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Tag Archives: LNP

More LNP interference by LNP’s Michael Hart at Burleigh?

The following article was written by me and published on Independent Australia at the beginning of the 2013 federal election campaign.

Gail Hislop is now actively campaigning for Labor in Burleigh. As reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin recently, she has been subject once again to what seems to be LNP interference. She’s now banned from holding a community stall at Burleigh Farmers Markets.

Just another example of their bully boy tactics.

I was with her on the day. A low key small stall. All requirements were met and there were no dramas.

After being told she could stall once a month she was informed she could no longer do so after just one stall.

If she can’t stall, local LNP MP Michael Hart shouldn’t be allowed to either.

The LNP have form here.

Gail Hislop says:

“It appears there is some underhandd white anting of my campaign going on.

“If the LNP believe they are doing such a good job what are they afraid of?

“It is all about power and control. They are losing power as the people are standing up against them and the Newman LNP Government.”

Note my predictions regarding the possibility of the Abbott Government sadly ring true too.

Gail Hislop is the Labor candidate for McPherson. I have been very active in helping her campaign.

In the name of transparency, I have been quite open in the past that I am a Labor member and former Labor candidate. I’m proud of these facts.

I write this time about a very disappointing occurrence that happened last Saturday. The reason I do so is because I think it is emblematic of my wider concerns about the LNP Newman Government and Tony Abbott’s Coalition.

An important aspect of any campaign is community engagement. For months now, Gail has been working hard to get the message out in the community about her federal campaign and listen to voters.

As part of this concerted effort she has been regularly stalling at the local Burleigh markets.

She takes along a table and some chairs, some signs as well as petitions to be signed and information to provide the public. I join her regularly to offer my support in any way I can.

She sits at her stall – from 9am to midday – waiting for people to approach her to discuss issues that concern them. A very laid back and welcoming approach.

The LNP are often there doing their own thing and that is their right.

There had been no dramas, until last Saturday . . .


Image: Queensland Labor

I arrived first, well before anyone else. Eventually a few volunteers started to arrive and then Gail and the gear arrived.

We staked out our usual spot, that had been sought through the proper channels with market management as always.

While we were in the very early stages of setting up we were approached by a woman. She was openly hostile and seemed to want to have a fight rather than talk calmly about the issues we were discussing. I tried to engage her and calm her down but she wasn’t having any of it. I stood my dig. She stormed off and I thought nothing more of it.

Eventually other volunteers came to the realisation they had seen her hanging around the tent of Michael Hart, the LNP Member for Burleigh.

Just as I was processing this information we had market staff tell us they had a problem and we had to leave. We quizzed them and were told Michael Hart wasn’t happy with us being there or about the signs we had with us.

There were extended talks and eventually it was decided we could stay as long as we moved to the back of the markets. We were disappointed but happy we could remain and support our candidate.

Gail has her own thoughts on the events:

‘This really is about control and not wanting the Gold Coast to hear any other voice other than the LNP. I believe it is up to the voters to decide. They should not use stand over tactics and try to gag a candidate.

‘We live in a democratic society and people should not be fearful of standing up for what they believe in.

‘Bullying simply does not work and I will not be intimidated by an adult schoolyard bully.

‘Michael Hart and the LNP may be known to gag public servants but they won’t gag me.’

This was quite frankly one of the most appalling displays from an MP I have ever experienced.

I have since become aware that market staff where treated extremely badly by him and his tent as opposed to our group, though while bemused, complied with all requests.

Michael Hart has seemed very reluctant in the media to admit any fault despite the fact that Gail and her team had no interaction with him. His actions were completely uncalled for and heavy handed.

He has said:

“They had nasty, nasty slogans saying (Queensland Premier) Campbell Newman was closing down hospitals which is an absolute lie.

This is either an out and out lie or a severe misunderstanding of what the signs were about.

The signs read “Save public hospitals”. Nasty, nasty stuff apparently?

This is nothing that said Premier Newman was shutting down hospitals. It is about her concerns that he will seek to privatise – as he has done on the Sunshine Coast – and sack more public servants in health.

Her concerns seem well founded given recent reports that Gold Coast Hospital patients are at risk due to changes the LNP Government has made.

Michael Hart also says:

I highlighted it to them that these people were politicking, (the market organisers) made the rest of the decisions themselves.

Market staff were very clear we were being approached, moved and given directives due to Michael Hart’s requests.

If he is trying to tell me that LNP stalls at the markets isn’t “politicking” I actually can’t take that seriously.

I have since written to Premier Newman requesting his official position on our ability to freely use whatever signage we desire free from interference. I am yet to receive a response.

These kind of actions by Michael Hart and the various other LNP MP scandals are emblematic of a Newman Government that is more scandal ridden and on the nose every day.

In my view, the actions and conduct of Tony Abbott over the last 3 years have not been dissimilar to the display I was treated to on Saturday.

