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Tag Archives: Labor.

PATH: Proles Accursed To HELL! Enough!

Since time immemorial, the worker has fended off constant attacks. PATH is another chapter in the Liberal’s playbook where they accurse the Proles to hell.

A Worker’s Labour is Valuable

The Liberal Party of Australia formed to oppose the workers’ parties.  How Liberals and Labor view the worker are worlds apart. PATH is a clear example of this.

Australian Liberals

The basis of the Liberal ideology is to enable growth in the free market. They believe the cost of labour should be as low as possible. Turnbull’s Liberals believe a worker’s labour should be a cheap commodity. The incessant need to eradicate workers’ unions and weaken industrial labour laws are a testament to this.

One could strongly argue that the aspiration of full employment is not on the Liberal’s agenda. High numbers of unemployed people result in a much larger labour pool. This, in turn, drives wages down. Or in the case of PATH – the creation of an opportunity where labour is utilised for free.

As Sussan Ley said on Qanda: Governments don’t create jobs

The neo-liberal ideology aim is to purchase a worker’s labour as cheaply as possible. Ideologues like Turnbull and Cash, view a law passed to create a pool of free labour, such as PATH, as an exciting achievement.

Australian Labor

The Australian Labor Party was borne from the struggle of the worker. They believe that a worker’s labour is valuable. In simple terms, they believe that the ‘supply’ side of labour has the right to participate in setting the value of the labour. Hence their close connections with the unions. In simple terms, Labour Unions are there to protect the working class from the disintegration of rights and fair pay as imposed by the ruling class.

From this perspective, laws that negate this right, disempower workers and remove individual agency.

This is a punishment inflicted upon the working class.

The Rise of the PATH

The Turnbull Government introduced the PATH Program in the 2016 budget. This bill passed the Senate on 10 May 2017; with the assistance of Cory Bernardi, Derryn Hinch, Nick Xenophon Team, Jackie Lambie, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Family First all supporting the Government.

Only David Leyonhelm opposed the Bill, along with Labor and Greens.

The PATH to Nothingness

The PATH program offers young job seekers an internship by contract with an employer. This contract legally reduces the value of a young jobseeker’s labour. The taxpayer pays the intern at a rate of $4.00 per hour.

This is $14.29 an hour less than the minimum wage.This is $6.04 less than a 16 year old junior and $16.08 an hour less than a 21-year-old level 1 employee rate set down for many industries detailed on the Fair Work Australia payment guides.

The PATH scheme enables an employer to decrease the value of the intern’s labour by a minimum of 80% based on the scantest of entry-level wages in the country.

intern wage decrease

Business is at the Centre of the Framework

Internships are often painted as ‘work experience.’  However, work experience places the worker at the centre of the framework.  Work experience is usually a short-term experience in a workplace.  This enabled the worker to determine if they should invest in developing skills to seek future work in that industry.

PATH places business at the centre of the framework. An internship is:

The internship is designed around the needs of the host organisation and the intern’s skills, experience and interests. (Item 4, Sample Path Internship Agreement)

The employer must sign off to agree that they have a vacancy available now or in the near future. They have already identified that they need staff to meet operational requirements. 

The employer is already in a willing position to outlay money on recruitment and selection of new staff. They are already in a position to employ a jobseeker in a casual, temporary or permanent capacity.

This is not an incentive to increase staffing. PATH is an incentive to reduce recruitment & labour costs for staff that the organisation has already identified are required.

Additional Cost Savings to Business

Businesses can make considerable savings in induction, training and performance management costs during the probation period, in addition to recruitment and selection savings.

The PATH program enables an employer to try a number of potential employees for free. This also frees them from all the associated costs during the probationary period.  

Businesses are able to increase profits through the tax payer funding the PATH program. This is not the same as work experience or on the job learning, such as an apprenticeship or traineeship. This is a free labour program dressed up ‘helping the jobless who seek to work.’

Lower Labor Costs Equal Increased Profits

The PATH program strips workers of their own agency. The worker has forced upon them, a lower dollar value in exchange for their labour. Employers have an opportunity to reduce costs and increase profit.

Labour, raw materials and other overheads are the inputs in the production of goods or services. The through-put is the phase that mixes all inputs, including labour, together.

The output, being the end product or service is purchased or consumed by the consumer at the point of sale.  The employer factors into consideration the costs of all labour and materials at the input and throughput stages. The final product or service is sold for a percentage amount above the cost to produce that product or service.  This is the profit.

The cheaper labour is, the greater the profit for the employer.  The Government is creating a legal way for employers to reduce the cost of one factor of production.

The PATH program simply offers employers a way to reduce the cost of developing their product or service, enabling them to make a greater profit.

No Employment Guarantee

The PATH program offers no guarantee of future secure employment.  It does not offer a qualification that may be determined by the worker to be a sufficient value to trade for the monetary value of their labour.

What are the impacts on the emotional health of a young worker, if they are not retained?  What are the supports in place?

Experience as a payment does not automatically equal the same value of labour. Labour is given in exchange for money, conditions and other benefits. There is no formal equivalent offered to the value of the loss of wages, such as a degree that has a beneficial use to enable the worker to sell their labour to another organisation. 

There is no solid case that this experience will be valued by the young worker so much that it will negate any negative affect the young jobseeker will experience if they are not retained.

My main area of interest is emotions in the workplace.  I would encourage other bloggers to approach the PATH program from the aspect of the emotional well-being of the intern. I strongly believe we need as many people as possible investigating this issue.

Work. Struggle.

We are working people.
Work.
Struggle.
Even laugh about it sometimes.
None of us are winners.
We’re survivors
(Cameron Wolfe – Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak.)

These six lines boom, boom, boomed like a heart beating in the middle of page 25.

Marus Zusak has captured the essence of so many Australians. This is who we are.

The struggle of the working class in this country is a dire story. Sure, we have a history of hard fought victories. But as long as free marketeers live and breathe on the parliament floor, this struggle is endless.

Past struggle lives like a dormant beast within every single worker.

The scars that punctured the body and mind, the endless nights staring at jail cell walls and the lives lost, of those before us, embodies the beast which stirs within the heart of every worker.

The Beast of Past Struggle

When Liberals and Conservatives think they can take away agency of the jobless. When they insist upon total control of their spending with a plastic card. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When they deny us and our children the opportunity of a skilled education, to learn a trade or a profession. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When they make a rule that says the weekends are only important to people who can afford to not work on the weekend. the beast of past struggle stirs.

And when they think they have the right to tell young people who are desperate for work that their labour has no value. The beast of past struggle stirs.

When the beast of past struggle stirs in many of us, the beast of past struggle ROARS!

In a civilised society, labour is purchased for its determined worth, not stolen through the rule of badly designed laws.

 

Originally published on The Red Window Blog

 

WA Voters: Disrupt the Disruption. Let’s Blow This Shit Up!

WA voters! Lend me your ears! Ask yourself this: “Do I want to be a disruptor? OR Do I want to disrupt the disruption?” You are in a game. Today, you need to decide which role you play.

It Is Just A Game

There is absolutely no doubt we are in the middle of a game. A game fuelled on by the media and populist politics. A game played to see just how many people don’t really care about politics. They are asking you today when you vote (and the media are testing you on this) “How much do you actually care about Western Australia?”

The media have played this game for a while now. It’s a fun game for the media. Because this game fuels suspicion and a divide amongst us all. It sees politicians scrambling. This agenda is a game to see how the politicians respond to this disruption. For those who feel like a star and are “having your voice heard for the first time.” Well in this game you are the pawn, not the King.

Why this is a game of disruption is that forever there has only been two sides to choosing our votes in this country and it is the way it will always be. The Liberal/National Conservative anti-worker parties versus the Laborist Pro work at parties. Work or the inability to work for whatever reason is central to everything we do.

The struggle between these two sides is endless. How much power and autonomy do the conservatives try to take from the workers, the disadvantaged and the poor? What will the worker parties do to protect this? The fight is real. This fight against conservatism can be captured in three spheres: welfare, workers and unionism and protest groups.

Other minor parties and independents have always served as one issue parties such as environmentalism, animal justice, gun lobbyists, farming and agriculture or LGBTIQ rights as examples.

The Party of Disruption

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party are not true Conservatives. For example, her economic adviser is a totally free market, user pays libertarian. It is very clear after voting for the ABCC, supporting cuts to penalty rates and being very anti union, the Pauline Hanson One Nation party is indeed an anti-worker party. The are certainly not a pro-worker party.

In saying this, Pauline Hanson does not lead a single issue party either. The One Nation party is simply set by an agenda of disruption. To disrupt everything. The good and the bad. They have not thought about how to deal with the ramifications of this.

Both major parties need to take into account all of the single issues the other minor parties advocate for. For example, they respond to environmentalism in a conservative or a progressive way. The extreme of conservatism or progressiveness may differ depending upon the issue.

Pauline Hanson’s agenda is to disrupt every single minor or major issue and to hell with the outcome. To hell with society and to hell with the people of Western Australia. The main objective for Pauline Hanson is power.

