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Tag Archives: Liberal

ScoMo no leader at all.

Capping a week of wacky stunts is Drug-test dole Bludgers a first episode in The Return of the Undead, a schlock-horror series in which the commonwealth is attacked by zombies; bad policy ideas the Coalition has already killed off. Twice. Or so we thought. Totally lacking policy or even vaguely useful ideas, the Morrison government digs up its dead, while dodging shocking reviews of its theatre of cruelty drama, Tamil Family.

Dole Bludgers helps deflect us from Did Treasury shrink the Economy? a Frydenberg-Lowe whodunnit playing centre stage, helped out by “Police State 2.0″ a cop-show sequel involving more raids on whistle-blowers’ homes.

Secrecy, mystery and shock are key to ScoMo’s Police State 2.0, which, like Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition, thrives on fear and surprise. All we see is a dawn raid. Cops haul black polythene bags. “As this is an ongoing matter, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time,” an AFP “spokesperson” intones.

Weird? Normal procedure for the AFP, as veteran Canberra Times editor, Jack Waterford, observes, is to tip off selected journalists well in advance of any raid. Not so much better sound but great optics. Waterford notes,

“It is part of the AFP’s media modus operandi to claim that operational or sub judice considerations prevent it from discussing anything damaging to the force’s image. Such considerations never inhibit the AFP if it expects good publicity from trusted journalists.” Uncannily, ScoMo & Co follow much the same protocol.

This week, Home Affairs Minister Dutton and Morrison are free with all kinds of abuse to help their case, even though the Biloela family would normally be off limits as “an operational matter” or “an individual case”. By Friday, even though the case is before the Federal Court, Dutton tells Nine,

“I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees, they’re not owed protection by our country.”

Yet the same day, Federal Court judge, Justice Mordecai Bromberg, orders Immigration Minister, David Coleman, to provide more evidence to support claims the youngest child has no right to protection. This case returns to court for an interlocutory hearing, 18 September, but a full and final hearing will require extensive preparation. An increasingly out of control Dutton would do well to pull his head in; take a hint from his pals in the AFP.

Suddenly it’s clear that ScoMo has even less power over Dutton than Turnbull, who created Home Affairs just to appease Dutton and his monkey-pod cabal. His capitulation to the bullies, condemned by experts then, is an utter failure now. Above all if we’re going get Police State 2.0 right, the AFP, need to know which boss gives the orders.

The AFP has an unblemished record of being lapdog of the government of the day. Only once in thirty-eight years since its inception has it embarrassed a government. The exception is the case of the investigation and prosecution of Liberal renegade – and Labor-appointed speaker, Peter Slipper, which did not result in a conviction.

The AFP keeps mum on Wednesday’s raid of the Canberra home of a diplomat and defence adviser, Cameron Gill, reports the Canberra Times. But the optics are eloquent. Shots of a burly plain-clothes cop, carrying a couple of black garbage bags or loading the bags into the boot of a black car look ominous at least. “AFP cleans up democracy while trashing Gill’s reputation” is the main pictorial message implied on national news.

“Enacting laws in the name of national security without testing them can result in overreach and the erosion of basic freedoms,” warns Australian Law Council president, Arthur Moses, in his natter to the National Press Club.

Australia leads the free world in beefing up existing and creating world-class, new anti-terror and security laws. In the eighteen years since September 11, 2001, we have encumbered ourselves with no fewer than 54 new laws.

“There’s been a massive amount of legislation passed that prior to then (2011) would have been unthinkable”, Pauline Wright, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties says.There have been incursions into freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of movement, right to protest, all basic legal rights that underpin our democracy”. It’s almost as if she’s stumbled on the real point of the war on terror.

“Do not be quiet Australians. That is not your job,” warns Moses to the assembled hacks and flacks.

Moses is keen for reporters to “continue questioning” the Commonwealth’s growing national security powers, and “not just those that are threats to your freedoms”. Yet News Corp, from which all other media take their lead, has been actively encouraging the Coalition’s radical expansion of a police state in Australia in the last six years.

