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Tag Archives: Liberal Party

Voting Liberal is neither liberal nor conservative

The parties of the right in Australia are changing faster than their voters might recognise. It is increasingly the case that a vote for the “conservatives” is a vote for the radical or religious right.

No doubt the leaders of the Liberal Party of Victoria are disturbed by the fact that Moira Deeming, their candidate for the Western Metropolitan Region seat is closely connected to an anti-choice rally set for this weekend, six weeks before the state goes to the polls.

The party has indicated that it wants to “pursue progressive social and environmental policies.” For a state that, as they acknowledge, would require a “genuine, modern alternative” government, this is likely to be imperative.

The Victorian Liberals expelled Bernie Finn, Deeming’s predecessor and mentor, to signal that they would not stand for the radical right populism he aims to foment, in particular anti-abortion comments. Awkwardly for them, the branch selected Deeming, noted for her anti-abortion and TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism, more accurately depicted as Feminism-Appropriating Radical Transphobe or FART) statements.

Finn and Deeming are intimately connected with the organisation. He founded it five years after abortion was decriminalised in Victoria, aiming to recriminalise it, with his organisation at the forefront of the battle. Deeming stepped down as secretary last year, but was previously prominent, and continues her activism post-preselection. Amongst the key statements on the march’s Facebook page are claims that it is “never ok to slaughter a child” and “Let’s make Victoria like Arizona” after that US state made the medical procedure illegal. The implication can only be that this group aims ultimately to plant the most extreme Christian Nationalist abortion bans from American states in Australia’s civil soil.

Not only is “March for the Babies” intending to strip women of our bodily autonomy, but it is also closely connected to far-right and white supremacist activists. They are on film attending the marches, but in 2018 Finn even hired these notorious figures as his bodyguards* for the event. Deeming’s connection to the extreme anti-abortion movement, as well as her activism against Safe Schools and writing in support of Conversion Therapy, reinforces that her transphobic activism is based in extremist Christianity, not feminism. This movement aims to erase LGBTQI people from the public space. The coordination of oppressive Christianity with its western chauvinist cultural deployment is a common pairing in the international religious right.

Denominational branch-stacking is an old tradition in Australia, but as the religious right problem around the world becomes more extreme, the attack on “conservative” branches here grows more concerted. Nondenominational Christian lobby groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby illustrate how radical the positions are becoming. International experience shows that these forces are content to work with cultural conservatives such as transphobes in order to broaden their appeal.

Becoming a target for motivated religious groups, pushing preselection of less moderate candidates is only half the problem for the Victorian party in making sure that it can be a genuine “modern” option.

The other is that the radical right nature of the Liberal Party – and its National Party colleagues – around the nation is functioning as an employment ad to people driven by immoderate goals.

Brian Klaas has spent years interviewing and researching the personality type of people who misuse power from the petty tyrant in the office to nations’ authoritarian leaders. His book Corruptible is well worth reading for an insight into the proposition that the LNP, the Republicans and the Tories have declined beyond redemption.

One powerful example that Klaas uses to illustrate the impact of a literal professional advertisement is the police force. Naturally, this job wrongly done can be much bloodier than a politician’s, so the similarities are not equivalent.

Klaas contrasts two extreme examples of police career advertising to make his point. On one hand, New Zealand aimed to address the problem of the wrong people choosing a police career by creating a campaign that featured humour, a diverse array of backgrounds and a focus on a job as a support to the community. The campaign was a huge success, attracting women, Maori and people from other non-white groups to join in substantial numbers. Now the police are much more likely to look like the people they are policing, and the outcomes are similarly better.

The most extreme American ad came from Georgia. A small town website posted a recruitment video that began with the Punisher logo (a violent vigilante figure beloved on the extreme right) and continued with military vehicles, smoke grenades and firing with military-style weapons to the soundtrack of “Die MF die.”

The people who self-select for this police force are not the same people who select for the NZ version where people who return dogs to grateful owners or help hungry street kids are the personalities celebrated.

This is clearly a much more extreme career path than politics. The people harmed by politicians are usually separated by many layers of public service and are much harder to link causally to parliamentary and administrative decisions.

But the echo of the lesson remains: when a coalition of parties advertises itself as the home of self-interest and the celebration of prejudice and cruelty, who is likely to self-select? Klaas’s study suggests it is more likely to be people belonging to the “dark triad personality” type, already drawn to power.

The dark triad personality illustrates elements of the overlapping narcissistic, Machiavellian and sociopathic personalities. The impact is described thus: “People with these traits tend to be callous and manipulative, willing to do or say practically anything to get their way. They have an inflated view of themselves and are often shameless about self-promotion. These individuals are likely to be impulsive and may engage in dangerous behaviour—in some cases, even committing crimes—without any regard for how their actions affect others.”

The treatment of Australians in scandals such as the Robodebt trial; our First Nations people in general; and the extremity of cruelty meted out to asylum-seeking refugees over the last decade all illustrate decisions that might have been made by people acting out of these personality traits. The fact that the scarifying treatment of refugees was the point, and that rotten publicity was welcomed for its deterrent effect, underlines the distorted thinking at work. We were intended to be – and be famous for being – worse than the Taliban, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the genocidal Burmese and Sri Lankan armies.

It is hard to imagine wholesome people wanting to ally themselves with this brand. It is also hard to imagine them wanting to immerse themselves in a workplace filled with people happy to harm others.

This is not to argue that any other party is free of these characters, but all the rational parties do not market themselves as the party of cruelty, greed and memelord trolling of the vulnerable.

Most of the decent Liberals have left after failing to prevent the descent into radicalism. Indeed, their federal vice-president celebrated their departure as a cleansing of so-called “lefties” within the party at CPAC Australia recently. Their coalition partners have not shown such caution, maybe hoping that they can rescue their party from the trolls yet.

It is hard to know how Australia’s “conservative” parties can rescue themselves from this spiral of awfulness. In the meantime, their voters must know what is at stake.

*One of those “bodyguards” is alleged to have been amongst the group of Neo Nazis throwing the Hitler salute while protesting a youth LGBTQI gathering in a Moonee Ponds, Melbourne park. This is an echo of the Christian Fascist/Nationalist intimidation of many LGBTQI events around America in Pride Month 2022.

This was first published on Pearls and Irritations as Liberal candidate supports US-style abortion ban ahead of state poll

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A Tinpot Dictator?

When Scott John Morrison takes his Sunday fly-drive to leafy Yarralumla to visit His Excellency, David Hurley, AO, a former NSW Governor and his “captain’s pick” for GG, the jig is up; now everyone knows a federal election will be held 21 May and, sadly, the guess-the date-games must end, despite Morrison’s addiction to secrecy, quibbling and game playing. Things that help him lord it over other people.

Morrison loves evading or concealing truth as much as lying. “I just don’t care,” he tells ABC’s Annabel Crabb. It shows. Politics is mostly just a game to him. At the hint of a threat to his power, however, his game morphs instantly into Mortal Kombat.

ADF crew salute him, a Morrison idea, as our malignant narcissist-in-Chief alights Shark One, the QANTAS A330 VIP executive jet, his favourite boy’s toy, a Big Dick clubhouse with wings, done up to look like a business executive’s office suite with $250 million of public money. It’s more than PR. He loves to pretend he’s not just a sad, gutless, gas industry puppet. He’d take his jet to fetch the girls from school if he could.

Following protocol, Morrison knocks up his vice-regal manservant, low profile Governor-General, Dave Hurley to kick-start the election. It won’t be about policy, or even playing the game, it will be a rabid hyper partisan attack on Labor, especially its leader, Anthony Albanese. And pork-barrelling. While Shark One may soar, Morrison’s politicking plumbs the depths of the lowest gutter.

In a damaging flashback, former rival for Cook, Michael Towke, pops up to accuse Morrison of racism. Towke accuses the PM of resorting to “racial vilification” to overturn the initial ballot which Towke won convincingly. Morrison allegedly insinuated that Cook’s voters wouldn’t accept a Lebanese Australian candidate.

“At the time [in 2007] he was desperate, and it suited him to play the race card,” Towke tells The Project’s Waleed Aly,

By remarkable coincidence, during the 2004 federal campaign, when Morrison was state director of the Liberal Party, racist tactics were used against Labor candidate for Greenway, Ed Husic, not a practising Muslim.

A day before the election, a fake ALP brochure was distributed in Greenaway. “Ed Husic is a devout Muslim. Ed is working hard to get a better deal for Islam.”

Morrison wins no friends by leaving his GG call to the last possible moment – but that’s his trademark. He’d be late to his own (political) funeral. As events may prove, given the way he’s alienated women across the nation and more than a few in the Liberal branch of NSW, once a powerhouse the Coalition hoped might counter losses in other states.

Then there’s the pandemic failure. Going AWOL during the bushfires. The submarine fiasco which cost us at least $5.5 billion. The trade war with China that’s helping ruin our export trade and a fair bit of tertiary education. Morrison’s list of failures is huge.

Loyal Deputy Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce keeps the faith, however, if only with his followers who count on him to pick a winner. In a sensational leaked text from the Nationals’ leader composed in March 2021, Joyce confides that he does not “get along” with Morrison.

“He is a hypocrite and a liar from my observations and that is over a long time. have never trusted him, and I dislike how earnestly [he] rearranges the truth to a lie.”

A High Court challenge mounted by Matthew Camenzuli, from Parramatta, an IT mogul from the NSW Liberal conservative faction, aligned with former Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells slows things up but, here, Morrison’s only himself to blame. Getting his envoy, Alex Hawke to stall and delay local pre-selection meetings until the Federal executive would have to step in has not endeared him to everyone in the NSW branch nor nationally. Hawke is widely reviled.

Many Liberals resent his high-handed intervention in branch pre-selection. Retiring senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, stiffed for a winnable place on the ticket, calls Morrison a tyrant and a fraud who hides behind the façade of his church-going.

Others accuse him of remaking the party in his own image. Departing NSW Liberal, Catherine Cusack, joins a swelling chorus of women in Liberal politics who call Morrison a bully. He’s “ruined” the Liberal party, she says. She will not vote for him or the party at the federal election.

If you can’t run a Liberal branch, how can you run the country?

But there’s a ray of hope for ScoMo. Camenzuli’s lawyers fail to overrule Morrison’s intervention to save Environment Minister Sussan Ley, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman from a local preselection battle that could threaten their political futures. Camenzuli sought an injunction to block the preselection of nine Liberal candidates which would bar the party from printing their names on the ballot paper.

Keeping everyone else waiting while he gets his act together gives Morrison time to win his high-stakes game. Pick his favourites. Remake the party in his own image. Above all it gets him attention. Forget the daggy dad act. This PM is a ruthless Machievallian.

Will he pull the fat out of the fire? Critics of our PM’s self-abrogating demeanour still decry the way Morrison hogged the show at last January’s Australia Day awards ceremony. Worse, Grace Tame was threatened by someone from the Office. Women vote. They won’t forgive or forget the Morrison government’s record of sexism and misogyny. Nor will they overlook the spate of Liberal women who have recently spoken out against him.

Former commercial rose-grower, Minister for Family Service and manager of government business in the senate, Anne Ruston, Minister for Women’s Safety, fails her first real test. Who threatened Grace Tame? The former Australian of the year used a Press Club Address to explain that someone from “a government-funded organisation” rang to tell Tame she must not say anything “damning” about Morrison so close to an election.

Mystified. Jane Hume adds a bit of hand-wringing. We don’t even know if it were a man or a woman, she wails. Clearly, no-one’s tried very hard to find out. Tame says that she’d prefer that the person who felt they needed to make the call should out themselves. An investigation into the call is “the very same embedded structural silencing culture that drove the call in the first place and misses the point entirely. It’s not about the person who made the call, it’s the fact that they felt like they had to do it,” Tame explains.

It’s sexism; the age-old gendered response of doubting and discrediting the victim’s story when the victim is a woman. But it’s no vote winner for over half the population.

Yet the PM seems happy. Morrison promotes Ruston to Liberal Campaign Spokeswoman. Her Labor counterpart, Katy Gallagher will not give up on women so readily.

But look over there – how good is our invisible Governor General? A big gig every three years, if only to help a PM call a fresh election or witness signatures whenever Ministers are appointed. Morrison loves pomp and ceremony. It adds a legitimacy he craves and a distraction he badly needs. Dave Hurley’s happy. He’s hoping to win a trifecta.

The Governor General’s hazy job profile makes Morrison appear almost industrious by contrast. Being GG, on the other hand, keeps you busier than “the arts” or in tertiary education, both spurned by Frydenberg in JobKeeper, despite his forty billion dollar (Joe Aston calculates) windfall, for businesses in profit despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Fan-boy Greg Jennett, a Tarzan of adulation, if not fatal attraction to the PM, and Jane Norman, the John and Betty of ABC afternoon political television, become a hot mess of running commentary on the twenty minute meeting, breathlessly spilling the beans on such essentials as Morrison’s coffee with the Governor General.

Greg and Jane kindly remind us that Yarralumla sits in 58 hectares of Canberra prime real estate, in case we miss how the trappings of office are lavished on our ruling class, while others die of malnourishment, neglect and the latest mutant strain of coronavirus in “aged care facilities” a gulag of misery where our poor, wretched, vulnerable elders pass their final days in a fog of antipsychotics in state subsidised granny farms staffed by some of the lowest paid, most highly casualised workers in Australia.