Her candidates who have left the party are consistent on this. Pauline is about power for Pauline. Being from Queensland, and following her since the 1990’s when she turned on Indigenous people in my community; hand on my heart, this is very, very true.

Harming Society. Harming Our People.

The media has actively fuelled this on. They have fuelled on what they label as the ‘Pauline Hanson Phenomenon.” This insinuates, Hanson’s appeal is more widespread than it is, and to give it a cool sounding edge – that it is acceptable to participate in.

However, the media know full well that massive disruption in our economy, in business, for our workers, in the community sector, and in a public services could really truly harm our society and our people irreversibly.

They are actively encouraging voters classed as disruptors to see if this game could become a reality. A real life of real chaos for four years ahead of voters with no rhyme nor reason.

But why? Why would the media do this? What is in for the media is that this generates a lot of stories and a lot of advertising revenue, which equals a lot of profit for them. 

The Minor Parties Are Pushed Aside

Pauline Hanson is disruption personified and everyone who votes for Hanson is considered a disruptor. An army of disruptors. Like the KISS Army, but way, way, way less cool.

At the moment, the media wants you to believe this is cool. However, after buying it and after unpacking it at home, you will soon release it is just a piece of junk. Just like all the adverts in their magazines and newspapers, they position words, meaning and symbols to present what they want you to think is cool. Their game is not fairness and full representation of all voices in politics. It is not democracy. It is sales.

Don’t believe me? Major parties aside: ask yourself this, how many minor parties are there and how many minor parties have been in the spotlight this election?

That’s right! Just one party. The Pauline Hanson One Nation party. 

Who Doesn’t Give A Stuff?

What the media is really pushing when they are pushing you to be this ‘disruptive voter’ is how many voters don’t really care about themselves, their family, friends, the community, their state, and their country? How many people will show they don’t give a stuff about Western Australia, by giving disruption their number one vote. How will this disrupt Federal Politics and Queensland Politics and how many stories are there in this!

In a nutshell the media is asking voters in Western Australia today how much of your state are you prepared to blow up?

You Need To Blow This Shit Up!

To be a disruptor you need to disrupt the media and the populist politics it has embraced. You need to blow this shit up! Don’t blow up Western Australia. You need to choose the alternative, because the media wants this disruption that Hanson brings to become cool. It sells their papers and their advertising. If simply being a minor party was the best for change, they would be shoving the Greens down your throats.

This is vitally important. It is you who needs to live in the aftermath of this this disruption. The media, just like me, will bang on the keyboards long after your decisions today, regardless of the outcome.

Think of it as when alternative music becomes mainstream and it simply isn’t cool anymore. We have all been there. Anarchy in the UK and punk hair became tiresome after a while and we turned to pop synth, Karma Chameleon, ragged clothes and boots (OMG I miss my boots soooo much!). 

Today Become a True Disruptor

To be a real disruptor on voting day, you actually need to vote to disrupt the disruption. You need to choose to disrupt the media and disrupt the populist politics of Hanson. Because simply, it is not cool anymore. Don’t give them what they want! You need to blow this shit up! Today!

The only way this can be achieved is very simple. Ask yourself, do you choose the side of the anti-worker Conservative parties or do you choose the side of the pro worker Laborist parties?

Subsets of the major Liberal Conservative parties or the Laborist Workers parties are found in either conservative or progressive minor single issue parties. The key is if you do choose these minor parties first, where do you put your preferences for the major party? Who do you preference to Govern from the major parties? Because one of the major parties will govern after today. That is a fact.

Regardless of whether you achieve this by first preference vote, or via preferences, at the end of today, Colin Barnett’s Liberals or Mark McGowan’s Labor will Govern Western Australia.

The only party that should be last on your ticket is the disruption party and that is the Pauline Hanson One Nation party. Don’t let this fly-in blow up your state. She lives in Queensland and doesn’t give a stuff about us either!

Best of luck with your decisions today and from all the way over here in Central Queensland I wish your state of Western Australia all the best for the next four years.

 

Originally Published on The Red Window Blog

 

Turnbull: From Diamond to Deviant. Oh! How He Has Fallen

I felt sick today. Truly sick. Malcolm Turnbull dangled people with disabilities as political pawns. He used vulnerable people as pawns to pressure Labor to support harsh cuts to welfare or he would hold off on the NDIS. Turnbull has now slid all the way from Diamond to Deviant. There is absolutely no coming back from this.

Tawdry Deals Between the Sheets

Before Turnbull had to whisper tawdry deals to Pauline Hanson between the sheets; he was so proud of the NDIS.  When he thought he was invincible in September, 2015 he said this about signing agreements for the NDIS.

This marks a huge milestone towards the delivery of one of the largest social policy reforms in our nation’s history.

Fast forward post the 2016 election, Turnbull returns by the skin of his teeth. No longer popular with the people. No longer popular with his party. A whipping boy for the rancid right and now plays kissing cousins for real with Pauline Hanson – the Jimmy Swaggart of the Racist Set.

All Hail Turnbull – A Diamond

In 2015, he was considered a diamond. Precious and rare. A Prime Minister who would never lose his sparkle. In that point in time, in all his verbose puffery, he wailed glorious over the benefits of the NDIS.

I am proud our Governments are securing a sustainable NDIS that will be available to all who need it and I want to thank all of those who have worked so hard to get us here.

All Hail Turnbull – A Deviant

Today, just 17 months later Turnbull dismissed the NDIS as a burdensome cost to the taxpayer. A shameful political defence that reduced some of our most vulnerable people, who need our support, love and pro-community solidarity, into nothing more than a stigmatising liability on the taxpayer.

He then drew the “Hanson card” and pitted the oppressed against the oppressed. A tactic normally reserved to pit the homeless against the refugees; he used this card to pit jobless youth living under the poverty line against people with a disability

In a dehumanising fashion that literally made my skin crawl and my stomach flop; he did something so abhorrently repulsive, I could not believe my ears.

What Was He Thinking

I know I have already expressed I was shocked. I still am, hours later. Listening to this today, I was appalled. I couldn’t imagine what sort of person I would have to become to do this.  How would I feel? What would I be thinking about? How could I look a person with a disability in the face again?

I really want to know what was going through his head.  What was he feeling. Not that he would reply but I just had to tweet him this.  If a journalist can ask him face to face that would be great.

Turnbull threatened to withhold assistance for people with a disability they have been waiting years for, unless Labor signed off on harsh reductions in welfare. This includes a reduction in payment for Newstart and withholding payment from new recipients for four weeks. Over 25% of people on Newstart also have a disability.

The choice Turnbull gave Labor is sickening and can be summed up as:

Sign up to push unemployed young people into more poverty and homelessness or the disabled kid gets it. 

 

How Far He Has Fallen

The Prime Minister is showing an obvious contempt for people with a disability. The tirade towards Bill Shorten calling Shorten a parasite; clearly shows this was a case of psychological projection where Turnbull was bellowing out his deepest feelings about himself. Today he was on display as a parasitic, loathsome creature.

I would not normally be so harsh; but his behaviour today was nothing short of contemptible. I have no other words. I’m sorry.

In 2017, the transition from diamond to deviant is complete. Turnbull now holds views that are incompatible with civil society. Oh! How he has fallen!

Turnbull Holds the NDIS Hostage. Please sign the petition below.

Click to Sign the Petition Below

petition

Originally Published on The Red Window Blog

Stuff the Silent Majority. It is Your Time to Be Heard

The Silent Majority demand to be heard. What about your rights to be heard? Are you prepared to do nothing? Will you be heard when the ‘silent majority’ finally get their way? Or are you prepared to sit there and let the media and minor parties tell you that you do not matter anymore?

Who Are The Silent Majority

Who are the silent majority? No one really knows. They don’t protest or fight for rights. Nor do they write to newspapers or politicians to raise issues. They haven’t really given a stuff about anything, until now. Until Pauline Hanson ‘gave them a voice.’ Or so the media tells them she has.

They are the angry silent people who have never bothered with politics. While others have been out in the streets protesting, the silent majority have done nothing.

For years the silent majority have looked at politicians on television or on Facebook and have made their judgements. Not on their policies, but on what they look like.

The media has placed them front and centre and now it is only their opinion that matters. They truly believe an angry protest vote will magically make the world a perfect place.

This is Bothering Me

This phenomenon has really bothered me. Particularly because of Trump and the rise of Hanson.  I feel the world is teetering on the edge.  I feel the hard fought gains with so many things we take for granted and enjoy, like proper health care, free education and rights at work and decent wages, will be torn to shreds in an instant.

It is a terrifying feeling and I do not believe I am the only one who feels this way.

I have an impending doom of the return of work choices – where we had NO RIGHTS AT WORK. 

How can anyone forget that? I will never, ever forget.

This is not a game. Politics is not a game. It really affects people’s lives.

I have taken the time to be less political and more approachable. I’ve asked more questions, listened and not said a word. Sometimes I have been a straight out eavesdropper and listened in.  (sorry Mum! – My mum did not like eavesdroppers).

Mostly, I have listened.  I have listened in pubs, the checkout, at social gatherings and I have waded through commentary on newspaper forums and Facebook posts, day after day.