Drug test … is more than a government out of ideas. It blends ScoMo & Co’s yen for mindless cruelty, with its signature impracticality – as seen, for example, in its coal fetish. Blend in its shouty populist campaign to deprive the poor and vulnerable of any form of support, let alone compassion – and the drug test ploy may just upstage news that not only have ScoMo & Co given us the worst financial year since 1990-91, they have no plan.

“We have a plan – and only the Coalition has a plan” is Matthias Cormann’s mantra. But there is no plan. Greg Jericho calls on the government to wake up.

“It spent the entire election campaign telling us the economy was strong despite clear evidence that was not the case, and now in the light of some of the worst economic growth figures this century it would have us believe all is going to plan.”

Alan Austin notes “The increase in GDP for the June quarter, announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday, was a miserable 0.48%. This brings annual GDP growth to just 1.44% for the year to the end of June if we use seasonally adjusted figures. Trend data, preferred by some, show even worse outcomes.

This is the lowest annual growth for a financial year since 2002-03, during the early 2000s global recession. Prior to that, the year with lower growth than now was back in 1991 during Paul Keating’s “recession we had to have”.

ScoMo calls on us to spend our way into prosperity. But what with? With frozen wages, lost penalty rates, rising utility and fuel costs, not to mention a steep hike in fruit and vegetable prices, given drought, flood and heat has cut supplies, means most households will use their meagre tax refund to pay down debt and on daily essentials.

But look over there! A drug test for Centrelink beneficiaries beckons.

Enter the trial drug testing of 5,000 new recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance. Job-seekers would be tested for a range of illegal drugs in a two-year trial at three locations – Logan, Queensland, Canterbury-Bankstown, NSW and Mandurah, WA. Vital trial details are scarce in the news cycle.

The drug test idea is a neat way to scapegoat those trapped in a cycle of poverty. It recycles a farrago of Liberal lies: job-seekers are not only unsuccessful because they are high on drugs, they are also decadent. Unworthy – a popular slur also seen in refugee demonising. Un-Australian. Seeking pleasure instead of work?

The best form of welfare is a job, ScoMo crows. 722,000 Aussies struggled to get by on Newstart’s $278 per week or less than forty dollars a day in August. ABS figures show expenses, especially rising fuel prices – up 4.5% mean we are going backwards. Half a million of us haven’t worked for over 12 months. ScoMo’s “conservative compassion” means job-seekers just don’t eat; 84 percent of unemployed workers report skipping meals.

Implied in ScoMo’s slogan is a rebuke; neoliberalism’s favourite lie, there are plenty of jobs out there- all you have to do is try harder/re-skill/move to the regions/not be a job snob. It’s absurd but hurtful; cruel nonsense.

It’s not just that are far fewer jobs than job applicants, while jobs are increasingly casual, part time and wage theft and underemployment is rife, drug-testing of welfare recipients has failed everywhere it’s been tried. And the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison show knows it’s a failure, as Josh Butler in The Huffington Post pointed out in 2017.

Jurisdictions in Canada and the U.K. proposed then scrapped the idea. In the US, a few states gave up their trials as few as 0.01 percent of those tested actually returned positive drug tests. Above all, an Australian government-funded report from 2013 found there was “no evidence” of any positive effects in drug testing welfare clients, citing social, economic, legal and ethical concerns which meant such a scheme “ought not be considered”.

But “Just because something has been trialled elsewhere and has not worked does not mean it should not be tried again,” argues Senator Scott Ryan, for the Minister for Social Services. No. Just don’t expect it to work.

Drug-testing for welfare recipients was first proposed in the bizarre, 2014 Abbott-Credlin incarnation of the current government and again by the Turnbull iteration. It’s a great distraction from the imminent nation-wide trial of the Indue cashless debit card, a scam also known as “The Healthy Welfare Card” which is not a success in any trials. Still, it is a nifty business enterprise which could return $12,000 to the Liberal Party for each card issued.

Despite the dead cat on the table of the drug test (trial), ScoMo still cannot hide this week’s shocking GDP data.

Stalling Australia’s economic growth has taken six years of hard work. Morrison, in particular, can take a bow.