The Coalition’s Aged Care Act 1997, ushered in a flood of private investment in the exploitation and commodification of the elderly. Private equity firms, new foreign investors, superannuation and property real estate investment trusts “entered the residential aged care market.” Data on residents’ safety and wellbeing must be kept top secret.

Our current aged care crisis stems from Howard’s Aged Care Act, writes Dr Sarah Russell. His government subsidised private health insurance is still helping scupper Medicare.

Amazingly, Dave, a spry 68 year-old corporate state welfare beneficiary with all his own teeth, is at Yarralumla this weekend and not entertaining Prince Andrew, who’s been known to slip in, sans fanfare, for a quick visit, as he did in 2018, to promote Pitch@Palace, his matchmaking of investors and corporate partners with startup companies. Now it’s wound up after Andy’s misadventures with underage women abroad, stories which his mother, Queen Elizabeth II refuses to believe, preferring the much more plausible “I was at Beatrice’s Birthday at Woking Pizza Express” alibi.

Pitch generated £1.345 million in economic activity, 6,323 jobs and 39% of its winners were women. Andy did quite well, too. Pitch@Palace Global Ltd, the private company set up to run the events, had a clause in its terms and conditions about its entitlement to a 2% equity share for three years for any company that went through its program.

Other royals also are put up at Admiralty House, the GG’s other historic pad on Sydney harbour with ten bedrooms enjoying views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Hosting VIPs keeps the Hurleys busy. Then there’s Linda’s staff singalongs.

And her serenades. The Guardian Australia reports Hurley wandering betwixt tables of war widows (average age 81, according to Dave), microphone in hand, leading them in song over cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches. Bit of dill with that, dearie?

“You are my sunshine” is the unofficial vice-regal national anthem – but only the chorus. The verses are a bit downbeat if you Google them. Don’t try this at home.

A staff of seventy-six don’t just run themselves and there’s travel involved in GG. All adds up. Representing HM at home and Australia overseas costs a million a year.

But the nation has to look after its investment. Hurley’s annual salary is around half a million. Of course, a governor general does get a generous pension scheme with that.

As Morrison arrives, his white BMW 7 Series Prime Ministerial limousine with AFP escort ghosting up the long drive, Dave’s lurking purposefully near the entrance to Yarralumla, a “colonial revival” pile set in what remains of an historic sheep station.

The property retains the original shearing shed atop a tumulus of a century and a half of merino droppings. A heritage overlay of decaying sheep shit is a fitting tribute to the types who led the colonial frontier wars waged by European imperial invaders on indigenous Australians in the name of the same British Crown that Governor-General Hurley represents.

The GG has his Mont Blanc Meisterstück Gold-Coated Fountain Pen uncapped, ready to sign a chit to let Morrison dissolve parliament and call a federal general election, a minefield of lies, furphies, turpitude and gratuitous character assassination which our GG can avoid entirely by express permission of the electoral commission. But he does get to look on.

A federal election campaign is a made for TV event just like Master Chef or Hard Quiz or The Melbourne Cup and corporate media regale us with the day’s political stunts.

There’s a scorecard on performance in The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph and The Australian as in any horse race commentary. Tallying up the pratfalls displaces any more insightful commentary on commercial TV – Buckminster Fuller’s “bubblegum for the eyes.”

Analysis of issues and policies is supplanted by spectacle and mindless Vox Pops. In a rare departure, this year, however, the Sydney Morning Herald takes Morrison to task for his broken promise over a federal ICAC. Attempting to blame Labor doesn’t pass the pub test.

Imagine if Dave Hurley were to put his mouth where his money is. Our GG, would refuse Morrison permission to hold an election. Nope, ScoMo you’ve abused the trust of the Australian people. Piss off back to Bronte and stop wasting my time.

If only. A relic of colonial rule, a GG hasn’t colluded with the judiciary and The Palace to remove a PM since Whitlam, but it pays to keep him on side and avoid bagging Pine Gap, 16 km south west of Alice Springs, the eyes and ears of the US military, since it went on line in 1969. One of its uses is to provide information to aim drones.

If there’s a moral problem with hosting an outfit which is staffed largely by employees of Boeing Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics – along with niche companies that work exclusively for the CIA and NRO, such as Leidos, Scitor and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) our government doesn’t see it. Put simply, we host companies who profit from war and enable them to collect the data they need to make war.

In fascinating technological updates the satellites have multiplied to at least thirty-eight, which have the capacity to monitor everything from your text message to Dominos to thermal evidence of Chinese hypersonic missile launches. All of this vastly increases our value as a nuclear target. It could give us leverage in a more equal relationship with the US but given our lickspittle foreign policy don’t hold your breath.

Above all, Pine Gap makes Australia complicit in war crimes. Last December, the New York Times lists over 1300 reports of civilian casualties since 2014. Many are children, in wars that the US portrays as being waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs.

Yet, “American air wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have been plagued by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and often imprecise targeting, thousands of civilian deaths – with scant accountability.”

But does our GG task our PM with this problem? Nope. Dave’s famous for his saying “the standard we walk by is the standard we accept.” He’s a big fan of ethical leadership, a political oxymoron “borrowed” by David Morrison in a sermon on another unicorn, gender equality in the army. Dave M later confesses on Q&A he’s “pinched” the line.

The PM just loves Dave H and the whole vibe of the ethical leader thing, which like cleanliness, is next to godliness and getting professionally photographed at a Hillsong service, eyes wide shut. Photographed? At least one former member of the parliament has read her King James Bible,

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites. are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and. in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.”

“His actions conflict with his portrayal as a man of faith; he has used his so-called faith as a marketing advantage,” says senator Concetta Fieravanti-Wells.

Federal Election 2022 is to be a forty-one day endurance event, not simply in order to dazzles us with hi-viz photo-opportunities, vapid talking points, or disgruntled punters in pubs, but to buy time, a gamble given incumbents generally decline in popularity over a long campaign. Opinion polls predict a Coalition defeat, Liberal/National 34%, ALP 36%. -7% swing against the Coalition but just a 2.6% swing in favour of the ALP

Perhaps, like Mr Micawber, Morrison is hoping something will turn up. As it does. Albo doesn’t know what the cash rate is and he can’t recite the official unemployment rate.

Of course there’s outcry from the usual suspects, “Unfit to be PM,” decrees Murdoch’s top toadie, Terry McCrann in the expatriate billionaire’s Australian, while AFR, shocker, Phil Coorey gasps “A horror,” leaving Professor Judith Sloan, alone, to hype the Labor leader’s howler into his “Party’s complete misunderstanding of the jobs figures.”

Seriously? Even John Howard who failed the same gotcha in ‘07 is underwhelmed. Babies Overboard Howard bobs up in WA to spare Morrison getting the bum’s rush. Again. Abbott has Covid. Or he’d be there with (bicycle) bells on. Don’t discount a late showing.

True, the Man of Steel’s got other things on his mind like minding Ken Wyatt in Hasluck – it’s not so long ago that Joe Aston had word Kenneth might defect to Labor.

And Swan’s Kristy McSweeney is busted misquoting herself on how if you can’t tell a bloke from a sheila just walking down the street, you probably shouldn’t be aiming for Canberra.

Is that a serious question? Okay, well Anthony Albanese didn’t know the unemployment rate. So what?”

Morrison’s first gaffe is a big one. He fudges when asked whether Alan Tudge, guardian of the curriculum from the left-wing, is currently education minister – (a Tudge of class?)

His reply that Al is “technically” still in cabinet is at odds with earlier assurances that he’d resigned. Of course, this could be merely another Morrison lie, but it does seem to be a clumsy attempt to divert press from a half million payout to former staffer Rachelle Miller which fails to keep the (unconsummated) affair off the front page.

First up, Tudge claims, “we never had sex.” They were “intimate” four times; sleeping naked together but there was no funny business. Sounds very plausible.

The minister without portfolio may be inspired by Gandhi’s tales of sleeping naked with young women who also took their clothes off just to test his chastity.

With Tudge mounting such an impregnable defence, it is little wonder that Morrison has had to pivot on his earlier version of events in which the Education Minister had surrendered his portfolio for his own sake.

No point asking why Miller was paid “well over $500,000”, if nothing untoward transpired between minister and media adviser. $500,000 is the sum whispered to have been his payout when Morrison himself was sacked as head of Tourism Australia citing irreconcilable differences with boss, Fran Bailey amidst claims tendering processes were not adhered to.

As for any ministerial code violation, the non-bonking occurred before the advent of Morrison’s code. Yet Miller was promoted while in an intimate relationship with her boss. The PM is OK with that. Yet Miller wants the details released. Samantha Maiden reports that legal costs in six figures are also to be paid by the Morrison government.

“He has chosen for the sake of his health and his family for a period of time to stand aside from the ministry,” Morrison claims.

“But here’s been no other education minister sworn in, no-one went out to the Governor-General, we’re very transparent about all of that.”

Morrison is creating an issue for himself in refusing Miller’s request that he release details. Unwisely.

Moonlighting as Education Minister, albeit unsworn, is Stuart “Rolex” Robert, the PM’s prayer partner, a tricky phrase now, given recent whistle-blower revelations that senior Liberal Party figures abuse the parliamentary prayer room for congress of a baser nature.

None of the parties implicated: MP Tim Wilson, former defence minister Christopher Pyne and others, or the investigating law firm Sparke Helmore, even try to rebut the story, notes Michael West. Give it time.

More of a problem to his own side than any scandal involving rent boys plying their trade in consecrated space within the House is Mendacity Morrison’s contempt for democracy and his addiction to micromanagement.

Notorious for his pledges that never eventuate, the PM is now hated by NSW Liberals for being too “hands on”.

Former Cook MP, Stephen Mutch, a self-styled moderate who credits himself with inventing the term if not founding the group, calls Scotty a “tinpot dictator” for riding rough-shod over democratic local branch pre-selection processes, to choose his own candidates for key NSW seats. Mutch is shocked at the way the moderate minority now runs the branch.

“Over decades … I saw how the faction changed from a relatively informal group of friends with a fair degree of collective decision-making into a more formalised operation run by politicians, staffers and some party activists,” Mutch tells The Saturday Paper.

As the former moderate explains, the moderates became more high-handed, serving the personalised agendas of a few at the top. Later, the faction morphed into “a professionalised, essentially privatised operation, run by a small coterie of business lobbyists.”

Which is where we are today.

All is not lost, however. Scotty is still a useful tool to the fossil fuel lobby, an old mate of Big Mining and our media oligopoly, Rupert, Kerry and tagalong Peter along with other shonks, shills and big-shots in Australia’s oligarchy.

But just to nip it in the bud, a few of his man-servants in the PMO, big up Morrison with Bushmasters and coal, while Rio shows it hasn’t blown up all its moral high ground along with the 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge, by taking over RUSAL’s twenty per cent share in QAL’s aluminium smelter, in response to Russia’s attempt to obliterate Ukraine. That’s fixed Putin’s wagon.

How good is a Morrison government which struts the world like a colossus, punching above its weight? Shirt-fronting Putin. “Keeping Australia Safe” is not just hairy-chested electioneering or the Crosby-Textor textbook stunt of creating an external threat tactic.

Nor is this self-interested opportunism by Morrison’s omnishambles of a government plumbing record lows in all the opinion polls. Throw another dead cat on the table. We are the hawks of AUKUS keepers of the sacred flame of the temple of the rules-based order to which Australia, as US deputy Marshall, is so solemnly and selflessly pledged.

Not only does ScoMo continue to wow the international community with his statesmanship, he buys seventy thousand tonnes of Whitehaven coal which the big Liberal donor can’t sell, it’s still sitting in Newcastle until a hapless crew is press ganged into taking it to Odessa, currently in range of Russian rocketry, and on to Ukraine.

True, he’s copped a few shockers recently, including that’s just the price of decisive leadership. OK he may be “a complete psycho”, a “hypocrite and a liar “a fraud” to his own team, but a clutch of Liberal women, his “crumb maidens” as Amy Remeikis calls the women who support Morrison’s patriarchy for scant reward, step forward to back up his latest claim that his high-handed intervention in NSW politics stems from his unbridled feminism and his need to step in to protect a few good women.

It’s farcical, writes The Monthly’s Rachel Withers that Morrison can claim that he stood up for women in an intervention intended to save the seats of two men and woman.

Is he all fake religion and no moral compass? Morrison simply cannot be trusted, warns Fierravanti-Wells who is dropped to an unelectable spot on the Liberal senate ticket in favour of party apparatchik, Marise Payne, in number one spot for time-serving, with another former army officer, Jim Molan, butcher of Fallujah, in at number three.

It’s already turning nasty: in second spot is Nationals’ top NSW Senate candidate, Ross Cadell, another Nat in a hat, who threatens to “drop shit” on the party’s Hunter candidate James Thomson in a public row at Warners Bay Hippo Espresso cafe 20km south of Newcastle, if Thommo does not redistribute $120,000 in donations.

You can see why Cadell has beaten the venerable, born-again John Anderson, Joyce’s mentor, a man with a Big Mining background as well as a former Nationals leader.

“While professing to be a man of faith,” the retiring senator says, sporting a huge crucifix in her bitter Goodbye To All That speech, he is “adept at running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds, lacking a moral compass and having no conscience.”

Don’t hold yourself back, Connie. (As Morrison and his team insist on belittling the former Liberal senator, much as the PM does with “Grace” and “Brittany”.)

Team Morrison rushes to point out that hell hath no fury like a NSW senator relegated on the ballot paper. Connie’s just disappointed. A pile-on of other furious colleagues ensues, including much of the NSW Liberal Party. But ScoMo, a work of performance art in progress, won’t let a few dud reviews put him off his game.

