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Tag Archives: Liberal Party

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.

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.

 

 

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…

 

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!

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!

Open letter to Simon Birmingham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours Sincerely

The Weasel

 

austrade.gov.au: Creative-Industries

thecreativeindustries.co.uk/

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

Deutschland creative industries

UNESCO Science report: creative industries driving innovation

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

forbes.com: what everyone must know about industry 4.0

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

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

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

Labor’s Scare Campaign . . .

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

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

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

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

“But this isn’t the ABC!”

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

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

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

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

“What about them?”

“Well, isn’t that an attack on them?”

“Go on, defend your left wing mates!”

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

“An excellent idea.”

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

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

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

“To make it fairer, of course!”

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

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

“How is that fairer?”

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

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

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

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

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

“What about the unemployed?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Rather far-fetched ones I might suggest.”

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

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

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

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

“There’s a fundamental difference there!”

“Yes, what is it?”

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

“But you are planning to raise the GST!”

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

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

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

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

“Allegedly.”

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

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

“It’s only been two months!”

“Allegedly.”

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

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

“What are his achievements?”

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

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.

economy

Dismal report card from the Reserve Bank of Canada – RBC Update 9 October 2015 (Based largely on July 2015 Data)

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-150x150Denis 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.

 

An Open Letter to the Liberal Party

Dear Liberal Party

Is he worth it? Is Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership worth it since he’s done such irreparable damage to your brand?

I have no doubt when Abbott won the election, you thought you’d done the right thing. After losing in 2007, I’m sure you were upset. But then losing again in 2010, after Abbott failed to negotiate to form a minority government, must have been torture. You must have been livid that Julia Gillard, a leader you despised, (a woman no less!), was so proficient at getting things done, developing progressive policies and negotiating to make them happen. Policies that filled you with dread that Australians might actually care about each other. I understand you’re all very confused about whether you’re neoliberal ideologues or socially conservative, and sometimes it’s hard to know what you really are because all you truly care about is looking after your business mates at the expense of workers. It makes it hard for you to have a persuasive narrative. Because some of you only care about keeping Australia backward, focussing on destroying socially progressive policies such as marriage equality, while the rest are only interested in your special brand of small-government-neoliberalism which is defined by a quest to increase the profits of those people who finance your campaigns. But you understood Gillard and Rudd, and the Labor Party, were a threat to all of you one way or another and therefore must be destroyed if you were ever going to undo all the progress they made. So you built the Abbott wrecking ball with this mission in mind. With the help of Rupert Murdoch and his flying monkeys in the conservative press, you designed this wrecking ball, this no-machine, this village idiot who spouts three word slogans like an android, in order to scare the electorate into giving the Liberal Party what you feel is your entitlement; power. And it all seemed to be going so well! That is, until the first day in the job when you surely immediately realised you’d made a mistake. And that’s why I ask whether this mistake was worth it. Maybe you’ve been too scared to ask yourself this question, let alone answer it. But now you’re heading towards the next election, surely you have to face reality at some point? How about I try answering the question for you and you can decide if you agree with me?

There are three reasons why Abbott was not worth it for the Liberal Party. He might have got you the term in government that you desperately wanted, but what has this term done to your future?

The first reason Abbott was certainly not worth it is because he’s impotent. Politically, he has achieved very little and made a huge amount of mess in the process. Yes, he got rid of the mining tax and the Carbon Price. But this caused problems for you too since revenue disappeared along with these policies. Yes, you think Abbott’s done wonders in ‘stopping the boats’. But once this promise helped win the election, what good did it actually do for your political fortune? Other than costing a lot of money to keep people locked up in a hell-hole indefinitely, and causing you to have to keep secret anything to do with boats, which you’re no doubt not happy about because you love demonising refugees so you must be sorry you’ve painted yourself into a ‘we can’t tell you what’s going on because you’re not going to like it’ corner. And then there was the promise Abbott made, which you no doubt regret, to not make any cuts to education, health, the ABC and SBS. But what is the point of a Liberal government that doesn’t make cuts to education, health, the ABC and SBS? I do understand that you have to pretend you’re something you’re not in order to get elected. It must be very stressful having to keep up this façade when all you really want to do is bring back WorkChoices. Either way, Abbott’s promises were quickly broken, so even where he has managed to make spending cuts, they’ve not been celebrated as you might have hoped, but rather accurately painted as lies and more fodder for the independents to block much of the ‘reform’ you would have liked to make. If reform is the right word for a hand-break-turn-around-and-go-backwards policy platform. This impotency is surely of concern to you.