As Treasurer, he did keep barking that we did not have a revenue problem. No? Now most households do. And we carry record debt. A tax cut won’t help us. We are in per capita recession even if the government insists on applying US Census boffin, Julius Shiskin’s, yard stick of two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Former RBA Governor Glenn Stevens says it’s, “not very useful”. Proposed in December 1974 by Julius Shishkin, then head of the Economic Research and Analysis Division of the US Census Bureau which publishes the US national accounts, it’s not used to identify recessions in the US. Saul Eslake points out,

It takes no account of differences over time, or as between countries, in the rates of growth of either population or productivity – which are the key determinants of whether a given rate of economic growth is sufficient to prevent a sharp rise in unemployment. This is something which most people (other than economists) would use to delineate a recession.

In brief, we are fooling ourselves, or allowing ourselves to be fooled, by an esoteric measure of what a recession is. By most other measures, we would be calling what Morrison and Frydenberg have engineered, a recession, now. Calling for Frydenberg to resign. As The Guardian Australia‘s Paul Jericho reports,

The 2018-19 financial year had the lowest growth since 2000-01, and it was the eighth worst year out of the 60 since 1960. In the past 35 financial years, only five have seen worse per-capita growth, and in the past 40 only four have seen lower productivity growth.

Happily, there’s always a Liberal love-in happening somewhere to take the sting out of the hard going. ScoMo insults half the population in one gaffe as he addresses the faction-ridden boys’ club of the NSW Liberal Party’s State Council in NSW, weekend conference, its “most vicious” for twenty years. It’s in uproar over abortion.

It almost upstages Monday’s fuss when the PM, Communications minister Paul Fletcher, Birmo and Senator Jane Hume and sundry other Liberal MPs rock up to a function held by Channel Nine at its Willoughby studios.

Nothing to see here, says ScoMo, “I mean they were happy to host an event and I attended an event.” Prince Andrew could use the same defence of a photo of himself and a seventeen year old girl at a Jeffrey Epstein event.

Except it was a ten-thousand dollar a head Liberal Party fund-raiser which makes a mockery of Nine Newspapers, formerly Fairfax rags’ slogan “Independent Always”. Luckily, everything is OK, because, as CEO Marks explains, the shindig gave Nine time to voice its deep concern over press freedom while it raised money for the Liberals.

Michelle Grattan says it’s bizarre to engage with a government on press freedom, by raking in $100,000 in funds for it. Clearly she’s yet to get into the Trump-Morrison zeitgeist where the press is free to say whatever the government is OK with. This argument is made by Home Affairs Secretary, Mike Pezzullo in senate estimates.

Fortunately, by Saturday, the PM can change the agenda to gender. How Liberal ladies can step up to the plate.

Pro-lifers protest outside the International Convention Centre whilst inside, right-wing Liberals who wish to keep the current bad law, move a vote to allow debate on decriminalising abortion, a bid that threatens to de-rail the Berejiklian government’s bill to make abortion legal in NSW – as it is in all other states. The vote is lost 217-236.

The bill passed the NSW lower house 59 to 31, a month ago, but it created a split within the Liberals. 19 of the party’s 35 MPs voted against it. Veteran public ethicists, “barking” Barnaby Joyce and “two-bob” Tony Abbott also protest, support which Sydney lawyer, Michael Bradley, writing in Crikey claims, augurs well for the reformers,

“It was sexist paternalism and disrespect that made abortion a crime and has kept it thus for so long. It is this same instinct that seeks to delay and confuse the remediation of that wrong. But, whether because of or despite the Tony/Barnaby Effect, it will shortly lose this battle.”

Amendments proposed will be considered when the NSW Upper House votes on the bill 17 September. Many of these appear to be disingenuous delaying tactics, including fears that a woman will use abortion to select the sex of her baby, a phenomenon that has never occurred elsewhere in the world. So why would it happen here?

ScoMo’s keynote address is about merit. Up to a higher plane. “I want to see more women in our parliament and I want to see the NSW division work with me and my team to deliver that on merit, on merit, that’s the key.”

ScoMo alienates half his audience with his gaffe.

