dutton a rationale for a spill in the not-too-distant future

Here is why.

In 1992 US Democrat spin-meister James Carviile came up with the phrase “the economy, stupid.”

Since his appointment as Finance Minister Matthias Cormann managed Australia’s economy, for better or worse, thanks to his knack of being able to do deals with some of the most stupid senators ever to impart their skid marks onto the chairs of the Australian Senate.

With the Cormannator’s departure, the LNP loses the only politician in its ranks capable of successfully sooling Paul Keating’s “unrepresentative swill”. And this is a serious problem for a Government financed in part by the Murdoch Shilling. Cormann, who does not blink, is the only senior Government Minister with the smarts to strong arm a Bill through the Senate. This Bill — yet to materialise — would fulfil Murdoch’s goal of selling-off the ABC.

With Cormann’s departure and the status quo in place in the Lower House, the demise of the ABC will not happen in the foreseeable future.

Instead Australia is about 10 weeks away from an economic precipice.

As of September 1 Job Seeker and Job Keeper are at risk of being withdrawn from the Australian economy. With the Covid-19 outbreak in Victoria looking in every practical sense like a page from Albert Camus’s novel The Plague, the LNP has no credible replacement for Cormann to either run the nation’s finances or negotiate tricky legislation through the Senate.

Not that Cormann was particularly good at his job as Michael Pascoe points out in this scorching indictment in The New Daily.

But with Cormann’s departure from Australian politics, no amount of spin by News Corp can save the LNP from losing the next election which will be held in the depths of a severe recession, if not a depression.

News Corp’s spin of an essentially status quo by-election made the former ALP Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, gasp. As for the ABC, despite the rude sneers of Patricia – Follow my Twitter Feed – Karvelas during an interview with the ALP Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, and the talk-over-the-top-of Labor-spokespeople, and ex Sky News presenter David Speers, its saving precept remains embedded in its Charter.

No government of any political persuasion can outwit this cornerstone of our nation’s identity,

When I worked as a producer for the ABC I learnt a fundamental lesson, namely the ABC is divided into four divisions. Each competes with one another for its share of the Budget. The divisions are:- News, Current Affairs, Sport and Regional. There are numerous name variations, but despite different sub-sectors of the ABC bureaucracy, the divisions are how the ABC conforms to its Charter. So whether it’s a collapse in the price of wool or bush fire coverage or sports reporting in rural Australia, the ABC will continue to make it uncomfortable for politicians, no matter how many of its staff are made redundant.

Staunch support for the ABC in rural Federal seats such as Eden-Monaro, and National Party stalwarts of the ABC like John Barilaro reinforce the feeling in my bones that the ABC will survive.

Gawd help us if Rupert Murdoch gets his way.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

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Ms Gillard’s sickening hypocrisy laid bare

It was with disbelief, and finally contempt, that I watched excerpts of the Al Jazeera interview with former Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the topic of her government’s treatment of waterborne asylum seekers, particularly women and children.

Gillard, now a global advocate for the education of girls and women, employed what has disturbingly become a normalised justification for Australian governments’ increasingly callous torment of women and girls in off-shore detention: we do it to stop people drowning at sea.

I have yet to get my head around the psychopathology of those who believe the torment of one group is justified in order to discourage another group from undertaking a particular action. I think such justifications are teetering precariously on just about every ethical and moral ground I can think of, beginning with the Kantian argument that it is reprehensible to use people as a means to an end, and that people are an end in themselves. To treat them in any other way is to dehumanise them, and ultimately, ourselves.

However, Gillard, Rudd, Abbott and now Turnbull apparently have no difficulty with treating waterborne asylum seekers as a means to an end, and justifying their hideous treatment of them as a necessary deterrent in order to save the lives of others.

It has been said more than a million times: arriving in this country by boat, seeking asylum, is not a crime. Indeed, as we are signatories to the UN Refugee Convention, we actively invite people to arrive here by whatever means they manage to employ.

If we want to save people from drowning at sea, and if we care about the humanity of those we already have in detention, we would cease to use the detained as scapegoats, and as examples of what will happen if you legitimately arrive here by boat. We would instead withdraw from the Refugee Convention. People come to Australia because we invite them, through our participation in the Convention, and our agreement with its principles.

Of course, we aren’t about to take that step. So instead we will continue to ill-treat asylum seekers in off-shore detention. We will continue to justify this crime against humanity by claiming it’s done to save lives.

And Ms Gillard will continue to strut the world stage advocating for the education of women and children but not, regrettably, those she imprisoned in mandatory indefinite dentition in tropical hell holes where they are abused, raped and made mad.

Women for Gillard? Non, merci.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

I hope Rupert is happy

There was a time not so long ago when Australia’s future looked bright.

In 2008, Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generation and COAG agreed to a definitive strategy to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

We had successfully negotiated the global financial crisis with continued growth and relatively low unemployment.

We were world leaders in putting a price on carbon. We were addressing water issues with the Murray-Darling buyback scheme and extending marine parks. We had introduced water trigger legislation giving the federal government the right to oppose mining in sensitive areas.

We had expanded the Renewable Energy Target and established the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Wind capacity trebled and Labor supported the installation of more than 1 million solar panels.

Needs based funding for school education was underway, tertiary education had been expanded, and we had an agreement with the states on hospital funding.

The rollout of a world class fast NBN was underway.

We had a mechanism for deriving some income from the mining of our natural resources which was just about to start earning some money as they moved into production phase and had used up their accelerated depreciation.

We had introduced paid parental leave and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

There was a Royal Commission into child sex abuse instigated.

Our troops had finally come home from Afghanistan.

We had our first female Prime Minister who was admired around the world who looked on bemusedly at the vilification she received at home.

But Rupert Murdoch wasn’t happy.

We had a debt and deficit disaster, which is now much larger.

They were a dysfunctional illegitimate government who knifed their own leader, just like the Libs have done.

We had to get rid of the carbon and mining taxes to improve investment and employment, both of which have gone backwards after the repeal.

And Juliar told us there would be no carbon tax, just like Tony said there would be no cuts to health, education or the ABC.

So what do we have to look forward to now?

Another war in the Middle East.

Paying hundreds of billions for war toys.

Paying hundreds of millions for political witch hunts aka Royal Commissions designed to demonise Labor and the union movement.

Becoming a toxic dump for the world’s nuclear waste.

A great big new tax on everything you buy.

Paying billions to polluters.

Forking out millions to try and keep Telstra’s copper network working so we can have really slow broadband.

Lots of big new coal mines and CSG mines dotting our prime farmland.

Getting sued by global corporations if our laws interfere with their profits.

An influx of 457 visa workers.

Condemnation by the world for torturing asylum seekers.

The selling off of all our assets.

Working till we are 70.

The removal of penalty rates.

Being told that government spending on everything to do with society is unsustainable because we need more money for security.

I sure hope Rupert is happy because we have paid a hell of a price for him to get his way.

 

Squeaky Clean

Rat with a gold tooth Putting aside the fact that Julia Gillard was treated as a back-stabbing-murderess after she replaced Kevin Rudd as PM. Putting aside that she was labelled ‘the illegitimate PM’ even after she went straight to an election to let the ‘people decide’ and then won, but for some reason was then even more ‘illegitimate’ presumably because she led a minority government and it suited Abbott’s Liberals and their mates in the media to paint this as unstable when really it was the most productive government Australia has ever had. Putting aside the grand hypocrisy of none of these labels ever being assigned to Malcolm Turnbull when he plotted and schemed and white anted and undermined and destabilized and finally got what we all knew he wanted because he was quite openly campaigning for it: Abbott’s job. Putting aside that he hasn’t gone straight to an election and is instead intent of pretending he was legitimately chosen by the people to be PM when he quite clearly was not. Putting aside all these things which really make me so mad I could lose my mind, except that I won’t because it’s all so predictable that the Liberals would have their own leadership spill and it goes completely unnoticed by the mainstream media like a massive ‘meh’, when Labor’s leadership spill was the only thing the media wanted to talk about. For 5 years. What I really want to discuss today is the fascinating situation of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership where he can do NO WRONG, according to the mainstream media, and anything that does go wrong in his government is, incredibly, coincidentally, conveniently, somehow painted as still the last guy’s problem. Still Abbott’s fault. Except Abbott isn’t the PM anymore. Turnbull is. How the hell does Turnbull get away with this bullshit? He reminds me of the classic quote from the classic movie, Shawshank Redemption, but replace ‘Andy Dufresne’ with ‘Malcolm Turnbull’: Malcolm Turnbull – who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. How? How is Turnbull squeaky clean after all the crawling through shit he’s been up to?

