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Tag Archives: LNP

The Trumpists are thriving in Oz

“Facts sometimes are contentious, aren’t they? And what you may think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue. And that’s part of living in a democratic country.” (Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack, January 12, 2021).

A neat four years ago Antique Barbie and Trump flunky Kellyanne Conway set the tone for a post-truth Trumpworld when she defended the tangerine tyrant’s ludicrous claims of an outsized inauguration crowd by invoking the Orwellian notion of “alternative facts”(1).

Fast forward from Trump’s Year Zero to when the seditionists and rioters obeyed the command of the despotic, half-sucked mango seed by attempting to literally torch American democracy, aided and abetted from within by treasonous, mercenary GOP urgers and spivs. All the result of four years of accumulated alternative facts and “fake news” gaslighting.

Across the Trump years tens of millions of willing dupes, oiks, the useful idiotista, Qrackpots, slope-shouldered racists and stool samplers wallowed in a steady effluvium of post-truth ordure that megaphoned Trump’s self-aggrandising lies and whiney grievance mongering.

But, the introductory quote at the start of this rant is not from some Trump vassal pissing out of the tent, it is not an artefact from crazy-town nor is it from the toxic bile factory that trades as the Dirty Digger’s Fox News. It is Australia’s acting Prime Minister Mickey The Dip McCormack speaking mere days after an attempted coup that was fuelled by “contentious facts”.

Apart from its timing the context of the quote is two-fold. Firstly, Mickey has an intellect that would not challenge foliage. He’s as thick as a coal miner’s sandwich yet he’s apparently the best and brightest the National Party has to offer – i.e. the least worst option. Secondly, he was defending the Trumpist effluent of two of the most egregious examples of the far right dross that has infected our own politics – specifically the swivel-eyed, Pete Evans-level Covid quackery from failed furniture salesman Fatty Carbuncle and, by extension, the trumpetings of Gorgeous George the Manila back street trawler and blubbertigibbet.

The BMI of these two globular nongs is such that they affect weather patterns, but that is not particularly germaine other than that these self-proclaimed champions of free speech should not have any problem with the deployment of a gratuitous sledge, yeah? The hypocrisy and idiocies of their flatulent gibberings have, following Trump’s attempted democrocide, received wide exposure and deserved ridicule but the bigger picture is the refusal of their respective masters to either call them to heel or penalise their Trumpian fanboy distortion of pandemic science and their anti-democratic blatherings and what that says about the mindset of the Tory side of our politics. Trumpism is a dangerous psychosis but both Scooter Morrison and Mickey Mac have now acknowledged by default that it has a home in the L/NP.

As the Tories go about their routine tasks of shovelling public money and assets to themselves and their cronies their ideological slide to the loony right has developed a distinctly orange tinge.

When Josh Freudenberg and Call Me Dave Sharma, two prominent Jewish Tory MPs, one an ostensible Prime Minister-in-waiting, the other an ex-Ambassador to Israel, jump aboard the anti-Twitter “free speech” ruse that propagates Nazi rhetoric and promotes Proud Boys’ fascist merch then something is deeply, deeply awry.

Scooter himself, interrupting his holidaying lifestyle to spend a few days attending to photo ops, has pointedly refused to criticise Trump in any way. Perhaps that’s down to Trump’s bestowal upon him of the Legion of Merit – the Right does so appreciate shiny baubles, ostentatious trophies and grandiose titles. The absurdity of a cowardly draft dodger gifting a militarty honour to a bloke whose first instinct is to flee from a crisis is lost on Scooter of course. Coming from Trump that medal merely symbolises Morrison’s membership of the cult of the citrus clunge.

From birtherism to The Big Lie (“the election was rigged”) Trump has long signalled his character. His betrayal of America is not new despite which Scooter has gone beyond the protocols of relationships between national leaders. His embrace of Trumpism was always enthusiastic, unquestioning and compliant with Trump’s grotesque adulteration of accepted norms and institutions. As one example Scooter, champion of the economy-first neo-lib mindset, jeopardised Australia’s economic interests on the altar of Trumpism by leading with his chin at the orange one’s urging to openly and loudly insult China.

Two deluded non-entities shouting at clouds from the backbench should be an amusing sideshow, after all the Tory goat rodeo had Abbott and Joyce in the two top jobs for a time. But Carbuncle and Gorgeous G are symptoms not abberations. With one notable exception(2), and Morrison’s dissembling weasel words aside, no Tory MP has condemned the radical right insurrection in the US last week.

Across the board the self-proclaimed champions of free speech hypocritically loathe any free speech that is not their own. They always have. Scrutiny, questioning, dissent, alternative views, truth…they don’t like it. Parliament, journalists, unions, the ABC, judges, scientists, academics, environmentalists, whistleblowers, safe schools, you and me…we’re all existing or potential targets for their mendacity.

RWNJ opinion is now the news. The Tories all watched Trump, they all liked what they saw. All the little lies are useful and the Big Lie almost worked.

What most citizens of Oz are not watching is our own Trumpist, post-truth creep to far right shitfuckery and that suits the Tories just fine.


(1) “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” George Orwell. 1984.

(2) Matt Keane, NSW Minister For The Environment

 

Image from 98five.com

 

Image from time.com (Photographer: Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 

This article was originally published on Grumpy Geezer.

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Corruption viewed within fine print of super reforms

Australia’s union movement has steadfastly rejected the Morrison government’s latest proposed reforms on superannuation on the grounds that workers would be worse off if choices about such accounts were left to the banks rather than to themselves or their employers.

And in addition to leaving Australia’s working classes potentially being worse off for retirement, the proposed reforms would leave the banks richer and grant the government’s superannuation minister – presently, Jane Hume – with a set of new powers that would go unchecked and with zero accountability.

In essence, the government seeks to use its Parliamentary and legislative powers to overhaul the superannuation system.

And doing so in a manner that leaves a trail of corruption in its wake, especially after the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has recently called for an ending of a freeze on superannuation rates that have been an LNP government policy staple since 2014.

“The union movement stands ready to resist any attacks on workers’ retirement savings. Like with Medicare, we need to improve and strengthen our retirement system, which is already the envy of the world – not tear it down,” Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president, said last month when defending the status quo of the superannuation system.

Under the government’s reform proposals, whose exposure drafts and explanatory materials are being weighed up in the midst of a Federal Senate Inquiry on the Superannuation Sector, would take the rights of choice among superannuation funds away from workers, particularly those new to the workforce or to a new employer, and be steered towards any for-profit funds run by the banks.

The ACTU, by labelling these reforms as “predatory”, views the suggested reforms as being politically motivated and as an attack based on ideology, and have unsurprisingly called for their legislative defeat.

“The federal government’s superannuation reforms will shortchange workers and erode the hard-won retirement savings of millions of Australians,” Scott Connolly, the ACTU’s national assistant secretary, said on Monday.

“A worker could be locked into an underperforming for-profit fund that is funnelling money to shareholders through exorbitant administration fees – and be misled by the Government that they are in a good fund,” added Connolly.

The ACTU juxtaposes the Industry Super network of superannuation funds against the perils of the banking-based for-profit funds advocated by the LNP and the Morrison government, due to the fact that Industry Super-linked funds perform better via all profits going to each of its respective fund’s members.

However, under the government’s reforms, that would change, thereby leaving workers worse off in the long run towards planning their retirements.

“If these laws are passed, for-profit funds will have a systemic advantage over all-profit-to-member funds, leaving workers worse off,” said Connolly.

“The exposure draft legislation represents an attack on working people, their retirement savings, and the best performing and best-governed superannuation funds,” he added.

As the superannuation sector inquiry is scheduled to resume in the Senate next month when the federal Parliament returns from its summer break, and expected to wrap up in March, the Department of the Treasury highlights its reform package to include:

  • Members being given notification upon whenever a superannuation fund fails an annual transparency performance test administered by the Australian Prudential Review Authority (APRA), and if this occurs two years in a row, trustees for such superannuation products are prohibited from accepting new beneficiaries into the product
  • Providing certainty and transparency about the basis by which superannuation products will be ranked and published on a website maintained by the ATO
  • Invoking a new set of standards to ensure that superannuation trustees work in a manner upholding its members’ best interests

Employers will still be required to make contributions to an employee’s single nominated superannuation fund. However, wrinkles are being proposed to ensure that unnecessary fees and insurance premiums are not paid on unintended multiple superannuation accounts.