Some Random Opinions

I often hear or read things about politicians such as:

“Ooh she looks like a bitch, I don’t like her.” (about Catherine King)

“Listen to this dickhead (physically mocking), who is this clown?’ (about Christopher Pyne)

“Jesus…Shorten is nothing but forehead, must be a brain in there somewhere hahahaha!” (about Bill Shorten)

“Blah, Blah, Blah, come and work as hard as me and then you can have an opinion, mate!” (about Barnaby Joyce)

“I like her. She seems nice.” (about Julie Bishop)

“Yeah, Yeah” (dismissive) (about Malcolm Turnbull)

“Feed that man a F ###### Pie” (about George Christensen)

“When Turnbull’s gone, don’t put Abbott back in, put him in” (about Chris Bowen – LABOR!!!!)

and of course we have:

“YEAAAHHHH Pauline. Pauline for PM” (cue five grown men insanely grinning and head nodding) (about Pauline Hanson)

They know who Pauline is because she is the star of breakfast news television and the media shoves her face in our face every five minutes and never asks her hard questions.

This may be a shock to some of the very politically engaged voters reading this (and obviously Mr. Turnbull); but some do not even know who the Prime Minister is.

Many have absolutely no idea who Barnaby Joyce, is. Many do not know which politician belongs with which party (see Chris Bowen example above).

What Is Going On?

Because some people know I am politically engaged, I will often be approached to explain an issue, when they hear or see something.

An example is:

Them: So Shorten….is he Labor or Liberal?

Me: Labor

Them: So the other ones then….the Liberals (Me: Yeh) what are they doing to the dole?

Me: They don’t want people under 25 to have any dole for four weeks – it was six months, then six weeks, now four weeks. People will starve! We must stop this!

Them: Well Pauline will not allow that then.

Me: Ahhh yes, she will. She supports it

Them: Yeh, so she will get in and it won’t happen.

Me: No….she supports Government for no payment. She wants them to starve for a month too.

Them: No, that won’t be right.

Me:  Ahh yes, it is. She votes with the bastard Liberals on almost everything. She supports it.

Them: I don’t believe that. You must have it wrong.

Me: No. She is an ex-Liberal and supports Turnbull. Hanson said she supports it.

Them: Well I say you are wrong. We will see who is right when she wins.

Me: stunned

This is the point where I physically want to smash my head through a wall. If anyone has any answers, any advice to combat this. Please, please put your suggestions below.

The Movement Deciding Our Future

Yet, this silent majority apparently know so much about the political decisions and how these decisions affect their lives. Their abundance of political knowledge has made them so angry about not being heard.

Apparently, these are the people we all must listen to, but they refuse to listen to anyone else. The silent majority will decide our future.

Well stuff that!

When the silent majority vote for Hanson, will you be happy to be ignored? A blind anger the media has told them they have when they have never cared about politics before? People who judge politicians on their hair style? Are you better than this?

Let’s have a look at just four things a Hanson / Liberal Duopoly will bring.

The Hanson / Liberal Duopoly

phonnlp

Out of Work? Kids out of Work?

You will not be heard if you are out of work and under 25. You are a citizen who does not matter. Four weeks with no income. No money for food, rent, phone, basic hygiene needs. Nothing.  Then you will receive less money than now. Only $433 per fortnight.  If you are a parent of someone under 25. You will support them, out of your own pocket. Hanson and Turnbull are paid way, way more than you. They do not care.  If the silent majority decides. You do not have a say.

Need a Job? Kids need a job? 

Hanson supported the Liberal’s ABCC, so if you are an apprentice or a mature aged worker, your voice will not be heard if you want a job in the construction industry. The ABCC discourages apprenticeships and mature aged workers. You are a citizen who does not matter. Worker deaths increased under the last ABCC.This could be your loved one or friend. Hanson and Turnbull do not care. If the silent majority decides. You do not have a say.

Storms, Cyclones, sweltering heat or freezing cold? 

The Hanson / Liberal duopoly don’t want to listen to you on this one. You are a citizen that does not matter. You will not be heard. Hanson supports the West Australian Liberal Government’s plan to privatise electricity assets. There is no guarantee of service with a private provider. Cost of electricity will sky rocket.  If you are a low income family or a pensioner, your voice will not be heard. Your worries about affording electricity or ensuring connection in times of crisis will be dismissed.  If the silent majority decides. You do not have a say.

Money for the Kids? 

If you are a low income earning family and rely on family payment to make ends meet; your voice will no longer be heard. You do not matter. Hanson supports the current cuts to family payment. Pauline Hanson said of welfare, ‘I see a big waste of money and we actually have to rein it back in’.  This means your kids will have less. So will you. Hanson does not have a family support agenda. She does not care. If the silent majority decides, you do not have a say and neither do your kids.

Stuff the Silent Majority

Because the silent majority are worried about a few women wearing a burqa, are these the acceptable trade offs?

If you vote for Hanson because of this concern, on the other hand you will vote for jobless young people starving for a whole month, privatised electricity, unsafe workplaces, less apprentices and mature aged workers and less money for kids and that is only the beginning

If you are one of the people who post the memes about helping homeless first before refugees. Well here is your chance. Put Liberals and One Nation last and help the homeless. Welfare cuts create more homelessness. Not less. That is how your vote can make a difference. You can be heard!

Read up. Listen up. Speak up on the issues that matter to you. About jobs, welfare, families, health and education. Find out exactly what Hanson and the Liberals support and do not stop asking or reading until you find out the truth. Log onto www.aph.gov.au and have a look around. If you don’t know what something means, ask a friend who does or join a facebook political group and ask.

Become aware of what matters. For example, Muslims with multiple wives is a diversion. It does not affect you. It does not affect your family home or your kids. Hanson’s vote to cut your family payment does.

Put Liberals and One Nation Last

Take particular note that when a party preferences another party – that means their values and what they believe in are very similar. Pauline Hanson and the Liberals are preferencing each other in the Western Australian election and Turnbull will not rule it out.  They are now ‘in bed together’ whispering political promises in the dark. A duopoly. Joined at the hip.

The Hanson Party who says they are better than the majors, has now joined forces with a major party. Think about that for a second. She has sold the ‘silent majority’ out.

That means, Hanson prefers the Liberals with all their harsh cuts to welfare and the fight to keep overseas 457 visas workers in abundance and us out of jobs over Labor and the Greens who oppose both of these things. I think this really paints her as a fraud and a liar – don’t  you?

It is YOUR time to be heard. Do not let the silent majority voting in blind rage speak for you. Do not let Hanson speak for you. Also do not let the media speak for you. It is YOUR time to be heard.

Join a Left Wing Party. Join Get Up! Put the Liberals and One Nation last!

 

Originally published on The Red Window Blog

 

Please Sir…Can I have some More? Mooooree?

It is very clear to us now that Malcolm Turnbull knows his place and we should all damn well know ours. Through his attack on Bill Shorten yesterday, he let us all know that only the ‘real’ rich kids get to sit at the table with other ‘real’ rich kids. If you are the poor kid who gets that invitation to go to the cool rich kids party, then you better not show up, cos the rich kids are waiting to slap you down.

Please Sir Can I Have Some More?

In question time yesterday, Labor Leader, Bill Shorten loudly objected to the Turnbull Government’s harsh cuts on families, pensioners and the poor in general. For those who continuously state that Liberal and Labor are the same; please take note of this stark contrast between the two and please press the buzzer and get off this bizarre unicorn led school bus you are riding.

You know, the cuts that mean sausages and mince some nights and peanut on bread the other nights.

Cuts that mean that even if your kid is a bloody star and you are so proud of them, they have to just miss out, because you can no longer afford footy fees or singing lessons.

The cuts that mean pensioners cannot afford to keep cool or keep warm because it is a choice between meager amounts of food or electricity.

Cuts from an uncaring Government who are threatening jail to disability pensioners, whilst their leader smiles as he protects the big banks and big companies.

Liberals always tout their very loud support for the low paid casualised labour, abolition of penalty rates and high childcare fees.  This means that most families need to rely on family payments to simply make ends meet. Yet Turnbull decides it might be fun to cut that too.

The Liberals very vocal advocacy of making it really super easy to sack people, like their mate John Howard did, forces many families to work for next to nothing. They never rise up, stay complacent, never complain. This means a dream of a fair days work for a fair days pay is just a dream. Full time work is not even in the scope of reality.  Yet Turnbull decides to cut the one thing that makes up the gap for these struggling families: Family Payment.

Bill Shorten – Real Leadership

Shorten had enough so he rightly attacked the Government and stood up and spoke up for every single parent, child and even the family dog that these cuts hurt.  Shorten insisted that these pensioners and families, to please sir, have some more.

Moooooreeee????

Just like in Oliver Twist, when he asked “Please Sir, Can I have some more?” Turnbull, just like the big fat custodian of the workhouse, bellowed at the orphaned worker “Moooorreeee?”

