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Tag Archives: Mainstream media

The Right Wing Horror Story

Before, during and after the implosion of the Abbott government, commentators have blamed this political failure on a ‘lack of narrative’. The media’s narrative of this ‘lack of narrative’ is a story about a good government who has many great ideas, but just can’t sell them to the untrusting, fickle, inattentive electorate. As someone who is studying political narrative, I can assure you these commentators have got it all wrong. The Abbott government, and the right-wing political class including the right-wing media, have a very obvious narrative to those who know what they’re looking for. Their narrative clearly describes their policies. Their narrative has been consistent across many generations of right-wingers. The snake-oil-salesmen in the Liberal Party are coherently telling this story. The problem is not, therefore, a missing narrative. The problem for the government is that voters, in the majority, do not like the story they are trying to sell. Turnbull is now trying to polish the same story, covering it in glitter. But we all know turds can’t be polished, and under eye-catching-glitter they’re still stinky turds.

Perhaps rather than telling us the Abbott government lacked a narrative, journalists could have done a better job of scrutinising the Abbott government narrative. It would have been really helpful if this had happened BEFORE ABBOTT WAS ELECTED. Anyhow, just like one of those brain twister images where you think you’re looking at a black and white twirl, but when you squint you can see a monster staring back at you, once you see the right-wing narrative, you can’t un-see it. Once you know the story, you see it everywhere. It haunts you. The right-wing story is scary. In fact, I would go as far as saying it’s a horror story.

The right wing narrative can fittingly be summed up with the tag line of a BMW advertisement: Life is not a race… said those who lost. In this narrative, the hero are those who in their mind have won the race. The race to get wealthy. The race to inherit wealth. The race for power. The race to afford a BMW. The race to climb the ladder and the race to kick the ladder away so other racers can’t climb up behind. These people live their life by the concept of dog eat dog. They see themselves as heroes for eating a dog before it eats them. No matter how advantaged they are in the race before the starting gun goes off, these right-wingers always see their own success as something they have won through merit. Not luck. Not privilege. Just because they’re born winners. And they are therefore the heroes in their right-wing narrative. But they are also the victims. Because in their scary little minds, and their narrow little worlds, they think they’re being dragged down in their quest to win the race of life by their story’s villain. I think by now you can guess who the villain is. Yep, you’ve guessed it. The weak. The poor. The sick. The uneducated. The vulnerable. The ones who think life isn’t a race because they lost. And of course, left-wingers who want to help these ‘losers’ are also part of the problem. Right-wingers think they’re the victims of these do-gooder-lefties who believe everyone in a community has a responsibility to care for everyone else. So in a nutshell the story is about right-wing heroes defending their victimised selves against the villainous losers and the losers who want to help the losers who don’t realise life is a race and that right-wingers have won the race. Get it?

Now you see the story, you realise how worn out it is. The Abbott/Hockey budget told this story, with the winners nicknamed the ‘lifters’ and of course the losers the ‘leaners’. Abbott and his government colleagues all share the values in this story. Turnbull, a filthy rich merchant banker who believes in the power of a free market to ensure the heroes keep getting richer and aren’t made into victims by villainous governments and their un-free redistribution of wealth to weak losers. Workers organising into unions to demand a fair share of capitalist profit are, in the right-wing narrative, the villains who should just shut up and worship the heroes who gave them a job in the first place. Miranda Devine has told the same story when this weekend she victim-blamed ‘unsuitable women’ for the abuse they suffer since they choose to have relationships with ‘feckless men’. Everything is the fault of the weak. The abused. The ones asking for help. You see the same story in this article describing the behaviour of Conservative politicians in the UK who join clubs of rich young men who burn money in front of homeless people.

The right wing narrative is a scary story about a community I would never choose to live in. I was not brought up to blame the disadvantaged for their predicament. And nor will I bring up my child to think our societies’ problems are the fault of the vulnerable, the disabled, the sick, the mentally ill, the poor and the abused. The rejection of the Abbott government has, I hope, proved that the majority of Australians, like me, reject this story and don’t believe that life is a race. I hope so. But either way, next time someone says the Liberal government is missing a narrative, just remember the narrative is there. It’s just not a very nice story and they know this so they do their best to keep it hidden. Don’t let them get away with it. You know the story. Call it out whenever you see it.

 

Who provides the news: Journalists or Twitter?

I’ve noticed recently that a number of articles in the mainstream media revolve around what people are saying on Twitter.

I settle into any particular article before the journalist announces that “Twitter went into meltdown”, or “it created a Twitter storm”.

Two articles over the weekend (about the only two I read) proved my point.

The first was from the Fremantle versus Hawthorn game on Friday night: a game I cared little about but the headline sounded interesting: Hawthorn vs Fremantle, talking points from AFL preliminary final.

“Worth a look” I thought.

The second paragraph of the article ends with ‘Social media agreed’ before giving us screen shots of a number of tweets from nobody in particular.

A paragraph later – which was about a lout in the crowd – was concluded with ‘The spectator was widely condemned on social media’.

A string of more tweets.

Further down the article we are treated to tweets about the umpiring before this announcement: ‘Even Shane Warne didn’t like what he was seeing’.

No. There was a screenshot of his tweet.

Truly pathetic journalism.

The second article was more up my ally: Is it aliens? NASA sends space fans into frenzy with news of a “major announcement”.