Take, for instance, the horrific and tragic case of rape victim and asylum seeker, ‘Abyan’. Dutton is in a bit of hot water over this. That’s not to say Dutton is in as much hot water as an Immigration Minister should be who has denied an asylum seeker, a frightened young woman, the dignity and human rights any human being deserves, for political gain. But there is some criticism of the way Dutton has handled this situation, such as here, here and here. And you will notice in this Dutton-criticism, Turnbull is either given a cursory mention, or not mentioned at all. As if he’s somehow not involved in this situation. As if he’s floating situation, detached, uninvolved, an innocent bystander. As if somehow Dutton wasn’t chosen to continue in his evil role of Immigration Minister in the new Turnbull government, and therefore doesn’t report to Turnbull like an employee reports to an employer, where the employer is ultimately responsible for the decisions made by that employee and liable for any damage done by that employee. Why is Turnbull not being held liable? How is he coming out of this squeaky clean?

Another example is the news this week that the rolling ball which Abbott started rolling in his ideological quest to eat away at the public’s ownership of Medicare by privatising some parts of it, with the ultimate goal of privatising all of it, is still rolling forward. I’m really glad there are news outlets letting us know about this treachery because it’s a really seriously important news story that all Australians would be interested in. But I don’t understand why articles about this news story, such as this one, fail to even mention the word ‘Turnbull’. Turnbull, who we all knows likes to talk, and likes to explain, and is even well known for his particularly patronising ‘mansplaining’ tone, which he no doubt uses because he looks down on all of us since we’re all poorer than he is, is completely silent on this issue. He’s had plenty of time to comment and as far as I can tell he’s made no comment. It’s really not hard to guess why he’s made no comment. There are two reasons: a) because he doesn’t want to be splattered in the dirt of this issue, having to explain why his government is considering turning our universal health sector into a profit making machine for potentially international companies who would then ‘own’ our health records and eventually may own our entire health system. And b) Turnbull loves this idea, and hopes if he keeps his mouth shut it will more likely slip through unscrutinised. Which it possibly will. Turnbull loves this idea both for ideological reasons and perhaps because he has money invested in the companies who will make billions out of taking over Australia’s Medicare system, money which will be filtered through the Cayman Islands, un-taxed and back into Malcolm’s pocket which is bulging with cash. Of course there is a class-war, and Malcolm’s pocket is winning.

Long-time readers of my blog will recognise that the longer my sentences, the angrier I am. My keyboard will also tell you that the intensity of my fingers hitting the keyboard is a fair indication of the level of blood boil going on. So yes, I’m angry about this ‘Turnbull getting away with swimming in shit, yet still being treated like the beloved-shiny-sparkling-glistening-in-the-sun-squeeky-clean-brand-new Prime Minister who can do no wrong’. I’m terrified the squeaky cleanliness will get Turnbull another Liberal term of government and all the horrors of his political agenda will come about, unabated by any real scrutiny, just like the media did when they betrayed the country by giving Abbott such a free pass. It’s not just News Ltd this time either. It’s also Fairfax, the ABC and even, inexplicably, the Guardian. I’m not asking for these media outlets to do anything except their job and their job is not to let Turnbull get away with zero scrutiny on issues damaging to Australians. Just do your jobs people. For the love of dog, just do your jobs.

 

Against radicalisation

By Barry Hindess

My title might seem to suggest an hostility to radicalisation, that is, to the thing itself – and thus as endorsing the general thrust, if not the actual detail, of Australian public policy towards what is widely seen as the threat of radicalisation. ‘Radicalisation’ is too often presented as something that happens to young people, often turning them into potentially violent extremists. Rather, it should be seen as an ugly figment of the security imagination unfettered, as this imagination so often seems to be, by serious thought. Accordingly, my title reflects an objection to the term ‘radicalisation’ and the ideas it represents.

While it might seem that ‘radicalisation’ could happen to any of us, that whatever views we might presently hold – green, liberal, socialist or conservative, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or atheist – could become more ‘radical’ or ‘extreme’, when these terms are used without qualification they almost invariably target Islam. This is a problem that Malcolm Turnbull’s inclusive response to the recent Parramatta shooting shares with his predecessor Tony Abbott’s more confrontational stance. In a recent interview with ABC Radio National (PM, October 5 at 18.10), Turnbull insisted on the ‘need to counter radicalisation’ before going on to say that ‘We have to work with the Muslim community in particular very collaboratively … They are our absolutely necessary partners in combating this type of extremist violence.’ Here radicalisation and extremist violence are clearly viewed as issues that arise within the Muslim community, which is why they are ‘our absolutely necessary partners in combating’ them.

However, there are familiar varieties of extremism and of radicalism that are in no sense Islamic. Those of us who watched the recent Bendigo Mosque protests, whether in the flesh or, as in my case, through the security of our television screens, will have observed a truly frightening level of hatred and aggression on the part of some of the protestors. We have yet to see our leaders take a stand against the radicalisation of such people. There are Bhuddist extremists in Myanmar who terrorise the Rohingya Muslim minority. And again, there are militant evangelical Christian extremists in parts of Africa and in North and South America who are not often seen as posing a threat to the Western way of life. There are small groups of these Christian extremists in Australia but, whatever they may do to each other, they generally leave the rest of us in peace.

Leaving religion to one side, we often see radicalism and extremism in political life. At one time, political radicalism was expected of young people – at least, among those of a certain class, a class that allowed its members the luxury of experimenting with political allegiances. The French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau is reputed to have said ‘My son is 22 years old. If he had not become a Communist at 22, I would have disowned him. If he is still a Communist at 30, I will do it then’. Clemenceau’s comments suggest both an awareness that radicalisation might happen among the young and what now seems a remarkably optimistic response: give it time and it will likely pass.

More immediate examples of political extremism are neo-liberalism and the anti-refugee practices promoted by our two major political parties. The former is a doctrine that promotes radical economic change throughout the world – the privatisation of public assets and deregulation and marketisation of anything that moves. Margaret Thatcher did not come into the world as a neo-liberal extremist but, grew into it in her years as a politician. In other words, she was radicalised. Similarly for the IPA ‘s benighted publicists. Neo-liberal extremism poses a real threat to most people in the West, and to the rest of the world too. It is alive and kicking in the Coalition and, despite Kevin Rudd’s essays in The Monthly, still has disturbing levels of support within the Labor Party.

Australia’s refugee regime is a threat, whose brutality has been well-documented, to the well-being of anyone in its clutches. It is a clear case of irreligious Western extremism, suggesting that both those who run the regime’s camps and those who established them must have been radicalised, perhaps by the thought that being seen to be tough on refugees was a prerequisite of career advancement and/or political success. It is tempting to say something similar about Western military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, ostensibly to counter the threat of terrorism at its source. The manifest failure of these interventions and their counter-productive effects have lead, with the partial exception of Afghanistan, not to serious withdrawal from the interventions themselves but rather to their intensification (or radicalisation).

Another problem is that the term is not well-defined. Both here and in North America where it seems to have originated, it is little more than a reflection of the political concerns of those who use it. It refers to a process identified by its alleged results. Leaving aside the well publicised actions of Western powers in the Middle East, whatever else results in radicalism among Muslims is denounced as radicalisation. As often happens with public policy fads, far too many academics have identified themselves as ‘radicalisation’ specialists, thereby overlooking their responsibility to promote intellectual rigour in public life.

My point is not to deny that talk of radicalisation gestures towards a real problem or problems but it is to suggest that we should examine these problems more carefully before seeking actively to address them. We know that young people and more than a few of their elders, finding themselves alienated from the societies in which they live, sometimes seek support elsewhere and it is hardly surprising that this happens within the Muslim community. The reasons for this alienation and responses to it may be many and various, sometimes including ill-informed talk of ‘radicalism’, ‘extremism’ or ‘fundamentalism’ and the intemperate actions of our governments. The politically-charged notion of radicalisation has little to offer our understanding of these issues.