“It is no coincidence that administration fees are excluded from benchmark proposals, as for-profit funds performances will be overstated to members and potential members,” said Connolly.

The ACTU has also brought the recent memories of the Banking Royal Commission into recall, as the proposed superannuation reforms would grant extended powers to whomever its minister would be.

As Hume currently holds the portfolio for superannuation, as she has within the Morrison government since 2019, a bit of background about her history is required – especially since she is facing the prospect of having her powers expanded in a big way.

Although Hume served as a senior strategic policy advisor with Australian Super prior to her ascension to politics as a Senator for Victoria in 2016, she possesses a storied past in the banking sector.

Hume was a former Deutsche Bank Australia vice president in 2008-09 after previously working as a National Australia Bank sales and marketing research manager, investment manager and a private banker from 1995-99 before moving on to Rothschild Australia as a senior business development manager in the asset management division, and briefly as a key accounts manager from 2000-2002.

Any superannuation minister, present or future, would be given the power to possess the authority to deem as illegal any expense, investment, or activity, by any fund, at any time, as well as extending the preference for a single superannuation fund over any or all others while lacking the transparency is not required to give notice nor reason for those actions.

Moreover, the decisions of the minister nor any new regulations undertaking under the minister’s watch do not require to be challenged in court.

Given the context of what the Banking Royal Commission revealed, Connolly and the ACTU have called out the rogue nature of these reforms – as well as the extended, unchecked powers of any current or future superannuation minister for the government of the day.

“Despite the Banking Royal Commission finding for-profit funds blatantly rorting members, the government continues to favour them by making benchmarking based on net investment return,” said Connolly.

 

 

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MYEFO missing points on long-term recovery: ACTU

Unemployment numbers were reported to have improved on Thursday while federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg claimed that Australia’s economy was rebounding – but the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) sent out a message of its own: increase wages and help the insecure workforce, and the nation can be guided out of recession.

As the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) was reporting two divergent numbers relating to the nation’s employment figures – unemployment had improved by 0.2 per cent to 6.8 per cent for the month of November, but also noted that underemployment figures had improved by 1.0 per cent to 9.4 per cent – Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president, insisted that wage growth was the best way to ensure a faster and stronger economic recovery.

And as O’Neil’s comments come in the wake of Thursday’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) presentation update by Frydenberg and Simon Birmingham, the government’s minister for finance, she pointed out that the government’s update lends very little hope for those who had sacrificed close to a year of their working lives in 2020.

“The government had an opportunity to show that they do really care about the future of so many unemployed and underemployed Australians, but failed to deliver that today,” said O’Neil.

“We must not forget that 2.2 million Australians will be facing the end of the year with no job or not enough hours, and the government’s mid-year economic statement does not deal with this fundamental issue,” she added.

The ACTU also advised that the nation’s under-employment figures come with a caveat: while it is encouraging that people are returning to work, the government, as well as the ABS, defines anyone who works as little as an hour per week as being employed.

It also said that any current signs of recovery out of a once-in-a-generation recession possess a shaky foundation – of that recovery being quite fragile, warning that the jobless rate could possibly return to COVID-level rates without the proper vision and leadership to create jobs and increase wages.

“They had an opportunity today to redirect unspent JobKeeper to reverse the cut in payments coming at Christmas and to fund programs that would deliver decent secure jobs that help rebuild our economy, but have shirked that responsibility,” said O’Neil.

“Further, there is no plan to lift wages which have now seen eight years of low growth including the lowest on record – and we know that unless workers have confidence to spend the economy will suffer. Instead, the Morrison government has introduced industrial relations legislation which will cut workers take-home pay,” O’Neil added.

Meanwhile, both Frydenberg and Birmingham used the occasion of the MYEFO to thump the collective chest of the Morrison government, claiming that economic recovery is underway.

“Today’s [federal] budget update confirms Australia’s economy is rebounding strongly,” Frydenberg said.

“The updated numbers are encouraging and better than what was expected at budget just ten weeks ago,” the Treasurer added.

“This Budget update tells a story of resilience, of recovery and of Australians getting back to work. Stronger business and consumer confidence means more Australians are in jobs [and] there are fewer demands on government programs and stronger than expected revenue,” said Birmingham, who has forecast that the budget deficit is expected to be $24 billion less than previously anticipated.

“These forecasts, along with the other economic forecasts, stand Australia in incredibly good stead, relative to many other comparable nations. In summary, Australia’s economic and fiscal strength enabled us to enter the COVID-19 crisis with resilience,” added Birmingham.

O’Neil also put the government’s figures – which also included a line from Frydenberg saying it could take up to four years to return the unemployment rate to pre-pandemic levels – in a perspective, that revenue numbers over deficits wouldn’t be possible without tax-related incentives to businesses.

And she feels that a long-term plan for growing the economy, raising wages for all workers, and jobs-based growth has been lost in the government’s feel-good messages.

“The government has chosen the ‘low road’ recovery, with un-tied tax cuts to big business, and failed to deliver a nation-building approach to job growth,” O’Neil said.

Previously, the ACTU had called for the Morrison government to adopt and implement its National Economic Recovery Plan (NERP), a jobs-based economic recovery blueprint geared towards getting Australia out of recession, on several occasions since unveiling it in July.

Areas such as creating more secure jobs, extending childcare and early learning free of charge, investing in job-training facilities and programs, such as the TAFE system, investing in the nation’s university system, and placing a focus on jobs and investment in the manufacturing sector, were among the items on that blueprint.

But as wage growth has stagnated under successive LNP governments since 2013, the view of O’Neil and the ACTU which holds that area as the most critical means of pushing economic recovery is shared by Brendan O’Connor, Labor’s shadow minister for employment and industry.

 

Shadow employment minister Brendan O’Connor, spruiking direct action to combat a jobs crisis (Photo from TWU Vic/Tas)

 

“If the economy was as strong as the Treasurer claims, there wouldn’t still be a million Australians stuck in the jobless queues, 1.4 million workers underemployed and more left out and left behind in this recovery,” O’Connor said earlier in the week.

“While too many Australians and communities are hurting, the Liberals and Nationals are reverting to form and using the pandemic as an excuse to cut workers’ pay, cut super and strip protections from borrowers,” added O’Connor, who earlier in the month announced on behalf of the ALP what it calls a Pandemic Recovery Jobs and Industry Taskforce.

As the ALP’s initiative could be viewed as a complement to the ACTU’s NERP blueprint, O’Connor says it runs counter to what the Morrison government has been alleged to be doing in the heart of a jobs and economic crisis – leaving people to go at it in a survival-of-the-fittest regimen.

“The Taskforce will travel around the country – particularly to outer-metropolitan, regional and rural areas – to hear from employees, employers, unions, industry bodies, academics and experts about what is needed to best respond to the Morrison recession,” O’Connor said.

 