As with the football article it turned out to be little more than collection of tweets from a bunch of nobodies. How’s this one, for example:

 

 

Wow! Can’t believe that our mainstream media even bothered with that.

I’ve only picked two articles from the weekend but it’s a trend I’m seeing more and more in the media – even in political articles. Has anybody else noticed?

 

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Political Realities, Leadership Change and why Democracy won

There are those on the left who desperately wanted Tony Abbott to be Prime Minister at the next election. They rightly saw his unpopularity as Labor’s best asset. I thought that there was a greater imperative. As a believer in representative democracy first and foremost I felt that our political system would be better served if he was given the boot.

There is no individual in Australian political history who has done more to damage the conventions and institutions of our democracy, and indeed the Parliament itself, than the former Prime Minister. Personally, I hope he leaves politics altogether and takes the stench of his confrontational politics with him.

Abbott in both his tenure as Opposition Leader and Prime Minister had a breathtaking, pungent absurdity about him. A Christian man of unchristian demeanour.

Australia has never elected a person more unsuited to the highest office. He was a Luddite with little appreciation of science, the needs of women, and was out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

In hindsight the Australian people have learnt a valuable lesson. In future they should check out the credentials and character of the leader of the party they support. It was an experiment we cannot afford to have again.

The election of Malcolm Turnbull provides an opportunity to wipe the plate of democracy clean. Debate will now be able to take place without the negative pugilistic dog eat dog style of Abbott. It can still be assertive and robust but at the same time conducted with intellect and decorum. Given his sense of superiority (already displayed during question time) and ego don’t inhibit him perhaps his panache and wit might insinuate itself on the house and generally raise the standard of discourse.

Whatever you think of Turnbull’s policies, and he has many detractors in his own ranks, there is no doubt that he is a tough competitor with a formidable mind. One who can debate with true elasticity of intelligence and skill.

He will be a daunting opponent for Shorten and Labor. It is, however, an opportunity for Shorten to rise to the occasion and Labor supporters should challenge the party to also rise above itself.

Already the early polls are suggesting a resurgence of Coalition support. If Turnbull plays his cards correctly he will take many advantages into the next election campaign.

A ministerial reshuffle that rids itself of ministers with a perception of nastiness like Dutton should go over well with the public. As will a more refined and decent political language that no longer reflects Abbott’s crassness and sneering sloganeering.

Unlike Abbott who thought he was above the independent senators and the Greens, I believe Turnbull will seek to take them into his confidence to get legislation passed.

A major advantage he has is that the public are sick and tired of revolving door leadership. If my calculations or indeed my memory serve me correctly we haven’t elected a PM who has served a full term since 2004. That’s about a decade ago.

Unless he stuffs up in a major way the electorate will be reluctant to change again. Continuity of governance with the pursuit of ideology for the sake of it is not what the people want. Added to that is the fact that Turnbull is not beholding to the media. He has in the past told Murdoch, Bolt and Jones where to go.

During the Republic Referendum I worked assiduously for the Australian Republic Movement. I came to admire Turnbull’s capacity to present his case in the face of Howard’s rat pack that included Tony Abbott and Nick Minchen. Turnbull’s account of the The Reluctant Republic still resonates with me.

But if there is much to like about Turnbull there is equally as much to dislike. There can be no doubt that he has prostituted himself to gain power. All of those things that set him apart from the conservative wing of his party he seems to have been willing to capitulate on, and in so doing displayed an hypocrisy unworthy of him. He has spent the first week defending Abbott’s policies.

“No more Captains calls” he said. Then without even swearing a new Cabinet, he prostitutes himself (again) by reneging on his previously respected and long held beliefs on climate change. He then does a deal worth $4 billion with the Nationals and at the same time outrageously sells out the Murray Darling Scheme.

In his initial comments after becoming PM he made a big pitch about the future of innovation, science and technology. He would therefore know that a large part of our future is tied up in renewable energy. That the jobs of the future are in the technology sector, as is our economic future which makes his decision to stick with Abbott’s policy on climate change all the more disappointing. Conservatives around the world acknowledge these points, why can’t ours.

He has at this early stage left himself open to the charge that he is not his own man but rather a captive of the conservative right. It can arguably be said that the policies remain the same and an abrasive Prime Minister has been replaced with an eloquent but no less deceptive one. How he will prosecute the case for a Republic is unknown. It will be odd that we have a Monarchist Government led by a Republican Prime Minister.

Even the hypocrisy he shows on same-sex marriage has the smell of betrayal.

It is of course far too early to judge him but based on his immediate decisions it is obvious that he had to do deals to get the job.

For me his willingness to betray long held beliefs and principles has been nothing short of pathetic. I predict however that the general public will overlook it for what they will perceive as better attention to the economy.

As for the Leader of the Opposition. well according to the polls Bill Shorten is about as popular as Abbott was. He carts a lot of baggage that he will carry into the next election.

There is now no point in holding back on policies and allowing Turnbull to make all the running. He should in some way adopt the Whitlam approach, create a narrative, and release policy showing an innovative futuristic approach to economic issues and government. But above all Labor must attract the younger generations. It is the under 50s that will determine who governs.