Barry Hindess
School of Politics and International Relations,
Australian National University, Canberra

 

Money Is No Object!

Paul Sheahan wrote something rather interesting today…

Well, that’s incorrect. He wrote something that caught my eye. And I’m trying to work out whether the man suffers from memory problems or is simply lying. He wrote:

“In politics, the Rudd Labor government went berserk on deficit spending to remain popular.”

Now, I’m happy for someone to debate whether the Rudd government’s policies were effective, or whether they just postponed the inevitable recession. I’m happy for someone to debate whether the money could have been better spent. I’m even happy for them to debate whether or not the pink batts problems were caused by socialism or unchecked capitalism.

But to suggest that the deficit spending was all about “being popular” just strikes me as a total rewriting of history. Even at the time, much of the spending wasn’t popular. The Liberals were telling us that Labor had gone too hard, too early and there’d be no money left when we were actually in recession – which they assured us was unavoidable.. Many asserted that the $900 would be wasted on alcohol and pokies.

(On a side note, isn’t it interesting that when Labor tried to introduce a voluntary pre-commitment amount for pokies, the Liberals teamed up the Clubs and screamed “nanny state”, but the Ceduna trial of a welfare card which can’t be spent on alcohol or gambling is just fine and dandy.)

Anyway, Paul Sheahan thinks that all the Rudd government’s spending was only to make his government “popular”. And I’d like to point out that he does specifically say the “Rudd Labor government”, so he is talking about the spending that was done at the height of the GFC. This not about things like the NBN or the National Disability Scheme.

Sheahan is one of people who like to remind us of that factoid that there’s a limited amount of money. (Note the use of the word “factoid” which, as I pointed out when Christopher Pyne used the word in parliament, means something that’s repeated often enough for people to take it as fact.)

The problem when we discuss “money” is that many people take it as synonymous with “cash” of which there is a limited amount at any given moment. “Money”, on the other hand, is a measure rather than being a thing in itself. Money tells you how much of the limited resources of the world you can access should you convert your money into something else. Of course, should everyone decide to convert their money into things at the same time, then we’d have inflation. And if they all decided to convert their money into the same thing – such as tulips – we’d have a bubble. (See Dutch Tulip Bubble.) We have people telling us that bubbles are inevitable and just part of the capitalist system.

As banks and governments can create money with the stroke of a computer key. money is infinite. Of course, if they do create an excessive amount of extra money, then the existing values of the “money” will diminish. There are a limited amount of tulips and if there’s suddenly an extra trillion dollars in the tulip market that million dollars for a bulb is going to look like a bargain.

Perhaps a good way to look at it is to use a sporting analogy. Money is the score and while sometimes scoring is hard, that’s only because there’s a team that keeps taking the ball of us and trying to score themselves. In the unusual event that we all decide that we’d rather see a good fast, high-scoring game and we start kicking for the same end, scoring becomes a lot easier. Of course, in real life, this doesn’t happen very often, and many people who are scoring like it’s a basketball game, wonder why the soccer players are finding it so hard to score and conclude that it’s because they’re lazy.

So when people start talking about there being a limited amount of money, what they actually mean is that there are a limited amount of resources. However, if governments can use money to reorganise the economy so that more “resources” are being created then it can actually add to the wealth of the country. If a person is working instead of being unemployed or underemployed, then that adds to the overall pool of “resources”.

The question is not whether such things can be done. Of course they can. The question is what is the most effective and worthwhile way to do it. Will reducing unemployment by two percent create a wages breakout? And a tulip bubble which leads to problems down the track? Will increasing unemployment by one percent mean that we have a tulip glut on our hands? Or is it better to have a regulated tulip market and stop all this speculation.

Creating more money was more or less what the Rudd Labor government did in the early days of the GFC. It was about economic management. Given that we were in danger of recession, there was little prospect of inflation.

So the idea that it was about popularity is another one of those little factoids that certain columnists are so fond of helping to create.

 

The same but different . . .

When Turnbull ‘knifed’ Abbott a week ago after publically shaming Abbott’s terrible government on national television while announcing his intent-to-knife, I wondered how the mainstream media would treat this story. I couldn’t help but worry this would be yet another example of a Liberal story being treated with a completely different narrative to the same Labor story. A sitting PM is replaced by a member of their own cabinet. A late night coup. A first term Prime Minister. Abbott lasted a shorter time than Rudd and had already been challenged 6 months earlier. By my reasoning, the white-anting, destabilising activities of Turnbull and his supporters over the last 6 months was far more bloody and underhanded than Gillard taking the opportunity to lead the Labor government when it was offered to her within hours of her colleagues’ decision that Rudd’s chaotic leadership was not going to improve, second chances or not. However you argue it, overall a fair observer would see great similarities in the two situations. But these similarities are clearly ignored by the media and it turns out my worry was well founded. Low and behold, the Turnbull/Abbott story is being treated completely differently to Gillard/Rudd. Of course everyone in the mainstream media is very busy mansplaining to little-old-us the voters why the two situations are apparently completely different. But I don’t need this situation explained for me, because I can see with my own eyes that Turnbull just did to Abbott the same, if not worse, thing Gillard did to Rudd.

If you haven’t already noticed for yourself the differing tone of the stories about new-PM-Gillard with new-PM-Turnbull, take a look at this apple-with-apples comparison.

Here is a transcript of Gillard’s ABC 730 interview with Kerry O’Brien the evening she became PM on 24 June 2010 and Turnbull’s ABC 730 PR campaign interview with Leigh Sales a week after he became PM, which aired this evening.

If you can’t be bothered reading these transcripts, take it from me that Gillard was interrogated about her ‘knifing’ of Rudd for the entire interview, and framed as the ‘villain’ who couldn’t be trusted, a tone which continued throughout her time as PM. Gillard was also hectored about what she would do about the mining tax policy, not forgetting she had become PM that day. Turnbull, on the other hand, was treated like a ‘hero’ and provided with the invaluable opportunity to outline his vision for the country on an unchallenged soap box where he was allowed to sell his government’s refreshed credentials. He wasn’t even tested when he claimed Direct Action was working to reduce emissions when there was no evidence backing this claim. Two interviews in similar political circumstances, yet chalk and cheese in their treatment and tone.

A simple word count showed Gillard spoke for 65% of her interview with O’Brien. Turnbull spoke for 77% of his interview with Sales. Sales even apologised for asking a question Turnbull might ‘find offensive’ and then again said sorry for cutting him off. Soft doesn’t even come close to describing this cringe-worthy excuse for journalism. But it gets worse. Check out the word clouds of both interviews and see if you notice the same thing I did.

Here is Gillard’s interview, where the most used words were obviously Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. So the main topic of the interview were Gillard’s villainous replacement of Rudd.

Gillard Wordle

Now here is Turnbull’s interview.

Turnbull Wordle

Can you see what is missing amongst all the positive words? Yep, that’s right. The word Abbott. You can do a Where’s Wally search for it if you like, but I’ll save you the trouble and tell you it appeared twice in the interview. Hardly there at all. Abbott’s already gone and the media aren’t dwelling on the part Turnbull played in his demise. Unlike Gillard, who had to put up with the media’s obsession with the Rudd leadership spill throughout her entire tenure as Prime Minister, even after she went straight to an election to prove her legitimacy in the role. Yet Abbott has been erased and shiny-Turnbull-with-a-sly-grin has got off scot-free. See what I mean about same story but very different treatment? How do you even begin to explain this other than to say Labor is always bashed by the media, and the Liberals always excused? Sadly this is the only explanation that makes sense.

Democracy and diversity: media ownership in Australia

“To protect democracy, governments have an obligation to detect and remove political bias within the media” writes David Vadori. We couldn’t agree more. David, a Year 11 student, analyses the Australian landscape in this guest article.

The democratic ideal of a media which is impartial, and designed to inform citizens, is inevitably compromised as media ownership becomes more concentrated. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights unequivocally states that everyone has the inalienable right “to hold opinions without interference…”[1] However this right is undermined as media ownership becomes more concentrated and the number of proprietors is reduced. Concentration of media ownership is frequently seen as a problem of contemporary media and society[2]. The fundamental threat that concentrated media poses to any society is that, as the influence of privately funded media increases, the democratic capacity of the media as an instrument to inform and educate citizens is diminished. This is due to a reduction in the number of perspectives that are available to citizens on any given issue, at any given time; and this interferes with an individual’s ability to formulate an opinion, as access to information presented in an unbiased and balanced fashion becomes more and more restricted. In Australia, this problem is markedly more acute than elsewhere in the world and thus governments should strive to ensure that the Australian media is impartial and informative.