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Children’s Letters To ScoMo

A few weeks ago, Scott Morrison sent a tweet about a letter from a prep student asking if holidays could be abolished. Some people were unkind enough to suggest that the language and the handwriting were too sophisticated for your average prep student. Of course, they were overlooking the fact that school holidays are a state based responsibility, so the kid wasn’t that clever because he was writing to the wrong person. Anyway, I have it on good authority that children’s letters to ScoMo was going to become a regular thing until someone suggested that given his Hillsong association, it might remind the public of things his friend would like to pretend never happened. Unfortunately these tweets never saw the light of day, but I’ve been assured that they are just as genuine as Morrison’s assurance that he was only ambitious for Malcolm Turnbull.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
I love getting letters from kids. They say the greatest things and this letter from Greg, is a cracker. He wants me to meet with the fire chiefs because he loves Australia so much that he doesn’t want to see it burn…
Well, sorry, Greg but my approval rating has gone up so much since I was filmed huggng that Owen guy that I feel it would make it seem like I was backing down if I were to meet with them after ignoring them for so long.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
I just adore letters from kids. They say such funny things. Here’s one from Sally who says that she’s worried there won’t be any jobs for her when she grows up because everything will be automated. Gee, Sally, who’s been filling your head with nonsense. Clearly you’re a girl and you can just get married and look after your husband like my wife does. There’s no need for you to worry about getting work. That’ll be your husband’s problem.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
It’s really awesome when kids write to me. Here’s one from Timmy wondering why he has to wait so long for a wheelchair when the NDIS didn’t spend all its money last year. Well, Timmy, that’s because Labor spent all your money and we need to get back into surplus. Besides we needed to take some of the money to give to the farmers who are experiencing what’s called a drought. However, don’t despair because tonight I’ll be praying that you no longer need a wheelchair. You should pray too, because God gives a go to those have a go.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
Here’s a beauty from Georgie asking if the floods in Venice are a result of climate change. This one gave me a real laugh. No, Georgie, just as Australia has always had bushfires, Venice has always had water in its streets. The only difference is that, thanks to the greenies, nobody’s been able to do anything and that’s why we have fires and floods.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
Vicky wants to know if we have a plan for the children locked up in detention on Nauru. Well, Vicky, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to but no children are in detention. There were a few but they’ve all been there long enough to reach the age of criminal liabilty so they’re now they can be considered adults and illegal immigrants.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
Eddie says that he goes to a private school and they recently went to the local government school which has just received money to start building a new gym after waiting for twenty four years. He said that he doesn’t think that this is fair. Why should they get a new gym when his school doesn’t even have enough money to heat the river where they go rowing every morning. What you need to realise, Eddie, is that even though parents who send their children to public schools obviously don’t care about their exposure to degenerate teachers who’ll teach them strange values, they still vote and get upset if they don’t get some shiny new building at least once in generation.
* * *
Ok, they may not be 100% genuine, but at least they’re more believable than any of Angus Taylor’s explanations.

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How Good Is The Quiet Scott Morrison?

Just lately I’ve noticed that we haven’t heard anything from our PM. His twitter account hasn’t been touched for a couple of days and there’s been no pronouncement telling us that we don’t like being told what to think.

My first reaction was to wonder if Peter Dutton had decided to use some of the laws at his disposal to take Scott Morrison into custody. After all, there are various anti-terror laws that enable people considered a risk to be questioned by ASIO for several days and nobody’s allowed to know where they are. Actually that’s not entirely true. They can tell their partner, and they don’t have to be a risk. It’s sufficient that ASIO believe they know something, so I guess that last point lets Scomo off the hook.

No, I decided, Morrison has decided to role model being a “quiet Australian” and to keep politics off the front page by saying nothing. This could be a winning strategy. It used to work for Tony Abbott. Every time he went on holiday or was otherwise incommunicado, his approval ratings went up; every time he spoke, he used to make people angrier than an interview on the ABC where they pretend that somebody who used to write for a Murdoch publication was a “quiet Australian”. I mean, forget Murdoch for a moment: Surely someone who used to be a journalist hardly qualifies as one of the quiet people.

I was rather annoyed at 7:30, but not because they interviewed people who voted Liberal and then seemed to be amazed that Liberal voters still voted for the current mob at the last election. No, I was annoyed because I was intending to do my own interviews with quiet Australians.

Yes, yes, all right. It is rather absurd because the quiet ones aren’t likely to speak, but leaving aside that oxymoron, I had the plan for the interviews in my head and they would have gone something like this:

“Why did you vote for Scott Morrison?”

“Because he got Labor’s debt under control.”

“Actually, the debt has doubled since the Liberals took over.”

“Didn’t the Liberals just announce a surplus in the last Budget?”

“Yes, but it’s only a projected surplus. It hasn’t happened yet and anyway, a surplus doesn’t actually pay off the debt. It’s complicated but because you voted for the Liberals and obviously like simple things, let me explain it this way. You’ve got a mortgage?”

“Yes.”

“Did you spend more than your earned last year?”

“No way.”

“So your mortgage is paid off?”

“Of course not!”

“Well, that’s how the Liberals are presenting it. It’s likes once you get into surplus that’s the same as paying off your mortgage.”

“Look, I really don’t understand all this government debt. What really matters is getting my franking credits when I retire.”

“Do you own shares?”

“No.”

“Then you don’t get any franking credits.”

“I don’t?”

“No, it’s only for people who own shares.”“Well, at least the NEG will get energy prices down.”

“They’ve abandoned that.”

“So, what’s their plan for getting energy prices down?”

“They don’t really have one.”

“So how are they going to get prices down?”

“The same way that they’re going to get wages up.”

“Cool and what’s that?”

“I don’t know, you tell me, you’re the one who voted for them…. you’ve suddenly gone very quiet.”

 

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Can the Federal LNP deliver its Flatter Taxation Scales in a Slowing Economy?

By Denis Bright

Just four months out from the federal election, current indicators do suggest that the federal LNP is fumbling the future of the investment sector of the Australian economy to achieve its short-medium term budget projections and to appease the erratic policies of the Trump Administration.

The IMF data on economic growth trends in Australia confirms the state of flux relating to federal budget projections and delivery of planned tax cuts for higher income earners. These trends will not be unscrambled until the release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) by early December 2019.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is still optimistic about future delivery of a fiscal balance for 2019-2020 without depressing economic growth projections or causing unemployment levels to rise further.

A key variable in this balancing act is the strength of the public sector spending at both state and federal levels as well as positive trend-lines for commodity and service exports. This favourable mix is marred by data for private sector capital investment over the last two quarters. Release of the September Quarter data on 28 November 2019 will be eagerly awaited. A continuation of the negative trends will be bad news for budget strategies for 2020-21, rather than in the current financial year.

Australia Private Capital Expenditure

To meet its budget targets, the federal LNP is now reigning in the growth in public sector. Probono Australia has revealed the benefits of under-spending on National Disability Insurance (NDIS) to the federal LNP’s efforts to maintain current budget surplus projections for 2019-20 (Luke Michael, ‘NDIS underspend helps return budget to the brink of surplus‘, 20 September 2019):

The federal government spent $4.6 billion less on the National Disability Insurance Scheme than expected because of delays getting people into the program, new budget figures reveal.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday announced the final budget outcome for 2018-19, showing a deficit of $690 million – $13.8 billion less than what the 2018 budget predicted.

This improved financial position ­– which leaves the budget on the brink of surplus for the first time since 2007-08 – was built on the back of underspending in areas including the NDIS.

The government says this underspend is a result of a slower than expected transition of people into the NDIS, but critics argue the money should be spent fixing various problems plaguing the scheme.

Frydenberg said the NDIS was a “demand driven system”, meaning that a slower uptake of the scheme resulted in less money being spent.

“This is in part because of the delays in some of the states coming on board, and also because it’s taken a bit more time for the service provider market to develop sufficiently to meet the available demand,” Frydenberg said.

 

Caution with the delivery of future Newstart increases and the delivery of NDIS will assist in the extension of taxation relief that is skewed to middle- and upper-income households as promised in the 2019-2020 federal budget.

Support for market-oriented strategies of the federal LNP came from the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on his Australian visit with one important policy recommendation (The Australian, Geoff Chambers, ‘Tax cuts key to driving revival, says Wilbur Ross’, 10 October 2019):

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has suggested Australia could increase its global competitiveness and attract direct foreign investment if it replicated Donald Trump’s corporate tax cuts.

Speaking to The Australian on Wednesday, Mr Ross — one of Mr Trump’s closest advisers — said the US company tax cuts combined with regulatory reform had worked “very, very well”.

Wilbur Ross should have added a note of caution to his Aussie Allies Down Under as shown by the latest data from his own Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in his own US Department of Commerce as released on 24 July 2019:

Direct Investment by Country and Industry, 2018

The U.S. direct investment abroad position, or cumulative level of investment, decreased $62.3 billion to $5.95 trillion at the end of 2018 from $6.01 trillion at the end of 2017, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The decrease was due to the repatriation of accumulated prior earnings by U.S. multinationals from their foreign affiliates, largely in response to the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The decrease reflected a $75.8 billion decrease in the position in Latin America and Other Western Hemisphere locations, primarily in Bermuda. By industry, holding company affiliates owned by U.S. manufacturers accounted for most of the decrease.

The foreign direct investment in the United States position increased $319.1 billion to $4.34 trillion at the end of 2018 from $4.03 trillion at the end of 2017. The increase mainly reflected a $226.1 billion increase in the position from Europe, primarily the Netherlands and Ireland. By industry, affiliates in manufacturing, retail trade, and real estate accounted for the largest increases.