To find out more about Gail’s Burleigh campaign to remove the LNP’s Michael Hart and support her, visit her Facebook Page or donate to her campaign visit her campaign bio page.

Recent articles from Matthew Donovan:

Bolt and Jones achieve full froth in defence of their friend Tony Abbott

Time to end Tony Abbott’s deceitful debt scare campaign

Shock jock fantasy land vs reality

John Lord’s Election Diary Wed 24 July






The Election Date

Another day and we are no closer to knowing the election date. I am still punting for August 31. This would allow the PM to attend the G20 on Sept 6. I don’t think he would like to miss a photo opportunity of that proportion.

A Baby Born

Congratulations to all the parents who had the good fortune to bring newborn babies into the world yesterday. Including the royals. As a Republican, I find it difficult to understand how so much adulation can be expressed for people who are no more remarkable than other human beings. And in many instances do little to enhance the society we live in.


Another Poll

The Essential Poll has the parties split along similar lines to Newspoll. 51% LNP and 49% Labor. This is a link to it and I would suggest you give it careful examination because it is very broad and extends beyond just a two-party preferred analysis. http://essentialvision.com.au/category/essentialreport

I have always been of the view that your right to vote is the gift that democracy gives you. Therefore I am often puzzled by the flippant manner in which the electorate treat this right. In the essential poll people are asked to identify the party they trust to handle various issues. What astonishes me in the Essential questionnaire is the percentage of people who answer ‘’Don’t Know’’. To a degree, this bares out my belief that generally speaking Australians pay little attention to how politics affects them. They list the three most important issues as, The Economy, Health, and Jobs with education coming in fourth.

Labor has a good message to sell on all these yet when asked who is better to manage them the LNP fares about even and is rated considerably higher on managing the economy in spite of the world’s recognition of the government’s excellent performance. I would urge everyone to examine the Essential Research. It can only ever be a guide but it is never the less very revealing. The one thing that Essential does reinforce is the unpopularity of the opposition leader.

My thought for the day.

‘’People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated”

Better Schools

The signing on of the Catholic Schools Association to the Gonski reforms is developing into a major problem for the opposition. This now gives the government 60% of school children and with Victoria close to signing Tony Abbott may be forced to take it on. Christopher is now looking rather foolish. Three years to formulate a policy and the best they can say is to quote Pyne. ‘’Until something better comes along we are happy with what we have’’. There is no greater need than the need for equality of education. But conservatives certainly don’t see it that way.

Asylum Seekers

Here is a link to my point of view on the subject, For the Greater Good.  In it, I explain that I also would like to see the problem through the prism of my idealism but at the same time, I try to see a greater good. There have been a number of adverse comments to my point of view but what disappoints me is that people cannot seem to grasp the politics of it.

Alan Austin’s Election Quiz

In his speech on Monday to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Melbourne, Tony Abbott said, “The Howard/Costello Government … presided over what now seems like a golden age of prosperity – that’s been lost.”

Is this true?

On how many of these 25 variables was Australia performing better during the Howard/Costello years than now?

  1. income – GDP per person
  2. GNI income per person
  3. interest rates
  4. income disparity
  5. inflation
  6. health care
  7. pension levels
  8. superannuation
  9. personal tax levels
  10. company tax rate
  11. indirect taxation rate
  12. international credit ratings
  13. economic freedom
  14. personal savings
  15. current account as a % of GDP
  16. foreign exchange reserves
  17. value of the local currency cf the US$
  18. value of the local currency of the euro and the pound
  19. productivity
  20. overall quality of life
  21. balance of trade current
  22. balance of trade history
  23. terms of trade
  24. government 10-year bond rate
  25. world ranking on economic management

(a) twelve, about half
(b) only four
(c) two
(d) one
(e) none
The answer to yesterday’s question is D

Kaye Lee for her very comprehensive superannuation analysis.

I leave you with this thought:
We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups.


Budget blues and other things


Budget Blues

In January of this year I wrote a piece outlining my list of “political priorities for 2013.”I blogged it prior to the Prime Ministers announcement of a September election. I also invited people to add their particular priorities. Some corresponded with mine and others were completely different.

With the budget having been delivered this is my report card to date. Originally, I placed then in random order and did not prioritise one over another. However, the election is getting closer so I have put them is some sort of personal preeminence.

1.That the electorate might awake from its malaise and see that this is a very important election for the future of Australia and that politics in some way or another affects their very being.

There are no signs of this so far and it can be attributed to a number of factors. Firstly, that Australians in general are so disillusioned by the body politic (and reasonably so) that it has completely divorced itself from the process. Two, the right-wing mainstream media has destroyed the public with their avalanche of support for Neo conservative politics. So much so, that media no longer reports to the electorate. It indoctrinats it. Thirdly, Mr. Abbots style of negative opposition based on three word slogans has worked to the point that combined with MSM influence the public is bombarded with right-wing neo conservative crap trap. Moreover, in the absence of credible alternative reporting they believe it. What else is there to do other than think for yourself?