Having said all that, if the polls continue in an upward trajectory Turnbull would be well justified in going to an early election. The next month will see Turnbull stamping his authority on the party and his leadership. He has the charisma to sell them and the public is in a buying mood. I can only hope that Bill also has something to sell.

 

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Adam Goodes: Free Speech Vs the Moral Authority to Express a View

Our Constitution does not guarantee free speech. It only implies that we have it. That being said, we assume that anyone has a right to express a view. There are some, like Andrew Bolt, who despite us supposedly living in an enlightened society want to enshrine in law the right to hate each other.

What I am getting at here is that having an opinion about booing Adam Goodes has turned into a national pastime. However, all this week, despite the right to free speech, I have been questioning the moral right of some to do so.

Let me make it absolutely clear: I abhor racism with all the intellectual and moral righteousness that has been bequeathed to me by good people. Something unexplainable within me has its way when I am confronted by nefariousness and I speak out.

Adam Goodes is a victim of racism for two reasons. Firstly, because he was named Australian of the Year which obligated him, or gave him license to speak on issues concerning Aboriginality. Secondly, he confronted a young girl who called him an ape. This is the most rancid racist thing you can call any dark skinned person.

He was no longer a champion footballer. He had crossed the line that former Collingwood Football Club President Alan McAlister so ludicrously expressed so many years ago:

“… as long as they behave like white people, well, off the field, everyone will admire and respect them.”

Yes, people have a right to free speech but when there is an absence of truth, a distortion calculated to inflame or just common bigotry I unleash my right to question their motives. When there is a racist element in what they are saying I feel duty bound to question their moral authority to opine. Often it simply displays their hypocrisy so this is where I shall start.

Shane Warne in my view is the greatest bowler to ever roll his arm over. As an individual, throughout his career he has been involved in scandal after scandal displaying pathetic social behaviour. What sort of role model has he been? He even started a charity as a PR exercise at the height of his misconduct. You be the judge. Mine is that his comments show the intellectual depth of a flea. And that’s being kind.

“If the public don’t like a sportsman because of the way they play the game, they boo, if they like them they cheer, nothing to do re racism”.

Last September after a Swans game against Richmond, Warne said he was:

“shocked” Goodes had been named Australian of the Year.

Alan Jones, the sanctimonious self-righteous biased shock jock habitual liar from Sydney accused Goodes of ‘playing the victim’. Jones was once arrested in a London toilet and faced two charges of outrageous public indecency while behaving in an indecent manner, said he was affronted that Goodes would challenge a 13 year old girl. Jones completely ignored the facts of the events that unfolded, overlooked Goodes’ efforts to meet with and counsel the girl, and portrayed the girl as the victim. As for the girl’s obviously inherited morality from the mother, what can one say other than feel pity. I have two grandsons aged 9 and 11 who think the treatment of Goodes is terrible and fully understand that racism is inherently a bad thing. They have needed little instruction on the subject. Should I go on about Jones incitement of the Cronulla riots or his proven history of prostituting his ‘opinions’ and repeatedly disseminating falsehoods as well as having publicly endorsed the idea of murdering our then PM by drowning at sea?

You be the judge.

Andrew Bolt, convicted ‘racist’ and all round appalling paid for controversial opinion journalist – individual who demanded the PM give him more free speech to vilify without constraint also expressed his horror at Goodes confronting the girl:

“Singling out a girl for public humiliation, like that, I thought was wrong and if Adam Goodes said it was wrong, I think he’d be a superstar; all people from either sides would rush to embrace him.”

In doing so he too gave a completely false account of the events that took place. You be the judge. If it were my daughter I would embrace Goodes and say “thank you”. As for the mother’s contribution I can only say she needs a lesson or two in parenthood.

Tony Abbot, a leader with little capacity for it offers lukewarm “we should show more respect” support but when it suits his political needs displays racist overtones against Muslims.

Ross Greenwood, economics commentator, said about his booing of Goodes: “There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s got nothing to do with his race, it’s got nothing to do with me being racist”. He didn’t stop to consider that by contributing to the booing himself, he was legitimizing the real racists.

Sam Newman, the resident ageing buffoon and perpetual aficionado of crassness on the Footy Show; the man who bared his genitals on television and who has affronted many with his sexism and disgusting behavior. The man who painted his face black after Nicky Winmar didn’t appear on the show in 1999 opined that “People aren’t booing you [Goodes] because you’re Aboriginal, they’re booing you because you’re acting like a jerk”. (Only he would know).

He went on to state that Goodes’ celebration only served to provoke fans and should have been reprimanded by the AFL. Newman further said:

“As Australian of the year, you should know that- you should be trying to unite people instead of trying to divide them”. (Isn’t that what he has been doing by speaking about the problems facing Indigenous people?)

You be the judge but for me Newman and other white men like him who have made fortunes out of thoughtlessness have not the remotest capacity to understand the emotional torment that racial abuse might incur. He is one of those many men who have never really grown up and his antics prove it.

Jason Ackermanis, former champion and perennial bad boy of the Brisbane Lions parroted the remarks of Alan Jones and in doing so showed little empathy or understanding of the broader picture. He said that Goodes was “playing the victim”. Something that Akermanis made a career of doing. In 2010 he said that gay footy players should “stay in the closet”. In 2005 Akermanis sparked racial controversy when he used his radio program (the Aker and Macca Show) on Brisbane’s 98.9 FM to describe his employers as “monkeys”. It was an Aboriginal community owned station run by the legendary Tiga.