US Investment plays a relatively minor role in the Asia Pacific Region compared with commercial interactions with Britain and Europe as well as countries in the American Hemisphere from Canada to Central and South America:

Making America Great Strategies have resulted in a decline in US Capital Flows across the Asia Pacific Region between 2017 and 2018. Australia is an exception to the regional trends and provides the US with highly favourable surpluses for trade in commodities and services as well as capital flows.

Days after this visit to Australia by Wilbur Ross, President Trump announced new compromises in his trade and investment war with China that undercut our own export gains in the Asia Pacific Region in favour of new export incentives from the US farm lobby.

The honeymoon after the last election may still be in session. As the rhetorical euphoria continues, it is time for Aussies to do a fact check of our unfavourable commercial relations with the USA. The Trump Administration has left Australians high and dry in a slowing global economy as the Trade and Investment War is replaced by a new Lovefest with China to the cheers from the US farm and resource sector lobbies which are our real competitors on the world market.

It’s surely time for our federal LNP leaders to show a spark of independence in defending Australia’s commercial sovereignty within the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement as President Trump focuses on his re-election strategies for November 2020.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical, structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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Is the “Defence Land Grab” Turnbull’s “Carbon Tax Lie?”

In 2010, Tony Abbott, supported by the media in epic proportions, touted Gillard’s infamous “Carbon Tax Lie” as THE lie that cost Abbott the Prime Ministership. Moving forward to 2017, an even bigger lie has been revealed. This just may be THE lie which allowed Turnbull to hang on by the skin of his teeth to power. This lie is the Turnbull Government remained silent on the compulsory acquisition of farming land in Central Queensland for supplying land to the Singaporean Army for defence training.

Lust for Power and Political Lies

When the lust for political power is such that it sees citizens denied their rights, or it denies voters to make an informed vote, it is up to all of us to stand up against that.

Prior to the election in May 2016, the LNP MP for Capricornia, Michelle Landry announced that the Turnbull Government was investing in defence at Shoalwater Bay. Landry was pleased to announce that this would pump millions into the local economy and it was a positive for small business.

In all instances, Michelle Landry framed the Shoalwater Bay investment in terms of an upgrade, implicitly insinuating that the upgrade was to existing facilities. Landry omitted the cold hard facts that this also included, or had even the potential to include compulsory acquisition of nearby farming land, owned by local farmers for generations (see maps in link above).

In addition, Bill Byrne, QLD Labor Minister for Agriculture has also accused Defence Minister Marise Payne of misleading the Senate.

QLD Labor Minister Byrne said that:

“There is no doubt in my mind that vital information was withheld to gain electoral advantage, and I am raising the possibility that Minister Payne… misled the senate estimates hearing,”

How Long Have They Known?

On 18th March, 2016, Defence Minister Payne issued a press release which detailed the enhanced development of training operations between Singapore and Australia.

military-increased-access

Therefore, in March 2016, the Defence Minister, Minister for Trade and Investment, Special Envoy for Trade and the Foreign Minister knew that an increase of Singaporean Troops was earmarked or military training facilities. The question is:

Did not one of these Ministers have any awareness that this increase would indeed require an expansion to the military training areas?

Was this promise made without even developing an understanding of how it might impact on people living in the region or the impact on our economy?

Has the Member for Capricornia, shown absolutely no interest in asking her own Party about any perceived negative impacts on the constituency she is supposed to represent?

Do You Even Budget?

The Federal Budget papers do not detail any expenses for upgrading the Military Operations in Shoalwater Bay.

However, in capital expenses, the Government does commit to $29.9 billion over 10 years from 2016‑17 to 2025‑26 to support initiatives in the Defence White paper which includes:

A number of ADF training areas in northern Australia will receive upgrades by 2020, including Shoalwater Bay (Queensland)

Once again, Shoalwater Bay and Townsville are only discussed as upgrades and not as an expansion.

In October, Senator Payne took a question from Senator McDonald regarding the memorandum of understanding with Singapore. Senator Payne detailed that the Singaporean Army will invest “around $2.25 billion in upgrades to Australian training areas while up to 14,000 Singaporean troops will join our own for training for up to 18 weeks per year in Australia.”

However, in Senator Payne’s response in the Senate, she details that this inclusion in the Defence White Paper includes increasing international defence engagement. The CSP will particularly enhance training area access and joint development of facilities.

Shoalwater Bay Expansion

The expansion was announced in the Senator on 8th November. Senator Payne advised the house that she would make sure that ADF would conduct extensive engagement and consultation. This has not occurred and Farmers were advised via a letter of the compulsory acquisition of Land, a shock to many. The Coalition Government decided upon compulsory acquisition of land without consulting Farmers.

The strategic partnership is detailed as developed in May, the White Paper states upgrades as an aim. However, in May, 2016, the Government did not detail any expenses for an expansion, just an ‘upgrade.’ The Government knew the increase in Singaporean Personnel and the aims of the strategic plan, at least in May. Why did they not question the logistics of this increase? QLD Minister Bill Byrne goes into much more depth here.

Lies or Incompetence?

The Government either hid the information regarding the compulsory acquisition of farming land from voters prior to the election, or they were incompetent in their planning with the Singaporean Army in the land area that was required to achieve the aims of the strategic plan.

If the Government was evasive and did not disclose in May that this land was a necessity to acquire by force of compulsory acquisition, then the Government is also incompetent by excluding the loss of revenue from Beef Producers in the region in the Agriculture revenue within the Budget. This will rip approximately 100,000 head of cattle from our local producers and severely impact on the two meat works in Rockhampton. Rockhampton is the Beef Capital of Australia. This Defence threat to farmer’s land will hand this title to Casino in NSW.

The Defence Land Grab Lie

To put the omission of the compulsory acquisition of farming land into perspective of the infamous “Carbon Tax Lie” is that the Coalition rests on just 76 seats. Just enough to form Government. The Carbon Tax Lie was touted by the Coalition and by the media as the lie that denied Abbott the Prime Ministership.

In Queensland the Coalition won 21 seats. There are quite a number of seats in QLD that the coalition holds onto with very slim margins. Michelle Landry’s seat of Capricornia scraped through with only 1111 votes, with the majority of Liberal votes coming from the rural areas via postal votes. The nearby seat of Flynn, saw the local Labor candidate, Zac Beers, almost decimated O’Dowd’s comfortable seat, leaving O’Dowd with a swing against him of -8.96. Capricornia was one of the deciding seats in the election. Flynn now sits on a margin of 2.08, 1,814 votes.

These are just some examples of regional seats in Queensland, where the Liberal National Coalition and indeed the local LNP MPs fighting to keep their seats would know full well that attacks on our farming community and a farmers land grab would have banished at least Landry and O’Dowd into oblivion.

In Regional Queensland regardless of whether we live in town, or out on a property, or what our traditional political beliefs are, everyone is united in standing up for the farmers. No doubt, many Australians feel the way regional Queenslanders do and would have voted accordingly.

Announcements Before the Election

As detailed above in March, the Defence Minister met with Singapore to discuss mutual aims for Defence, including access and development of training facilities. From May, the Coalition were spruiking their deal with the Singaporean Army, which would bring 14,000 Singaporeans to the region for training. The ADF website details that:

“Identifying a remote parcel of land for Singapore Armed Forces training was considered during development of the agreement, but was dismissed due to the limited benefit for the Australian Defence Force.”

Therefore, in May, the Coalition knew full well that an expansion was required. In no instance, did Michelle Landry or Marise Payne identify the expansion and what land was to be (initially) used. They simply implicitly stated that they were ‘upgrading existing facilities’ to house the increase of Singaporeans.

The revelation that the Liberal National Government had no contingency plan if this ‘parcel of land’ detailed above fell over and that would mean forced acquisition of farming land, speaks to the either a cover up and deceit to voters or blatant incompetence.

How the LNP Duped Voters – Psychological Projection

Psychological projection is a tried and true campaign style of the LNP, particularly in Queensland. Psychological projection is when someone takes their undesirable feelings or beliefs and projects them onto others, with take the focus of them and project it onto others.