Good Friday, Morrison tells national media how Jen and the girls go to church at Easter. Albo, Tony Abbott and 5000 others also attend Sydney’s Maronite Christian Mass. Easter is a time of hope he says, while claiming on national TV, religion is such a personal thing for him.

But there’s revived interest in how the PM deposed Lebanese-Australian and Maronite Christian Michael Towke in a dirty bid for pre-selection in Cook in 2007. So Morrison chooses a service in Victoria at Syndal Baptist Church with Gladys Liu MP, who failed to disclose her links with the Chinese government before preselection in Chisholm, a marginal Liberal seat.

There were also issues with an undisclosed donation to the Liberals of $37,000, together with questions as to how exactly the MP raised a million dollars for the party.

But Easter is a time of hope. No doubt Dave gives Scott a few pointers on the PM’s integrity commission model. Its architect, former Attorney-General, Christian Porter resigned over an anonymous donation or blind trust he’d accepted to pay his legal fees in a defamation case against ABC investigative journalist, Louise Milligan, a case he abandoned.

Ethical leadership is costly. The PM spends big money to get his own way in a high stakes poker game which goes right to the High Court over whether he can override local branches’ preferences in Liberal preselection in NSW. Chief Justice, Susan Kiefel says he can.

Not that Morrison gives a toss. It’s our money he’s spending. Has there ever been a bigger spending, higher taxing government? But the political cost of alienating so many NSW Liberals is huge. It’s already undone him in Warringah where his transphobic captain’s pick, Katharine Deves, proves a dud, with her social media post about “surgical mutilation”.

Having the arrogance to believe you know best and bypassing the local democratic process (with a bit of help from Premier Perrottet) leads to a poor choice?

Who’d have known?

Anti-trans activism could derail the Coalition’s election campaign. It triggers a pivot. Morrison backflips on his plan to dog whistle prejudice, intolerance and ignorance. He withdraws his support from Tassie Senator Claire Chandler’s bill banning transgender women from playing women’s sports, after he cops flak from Liberal “moderates” and independents.

Incredibly, the PM lies about why he pulls rank on NSW pre-selectors. The “menacing controlling wall-paper”, as former Liberal MP Julia Banks calls him, pretends to ABC 7:30 he’s a knight in shining armour rescuing women from “factions” whom he leaves unnamed, as if he’s just being protective; one of his most outrageous lies to date.

“Sussan Ley, one of my finest cabinet ministers and one of our most successful women members of parliament, was under threat. She was under threat from factions within the Liberal Party and I decided to stand up to it,” Morrison says.

“I’m very serious about having great women in my ranks…Fiona Martin was another.”

But Julia Banks tells a different story. “It was the three months of Morrison’s leadership that … was definitely the most gut-wrenching, distressing period of my entire career.”

Morrison an advocate for women? It’s risible and – as The Monthly’s Rachel Withers notes, it’s insulting to women.

“The claim is laughable. If there’s anyone Morrison was trying to save it was factional consigliore Alex Hawke in the seat of Mitchell, and his overarching aim was to maintain control of the numbers in the party. At the end of the day, the only person Scott Morrison truly stands up for is Scott Morrison.”

 

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Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women (part 2)

By Tess Lawrence

Porter reveals he has document signed by Kate!

In her second excerpt on Scott Morrison’s Coercive Control of Women, Tess Lawrence doubles down on her treatise calling out Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s dangerous weak and duplicitous leadership. She asserts the continuous political assault and insult of women spills into his incompetency in foreign affairs and gross mismanagement of domestic policies and argues that the body politic itself is corrupted by toxic masculinity when it comes to the treatment of women.

Please read excerpt one here.

Content warning: This article discusses rape, suicide and institutional political psychosexual violence.

By any abacus, Christian Porter’s Blind Trust adds up to dirty money.

More than that, it smacks of something more ominous and ugly; something sinister; perhaps a cover up.

One consolation for those of us who still mourn the death of the woman known as ’Kate’ who alleged she was raped by Porter when they were both teenagers, is that this outrageous contribution to Porter’s legal fees has resulted in Porter’s overdue resignation as a cabinet minister.

But that’s not enough. As a double act, Porter and Morrison clearly think we are fools. So must Porter’s donors. We need to know who donated those monies. We will find out.

Morrison’s obfuscation at Sunday’s press conference and his continued reticence to call out Porter’s latterly conduct is repugnant. SloMo has priors.

If Porter and Morrison continue to promulgate the myth that it is of no consequence who donated these monies to Porter, to help pay the legal fees for a spurious defamation action he initiated after outing himself as the alleged perpetrator, then I suggest they are deluded. Big time.

Porter saga proves Morrison government unfit for purpose.

 

 

This latest tawdry episode in the Porter saga, again confirms that he and Morrison are undeserving of the trust of the electorate.

The Morrison government is unfit for purpose and well beyond its use-by date.

What if, like former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, Porter’s sly money was sourced.

Dastyari said it was; “support for settlement of outstanding legal matter.”

Sound familiar?

What if Porter’s donors are far-right supremacists?

What if the monies were donated by a company/individual awarded hefty government contracts rubber stamped by Porter when he was Attorney General or Industry Minister?

What if the donor is a far-right supremacist group, or an international armaments group or a mining company, or a country – Saudi Arabia? Or other conflicts of disinterest? Quid quo pro?

  • Importantly, what if the donors had a vested interest in suppressing any more information relating to ‘Kate’s’ allegations of rape against Porter?
  • What if the donors were part of a Liberal faction slush fund?
  • What if the donors had any influence in Porter’s decision to discontinue the defamation action against the ABC and Louise Milligan ?
  • What if the donors had any influence in ‘Kate’s’ decision to withdraw her complaint against Porter?
  • What if the donors had criminal affiliations?

Not only are we voters entitled to speculate on the nature and identity of Porter’s benefactor(s) but he actually invites us to do so by virtue of his Blind Trust.

The subtext to all the above is the utter contempt and disrespect shown towards women – and the flagrant disregard for political ethics and standards.

Let us not forget, we are still awaiting Morrison’s legal advice on Porter’s Blind Trust. Pathetic.

Porter and the hours of power

While researching this article, I see that last year, Porter enjoyed the hospitality of former Fortescue chief honcho, now Perth Airport CEO, Neville Power on several charter flights, the first being in May, mere weeks after Scott Morrison appointed Power as Chairman of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC).

How fortuitous it is then that one of Power’s (great surname for someone on the board of energy company Strike) boardroom colleagues on Strike just happens to be Andrew Seaton, the Managing Director of Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd.

A curious entity, ANI is owned by the Australian Government represented by two Shareholder Ministers, the Minister for Finance, Senator Simon Birmingham and Il Duce Peter Dutton, Minister for Defence and Prime Minister-in-Waiting.

ANI seems to be an empty vessel at the moment, its assets apparently including six Collins Class submarines.

Ships ahoy! When Porter leaves politics, of his own free will or otherwise, the old boy’s network will surely kick in for him. For your perusal and in the interest of transparency, we include below the text of Porter’s entry to the Register of Members’ Interests, dated September 13, 2021.

This is how the big boys pay their debts. Corporate jobseeker for mates, if you will:

“I wish to alter my statement of registrable interests as follows:

In March 2021, I commenced defamation proceedings in a purely personal capacity against the ABC and Ms Louise Milligan [NSD 206 of 2021]. On 31 August 2021 this matter was finalised by the Court.

Although these matters have been conducted in a personal capacity and all legal services were engaged in a purely personal capacity, out of an abundance of caution and consistent with approaches adopted by other parliamentarians in relation to the provision of reduced fee or pro bono legal services, I advise that, in addition to my own personal funds, the following contributions have recently or may shortly be made:

• As has been publicly reported, as part of the settlement an amount was paid by the ABC to Company Giles. Now that the matter has been resolved the relevant cheque will be deposited in Company Giles trust account and applied to my account.

• Part contribution to the payment of my fees by a blind trust known as the Legal Services Trust. As a potential beneficiary I have no access to information about the conduct and funding of the trust.

• My engagement of Ms Chrysanthou was on a commercial fee arrangement. However, consistent with her practice for individual clients, she did not charge me for all of the time she spent on the matter and in the recent settling of her fees I am aware there has been a reduction in fees which has resulted in me having received some services from Ms Chrysanthou on a reduced fee basis.

Although all of the above contributions were made to me, or were for my benefit, in a purely personal capacity, in the interest of transparency and out of an abundance of caution I make this disclosure pursuant to item 14 of the Register of Members Interest.”

Porter bombshell! He has copy of Kate’s signed document

Porter must have known that this perfunctory entry would unleash another media firestorm, but the statement he posted on his website on Sunday contained a bombshell that seems to have escaped closer scrutiny and yet it reveals so much about the man – the political milieu of Morrison’s collective narcissistic government and the LNP in general.

I’m not alone in noting that in talking about his dead accuser Porter rarely expresses any emotion, even when referring to her suicide.

I prefer the phrase ‘alleged suicide’ in this case not because I think Kate was murdered, but because I am well aware that we human beings can be driven to suicide. And we can be driven to it by individuals, by social media, by the ‘system’ and other factors and triggers.

Note: Here I must state categorically that in no way am I – or The Australian Independent Media Network – asserting or implying that Christian Porter had anything whatsoever to do with Kate’s suicide.

Read Porter’s analysis of Kate’s 88-page signed document!

Reading Porter’s resignation statement, I was struck by these words:

“…I have recently been provided from a source outside the ABC with a copy of the only signed document that the person who made and subsequently withdrew the complaint ever made.

Many parts of that 88-page document are such that any reasonable person would conclude that they show an allegation that lacks credibility; was based on repressed memory (which has been completely rejected by courts as unreliable and dangerous); which relied on diaries said to be drafted in 1990/91 but which were actually words composed in 2019; and, was written by someone who was, sadly, very unwell…”

Porter needs to be questioned about the above paragraphs in particular:

  • How can he be so adamant that the copy of the 88 page document in his possession is the only signed document by Kate that exists?
  • Has Porter given a copy of this signed document to the police?
  • Does Kate’s friend and one of her ardent champions, Jo Dyer have this document?
  • Did Porter show Prime Minister Scott Morrison the copy of this signed document?
  • Has the signature and the document been verified as Kate’s?
  • Was the document sworn and witnessed?
  • Where was it sworn and who was the witness?
  • Was the document stamped?
  • Was the document addressed to anyone?
  • Is the document source connected to Porter’s donor(s)?
  • How long has Porter been in possession of the 88 page document ?
  • Does the 88 page document contain Kate’s unsigned statement that was
    released by the Federal Court in the public interest?
  • Has Porter sent a copy of the 88 page document to the Federal Court?
  • Do Porter lawyers Sue Chrysanthou and Rebekah Giles have a copy of the 88 page document ? Are they obliged to forward that document to interested parties?
  • Has Kate’s family got a copy of the document?
  • Was that document produced in Court and/or presented as evidence?

So many more questions. So many more answers to be declined by Porter and the Government.

Federal Court releases unsigned statement by Kate

In March, my article The Night Porter and Allegation of Rape, published in Independent Australia prompted heartening interest and response from informants and sources, not just about the Porter saga but also about other allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence within and outside of Federal and State Parliaments and invariably coercive control was discussed as a major factor, whether it be in institutions, companies, workplaces, including media outlets, or within households and relationships.

Out of respect for Kate’s own story, her truth as she believed it, of no less value because she is now dead – and because the Federal Court, in a breathtaking decision, thought we the people should hear Kate’s voice – I’m including this comment I posted under The Night Porter article – as is. It has all the links to access Kate’s unsigned statement.

PUBLIC INTEREST BOMBSHELL ! FEDERAL COURT RELEASES ‘ KATE’S ‘ STATEMENT!

* WARNING: KATE’S STATEMENT INCLUDES HER GRAPHIC AND DISTRESSING RAPE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST AUSTRALIA’S FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, CHRISTIAN PORTER, WHO REMAINS A CABINET MINISTER IN THE MORRISON GOVERNMENT.

* Dear Readers, we invite you to read ‘ Kate’s ‘ profoundly moving statement along with the preamble sent by her friends

The Federal Court yesterday released the redacted statement in the public interest and I’ve placed links to the actual ‘Exhibit 1’ that is the redacted document, as well as a link to the court case Dyer v Chrysanthou that precipitated its release.

‘KATE’ ALLEGES BRUTAL ANAL AND ORAL RAPE BY PORTER THAT LEFT HER BLEEDING AND ALSO ALLEGES HE SHAVED HER LEGS AND UNDERARMS.

The Federal Court is to be thanked for posting the statement online, so that the wider community has access to what many lawyers, politicians and journalists have been privy to, for some time.

24 June 2021 25 May 2021Exhibit 1 – Dossier + Letter (PDF, 1.8 MB)Second respondent

https://www.fedcourt.gov.au…

‘Kate’ was found hanged in the garden of her home in Adelaide last year. Her statement is a voice from that cold and lonely grave. We cannot exhume Justice for her. But we can at least, listen to her voice and allegations and yes, we can decide whom is more trustworthy – whom is to be believed – Kate or Porter?

 

 

Julian Burnside has spoken up for so many of us on so many occasions, invariably on behalf of the least of us, including indigenous Australians and Asylum Seekers.

In the above Tweet he says he is speaking for himself. But thousands of us will share his views on Christian Porter.