Turnbull yesterday moved through classic literature in one very angry rant. Moving from the Workhouse boss in Oliver Twist and then transforming into Flashman from Tom Brown’s School Days. Shouting at Shorten, “How dare you, you poor person sit with the rich kids!” While Flashy’s mates stood around him smugly laughing.

It is a wonder Turnbull didn’t yell at Shorten:

“You’ll be fagging for me by the end of term, BOY!”

As Rhys Muldoon summed it up yesterday:

Morphing yet again, we have Barnaby this time, in the background. Barnaby is Turnbull’s main Droogie from A Clockwork Orange. He has made his way to parliament yesterday straight from the Korova Milk Bar, where he overdosed on some horrorshow Moloko.

(If you don’t understand any of these examples, I suggest you lobby the Liberal Government to start re-funding the Arts).

Destroying the Liberal Ideology in One Rant

So there we have it. Turnbull destroyed the Liberal  Party ideology in one big fat childish rant. The Liberal ideology that tells people who “If you work hard enough, you will make it.”

The way they always tell us that “Everyone is born equal and it is up to you to be all the way up here with us! You can do it. We did!”

The sniveling privileged born to rule ideology that insists that if you haven’t made it, it is all your fault and you should be ashamed.

The stigmatising and derogatory ideology that points to anyone on welfare as a criminal and a cheat. That is while the Liberals sit there and destroy the economy so there are no jobs to be had!

The main point of Turnbull’s rant yesterday was that even if you do work hard like Bill Shorten and end up earning $400,000 a year, and become the leader of a major party, you will never, ever, ever be a real rich kid. The rich kids will be here to push you around to remind you just where you have come from.  

Turnbull made the very big point that if you start even hanging around with the rich kids, we will make sure we let the other poor kids know, that now you are rich you have lost your values and you are now one of us.  You know, the rich kids who hate and ridicule the poor kids.

It speaks volumes that a strict conservative like Cory Bernardi has jumped ship. Conservatives may have twisted values, but one thing they loathe is uncouth clowns like Turnbull who cannot hold it together.

Just Two Things

Malcolm Turnbull like all self entitled right wingers do when they are lost and backed into a corner did.  He spurted a great big lump of psychological projection. As a poor kid of the 70s and 80s, Turnbull only said two things to me yesterday:

  • Only the real rich kids belong at the table with other rich kids
  • Rich people never, ever understand poor people. We loathe them and we simply must punish them, so they never ever join our circles.

Considering Turnbull is both in abundance, how is it possible that he can Govern for more than one percent of our people? The truth is, he does not.

For the Common Good

I will end this article with some more of Shorten’s words to show that it will not matter how many rich people he dines with (even if they did die eight years ago), he has stayed true to his Labor values.  This is Shorten on why Labor fights to help people with a disability.

As a poor kid of a Father with a disability, these words mean a lot to me, as it is how Dad used to explain it. “On the invalid pension, you never ever get a chance to get ahead. You are punished until the day you die.” he would say.  

shorten-on-the-ndis

This is the alternative Prime Minister telling his story behind his involvement in the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

This is a narrative you will never ever hear from the Prime Minister Turnbull, even if he is angry and shouting as loud as he can.

Nerds Who Get Stuff Done Unite!

The media are hailing Turnbull a hero for berating the man and attacking the man. They must get super excited over right-wing nut job trolls on Twitter!

That night, the Policy Nerd Shorten smiled through yet another Sales interview on ABC 7.30. Instead of asking more about Shorten’s concerns, Sales tried to excuse Turnbull’s right to have his pointed personal attack on ‘the man.’

The current state of politics as described by the media is:

Angry shouty born to rule elites devoid of policy, just so they can wear a crown and destroy the country?

Hell Yes!

Policy Nerds who quietly get stuff done in the background. Like say, a national scheme to assist people with a disability. You know, stuff that really matters….

Boring! Bah! Boo!

What Turnbull did yesterday was what every single LNP or nationalist nut job on Twitter does, day in day out. Yells, Screams and personally attacks people because they cannot understand, nor articulate policy. Yesterday, Turnbull was like a real life Twitter Troll come to life. It was incredible to watch.

Heads up to the Media.  This is NOT leadership. 

Turnbull is right to worry about a stab in the back. He should worry some more. There are literally thousands of idiots on Twitter who do the same ranty personal attack diatribe every day and some are very skilled at it. With Hansonism, every idiot in a clown suit thinks they can now be Prime Minister.

Tick. Tock.

Open letter to Simon Birmingham

The Weasel often writes letters to elected officials… as the dictum goes: If you smell something, say something.

The most recent pronouncement by our erstwhile federal education minister that creative careers were a lifestyle choice had a particular odour. The lack of response from the reigning opposition parties also left much to be desired. So while the intended recipient for below missive was originally for Mr Birmingham; I encourage you, good reader, to freely appropriate the text and send to all those elected officials you believe would benefit from my educational inquiry.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Dear Minister Birmingham  [or insert name of senator or MP here]

I am writing to you regarding recent comments [by the Federal Education Minister] that described creative careers as a lifestyle choice.

I would like to enquire why the government of the day is ignoring the actions of most other technologically developed nations. In the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030, creative industries are identified as key drivers in revitalising manufacturing sectors, and on-shoring production or services that in previous decades been shifted to less expensive markets.

The U.K., France, South Korea, and Germany all have policy that explicitly links creative industries to programs designed to build or enhance innovation; and gain competitive advantage in the shift to Industry 4.0. Many countries now have dedicated creative industry hubs to create and enhance networks and connectivity between creative professionals and other industries.

To state that creative careers are a lifestyle choice ignores the essential function of cultural events in our society. It ignores the economic contribution. It ignores the contribution to the expression of the Australian character by thousands of actors, painters, dramaturges, designers, editors, architects, writers. Finally, it ignores the contribution that trained creative’s deliver in innovative thinking to thousands of Australian businesses. You can read more about how vibrant and vital creative professionals are on the AusTrade website.

If the current government is truly serious about innovation, then engagement and investment in creative careers and industries is essential. Design thinking is inherent in all creative pursuits, and those are exactly the structured innovative skills Australia needs to regain economic strength.

In the new knowledge economy, superior creative thinking can conquer limitations of scale or distribution. The emerging decentralised, interconnected, and data-rich manufacturing landscape has opportunities waiting to be discovered and exploited; and it is creative professionals who are best positioned to think outside the box, make use of limited resources, and take advantage of connectivity to drive innovation.

In light of all this, I would like an answer to the following questions:

Why does the Education Minister consider creative careers non-essential to the Australian economy?

How does the government plan to succeed with an innovation agenda without using design thinking, or input from creative professionals?

I have included links to some of the sources to which I refer in this letter. I encourage you to investigate them further.
I look forward to your reply

Yours Sincerely

The Weasel

 

austrade.gov.au: Creative-Industries

thecreativeindustries.co.uk/

creative-industries-worth-almost-10-million-an-hour-to-economy

Deutschland creative industries

UNESCO Science report: creative industries driving innovation

https://en.unesco.org/USR-contents

forbes.com: what everyone must know about industry 4.0

What do Labor voters want?

Judging from the latest polls one would assume that Bill Shorten’s head is what Labor voters want first and foremost. But moments before this disastrous poll was splashed liberally on the front pages of most media sites, Labor voters had been talking about something equally as important as leadership woes: national issues.

A few months ago Labor voters were invited to vote on the issues they wanted to discuss most with Labor (which I wrote about here). Yesterday they announced the findings of this poll, which some of you might be interested in seeing:

barwithpercentage.png

Poll of Labor voters

The thing that strikes me the most is that it looks the reverse of what the media (over the last couple of years) and the Right-wing have been shrill about. It is also a message to Labor that Labor voters disapprove of the policies the Opposition is quick to show bipartisan support for with the Government.

It must be remembered that the poll closed (presumably) before the Paris attacks, and given that 7’s Sunrise have been telling us that 75 per cent of Australians believe there will be a terrorist attack on our soil, it would also be presumed that National Security might rate much higher than its low ranking.

The Paris attacks (and national security aside), one can only hope that Labor will start listening to Labor voters on the issues that are important to them. They asked what Labor voters wanted, and now they’ve been told.

I won’t hold my breath though.

 

Labor’s Scare Campaign . . .

“This morning, we’ll be talking to prominent Coalition supporter, Mr Con Server-Tiff. Good morning.”

“Now, if I can just correct you, I’m not a Coalition supporter, I’m an independent commentator.”

“Yes, but you have been supporting Coalition policies, haven’t you? I mean it would be accurate to describe you as Right wing, wouldn’t it?”

“No, that’s the sort of bigotry that you people on the ABC indulge in!”

“But this isn’t the ABC!”

“Well, it might as well be if you’re going to attack people and suggest that they’re political views are irrelevant just because you don’t agree with them.”

“I wasn’t actually attacking your political views, I was just attempting to describe them.”

“This is the sort of stuff that the Christian Right have to put up with all the time! People describing them as the Christian Right, you don’t have the left wing described like that.”

“What about references to the ‘loony left’?”

“What about them?”

“Well, isn’t that an attack on them?”

“Go on, defend your left wing mates!”