For example, if the Liberals stated the opposition would ‘harm families’ but knew it was their party and not the opposition, that had a plan to abolish funding that would harm families. This is psychological projection. This technique is also used by Republicans in America.

Setting up for the Campaign

On the 4th May, the Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry posed a question to the Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce. This question was put forward to demonstrate how much the LNP invest in helping farmers. This is such a contradiction in terms to the real truth that an expansion would heavily impact on Beef production and supply for the Capricornia region. Landry had already established a platform that LNP supports farmers and Labor does not prior to the election. That smells very much like a precursor for the campaign strategy below.

At the Norman Road booth in Capricornia, where I handed out HTV cards, Landry’s fly-in campaigners from down south (because her local volunteers do not appear to be in abundance) were screaming:

“Labor Hates Farmers!!!”

They were also telling voters not to vote for the Katter Party or Glenn Lazurus as “they are funded by the dirty filthy unions.” The absolute hatred for the worker by the LNP in Capricornia also runs deep.

If this was the campaign style at one booth, then it would stand to reason that this was the campaign strategy at many booths.

The truth in this, is that whilst Landry’s mob were screaming “Labor Hates Farmers!!” it was indeed Landry’s mob who were getting set to do the dirty on farmers in the Capricornia region.

Labor Supports Farmers

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, QLD Minister Bill Byrne, QLD MPs Jim Pearce and Brittany Lauga and Federal Senator Murray Watt, have organised forums and rallies to give these Farmers a voice. Brittany Lauga also organised counselling services for local farmers as, readers would appreciate the impact on their emotional health with this decision is heartbreaking and as Lauga said, quite urgent.

Please see the video below from the Rally, including a brilliant speech from local Farmer, Pip Rea.

Never Underestimate the Vote in QLD

We have already seen what happens in QLD when the Government defies the wishes of the electorate. In 2012, QLD Labor were banished to seven seats, for selling QLD Rail. In 2015, the LNP were thrown out of office after one term, with Labor taking 37 seats from the opposition for a total of 44 seats. Our assets are not for sale. Not now. Now ever.

Similar anger would have been felt from Queenslanders, on July 2, if they knew about the compulsory acquisition of farming land. This would have most certainly resulted in a very different parliament than we have today.

What You Can Do

Yesterday, the Federal Government said they would look at ‘alternatives’ due to the outcry from local farmers. However, local farmers are not satisfied, with some suggesting this is just to take the heat off of the first week in Parliament.

Bill Shorten has written to the Prime Minister personally and The QLD Premier has requested COAG be held in Rockhampton.

“IF he has any guts he will come here and face you.”
Annastacia Palaszczuk, QLD Premier, commenting on the Prime Minister “The Rally” Rockhampton 1st February, 2017.

However, that is not a victory. A victory is no forced compulsory acquisition of farming land. That is the outcome local farmers want.

To support Farmers you can like and encourage friends to like the Marlborough Defence Land Grab Facebook Page

Sign and share the Stop the Australian Farm Land being Blown Up Petition

Write to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, Defence Minister Marise Payne and your local member and insist upon no forced compulsory acquisition of farming land for Defence Training to accommodate the Singaporean Army

Listen and Share Ray Hadley’s scathing interview with Barnaby Joyce linked below:

Renting our Land to the Singaporeans

Barnaby: If we say we will never forcibly acquire anything, we will never build another road, we will never build another dam…..

Hadley: Yeh but they are not giving it to the Singaporeans…….

Hadley: Barnaby, Barnaby, the one thing we never get involved in is BS…..

One thing Hadley is right about – this entire thing is B.S.

March in March 2017: Are You Angry Enough Yet?

Are you angry enough yet? That is the question March Australia would like to know. In 2017, March in March are taking it to the streets again!

In 2014, Tony Abbott and the Liberal National Coalition Government saw the anger well up in so many people and March in March took it to the streets. Three years later the Australian people are still angry and Malcolm Turnbull, like Tony Abbott before him, still does not have a positive or progressive agenda.

Although this morning on Twitter John Wren thinks he knows where the Prime Minister’s agenda might be. If only Irona was not on holidays! ????

The Liberal and National Coalition Government is still NOT listening to the people and March in March is BACK!

The Liberal Government has failed miserably under Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull and the list of things the Australians are angry about is almost endless.

It is time to Stand Up Australia! Instead, this year bring your best banners of Fizza, as the Lyin King has been removed and replaced! Thank you Australia! Give yourselves a round of applause!

How Many are YOU Angry About?

Here is the list presented by March in March as some of the things you may be angry about. If you are angry about any of these things, something else, or maybe just the flat-out incompetence of the Turnbull Coalition Government – then get amongst it. Boots on the ground people!

march-in-march-1

March in March – Get Involved Today!

Watch the Video below for how to get involved today; or visit the March Australia Activist Interchange Facebook Page:

 

What is the Point?

As we saw with the influence that marches like these had on the influence of the removal of Tony Abbott and the influence of pure people power to remove Campbell Newman from power in Queensland, with Labor and other parties taking 40 seats off the LNP Government. The removal of the Newman LNP Government freed Queenslanders from mass sackings, removal of civil liberties and the closure of many vital and important public and community services and the privatisation of our important assets.

Boots on the Ground does make a difference.

Get involved today!

Originally published on The Red Window Blog

Abbott & Turnbull – It’s on like Donkey Kong!

I can imagine Abbott reading the latest dismal polling figures for Turnbull and dancing around reminiscent of his 2013 election victory screaming “The Leadership will change! The Leadership will change!” After today’s revelation; is it now on like Donkey Kong?

Reports emerged this morning that Tony Abbott tells UK Tories he believes he can be PM again. The article describes Abbott is aiming to channel a Rudd like comeback, with Senior Liberals stating he ‘has a good chance, as he is popular amongst the Liberal Membership.’

An interesting revelation though is if Abbott is successful, it appears Julie Bishop will be gone, with Abbott describing Bishop in ‘unflattering terms‘ to his colleagues abroad. The sniping already seems to have begun. In traditional form, Abbott may as well start with sniping about a woman, before he warms up to sniping openly about Turnbull. He does need to get back into practice.

If Abbott pulls this off, who will be his Deputy? Andrews? Perhaps. His loyalty to Abbott would make him a favourable candidate.

Will Barnaby be pushed to move over to make room for Christensen as leader of the Nats? In all fairness, it has been Christensen twisting Turnbull’s arm to get him to bow down to the conservatives and nationalists on key policy.

Will Peta Credlin return as Abbott’s adviser?

People may laugh at the thought of an Abbott return and laugh harder at an Abbott/Credlin return. However, Credlin is a highly intelligent woman and an exceptional strategist. As Howard channelled Hanson’s policies to appease the Nationalists in the 90’s; don’t take it for granted Abbott would fail.

If Abbott follows Howard’s lead and channels the same type of Hanson rhetoric and policies, in the unique Abbottesque-style conservatives and nationalists love; it will be an entire new ball game for Labor, as Abbott will be in his element.

Abbott has the capacity to take over this space and make Hanson sound like an unnecessary annoying blip. Sunrise will be paying to keep her OFF the show.

The other day I was watching Andrew Bolt’s thoughts on the Presidential debate and another video popped up after that. I watched it with interest. The topic: “Could Malcolm Turnbull be turning into a conservative?” In the video, Bolt noted that Turnbull may be reinventing himself as a ‘more media friendly Tony Abbott.’

The video goes on to discuss changes in Turnbull such as his stance on Daesh and his decision to take less Muslim refugees. Attacking Labor with some ‘rare passion’ on border security and an attack on Kevin Rudd, were duly noted by Bolt.

Bolt then goes on to point out how Turnbull has bowed to the pressure from conservatives on superannuation and same sex marriage.

Bolt even asks the viewer to ‘watch this transformation.’ I’ve pointed a similar thing out before. So it isn’t just because I’m a laborist cynical about the right; the same observations are coming from the most prominent conservative in the Australian media.

The reason for Turnbull’s transformation to conservatism? As Bolt rightly points out: “It is the conservatives who can kill his Prime Ministership.”

Are there already whispers around the halls of Canberra? Is this transformation Turnbull readying himself for a full on challenge? Have the monkey’s been released from their pod and are they ready to cause real havoc?