2. That the election will be a contest of policies and ideas and the means to implement them. Can we afford them?

Thus far, the Labor Party is the only one putting forward policies that are far-reaching reforms. When I presented my list, Gonski and the NDIS were but policies in their embryonic stages. No states had signed on and the big doubt was how they would be costed. All that has changed. A recent survey said that 62% of people were in favor of education reform and 18% against. Similar percentages supported the NDIS with 72% for and 12% against. As with the NBN 54% were for Labor’s plan and 23% for Mr. Abbott’s These reforms have widespread public support. The fascination with these survey results is that the same people said that they would be voting for a conservative government. Rather proves the indoctrination theory I think. So the possibility arises that Tony Abbott might be elected to implement Labor Party policy.

Last night the Treasurer spelt out the means by which both policies would be funded. It is now incumbent on the opposition to say what program’s they will cut in order to fund these schemes or alternately if indeed they will proceed with them.

Now that the budget is delivered and open to scrutiny and the coalition has, it all laid out in front of them. The opposition has no excuse not to start revealing their policies. They agree with the implementation of Disability Australia well lets see how they will fund it. If they have, an alternative to Gonski tell us and declare the funding. Tell us how the direct action plan will be funded. Labor has declared where it will cut. So should the opposition.

3. That the asylum debate might become a humane one and not remain the political football that it is.

This has not happened and if anything, the problem is getting worse. Mr. Abbott has gone back on all his tough talk of the past two and a half years and has now admitted that he will not be able to “Stop the Boats” but will endeavor to bring them back to John Howard levels. For all this time he could have been part of the solution but for reasons of political advantage chose to be part of the problem. The mainstream media have not in any way rebuked him.

See my piece on this subject. https://theaimn.com/2013/05/08/man-overboard-tonys-boats-backflip/

4.That the question of equality of marriage might again come before parliament and Mr. Abbott might give his party members the right to think for themselves.

With 54% of Australians in favor of gay marriage and 33% against one has to wonder if politicians do really govern for themselves or for the people. The Prime Minister may say she is against it (which I very much doubt) but in all fairness allows her party a conscience vote. On the other hand, Mr. Abbott (after dangling a carrot of hope) allows his own religious beliefs to override public opinion. He should be overwhelmingly condemned for his stand on this issue but a passive media conditioned to his every need will not do so.

5. That the truth comes out in the Ashby/Slipper case and that our democracy would be placed ahead of conspiratorial party politics.

We are awaiting the judge’s findings on the Leave to Appeal and the concurrent Appeal cases and we can only hope that democracy will be truly served. However, the true test will be in how the media reports it. Will they just bury it the back pages like the original findings or will integrity, truth and justice prevail.

See my summary at https://theaimn.com/2013/05/05/may-day-may-day-ashby-appeal-update/

6.That as in the USA elections some FACT FINDER sites might emerge during our election year and expose any lies and misinformation.

Its happened http://www.politifact.com.au/ was launched in May.

7. That the forth estate as the custodians of the publics right to know might act responsibly and report fact and not just express biased opinion.

There is little or no hope of this happening. The strange thing is that main stream media never opens itself to self-examination. Instead, it just self-righteously assumes that it can continue on its merry way with all the crap their dirty little minds can create and expect to suck us in. One day they might conclude that facts and truth do actually matter. In fact, it is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated.

We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups. Perhaps in time they might grasp that free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics. Like truth for example.

We are being conned with bullshit. https://theaimn.com/2013/03/23/being-conned-with-bullshit/

8.That Mr. Abbott would stop walking out of press conferences when he is asked serious questions.

This continues to happen with impunity and the compliant journalists bow their heads and walk the other way with the same impunity from their masters.

9. The media might start questioning the opposition about its policies without using the excuse that they have none. They have a policy for climate action for example ask them about the cost and how it will work. In addition, if it doesn’t, what is plan B.?

There has been some questioning of the Opposition leaders unaffordable Parental Leave Scheme and his direct act plan for reducing carbon emissions. Even from within his own party. Could we say it is persistent strenuous enquiry that is determined to expose genuine flaws in his policies? To use a one word quote from Mr. Abbott. NO. Is there robust journalistic investigation? NO. Is there face to face hard-nosed concentrated questioning of MR. Abbott? NO.

Perhaps we should just rely on Malcolm Turnbulls opinion of the direct action plan. He has described it as a ”farce” and ”bullshit”.