It is sickening to think Porter was once our Attorney General, holding the highest law office in the land. He was appalling then and more so now.

We have listened to him lie and distort the truth. If his reputation is trashed it was he who trashed it. He continues to hold himself unaccountable to no-one save his ego.

He has dashed his hope of becoming Prime Minister.

The Porter affair thus far can be viewed through the prism of institutional coercive control.

Porter’s lust for power is mirrored in Morrison’s ineptitude and mishandling of Porter’s clear political misconduct. Morrison thinks that if he ignores the stockpile of problems exacerbated by his leadership and a Coalition that clearly strives for mediocrity that we will go away – not the problems.

Australia is languishing through lack of leadership. Christian Porter, Scott Morrison and the LNP have forgotten that they are servants to the people. Instead, they are trying to enslave us to a decrepit legacy system that is reliant on coercive control, and social infrastructure drip fed by political bullies.

CONTACTS FOR SUPPORT. Please reach out. You are not alone.

Lifeline
Phone: 13 11 14
Website: www.lifeline.org.au

Blue Knot Foundation
Counselling and support for survivors
Phone: 1300 657 380

Bravehearts Inc
Counselling and support for survivors, child protection advocacy
Phone: 1800 272 831

Continued tomorrow …

© Tess Lawrence

Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.

 

 

 

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CPAC’s travelling show can pack up and go home. And stay there.

“I’ve been to the border,” Fox TV’s Judge Jeanine Pirro says. US citizens living there talk of “rape trees” upon which the clothes of rape victims are hung she says. They talk of children having their hearts cut out with machetes. The US, as Donald Trump regularly tweets, is under siege; its way of life threatened by an invasion of rapists from south of the border. Trump’s re-election campaign team repeats the siege message 2199 times in paid Facebook ads since January.

Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC ‘s travelling show, a rabble of far right US fear-mongers, liars and conspiracy crackpots convinced by Trump’s canard that George Soros or The Democrats fund the migrant caravan. It’s a popular idea which provokes distrust and permits inhumanity.

Peter Dutton expresses similar ideas regarding our refugees on Manus and Nauru. He claims they are “economic refugees” who own “Armani jeans and handbags”.

Add the odd stray Brexiteer and sundry alt-right camp followers. Blend in two, confused members of the Morrison government, Craig Kelly and Amanda Stoker, bestowing a type of legitimacy -and presto -we have a three-day bag-fest of racist hatred, intolerance and ignorance vital to any healthy democracy. Or so our Federal government insists.

CPAC’s enriched US politics. It helped launch Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, two useful idiots who could attract, repel or just distract the masses while lowering taxes and elevating naked greed; allowing finance, business, mining and gambling get everything they want. It’s a recipe for success that the Morrison government is following religiously.

The gory border story is a fiction told by Trump buddy Judge Jeanine. It’s all part of the enriching offerings to a conference which our Coalition government has sagely declared not to be white hate speech at all. Nope. Nope. Nope.

CPAC’s the voice of sweet reason itself, a symposium vital to any free speech-embracing democracy to add to its community conversation about why we should hate Mexican rapists, child-murderers and fear refugee-invasion. In local content, Craig Kelly MP says the CSIRO should go to jail for its science and calls for us to embrace nuclear power plants.

How good is the power of the nuclear energy industry?

Pirro’s in Sydney to help spread hate and fear at CPAC, a forum for the lunatic right, which began in 1974, with a speech from Ronald Reagan who entered national politics ten years earlier after a televised address promoting Barry Goldwater. Reagan’s talk did not help Goldwater win the election. Oddly, voters saw Barry as a dangerous, right-wing extremist.

True, Goldwater did want to nuke Hanoi. But this strategy was also advocated in 1965 by the US military’s Joint Chiefs during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Daniel Ellsberg reports, a plan, he believes, which was aimed at provoking a nuclear war with China. The Joint Chiefs envisaged a big show which would need 500,000 to a million troops.

Even more oddly, Johnson said no. He chose to do some socially useful projects. His Great Society and War on Poverty.

All was not lost, however. California’s business elite saw in Reagan a man with the charm to sell right-wing extremism. Reagan was duly recruited as Republican Party candidate for Governor of California. He won easily by promising tax cuts. His victory was helped by a smear campaign against his opponent, Pat Brown. Trump’s rise to power has many parallels.

Star of her own Fox reality TV show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro is more than an incendiary hate-speaker, she’s a total pyromaniac. Her role as a tireless Trump cheer-leader has helped her to rebuild her TV career after a setback in the 1990s when her ex-husband Al Pirro, a Trump power-broker, went to jail for conspiracy and tax evasion.

Trump’s a HUGE fan. Not only does their friendship go back decades, the pair enjoy what The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison calls “transactional loyalty”, a concept well understood by Morrison and Liberal Party leadership strategists.

“She’s as sexy as hell,” Trump tells New York Magazine; Pirro’s show is a relentless defence of everything Trump, but this week, she’s in Sydney spreading a type of lie that inflames prejudice and helps incite violence. Invasion is a fixation in the online manifesto of Patrick Crusius, the 21 year old who is accused of killing 22 people in a Texas Wal-Mart.

Headline speakers, such as Pirro, peddle xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, hatred and work themselves into a lather with their lurid anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic murder and rape fantasies in a ballroom set up with brown vinyl chairs at Sydney’s Rydge’s World Square Hotel, Friday to Sunday. But it’s not all rabid hate-speaking. Organisers thoughtfully include some local comic talent. Clown duo, Mark Latham and Ross Cameron, for example, do the warm-up.

Boosted as the largest gathering of conservatives in Australia, in fact it’s tiny; roughly one tenth of the size of all registered Tasmanian Organ Donors or 0.17% of the Melbourne Cricket Club’s waiting list.

But size doesn’t matter. Organisers have deep pockets; grand plans. CPAC’s powerful backers tell The Guardian’s Michael McGowan, they are committed to making the event a “multi-year, forever-type project” aimed at “galvanising” the right wing of Australian politics. Why not? Luigi Galvani even made dead frogs’ legs twitch by applying an electric current.

CPAC’s a show that ScoMo & Co sagely decide we all need to see. In fact, there are more than a few members of the government mad keen to attend – but don’t for a moment think MPs’ attendance is any endorsement, cautions failed Dutton coup numbers man, Matthias Cormann. No? Nor does it add any legitimacy to see George Christensen in the crowd, Jim Molan, former deputy PM National Party hack and mining shill John Anderson with Tony Abbott on stage.

Liberal Party MP when he’s not doing stand-up comedy, Craig Kelly’s a crack-up with his routine about how Tony Abbott won the Coalition’s election for it by attracting all the “crazies” to Warringah. “Took the bullets” for the others, he says, in what has to be least well-judged metaphor of the week. But wait. There’s more. Kelly says CSIRO ought to be in jail.

He accuses the science agency of a “bogus report” on energy costs because its 2018 report finds solar and wind generation technologies are the cheapest power stations to “build new”. CSIRO, of course, is correct. So, too is The Climate Council which reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conclusion,

“Due to the continued fall in the cost of wind and solar, as well as the higher international price for black coal, it is now the same cost or cheaper to build a new wind or solar plant in Australia than to continue operating old coal power stations in New South Wales and Queensland.”

“If an ASX-listed company said that in an annual report, they would likely end up in jail because of how misleading it is,” Kelly claims modelling, himself, the sort of wilful disinformation he tries to rail against.

Meanwhile, Federal Energy Minister, the Watergate and Grass-gate survivor, Angus Gravy-train, Taylor is forming “a new taskforce” to pressure AGL to keep coal-fired Liddell power station open. It’s all part of ScoMo & Co’s big-stick approach.

Taylor says his taskforce, to be set up in partnership with the NSW Government, will consider “all options” – Liberal code for putting on blinkers; propping up coal. He does not rule out using taxpayer money to extend the life of the plant. AGL responds by pointing out that doing so would cost “a lot of money” and any such move “does not stack up.”

The IMF reports that the Australian tax-payer is already subsidising fossil-fuel industries to the tune of $29 billion a year.

In the CPAC spirit of personalised ridicule, Kelly has a presentation trophy to award to Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally.

“This is the CPAC Freedom Award, which goes to the individual who has done the most to promote the CPAC conference,” Kelly tells about 200 attendees. Thigh-slapping hilarity erupts on one side only. Keneally sees it as part of a Two-minute Hate and straight from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future 1984.

“It’s uncanny how much CPAC is exactly what it claims to oppose,” Keneally tweets. “They are … spending all day yelling about their ‘enemies’. This is exactly how people under totalitarian regimes behave.” And key National Party figures.

Farmers’ friend and champion of the man on the land, John Anderson was chairman of coal seam gas frontrunner Eastern Star Gas, bought out by Santos in 2011. He’s one of a herd of former Nationals MP who model transactional loyalty, locally, despite some fuddy-duddy farmers seeing the defection from agriculture to mining as a betrayal.

Former Nationals MP, and pro-coal energy minister, Garry West ,chairs, for undisclosed sums, the Integra Vale, Ulan coal, Moorlaben coal, and the BHP Caroona Coal project, adjacent to Shenhua Watermark’s mine. It’s all part of the mining industry community consultation hoax. Former Nat, Larry Anthony, a former Shenhua Watermark lobbyist, was an advocate for a coal mine which was recently in the news for rigging the storage volume of underground aquifers.

“The values used were implausibly high based on our research,” Ian Acworth, UNSW Emeritus Professor, says in May.

Asking the questions, always more engaging than a talk, Ando interviews his old pal Abbo – who makes a double debut as ex-MP, and ex-PM. Australia is now a nation that offers “death on demand” warns the former minister for women, a master of the hollow three word slogan.

In NSW, an abortion law reform bill which has yet to pass the upper house, had been sprung on voters. “No due consultation”, protests the former PM who sprang a postal vote on marriage equality on the entire nation rather than face a divided party room. Victoria’s recent, assisted dying law proves we’ve lost our moral anchor points. Christianity used to anchor our morality, asserts Abbott, whose former spiritual mentor and adviser was Cardinal George Pell.

Death on demand? Lost moral anchor? “It’s pretty rich”, writes Junkee’s Joseph Earp, “coming from a man who helped speed along an environmental apocalypse that will cost the lives of animals and humans alike.”

“Faith is a gift,” Abbott offers generously. “Some people have it, some people don’t.” Go bite an onion.

Recording or photographing Abbott’s riff is forbidden. He insists. Some of the small audience applaud. The left, he says, opaquely, is wallowing in identity. Wallowing. “Spiritually we’ve rarely been worse off than we are now,” he adds for good measure, perhaps, a typically public-spirited projection of his own long, dark, night of the soul.

Equally benighted but in Australia’s post-modern under-paid, casual, part-time workplace where wage theft is rife, Queensland senator, Amanda Stoker drones on about how industrial relations means labour hire and localised enterprise-bargaining, a vision of the future, surely, now that the government has its Ensuring Integrity bill through the lower house. The cross-bench will be sure to fall in line, especially if demon union thug John Setka’s name is mentioned.

But don’t get the wrong idea. So the government is cosying up to the lunar right in public? Don’t mean a thing. OK? But it does lend a dangerous legitimacy to the lunar right, as Jason Wright thoughtfully observes in The Guardian.

Raheem Kassam, a former Breitbart London editor who calls the Muslim holy book, the Quran, “fundamentally evil”, and Islam a fascistic and totalitarian ideology,” is a “career bigot” says Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Kristina Keneally. Last month, Keneally unsuccessfully asked that he be denied entry to the country.

Friday, in a speech largely devoted to attacking Kenneally and accusing her of putting his life in danger, Kassam says,

“She should be ashamed of herself … There’s nothing Christian about silencing your opposition,” he says, preferring an ad hominem attack on Senator Keneally and her Catholic beliefs, to any reasoned rebuttal. Kassam illustrates the fallacy of the Morrison government’s claim that CPAC even vaguely involves or promotes rational debate. Kenneally is closer to the mark when she describes the gathering as a “talk-fest of hate”. And anger.

Warming the chair for Sky’s David Speers, ABC Insiders’ Patricia Karvelas asks an evasive Simon Birmingham if “we are we seeing a more aggressive position taken by conservatives after the election of your government?”

Birmingham evades Karvelas’ question. He might well quibble with her misuse of the term. CPAC is conservative in name only.

Morrison’s government is cosying up in public to win votes from the radical right attending CPAC and those who share its prejudices, its racism and xenophobia. It is also being disingenuous about its motives and the effect of its attendance.

“Their attendance at this conference does not imply agreement or endorsement with the views of any of the other speakers attending in any way,” a dangerously deluded Cormann would have us believe. He fails to explain how or why not.

“The government will always stand against divisive, inflammatory commentary which seeks to incite hatred or which seeks to vilify people.”

“However the way to defeat bad ideas, bad arguments and unacceptable views is through debate, especially with those we disagree with. It is not by limiting our conversations only to those who at all times share all of our views.”

Cormann forgets Scott Morrison’s 2011 suggestion that the Coalition exploit anti-Muslim sentiment. Or when in 2015 Abbott allowed George Christensen to attend an anti-Muslim rally. Or Tony Abbott in 2015 insinuating Muslim leaders do not condemn terrorism: “I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.” Or when Abbott chose Syrian refugees on the basis of religion.

We could add many more examples. There’s Handy Andy Hastie’s “Islam must change.” But this just brings him into line with the budgie-smuggler who declared that Islam has a massive problem and who called for a “reformation”.