After a very strong theme from Bolt that Turnbull is a dud; could it be that Bolt is actually stirring Turnbull here? Pointing out to him via this medium that there is a challenge coming and to save his leadership he needs to walk the righteous path to conservatism and beg for mercy at the feet of the likes of Christensen? It is like Bolt is pointing and laughing at Turnbull and letting him know, that he knows his game is up (hahah I see you, you can’t fool me!)

Only those on the inside will know for sure and no doubt they will feed us snippets; but if this is finally starting, it is going to be glorious to watch.

For those who enjoy studies of organisational behaviour and leadership like myself, watching Turnbull’s increasingly obvious grapple with getting his surface acting under control as he continues to pretend to be an authentic leader, will be absolutely delicious once the pressure is really on!

In my last article, I suggested that Turnbull may be Australia’s first ever shape-shifting politician. With a challenge looming and now picked up by the media, it will be interesting to watch how rapid Turnbull’s shape shifting to fully fledged nationalist conservative will be. Is it time to start counting the number of flags at media stops yet? Perhaps.

Yep, it seems it is going to be on like Donkey Kong. Will Turnbull get barrelled? Or will he save the Princess and take the crown?

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

Join the Protest to re-elect Turnbull

A very wise man once said to me, “There are two types of politicians. Anti-Community and Pro-Community. The Liberals are always Anti-Community. That is why there are always protests against a Coalition Government.

Turnbull has been ahead in the polls since he obtained the Prime Ministership by default. Anyone who toppled Abbott would be the Nation’s automatic Messiah. He could read the back of a Cornflakes packet and the public would still have been cheering. How fortunate for Turnbull.

The party did not want Abbott. The party re-installed a former failed leader, Malcolm Turnbull. Four Corners painted Turnbull as the good little boy who didn’t make any fuss about Abbott whilst he was the Prime Minister. He just sat back patiently and waited for his crown.

The fact that Turnbull did not make any fuss about Abbott or vocally opposed Abbott’s policies or rhetoric, clearly shows that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberal National Coalition simply were happy with Abbott’s policies. They just wanted a new face to deliver them and that is what we have now.

We saw the rise of March in March or March Australia during the Abbott years. We also saw massive protests against Campbell Newman’s harsh cuts, job losses, privatisation of public assets and the attack on our civil liberties in Queensland as well as his mantra of selling our assets. People marched and yelled in protest because they were fighting to protect everything that underpins us as Australians – A Fair Go.

Will you join the Protest to support Turnbull?

This leads me to the central question of this piece. Turnbull and the Coalition are ahead in the polls, but are his policies really worth fighting for? Your vote for a Turnbull Government is the ultimate endorsement of your fight for Turnbull and his policies. Would you protest for his policies to save his Prime Ministership?

If the Coalition’s policies are so important to make this country great, why do Liberal members and Liberal supporters and even swinging voters not get out there and protest to make their voices heard? Why do they not get out there and really fight for them?

I ask you this: “If you are thinking of voting for the Abbott-Turnbull Coalition Government are you so passionate about their return in the election that you would protest to keep them?”

To look beyond voting for a face and to really understand what that face represents, let’s take a look at what 10,000’s of people protesting for the Abbott-Turnbull policies would sound like…..

Cuts to Medicare

“If you get sick you should pay, user pays is a better way”

“It’s my taxes anyway, Make the poor PAY, PAY, PAY!”

“Cuts to Medicare should come quick. If you can’t afford it, don’t get sick!”

GST Increase

“Increase GST on everything!”

“GST up NOW!”

“Make the poor pay much more. A GST rise is our winning score!”

NBN FTTN

“Fast Broadband is a joke. Keep the copper that gets choked!”

“44th in the world isn’t last. We don’t need Internet that’s fast!”

“Rural living is a pity. If you want internet move to the city!”

Climate Change Denial

“Climate Science is a joke. Renewables will send us broke!”

“It was hotter last year! Climate Change is a smear!”

“Coal is good for humanity! Up the Climate Anti!”

Education – Cuts to Gonski

“We don’t need children educated. Gonski should be eradicated!”

“More funding for Elite Private Schools! Funding needy schools is for fools!”

“Education is a privilege, not a right. Down with Gonski, Fight, Fight Fight!”

It’s an election year. It’s time to get serious.

Turnbull neo liberalism

It is time to look beyond Turnbull’s smile and his nice suits and the fact that he is not Tony Abbott. In my personal view, what Turnbull stands for – Mass privatisation, harsh neo-liberal policies and radical industrial relations reform, is far worse than what Abbott stood for. By voting for a Liberal or National party member, you are joining the protest above. Through your vote for a Turnbull Government, you are endorsing the destruction of the quality of life we enjoy in Australia.

It’s time to vote with our hearts and use our vote to stamp out the greed and austerity that underpins the destruction of a fair go in Australia by the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

 

If you can chant all of the above and stand shoulder to shoulder and march with those who support Turnbull; by all means, vote for your Turnbull candidate. If not, put the Liberal and National Coalition candidates last on your ballot. It is where they put you.

Originally published on Polyfeministix

 

Bob Katter nails it: we are being deceived about the FTA with China

Bob Katter is a man I’ve never paid much attention to. He’s on the other side of the country and might as well be on the other side of the planet as far as I’m concerned. But when a friend sent me the link to Katter’s speech in Parliament last week on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement I sat up and took notice. It’s a gem. It sparkled. You need to see it.

Here it is:

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (17:50): I feel sorry for the members of the government, I really do. They get a brief and they have got to get up and tell us how wonderful the free trade deal is and how it is going to save the world. I was in this place and saw the then Prime Minister stand up and lead the clapping for Andrew Robb on the free trade deal with China and I thought, ‘Maybe I know nothing about politics, but if this is getting you votes I am a Martian astronaut!’ Four weeks later he was thrown out a window.

You think you are deceiving the people of Australia. You are not. When they hear ‘free trade deal’, they hate you. Understand that, because I might not be an expert in a number of fields, but after 41 years of straight wins in pretty hostile territory, I can tell you that I know a little tiny bit about politics. I sat at the feet of the great master, Bjelke-Petersen. So if you are not interested in governing the country, if you are not interested in helping your country, maybe you might just think about your survival.

I feel sorry for the LNP. They somehow think that Australia is this big, huge country and that it can produce a magnificent amount of agricultural production. It most certainly can produce a lot more than it is producing. But it is not a big, huge agricultural country at all. There is 53 per cent of Australia that is designated as desert and 23 per cent is designated as Indigenous lands. Since the governments of Australia will not give title deed to those lands, they are sterilised. That is 76 per cent gone. There is seven per cent that is national parks. So, if you take out that 83 per cent, there ain’t a lot left.

The concept that huge areas of land will produce huge areas of food—sorry; that is wrong. There are a few thousand hectares, maybe 30,000 hectares, of land that is producing about a quarter of Australia’s beef production. They are called lot feeders. Basically the cattle do not wander around chewing grass. That is not the way beef is produced anymore in America or in Europe or in Australia. It is done in lot feeders. So you have a different concept altogether, where you do not need huge areas of land. Your competitive advantage is in that lot feeder. That is where the action comes. You have a competitive advantage in that area.

Somehow they think, ‘There are millions of people in South-East Asia, and we’re going to be able to sell all this food to them.’ Mr Deputy Speaker, I would refer you to the statistics. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that we will be importing food from those countries. Let me be very specific. When I stood up in this place 15 years ago and said that this market fundamentalism, this free market rubbish, will destroy your country, I said that Australia could become a net importer of food. Every 10 years, the imports increase at 103 per cent and the exports increase at 21 per cent. You do not have to be Albert Einstein to figure out that the graphs will soon cross.

Mr Deputy Speaker, you must understand that, if every Chinese city had two 20-storey buildings with tanks on each storey, then they could produce all of the protein requirements for China. They do not have to buy any of our beef. They do not have to buy any of our seafood product. In fact, if you look at a graph of the increase in seafood production in China, if you extrapolate that graph on for about 30 or 40 years, in theory all of the world’s protein would be coming out of the prawn and fish farms in China.