You be the judge but have any of these people made the slightest attempt to comprehend emotionally what it must be like to be being booed by thousands of people every time you go near the ball and not comprehend why they are doing it or conversely believe they are doing it because of the colour of your skin? I can feel it as I write but I bet my feelings are unworthy of his. Does he hear in the raised hiss of intolerance the eco of the wounds from the racism he experienced as a child? Or does he hear in the booing crescendo a symphony of humiliation from the white bastards he seeks to befriend.

The problem here is that the people aforementioned have a common thread. They all are paid huge amounts to be controversial. They are all media tarts with dubious moral standards that brings into question their moral authority to make judgement on their fellow humans. Rather they are insisting on the right to tell them how to behave. And do so while theirs goes unquestioned. What two-faced hypocrisy it is.

These people aside the media generally speaking have made some worthwhile contributions to the issue of race in Australia.

As much as it offends my pride of country I have to admit that the tide of racism flows down the streets of our cities, and through the veins of our culture. And it waters the fields of our play.

As a citizen of the state of Queensland said:

“Let me get this straight … If Adam Goodes stands up against racism that makes him a racist? And if someone makes racial slurs towards him and he doesn’t just “cop it” like all the rednecks want him to, then he’s a sook and a troublemaker?”

These are my thoughts. You be the judge.

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My Thoughts on the Week That Was

w21 It’s difficult to criticise Labor’s proposal to impose the so called Buffet Tax on the rich when the Australian Taxation Office had found that in 2011-12 75 Australians earning more than $1 million a year had paid no tax at all. In fact combined annual incomes of those millionaires was $195 million, but through elaborate accounting tricks, the super-rich 75 had been required to stump up just $82 in total.

2 Research shows that Federal Coalition member’s annual expenses are on average $90,000 per head more than Labor MPs. Even allowing for the higher costs of incumbency it is an astonishing figure. No one doubts the validity of claiming expenses but this really has to be sorted out. Joe makes thirteen trips to his farm and Bronwyn attends Mirabella’s wedding all on the pretext that they were on government business. “The age of privilege is over” said Joe. “Crap” said Tony.

3 One of the regrets of my life is that in all probability Australia will not become a Republic in my lifetime. But Shorten is right to aim for 2025. And if you could make it sooner I would be immensely happy.

4 Bill Shorten is planning equal representation of the sexes in Parliament. Did he consult with the Minister for Women?

Sunday 26 August.

An observation:

“We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?”

w51 Last week at the Premier’s retreat the PM appealed for a calm measured debate on the GST without any scaremongering. Sounds reasonable except he continued his scare campaigns on Asylum Seekers and Climate Change.

An example of this is Dutton’s announcement that if Labor won the next election hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers would invade our shores. We deserve better than these fools.

2 Australia remains the only developed country yet to announce what plan it will take to the global climate summit in Paris. So let’s not have any of these ridiculous scare campaigns. It should be pointed out that Labor has not actually announced a Climate policy and that despite criticising Labor for not modelling its policy-in-progress, the Coalition can’t point to any modelling of its own Direct Action policy because it has never done any – not when it was in opposition, nor when it was in government. During the last election, if I recall correctly, Abbott said he just wanted to have a crack

3 The cost advantage of non-polluting energy is rapidly increasing. Wind is already the cheapest, and solar PV [photovoltaic panels] will be cheaper than gas in around two years, in 2017. Wind will continue to decrease in cost but solar will become the dominant source in the longer term.

4 Speaking of leadership the latest Morgan survey reveals that Abbott is supported as Liberal Leader by only 13% and Shorten as ALP Leader by only 12%. The Libs prefer Turnbull by a whopping margin and Labor prefer Deputy ALP Leader Tanya Plibersek.

5 It just won’t go away. It has now been revealed that TAXPAYERS footed a more than $21,000 bill for Warren Truss to give a speech explaining the virtues of tightening the government belt and reducing expenditure after the controversial 2014 Federal Budget.

It’s our money, folks.

6 All things considered it’s been a good conference for the leader.

w6Monday 26 July

A poem on the theme of domestic violence.

Maria, I called

I awoke with a throaty dankness Of alcohol overindulged Detestable stupidity And unmitigated sorrow

The why of it deserted me Memories vague but real I had committed a sin Of unforgiving evil

Then my conscience Spoke with morose meaning I had hit her a coward’s punch Destroying her exquisite smile

Maria I called to the silence But it prevailed God I said as if to mock my Self hatred

I pissed and staggered Through my regrets To the kitchen The stench of myself hit me

Where was she and The noise that children make Regret insinuated itself On the absence of love

She had written with miseries ink Just three words “The last time” on pristine white I cursed the grog but

Pathetically I sought the Next bottle of my degeneracy And took it to bed Contemplating the me I used to be

John Lord

1 Last week the PM was full of praise for a debate, without scaremongering, on the issue of the GST. It seems however that scaremongering is ok on climate change and it has begun already. An ETS is a tax he insists with the same enthusiasm he had for a leg of lamb or wiping towns off the map before the last election.

We all might ask though just what it is they are using to fund their nonsensical Direct Action plan. Answer: YOUR TAXES.