The second reason I don’t think PM Abbott has been worth it for the Liberal Party is because he is deeply unpopular and very good at finding ways to increase his unpopularity. I don’t have time to give you the entire laundry lists of Abbott-stuff-ups that have contributed to his terrible polls, which you’ve no doubt noticed have been terrible since pretty much day one. Dodgy scholarships for his daughter, insane ‘captains picks’ such as the Knighting of Prince Philip, biting onions, shirt-fronting the Russian President, choosing only one woman in his cabinet and then making himself, a known misogynist, Minister for Women, a Speaker expense scandal and of course your own leadership spill shenanigans. Sometimes I wonder if Abbott is actually one giant satire comedy routine sent to entertain the lefty-lynch-mob on Twitter. I’m sure you’ve wondered the same thing. The bottom line is, Abbott as Prime Minister doesn’t make Australians proud to be Australian. The last poll I saw was Essential Poll which had the two party preferred figures at Liberal 47, Labor 53. And this is after Abbott’s spent most of the last few months doing his best to whip up fear about the ‘death cult’ with a growing collection of flags and tried unsuccessfully to mount a smear campaign against Bill Shorten. Is Abbott’s poll-boosting bag of tricks empty? This far out from an election and you’ve got nothing? This must be worrying for you.

The third and final reason why Abbott most definitely has not been worth it for the Liberal Party is because his incompetence in managing the economy is destroying your long-relied-on strategic mantle of claiming Liberal governments as better economic managers than Labor governments. Of course we all know this mantle isn’t based in reality. But nevertheless you’ve used it successfully to win power, along with scaring people about national security, for the past 20 years. But how can you possibly think you can keep using this ‘economic competency’ line when Abbott, and his Treasurer Hockey, are making such a mess of business confidence, consumer confidence, growth, unemployment, debt and deficit and pretty much every other economic indicator that Liberal voters apparently obsess over when deciding that they will again vote Liberal. The bottom line is, your wrecking ball, which you used so successfully to wreck Labor’s electoral fortune, has swung back and wrecked your ‘economic competence’ campaign line. What will you do without it? I suspect you’ll lose. And you may not win again until Abbott has been long-forgotten by the electorate. How long do you think that will take? 50 years? Maybe even 100?

You’re probably feeling a bit depressed now that you’ve seen my very valid reasoning as to why Abbott surely wasn’t worth it for the Liberal Party. You’re probably feeling a bit silly for being so short-sighted in your quest to get power that you’ve made such a huge #OneTermTony problem for yourselves. One term of power isn’t really enough to justify all the effort, and money, you put into getting Abbott elected. And this one term will likely ensure you won’t get another term for a very, very long time. I, however, have no sympathy for you. Like a drunk-fool with a horrible hangover, you brought this on yourself. So in the words of Darryl Kerrigan: ‘Hey. Bad luck. Ya dickhead!’

Yours sincerely

Victoria Rollison

 

He really is off his rocker. Or he’s a nut case.

Who else but a leader of dubious mental capacity would say something like this?

“This government doesn’t get enough credit, Australia doesn’t get enough credit, for the emissions reduction work that we have already done’’.

A statement like this is hardly plausible in light of the fact that there is not one economist who has come out in support of Direct Action. No one with any expertise in the field thinks it will work even for a 5% emissions cut let alone for a higher percent to be submitted for the Paris agreement.

The independent Climate Change Authority has urged Australia to adopt an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent on 2000 levels by 2025, equating to a 36 per cent reduction on 2005 levels. Following on from his ludicrous comparison of groceries with the Greek debt crisis our Prime Minister for undoing comes up with another captain’s call calculated to offend anyone who believes in the science of climate change.

And as a storm raged over the government’s directive to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to no longer back wind energy projects, it emerged that it has also put a stop to solar investments other than the largest industrial-scale projects.

“Oh no”, I thought. “It’s not just wind turbines”. The Abbott government has opened up another front in its war on renewable energy by pulling the plug on investments in the most common form of alternative energy, rooftop and small-scale solar.

What Luddites they really are. They say they believe in the science of Global Warming but their every action is contrary to that belief. It seems the combined advancement in battery and solar technology has escaped them.

And now the Prime Minister for Coal Mining says that our emissions target for Paris won’t be revealed until after a party room debate. The fact is it will only be as high as the hard-right conservatives in his party will let it be.

Honestly the luddite who gives Turnbull credit for inventing the internet is a fool of the highest order.

He has to come up with a figure high enough to satisfy Paris against a revolt from his backbench, let alone reveal to the Australian public how he intends to pay for it within a budget framework that is already under extreme pressure.

Good luck with that. Do I need to remind you that the Carbon Tax was already doing the job?

We are under pressure internationally to pull our weight because concerns have been expressed about the Abbott’s government’s domestic climate policies.

In other words, they don’t trust him. But then again who does?

Turnbull En

The Agenda of Stigmatization is alive and well in Budget 2015

One of the main themes I have addressed over previous blog posts in regards to the 2014 Budget is the “Agenda of Stigmatization” by the Liberal National Coalition Government.  The Agenda of Stigmatization is alive and kicking in Budget 2015.  The targets? Women, single parents and working mothers.  

The stigmatization narrative of the Liberal National Government’s Budget 2015 is like a passive aggressive snarl, rather than the brazen punch to the face we received in 2014.