See my view https://theaimn.com/2013/04/06/climate-change-a-lay-persons-delemma/

Having said that cracks are starting to appear. See

10. That the issue of an Australian Republic might find its way back onto the agenda.

It seems that with the help of Turnbull this issue so dear to my heart might re invent itself and my dream of Australia taking its true place in the world might eventuate. Isn’t it odd that two prominent members of the same party can be so diagonally opposed on major policy and issues of cultural sensitivity?

How ridiculous is it that our constitution allows a head of state of another country to circumvent the passing of legislation.

Read my view https://theaimn.com/2013/02/16/the-reluctant-republic/

There are of course many other issues that people have an interest in. For example infrastructure, overseas aid, the economy and Northern development are but a few. Expand my list and discuss them if you so desire.


Tony Abbott’s shaky campaign – beginning of the end?

Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

Tony Abbott has spent most of this year hiding from scrutiny and waiting for what the media say is a certain election win later this year — but have the wheels started to fall off his campaign in the last few weeks? Matthew Donovan reports.

TAKE NOTE of this date. 10 April 2013.

In my opinion that is the date the Coalition’s campaign started to crumble around them.

The much hyped release of their NBN alternative could hardly have gone worse. Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – or as Tony likes to call him, Mr Broadband – were clearly out of their depth at the awkward policy announcement of their “faster, cheaper and more affordable” broadband plan.

It was nothing short of cringe-worthy.

The content of the plan was thoroughly panned across the board and social media had a field day. Within hours, the tag #fraudband had been adopted on Twitter and memes decrying its lack of vision were springing up by the minute. Experts were quick to reject the idea that we shouldn’t take fibre to the home (FTTH) but rather to the node (FTTN) and then use the existing copper network, yesterday’s technology, to reach the home.

It will deliver much slower speeds than Labor’s plan and quickly become redundant as technology and demand outpaces its roll out. An outcome that clearly isn’t satisfactory for Australia’s data and technology hungry consumers.

Not the best of starts when trying to address one of their greatest weaknesses — credible costed policies.

Within two weeks, Tony Abbott plunged his party into another publicly embarrassing situation, this time, asylum seeker policy.

On 23 April, he unveiled what he hoped would be a stunt to wedge Labor. Sadly, for him, it blew up in his face almost immediately.

He happily posed in front of a large roadside sign that stated 639 “illegals” had arrived in Australia since Labor took over, adding:

“Labor have lost control of our borders.”

The response from some in the media was swift and pointed.

Jane McAdam from The National Times clearly wasn’t impressed [author’s emphasis]:

You cannot apply for a refugee visa before you leave a country because a “refugee” is, by definition, someone outside their country. Even if you cross a border, Australian embassies abroad cannot issue refugee visas to those on the move – such as people fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Further, it is highly unlikely that refugees will be able to get a visa of any other kind, such as a tourist or work visa.

For example, an Iraqi who applies to an Australian embassy for such a visa will likely be screened out, precisely because of the assumption that they will claim asylum on arrival in Australia. It is a catch-22.

For these reasons, the Refugee Convention prohibits countries from imposing penalties on asylum seekers who enter without a passport or visa. Indeed, in some cases arrival without documentation may in fact help to demonstrate that a refugee claim is compelling and credible.

Article 31 is one of the most fundamental elements of the Refugee Convention precisely because it underscores the right of people in distress to seek protection – even if their actions constitute a breach of a country’s domestic immigration laws.

Indeed, even the two international treaties on human trafficking and smuggling both make clear that being a victim of trafficking or smuggling must not negatively affect a person’s right to claim asylum and receive protection.

The opposition’s use of the term “illegal” is designed to tarnish people’s perceptions about the legitimacy of asylum seekers’ claims. It is language that dehumanises and criminalises. Invoking it is either ignorant or deliberately mischievous, since the act of seeking asylum is not a crime, but the right of every individual.

This is nothing more than John Howard style dog-whistling and, happily, Abbott was challenged about these assertions at a press conference.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxlunUpz-Nc] (more…)

Saturday thought bubbles

Meme from bitsandpieces.us

Meme from bitsandpieces.us

Thought Bubbles. (What comes to mind)

Opinion Polls

If one overwhelmingly regards the opinion polls as being sacrosanct in determining who will win the election in September then you would have to concede that the LNP will win handsomely. However, if you are of the left and an optimist like me then you rely on your gut instincts. So for me (and I very well might be making a bad call) there is still much water to flow under the bridge. There will come a point in time when the electorate will have to consider three things. Firstly, Abbott’s policies and costings (of which to date only one major one has been announced) and secondly, what it is of Labor’s policies they are overwhelmingly prepared to forgo. And thirdly, Abbott’s character.