Then yesterday afternoon Malcolm Turnbull cut through Abbott’s slogans and semantics dominating the climate policy debate – pointing out that all policies to push low-emission electricity generation come at a cost to households, including the ones the government supports, and that the cost of renewables is falling. He went on to correctly talk about the costs of whatever scheme is adopted. The Coalition has never revealed its costings beyond its present scheme.

I repeat: “We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet”.

Remember the “historic and ambitious” climate agreement between the US and China, when Tony Abbott was left out in the ‘coald’?

Asked where the deal left Australia’s climate change policy, the expert adviser to the former government Professor Ross Garnaut said: “Exactly where it was before the US-China announcement – up shit creek.”

2 I do wish someone amongst all those Labor supporters who so detest Bill Shorten and his Asylum Turn Back policy would show me their alternate so that I might gauge the difference. The question always arises. What would you do?

3 Morgan Poll: L-NP support has slumped 3% to 46% cf. ALP 54% (up 3%) on a two-party preferred basis as the travel expense ‘misconduct’ surrounding Parliamentary Speaker Bronwyn Bishop’s incorrect use of taxpayer entitlements continued to impact negatively on the Government.

Tuesday 28 July

1 Bronwyn Bishop’s office claims she has to keep secret her meetings in Albury on the weekend she claimed travel expenses to attend Sophie Mirabella’s wedding. Sniff test, lie detector test, pub test. Take your pick.

2 Goodness, all the talk yesterday about more women in the Coalition ranks. Don’t they realise they have a minister for women and he also happens to be the Prime Minister. Why isn’t he taking some action?

3 This week’s Essential Poll and Survey sees Labor back on 53% and the Coalition on 47%. What can be read into it? Well this far out from the next election so many things can happen that you cannot view it as an indication of how people will vote. It’s only an insight into how people are thinking at the moment. It is a measure of this Governments unpopularity though that they have never headed the Opposition since the election.

This is what they thought of Bronwyn Bishop and the expenses saga.

25% think she should stand down while her expenses are being investigated, 19% think she should resign as Speaker and 24% think she should resign from Parliament.

34% of Liberal/National voters think she should remain as Speaker – 25% think she should resign as Speaker or from Parliament. A majority of Labor voters (59%) and Greens voters (55%) think she should resign as Speaker or from Parliament.

On Electricity costs

51% think their electricity bill over the last 12 months has increased, 33% think it has stayed about the same and 9% think it has decreased.

There were not substantial differences by voting intention or demographics – although Labor voters (58%) were a little more likely to think it had increased.

On the impact of the Carbon Tax.

More than 60% of voters think the former Labor government’s carbon price had no effect, or only a small effect, on electricity bills. Just as Abbott tries to rerun a cost of living scare campaign against Labor’s pledge to re-introduce an emissions trading scheme.

On Tax Reform

There was strong majority support for forcing multinational companies to pay a minimum tax rate on Australian earnings (79%), increasing income tax rate for high earners (63%) and removing superannuation tax concessions for high earners (59%).

There was strong majority opposition to increasing the GST (65%).

Wednesday 29 July

Posted my piece Where Did all his Readers Go?

1 Alan Jones opining about the character of Aussie rules player Adam Goodes. You have to put it in perspective of course. Goods is a champion player, champion human being who does a lot to further indigenous culture and represent his race. He is an ‘’Australian of the Year’’ and a fine one. On the other hand Alan Jones is a detestable human who delights in demining people. And he accepts paid millions to do so. How someone of such little character can judge someone with so much stretches my intellect somewhat.

2 Senior ministers, it seems, are ‘ropeable’ over the Bronwyn Bishop’s scandal saying it is damaging the Government.

Some charity should suggest an admission charge to the public gallery for the next Question Time to raise funds. Pressure is mounting on Bishop to resign but she won’t. Abbott is unlikely to force her instead relishing an all in brawl with the Opposition. In the meantime we can all sit and ponder just how it is we are being governed.

It would not surprise if today she says the dog ate her expenses homework-twice.

Who tweeted this?

After 2 interesting tram trips last night now on the 109 on Collins St to Sth Cross to get the train to Geelong to visit . . .

An observation:

“The simplest way to turn the profession of politics on its head would be to demand they tell the truth”

3 There is something cringe worthy about politicians delaying the inevitable. Abbott is doing everything possible to delay a vote on gay marriage. It’s not like it’s something new that requires more debate. The public has let the public know their feelings and they should act accordingly. All he is doing is making his Government more disliked than it already is.

Thursday 30 July

Bronwyn Bishop’s gratuitous empty apology to the Australian people on the Alan Jones (where else) program was too little too late. It does nothing for the public’s perception that politicians are openly rorting the system. She has further demeaned the position of speaker if indeed that is possible. Her bias as speaker is acknowledged by both sides of the political spectrum, as does all sections of the media. Her behaviour has reflected on all members of parliament and the Prime Ministers failure to dismiss her is yet another example of his lack of qualities as a leader.

Her credibility is now so tainted that she could not possible command the respect of the Parliament and its members.

The Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, may well seek to protect her, particularly in question time, but an already tarnished, childish excuse for a demonstration of democracy will be further diminished.

There was a time when our Parliament exhibited some collective dignity and personal integrity. Abbott seems to have so trashed the conventions and principles of our Parliament that it no longer conforms to the traditions of the Westminster system.