Who better to lecture Liberals on merit and equity than ScoMo? His advocacy for women is now the stuff of Liberal Party legend. He’s got daughters, he says. Enough said. And, my, just look at the way he acted on serious allegations of a party culture of misogyny and bullying, which came to a head around last year’s spontaneous hands-free leadership spill that accidentally, led to ScoMo becoming PM – and without any plotting, lobbying or double-double-crossing. So he says. It caused at least one MP, Julia Banks to resign.

All packed off to an inquiry or review or report or something. And denial from Linda Reynolds who has now gone on to do a mighty job in Defence and Sarah Henderson, who is parachuted back into parliament into former Senator Mitch Fifield’s policy-free Victorian senate seat, this Sunday, despite smears and slurs from religious groups following her support of marriage equality.

Henderson’s not beaten Sophie Mirabella’s hubby, Greg, more of a conservative, but she’s battled vicious email. One accused her of being “a Malcolm Turnbull, gay marriage and abortion supporter”. Unholy Trinity.

Sunday, she wins a 234-197 a vote from five hundred Liberal Party delegates to the NSW conference. Despite intense lobbying from government MPs, the result still suggests as deep a division in Victoria between small ‘l’ liberal Liberals and the rip-roaring right as in NSW. In the end, however, ScoMo has one more token woman MP.

So it’s fitting the PM should be there. Not for the abortion vote – he’s pro-life – but as a father figure who can tell Liberal women they just need to improve their merit; lift their game and work on their CVs, their networking and interview skills. It’s an old lie but it helps explain why today there is the same number of women Liberal MPs as there was in 1996. At the end of the end of the day was it Henderson’s merit or ScoMo’s orchestrated lobbying?

Women everywhere will be chuffed to know that our current crop of mostly male Liberal MPs is a meritocracy.

Merit just shines out of Josh Frydenberg, this week, for one, as he tries to fudge the worst set of GDP figures this century, while blaming Treasury for not getting its forecasts right. And claiming he and his government did.

Merit is also the word that leaps to mind to describe the work of Stuart “Rolex” Robert whose business empire is in a big chill this week, according to reports that he and his partner may lose over $400,000 due to the tragic collapse of Cryo Australia, one of his cooler company investments which have attracted the interest of ASIC.

No inference is given nor suggestion made that Robert has done anything wrong in relation to Cryo Australia, which offered customers therapy sessions in a human-sized cooler. When it was working. Robert does seem dogged by business troubles, however, and it just bad luck given his cabinet role and his duties in charge of both government services and NDIS, two portfolios, which demand sound judgement and due diligence.

Liquidators are investigating whether crimes may have been committed by directors of the company, Cryo Australia, where Robert briefly sat on the board alongside rapist Neran De Silva, reports The Guardian Australia.

“Merit” Morrison himself, whose MPs snubbed rival contender for PM, Julie Bishop, because the blokes said she was a lightweight, won Cook in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, fair and square with just a little bit of help from The Daily Telegraph’s, four article slander of Michael Towke, a Lebanese Christian Australian, who, in July 2011, was democratically pre-selected rival in Cook- until he was disendorsed by the Party after the articles were published.

Dazzled by the display of merit currently on show in the Liberal party room of our faux-Coalition, an unrepresentative secret agreement which includes a mandatory quota at its core, it’s difficult to tell whether the women members of the Liberal Party are laughing or crying. Just don’t expect a petticoat revolution just yet.

In the meantime, despite its diversions, the week exposes the Morrison government’s false claim to any economic expertise. It is just another Coalition government; hopeless with money, clueless about women or gender equity, run by the top end of town for the top end of town and increasingly keen to control us by drawing us into the politics of division, unreason and fear.

Helping this control is the apparatus of a police state developed under the aegis of a war on terror, which like the war on drugs, is another toxic US import which can only cause us harm – as it has caused that nation immeasurable suffering and created unimaginable death and destruction for millions of others it has illegally invaded.

The threatened deportation of the Biloela family is an act of gratuitous, if not shockingly sadistic, cruelty which demeans us all. If the Tamil family are returned to Sri Lanka, they will be imprisoned and tortured. Yet even if they were to escape this fate, repatriation would be immoral, illegal under international law preventing refoulement and egregiously wrong in its calculated lack of humanity.