An International Media Concentration Research Project, led by Professor Eli Noam of Columbia University, found that Australian newspaper ownership was the most concentrated of 26 countries surveyed, and among the most concentrated in the democratic world[3]. For example, News Corp titles account for 59% of all sales of daily newspapers, with sales of 17.3 million papers per week in Australia, making News Corp Australia’s most influential newspaper publisher by a considerable margin[4]. In comparison the two most prominent daily newspapers owned by News Corp in the United Kingdom, ‘The Sun’ and ‘The Times’, have a combined average daily circulation of 2.6 million, or approximately 24%[5] of the total number of all daily papers sold. Therefore, by world standards the circulation and ownership of Australia’s print media is largely monopolistic and this undermines the democratic ideal of a pluralistic society in which a range of views are presented to citizens.

In Australia increasing concentration of media ownership has been a historical trend. For instance, print media ownership has shrunk ever since it reached its zenith in 1923 when there were 26 daily newspapers, with 21 independent owners. This reduction in the number of proprietors may be attributed to the relatively small size of Australia’s market when compared with economies of size and scope in more traditional media markets, such as the United Kingdom or the United States[6]. This has consistently been a restrictive factor on the competitive potential of Australia’s print media landscape. However, this should not be allowed to form the basis of an excuse by which concentration of media ownership in Australia can be dismissed as something which is understandable or even unavoidable. For wherever media ownership is concentrated, commercially driven, mass-market media dominates and democracy is threatened.

Photo sourced from smh.com.au

Photo sourced from smh.com.au

The 2013 federal election demonstrated the corrosive effects of concentrated media ownership on democracy. Individuals and corporations with vested commercial interests in the outcome of the election, such as Rupert Murdoch, the founder and CEO of News Corp, used the media to sway” voters with headlines such as: “Australia needs Tony” and “Kick this Mob [Labor] Out”. These headlines appeared on the front pages of some of Australia’s most widely circulated newspapers, including The Daily Telegraph and The Courier Mail. This type of media coverage is contrary to what is expected of the media in a democracy where citizens should be protected from individuals and corporations that use the media to further a particular political agenda. For example the political agenda of Rupert Murdoch at the last federal election was clearly to secure a Coalition election victory; this sort of partisanship is damaging to the democratic process as it contradicts the media’s obligation to report fairly on facts and to avoid opinion wherever possible. Thus, the 2013 federal election has shown that opinion has become the defining characteristic of mainstream-media coverage, with newspapers making no attempt to conceal their political biases.

In a move to cement the prevalence of their own media empires, commercial media conglomerates have sought to stifle the growth of new-media and mitigate its ability to connect with consumers. For example, Kevin Rudd has suggested that the motivation behind News Corp’s partisan coverage of the 2013 Federal election was to ensure that Murdoch-owned News Corp and Foxtel were protected from a faster broadband network, promised by Labor, which would have provided ordinary Australians with greater means to access alternative media content for free online[7]. At present, there is an evident disparity between the power and influence of large media corporations such as News Corp and new emerging media platforms such as social-media. This disparity undermines the democratic ideal of a media which is able to present a range of views to its citizens.

The difference between the influence of mainstream media platforms, such as newspapers, and the influence of new-media platforms, such as online blogs, is evident when for instance, the reach of the Australian Independent Media Network is contrasted with that of The Herald Sun. The Australian Independent Media Network is a less well-known, but nonetheless vocal source of online news that publishes content regularly and has an audience of around 15,000[8], whereas, The Herald Sun, an established Murdoch-owned paper, has a daily circulation of over 500,000[9]. Primarily it is this disparity between the influence of mainstream-media and new-media that is detrimental to the democratic process, as the alternative, but equally relevant perspectives conveyed through alternative media are inevitably dwarfed by their mainstream counterparts.

Government policies over the last two decades have reinforced rather than challenged, the concentration of media ownership in Australia. Both sides of politics have shied away from moves which might increase media diversity, such as strengthening public service broadcasting or encouraging initiatives that might pave the way for smaller companies to become more significant and influential players. Successive governments have failed not only to acknowledge the public’s interest as citizens, but also to protect them as consumers; their policy actions have frequently invoked free-market rhetoric, but this only obscures just how imperfectly and partially market forces operate, and masks the extent to which government policy has played a role in shaping those markets[10]. A more direct and honest approach is needed to address the problems associated with concentrated media ownership and the government should investigate the ways it can better respond to claims of bias within mainstream media.

In order to avoid partisanship within the media, whilst simultaneously protecting free-speech and fostering the growth of a healthy democracy, measures designed to reverse the current trend towards concentration of media ownership, and encourage diversity and pluralism within the media need to be developed. Currently the primary safeguards that exist against media monopolization are the specific controls over media ownership contained in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992[11]. These safeguards prevent the common ownership of broadcasting licenses that serve the same region. The justification for these laws is that, the effective functioning of a democracy requires a diverse ownership of the daily mass media to ensure public life is reported in a fair and open manner.[12] However, Australia needs tougher laws to combat the undemocratic consequences of concentrated media ownership.

A report of the independent inquiry into the media and media regulation released in 2012, otherwise known as the Finkelstein report, conducted by the Hon R Finkelstein QC, made sweeping recommendations for legislative reform within the media. The Finkelstein report described the Australian media as: “too concentrated in ownership, biased, vindictive, sloppy and at times unethical in its coverage of people and events.”[13] The report proposed that a government-funded regulatory authority be created to pass judgment on news reporting. This hypothetical government-body would have the legally enforceable power to adjudicate on journalistic fairness and make the media answerable to the courts[14]. The creation of such a body must be regarded as an important first step towards greater transparency and accountability within the media, however more needs to be done.

Provision must be made for alternative forms of media. For example the growth of the internet has been instrumental in the development of new-media and the emergence of some new globally powerful operators.[15] Advocates of the internet’s potential to offset the power of mainstream media, claim that the internet naturally fosters an environment where a variety of views are both tolerated and accepted, and that for this reason the internet should be considered an appropriate medium through which to equipoise the influence of mainstream media. However the internet has only been an ostensible solution to the effects of concentrated media ownership and has had little measurable effect in terms of diffusing the power of mainstream media. The internet has failed to seriously challenge the influence of global media oligopolies such as Fairfax and News Corp, both which own and preside over extensive online networks. For instance, News Corp owns Kidspot.com.au, taste.com.au and homelife.com.au and holds 50% stakes in CareerOne.com.au and carsguide.com.au.[16] Furthermore News Corp also runs websites for most of its 172 daily, Sunday, weekly, bi-weekly and tri-weekly newspapers, magazines and publications. Developments such as this ought to be considered in the process of developing policy relating to media ownership, and Governments should investigate ways that the editorial impartiality of online media can be effectively monitored and regulated.

Furthermore, besides the immediate adoption of the recommendations made by the Finkelstein Report relating to the establishment of a government-funded regulatory authority to preside over matters relating to media integrity, the government should also increase funding for its public broadcasters, instead of cutting funding as the current Federal Liberal/National Coalition Government has announced. Australia’s public broadcasters provide an invaluable alternative to the concentrated and oligopolistic corporate media that dominates in Australia. Moreover, our public broadcasters are consistently hailed for their editorial impartiality, and despite claims of bias in the ABC’s coverage of news and events, a recent independent audit conducted by Gerald Stone concluded that: ‘As an independent observer, [there were] no grounds for concern…’[17]. Therefore Australian governments should use public broadcasters as a model by which to monitor and scrutinize the editorial impartiality of privately owned media.

To protect democracy, governments have an obligation to detect and remove political bias within the media. It is essential that the media act as a safe-haven for political neutrality, and partisan media coverage should not be tolerated. Citizens must be allowed to form opinions free from the undue influence of corporations or individuals that express particular ideological, commercial or social interests through the media. Ultimately, Governments ought to make ensuring the integrity and neutrality of the Australian media a priority. After all, it is in the best interests of any democracy to have a robust, independent and impartial media that is free from encroaching corporate interests.