A midday thought:

Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths”.

Friday 31 July

1 Has Mike Baird become our de facto PM. Firstly he makes the running on a debate for an increase on the GST. Something you would expect an incumbent PM to do. And yesterday he took on a plea for people to stop booing footballer Adam Goodes. In the meantime the leader of the nation remains silent on the issue.

Midday thoughts

1 Two issues dominated the week. Firstly the Adam Goodes’ saga occupied all genres of the media and many morally unqualified commentators opined their ignorance. It will be the subject of my next piece for THE AIMN.

2 Bronwyn Bishop continued to dominate the headlines and this morning Gerard Henderson was on News24 defending her. The point is this. Her performance as Speaker on any level of judgement has been abysmal. The expenses issue is simple the catalyst in calling for her resignation.

My view hasn’t changed. Bishop should resign and write her memoirs. I’m sure somebody MIGHT be interested.

Even today the PM said this:

“She is obviously deeply remorseful, anyone who saw her on television yesterday would know that she is a very, very chastened person indeed”.

Can someone tell me the medical term for delayed reaction?

And this is the week that was.

Malcolm Turnbull had the last word without saying a thing.

w10

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday July 18

This is not going to go away. The revelation that Bishop wasn’t prepared to pay back the money for her helicopter flight until the Prime Minister intervened is particular damming.

BRONWWN

There is still the question of the $88,000 two week trip to Europe. Even if she can justify it under the existing rules she is still guilty of extravagance that should not be tolerated. If it cannot be justified, her position is untenable.

And of course she still has to explain how she thought the trip was consistent with her duties as Speaker, an office that requires detachment from partisan politics.

Sunday July 19

PHILIP

Prince Philip is back in the headlines with another “gaffe”. This time, he asked a group of East End women: “Who do you sponge off?” People just dismiss it as another regrettable thought from a man of few redeeming features. If fact a man who has sponged of the public purse all his life. A snob in the true meaning of the word. (Look it up).

Bronwyn Bishop sponges of the taxpayer by using a helicopter to attend a fundraiser for her own her own party and thinks she has done nothing wrong. She will repay the money, reluctantly, under the Minchin protocol which is nothing more than a mechanism to get away with cheating and will probably continue to treat Members of the House of Reps as her subservient beings and humiliate as many of them as possible.

George Christenson will address a Reclaim Australia rally proclaiming his racist white superiority whilst being cheered on by the Prime Minister under the guise of free speech.

Although isolated these three instances have one thing in common. They are each born of a deep sense of establishment where the incumbents believe that a certain right of entitlement has been bestowed upon them and that all others are beneath or subservient to those of privilege.

Monday July 20

If as the Prime Minister says the pursuit of Bishop is a beat up. What was his pursuit of Slipper? A beating?

1 As a well-read lover of language and its power to persuade I intently dislike those who prostitute its meaning. Watching Greg Hunt on Insiders yesterday was an agonising exercise in the destruction of the English language. By that I mean this, when lies are used so blatantly to construct the basis of what seems a reasoned truth and sentences mangled to the point where they become deliberately indecipherable I am appalled. Such was the case yesterday. I said to my wife after the interview. “Do you have any idea what he was talking about? She answered “Why? did you?”

ENGLISH

2 And on the same program Gerrard Henderson’s feeble, flippant attempt to dismiss Speaker Bishop’s misdemeanors as uneventful and unworthy of serious discussion were so typical of someone so biased as to not be able to see the wood from the trees.

To quote John Hewson:

“I just think its pretty bad short-term politics and it’ll end in tears for a lot of people.”

And Peter Costello says:

“Bronwyn Bishop’s interpretation of her parliamentary entitlements, arguing the Speaker can claim taxpayer benefits for attending any function where she speaks about parliament is wrong.”

Who said this I wonder:

“I love her but her bias as a Speaker has made Parliament almost unworkable” one backbench MP said.

3 And before anyone accuses me of bias let me say that in my many years of following politics we have never had a worse bunch morons who seemingly don’t want to govern for the common good. Only for themselves. All of them.

4 An example of 3. Tony Abbott thinks Bronwyn is doing a really good job. That proves it.

5 Organisers of the Reclaim Australia event in Brisbane have announced their split from the organisation to join an explicitly anti-Islam group. That’s what they really are so I salute their honesty if nothing else.

reclaim

A Midday thought

I don’t think anyone has ever uttered words like these that better describe everything that is bad and wrong about the governance of our nation. We have a rotten government and a rotten leader in Prime Minister Abbott. Who else would react to a great wrong by a rotten Speaker by saying this?

“She has been a strong Speaker…she has been a strong servant of our country, she has been a good servant of the Coalition and so she does have my confidence but like everyone who has done something like this, inevitably, for a period of time, they are on probation.

Tuesday July 21

PROBATION

The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia is ON PROBATION. I really struggle to get my head around the implication of that. Has any other Speaker in Australia’s history ever been “ON PROBATION?

Let me repeat this less the ramification of the statement escapes you. The Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia is ON PROBATION.

Could the PM tell the public the duration of the PROBATION, its conditions, the consequences of the Speaker breaching any of the conditions of the PROBATION, how any breaches of the PROBATION will be reported to the Australian public and how the status of the PROBATION could be affected by any investigation conducted by the Department of Finance or indeed the Federal Police.