  1. Will they overwhelmingly reject the need for a better and more equal education system for their children and think that the Gonski report is not worthy of implementation despite it receiving loud applause from academics and the public. Remember the coalition had said they are happy with the current system?
  2. Will they overwhelmingly reject the need for an NDIS and be happy with the status quo. Again this policy has received widespread community support. The coalition while supporting it say it is not in their immediate plans?
  3. Will they overwhelmingly forgo any possibility that gay folk would ever achieve marriage equality?
  4. Will they overwhelmingly forgo any possibility that Australia might ever become a republic with its own head of state? Not even a plebiscite.
  5. Will they overwhelmingly think its fine for families to lose their school hand outs that help to pay for school fees etc?
  6. Will they overwhelmingly accept that a large portion of the population (3.6 million and mainly women) will have their taxes increased?
  7. Will they overwhelmingly say that they are not interested in a 3% increase in their superannuation?
  8. Will they overwhelming think its fine for the opposition to rip up the Murray Darling agreement?
  9. Will they overwhelmingly reject the governments handling of the economy which most observers believe to be amongst the best in the world? If not the best.
  10. Will they overwhelmingly want to get rid of the mining tax despite it having the potential, repeat potential to spread the wealth of the nation?
  11. Will they overwhelmingly say that they could not care less that between 13 and 20,000 public servants will lose their jobs?
  12. Will they overwhelmingly accept a second-rate broadband service where a third of the population will get nothing better than what the have now and that we would become a technological backwater?
  13. Will they reject a carbon pollution scheme that is demonstrably shown to be working?
  14. Do they truly want Barnaby Joyce as a future deputy PM?

Could they have already decided overwhelmingly to reject all this even without an opposition card on the table?

Now I could probably go on and some might also add some other policy areas but these suffice to make my point.

And of course we have a judge finding that members of a political party (The LNP) conspired with James Ashby to use the courts to bring a false claim against the speaker of the house with the eventual intent of bringing down the government. Do I take it that this means nothing to the electorate? And if the appeal fails will all be forgiven.

Is the public concerned at the AFPs reluctance to investigate? There seems to be an odd relationship between the Federal Police and the LNP.

Getting Gillard with the Pincer Movement.

Further to my recent article about the pincer movement on the Prime Minister, I found this floating around on the Internet. Rather reinforces mine and other people’s view that main stream media is biased.I could probably double this list for 2013.

‘Facebook’ Why I bother’

On my Facebook page Everyday I post one of my quotes. People ask why I bother so here goes.

‘Facebook makes you dive into humanity, hear things you do not want to hear, and defend what you have to say .It is for those with opinions or for those without the courage to share them. And Fence sitters of course. It attracts the reasoned the unreasoned the civil and the uncivil. The biased and the unbiased. It is for people with ideas and sadly those without any. It whispers or shouts dissent. But mostly it’s a society of our own creation’

National Party

Can someone please explain to me the difference between a National Party member and a Liberal one?

Free Speech

If we were fair dinkum about free speech we would abolish phone bills. LOL.

The Political Malaise

Allow me to share this little story in order to illustrate the Australian political malaise. Recently I attended my grandchildren’s sports school sports day. There was a fairly large crowd that consisted mainly of women. I thought I would take the opportunity to ask a few people about the loss of the “School Kids Bonus”. So throughout the day I introduced myself to about 30 or so women. I said that I wrote for the AINM and asked the following question. “What do you think about Tony Abbott’s proposal to take away the “School Kids Bonus?” Now the comments from such a such a small sample can only be antidotal but at the same time revealing. There were various answers like “we will just have to cop it”. “Not much we can do about it”. And there were a couple of ladies who let me know what they thought of Tony Abbott with language that I could not repeat. Then there were those who felt they should get it but didn’t. But overwhelmingly what shocked me was the percentage of mothers who simply were not aware of Abbots proposal and then were appalled when I explained his policy. Typical answers from this group included. “Hardly ever watch the news. Don’t have time.” “When was that announced?”

PS. Each of my boys won three races each.

Yet another example of the political malaise permeating our country was a recent poll saying that 49% of people believe they receive no compensation for carbon pricing. The same amount believes cost of living has risen because of the tax by $20 a week. 5% polled are real nut jobs who believe the carbon tax has added $100 a week to their bills. Depressing isn’t it?

Then in another poll people were asked which party was best placed to handle a variety of different areas. Health, environment etc. Labor came out well on top in most categories but when asked their voting intentions, they said LNP. How apathetic is the electorate?

Then during the week I spoke to a friend who works in Childcare. She was unaware of the governments proposal to allocate $300 million over two years to a wage augmentation package designed to boost take-home pay in the child-care industry. Resulting in a well overdue wage increase.

Then I spoke to a family member from the left who said we didn’t have a hope in hell of winning the election. At the end of a few questions it was obvious he was a victim of MSM deceit and needed a decent jab of my anti MSM virus.

Fair dinkum. Do people really deserve a vote?

Tony Abbott

The opposition leader, Dr No has stated he intends to repeal everything. I wonder it that includes bananas? LOL.