“Can we get back to the purpose of this interview – the proposed rise in the GST?”

“An excellent idea.”

“But isn’t the Liberal Party supposed to be opposed to raising taxes, I mean, don’t they always spruik themselves as the party of lower tax?”

“Well, the important thing here is to ignore Labor’s scare campaign. This won’t be increasing taxes because the overall tax take will be the same. We have Scott Morrison’s word on that and if you can’t trust the word of a Liberal minister then they might as well be Julia Gillard who promised us that there’d be no carbon tax!”

“If you’re not increasing the overall tax take, then why is it necessary to make any changes at all?”

“To make it fairer, of course!”

“And how will raising the GST make the system fairer?”

“Well, for one thing, the government will be able to do what the Business Council asked last week and use the money to reduce company tax.”

“How is that fairer?”

“Companies will be paying less tax. You don’t get much fairer than that.”

“Yes, but how does that benefit the man in the street?”

“Well, nothing can really be done to help the homeless. If people want to sleep in the street, that’s their choice.”

“I meant the average family man. How does increasing the GST help the average family man?”

“Well, it won’t be just companies that pay lower taxes, I’m sure that Mr Morrison can find an extra billion or so to cut everyone’s tax.”

“What about the unemployed?”

“They’ll have an incentive to get a job now.”

“But if they don’t get a job, won’t the increase in the GST hit them harder than anyone?”

“Yes, but if they don’t get a job its their own fault. I mean it’s easy to get a job. Even a dud like Amanda Vanstone found work writing a column for Fairfax. And Joe’s going to be ambassador to the US. You just have to look.”

“With respect, I don’t think that the average unemployed person would find it as easy as those two to get that sort of job.”

“I was just using them as examples. Obviously not everyone can become an ambassador but there are plenty of jobs about. Why just the other day I saw a help wanted in a shop window.”

“You said something before about a scare campaign, but didn’t your side of politics run a scare campaign about the carbon tax and how Whyalla would be wiped off the map and lamb roasts would be $100 each?”

“That wasn’t a scare campaign, that was just a series of possible scenarios under the GST.”

“Rather far-fetched ones I might suggest.”

“Hey, are you here to ask questions or commentate?”

“Do you concede that those were rather far-fetched?”

“Not at all. The Liberal Party had already started printing maps with no mention of Whyalla and sooner or later lamb roasts would have got to $100.”

“Yes, how is it reasonable for you to say that the carbon tax was a great big tax on everything and not to expect that Labor would try the same tactic with the GST?”

“There’s a fundamental difference there!”

“Yes, what is it?”

“Well, Labor started running a scare campaign before the last election suggesting that if we got in we’d raise the GST.”

“But you are planning to raise the GST!”

“No, we’ve simply put it on the table. We need to have a clear, level-headed discussion without the hysterical commentary from the opposition saying that when it was first introduced Howard promised that it could never go up. That was last century and as if ‘never’ refers to a new century.”

“I think you’ll find that ‘never’ means ‘not ever’, in much the same way that ‘no’ means ‘none’ when someone says ‘no cuts’ to things.”

“If you’re refering to the so-called “no cuts to pensions, health and education” comments that Tony Abbott was alleged to have made.”

“There is film of him saying it right before the election.”

“Allegedly.”

“Are you denying that there’s film of it?”

“Look we can get bogged down by what people did or didn’t say and whether the film’s clear, but I think that it’s more important to look to the future rather than argue about a leader who’s long gone.”

“It’s only been two months!”

“Allegedly.”

“Are you saying that you don’t believe that Mr Turnbull only became PM two months ago?”

“No, I’m saying that Tony Abbott was gone a long time ago. After that Prince Sir Duke thing, nobody let him make any decisions.But let’s not talk about Mr Abbott he did some excellent things while he was PM and I’m sure that history will judge him much more kindly than many other leaders.”

“What are his achievements?”

“Well … um, he stopped the boats, and … um, he introduced knights and dames and even though, that’s been thrown out, there are a number of people who wouldn’t be knights or dames if it wasn’t for him… and… ah, he got rid of the mining and carbon taxes … and he … um, he stood up to Putin and told him that we were really cross … and did I mention stopping the boats?”

“But he didn’t get the ‘budget emergency’ under control!”

“Ah, yes, he produced a chart showing us that by 2050 Labor’s debt would be twice that of Liberal’s debt!”

“That’s all we have time for. Thank you.”

“Typical! Cut me off just when I start to talk about this government’s achievements!”

 

Shorten. Where’s the hope?

Shorten is like your ex-boyfriend who everyone wanted you to marry, but you just weren’t that into him. Your mum thought he was a nice boy. Your friends said he was a vast improvement on the dickheads you dated previously. He was easy to like. He wanted so much to be liked. The more everyone around you told you he was ‘a good guy’ and that you should settle down with him, the more your heart panicked and looked elsewhere. You liked him a lot. You even loved him. But you weren’t in love with him. So you broke up because no matter how right he was on paper, your head just couldn’t convince your heart he was the right man for you.

The electorate’s preference for political leaders is not rational. Just like dating and relationships, love and marriage, political preference is complicated. There are emotions at play when marking the ballot box which most voters don’t even consciously feel. But these emotions make or break political leaders. For example, it is becoming increasingly clear that the country’s emotional reaction to the Labor leadership battles of Rudd and Gillard are completely different from Turnbull’s knifing of Abbott. The news media has a huge influence on this reaction. Gillard was framed as the villain and never recovered her political legitimacy. Turnbull is framed as the hero who slayed Abbott – a leader the electorate had taken a deeply emotional dislike to. None of this is rational. It is politics.

So why don’t voters like Shorten?

As a matter of fact, I seem to be rare amongst Labor voters in that I do like Shorten and I think he would make a good Labor Prime Minister. When he cracks a grin, you see his affable personality shine through. His zingers are clumsily authentic and seem to amuse his audience. He genuinely listens to people. I’ve seen him speak many times to the Labor faithful and he is passionate, erudite and charismatic. He has led a united Labor opposition, without a hint of the disunity of the Rudd and Gillard era. Watching the Labor front bench in parliament, their body language makes it look like everyone is behind Bill. Not just because he’s their leader but because they share his Labor values. As do I. But regardless of how rusted-ons like me feel, and how his colleagues feel, the emotional reaction to Shorten from the majority of voters, left, right and swinging, is tepid. It sometimes seems like I’m watching a different person than the Shorten described by many as ‘beige’. First Dog on the Moon can’t even remember his name.

No matter what Shorten does or says, his unpopularity is apparently sticky and the more he tries to get voters to listen to him, the worse it seems to get. He is also suffering from a case of being damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. For example, he is damned for supporting Rudd, then Gillard, then Rudd again. But the only reason he was able to be so influential in these leadership contests was because he has strong allegiances in the party which he is now using to lead a stable team. He spent his career before politics standing up for workers, which you would think workers might appreciate. But low and behold a recent survey shows Australians trust their bosses more than they trust unions. See what I mean about emotions winning out over rationality? And even when the only dirt Abbott’s witch hunt of a union Royal Commission could find on Shorten was that he had good relationships with both workers and business owners, negotiating to make sure an infrastructure project was delivered on time, an outcome in everyone’s best interest, even when he handled himself well under the scrutiny of being in a ‘witness box’ with a Liberal plant aggressively interrogating him, voters are still not interested in what Shorten has to say. It doesn’t mean, by the way, that they hate him. The major problem for Shorten, and in turn Labor, is that Australia’s emotional reaction to him seems to be one of yawning indifference. Ask anyone on the street which policies Labor has released this year and I’m confident most would have trouble naming a single one. But there have been many, and they are good policies. The ABC quoted Shorten recently as saying ‘I believe if Labor keeps working on policies, the polls will look after themselves’. But this view is reliant on the mistaken idea that voters are rational. Human beings are emotional. Australian human beings just aren’t listening to Shorten.

Is there anything Shorten and Labor can do?

There is always hope. I’m not talking about ‘hope’ for Shorten’s career. I mean there is always the emotional reaction to ‘hope’ that Shorten can appeal to. Back in August, when Shorten’s unpopularity wasn’t as big an issue, because Abbott was so unpopular a mouldy onion would have beaten him in an election, I suggested to Labor that their election campaign should be a mixture of hope and fear, encapsulated in a story about how Labor’s brighter future can overcome Abbott’s wrecking ball. Hope and fear are strong emotions and, I believe, are the most important ‘feels’ for political candidates. Shorten is doing his best to stake his claim on a ‘better future’, with forward-thinking policies and all the stats and facts you ever need to explain why Labor’s plan is rationally credible. But what’s missing is Shorten’s personal, gritty, in-your-face appeal to a hopeful tomorrow. He is missing his own emotion of hope. What does ‘Shorten hope’ look like? Shorten needs to tell us about his hope for the future. Shorten needs to be emotional. He needs to put down the rehearsed lines and the market-tested phrases and just talk to Australians about how he feels. He needs to explain how he felt about the Rudd and Gillard years (presumably not great), and how he hopes for a brighter future for Labor now that the stain of disunity is gone. He needs to show the passion and emotion of a man who is hopeful that his policies will make Australia a better place so that we all feel hopeful too. This is not just about getting ‘real’. This is about Shorten wearing his heart on his sleeve and admitting he’s not being heard, and respectfully asking Australians to listen. Asking Australians to give him a chance. Showing that he’s genuinely, emotionally, committed to making a difference. Asking Australians to put their hope in him while he puts his hope in them. Hope for better politics. Hope for better policies. Hope for better outcomes for all Australians. Replace hopeless with hopeful. If Shorten can bring hope, there is hope for Labor yet.