References:

[1] UN General Assembly, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (1948)

[2] New Internationalist, “Global Media”. New Internationalist. (2001)

[3] Franco Papandrea and Rodney Tiffen, ‘Media Concentration in Australia’ (2011)

[4] The Conversation, ‘FactCheck: does Murdoch own 70% of newspapers in Australia?’ (2013).

[5] ‘National daily newspaper circulation January 2014″, The Guardian, (February 2014)

[6] Op Cit. Media Concentration in Australia

[7] Financial Review, ‘It’s Rudd v Murdoch in NBN slugfest’, http://www.afr.com/p/national/it_rudd_murdoch_in_nbn_slugfest_oZXFoHEQiPOHyYBK932O2O (Accessed 28 May. 2014)

[8] Lee, K. and Kelly, The Australian Independent Media Network, https://theaimn.com

[9] Australian Bureau of Circulation (2009)

[10] Tiffen, Rodney, ‘Political economy and news’ (2006)

[11] Parliament of Australia, Media Ownership Regulation in Australia, http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Publications_Archive/archive/mediaregulation

[12] Ibid

[13] Ray Finkelstein QC, ‘Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation’ (2012)

[14] Cameron Stewart, ‘Finkelstein Report: Media’s great divide’, The Australian (2012)

[15] Op cit. Media concentration in Australia.

[16] Columbia Journalism Review,http://www.cjr.org/resources/?c=newscorp

[17] Gerald Stone, ‘Breadth of opinion and impartiality in select TV current affairs coverage of the asylum seeker issue’, (2014)

Related articles:

Can ‘The Australian’ stoop any lower?

Where is the outrage when the media lie?

Independent media: the sleeping giant and the MSM’s response

Exposing the lie of politics

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

Image courtesy of tomohalloran.com

It is no surprise that when it comes to trust, collectively politicians rate very lowly. And individually there are many politicians that we definitely do not trust. Yet they continue to win our votes, if not our trust. In this guest post, Sir Scotch looks at this baffling phenomenon.

The well-known and quite rightly often maligned Readers Digest, over several years, have surveyed Australians, for the 50 professions they trust most. The list goes like this from the 2013 survey:

1. Firefighters 26. Builders
2. Paramedics 27. Alternative health practitioners
3. Rescue volunteers 28. Plumbers
4. Nurses 29. Mechanics
5. Pilots 30. Accountants
6. Doctors 31. Shop assistants
7. Pharmacists 32. Truck drivers
8. Veterinarians 33. Charity collectors
9. Air traffic controllers 34. Professional sportspeople
10. Farmers 35. Bankers
11. Scientists 36. Financial planners
12. Armed Forces personnel 37. Airport baggage handlers
13. Police 38. Clergy (all religions)
14. Dentists 39. Lawyers
15. Teachers 40. Tow-truck drivers
16. Childcare workers 41. CEOs
17. Flight attendants 42. Taxi drivers
18. Bus/Train/Tram drivers 43. Journalists
19. Locksmiths 44. Talkback radio hosts
20. Hairdressers 45. Real estate agents
21. Postal workers 46. Sex workers
22. Waiters 47. Call centre staff
23. Computer technicians 48. Insurance salespeople
24. Security guards 49. Politicians
25. Cleaners 50. Door-to-door salespeople

What does the list say about us as a country, as voters and as human beings? What are we able to learn from the way people vote, compared to the way people give credit, to people who would generally interact with them at some stage in their lives, though not necessarily, all that often, that politicians are only above door to door salesmen in those “trusted professions”?

Likewise, the most trusted people list, has several politicians in it, and that really is what we are about here. Why do Australians vote for folk they don’t trust, enough to admit to a survey taker, that they don’t trust them?

The first on the list is Malcolm Turnbull, at number 68, who is more trusted than Julian Assange. A funny outcome considering the normalcy of us, as voters expecting politicians to also be liars, since the two go hand in hand, and on any reading of the work of Julian Assange, who if one is to be completely fair, is the exact opposite, despite what is said by Rupert Murdoch and his tame typists, doing everything they are told.

It was Assange who brought to us the actual truth of the governments we elect in terms of their activities, after having spent years being told by politicians what they think we want to hear. Kevin Rudd appears just after Assange, again, a supreme obfuscator and liar, certainly in league with the Murdochracy, yet his trust rating is below that of Assange. Do punters actually know what Assange represents or are they dependant on the lies of the tame tabloid typists? The answer to that in simple terms appears to be a resounding “yes”. Without Murdoch and his co-conspirators, we are uninformed as a country. What a worrying situation!

Worrying, I’m thinking? Perhaps that’s why ethical politicians feel some control over media access makes sense.

Less ethical politicians of course, who tend to pop off to New York on the Murdoch cheque account, from both sides of the political divide it has to be said, don’t see it as an issue if the only paper/s in a whole state, come from one single self-absorbed egotistical octogenarian nabob, who isn’t even an Australian, (to avoid taxes not because of some high moral objection to Australian law or system), and the punters (you and me it could be said but I don’t buy his bullshit rags), is the framing device used to manage the entire Australia Conversation. And we accede to this? We are fools. Another correspondent a couple of weeks ago took me to task on the subject of the hyper generalisation inherent in “we get/have the government we deserve”. I have thought long and hard about how to assuage his disquiet at my generalisation, especially when I talked about the “water cooler conversation”, when we who see ourselves as “activist” in terms of our displeasure at the work of that failed priest currently occupying The Lodge, are given an opportunity to actually have a say to colleagues about the state of the nation.

My view is we don’t care to expose our distrust in case someone reports us to the boss, or holds us up as “agitators”, though in reality, that is what we need to be. We need to expose the negativity of a government for the corporations, such as we have had since Paul Keating first wound a French clock in an Armani double-breaster.

Lincoln, at Gettysburg opined, “. . . and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” But what are we, Australia, left with of that great hope?

Government by people we don’t trust, of people they don’t know, for people they don’t care enough about, to listen to, or ask what do we want from them. And we fail to call them to account!

Rather in secret little circles in darked back rooms in carefully managed blogs and fora, we cry out for “justice” but fail to act for those afflicted in PNG as a direct result or our inaction. We call for transparency, but ask little of the plans for the “TPP”, which stands ready to strip away more of our rights as members and citizens of a sovereign state. We ask for honesty, and then vote for Clive Palmer “because he offers some alternative to conservative politics”. I am yet to see an example of that.

We lie to ourselves as Australians. We lie to others, wearing the same cloak of humanity we had earned after Vietnam, failing to see the similarities between two wars fought for the US, with no other purpose, than to feed the industro-military swamp, which is the American economy.

Even our national anthem is a lie, but we still sing it at the football. We are afraid of change, a normal state for a conservative voter.

We are afraid of the pitfalls a new direction may bring. We are afraid of everything, but we still vote for people we don’t trust, who have proven themselves to be liars, time after time, we allow the same biumvirate of accession to the will of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to “guide” us on our way to hell.

Some vote Green, but the vote is meaningless we are told, even though almost 12% of the population vote for them. Why is the 12% so meaningless? Labor gets into bed with Bob Brown and
others with ethics and vision, and are immediately held up as some sort of traitors. But no one, even Antony Greene, of the ABC, can explain why that vote is wasted.

It appears to me that there is seems no offence that can be committed by our current government and opposition, which can be held up as an example of outrageous and egregious conduct. We are now seeing some of the minutiae of the goings-on in foreign affairs in the Carr/Gillard regime, where it was important enough to diarise that the carrier of choice had the effrontery to not provide pyjamas. We find the old Foreign Minister holds himself up as the success of the day when Australia got a spot on the Security Council of the United Nations. He fails to mention in his memoir that the process of getting that seat took longer than the time that the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd process was in play, but is happy to accept responsibility.

I am moved to remember, that Rudd himself also held up his hand as being responsible. All lies.

So we’re left with the question “what does the government have to do to get to a point where Australia realises that we’ve been had?” The short answer is exactly what they are doing now, without having to worry about the question being asked in the first place.