What kind of monsters have we become when we seek to punish innocents, make an example of a traumatised family who have already endured unfathomable suffering whose only mistake is to throw themselves on our mercy and seek our compassion?

Morrison must get Dutton to rescind his decision. Unless he can show the moral courage and the authority to act decisively on this, he is no leader at all.

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

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

It Is Just A Game

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

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

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

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

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

The Party of Disruption

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

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

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

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

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

Harming Society. Harming Our People.

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

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

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

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

The Minor Parties Are Pushed Aside

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

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

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

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

Who Doesn’t Give A Stuff?

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

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

You Need To Blow This Shit Up!

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

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

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

Today Become a True Disruptor

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Originally Published on The Red Window Blog

 

What a Circus!

Photo: litistan.wordpress.com

Photo: litistan.wordpress.com

Why is there a sense of foreboding whenever Tony Abbott travels overseas? Probably because one’s immediate reaction is, “Oh God, in what way will he embarrass us this time.” I can’t help thinking that as they watched John Oliver’s parody of Abbott on his weekly satirical, “Last Week Tonight” show, members of the American press were of a similar mind about his planned visit there next week. Tony Abbott’s poor media presence, his stilted speech, his fake laugh are grist for the mill to a press corp. aware of his tendency to say something incredibly stupid. My fervent wish would be that they ignore him and give us all a break from the cringing and squirming we will have to endure as we sit on our sofas, in front of our TV sets and follow his movements across the Northern Hemisphere. The planned meeting with US President Barack Obama will, no doubt, be particularly painful to watch. One can only hope that Obama will take pity and shield him from the US press or at least spring to his aid when Abbott inevitably sticks his foot in his mouth.

In the meantime the Coalition government and particularly the Liberal side of it appear to be imploding. Bolt on Turnbull, Bernadi on Turnbull, all stirred up over a meal Turnbull had with Clive Palmer. And the winner was . . . Clive Palmer. Even West Australian Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, a former research scientist and defence analyst, was moved to criticise the government for cutting funding to the CSIRO? It’s not hard to see that the Liberals are running scared right now. Bad polling numbers, internal criticisms of Hockey’s budget and the press popularity of Clive Palmer who is clearly enjoying the road show and keeping everyone guessing as to what he’ll do next, is taking its toll. Queensland Coalition MP’s in particular are already starting to panic. Palmer’s popularity in Queensland and the rising dissatisfaction with the Newman state government is a genuine concern for them. As most MP’s know only too well, when Queensland voters are upset they can be particularly savage come election time.

One wonders why Andrew Bolt raised the question of Turnbull’s activities on his programme. Was he prompted to do so by the Abbott camp or was he trying to gain some publicity for his show? Does he genuinely fear Turnbull? Has he forgotten the devastating impact leadership speculation had on the previous government? For all the commentary that has appeared on this issue, it was Bolt who started it. He is the one making the case for Turnbull’s so-called disloyalty. Interestingly, several Coalition MP’s came out this week criticising Turnbull and favouring Bolt, when the PM made it clear in parliament that he favoured Turnbull over Bolt. That is hardly what you would call a co-ordinated united front.

In the meantime, Hockey has gone strangely quiet and Scott Morrison is in damage control. Two self immolations and one murder so far on Scott Morrison’s watch. And that’s what we actually know. There are claims of asylum seekers being lost at sea while being forcibly repatriated to remote Indonesian Islands by the Royal Australian Navy. But the Minister is warning his critics against making “assumptions” about what led Sri Lankan man Leorsin Seemanpillai to take his life. Does he not realise by saying that, he is drawing attention to the obvious?

Now, a new problem has surfaced and it has gone viral. John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight’ skit made Abbott look like the village idiot. Anyone familiar with the Comedy Channel who knows the threesome that is Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and John Oliver, would also know their popularity worldwide via YouTube. And the Liberal party brains trust would have noticed too that Oliver was careful not to alienate his friends in Australia. He emphasised that only 30% supported Abbott. Australian politics is hardly ever presented in satirical form overseas. We are mostly ignored, criticised or praised depending on the circumstances, but rarely satirised. And for an Australian Prime Minister to be the subject of that satire, to be so jeered and made to look so inept and just plain stupid must be a first, particularly on the eve of an official visit. Will we be hearing accusations that this also was planned by Turnbull?