I am fascinated by how this is going to help Australia. The last speaker, the member for Lyne, touted the beef industry. I do not know if he knows anything about it. I rather doubt that he does, but he touted the beef industry. Well, let us have a look at what this free trade deal does for the beef industry. We sell our beef at the present moment at $2 a kilogram. If you look at the average price, it is a lot less than that, but I will take $2 a kilogram. Its 10 per cent tariff has been abolished, so that is a 20c advantage we get. The beef sells over there for $32 a kilogram. Those are the figures that have been given to me. But now the Australians are going to have a terrific advantage of 20c, so it is $31.80 now. Jeez, that will lead to a huge increase in the benefits for the beef producers of Australia! A difference between $32 and $31.80, and the member of parliament who sits beside me here, the member for Lyne, seriously touted that as something that is going to help the beef industry? Why doesn’t he do his homework? Why does he just take the drivel that comes from the frontbench? And the drivel that comes from the frontbench is dictated by the giant corporations that bankroll the mainstream parties.

Having dealt with the LNP, we will move on now to the ALP. If ever there was a day on which ‘Red Ted’ Theodore would turn in his grave and the founders of the labour movement would spit upon the people that sit in this House and call themselves Labor members, today is the day. When I walk out of this place, there is a magnificent portrait of a bloke called Charlie McDonald. Charlie McDonald was the first member for Kennedy, and every time I go out I salute Charlie. Six of Charlie’s first seven speeches in this place were railing against the importation of foreign labour. Well, this document opens the door to it. This man went out and helped form the Labor Party, the labour movement, of Australia. They fought and died, literally—there were three shearers shot dead at the strike, where Waltzing Matilda was written a couple of months later—and the entire executive of the AWU were jailed for three years with hard labour for having a strike. These men and their families went hungry. What happened when they got arbitration was that the miners said, ‘We’re bringing the coolies in from China. Ha, ha. Take that, Buster Brown; take that.’ And the cane plantations said, ‘We’re bringing the Kanaks in to be cane cutters, so take that, Buster Brown; take that.’

So the first member for Kennedy stood up in this place and courageously fought to create the Labor Party—and the people who sit here on $200,000 or $300,000 a year, enjoying the benefits from the creation of that labour movement, sit here and betray every principle that was put forward by those people. Charlie McDonald would turn in his grave. But I am proud to say that the people of Kennedy are still represented by people who are not sell-outs, who are not under the control of the big plantation owners or the big mining companies. No. We are under the control of the people of our area. That is who we are under the control of and proud to say it. This opens the door that the Charlie McDonalds died for. The ALP today sold them out—lock, stock and barrel. There is not a trade unionist in Australia who is not looking at the ground and being ashamed of his association with the labour movement.

Let me become very specific. I am fascinated. I am just a poor, humble, simple Cloncurry boy. Clearly, these wunderkind—over here and over there—have decided to have free markets. The honourable member over there, Mr Brough, is making faces; he thinks it’s funny! I will tell you how funny it is, my friend. You have to buy everything from overseas. The last whitegoods factory, which is at Orange, closes this year. So you have to buy all your whitegoods from overseas. About 40 per cent of the steel in your house—the roofing on it, the reinforcing steel for your floor—comes from overseas. About 40 per cent of your cement comes from overseas. All your whitegoods and all the motor cars in your garage will come from overseas, next year. The clothes you wear will all come from overseas. Your footwear will all come from overseas. The petrol you put in your car comes from overseas. Everything we buy comes from overseas. Where are we going to get the money to buy all of these things?

The honourable member there, Mr Brough, laughed at me. People have laughed at me ever since I came into this place and started talking about this. I want it on record that he laughed at me, because the history books will pass judgement upon him. They will say: ‘Who are the people who destroyed this country?’ We have to buy everything from overseas. Where are we going to get the money to buy all our petrol, to buy all our motor cars, to buy everything in our houses and to buy the clothes on our backs?

Let me turn to food—and people in this place laugh at me about this. This country is now a net importer of pork. It is a net importer of seafood. It is a net importer of fruit and vegetables. It is only a matter of time. As I said, it is 103 per cent every 10 years, the last time I looked, and a 21 per cent increase in exports every 10 years. Inevitably—as the sun rises—we will become a net importer of food. You cannot eat live cattle or unprocessed grain, but if you take those two commodities out we are getting pretty close, in fact, to being a net importer of food. People in this place have laughed at me, but the people of Australia are passing judgement upon them, already, as we talk.

Where are we going to get this money from? We have only two things now that we export, and everyone knows that they are iron ore and coal. I am not here to denigrate those industries. In fact, I pray every night of my life to the good Lord that it does not come to pass, the continuation of what we are suffering in the thermal coal industry. But I would not like to be backing myself in, and I will not go into the problems of the thermal coal industry. What you have is what you have, in iron ore.

The country has to buy everything from overseas—and all they have to buy it with is iron ore and coal. A little bit of gold. Of course, aluminium is doomed. Aluminium is electricity. It came to Australia when we had the cheapest electricity in the world, in Queensland. Australia now has the second highest electricity charges in the world. So it will be bye-bye aluminium. It will be bye-bye all mineral processing, because it all depends upon—and I am sick and tired, in this place, of hearing ‘It’s high wages that are killing us!’ Wages look pretty bloody small when compared with the cost of mineral processing, which is the cost of electricity.

It is due to the incompetence of the people in this place and of state governments who have taken electricity charges up 400 per cent in 10 years. That is what your free markets and privatisation have done: 400 per cent increase, in electricity charges, in 10 years. For 10 years before that, in Queensland, there was no increase at all. For 10 years before privatisation and a deregulation of the pricing mechanism we had no movement in price at all. My case rests. It dooms aluminium and it dooms mineral processing, so you are left with iron ore and coal. The income from iron ore and coal—maybe $150,000 million or whatever it is—is not enough to meet our imports. It is nowhere near enough.

You are living in a country that is going broke at 100 miles an hour. You cannot buy everything from overseas when you have nothing to sell overseas. The people in this place with their market fundamentalism, their fanaticism, have imposed upon Australia a regime that no other country on earth has to suffer under. Every other farmer on earth gets 40 per cent of his income from the government. Our poor farmers get six per cent. I conclude on that note. So much for your free trade. (Time expired)

 

Christopher Pyne’s Greatest Hits of 2015: Winner of the People’s Choice Snoutie

It’s official. The people have spoken. Christopher Pyne has won the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie.

Voting for the People’s Choice Snoutie Award kicked off last weekend, and closed yesterday. For a while Senate Leader Eric Abetz was a serious contender for the title – but Pyne, like the poodle with a bone that he is, took the lead fairly early on and eventually streaked ahead to claim victory by a significant margin.

The Inaugural ‘On the Snout’ Awards

OnTheSnoutDefinition In case you didn’t catch last week’s ‘unbiasedly’ prestigious and soon-to-be coveted ‘On the Snout’ awards – here’s a quick run-down on what you missed.

The On the Snout awards – or ‘Snouties’ – are named after recently retired U.S. political satirist Jon Stewart, who in his last show exhorted his viewers to be vigilant in watching out for bullshit, saying “if you smell something, say something”.

There was plenty to smell in Canberra in the last parliamentary sitting fortnight – and so the ‘On the Snout’ awards were created. The inaugural awards went to four worthy winners:

  • The David Copperfield Magic with Numbers Award – went to Joe ‘Eleventy’ Hockey
  • The George Orwell 1984 Award – went to Peter ‘PDuddy’ Dutton
  • The Dragon Slayer Award – went to Chief of Lawfare, George Brandis
  • The Golden Snoutie Award – the most coveted award of all – went to Snout in Chief, Tony Abbott

(Read more about how each of the above award winners won their awards here.)

The People’s Choice Snoutie

While the winners of these four key awards were announced last week, there was still one award for the last parliamentary sitting fortnight left to be decided – the People’s Choice Snoutie.

PeoplesChoiceSnoutieTranswithS As its name suggests, the winner of this award is chosen by the people of Australia who were asked to vote for “the member of the LNP cabinet (other than Tony Abbott) who has been the most ‘on the snout’ over the last fortnight“.

And like the well-informed electors that we are, the people of Australia voted. With well over a thousand votes cast, we can be fairly certain that the people have picked the LNP cabinet member most worthy of this award.

And the winner is . . . (drum roll please) . . .