At what point will Australians realise that government is not being conducted for them, for their families, for their futures, for their country or for much else with anything approaching value. Government is in fact being conducted for the betterment of United States corporate interests and the re-election of the main offenders and little else.

 

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.

Chomsky, Alanis Morisette and Irony.

  • “The political policies that are called conservative these days would appall any genuine conservative, if there were one around to be appalled. For example, the central policy of the Reagan Administration – which was supposed to be conservative – was to build up a powerful state. The state grew in power more under Reagan than in any peacetime period, even if you just measure it by state expenditures. The state intervention in the economy vastly increased. That’s what the Pentagon system is, in fact; it’s the creation of a state-guaranteed market and subsidy system for high-technology production. There was a commitment under the Reagan Administration to protect this more powerful state from the public, which is regarded as the domestic enemy. Take the resort to clandestine operations in foreign policy: that means the creation of a powerful central state immune from public inspection. Or take the increased efforts at censorship and other forms of control. All of these are called “conservatism,” but they’re the very opposite of conservatism. Whatever the term means, it involves a concern for Enlightenment values of individual rights and freedoms against powerful external authorities such as the state, a dominant Church, and so on. That kind of conservatism no one even remembers anymore.” Noam Chomsky

“It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think…”

Ironic Alanis Morisette*

Noam Chomsky, the well-known social activist, made two very good points in his book, “Manufacturing Consent”.

The first was that newspaper proprietors didn’t need to tell their journalists what to write or the editors what stance to have. They’ve picked the editors, who set the tone. If Piers Akerman or Andrew Bolt was appointed as editor of “The Socialist News”, I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some change in tone. The need for day to day intervention is unnecessary.

Image from theaustralian.com.au

Image from theaustralian.com.au

The other point he makes is that, if one wishes to know what’s really going on, the business pages are a good place to start. He suggests that people will accept being lied to in the rest of the paper, but when misinformation might cost them money, they want to know the true state of play.

I have found it interesting over the years to flick between how a story is being reported in the front section of the paper and how it’s being presented in the business section. Try it sometime. True, most of the business pages is about takeovers, floats, changes in directorships and a lot of numbers that have less meaning to your average punter than the mathematics of Quantum Mechanics. (And, just in case anyone who actually understands Quantum Mechanics wants to use up the comments section explaining why I shouldn’t have said that, please just provide a link rather than explaining that once one grasps Planck’s Law, then it’s a simple step to letting Schrodinger’s Cat out of the bag.)

So what’s been the impact of the Carbon Tax? Well, according to the business pages, this “massive tax on everything” which was going to lead to the closing of Whyalla hasn’t quite led to the devastation predicted.

ABOUT half of Australian companies have either seen little impact from the introduction of the carbon tax on their energy costs or are yet to calculate the effects, according to surveys by the Australian Industry Group.

About 49 per cent of businesses in the manufacturing, construction and services sectors reported an immediate increase in prices of at least some of their inputs after the introduction of the carbon price on July 1, the AiGroup report found.

A follow-up survey of 485 businesses in November, however, found that a third of manufacturers and construction firms and as many as one half of service sector respondents ”did not yet have enough information” to gauge the impact of the new tax.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/business-counting-carbon-tax-20130128-2dgw6.html#ixzz2gnPn2CTr

“While the carbon tax came into force on July 1 its impact is still far from clear. Many companies are taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude, perhaps because it’s very future is still sometimes called into question. But even if the Liberal Party should win the next election, dismantling the tax might well prove too complex and costly. And, in the meantime, failure to accommodate the new environment could put businesses at risk. –

See more at: http://www.aon.com.au/australia/thought-leadership/currency/carbon-tax-impacts-and-outcomes.htm#sthash.fKEyHeF0.dpuf

And finally, a more recent article.

Some wrecking ball that was! Australia’s first year with a carbon tax has ended with inflation so low that it was only the carbon tax that kept inflation from falling out of the Reserve Bank’s target range.

The Bureau of Statistics reports that in the year to June, consumer prices rose 2.4 per cent on the raw data, 2.3 per cent after seasonal adjustment, and 2.2 per cent on the trimmed mean measure, which strips out the biggest price rises and falls to define underlying inflation.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/carbon-tax-inflation-fears-evaporate-20130724-2qj4q.html#ixzz2gtN1GT2F

Removing the Carbon Tax. It was going to be the “first thing” that Abbott did. Strangely, I’m now hearing on the news that he’ll be able to get rid of it after July next year. I seem to remember Kevin Rudd announcing that Labor would bring forward the end date to July 2014#. So the net result of electing Abbott is that the Carbon Tax could be in place for longer. Now, (and pay attention here, Alanis Morisette) that’s ironic!

*Alanis Morisette may be partly to blame, but there seem to be a number of people who just don’t understand what irony means. Nearly everything she describes in her song is just bad luck,

#Yes, I do know that Labor planned to have an Emission Trading Scheme, after that date, but Abbott plans to have a “direct action” scheme, so both have a plan to reduce emissions. It’s just that Labor’s is a sensible, market-based policy, whereas the Liberals are planning an inefficient, socialistic “tax us, then subsidise” program. And yes, Alanis, that’s irony, too.

P.S. The Image of Treasury milking the taxpayer 59, comes from the Liberal booklet on Labor waste, which listed 60 things where Labor was “throwing your money away”. I hope that the outrageous waste of supplying Treasury officials with milk has been stopped. That $110,000 a year will go a long way toward putting the budget back in the black.

What happened when asylum seekers were sent back to Indonesia: Tony Abbott’s own words

asylum

Image courtesy of the eastasiaforum.org

In mid-October 2009, 78 Tamil asylum seekers were intercepted en route to Australia and taken on board the Oceanic Viking. They were then taken to Indonesia. What did Tony Abbott have to say about the matter?

On October 27, 2009 – then an Opposition frontbencher – he joined ABC’s Lateline to discuss the Rudd Government’s management of those asylum seekers that were due to be detained in Indonesia. Here is some of the transcript.

TONY JONES: The diplomatic problems posed by these 78 asylum seekers still onboard the boat Oceanic Viking worsened this evening with the regional politicians saying Indonesia should not be used as a dumping ground for refugees. Is the fate of these people likely to be once again the focus of Question Time tomorrow?

TONY ABBOTT: I think that’s quite likely, Tony, because once they were picked up by that Australian Customs vessel, they became in effect Kevin Rudd’s responsibility. Now, he could have brought them to Christmas Island. He chose to send them to Indonesia. He said he had an Indonesian Solution; well, it looks more like an Indonesian shambles than a solution right now.

TONY JONES: He could have brought them to Australia to Christmas Island. Are you saying that’s what should have happened?

TONY ABBOTT: No, I’m not, but that’s certainly what he has been doing up till now.

TONY JONES: Well, what are you saying should have happened?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, I’m not the Government, Tony. I’m here to hold the Government to account.

TONY JONES: No, but I’m asking your opinion. You must have an opinion on what you think should have happened to these people. You obviously don’t think they should have gone there.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, what I think shouldn’t have happened is that Kevin Rudd should not have unpicked the carefully put together policies of John Howard, which stopped the flow of boat people. You see, John Howard found a problem and created a solution. Kevin Rudd found a solution and has now created a problem. And, plainly, his shrill responses, his obfuscation in the Parliament today shows that this problem really is getting on top of him.

TONY JONES: So what do you believe should happen to those 78 asylum seekers now? Should they be brought to Christmas Island? Should they – as the Indonesian regional officials are suggesting? Or should they be taken back to Sri Lanka as they’re also suggesting? What do you say should happen?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, Tony, as I said, I’m not the Government. I’m holding the Government to account. Kevin Rudd said he had this problem under control because he had sorted it all out with President Yudhoyono. Plainly, it hasn’t all been sorted out. At the very best, all you can say is that his Indonesian Solution is a boat-by-boat improvisation.

TONY JONES: So you don’t have an opinion on what should happen to these people yourself. Is that what you’re saying? Or are you not allowed to have an opinion, I mean . . . ?

TONY ABBOTT: No, no, I’m just telling you, Tony, that I’m not the Government. But, if you are going to stop the flow of boat people, you’ve got to have policies in place which deny people the prize of Australian permanent residency. As long as that prize beckons, you are going to have people, understandably, wanting to come in search of a better life in Australia. Now, by closing down the offshore detention centres, by abolishing temporary protection visas and by stopping the occasional practice of turning boats around, Kevin Rudd put out the welcome mat for these people.