Funding Gonski and the NDIS

The current superannuation tax concessions mean that the best paid Australians are effectively avoiding paying tax.

The fifteen billion dollars in super tax concessions given to the richest 10% of Australians is enough to fully fund all recommendations from the Gonski Report, implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and still have change left over! (3 billion goes to the top 1%).

Or look at it this way. The top 10% of earners receive 30% of govt concessions for super. The bottom 10% receive 0%. The system was set up so it would take the pressure off the pension scheme. But those top 10% of earners were never going to need a pension as they have more than enough money.. The average top 10% guys get around $11K from the govt every year, just handed to them.

It’s time a government with its back to he wall made some tough decisions in this area.The money that could be used to make massive overhauls in healthcare, education and social welfare is instead lining the pockets of those who already have enough.

Now I read that Abbott after having called this proposal class warfare will not rescind Labor legislation in the May budget. Bloody confusing that.

Alan Austin – John Lord. A short conversation.

Alan, I hate to impose yet again but I am looking for some insight into what happens in a newsroom. Do journalists have total independence to write according to their own conscience or are they instructed to toe a certain editorial policy. Or are they naturally inclined that way? Does seniority play a part or indeed popularity? Can you explain how it all comes together? If you have time.

Will respond fully a bit later.
Great question.
Do journalists have total independence to write according to their own conscience?
No. Limited by several factors, including the broad philosophy of the organisation and the specific requirements of the day.
Are they instructed to toe a certain editorial policy?
Yes, they are. But this is often subtle. Frequently it is conveyed just with a nod and a wink.
Or are they naturally inclined that way?
Yes also. Most news outfits only employ those who already fit the direction the newsroom takes.
Does seniority play a part or indeed popularity?
Yes. Both.
Can you explain how it all comes together?
Yes. Will reflect on this and see if I can come up with examples.
Two resources for now, John:
Cheers for now, John.
My battles with Rupert Murdoch
Bruce Guthrie: Murdoch will tolerate competition, but prefers market dominance. Monopoly? Even better.

Alan Austin is a former National Times journalist. He now writes freelance.

Whoops the bubble burst.

Bye for now.


Why I vote Labor

I first wrote this popular post mid 2012, but with the election this year I took the liberty of updating it and reinforcing why I vote Labor.

I was too young to vote for Gough Whitlam (the first time) and until then I had no interest in politics, but it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the wave of excitement of his anticipated victory. I would have voted for him. The Vietnam War was still raging and kids my age and older were dreading their 20th birthday and the subsequent prospect of conscription. We didn’t like the idea of fighting another senseless war. I think we were the first generation to take that stand.

Although I still wasn’t interested in politics in 1975 I voted for Gough as I wasn’t happy at the way he was dismissed by John Kerr (with the help of Fraser, in my opinion).

I stayed with Labor until the early nineties. Yes, I voted for Hewson and I voted for Howard. Hewson’s loss disappointed me, probably because at the time I was not a big fan of Keating’s, while Howard’s victory brought out the champagne, as by this time I quite despised Keating (for his arrogance). In my eyes Howard couldn’t do anything wrong. He was perfect.

It wasn’t long, however, before I would mumble to myself: “Come back Paul. All is forgiven”.

With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at their prime ministerships both history and I will/have judged Keating to be the far better of the two. And by a country mile!

But I digress.

After securing work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) it soon became obvious to me that Howard was nothing but a political opportunist. Aboriginal people became political footballs and he soon caught on that ATSIC bashing provided him with the Midas touch. Despite having at his disposal skilled policy makers and Aboriginal people with their pulse on community needs and real contemporary issues, he found it was better politics to be driven by media demands and editorials. There were more votes in helping with the bashing than formulating some real beneficial programs to help these marginalised and disadvantaged members of our society.

It was sad having to visit remote Indigenous communities and make excuses as to why they were continually being ignored by Canberra. “Oh how different it might have been under Keating” I would silently mutter.

The disappointment I detected in the Howard Government in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia was nothing compared to the detestation of him I felt within the Public Service when moving to Canberra. Frankly, it was quite a surprise and one that found me asking questions as to why.

The answers weren’t that complex.

From working closely with him and his government, Public Servants saw first hand what a mean-spirited, conniving, lying bunch of pricks they were. It didn’t take me long to discover this either. Policies were formulated to ensure their own political survival while ignoring the needs of wider Australians. Lies were told to the media about how successful their policies were when in fact they were failing miserably. Public Servants were bullied into providing them with confidential information in order to secure a political advantage over the then Opposition. I am not at liberty to disclose what I witnessed, but let me say that in my eyes Howard was still perfect. The perfect asshole, that is.

I often wished that those people interstate who still worshiped him could come to work in the Public Service and see first-hand for themselves what a miserable turd he actually was. It’s a pity that the truth never ventured past the boundaries of Canberra.