Penny Wong points out the difference between hate speech and “bad ideas.” The nonsense that any of the speakers attending is willing to enter into rational debate or is as farcical as expecting the Morrison government to heed the science on climate change or to expect Peter Dutton to retract his scare campaign on the dangers of refugees using Medevac legislation to flood our shores. Or issue an apology for his Melbourne African gang fear-mongering.

Having Cormann lecture us on bad ideas is hilarious coming from a man who tried to make Peter Dutton PM. As for rational debate, this is the Finance Minister who claims that tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy. Sorry Matthias, you Belgian sausage, all evidence is to the contrary – especially in Trump’s Dis-United States of America.

But it’s a top show. Sponsored mainly by US organisations and gun, oil and cigarette industries, CPAC has deep ties to the Koch brothers. Our IPA, LibertyWorks and Advance Australia are also right behind the far right.

Augmenting top acts from Trump’s America is not only “Mr Brexit” nifty Nigel Farage, former head of the United Kingdom Independence Party, introduced to the CPAC audience as “quite possibly” Britain’s next PM. Seriously?

“A snake”, hisses Nigel Farage attacking a straw man; a mythical Malcolm Turnbull who starts out all right but who engineers a serpentine leftist coup. The crowd cheers, thrilled by Nige’s Olympian detachment, halcyon objectivity and utter historical falsehood. Farage’s farrago of lies offers a ludicrous parody of the hapless captive of the right.

“Your Liberal party, your conservative movement was hijacked by the other side, taken over by Malcolm Turnbull, who pretended to be a conservative but actually turned out to be a snake.”

Wrong in fact and egregiously wrong in function, CPAC and its backers can stay at home in the USA in future. We don’t need to invite far right ideologues or neo-fascists or hate-speakers to Australia. We have enough of our own at home, already.

Nor do we need to kid ourselves that CPAC speakers are interested in debate. All we’ve seen and heard is personal abuse and an eagerness to win converts to conspiracies.

There is a world of difference between freedom of speech and being granted a licence to spread hate-speech. And the last thing our politicians need is to court the far-right or let themselves be used to legitimise your fear-mongering and your lies.

Forget the idea of a “multi-year, forever, project”. Once is way more than enough.

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Wentworth Circus, Elephants In The Room, Jokers In The Pack And Too Many Ringmasters…

The Liberals have lost Wentworth for the first time and so the analysis begins.

We’ve already been told that Malcolm didn’t help. He should have been there, campaigning his little arse off out of gratitude that the Liberals made him PM. Ungrateful wretch.

And, in the washup, Sky News was telling us not to draw too many conclusions because Wentworth wasn’t typical of the rest of Australia…It’s one of the wealthiest suburbs and it does have a significant gay population. True enough, I suppose, but is one meant to draw the inference that other electorates have an insignificant gay population?

However, I keep coming back to a point I make over and over again. We only get to vote once every three years or so and we often make our choice based on who we think is the least worst. Our vote is sometimes the lesser of two evils, rather than a ringing endorsement of every single policy of the party we ultimately vote for. And sometimes, an electorate gets the chance to say, yes, you seem more in tune with what we actually think than either of the major parties.

It’s not that Wentworth is out of step with the rest of Australia on something like climate change. Wentworth has pretty accurately reflected the fact that most people think more should be done on climate change. It’s not that Wentworth is out of step with attitudes to LGTBI issues or children on Nauru; it’s more that the loudest conservative voices have managed to make it sound like they are speaking for the “ordinary” Australian. And it’s hard to get more ordinary than some of the people backing Peter Dutton.

Now, I always suggested that Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t all that left-wing. I know, it’s surprising that a Point Piper multimillionaire Liberal Party leader wouldn’t be an extreme socialist pushing for the overthrow of the corrupt system. Yes, we’ve been told about leftie Malcolm, so often that we overlook the fact that most of his progressive views were consistent with the majority. Backing for the Republic, marriage equality, action on climate change. You name it, there was nothing that wasn’t a popular position. He was always positioning himself for popularity. That is, until he became Prime Minister, where his Faustian bargain left him unable to please either his party or his electorate. While it was one thing to paint Malcolm as progressive; it’s quite another to ask us to believe that a Liberal stronghold – one of its safest and most affluent seats – is a hotbed of out-of-touch elites who were simply angry at the dumping of their man.

It’s worth pointing out that they did so with the full knowledge that, unlike so many by-elections, they had the power to make the Coalition a minority government. If anything, this should have chastened them, made them more circumspet. And it’s not as though, this was a surprise like the 1999 defeat of Kennett in Victoria where people made a protest vote without any expectation that it would result in a change of government.

The electorate made a conscious decision to create a hung Parliament. But to hear Scott Morrison last night, it was all about Malcolm Turnbull, it was all about the “price” of switching leaders. But rest assured, the Liberals would rise again. (I’m sure I heard a few “hallelujahs” at this point from the crowd). Ok, perhaps not in three days, but it certainly sounded like an evangelical meeting at times. He went on to repeat his well-worn slogans of “Those who have a go, will get a go”, “The best form of welfare is a job”, “Jesus was a small businessman” and “I stopped the votes” and several other meaningless phrases, as though these had somehow helped deliver an electoral victory rather than the most embarrassing thing to happen to the Liberals in almost a week.

I guess it’s easy to be pessimistic and shake one’s head. We have a governent voting for a motion then realising that they didn’t intend to vote for it, floating ideas which are against all departmental advice, squabbling internally, considering a disgraced Barnbaby for a return to the Deputy PM role only a few months after his embarrassing admissions. And I know some of you will be worried by the assertions that this won’t flow through to the general election because of Rupert Murdoch or because the Liberals will “get away with it like they always do”.

However, I think that it’s always worth stopping and considering how many impossible things have happened. I mean, not only have the Liberals lost Wentworth – unthinkable just a few weeks ago – but they lost to an openly gay Independent. Yes, I know some of you are thinking, so what? But that’s the point. How long ago would it have been unthinkable for a candidate to have called their same sex partner up on the stage during their victory speech? If you go back to the beginning of this century it would have been talked about for weeks.

Progress may feel like two steps forward and one step back. And even, at times, the other way round. But because progress is slow, we often don’t see how far we’ve come. There’s still a long way to go, of course. For example, I was confused as to why the email suggesting that Phelps had pulled out because she had HIV was reported as being a “smear” and a “slur”. I don’t see having HIV is either of those, any more than a suggestion that she was cancelling an appearance because she had the flu. It was a nasty trick, sure, but why a “smear” as though HIV suggested something immoral about the person.

So, before the media starts talking about how terribly the Labor Party performed and tries to start leadership speculation about Shorten, let’s see this for what it is: a massive wake-up call for Scott Morrison. Unfortunately for him, his speech last night suggested he intended to just keep hitting the snooze button.

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Charity Begins At Home Or We Need To Talk About Harriet

School Counsellor’s Office. Mr and Mrs White enter.

Counsellor: Ah, thanks for coming in.

Mr White: We’re really glad you called.

Mrs White: We’ve been really worried about Harriet.

Counsellor: I understand, but really, it’s nothing to worry about.

Mr. White: Yes, but some of the things she’s been doing. She keeps taking her younger brother’s toys and insisting that he shouldn’t have them until he’s earned them. I mean, I do appreciate a work ethic, but…

Mrs White: But he is only two. And then there was what she said when she saw that the government was helping farmers with the drought.

Mr White: Yes, she insisted that we shouldn’t be giving charity to people who didn’t come from the same house as we did. I said that they were in need and she just said that they didn’t have the same surname so why should we help them. And she locked one of her friends in the cupboard because she didn’t come in the right door.

Mrs White: We’ve been asking her for the key for months now, but she insists that the friend has to stay in the cupboard so none of her other friends come in by the wrong door.

Counsellor: So she does have friends?

Mr White: Well, not so many since she had her thirteenth birthday and told them that they had to make a large donation to sit at the table with her.

Counsellor: Yes, well, I can see how this may seem like a real worry to you. However, I’m just throwing this out there, but have you ever considered that she might be…

Mr White: Go on!

Counsellor: A Liberal!

Mrs White: No, she can’t be. I mean what sort of…

Mr White: Not our daughter surely. I mean, she can’t be. She’s female.

Counsellor: Now I know that you may need some time to adjust to the idea but believe it or not, there are female Liberals. It’s just that they’re much more likely to be hidden away than the type you see in the media, but female Liberals are more common than you might think.

Mrs White: But what makes you think that she’s a Liberal?

Counsellor: Well, one of her teachers noticed that she kept blaming everyone else whenever she made a mistake. By itself that wouldn’t be unusual but then we noticed her complete lack of empathy and her inability to make a consistent argument for anything. For example, when she was doing group activities, she’d insist that she’d done all the work and then when the marks were in, she’d loudly declare that this shouldn’t go on her report because the other students had done it. Classic Liberal behaviour.

Mr White: Is it… Is it something to do with the way we raised her?

Counsellor: Now, you mustn’t blame yourselves. Sometimes these things just happen and because we live in a tolerant society she’ll be able to lead a relatively normal life. Of course, she’ll never be able to make a meaningful commitment or trust any of her friends, but apart from that, she’ll be able to function just like a normal person.

Mrs White: Is there anything we should be doing? Like is there any treatment or help available.

Counsellor: I think the main thing is just continuing to be supportive and remembering when attempts to install herself as head of the household, that it’s the condition and nothing that you should blame her for.

Mr White: So there’s no cure or…

Counsellor: Well, there are people trying a radical new therapy. Apparently if you give Liberals lots and lots of money and keep telling that they’re the adults, they behave politely and only lash out at things like renewable energy or unemployed people.

Mr White: How much money?

Counsellor: All of it, but I only mentioned that to say that people are trying to help. I don’t know if there’s any scientific validity behind the therapy.

Mrs White: But the lack of science wouldn’t matter, would it? I mean, if she’s really a Liberal…

Counsellor: The main thing is not to over-react. As unbelievable as it may seem, there are lots of Liberals out there and if you can just steer clear of certain topics, you might never even be aware that they’re any different from you or me.

Mr White: Is there some sort of support group? Malcolm Fraser inspired a lot of people by showing that you could make an almost complete recovery from being a Liberal.

Counsellor: That’s what I mean. You shouldn’t talk about recovery. You should just respect her choices.

Mrs White: So it is a choice thing?

Counsellor: Look, I’m not an expert. We do have someone at the school who’s very good at understanding they way Liberals think and he’ll be able to give you some strategies for getting Liberals to do what you want.

Mr White: Who’s that?

Counsellor: The school chaplain.

 

 

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Bankers, Tankers, Anchors And The Liberal Party…

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years, is that being honest is usually you’re best option. Of course, like most people, I find myself in situations where I’ve… ah, shall we say, bent the truth. This leads me to another bit of sound advice. If you’re lying, you’re better off saying nothing after it’s clear that you’re lying. Or else, do a full mea culpa and admit that either a) you were mistaken, or b) you lied.

In politics, this is usually looked upon as a refreshing change. Unless, of course, you do it on a weekly basis, in which case it’s not a change at all.

So when it comes to the Liberal Party, I acknowledge that we have a different set of values and while I personally understand that there’s some need for a defence force, I believe that the $200 billion we’re spending on planes and submarines over the next ten years might be more productively spent elsewhere. But, like I said, different set of values. There’s a discussion to be had, when two people have differing priorities and sometimes a compromise can be reached.

On the other hand, lying is a completely different matter. It’s one thing to say that: We told you that privatisation would make energy prices cheaper, that was before we realised that private companies would put profit before everything – but now we’ve realised that, we’ve put a few safeguards in and any day now you’ll get all the benefits of privatisation. Besides you’ve got energy stocks in your super so you’re ridiculously high energy prices are actually helping you save for retirement.

That still fits under the definition of a difference of opinion. However, when the Liberals start to tell us that the Banking Royal Commission which they opposed has nothing to do with the new penalties that Scott just happened to announce at the same time that everyone is going: “Shock, horror. Banks exploiting their customers. Who would have thought such a thing!”

It’s very hard to believe the Liberals when they tell us: We argued that there was no need for a commission, but we set one up anyway, and now that it’s finding all these examples of wrongdoing, it’s showing that it wasn’t necessary until we decided it was necessary, and, in spite of all that it’s discovering, it’s not having any effect on us, because all the new oversight and any new penalties are just things that we were going to do anyway.

Or to try and put the government’s position as simply as possible;

  1. There was no need for a Royal Commission because while there were some examples of dishonest or corrupt practices, there was plenty of checks and balances to ensure that these were these practices would be detected and dealt with.
  2. There was suddenly a need for a Royal Commission after some Nationals threatened to break ranks. It became even more pressing and one was announced shortly after the banks suggested that it would be ok by them if we had one.
  3. The Royal Commission starts to discover that the culture in some parts of the banks is even worse than its critics suggested, which doesn’t lead to any action from the Liberals because – according to Scott Morrison – all the new penalties were planned and not in response to anything happening at the Commission. Like the announcement of the Commission itself, the timing was just coincidence.
  4. For the Liberals the Royal Commission will be their equivalent of Schrodinger’s Cat – the thought experiment in Quantum Physics, where a cat in a sealed box can be thought of as both alive and dead. The Royal Commission wasn’t necessary when Labor and The Greens called for one, but became necessary once the Liberals decided that it was, meaning that the Commission is now both necessary and unnecessary. It remains necessary because the Liberals set it up, but it remains simultaneously unnecessary not only because Labor suggested it, but also because nothing it discovers will lead to any admission from the government that their actions have been influenced by it.