Everything about this farcical situation has been of the conservative’s side of politics own making. It might have been planned but the more likely explanation is that they are all just so rattled and dysfunctional these days, that it all came naturally. Did you see Barnaby Joyce’s sexist gaffe on The Project during the week? On Peta Credlin, he commented, “I’m on good information from her husband that she’s a woman.” He explained the gaffe as a poor attempt at humour. Yes it was, but it also validates the dysfunctional element infecting the government. What a circus!

Tony Abbott builds: a road

image The Liberals went to the election with a few slogans; they would cut the waste, they would then start to build things with this being achieved by “cutting the waste”. This according to yet more sloganeering, would be Real Solutions.

Sparse indeed were questions from our mainstream media such as which waste? And what are your alternatives? But most especially how are you, the Liberals planning to pay for extreme policies such as $75,000 for millionaire moms? A few dollars saved by sacking a swag load of government employees served as window dressing; populist in the extreme.

A cynic might suggest that if you have few policies to implement, then you don’t need nearly as many people to do the non-existent work.

Goals were to cancel, demolish, defer and ultimately to do very little whatsoever.

However as “waste” seems to be a priority, here is but one example of Abbott’s idea of waste:

The Coalition will also begin unwinding key “nanny state” agencies such as the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, established to lead the national fight against obesity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Comment from “Livsh”:

“That’s not the half of it . . . there are a large number of other pretty bloody essential agencies that are up for the chop.

Including the flaming AIHW . . . this blows my mind, how the HELL are we supposed to improve the health of Australians if we DON’T KNOW WHAT THEIR HEALTH STATUS IS NOW”.

If one discounts Abbott’s Liberals and assorted barrackers in mainstream, once in a rare while there appears a few who are prepared to seriously look at issues – who are prepared to look at policy not politics. As such, Ross Gittins quotes Ian McAuley, an economist at the University of Canberra:

McAuley argues that, after another round of good luck with the resources boom, we need to secure our long-term prosperity by building a more resilient economy.

McAuley suggests:

”Capital in the form of a row of machines or a fleet of trucks is less important than the capital in the form of ideas, skills and education, capacities to communicate and to work with others – human capital, in other words. It is the knowledge worker who is emerging as the capitalist of our day, but we are a long way from recognising this.”

”We pay far too little attention to our human capital. We still see education expenditure as an expense, or even as a welfare entitlement. And we pay even less attention to our environmental, social and institutional capital.”

Ross Gittins adds, “It’s hard to imagine Abbott has any of these in his field of vision”.

To date Tony Abbott’s investment in human capital has consisted of the promised sacking of tens of thousands of public servants, including those who work in close collaboration with enlisted defence personnel, promises of cuts in funding to universities, under the guise of what he perceives to be “futile research”. The latter in spite of Abbott’s previous statement that he “gets it”, that he gets the idea of universities being “an independent community of scholars“.

Tony Abbott: “Well intentioned outsiders should not be trying to micromanage universities . . .”. Yet hypocritically, it will be he, Tony Abbott who decides that which constitutes “wasteful research”. As reported by University World News,

Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott, elected in a landslide victory in Saturday’s election, has promised to reverse many of the policies implemented by the defeated Labor government over the past six years – including those intended to lessen the impact of climate change.

The National Tertiary Education Union condemned the plan, with president Jeannie Rea describing it as “a direct attack on the academic freedom of researchers working in Australian universities”, a far cry from Abbott’s pre-election promise that “he gets it”.

The answer came to Tony in a mere flash, and that answer was . . . ROADS!

This was in spite of Abbott stating that all projects would be “in close collaboration with Infrastructure Australia”.

We will require all Commonwealth-funded projects worth more than $100 million to undergo a cost-benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia to ensure the best use of available taxpayer monies.

For Tony, trains are bad:

TONY Abbott has slapped down Denis Napthine, insisting the states will have to fund their own commuter rail infrastructure and leave nation building projects to the commonwealth . . . he rejected Dr Napthine’s claim he had softened his position on funding public transport infrastructure such as the Metro tunnel.