 

Labor’s empty promise

Much has been made of the influence of trade unions and the power of factions within the Australian Labor Party and rightly so considering some of their preselections, particularly for the Senate where position on the ticket has become a gift for union and party hacks rather than a reflection of talent.

In Western Australia we saw the disgraceful elevation of Joe Bullock, assistant secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union (SDA), above sitting Senator Louise Pratt, causing her to lose her seat.

To underline what a travesty this was, Ms Pratt outpolled Bullock in first preference below the line votes – 5,390 to 3,982.

Ms Pratt was a talented, intelligent, hard-working Senator. Joe Bullock, on the other hand, is a conservative old white guy who described the ALP as untrustworthy and full of “mad” members and admitted he had voted against Labor.

Bullock described Ms Pratt as a “poster child” for gay marriage and questioned her sexuality. He said he was needed in Parliament otherwise it would follow “every weird lefty trend that you can imagine”.

For some reason, the Catholic right leadership of the SDA feel they should have a say in marriage equality. National President, Joe de Bruyn, who Gough Whitlam described as “a Dutchman who hates dykes”, and who was the driving force behind the elevation of Bullock, said “Marriage started with Adam and Eve.”

It is an “objective” truth, he says, that same-sex couples cannot marry. “Marriage is between a man and a woman; always was, always will be. It is based on what is innate in human nature.”

Paul Conway, secretary of the left-wing Victorian meatworkers union, described the SDA as “a tame cat union.”

“Its primary interest is not its members but numbers in the ACTU and ALP, getting its people into Parliament, having an impact on issues like same-sex marriage.”

Bullock is also anti-republic. Addressing the Australian Monarchist League last year, he said the presence of a monarch protected people from “the oppression of a totalitarian regime”.

“An hereditary constitutional monarchy is particularly well suited to embodying in a living human person a focal point for all the best sentiments of patriotism, duty and public spirit,” Senator Bullock said.

Now, in Tasmania, we are seeing a similar factional power play relegating talented Labor Senator Lisa Singh to an unwinnable fourth position on the Senate ticket. Australian Manufacturing Workers Union secretary John Short leapfrogged the sitting Senator to take third spot.

Senator Singh, who is Labor’s parliamentary secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Water, spent four years in the Tasmanian State Parliament before being elected to the Senate in 2010. She has been very active in advocating many causes and was named Hobart Citizen of the Year in 2004 among other prestigious awards such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2014, one of India’s highest civilian awards, for her exceptional and meritorious public service as a person of Indian heritage in fostering friendly relations between India and Australia..

John Short suggests he is “a reasonable candidate because I’ve got a lot of life experience.”

“I’ve done a lot in my life, brought up a family, struggled at times, and I know what it’s like to struggle, and I stand up for workers every day.”

Lisa Singh is unaligned to any faction and that, rather than lack of talent or performance, is what will cause her demise. Former Queensland senator Margaret Reynolds weighed in on the issue, saying that preselection was a weakness in Australian politics because it relied on the wheeling and dealing of powerbrokers.

Former Franklin Labor MHR Harry Quick also criticised the decision.

“Another example of the Tasmanian Labor Party looking after their mates, regardless of the talent pool available to them,’’ he said. “Having Lisa Singh as a senator has injected a degree of humanity and tolerance to a moribund Senate team, currently representing the union and party hacks who do as they are told.’’

In July this year, Bill Shorten made the following pledge to the ALP National Conference:

“Let us end the debilitating gender divide. Because if Australia can lead the way in equality for women then we will truly be the richest nation in the world.

Rich in every sense of the word.

Our goal should be nothing less than the equal participation of women in work … equal pay for women at work … and an equal voice for women across our parliament.

So let this Conference declare, by 2025 … 50 per cent of Labor’s representatives will be women.

Only in a society where men and women are treated equally, can the true potential of women and men be achieved.”

When the ALP dumps two outstanding young women with proven success in public service for two old men who have done nothing to recommend them, and who express views that are diametrically opposed to Labor policy, one can only conclude that the noble aspirations expressed by Mr Shorten are nothing more than hot air and that he does not have the power or the inclination to make them a reality.

Give Labor a big tick

It was bound to happen and I’m glad it did.

After weekly emails from Labor – that were generally pointless or simply wanted me to sign a petition – I am pleased to announce that something constructive found its way into my inbox.

Instead of garbling on about nothing or inviting me/email recipients to send stern words to the government about whatever horrible policy they were trying to thrust upon us . . . Labor wants my opinion about the policies important to me.

I don’t know how many people received said email but I do hope that a hell of a lot of people are on their mailing lists. I want a hell of a lot of people telling Labor what is important to them.

Now to the email:

We want to make sure our community is heard. We have so many supporters who are passionate about so many different issues.

That’s why we’d like to hold a series of Facebook QandAs with Labor Shadow Ministers so that you can ask your questions about Labor’s plans and policies directly from the source.

So what issue are you most passionate about?

The Budget

The Economy

Education

Environment and Climate Change

Foreign Affairs

Health

Higher Education

Immigration and Asylum policy

Infrastructure

Innovation and Start-ups

National Security

The NBN

NDIS

Regional Australia

Social Security, Pensions and Welfare

Are Labor actually about to start implementing some policies? Are they actually trying to shake off the Liberal-Lite label? Are they actually trying to move forward again now that Tony Abbott and his wedge-style of politics have been swept away?

If ‘yes’ to all of the above, then “thank you, Labor”.

For two years I’ve been dumbfounded as to why the issues important to me have been ignored. There must be tens of thousands of Labor supporters who feel the same way, but at last Labor wants to hear from us.

As I’ve been the first to complain over these two years I will be making sure I am one of the first to tick some of the boxes. Please join me. We are about to be listened to.

Labor need to stand for more than just climate change

The latest email from Labor read:

Roswell —

In case you missed it: last week Tony Abbott committed all of us to one of the weakest emissions reduction targets in the developed world – 26%. 

This means we would fail to meet our commitment to help limit climate change to 2 degrees in the lead up to the Paris Climate Change Conference. Climate scientists say that if the world fails to limit warming to 2 degrees, we reach a dangerous tipping point where there are natural changes that release huge amounts of greenhouse gases like methane from melting permafrost and huge forest fires. That’s why we have to have a serious commitment to joining the world in limiting warming to 2 degrees, but it’s clear the only way to get real action on climate change is to get rid of Tony Abbott. He never believed the science of climate change, and not even the rest of the world can convince him.

The polls show the Australian people are well and truly over this guy, but a week is a long time in politics and we can’t assume we won’t have one hell of a fight on our hands to win back government and put in place a decent and responsible climate policy. To do that we need passionate Australians like you to give us a fighting chance at the next election and righting this wrong. Can you contribute $5 today?

The next election will be a choice between real action on climate change vs none. Labor has a vision to reach 50% of renewables by 2030 and we want to see our country do its part to reduce emissions. Please help us and together we can get this message out – climate change is too important for us to remain quiet.

Thank you for your support,

Skye Laris
Digital Director  

Maybe, to a point, the next election will be a choice between real action on climate change vs none, but I don’t agree that it’s the only issue as they so suggest.

Perhaps they need to read my earlier post and start getting real vocal in their support for things like:

  • same sex marriage (glad to see that they do)
  • the National Broadband Network (which they’ve gone quiet on)
  • raising taxes for the rich (which they haven’t mentioned)
  • taxing the super profits of mining companies (which they’ve also gone quiet on)
  • getting rid of internet regulation (OK, they’ll be called hypocritical after first having supported it, but they shouldn’t have supported it in the first place)
  • holding politicians financially responsible for promoting false statements
  • investing in the construction of a high speed rail (they’ve also gone quiet on this)
  • pricing carbon emissions (we’re starting to here a whimper about this, but it’s all negative rubbish coming from Murdoch)
  • not allowing Coal Seam Gas (CSG) projects in Australia.

For goodness sake, start fighting for what the people want and don’t be afraid to mention it.

And by the way, I can’t spare the $5. However, if you start being a bit more proactive in listening to your supporters then I might chuck in ten.

The election: hope versus fear

Hope Versus Fear

Abbott is gearing up for an election. First he wants to ensure he will be the leader who takes the Liberal National Coalition to an election, and this is by no means a done deal. And then he is convinced that he can sloganeer away the poll deficit he needs to win a second term. Or rather, his strategists are convinced they can come up with effective slogans to take Abbott to victory, and Abbott is happy to believe them.