Rorters and Double Dippers

On The Insiders, ABC  (17/05/2015) Barry Cassidy interviewed Joe Hockey on a variety of budget related matters.   The first area that piqued my interest was the matter of Paid Parental Leave.  This policy assists parents, predominantly young women to care for their new born babies for a period prior to returning to work. This was hailed as a major initiative of the Coalition Government.  One where they built on Labor’s Paid Parental Leave Policy and had ‘achieved better and greater than Labor ever could, where it comes to women.’  In fact the coalition stated that:

The Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme will result in a woman earning the average full-time salary of around $65,000 receiving $32,500 – and they will be around $21,300 better off under the Coalition’s scheme relative to Labor’s scheme.

Tony Abbott also famously stated on 3AW in September, 2013, that

“I don’t think women suffer legal discrimination and I don’t think anyone these days sets out to do the wrong thing but it is very difficult for women to combine work and family if they don’t have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and that’s going to change very soon under the Coalition.”

So now they don’t have a “fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme” – what has the Coalition got to offer women?

Now the Coalition has back-flipped on this policy; stating the reason for the back-flip was that they have listened to the community.  Yes, the community needs reliable, affordable childcare, but not at the detriment of already hard fought for entitlements at work.

The negative narrative of parents, primarily women, being ‘rorters and double dippers’ is meant to stigmatise this group so the public believe that working mothers are getting more than their fair share. The Coalition would like the voting taxpayer to believe that mothers are essentially stealing the nation’s taxes.

The narrative here is set to stigmatise, so if they are returned to Government, there will be little outcry from the public, when they reduce or abolish Labor’s Paid Parental Scheme altogether.

Single Parents

Single parents, particularly single mothers are another favourite target group for the Liberal National Government’s agenda of stigmatisation.  We have already had in Budget 2014 attacks on FTB reducing family income for up to $6,000 per year and a the abolishment of FTB once a child has turned six.  In addition, return to work and education supplements, which have been vital in the past to transition single parents into work will also cease. These changes still need to be passed in the Senate and are now linked as savings, which will fund Childcare, in addition to savings found from those on Newstart under 25 having no income for one month.

When the Prime Minister and Minister for Women was challenged in Question Time about these cuts by Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, the Prime Minister accused Labor of supporting welfare as “pseudo-generosity. This is a prime example of the Coalition’s narrative that they see welfare as a ‘generosity’ to be given or taken away rather than an essential need.

Now we have the “Have A Go” Budget of 2015, where the Coalition ‘Has a Go’ at Single Parents by comparing apples and oranges to convince the public that Single Parents are not only having their cake and eating it too, but eating hard-working people’s cakes as well.  The message here is that single parents are greedy bludgers, who get more in hand-outs than a hard working voting taxpayer.

The following table was discussed on The Insiders, ABC Sunday 17 May, 2015.  Barry Cassidy queried Joe Hockey as to why it was necessary to compare the two.  Hockey’s response was that he thinks it is important to advise tax payers where their money is going.  (It is also interesting that the pictures on this graph pegs a single mother with two children against a hard-working single man.)

As you can see the “Age of Entitlement’ Graph demonstrates that a hard-working person working five days per week, is actually worse off than a sole parent with two kids.  This is a dynamic display of the ‘Lifters and Leaners” narrative we were accustomed to in 2014 although the actual words are not used in Budget 2015. The subliminal messaging is what is used to be effective here.

However, the graph does not take into account the cost of raising children, which I have added below:

joe single parents 3

As this table now shows, regardless of what the Coalition want you to believe, when you take into account the cost of raising children; a sole parent working part-time is not better off than a hard-working individual working five days per week on $80,000 per year.

As Barry Cassidy put to Joe Hockey “But you may be creating resentment though for no purpose” Of course, Joe Hockey disagreed and responded with “Why anyone would resent helping a single parent?”

After the last 18 months of stigmatizing those on welfare, including single parents; along with the Kevin Andrews’ mantra that married couples are more valued in society; this really speaks volumes of how out of touch Joe Hockey and the Coalition are.  Maybe the Treasurer should follow commentary on social media and main stream media to understand what many people think of those on welfare.

Joe Hockey knows and the coalition knows that their negative narrative about those on welfare for the past 18 months has already increased resentment.  Taking an under-handed swipe at single parents, whilst butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, is beyond reproach.

The narrative here is set to stigmatise, so if they are returned to Government, there will be little outcry from the public, when they make more harsh cuts to welfare and single parents in conjunction with a more Liberal friendly Senate.

The 2015 Budget has given little to no hope for those already doing it tough on welfare.  The Budget failed to deliver a vision for our future and has painted an even bleaker future for women.  It is essential that the vision we have for the future is to say “NO” to a Coalition Government at the next election and always, always, put Liberal & National last.

“Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity.”
―Erving Goffman

 

Originally Published on polyfeministix

 

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