But on the other hand, roads are good:

ROADS are “good for the environment” because cars are able to work efficiently, Tony Abbott has declared while pledging financial support for the Gateway Motorway extension in northern Brisbane.

Roads are not just good, they’re super-splendid:

  • “Better roads means better communities; better roads are good for our economy; they’re good for our society,” he said.
  • “They’re good for our physical and mental health.
  • “They’re even good for the environment because cars that are moving spew out far less pollution than cars that are standing still.”

Roads doubtless also make your whites whiter than white and also act as a preventative for many known causes of tooth decay.

It’s as if Tony Abbott believes that by the Liberals returning to power, this will in itself, solve most of our problems. Build a road, and everything will be fine again. Education, health and indeed our entire human capital are going to rank lowly with this, an Abbott-led government.

At least ‘building a road’ is a policy. Let’s see if he builds it.

Joe Hockey Manages to Smear Himself

hockey

Image by heraldsun.com.au

The Courier Mail today ran a story revealing that would-be Treasurer Joe Hockey failed to declare a family interest for most of the duration of his Parliamentary life.

Mr Hockey declared the directorship of Steel Harbour Pty Ltd held by his wife, Melissa Babbage, in May last year among a series of “new positions” under spouse declaration rules. But business records show Ms Babbage was appointed to the role in 1998. Pecuniary interest register declarations are supposed to be made within a month.

What was even more interesting than the seeming disregard for public accountability, was Mr Hockey’s response to the story …

“As I become aware of my wife’s commercial interests I declare them, as is appropriate,” Mr Hockey said.

No, Sir, that’s not good enough. Setting aside the question of what it implies about a relationship that one can go over a decade without knowing about one’s spouses’ Directorships, the rules pertaining to the register of pecuniary interests are such that you have an obligation to ask your wife about them. But what’s most extraordinary about Mr Hockey’s response was his utter petulance, nay arrogance in declaring the revelation to be a Labor “smear campaign”.

Mr Hockey said: “The Labor Party has previously engaged in this type of muckraking and then been forced to correct such unsubstantiated assertions. It is a desperate action from a desperate government.”

No go, Joe. I mean, what “smear”? There’s no indication from you the story is incorrect. There’s no concession from you – at least none reported that I can find – that you erred significantly. No apology. No “oops”. Just a pathetic attempt to pass the buck to those who are simply pointing out that you have failed in an important area of public accountability. Is it too much to ask that you acknowledge the failure and offer at least a smidgen of contrition? It’s not the Labor Party asking this of you, Joe, it’s the Australian public (or at least those that think such things matter).

Earlier this year when Liberal heavyweight Arthur Sinodinos was forced to apologise to the Senate for failing to declare a bunch of Directorships, he at least showed some character. Can you, Mr Hockey, match that? Do you share a similar level of concern and regard for the principle of transparency in Government? It would appear not.

Even if were to come to light that you had expressed some sort of penitence it wouldn’t matter, as trying to make the issue about Labor and “smear campaigns” is a pathetic and cowardly way to attempt to abrogate your personal responsibilities. And you want us to support you as a future Federal Treasurer?

What’s also somewhat tangentially interesting about the Courier Mail’s story, is that despite the fact they were revealing a not insignificant failure on Joe Hockey’s part, they nevertheless saw fit to litter the story with photos clearly intended to show him in a positive way. Happy snaps of him and his wife, culminating in a fantastically irrelevant-to-the-story family shot of the couple and their children.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer my news services, when reporting actual news, to not attempt to emotionally manipulate me, and how else is such a thing to be interpreted?

History. And why our grandchildren should be paying off debt!

Image by usapostweek.com

Image by usapostweek.com

  1. Victoria. Kennett has been elected, and his main platform was that the State was “broke” and that we were in so much debt that our grandchildren would be paying it off.

Slash, burn, cut the public service! INCREASE taxes – not because he wanted to, but because it was necessary. You see, Labor enjoys increasing taxes so we should criticise every single increase or new taxes, but Liberals only do it out NECESSITY. Some argue that Kennett didn’t have to move so quickly. Some find his cuts to services while spending money on improving the dining in Parliament House or bringing “Sunset Boulevard” to Melbourne offensive.