TONY JONES: You said earlier that these people became Kevin Rudd’s responsibility when they were picked up by an Australian vessel. Are you saying, indeed, that they are Australia’s responsibility?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, they were picked up by an Australian vessel in the Indonesian search-and-rescue zone. Kevin Rudd said that he had secured an agreement with President Yudhoyono of Indonesia for Indonesia to take these people. Now, whatever Kevin Rudd has done, thus far at least, it hasn’t worked.

TONY JONES: OK. Let’s assume they’re not allowed to go ashore in Indonesia. What do you believe should happen to them?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, I think that Kevin Rudd should not make arrangements with foreign leaders that he then can’t deliver upon, and that plainly seems to be the situation tonight.

TONY JONES: So, it seems all so clear that you can’t actually say what you think should happen to these people.

TONY ABBOTT: Well, I’m not now in Government, but when I was in Government I supported the policies of the Prime Minister and the Government, which stopped the boat people from coming. You see, the difference, Tony, between John Howard and . . .

TONY JONES: OK, but – alright, I’ll let you finish. Sorry.

TONY ABBOTT: Let me say my piece.

TONY JONES: Yes, I will.

TONY ABBOTT: You know, the difference is John Howard’s policies were tough, but effective. Kevin Rudd’s policy looks like being brutal, but infective.

TONY JONES: OK, if you were to follow the policies of the previous government – the Howard Government, your government – these people would be sent to somewhere in the Pacific like Nauru. Is that what you think should still be happening?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, we’re not now in government and we don’t know what could possibly be done with the Indonesians, perhaps with the Sri Lankans, which seems to be the current major source of boat people. And if we were in government and were able to engage in detailed discussions with the Sri Lankans and the Indonesians, I might be able to say more. But the Australian Government, which is in a position to have these discussions and which apparently has had discussions with President Yudhoyono, even thought it had a deal with President Yudhoyono, hasn’t been able to deliver.

TONY JONES: So, it’s eight days now or more than eight days that these people have been on this vessel. Do you think Kevin Rudd should get back on the phone to President Yudhoyono?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, he’s got to do something, otherwise he looks like a Prime Minister who is both inept and hypocritical. Let’s not forget the high-volume moral outrage, the high-octane moral outrage which came from Kevin Rudd when he was opposition leader, and lots of other people as well. And I have to say, Tony, that those people who furiously denounced the Howard Government but are now silent are exposed as partisan rather than as principled.

TONY JONES: Moral outrage today from several of your colleagues in both the House and the Senate asking if the Government could guarantee that the children on board that vessel will not be kept in detention in Indonesia. Is that confected outrage or is it genuine concern?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, certainly, we do not want anything inhumane to happen to anyone. And the difference between John Howard and Kevin Rudd on this, Tony, is that, sure, the former government put tough policies in place, but they worked. Handing people over to the Indonesians is going to be far more brutal and it’s not going to be effective in stopping the boats.

TONY JONES: As you heard today, the Prime Minister made the rhetorical point immediately this was suggested that this from the former government which put children behind razor wire.

TONY ABBOTT: And let me say this to you, Tony: those camps in PNG and Nauru, that were run by Australians were, I put it to you, far more efficient and far more humane than the kind of things that we have just seen on your program in Indonesia, which apparently is what Kevin Rudd wants to condemn people to.

TONY JONES: OK, let’s get your own reaction to the conditions then. You’ve just seen the pictures, you’ve just referred to them in those detention centres filmed by the Melbourne lawyer Jessie Taylor. What did you think when you saw those pictures?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, I think that they are very, very rough circumstances in which to leave people. I’ve got to say they’re not untypical of Third World countries, and if those boat people were in camps in Sri Lanka, I dare say they would be experiencing similar conditions. The problem – the charge that I lay against the Prime Minister, Tony, is two-fold: one of ineptitude in not being able to strike an effective deal with President Yudhoyono, but above all, of hypocrisy in furiously denouncing the policies of the Howard Government, but now implementing policies which look far more tough in one sense on boat people, but which have no real hope of stopping the flow.

TONY JONES: Well, I mean, they’ve levelled the charge of hypocrisy right back at the Opposition for what they did in government, as I said earlier. And indeed it was the Howard Government which put money into the renovations of the detention centre into which these may in fact go on the island of Riau.

TONY ABBOTT: Yeah. But you’re not seriously suggesting, Tony, are you, that the Australian-run detention centres in Nauru and in PNG were anything like the detention centres in Indonesia, which Kevin Rudd wants these people to go to.

TONY JONES: So, your argument is that there is no way that these asylum seekers should be taken to Indonesia, or that Kevin Rudd should encourage the Indonesian Government to pick up asylum seekers headed for Australia and take them back to Indonesia. That, indeed, is the Indonesian Solution.

TONY ABBOTT: No. I’m not saying that, Tony. I’m saying that Kevin Rudd should act like a Prime Minister and he should move effectively to stop the flow of boat people. Now, I’m not saying that that’s going to be easy and I’m not saying that it’s going to be pretty. But nevertheless, John Howard did it, he did it effectively, and I think on the evidence of what we saw tonight, he did it more humanely than Kevin Rudd is proposing to do it.

TONY JONES: Anthony Albanese told us last night that the Government’s Indonesian Solution is quite different to the former government’s Pacific Solution. Do you agree with that?

TONY ABBOTT: Well, yes, because the Government’s – the current Government’s – so-called solution doesn’t work and it looks like being far more brutal than anything that was done by the former government.

Does this mean his commitment to instruct the navy to turn around asylum-seeker boats and return them to Indonesia was nothing but a con job to win votes?

In case you missed it, here’s a summary of what Abbott said:

  • The asylum seekers should have been sent to Christmas Island.
  • To return them to Indonesia was “brutal”.
  • There would have been nothing wrong with sending them to PNG.
  • Australia needs a good relationship with Indonesia to help address this problem.

His words now imply incredible hypocrisy, beyond belief. Meanwhile, Indonesia says:

“We will reject his policy on asylum seekers and any other policy that harms the spirit of partnership and (Indonesian) sovereignty and national integrity,” Mr Natalegawa told a House or Representatives meeting on Wednesday.

Yes, I have an aching suspicion that Tony Abbott has been conning us all along when it comes to any of his policies on asylum seekers. He’s not interested in boats. He’s only interested in votes.

Why Labor Lost

Image courtesy of fbider.com

Image courtesy of fbider.com

Firstly

The truth of the matter is that my Party is at times its own worst enemy. For the six years Labor has been in power it governed well in spite of the enormous inconvenience of minority governance. This is indisputable when you look closely at its economic record, the legalisation passed and reformist policy from within a minority framework.

Its problems though did not originate from everyday governance. In this sense, it has been no better or worse than any other government.

Rather its problems stemmed from personality conflict and the pursuit of power. Politics by its very nature is confrontational and uneasy with those with ego who pursue power for power’s sake or those who think they have some sort of ownership of righteousness.

Labor had two formidable intellects in Rudd and Gillard. In fact, combined they would total much of the opposition front bench’s intellectual capacity.

It is one thing to replace a leader but a different thing when the leader happens to be the Prime Minister who the voters perceive they have elected.

Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing so it is easy to say that Rudd should never have been replaced. That Rudd undermined the 2007 election campaign and continued to undermine Julia Gillard for most of her tenure. He never showed the grace in defeat that Turnbull displayed.

So we had two leaders of sagacious intellect. One a ubiquitous narcissist, who couldn’t listen and who couldn’t delegate. On the other hand, we had a woman of immense policy capacity (and history will judge her that way) but would be hard pressed to sell a Collingwood Guernsey to a rabid supporter.

Minority government has enormous, day to day difficulties without having one’s leadership frequently undermined. And we can speculate about a myriad of other possibilities but it won’t change the fact that ego destroyed any chance Labor had of winning the 2013 election.

This is the main reason why Labor lost. Not because they didn’t govern well. As Tanya Plibersek said 10/10 for governance and 0/10 for behaviour.

But because life is about perceptions, not what is, but what it appears to be. We painted a picture of irrational decision making, of dysfunction and murderous disloyalty. Rightly or wrongly that is the perception. In other words, we committed political suicide.