As reported in the Guardian this week, Lynton Crosby of campaign strategist firm Crosby Textor, is confident he can use the Liberal staple of simplistic messaging around ‘economic competence’ to convince a not-very-interested-in-politics electorate to forgive everything Abbott’s wrecked with his wrecking ball, and to have permission to fire up an even bigger wrecking ball in a second term. But the question is, will the electorate fall for what basically comes down to a dirty, negative, fear campaign again? Because that’s what Crosby really means when he says Abbott needs to rely on a simple message focused on economic competence. He really means that Abbott needs to scare the electorate into thinking they’ll lose their jobs, they’ll lose their homes, they’ll be destitute and on the street if they don’t do what they’re told and vote for Abbott’s Liberals. It really is as simple as that apparently.

But are Australians going to fall for this again? Are the Turkeys really going to vote for Christmas? Will Australians again drink up ‘Great Big Tax’, ‘Axe the Tax’, ‘Stop The Boats’ and more recently ‘Jobs and Growth’ – the bogan slogans that make Abbott sound like a 2 year old whose just learned a new word and wants to wear it out on his parents?

This is where I pause from typing and I sit back and worry. It doesn’t make rational sense that Australia would be so gullible to fall hook-line-and-sinker for such an obvious, shallow, implausible slogan to scare them into making the second biggest mistake of their lives after their first mistake elected Abbott in the first place. But there is nothing rational about politics. Especially when you mix irrationality with fear, a fear that experts like Crosby and Textor are very good at whipping up. This is why the re-election of Cameron in the UK sent chills down my spine. Cameron was just as unpopular as Abbott and resided over just as big an austerity-caused-badly-managed-economy with high unemployment and barely any growth. Yet he still was given the keys to the country again to wreak more havoc on not just the UK economy, but also to hammer the UK health system, education and social welfare system. But Crosby and Textor helped the very-easily-frightened electorate to forget about all this havoc and they’ve given Cameron a mandate to make the situation even worse. Fear really does make people do stupid things.

It seems like a simple problem to solve, however, it’s not. If you were working as a campaign strategist for Labor, you would think you could just point out to voters how utterly hollow Abbott’s ‘economic competence’ slogan is, how unfounded in reality, and how dangerous it would be to let Abbott’s economic incompetence continue to hurt the economy and to destroy jobs. The statistics are easy to quote – Abbott’s unemployment rate of 6.34% is the highest in 13 years, growth is stagnant and even Abbott’s favourite stick to beat Labor with – government debt – is up $100 billion since Abbott took over the job. The ironic thing is that Australia’s debt and deficit wasn’t even a major problem when Abbott turned it into a vote-winning-slogan, and yet he’s gone on to make this debt even larger. Yet still his strategists feel confident that they can run a fear campaign based on the strongly held electoral perception that Liberal governments are better economic managers than Labor governments. Even after Labor saved the country from a recession during the GFC, a GFC the Liberals claimed never happened, which Labor says didn’t happen to Australia because of Labor’s good economic management, which the Liberals now say is the reason the Australian economy isn’t strong – because the world economy still hasn’t recovered. See how irrational politics is? Facts are irrelevant when it comes to emotional responses to fear campaigns. Labor strategists have hopefully worked this out.

But what’s the answer then? If you can’t convince the electorate that Abbott’s claims of economic competence are as baseless as all the promises he made during the election, which have now been broken, how does Labor ensure that Abbott doesn’t win a second term?

I suggest Labor should learn from Abbott’s success and forget about quoting facts. Facts are really good at convincing people they are right when they can use them to back up their own preconceived, emotional beliefs. For instance – I know Abbott’s the most incompetent and unproductive Prime Minister Australia has ever had, and this article gives me the facts to prove it. A swing voter, on the other hand, doesn’t care about such analysis. So what Labor needs to do is forget about facts and appeal to emotions. In doing so they have two options: the first is to use the dark-arts of Crosby and Textor by scaring people about the prospect of an Abbott second term. This should be relatively easy. The very thought of such a thing terrifies me and although I know I’m not your average swing voter, surely Abbott has done enough scary things in the last two years for Labor to be able to convincingly show how things could get much scarier if Abbott has another go? And surely he’s given enough hints about what he might do in a second term – such as his promise not to increase the GST this term or to make any industrial relations changes this term – to scare people off living this reality?

The second option is to rise above the negative fear campaign of what an Abbott second term would look like, and to appeal to a much more savoury emotion – hope. Labor’s ‘hope for the future’ campaign could focus on all the things Abbott is interested in wrecking that Labor wants to invest in. Jobs of the future. Technologies of the future. The educational needs for jobs of the future. A safer environment for the future. Energy needs and industries of the future. I love the idea of a ‘rise above’ campaign, but I also recognise it’s naïve to think the electorate is ready to put long term progress ahead of short term Abbott-opportunism. So really there is a third option; a little from column A and a little from column B. Simplistically it looks something like this – ‘Abbott will wreck everything, so vote Labor for a brighter future’. Sounds good doesn’t it. If only it was so simple.

 

Bill Shorten’s Address at ALP National Conference on Asylum Seeker Policy – Key points

Below is the video of Bill Shorten’s address at the Labor Conference, regarding Asylum Seeker and immigration policies. Key points from the address are listed below:

Key Points:

  • Immigration has been one of the secrets of Australia’s success.
  • Shorten believes in a new direction for Australia’s immigration policies
  • Accept more refugees and ensure we treat refugees more humanely
  • Shorten guarantees to keep closed the lethal journey between Java and Christmas Island, which claims lives.
  • Australia can be the greater, kinder nation, we want our children to see.
  • A Labor Govt will keep more people safe in a more humane way
    • Safe from persecution by dictatorial regimes
    • Safe from the exploitation of criminal people smugglers who prey upon the vulnerable.
    • Safe from abuse in facilities which even fail to meet the basic standard of decency
    • Safe from losing people they love from having families torn apart from drownings at sea
  • In addressing this, unlike the Liberal National Coalition, we do not play to the politics of fear
  • Labor will never use labels to denigrate desperate people
  • Fleeing persecution is not a crime
  • We will not pander to a noisy tiny minority who will never embrace multi-cultural Australia
  • Shorten acknowledges the history of Asylum seeker policy
  • We must ensure Navy, customs officials and border force people never again pull bodies from waters
  • We must maintain regional settlement agreements Labor introduced. Safest deterrent to people smugglers
  • Under Labor’s policies people smugglers cannot falsely advertise settlement in Australia
  • There are now over 60 million displaced people in the world through no fault of their own and this will only increase
  • Risking lives in unsafe vessels will only increase and desperation will become more intense.
  • We should never tolerate the exploitation of vulnerable people.
  • We cannot allow people smugglers to take advantage of perceived weakness.
  • We need to ensure people smugglers cannot traffic vulnerable people.
  • We need to ensure Australia provides safe haven to a greater share of refugees
  • Displaced people will arrive here more safely.
  • We must have the option of turning boats around provided it is safe to do so.
  • By 2025, a Labor Govt will double Australia’s annual refugee intake to 27,000 people.
  • Labor will dedicate a portion of our program to resettling refugees from our region.
  • Labor will abolish temporary protection visas
  • Labor will reinstate the United Nations Refugee Convention in the Migration Act.
  • Labor will reverse the Abbott Govt’s retrograde efforts to undermine international law
  • Labor will deliver historic 450 million dollars to the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees
  • Labor will take up overdue leadership role to work and engage with our neighbours, including Indonesia
  • Labor supports regional processing.
  • Processing offshore does not mean we can offshore or outsource our humanity
  • Vulnerable people should never be subject to degrading violence in Australia’s name.
  • To guarantee safety Labor will implement Independent oversight of every Australian funded facility
  • Labor will ensure refugee claims are processed as quickly as possible.
  • Labor will restore access to the refugee review tribunal
  • Labor will ensure increased transparency for processing times.
  • Labor will fulfil the solemn duty we owe to children.
  • Labor will end the moral shame of children in detention as quickly as possible.
  • Labor will establish an Independent Children’s Advocate
  • Independent Children’s advocate will be separate from Department, Minister & Government, serving only the interests of children.
  • In addition to Whistle Blower safeguards, Labor will legislate to impose mandatory reporting of any child abuse in all facilities.
  • Labor’s plan ensures Australia takes a fair share of refugees
  • Labor’s plan ensures refugees in our care are treated with humanity and dignity
  • Labor’s plan ensures that Australia steps up and fulfils a greater responsibility as a global citizen
  • Shorten says he did not enter politics to shirk hard decisions and hard issues
  • Shorten is determined for our country to be responsible in the world and secure at home
  • Shorten is determined for us to be a welcoming, kind, compassionate and safe destination
  • Shorten is determined Labor will achieve this for Australia.

*Video sourced from Bill Shorten’s Facebook page.