But whether Kennett moved too quickly or cut too deeply, he DID pay off Victoria’s debt. And it doesn’t take several generations. It takes less than the seven years he’s in office.

Of course, the asset sales and the lower interest rates probably helped, but the point is: Whatever was said before he was elected, our great-grandchildren weren’t paying for the debt. Neither, for that matter, were our children.

Although, it could be argued that these ARE the people who paid for the debt. The ones who missed out on educational opportunities. Or the people who died waiting for an ambulance – although it was considered bad form to try to make political capital out of that, unlike these days when the Liberals suggest that Labor have blood on their hands over the Pink Batts. (“Should have been more regulated! Because private industry needs regulation, although once we’re in power we can cut red tape because as with the economy, it’ll all be ok then!”) And of course, the generations who are told that power prices have to go up because the private companies that Kennett sold our assets to haven’t spent money on infrastructure and that the public transport system can’t be improved because the private companies can’t afford to.

Liberals are fond of using household budgets as an analogy, and I suspect that my son would rather be left with a small mortgage on a house that was safe for him to live in than being debt free but homeless. That’s the thing with debt, it’s always relative to assets. The Australian Government – or the taxpayer – may be $300 billion in debt, but servicing that debt is only costing $2 a week for every working Australian (my source is a Murdoch paper!) And as for assets, well the $300 billion is less than a quarter of our Superannuation. Or about equivalent to what the Government spends in a year.

Basically, the debt isn’t that bad. We can pay it back over ten years by just a small increase in tax.

Or we can say it’s out of control. Sack half the public service. Cause a recession. And spend the next ten years blaming Labor for our inability to deliver a surplus. The Kennett option isn’t possible because there’s nothing left to sell. Apart from Medibank Private.

Savings, savings, savings

Image from abc.net.au

Image from abc.net.au

“Human beings cannot comprehend very large or very small numbers. It would be useful for us to acknowledge that fact.” Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize-winning psychologist.

Numbers have always fascinated me. Or rather, I’ve always been fascinated by people’s inability to understand them. If that sounds arrogant and as though I seem to think I’m better than everyone else, so be it. That seems to be a way of making oneself popular these days. For the past few years, the Liberal Party have been saying that they’re just so awesome and that the current government is just a pack of losers, and that they should be government and that they were robbed. Strangely, if they were the team that lost a Grand Final nobody would be impressed by their behaviour, but in politics, it seems to be a way to win people’s hearts and minds.

But I digress. Numbers. Really big ones. Like the budget deficit. It’s really, really big. It’s scarily big. Until you break it down. Then it just becomes mildly scary. Or as one News Limited paper told us last week, the total interest on the Government’s deficit with cost every working Australian about $5 a week. Or $250 a year. Mm, that’s about a day’s wage for some people, an hour’s wage for others, and if Gina gets her way, a year’s wage for anyone in her employ.

Of course, the figure that fascinates me today is the $75,000,000,000 dollars of savings the Liberals have identified over the next five years. That’s a lot. But the first thing that they’ll do, of course, is add to the bureaucracy. From the Liberal Website:


Commission of Audit
For the 1st time in 16 years, we’ll immediately establish a Commission of Audit – to identify savings and efficiencies in all areas of government so we can start delivering real and sustainable budget surpluses into the future.

Mm! So they’ll spend money working out how to save money. Or to look at it another way, they’ll create a new bureaucracy that’ll work out how to get rid of the other bureaucracies.

Perhaps, the Liberal slogan could be: We guarantee that we’ll take more off you in tax than we’ll give back in services, because that’s what a surplus means!

Or

Over the past forty years, Labor have given you Medicare (bank), Superannuation, the NBN, the NDIS, and next they’re trying to implement Gonski. Compare that to our proudest achievement: the GST! And we promise we won’t put that up in our FIRST term of Government.

Or (to break down a really big number).

Over the next five years, we promise to take $15,000 off every Australian! Sorry, we promise to save $75 billion.