Secondly.

There are of course other factors that contributed to our downfall.

Despite the growing influence of the Fifth Estate the Main Stream Media still packs an enormous punch. In advertising, the success of one’s spend is measured by the resulting sales. The media can measure its influence in the Polls.

Labor was the victim of the most concerted gutter attack ever insinuated upon an Australian political party, from all sections of the media, although one, in particular, News Corp, has gone well beyond the realm of impartiality.

Labor was drowned in an avalanche of lies, repugnant bile, half-truths and omissions. The media lost its objectivity and news reporting. It became so biased that it no longer pretended to disguise it.

The MSM has forsaken truth, justice and respectability in its pursuit of the protection of privilege. They printed and told lies with such reprehensible consistency that a gullible and politically undiscerning Australian public never really challenged it.

As a famous businessman once said.’’ I spend a lot of money on advertising and I know for certain that half of it works’’ Clive Palmer has won a seat because he had the money to promote himself. He proved the power of persuasion with money.

The Fifth Estate (including me) attempted to counter these nefarious attacks but in my view, we are three years away from reaching full potential.

Having said that I plead some degree of ignorance, and I must say, I am absolutely astounded at how many people participate in social media and the voice it gives them.

However, in three years’ time, its ability to influence the younger generation will have risen exponentially. Added to that will be a declining older generation.

Thirdly.

Tony Abbott successfully adopted an American Republican-style shock and awe approach in his pursuit of power. Mainstream media hailed him the most effective opposition leader in Australian political history.

This was solely based on his parties standing in the polls and said nothing about the manner in which he lied and distorted facts and science to bring about this standing.

Perhaps they should rethink the criteria they use.

On a daily basis and in the parliament he sought to abuse, disrupt proceedings and tell untruths that normal men would not.

His gutter style negativity set a new benchmark for the behaviour of future opposition leaders. Luckily though, he may be the only one of his characterless ilk, and future opposition leaders may be more affable.

However, the consistency of his negativity had an effect on an electorate in a state of comatose. From the time the election date was announced he portrayed himself as a different person. An indifferent public was fooled by this chameleon disguise. He was and still is by his own admission a liar.

David Marr used these words, to sum up, the character of this would be Prime Minister.

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change.”

“He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power, it’s been a waste of time.”

How one appraisers the reasons for Labor’s loss might differ from individual to individual and there will undoubtedly be many thousands of words written on the subject. For me, it can be rather succinctly summed up in a sentence or two.

A political party, union of workers, sporting team or board of directors is only as good as the total sum of its parts. A good leader facilitates, emboldens and inspires the team, but a leader with self-interested ambition can destroy it all.

This is the first in a series. Next week Labor reform.

Meanwhile, in other news

I can’t help but notice how lazy many of the political journalists in the mainstream media have been during this election campaign. It is evident (to most outside their profession) that they exhibit no desire to ask questions, seek answers or do a bit of simple research. And as far as sources go, they have sunk to new levels of laziness. That we are seeing ABC journalists interviewing News Limited journalists and masking that as news is one case in point. Lately, however, they’ve been racing to less credible but easily accessible sources: Twitter users. Every couple of days we are now seeing stories built from what a person has said on Twitter. I’m not talking tweets from frenzied Twitter users like Kevin Rudd or Malcolm Turnbull, or for that matter Mark Scott, but tweets from everyday ordinary folk like you and I.

And oh how they spin them. All of a sudden one person’s tweet, and a few replies – and only those that are negative towards the government – is a scoop about the mood of every living and breathing Australian. It then becomes the major Labor bashing story of the day.

Well two can play that game.

I have grabbed a few random tweets, and in News Limited style present these as the biggest news items of the day.

Here is the first:

Tony Abbott to feel wrath of housewives

Twitter has gone into meltdown following claims that most housewives won’t be voting for Tony Abbott because of his inability to whip up a good Bearnaise sauce. With the election only a matter of days away, this is a huge blow for Mr Abbott as he tries to win a few last minute votes.

Liberal Ministers have been quick to defend Mr Abbott since Twitterer Blacksheep tweeted this damning claim:

“He’s the first person to put his hand up to cook the barbie at party functions and he does a damn good job” boasts an unnamed source, adding “he hasn’t lost a sausage yet”. His daughters also lept to his defence, proudly announcing that “Dad has always been able to pour his own milk on his Wheeties”.

However, this tweet indicates what has been suspected for a long time by many, that Tony Abbott has serious problems connecting with women’s issues.

One of our correspondents has recently been contacted by a source close to the Liberal Party with allegations that Tony Abbott has been witnessed swearing at a can of peas. He was observed, and I quote; “lost it” when battling unsuccessfully with the can opener before hurling the half opened can at the kitchen wall.

Clearly a person who cannot open a can of peas is incapable of being Prime Minister of this country.

Tony Abbott is reported to have blamed this misadventure on the carbon tax but was unavailable for comment. However, to a packed media, Peta Credlin – sporting an apron – issued the following statement: It was Labor’s fault.

And on it goes.

Here’s a second article:

Prominent Cardinal slams Tony Abbott’s Christian values

Catholics from all corners of Australia, including those of the highest authority in the land have been seen burning photos of Tony Abbott following suggestions by Twitterer Lyndel Darling that his misplaced Christian values should come under heavy scrutiny. In response to a tweet from Clinton McRobert, Lyndel tweeted:

The backlash is sure to be a blow for Mr Abbott in the closing days of an election campaign in which he hoped to shore up the conservative Christian vote. A prominent Cardinal, who refused to be named, supported Ms Darling’s suggestion that “Jesus would turn over his table”.

Senior Ministers have dismissed the allegations, with one suggesting this has all been a misunderstanding: “Just because Tony likes to see struggling families throw all their money into poker machines, supports wages of $2 a day for those employed by the mining magnates and is happy for boat people to be sent back to their country of origin and face possible death, it doesn’t mean to say that he has abandoned his Christian values. For Christ’s sake, people, he goes to Church on Sundays”.

Despite their loyal support, some party faithful admit that this will cause a massive swing against the Liberals at the election.

A spokesperson for the Government suggests that Mr Abbott “Needs a double dose of confession”.

In a rare gesture of solidarity, Muslim clerics have united with Christians in condemning Mr Abbott’s ungodly behaviour, reminding our correspondent that he has a history of displaying disrespect for their religion too.

Tony Abbott is reported to have claimed that this has been a misunderstanding which he blamed on the carbon tax, but was unavailable for comment.

And on it goes.

Here’s a third article:

Thousands ready to take baseball bat to Tony Abbott

Australia’s best kept secret is out! Nobody likes Tony Abbott anymore. Twitter DavidW2035 summed up the mood of the electorate when he tweeted that Tony Abbott should be shaking in his boots because people from all walks of life were lining up to punish him for his sins.

Whilst DavidW2035 nominates a date sometime in 2050 as the moment of Mr Abbott’s reckoning, sources within the Government suggest that the date could actually be much earlier. Twitter has exploded with similar suggestions.

This is a massive blow to Mr Abbott’s electoral chances as he was hoping to shore up the redneck vote before Saturday’s election and an electoral wipeout is expected.

Mr Abbott has gone into hiding and it is believed that this was the reason behind his decision not to appear on QandA this week alongside the Prime Minister. When pointed out that this tweet appeared three days after Qand A was aired, this was vehemently disputed by several prominent Liberals. A spokesperson who claimed insider connections with the Liberal Party has said that Mr Abbott would be happy to appear on the show in 2051 if mentally and physically capable.

It is worrying to the party faithful that DavidW2035‘s tweet has hit a raw nerve with so many. One senior Minister bemoaned that: “We knew Tony would be screwing the country up good and proper and send it rocketing back to the 1950s but we never expected people would actually hold him responsible for it. For Christs sake, even women who should be at home ironing are marching in the streets. It’s like a witch hunt out there”.

Meanwhile, sporting good’s stores contacted by The AIMN confirm that they have sold out of baseball bats.

It is understood Tony Abbott complained that the reason he is so unpopular is because he couldn’t stop the carbon tax.

And on it goes.

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Australia Cannot Afford the Coalition

australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He openly and brazenly traded in fear and loathing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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