Since Tony Abbott became leader of the Liberal Party and in turn the Prime Minister of Australia he has been responsible for the disintegration of many of the institutions and standards of conduct that used to cement our democracy. He is a disgrace to the very principles that we once thought were necessary for robust, transparent, open and truthful government.

Wednesday 22 July

Posted my short story Confession of an Honest Conservative.

1 This week’s Essential Poll again has Labor in the lead, 52/48.

2 Today in Sydney the PM is having a retreat with the State Premiers to discuss the vexed issue of tax. The premiers will rule out anything that is detrimental to their own state. In the meantime the Federal Government is conducting a tax inquiry but has ruled out any major tax reforms (those that could make any difference) because it might affect its chances of reelection.

Then he says: “We are doing what’s best for all Australians”

Bullshit.

Or to borrow a comment by Stephen Tardrew:

“We are meeting to discuss what we are not going to do just to make it look like we are doing something about nothing. Brilliant act of circular escapism.”

Thursday 23 July

1 Renewable energy: Labor puts forward 50 per cent target by 2030; pledges to introduce emissions trading scheme. This will give the voter a stark contrast from which to choose. It could be described as bold and visionary. The difference is simply that one party is for the future and one the past or that one believes the science and one doesn’t.

2 During the “Copter Crisis” Mrs Bishop said that as Speaker: “I speak to community groups, I’ll speak to Liberal groups, I’ll even speak to Labor groups”.

Well it seems one Labor Branch has taken her at her word and issued an official invitation to speak at a seminar.

“We would like to invite you to be our guest speaker on the topic ‘what role will the Westminster system play in an Australian Republic?”

3 The bye election for Don Randall’s seat will be an interesting test for the Abbott Government particularly as it is in WA. The seat was won by the Liberal Party 52.2 to Labor 47.8. The earliest date it could be held is 29 July. The average swing is 5%.

4 It seems our Speaker has been ripping off the taxpayer for years. Fairfax has disclosed that the taxpayer has even funded her trips to the Opera. I’m guessing she would have seen Call Me Madam, Orpheus in the Underworld, The Beggars Opera, Madam Butterfly, The Cunning Little Vixen, The Taming of the Screw and Carmen of course.

5 Just a reminder to those familiar with the life and work of the person known as Jesus. Yes he was the world’s first socialist.

6 A rarity for me to agree with Janet Albrechtsen but she is correct. “MPs can’t hope to end the age of entitlement and exempt themselves.”

7 “It’s astonishing that the Liberal party can campaign against a carbon tax because it raises the cost of living – and then advocate a tax, the GST, that literally raises the cost of living.”

Friday 24 July

INTERNET

I found myself without any Internet for most of Thursday and it wasn’t reconnected until around midday today. Even in that short space of time I was reminded of just how much the internet had become part of my life. It is somewhat of a shock when the instantaneousness of information (and many other things) is taken away. I recalled the time when of habit I would venture to the front gate to collect the daily newspaper. The Melbourne Age was my source of news. It had sustained me all my life.

Now at 6am every morning I go on line and suck in the news of the day from as many and varied outlets as time allows. Surely the advent of the internet and social media sites has changed the way we communicate and opine our thoughts irreversibly. Take Facebook for example.

Social media of course receives its share of criticism but I have found it rewarding in the sense that it has given me the opportunity to express my thoughts in a forum that is at times robustly disagreeable but always enlightening. It 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. It is also a technology that has given licence to the nutters of society or conversely you could say that it has identified and exposed them.

2 We have had the usual post Premier’s self-praise of their retreat and without wishing to sound negative they made what, in a flourishing progressive democracy should be normal and ongoing attention to reform, sound like for the first time in human history, they had discovered the benefits of civil discourse.

Recommend you read Kaye Lee’s article on this subject.

3 Bill Shorten addressed the issue of that most vexed issue of Asylum Seekers at the National Conference.

John Kelly restated the obvious in his piece for The AIMN.

“The Liberal party hit upon a winner with John Howard sensing and playing to the national mood with the Tampa affair back in 2001. It was never in the national interest to refuse to help destitute people seeking asylum. But he did it anyway.”

“The decision he made on the Tampa was very much in the interest of his party winning the next election. That’s why that he acted the way he did. And suddenly we learned that wedging was the new political game in town.”

Then Philip Ruddock started calling them illegals and Tony Abbott disgracefully demonized them in order to wedge Labor. Clever politics but morally sick. But that’s our Prime Minister.

A pox on both your houses.

And this is the week that was.

Oh, and by the way we did find out that Joe had charged the taxpayer $20,000 dollars to visit his farm 13 times. The expenses saga came and went and by the end of the week we were back to normal.

Was our Democracy advanced? No, not one iota.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 4 July

1 Andrew Robb in response to a question about the Coalition’s attitude to the co-sponsored Private Members Bill on same sex marriage said:

“None of the millions of families out there who are concerned about their jobs and paying the bills will thank us for being preoccupied for weeks and weeks with this issue”.

Conveniently, it seems, forgetting the inconvenient truth that some of those families might – in fact, wait, definitely do – including same-sex couples. And to think he negotiated three international trade deals.

jac

2 Jacqui Lambie’s (the terror from Tassie) comparison of the Greens to Islamic military extremists has left them demanding an apology.