On the Monday morning after he lost office, the sight of public servants going about their business with a spring in their steps and a smile on their faces gave Canberra a good feel about it. The bullying had stopped and the Public Service was again apolitical, which is how it should be.

But it was after they lost office that I saw how miserable and mean-spirited this Liberal Party is.

I can not give exact details, but I was involved in formulating many policies that were aimed at assisting both disadvantaged and mainstream Australians. To see something finally being done for the wider community was inspiring. Sadly, the programs went nowhere or somewhere at a snail’s pace, keeping disadvantaged Australians disadvantaged. Why? Because the Opposition made every attempt possible to ruin these programs because the delivery of them would bring credit to the Government. And naturally, the Opposition would then shout to the media that this Government was doing nothing and the wider community started to nod in agreement. If the wider community knew of the billions of dollars that were wasted because of the Opposition’s tactics they might not have nodded so obligingly.

At about this time it was very easy to become demoralised as a Public Servant; working your arse off to get this country moving then watch everything crumble because the Liberals didn’t want it to move. They exhibited no interest whatsoever for the community or its needs. Adopting Howard’s manipulative trait, they were only interested in ruining a duly elected Government and having parties in The Lodge. They haven’t changed much, have they?

I’ve seen enough of the Liberal Party in my dozen or so years as a Canberran to carry a hatred for them for many years yet. I’m definitely Labor to the core and not afraid to admit it.

I couldn’t care less about all the media speculation of ‘the faceless men’ or ‘union hacks’ of ‘leadership speculation’. I couldn’t care less when people scream that the ‘new’ Labor has drifted from its traditional base. I like the Labor of now. I ignore the rants from the rabid right that this Government is ‘toxic’ or that Julia Gillard is the worst Prime Minister ever. It’s all shit, spoken by ignorant fools.

I can also take the abuse and taunts from right-wing nut jobs over my political leaning. I don’t care if I’m the last Labor voter in the country, for I’m not changing.

This is not to say that I’m entirely happy with the current Government or Julia Gillard, but these are over issues that don’t affect me personally, such as gay marriage and the refugee impasse. I’d like to see gay marriage legalised and I’d like to see ‘boat people’ processed here in Australia. On the latter, I don’t like the way they’ve played into the Liberal’s grubby hands on the asylum seeker crisis.

I also think that since 2007 Labor have done a lousy job selling itself. Here they could take a leaf out of John Howard’s book of telling anybody with a microphone or a TV camera how good they are. Howard drummed it into us, and we heard it that many times that many actually believed it.

It’s the same manner Tony Abbott uses to shout to everybody how bad the Gillard Government is. And the friendly media are happy to keep printing his lies.

Again I’m digressing.

The point is, I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment: the Australian Labor Party.

Can I really believe that the LNP would put ordinary Australians first? Can I really believe they’d be a better alternative for pensioners, parents or minority groups? Can I really believe they’d offer a better system for education, health or technology? No.

Can I believe that they would offer a better form of government for the upper class, the media barons or the mining giants? Yes.

I repeat: I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment . . . and that’s the Australian Labor Party.


Interviewer – Good morning, on today’s show we have a representative from the Liberal Party who promises to reveal his name closer to the election, but wishes to be known as Mr Pink, for this interview. Good morning, Mr Pink, and what’s in the Real Solutions Document. Mr Pink – Good morning, well, Terry, real…

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The Scourge of the Swing Voter

mandateHappy Australia Day! Last night I went to the inaugural Adelaide Wonk Drinks. It was, as promised, heaps good. I had my very first offline Twitter argument, which was interesting. This particular argument reminded me why I would prefer to debate a die-hard right-winger than an ‘undecided voter’. At least the right-wingers know what they want and understand immediately what I want, and we can disagree to our hearts’ delight. But an undecided swing voter who seems to be tempted to use his valuable democratic right to deliver an informal vote is, in my opinion a very frustrating person. What would the people of Syria think?

The reasoning that this particular undecided voter gave for his indecision was an assortment of arguments that I think can fairly be filed under the heading of there’s no discernable difference between Labor and the Liberal National Party. I guess it really depends who is doing the discerning. And if you’re just assessing your individual life experience under either party, instead of looking at the way their policies affect society as a whole, then I would argue that you’re evaluating the parties’ differences through a far too narrow, short-term view.

The idea that we’re just as well off or just as badly off under either party is quite a trendy response to politics of late. It’s the same attitude that most of the mainstream media seems to hold – politicians can’t be trusted and the outcomes of their policies are not so different that they’re worth analysing or even discussing – a pox on both your houses. In my view this is a load of bollocks. I can’t help but notice that those who propagate the notion that the parties are no different from each other are also the ones who enjoy patronising the views of anyone who they view to be ‘rusted on’. To support and campaign for a political party these days seems to be akin to being viewed as a ‘fanatic’. Or as my sparring partner said last night ‘a barracker’. I was told that people like me, who obviously support one party passionately over another, are acting as if the Labor party is a football club. I am in fact a one-eyed supporter of a football club and so I find this suggestion particularly irritating. I am very passionate about my football club and my politics, but my support of the Port Adelaide Football Club and my support of the Labor Party are too entirely different beasts.