Like I said, liars need some consistency, or their story falls apart. On a real level, it would have been refreshing to have heard the Turnbull Terriers tell us that Labor and/or The Greens had raised a convincing enough argument for them to change their minds. But no, instead we have ministers once again trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Ah well, at least now I’ll find it easier to explain quantum physics without having animal rights people ask me why the poor cat was sealed in the box.

The Schrodinger Royal Commission! Mm, it has a certain ring to it…

 

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Honour The Sabbath, But Clearly In A Clearly Optional Way OR Why Tony Is The Only True Conservative Left!

Recently I’ve speculated on how the Christian Right have found clear evidence about the Bible’s opposition to gay marriage based on highly ambiguous readings of obscure verses here and there, but not one of them has come out and condemned the reduction of penalty rates on Sundays. I suppose one could argue that they see it as a sin anyway and whether one is paid double time or not is hardly the issue. However, I would expect that someone like Neil who graced us with his presence in the comments, or Lyle Shelton would have been jumping up and down and complaining about the abolition of penalty rates leading to more sin…

Yes, the wages of sin is death… But you do get to pick your own hours and the working conditions are pretty good!

I don’t know why I chose to start talking about penalty rates. I’m really much more interested in the coming leadership challenge which leaves us with a Liberal Party 100% behind Scott Morrison… Or Peter Dutton, if they decide that he’s the only one who’s still friendly enough with the Tony to convince him to take the effing job in London before they have to revoke his citizenship under the recent changes allowing us to cancel it when dual citizens commit crimes such as sedition… Sedition can loosely be defined as trying to bring down the government, and they could even get a jury to convict Abbott on that.

Ok, ok, I know that Abbott isn’t really a dual citizen and that he revoked his British citizenship some time ago, but he won’t tell us when because it’s a deeply personal thing and therefore an operational matter. Of course, when I say that I know, I’m using the words “I know” in the same way that Donald Trump knows that nobody understands the world like him and he knows that climate change is part of a conspiracy between Hillary and the Chinese to destroy Trump Tower!

Anyway…

Tony decided to warn his colleagues that they were in danger of losing the next election because they weren’t conservative enough. The Tone decided to do this – not in the Party room where he was concerned that his mates may be asleep or not paying attention – but via the media. In the everyday world where most of us live this would be the normal way of doing things. If you had a problem with your boss, you wouldn’t blurt it out at a staff meeting. No, you’d publish it on social media in the hope that someone would bring it to his attention and he’d go, “Yes, that person had a point, I’ll change my ways!”

Peta Credlin rushed to Tony’s defence. He wasn’t being disloyal. He was just frustrated. She quickly added that she was no longer working for Tony and her reflections were just to help us all understand that it was his pent-up frustration and that she wasn’t speaking on his behalf. No, she was just presuming that he was frustrated, and she was just trying to explain what he gets like when he’s frustrated by not having his own way. No, she may no longer be his Chief of Staff, but she knows where he’s coming from!

Tony, we’ll all have you know, is simply trying to keep the Liberal Party together. And we all know that the best way to keep a party together is to criticise it in public…

Yes, Labor has disunity; the Liberals have “a broad church”.

And part of this broad church, in the Gospel according to St Tony, tells us that we should just get rid of all the nonsense that we pretended to believe in when we were trying to get elected. You know, like all that nonsense he pretended to believe in when he was studying to be a priest before he realised that he’d never be Pope.

I mean, don’t you all understand the threat of One Nation?

No, not the One Nation which encourages songs like “We’re all in this together” or multicuturalism. No, the One Nation that wants to exclude most people in our nation from anything approaching rights and thinks that penalty rates should just be abolished altogether and women get pregnant for the money!

You know, One Nation…

Remember, Tony did his bit by meeting with Pauline where they had a jolly good laugh about how he raised the funds to have her put in jail.

You know, One Nation…

Who’ve hired James Ashby. Remember him? He left the Liberals to go and work for Peter Slipper. That worked out badly and he had to leave because he alleged that Slipper was sexually harassing him, but his case sort of fell down when his reaction to a text about being spanked was to reply that he might like it. (This is not a joke. Unless Winston Smith has started to work for the government it’s easily searchable!) Now James is working for Pauline and Tony is saying that we need to be less consistent to what we believe and more like PHON!

You know, One Nation…

Whom Abbott seems to believe may take votes off the Liberals and are a threat.

You know, One Nation…

The Party that the Liberals decided to preference above their Coalition partners in WA. Of course, helping them get elected doesn’t mean that we support them and agree with them. We’re just doing it because we’d trade preferences with the devil himself if he it helped us get elected. I mean, at least we have sunk so low as to work with The Greens!

Yes, it’s a worry that people may start to agree with One Nation whose candidates have done such wonderful things as suggesting that a termite repellent can be used to treat skin cancer (or could, were it not for the fact that silly regulations have stopped it’s import, just because a few people have needed hospitalisation because they have large holes in their face) and the idea that gay people are using “Nazi mind control” to change our thinking. I can see more votes leaking to One Nation than the Labor Party or The Greens. God, doesn’t Donald Trump show how dangerous the left can be?

When I suggest that the Liberals will call a spill this week, it seems highly unlikely at the time of writing. However, in a world where Abbott was elected as PM and Turnbull is praising the virtues of coal and Bill Shorten looks the most sincere of the three*, then it’s a risky call to bet against me unless you’re getting good odds. Do I think, Malcolm will be PM by the end of the week? Probably… But I am prepared to suggest that the person who suggested that Turnbull would go on to be one of our longest-serving and most successful Prime Ministers must be wishing that they’d decided to write a column about the achievements of Lachlan Macquarie instead!

*I only said, of the three, AND I do know we could have a long discussion about it, but the idea that it’s even debatable is EXACTLY my point!

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The Phone Call – Turnbull Is Assured Or So I’m Led To Believe By Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless!

From “The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has received Donald Trump’s personal assurance that a deal for the US to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island will go ahead, despite the US President’s harsh immigration policies sending shockwaves around the world…

Mr Turnbull’s office declined to comment on the 25-minute phone call with Mr Trump. Fairfax Media has been told the President confirmed his administration would honour last year’s agreement, though it remains unclear how many of the roughly 2000 asylum-seekers held on Nauru and Manus Island will be resettled in the US.
Under the Obama deal, final details, including the number to be resettled, were not expected to be nailed down until the second half of this year, after US officials scrutinised applications and carried out security checks.”

Ok, now I really hope I’m wrong, but it does strike me that this is one of those ones where you say something’s happening and if we all go, “That’s good,” and forget about it then there’s really no problem. However, being a cynical sort of chap, I do have to wonder about three things in the SMH report.

1. Why, if the deal is going ahead, did Mr Turnbull’s office decline to comment?
2. “Fairfax media has been told that the President confirmed his administration would honour last year’s agreement…” BY WHOM? Turnbull’s office is declining to comment about the phone call, Trump’s press release merely said that they were happy that Australia is happy to do whatever the US wants in return for having its tummy-tickled while the President says, “Who’s a good boy then!”, so who was this anonymous person who told Fairfax about the agreement? Was it the same person who led the ABC and The Australian to “understand” that the deal was going ahead?
3. How on earth does it take the USA nearly a year to check out people who’ve had Australia checking them out for the past four years? Do they have to check everything again? And then check the people doing the checking?

Of course, if someone connected to the government was briefing journalists “off the record”, then why is it off the record? And if it’s on the record, why not say a spokesman for Mr Turnbull or the Minister for Information and Newspeak told us the Mr Trump said such and such. Surely, journalists would ask why they’re being briefed off the record, why this isn’t official statement! Surely, they wouldn’t just report someone saying, “Look, I can’t tell you this officially but Mr Trump said that he was totally ok with the deal, but we just have to say nothing for now, but you can report that it’s on. Trust me, I’m saying this on behalf of the people who are declining to comment. Yes, the deal is going ahead and the US will take some of the people on Manus and Nauru. No, we don’t know how many. No, we don’t know when. But it’s definite. No problem. Rock solid guarantee. Trump said he’ll take any that fit the criteria. What criteria is that? Not sure, it was a quick phone call and Malcolm only had time to ask how he was doing and to make a couple of jokes and to say that he was hoping that the TPP wasn’t dead yet, but if it is, well, that’s ok, because the USA has no truer friend than Australia even if, Mr President, I had to spend the first five minutes on of the call waiting while you found it on a map. We still love you, even if you love another more. Well, the criteria might be that they’re not Muslims. Or from Syria or Iran. Or any one of a number of other countries. And, of course, they can’t be law-breakers. No, being an “illegal immigrant” doesn’t count. Why not? Um, look, I’m just speaking of the record here so I don’t have any actual information, but you can just write that it’s going ahead, ok, and we can all get back to worrying about Jobs and Growth… Sorry, don’t mention growth. Jobs and innovation.”

For the sake of those on Manus and Nauru, I really hope I’m wrong. I really hope we see something official in the next few days, but given this government’s lack of follow-through with even the things they’ve announced, I have to wonder when Turnbull’s office is declining to comment. But hey, Mr Turnbull is probably preparing a press release as I write this and there’ll be a big announcement and a timetable for when the people on Nauru will be re-settled. And even a timetable for the ones on Manus who were found to be being held “illegally”. Yeah, all ok now. We can go back to sleep.

P.S. I’ve started tagging a lot of my posts “climate change” in order to waste the time of paid climate change deniers who’ll read the whole thing and then wonder why there’s nothing they can be commenting on. Alternatively, they may comment anyway, which’ll just prove that they’re not really interested in “discussing the science”. My apologies if you read it because you feel that you desperately needed to be informed about the topic and haven’t realised that you’ve probably read enough things that should prompt you to actually start doing something to counter the misinformation out there!

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Australian Voters – What are you afraid of?

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid.

I still recall that day in early high school so vividly. I was yelled at, embarrassed to the point of tears and pulled out of class. I was ordered to sit on the verandah, because my parents could not afford the proper text book and the teacher decided I was not ‘ready to learn’. That experience, really drove home that the battlers could sit alone and cry red-faced in shame and be on the outside looking in, or they could use their voices to speak up.

I knew that public education in the early 1980s was considered free for all students and that I was entitled to an education. (My Mother had told me time and time again “you don’t need money to be clean, honest, intelligent, kind, well mannered, etc., etc.,)

That day, I furiously marched to the Principal’s office at lunchtime and I made a formal complaint. I stood up straight, looked him in the eye and asked him loud and clear, if I was allowed to be excluded from class because I could not afford the text book.

For a reason I cannot remember now, (possibly being thirteen and misunderstanding the political framework!) I threatened to report the school to the Governor General and guaranteed that he could stand me in front of class and ask me questions. I argued that it would be revealed that I knew more than most of the students who had text books. I was angry and offended that the school had drawn a line between my intelligence, my willingness to learn and the amount of money my parents had to buy a stupid text book!

After some scornful lecture reminding me that it was somehow a thirteen year old’s responsibility to ensure I had the right books for school and I was ‘ready to learn’, I was given a ‘loan’ of a second hand book. I had to promise I would protect this book with my dear life until the end of the year and I was curtly reminded that ‘forgetting to return the book would be considered stealing from the school.’ That was also a stark reminder of how a low socio-economic background was an immediate negative judgement of one’s morals.

Two things were important that day: A rule existed to prevent unfairness and I had the courage to speak up.

Rules and Societal Norms shape who we are

Legal rules and also societal norms shape who we are. They shape our nation. The democratic system of parliament is the system which enables the rules by which we live. If the school had a rule implemented that stated I could be excluded because I did not have the correct book, I could have sat on the verandah for the rest of the year. Not learning and not participating. Some kids would not have complained, as I did.

An important point is that not everyone has the same levels of self-efficacy to use a complaints system, or to even question if they are a victim of unfairness. The rules should be there to protect people so they do not need to have an inherent self-confidence to right any wrongs.

This is the reason I take politics and voting so seriously. The Liberals, time and time again implement ‘rules’ or laws, that not only make life hard for the disadvantaged, but also make it hard to complain and achieve fairness. We see this in Education, in Health, in Welfare and in unemployment programs to name a few.

This is the future under the Liberal Government I see and what we have seen for the past three years and in previous Liberal Governments state and federal. A system of rules, that makes life harder for battlers. A system of rules that makes it harder for battlers to have a voice. A system of rules that is the antecedent to unfairness and a divided society.

The Liberals seek to make that verandah I sat on, even wider between the thirteen year old me and inclusion in that classroom.

The Liberals seek to make rules, that would have the Principal tell the thirteen year old me, ‘that it was my fault, I can do better, get richer parents, shut up, sit down and do as you are told, or we may arrest you.’

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid:

I don’t want to live in a world where a Liberal Government works hard for a greater divide between the rich and the poor.

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals ensure the working class have no rights and can be replaced by foreign workers in the dead of night.

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals make the disadvantaged choose between seeing a doctor or buying food.

Where the ideology of the Liberals does not see marriage equality as a right for all citizens.

Where the Liberals favouritism of austerity is implemented in times of severe, global economic uncertainty.

Where a narrative which harms and stigmatises people is encouraged and supported and sometimes led by members of the Liberal party.

Where Liberal/Conservative/austerity-laden budgets are designed to give the wealthy money and see the poor grasping for the trickling down of the scraps.

Where the spending decisions of a Liberal Government produces a health system so underfunded that death of Australians is realistic consequence.