Originally published on Polyfeministix

Still being lied to

So it seems that Bill Shorten will be taking a proposal for a 50% renewable target by 2030 to Labor’s national conference in Melbourne this weekend. Accordingly, climate change is shaping up to be a major battleground for the next election – probably much to Abbott’s chagrin. On this argument, the Coalition starts from behind. Tony Abbott would prefer the discussion to be neutralised and as a result the government is stepping up the rhetoric to attack Labor’s history and position on the climate change front. As a result, the laughably-named Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, has been working the airwaves furiously to poison the national consciousness.

Shorten’s laudable goal, as those who have been watching the development of renewable energy and its increasing prevalence in the energy mix of countries and even Australian States will know, is technically not difficult. Labor describes the proposal as “ambitious”, but the main challenge with achieving this is political. The primary difficulty is that the Australian people are skeptical about the ability of renewable energy to be a practical, economical choice for energy generation, and consecutive conservative governments have sought to play up on that uncertainty at the behest of their backers and overlords, the existing fossil fuel oligarchies. The Australian people have been lied to from the outset.

They’re still being lied to now. Greg Hunt has been given saturation coverage on news media outlets, parroting the Government’s official response to the reports of this labor policy proposal. The detail of Hunt’s interviews and discussions has varied slightly from broadcast to broadcast, but the salient points remain the same. Unfortunately but predictably, the Government’s official stance – and thus Hunt’s answers – is a farrago of lies and mistruths that often pass without challenge. The ABC is not immune to this mistreatment: in several ABC news interviews Hunt has made the same baldfaced statements without being challenged. The ABC can’t be blamed for this. In an already fraught environment with the national broadcaster under continual threat, challenge and attack by our government, it is vital for the ABC to retain an appearance of impartiality for its news arm. Rather, the problem is with our laws and systems that contain absolutely no penalty for a Government Minister to lie to a reporter, and to lie to the Australian people, so long as they can get away with it. A Minister can lie with impunity – as long as their lie goes unchallenged.

This is a problem, as we head into an election year in 2016. Standard practice in news reporting is to describe the news item of the day, interview appropriate persons involved with the policy or proposal or scandal, and drill into the detail to as shallow or deep an extent as time allows. Then, in the interest of “balance”, journalism will often seek a response from the other side. In politics, this brings us to a situation where the Coalition, with the benefit of incumbency, can coast with few policy announcements, leaving Labor few opportunities to respond. Labor’s situation is more challenging. Winning back government from opposition is difficult and requires a constant stream of policy announcements. When the last word in a news report comes from a Coalition minister in response, far too often the sound bite the audience will remember is the government’s position. If that position is in error, the voters have been misled.

A news reporter is not in a position to challenge a statement made. That comes down to us – the concerned public. It is incumbent on us to be informed, and to inform others who might otherwise be taken in by the lies.

Because the Coalition adheres to the concept that repeating a lie often enough will convince people to take it as truth, their talking points in response to Labor’s proposed policy are consistent and we will hear them trotted out regularly over the coming weeks. Each one of them is demonstrably untrue and the best response progressives can make is to have ready clear, concise explanations as to why each Coalition argument is based on a falsehood. With that in mind, what follows is a precis of the Coalition’s talking points on Labor’s proposed renewable energy target and ETS.

The centrepiece of the policy will be a new carbon tax.

“Carbon tax – they’ll call it an emissions trading scheme, but it’s the same thing, with the same effect, the same hit on electricity prices…” In a recent interview, asked several times for clarification, Hunt fell back on the government’s agreed attack line: that an ETS is just a carbon tax by another name. This was not true the first time around and it is certainly not true now. The reason why is very simple.

Under a carbon tax, every emitter pays for their emissions. Every tonne of carbon carries a cost. The incentive is obvious for the business to reduce its carbon emissions and pay less tax. All taxes raised go to the government, for use in whatever way it deems appropriate. The government may choose to return some of the taxes to companies in the form of incentives and subsidies, but to do so is to devalue the impact of the tax. Over time, unless you force changes to the tax rates through parliament, the price of carbon remains the same.

In contrast, under an ETS, businesses are permitted to release carbon emissions up to a cap, without any cost to them. If a business holds sufficient carbon permits, it can emit as much carbon as it likes with no financial cost at all. If it emits less carbon than it holds permits for, it can trade the excess permits on the market, allowing other businesses more latitude to emit carbon. This brings you to the question of how the business gets the permits in the first place.

Under the Gillard government’s ETS, initial permits were allocated for free to relevant industries to shield them from the immediate impact. Other organisations were forced to purchase initial permits. Over time, under an ETS, the number of permits available is regulated to decrease, providing incentive to companies to reduce their carbon emissions over time: as time goes on, carbon permits become more expensive, increasing the benefit to the company if it can trade its excess permits on the market, and increasing the cost of permits if it does not.

Due to compromises with the Greens required to get the legislation through a hostile senate, the price of permits was set for an initial three year period and the permits were not eligible to be traded, thus making the scheme’s initital appearance close enough to a “tax” to make it unworth arguing the semantics of “tax” and “ETS”. This led, in short order, to Labor being lambasted as a high-taxing regime (ironic, coming from the party which would soon implement a much more oppressive tax regime) and Julia Gillard as a liar.

Labor has learned its lesson on this front. It is fair to assume its new ETS will not commence with a set price and untradeable permits. For the government to claim that Labor’s new ETS will be “exactly the same” as a carbon tax is misrepresentation of the highest order. The ETS will be a different thing, with a very different effect, working in a very different way.

Greg Hunt knows this very well. This is the same Greg Hunt who won an award for co-authoring a thesis about implementing an ETS in Australia. Until recently some on the left held a grudging respect for Mr Hunt, being forced to toe the party line against his own documented beliefs, and pity, for being one of the few realists in a cabinet laced with flat-earthers. His recent performances have shown that he is a thorough convert to the Coalition’s paradigm that somehow a market-based scheme is far inferior to direct governmental intervention. As a result, his respect has died, leaving him only with pity.

Regardless of his personal beliefs, however, Greg Hunt knows very well that an ETS is not remotely similar to a carbon tax, and to claim that it is is to deliberately mislead Australian voters.

A higher renewable energy target will increase electricity prices

The talking point that a renewable energy puts upwards pressure on power prices seems an article of faith for the Coalition. This also is demonstrably untrue. ETS or carbon tax aside, all experience in Australia to date disproves the idea that renewable energy competition can push the price of electricity up. All models and analysis, including the government’s own modelling, show clearly that renewable energy puts competition and downwards pressure on energy prices. The only group that this hurts is the big energy generators and distributors, who coincidentally are big benefactors of the Coalition.

An ETS did have the expected outcome of pushing up power prices from carbon-heavy power generators. Gillard’s government allowed for this and overcompensated consumers for the expected price increases.

The one thing likely to place significant upwards pressure on energy prices is the effect of Queensland’s previous, liberal government opening its gas markets to export. The result is that gas, one of the major energy sources for much  of Australia’s eastern seaboard, will now be traded at the significantly higher international price rather than the domestic one.

The carbon tax “didn’t work”

Perhaps the most egregious lie of all is the continued insistence by the Government and Greg Hunt as their mouthpiece that the carbon tax was ineffective. It has been claimed that during the carbon price, emissions continued to increase. This is true. What is wilfully ignored in that discussion is that, under the influence of the carbon price, emissions rose less than they would have otherwise done. In fact, the carbon price was restricted to a relatively small part of Australia’s economy. In sectors where the carbon price applied, carbon emissions decreased markedly. (And, unsurprisingly, upon the repeal of the carbon price, carbon emissions in these sectors immediately increased again). Hunt has argued that Australia’s carbon emissions were already falling prior to the introduction of the carbon price and that the ETS had little effect. This also is untrue. In short, the government’s overblown claims about the carbon tax are almost universally deliberately misleading or even entirely untrue. The carbon price, even at a high price per tonne and acting like a tax, had little effect on the overall economy, destroyed no country towns, and was being remarkably successful at reducing Australia’s emissions.

A new ETS could do the same again.

Labor is inconsistent

Greg Hunt foamed that the parliament had “…just voted for stability in the renewable energy sector…”, referring to the recent passing through the parliament of a reduced renewable energy target for Australia. This criticism popped its head up but has now subsided; perhaps the Coalition has decided that talking about “the politics” is a little too fraught to be a certain winner. In any case, the fact that Labor reluctantly supported the government’s cut of the renewable energy target to 33,000 GW does not mean that Labor is inconsistent. Labor was able to forge a compromise position for the sake of settling the argument in the short term and giving certainty to the existing renewable energy market, but it was clear that this figure was not Labor’s preference.

Frankly, it seems amazing that Labor was able to secure any kind of a compromise from this government, after more than a year of the government steadfastly refusing to budge from its original position. As this government has shown, any policy agreed to under one government is not sacrosanct to the next.

The truth shall set you free

Armed with the facts, it becomes easier to counter the government’s wilful misinformation. Not easy, of course: there are none so blind as those who will not see, and for many in the Australian public the prevailing narrative being told by the government is emotionally compelling. But there are some who may be persuaded by actual facts and evidence. It is for these people that we must be prepared to call it out when we see the government deliberately distorting history and building straw men on Labor’s commitments. We must be able to point out that they have been lied to, and they are still being lied to.

 

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