Christopher Pyne [Sound of applause]

Christopher Pyne’s win is particularly impressive since he was not actually present in the second week of the last parliamentary sitting. And in week one, other than some press around his expense claims – particularly around spending $5,000 to fly three members of his family to Sydney for New Year’s Eve in 2010 – he was on the periphery of key events rather than being at the centre of them.

So how did Christopher Pyne win the much coveted People’s Snoutie award?

The answer is fairly simple – Pyne started the fortnight with such a high level of snoutiness, that even a fairly low profile over that two week period was unable to dull exactly how ‘on the snout’ he is. This is perhaps best expressed by an insightful quote from The Shovel a few months back:

Being massively annoying and effectively wearing people down until they agree with him is Christopher’s strong suit.

In Christopher Pyne’s own words:

You couldn’t kill me with an axe. I’m going to keep coming back.

It’s this level of commitment to snoutiness that was a key part of why Christopher Pyne won the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie this week.

So let’s revisit some of Christopher Pyne’s greatest hits this year, which led to him winning this award.

Christopher Pyne’s Greatest Hits for 2015 (the story so far . . . )

Education reform – it’s all about the money

Pyne’s so-called ‘Education Reform’ legislation is undoubtedly his number one hit for the year – and a continuing chart-topper from 2014. Its title suggests that he is doing something to improve the way we educate. But not so much. In fact the only thing the Bill is seeking to reform is the way that higher education and research are funded – he’s effectively doing Joe Hockey’s work for him. But reform is a much nicer word than ‘taxation’ – making it easier to package up this pile of snoutiness for an attempted sale.

But unfortunately for Pyne and his LNP colleagues – nobody is buying it. The draft Bill has been knocked back by the Senate twice already. Further, both Australia’s top universities and one of the experts who provided input to the design of the original Education Reform Bill say the proposed Bill is fixing a problem that doesn’t exist while leaving the real issues unresolved – suggesting even more that the Bill is primarily a revenue-raising exercise by the government rather than actual reform – and definitely on the snout.

The Black Knight of Snoutiness

It was Nick Xenophon who first pointed out our People’s Choice Snoutie winner’s similarities to the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail:

Just like the Black Knight, Pyne keeps on keeping on with his much-on-the-snout Bill, despite the disdain almost everyone else has for it. Which brings us to . . .

Taking Research Scientist Jobs Hostage

No-one could forget Pyne’s attempt at a ScoMo tactic back in March this year, when he took 1700 Research Scientists’ jobs hostage. His initial ransom demand was that the Senate must pass his Education ‘Reform’ Bill.

In doing this, he was following Scott ‘ScoMo’ Morrison’s tactic from the end of the previous year, when he managed to get changes to the Migration Act passed by the Senate. ScoMo did this by telling the crossbenchers in the Senate that if they didn’t pass the changes, 150 children would not be released from detention before Christmas. As you may recall, apparently ScoMo even had some of the actual children – who could have been released at any point without the Bill being passed – call Ricky Muir, pleading to get him to pass the bill.

It’s difficult to get snoutier than that.

But Christopher Pyne is always up for a challenge it seems. And so, our first People’s Choice Snoutie winner decided to emulate ScoMo – this time holding Scientists’ jobs hostage, saying:

There are consequences for not voting for this reform and that’s very important for the crossbenchers to understand. The consequences are that potentially 1700 researchers will lose their jobs.

Luckily, after significant outrage from pretty much everyone, Pyne magically found the money needed to fund these jobs, and he released his hostages without harm, declaring himself to be ‘the fixer’.

Taking from the Poor to give to the Rich (the Anti-Robin-Hood)

In 2014, Pyne has cut funding to certain state schools and increased funding to a significant number of private schools. Apparently he feels a “‘particular responsibility for non-government schooling’ that [he] doesn’t feel for government schools“.

Magically finding funding for one of Abbott’s Pet Projects

Despite the emergency in university funding, it turns out that there is still money available for one of Abbott’s favourite climate-contrarians – Bjorn Lomborg.

As you may recall, four million dollars was offered to any university who would allow Lomborg to establish a ‘consensus centre’ on climate change – of which up to 70% was to have been spent on promotion, marketing and events. The University of Western Australia was originally going to give Lomborg a home, but withdrew due to strong opposition to the centre. Apparently Flinders University is currently considering whether they will take him and his four million dollars worth of funding on.


Any single one of these entries would have been enough to win Pyne a Snoutie award in the normal run of events. Combined, they paint a picture of a worthy winner of the inaugural People’s Choice Snoutie award.

Take a bow Christopher Pyne – you are most definitely on the snout.

Thanks to all for voting. If you’ve got further examples of Pyne’s Greatest Hits this year that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear your comments below.

This article was first published on Progressive Conversation.

 

The stage is set for a Turnbull challenge

Malcolm Turnbull will only get one likely chance to be Prime Minister, and that chance could be offered to him within days.

Both Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten have laid down his challenge.

The trigger will be Warren Entsch’s cross-party bill to legalise same-sex marriage, on which Tony Abbott has warned that Coalition front benchers who supported this bill would be sacked, should it came to a vote.

Turnbull supports same-sex marriage.

Shorten knows this, and has urged all Coalition MPs in favour of same-sex marriage to “stick to your guns”:

“We say to the Liberals like Malcolm Turnbull, stick to your guns. Stick to your guns Malcolm, stick to your guns Christopher (Pyne), Josh (Frydenberg) and George (Brandis)”.

If Turnbull has both the guts and the desire to challenge Tony Abbott he will indeed stick to his guns. I’m assuming, of course, that he does have the guts and does want to be Prime Minister.

We’ll find out.

If Turnbull votes for the bill and is sacked from the front bench then he is in the best place to launch a challenge for the leadership: the back bench.

If he doesn’t cross the floor and the cosy Liberal status quo is unruffled then he would be obviously happy to go to the election with his party facing a heavy defeat. Or he could also wait for Tony Abbott to eventually implode, but when might that be?

And let’s not forget Christopher Pyne. Knowing that he could be facing political oblivion at the next election, might he be the one who stands up to Abbott and goes on to launch a challenge? It might be his only chance at saving his political career.

Politics is about to get even more interesting.

 

When the PM normalises lying

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.” Tony Abbott, August 22, 2011

Every time Abbott lies to the citizens of this country we become increasingly disaffected, and not only from our Prime Minister, but from the institution he represents. Abbott has normalised the discourse of lies. He has taken the dishonesty of politicians to a whole new level. We barely expect anything else from him, and from his fellow politicians. Under the leadership of our mendacious Prime Minister, we have increasingly abandoned hope of fairness, straightforwardness, belief and trust. Our Prime Minister doesn’t think we are worthy of the truth.

One of the many unpleasant effects of being lied to is that the liar insults and patronises me by creating a false reality that I have to inhabit, until I discover I’m the victim of deception.The liar denies me the right to know the truth, a serious offence against me, because truth is something no one has the right to deny me.

Whether it’s on a personal or a political level, lying to me signifies the liar doesn’t consider me as entitled to the truth as is he or she. This infantilises me, is disrespectful to me, and denies me the knowledge I need to make informed decisions about my life. There’s little more insulting than being lied to, kept in the dark with lies of omission, and intentionally misled because the liar doesn’t consider you capable of handling the truth, or is acting entirely in their own self-interest because you knowing the truth will in some way threaten them.

The Prime Minister of our country, Tony Abbott, has never made any secret of his ambivalent relationship with truth. There is his notorious assertion that nothing he says is “gospel” truth unless it’s written down.

There’s his prescriptive declaration that “It is better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.” While this isn’t necessarily an endorsement of lying, it is a ruthless and callous prescription for relationship with one’s fellow humans. It recommends that one do that which one desires and if it backfires apologise, but it isn’t necessary under the terms of Abbott’s prescriptive to negotiate with or communicate intention to others, prior to taking an action. This has a similar effect to lying, in that it assumes an inferiority of some kind on the part of another that doesn’t require Abbott to enter into an equal, respectful relationship in which another’s opinions and wishes count for the same as his own.

We have a liar for a leader. When the lies start at the top, there’s little hope truth will ever see the light of day. Abbott is leading us into an abyss of normalised deception that will damage every one of us, because when dedicated liars are in power, the country will inevitably lose its way. If you don’t think this country is losing its way, you’re dreaming.

First published on Jennifer’s blog No Place for Sheep