I don’t want to live in a country where a Liberal Government makes rules to make life harder for the battler or makes it harder to protest against unfairness.

Another term of The Liberals. That is what makes me very afraid.

If you are NOT voting 1 Labor, what are you afraid of?

  • Does ensuring Medicare is in the safe hands of the Labor party – the party that invented Medicare and the party that has fought against cuts to Medicare by the Liberals for years and years, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that all children have the funding they need for more individual attention to excel in school, make you afraid?
  • Does a party who fights for the rights of the worker, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that our health system is properly funded, so Doctors and Nurses can do their jobs properly, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring transparency, KPIs for processing, independent overseer, child guardian, refugee tribunal and funding UNHCR camps to eradicate the need for boat journeys, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that the party that got us through the GFC unscathed, managing the economy in a transitional environment or global instability, make you afraid?
  • Does a history of delivering major reforms that have progressed this nation forward such as: NDIS, Enterprise Bargaining, Medicare, Superannuation and Gonski, make you afraid?
  • Does the underpinning ideology of a fair go, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that we have a fibre-laden, first rate technology National Broadband System, make you afraid?
  • Does every citizen having the equal right to marry, make you afraid?
  • Does the idea a party can have 100 positive policies, presented and costed before an election, make you afraid?

Vote Labor to put people first on July 2. Don’t be afraid.

Originally published on Polyfeministix

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Are we Turnbull’s unpaid focus group?

After watching Malcolm Turnbull and his “Government” in action over the past five months, I have come to the conclusion that Turnbull is secretly using the voting public as one enormous unpaid focus group.

It all started way back when Tony Abbott was our Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull was well placed to be the communications Minister. He is a lover of Apple watches and he can rattle off with aplomb lots of social media apps. He probably has an app on his mirror to tell him if he is the fairest in the land every morning. However, despite all of this, he had a huge dilemma.

As we all know, Turnbull likes to believe he is the man of the hour, the champion of the people, that guy who gets everything right, the man who holds the adulation and love of so many fans. (Wait…Turnbull likes to believe he is Jonathon Thurston?)

Anyway, set your mind back just a little. Turnbull, as communications minister had to put out an inferior, rubbish, embarrassing FTTN NBN and blow the budget out to the GDP of a small country, all for good reason. The reason is that the Liberals needed an alternative model to Labor’s far superior FTTP NBN. Therefore, Malcolm thought he would just test his rubbish model out on a focus group aka ‘us’, add in a little spin and waffle about how Betacord is far more superior than blue ray; oops I mean how copper is far more superior than fibre; and we would buy it.

When ‘we’ (the focus group) started moaning and groaning about how crap his NBN was, and in the still of the night he stared at the laughter from online tech forums with tears in his eyes, the stress of it all started to show. One morning, he looked in the mirror and his app told him that Jason Clare was by far the fairest in the land. He knew it was all over and he had to do something drastic. He had to distance himself from the NBN.

How can the man of the hour be the same man who has the crap NBN and who is the subject of memes with tin cans and string? No, no, no that simply would not do. At least Abbott had a boat phone!

He had to get out of communications fast into a job that made him look good. He needed a job that allowed him to be flexible. One with enough scope that if he had to talk about something that made him look dull instead of shiny, he could brush that aside and talk about something else. With that, he eyed Tony Abbott with a glint in his eye. He just had to convince his party colleagues that he was the very model of a modern major Prime Minister.

So he did what any good innovator would do, he chose a tried and true product that the focus group liked but had become tired of and applied a little incremental innovation. All he had to do was to sell it to his party colleagues.

Malcolm had feedback that the focus group didn’t like the way the old Prime Minister model ummed and ah-ed and especially that time that he wasn’t saying anything (but you aren’t saying anything, Tony) or his inappropriate repetition of “But we have stopped the boats”. The focus group especially did not like any Captains picks.

The party colleagues insisted that the inner workings of PM Mark I stay the same and PM Mark II had to have the same values and beliefs as the old model, but it would be ok if Malcolm tinkered with the aesthetics.

So Malcolm hopped on a tram to take some selfies, chucked on an Armani Suit, put 200 million dollars in the bank and shifted some to an offshore account in the Cayman islands and the model was almost complete. To demonstrate the winning element of the new model, he slapped on a happy face, twirled his glasses a few times and with great anticipation he unveiled the clincher…never ending verbosity with an inbuilt thesaurus for all the synonyms a Prime Minister could use without sounding repetitive once. It was a done deal. With the help of a knife and a Bishop, the old model was sent to the backbenches and Turnbull was now the new Prime Minister Mark II.

So Malcolm turned to the Focus Group once again for them to evaluate Prime Minister Mark II. As confirmed by @Ghostwhovotes every week, the polls were in and the focus group gave the thumbs up. The media were so happy they were reminiscent of Magenta grabbing Riff Raff’s hand, twirling him around and yelling, “Malcolm is happy. The Liberals are happy, you’re happy, we’re all happy hahaha hahaha.”

After such a positive response from the focus group, Malcolm then became obsessed with using us as a focus group to evaluate so many things in the coming months.

He did this with so much excitement and relief because he has no idea how to make his own decisions. However, he became increasingly frustrated because no matter what he put before us, it was all nope, nope, nope from us. There was a small ‘yay’ for getting rid of knights and dames. There was also a huge sigh of relief when Speaker mark II turned out to be rational and level headed and did not take helicopter joy rides.

However, secretly copying a diary to bring down the speaker of parliament to topple a Labor Government, it was a nope from the focus group.

A Minister of Parliament drunk groping and kissing a female public servant in China, was a nope from the focus group.

Announcing, “there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian” was a yay from most of us. However, repeated at the same volume and frequency of ‘we have stopped the boats’ resulted in a noise complaint and a subsequent thumbs down from the focus group.

Ministers grabbing the Baygon and spraying it in the PM’s general direction as they backed away and resigned, was a mixed response with many raising an eyebrow of suspicion as to what was going on.

A Minister under the guise of a private citizen signing off on a mining deal with a Chinese mining company and prominent Liberal party donor was a big, big nope from the focus group.

The focus group climbed bridges and towers and screamed nope, nope, nope and staged a protest outside of a hospital when he canvassed whether sending Asylum seeker babies back to detention was okay.

The focus group was split on a report of a political witch hunt, set up to destroy the party of the workers, led by a life-long Liberal party supporter who was allowed to assess his own bias. (The nopes were a lot louder than yays on this one, so this one is reserved for desperate situations only).

As the Prime Minister had no idea about economic reform, he decided to run an increase in the GST by the focus group. The results from the focus group were so poor and when he noted that they were listening to the Labor party, he has backed away from the GST like Voldemort backing away from Harry. Like he still intends to do the evil deed, he just has to wait to get Harry in a weak position.

Some of the focus group still have their head turned sideways trying to work out if the Unicorn selling is a possibility. Others in the focus group started designing unicorn memes straight away.

Prime Minister Mark II is now canvassing the focus group for the privatisation of Medicare and their personal medical records being handled by a private contractor, possibly an overseas company. The early data is that this is a huge thumbs down.

As Prime Minister Mark II is too scared to make any decisions of his own and he relies on the feedback from focus groups; here is a list of forthcoming ideas from the Turnbull’s ideas boom that we can expect in the near future.

A list of possible ideas for the PM Mark II’s focus group (aka us)

Should Anchovies on pizza cost extra?

When city Ministers visit country areas, should they wear a cowboy hat, or not wear a cowboy hat?

Is it ever OK for the Minister for women to scream like a banshee about ‘the sisterhood?’

Are socks with Sandals ever OK and should Barnaby wear them?

How often can one hear the word innovation before they start screaming?

If copper is better than fibre, should blue ray be made obsolete and should we return to Betacord?

If your sick mum cannot get access to healthcare, is that OK, if there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian?

If PM Mark II does not make any decisions up to and including the election, is it because there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian?

Should the Government put out a budget before the election?

Should unicorns be sold, or should they be a protected species?

Is it obvious that the treasurer is a dumb-arse who knows jack about economics?

When the camera pans to Prime Minister Mark I sitting on the back bench looking forlorn, have you felt, or slightly felt a left-wing condition called empathy?

What do you think of underdogs? Is it possible for them to win elections?

Is ‘Work Save and Invest’ considered a slogan?

How much longer can the Liberal party get away with blaming Labor?

Do Pyne’s glasses look dorky nerdy or nerdy hot?

If the Prime Minister who owns several houses and is worth 200 million dollars, does not approve of a policy that will let your children and grandchildren buy a house, will you accept that this is OK because it won’t be fair on the rich people?

With a Double Dissolution election now being suggested widely for July, I am sure the above and many more will be put to us aka the focus group for assessment between now and then, as it has become increasingly obvious Malcolm Turnbull is unable to make any decisions.

At a rate of zero dollars per hour, our pay for this focus group is less than the 47c an hour being paid to workers of the 7-Eleven Turnbull has a stake in. I think I had better get my union, (or is that unicorn) on to this!

Originally published on Polyfeministix

 155 total views

Ten things more reckless than funding Gonski

Paul Keating was so right about Malcolm Turnbull, wasn’t he? “A bit like a big red bunger on cracker night. You light him up, there’s a bit of a fizz but then nothing, nothing”

After all the glasses-twirling hype and the selfie-induced-train-hopping; nothing is exactly what we are getting from an undemocratically elected, Liberal Party appointed Prime Minister who is quickly learning that he can’t please the people and his party. However, he has clearly chosen who he aims to please. Malcolm Turnbull has clearly chosen to please the conservative right wing of his party and not the people of Australia and certainly not our children!

In his interview on 3AW with Neil Mitchell, Turnbull described Labor’s commitment to fund Gonski as, “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that the fair and equitable education of ALL little Australians is “Reckless.” Malcolm Turnbull believes that investing in our children, the very people who will shape this country for our future, is ‘Reckless.”

Malcolm Turnbull believes that your child does not deserve a fair go!

Any leader who undermines the very essence of our shared Australian value of – “The Fair Go” is reckless. It is reckless toward us as individuals and it is reckless toward us as a collective. Turnbull’s rejection of Gonski funding is not just reckless, it is irresponsible and regressive.

To play on a phrase Julia Gillard famously used … If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what Reckless looks like, he just needs a mirror. That’s what he needs.

The Abbott-Turnbull Govt has been the most reckless Government of my lifetime. That is why we need to talk about the:

Ten Things More Reckless than Funding Gonski:

1. Not Giving a Gonski

Education changes people’s lives. The Gonski Reforms are an opportunity for fairness and equality in education. It is an opportunity to provide equal access to pathways of future success for all of our children. The Gonski reforms will pull some sectors of our society out of generational disadvantage. The Gonski reforms enable our country to be competitive and improving our economy. Giving a Gonski is giving our children, your children, a chance to be competitive in the jobs of the future. Committing to Gonski could mean enabling the pathway for a future Prime Minister. Refusing to commit to Gonski is keeping the door shut to a Prime Minister that could have been.

The Prime Minister of Australia willingly choosing to uphold disadvantage over fairness and equality for all is beyond reckless, it is downright destructive.

2. The Job Seekers can Starve for Six Months Policy

This little gem drummed up by the ‘let’s stigmatise poor people’ rabble of the Abbott-Turnbull Government, decided that in the era of high unemployment created by decisions by their own party, that young people who could not find a job are not entitled to social security payments. Deciding that young unemployed people should have no money for basics such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene products or medicine is very reckless indeed. (Labor, Greens and some cross-benchers opposed this and a new policy is in progress for jobseekers to starve for one month instead.)

3. Trashing Labor’s FTTP NBN

I’m just going to leave this here because I’d rather watch Jason Clare explain how reckless Turnbull has been with the NBN, rather than write about it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwatQqj3Hvs&w=560&h=315]

4. The Trade Union Royal Commission

Wasting millions and millions and millions of dollars on a political witch hunt, presided over by a judge with a history that spans decades of very close ties to the Liberal Party of Australia, is one of the most reckless acts against the working class this country has ever seen. The reckless attack on workers to bring back a reckless star chamber style ABCC is abhorrent. No Mother or Father ever wants the young man in this video to be his or her child! Shame. Shame. Shame.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og-GzJwprbw&w=560&h=315]

5. Attacking the Most Sick and Vulnerable in Our Society

The cuts to health and the continuous push towards a user pays system are reckless to the extreme. The situation the Abbott-Turnbull Government is pushing for, is where your wealth decides whether you are in pain, undiagnosed with a serious or terminal illness, or possibly even die. This type of class division of access to health will lead to a broken country. No human life is less valuable than another life based on the amount of money someone has in the bank.

6. Being a Fake Friend

Both John Howard in 2005 and Tony Abbott in 2014 said that the Liberal Government was the best friend the workers have ever had. Pretending to be a friend to the worker, is not just reckless, it is deceitful. A Government who makes it easier to employ foreign workers instead of Australian workers is not a best friend to the worker. A Government who does that is made up of a pack of self-righteous, out of touch lazy gits and by taking a generous wage, are the real leaners on society. MP’s are not elected by the people to do backroom deals to push Australians out of work. How reckless is it to make changes to employment rules that result in Australians being replaced with foreign workers and then laugh about it. Really? How reckless is that to everything the people in this country value?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN65QxIzbtY&w=560&h=315]

7. Attacks on low paid workers and their families

The push from the Abbott-Turnbull Government to make life more difficult for families by cutting family payments and attacking penalty rates is indeed reckless. Some parents rely on weekend shift work to help the family get through the week. Sometimes this is the only work mum or dad can get to work in with their primary duty of caring for children. To attack the penalty rates of some of the poorest people in the country in conjunction with cuts to family payments and abolishing the School Kids Bonus is yet another step closer to the Abbott-Turnbull led class divide trotted out by the Liberals and Nationals time and time again. Class divide is indeed one of the most reckless things a Government can do.