The choice of which football club I support was made at a young age. Choice is probably the wrong word here. I inherited the club from my father, who inherited it from his father. I was ‘rusted on’ to the club from birth. But choice is the most important word when it comes to supporting a political party. Because that’s what politics is all about – one option versus another. To say that both choices are the same is blatantly untrue. If you’re trying to find similarities between the Labor Party and the Liberal National Party, sure, you’ll find many. You’ll also find times (not so many recently) when decisions are made jointly by the government and the opposition in a bi-partisan approach. But ultimately, the entire reason that there are two major parties in Australia is because one is progressive and one is right-wing. Those who think they are being smug and clever, or winning some award for cynicism by proclaiming that both parties have come so close to the middle that there is no longer daylight between them, need to take a closer look. And they need to consider their own values and ideas in relation to the policy agenda of each party.

As an example, let’s use the policy area of the environment. As a progressive voter and a supporter of action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change, I will support the major party which is most likely to implement policies that align with these values. Many will argue that the Greens are a better choice in this policy area, and that may be true. But ultimately, a Greens voter still needs to choose between Labor and the LNP when assigning preferences, even if it is just the decision as to who gets the last number on the ballot paper. Since the last election, the Labor Party has implemented a Carbon Price. There are many voters who think this policy didn’t go far enough, and that’s a valid argument to have. But when choosing between the policy of Labor – action on climate change – and the policy of Abbott’s Liberal National Party – scrapping the Carbon Price – it’s blatantly obvious that the two parties are poles apart and my choice is an easy one to make. My adversary, the undecided voter, was really overreaching on this topic. He said that he wants action on Climate Change too, but whatever Tony Abbott says, as Prime Minister he won’t be able to repeal the Carbon Price, so it ultimately doesn’t matter who you vote for. Really? Is this not like saying ‘I like apples, and I don’t like bananas, but this banana doesn’t really taste like a banana so it doesn’t matter if I eat a banana instead of an apple’. This is nonsensical.

And what about the topic of redistribution of wealth, something else I am very passionate about. When I am assessing the effect Labor’s policies will have on social and economic equality in Australia, versus the LNP’s policies, it’s obvious to me which party is offering the outcome that most closely aligns with my values. For example, the Mining Tax is an important reform designed to share the wealth from the natural resources that we all own. The Labor party introduced this policy, the LNP have vowed to scrap it. It’s probably a good time to also mention that I don’t consider middle class welfare to be a policy of wealth redistribution. Wealth distribution maybe, but not redistribution.

Another policy area that is important to me is education. Access for all to quality education is vital for social equity. The Gonski policy proposals more closely align with my ideals in the area of education policy than anything I’ve ever heard the Liberals say on the topic. But does this really surprise anyone? The very definition of being right-wing means that you prefer ‘small government’ over ‘big government’, and small government invariably means cuts to government funding for education, health and welfare.

The attitude ‘there is no difference between them’ has resulted in a lot of angry Queensland and Victorian voters. It’s a bit late now to remind them that a protest vote against the Labor party will help deliver a conservative alternative. A lot of Queenslanders and Victorians who voted for their right wing party now appear shocked that these right wing governments are executing a right wing agenda. Cuts to education funding, cuts to public service jobs in the area of health; slash and burn, and Newman’s version of austerity, not stimulus. But can you really blame Newman and Baillieu for doing what they were given a mandate to do? If the voters were too uninformed to understand the policy agenda of conservative governments, they’ve got no one to blame but themselves. This is a really tough way to learn that the two parties are not the same, and that the outcomes of their policies are completely different.

It might sound trendy and intellectual to deny the very simple concept of choice between two opposing sets of political principles. It might seem simplistic for me to say that my choice between Labor and Liberal National is an easy one based on which platform best aligns to my vision for the country. But I really do find the choice incredibly simple. This does not mean that I barrack for the Labor Party. It does not mean that I think that everything the party does is perfect (as many things the party does are clearly far from perfect). It doesn’t mean that I agree with every single policy that the party develops, nor does it mean that I blindly support everything that Labor members say. I’m not a mouthpiece for the Labor Party. I have not been brainwashed to adopt their ideas and policies from some propaganda machine. But I make a considered choice between two different options. The Labor Party is just a vessel for me to get the Australia I want, not the other way around. Going back to the football club example – I was a Port Supporter before I ever watched a game of football. But I was a progressive before I chose a political party to support.

By Victoria Rollison

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