8. The Government’s policy of Secrets and Lies

The approach and treatment of Asylum Seekers under the Abbott-Turnbull regime is abhorrent, shameful, disgusting and damaging. The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s commitment to the secrecy provisions of their policy is beyond reckless. I do not believe a word exists for how damaging this extreme practice is. The treatment of Asylum Seekers is in the name of all Australians, not just in the Government’s name. Concerned citizens and advocacy groups have the right to investigate the treatment of people seeking asylum in our name. Asylum seekers have the absolute right to advocacy, medical treatment and legal representation. The cloak and dagger approach has only lasted so long. As reported yesterday, Border Force admitted that at least 23 boats have been turned back and this is a regular occurrence. To say the boats have stopped is a bald-faced lie. With the Government casting its invisibility cloak over people seeking asylum, the public have no idea if people are still drowning or the number of deaths at sea. As Harry Potter Fans will appreciate, the Government has the invisibility cloak and with Dutton’s face as the stone and Turnbull’s twirling glasses as the wand, the Government really could be the Masters of Death.

9. Income Management – Basic and Healthy Welfare Cards

The Cashless Welfare card is the symbolic mechanism that brings the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s agenda of stigmatisation of the poor to life. This draconian, punitive measure ensures that those who are unemployed are branded as such at the checkout. The Government harps on about how they understand innovation, but then deny the unemployed the ability to purchase cheap goods off buy and sell sites on Facebook and at the local market. The cashless welfare card denies an unemployed mother the ability to give their school child that $3.00 in an envelope for the school excursion they just remembered about that morning. Income management only serves to degrade the unemployed as incompetent and not able to manage their own meagre budgets. It is a punitive and degrading measure, which takes away the liberty and freedom of those who are on welfare. Income management increases barriers to employment for jobseekers and that is indeed reckless to the individual and to our society as a whole.

10. Not allowing a free vote in Parliament on Marriage Equality

One of the roles of the Prime Minister and Government is to provide leadership of tough issues. This often means doing what is right for minority groups, regardless of popular opinion. I was deeply perturbed at the very vocal Abbott-esque backflip by Turnbull in question time on Thursday. The new Malcolm appears not only to be reckless, but now completely unhinged.

Terri Butler: Given it is clear that members of the Prime Minister’s own party will not respect the $160 million plebiscite on marriage equality; will the Prime Minister immediately allow the free vote that he used to argue for on the private member’s bill that is currently before the parliament?

Malcolm Turnbull: I am not sure what it is about the honourable member’s approach to democracy that she so despises the views of the people that sent her here.

Parliament did not conduct a plebiscite to determine if we should or should not have sexual harassment laws introduced. They did not conduct a plebiscite to pass the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, contrary to what the popular belief at the time would have been. The Government of the day saw legal entrenched discrimination and had the guts to redress it.

By standing by a plebiscite, Malcolm Turnbull is valuing the opinion of bigots and homophobes who have recently photoshopped rainbow nooses around a woman’s neck in an anti-marriage equality advertisement. That is not valuing democracy. That is upholding bigotry and allowing bigots to have a voice against those they seek to oppress. As leaders, the Government has a moral obligation to view this debate from a legal standpoint of discrimination based on the choice of sexual preference and redress this discrimination immediately.

It is reckless for a Government to deny people who love each other the right to marry, based on their sexual preference.

Conclusion

If Malcolm Turnbull wants to know what reckless really is, here are just ten of the many reckless things the Abbott-Turnbull Government has done in the short space of two years and four months. Investing in Gonski is not reckless, it is responsible and visionary, two things the current Government lacks. To fight this Government’s recklessness, remember always to put the Liberal/National or LNP last on your ballot paper and Give a Gonski today.

Previously published on Polyfeministix

 

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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 referring 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!”

 

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 169 total views

The Great Hoax, Climate Change or the GST?

Personally, I think that maths is overvalued in schools. Now I’m not talking numeracy, I’m talking trigonometry, surds, quadratic equations and a whole range of things that most people won’t use past school. Fine for those who are going on to particular fields but a large number of students would be better off if they’d never had to struggle through them.

Of course, if you disagree with me, it’s not because you have a different perspective. It’s not because you think that maybe it’s a good idea to expose all people to maths because it’s good for them to be challenged. No, it’s because you’re gullible and a victim of the gigantic hoax that the maths teachers have invented. For a start, numbers aren’t even real. As for Pythagoras, not only did he believe that beans were souls migrating from one life to the next, he and his followers believed that numbers had magical powers. So, if you want to disagree with me, don’t cite a maths teacher or anyone who believes in maths teaching, don’t trust academics, they’re all part of the conspiracy. The best people to trust are your friends and family.

Yep, I sound ridiculous. While there is an argument to be had about how maths should be taught and whether it needs to be compulsory past a certain level, the idea that it’s a “hoax” and that you can rely on information from your friends and family makes me sound well, at least a little unbalanced.

Yet, this seems to be what the CSIRO’s survey on climate change revealed. People who didn’t believe in climate change found their friends and family their most trusted source. While I can support a degree of sceptism about what experts tell us, it strikes me that there are certain areas where the average person won’t have the necessary skills to be able to make an informed decision. Nobody says that they took their X-ray home and after everyone they know had a look at it, they decided that the doctor’s interpretation was wrong. In the case of climate change, many are arguing that they don’t even need to see the X-ray.

OK, there are “experts” on both sides of the climate change debate and it’s interesting to see how the media presents them. It was fine when Cardinal Pell gave his opinion, but Pope Francis should stick to religion. Anyone with a science degree or a couple of years at university hanging around the cafe is presented as an expert on climate change without much sceptism by the media and there’s no attempt to evaluate their credentials. . We have the absurd scenario where we’re asked to believe that a group of scientists decided that they’d find it easier to get funding to investigate something invented, and that rather than make actuall discoveries, they’d rather just take this funding and spend their time making stuff up. However, thanks to some intrepid physicists and geologists – often funded by fossil fuel companies – this hoax is being exposed.

Now, I’m not saying that the prevailing wisdom on climate change couldn’t be wrong. I’m simply saying that when one suggests that scientists have dishonest motives, one should be prepared to have one’s own motives scrutinised. Why climate scientists are supposedly part of a “hoax” and not just simply wrong is what gets me. For years, the cause of ulcers was misunderstood, but we don’t suggest that was because of some conspiracy to stop people stressing or eating spicy foods.

But speaking of hoaxes, how do you like this GST?

Remember when it came in?

No, I’m not talking about how “never ever” simply meant not until after the next election – although I suppose if that’s the case, then the assurances by Howard and Costello that it could never go up because, well, all the states had to agree and could you ever see a time when all the governments would agree to receiving more revenue, lasted a lot longer than we could have expected. That was “never” and not “never ever”, so I’m surprised that it’s taken so long before someone put it on the table.

Mm, I guess it’s easy to see why people don’t trust the “experts” and would rather listen to Uncle Frank and the guy next door.

Now, ignoring the politics, I can see an argument for putting up the GST. While the converntional argument is that it’s regressive and hurts the poor more than the rich, this needn’t be the case.

In the first instance, the poor have a limited amount to spend and so any increase in the GST won’t hit them in total terms as much as someone who spends more. If someone only spends twenty five thousand in a year, then a five percent increase can’t cost them more than $1250, whereas someone spending $100,000 could be hit for $5000. If the current exemptions on fresh food, education and health are included then it’s even less than the $1250. If you raise pensions and allowances by enough, as well as increasing the tax free threshold, you can compensate those who the five percent increase will affect.

Secondly, while income tax can be minimised by various accounting tricks to minimise one’s income, the GST is more difficult to avoid. I may have used the Cayman Islands to avoid the tax on my business, but when I buy my Jaguar, I’ll be hit for an extra five percent.

And finally, the extra revenue should enable the states to continue to provide services from which should benefit those who don’t have private health insurance or go to Xavier where they learn to be grateful that they don’t go to some “povo” school in Pakenham. (Hey, I know it was just one individual and private schools don’t really encourage that sort of class warfare thing. They just constantly tell you what a great education you’re getting and how their school is the best in the world. Why a student would think that government schools are “povo” is a mystery to them …).

So, I can see that a rise in the GST could be a good thing all round – even if it is the Liberal Party proposing it.

But then, I’m also gullible enough to fall for the climate change hoax.

 

 138 total views

Canadian Election: Paradigm Change for the Better?

Denis Bright invites discussion about the rise of inclusive politics in Canada with the formation of a majority Liberal government after nine long years in Opposition. Is the conservative political template which has dominated representative democracies for most of the last 50 years being finally challenged by voters with implications for election strategies in other representative democracies?

Is Justin Trudeau’s majority Liberal government in Canada part of a paradigm change in the politics of representative democracies?

For much of the past 50 years, the conservative template constructed by President Nixon in the US and Margaret Thatcher in Britain has been the political model for a succession of representative governments in economically developed countries.

Now Justin Trudeau has shattered the political template of the militarized low tax state with a commitment to a deficit budget to promote economic recovery and the withdrawal of CF-15 fighter jets from Iraq and bombing raids in Syria.

The extent of Justin Trudeau’s political landslide is quite incredible and perhaps only comparable to the Queensland state election result on 31 January 2015.

Trudeau’s Liberal Party has drawn its support from both the right and left of the political spectrum. The opposition Conservative Party has half its previous representation. On the cross-benches, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Greens are in a similar position. Only the Bloc Quebecois (BQ) has improved its representation.

Under the austere political template of Prime Minister Stephen Harper since 2006, Canada developed a neo-populist style of market-led economic development. Canada’s foreign and defence policies met all the requirements of NATO.

Writing in The Atlantic on 18 October 2015, Parker Donham notes the desperate measures used by Stephen Harper to cling onto government.

Stephen Harper wanted the electorate to focus on insignificant symbolic issues such as desire by one woman to wear a niqab veil during a citizenship oath ceremony. The Canadian Court of Appeal upheld her right as she was prepared to reveal her true identity in private before the ceremony.

The conservative populist strategy failed to strike a real rapport with the electorate.

Harper pounced on the decision; his deputies promised an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, and the prime minister hammered the issue during a September 24 French-language debate in Montreal, Quebec.

“When we join the Canadian family, we should not hide our identity,” Harper declared. “Never will I say to my daughter that a woman has to cover her face because she’s a woman.” Mulcair, for his part, accused Harper of attempting to “hide his record”—particularly on the failing economy-behind a niqab” (Parker Dongham, The Atlantic 18 October 2015).

Another desperate measure noted in The Atlantic article was the recruitment of Australian election strategist Lynton Crosby to promote negative perceptions of recent Arab immigrants. This became a political diversionary issue to distract from Canada’s ailing economic growth and employment record.

Voters were canny enough to realise that the decline in commodity prices could not be concealed by the conservative political template with its emphasis on balanced budgets and market-led growth.

The Conservative Government could hardly run on its record despite a modest last-minute pre-election improvement in short-term economic growth, retail sales and housing starts.

Reflecting the conservatism of the prairie provinces, The Winnipeg Free Press cheered on the extent of the surplus in its federal budget coverage. The government’s budget graphics were carefully reproduced with the caveat that the important surplus should have been higher but for the collapse of oil and gas prices in November 2014.

The Harper government lived up to its promise Tuesday to eliminate the deficit, making use of billions of dollars in balance-sheet tweaks designed to cushion the blow of the oil-price shock.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered a federal budget that boasted a narrow $1.4-billion surplus for 2015-16, scoring a politically critical goal just six months before a scheduled election in October (Winnipeg Free Press 21 April 2015).

To the last, the Harper Government had clung to its convictions about the value of a balanced budget during a period of rising unemployment to 7.1 per cent and falling commodity prices for oil, gas, coal and most other minerals.

The National Democratic Party (NDP) saw its vote and representation in the House of Commons halved with a -10.9% swing.

When the NDP was narrowly leading the opinion polls just one month before polling day, its finance spokesperson Andrew Thomson of Saskatchewan and a number of high profile NDP candidates made the error of promising more balanced budgets for the next four years with modest increases in corporate taxes and an end to family income splitting as introduced by Stephen Harper.

Opposing Canada’s overseas military commitments in Iraq and Syria (The Globe and Mail 10 September 2015)

Opposing Canada’s overseas military commitments in Iraq and Syria (The Globe and Mail 10 September 2015)

The commitment by Thomas Mulcair to withdraw all Canadian troops from both Iraq and the bombing of ISIL targets in Syria did not reverse the NDP’s decline in the last month of the campaign.

The NDP’s anti-war commitment came just one week after allegations surfaced of civilian deaths in Canada’s bombing raids on ISIL targets in Syria.

Justin Trudeau supported the NDP’s commitment to withdraw fighter jets from military operations in Iraq and Syria but offered an economic policy that was more daring in addressing the problems of economic stagnation and rising unemployment to 7.1 per cent of the workforce.

Let’s hope that advocates of political change are taking note of the Canadian election on 19 October 2015. Only time will tell if it is indeed a watershed in democratic politics.

 

denis-bright-150x150 Denis Bright (pictured) is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). He has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in developing progressive public policies that are compatible with commitments to a social market model within contemporary globalization.

 

 

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