Addressing a mining conference in her home state of Tasmania on Friday, Senator Lambie opened her speech with ‘a little joke’.

“What’s the difference between the Greens and ISIS?” she asked an audience gathered for the third and final day of the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council annual conference.

“Not very much. They both want to take us back into the dark ages.”

It seems she is not only unintelligent with a big mouth she also tells jokes in poor taste.

Midday thoughts.

It seems, according to the Fairfax press, that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office knew Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had misled Parliament about Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis three days before the government eventually owned up to the mistake.

The delay in correcting the parliamentary record until the end of a sitting fortnight meant the government faced no scrutiny in question time over its handling of the case.

A Senate probe into the blunder had already discovered Senator Brandis knew about the letter late on. However, it has now emerged Mr Abbott’s office also knew about Ms Bishop’s false evidence that same day.

It was a cover up of the highest order.

Misleading Parliament is a grave offence and usually means someone gets sacked. ‘Heads should roll’ as the PM is fond of saying.

An observation:

“When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed. It is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.”

Sunday July 5

1 Keep this in mind when the PM is forcing National Security down your throat: Sure there are people in our midst who would do us harm, who despise who and what we are, but the threat they pose, statistically, is far less than any of us being involved in a road accident.

And ask yourself “why it is that The Border Force Act is targeting doctors, nurses, teachers and aid workers employed in our detention centers?” They face a two-year jail term if they disclose whatt is happening in these places.

And while you’re at it ask yourself why Asylum seekers must always be seen as threats, queue jumpers and illegals, and never as desperate human beings, men, women and children.

Ask yourself “why it is under Abbott’s tenure Ministers who mislead the Parliament don’t resign?” It used to be that way when we had a democracy.

When you have thought about this and the many other issues facing the nation ask yourself why he’s been so busy scaring the nation with an overblown terror threats he can’t find time to address them.

Flags

The most pressing issue I see into the future is the shortage of material for the production of flags. Our manufacturing industry is under threat. At the least he should attend to this.

sportsmanship

2 Not on my usual topic but it claws my gut. I just wish some of our young sportspeople would show respect for the sport they play, their peers, its history and its capacity to make them very wealthy. Young intelligent people by comparison in the sciences and many other career pursuits will never earn what they do but do it none the less. Pampered petulant full of their own importance with an expectation that the world owes them.

An observation:

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you”.

Monday 6 July

It’s only Monday but I can already hear the sound of heavy journalistic breathing at the Murdoch press. By Wednesday Bill Shorten’s appearance at the RC might bring on a serious case of exaggerated bullshit.

MY OFFICIAL WARNING

“If a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency”.

Climate

Three observations:

“In terms of the environment, I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today”.

“If we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment, what’s the point?”

“We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet”.

4 What was I saying most of last week? Well just to confirm my thoughts:

“Poll reveals 76% think family violence is as big or bigger threat than terrorism and advocates call for it to be funded in proportion to the scale of the problem”.

Tuesday July 6

1 The captain of team Australia has chucked a wobbly and decided that its members are unable to play with Q&A anymore. Yes, in a display of childish petulance tough Tony has taken his bat and ball and gone home. Barnaby Joyce was heard to say something like: “Can’t bat. can’t bowl, can’t field, but excellent at sledging”.

The big test will come next week. Will he allow Malcolm Turnbull time at the crease, on a sticky wicket, or indeed, will the ever popular Communications Minister be forced to play with a dead bat? He will need balls though. Either way someone should tell the Captain that one side is playing cricket, the other isn’t.

Anyway, Barnaby Joyce’s appearance on ABC Insiders yesterday confirmed one thing in my mind. When it comes to matters of deep human consideration, matters pertaining to life and relationship he is like so many of the Coalition, simply out of his depth.

Some parts of south-east Asia could view Australia embracing same-sex marriage as “decadence”, the deputy Nationals leader, and possible future deputy PM Barnaby Joyce, has said.

What more can one say except “he is a buffoon of the first order”?

2 Today’s polls confirm that both Shorten and Abbott are on the nose with the electorate. Abbott because he always has been and Shorten because the punters are unsure of him. Wednesday may very well decide for them.

Fairfax has Labor on 53/47 and Newspoll 52/48. A clear lead to Labor.

Things that go unnoticed:

3 The Climate Council tells us that electricity emissions have jumped since the repeal of the carbon tax. The increase of 4.3% has undone part of an 11% fall in emissions during the two years the tax was in place.

“The news that emissions have gone up in Australia will do little to counter the impression that Australia is acting as a ‘free rider’ on the back of other countries’ efforts” the Climate Council chief executive, Amanda McKenzie, said in a statement on Sunday.

q

Wednesday 7 July

1 Do you ever wonder who appears the most on Q&A and how the figures stack up? Well prominent Coalition politicians have appeared 139 times to March this year and Labor 110.

Prominent left leaning journalists 9. The right, 23

Bias anyone?

And might I add that on The Drum one would have to be forgiven for thinking that the IPA has a permanent chair at the desk.

2 New emails show Prime Minister Tony Abbott may have known Parliament had been misled about the Sydney siege gunman three days before the government corrected the record. Is there a smoking gun?

3 It looks like Barnaby was not too happy with the Captains call. Will Turnbull have the guts to hit him to square leg? But look, the fact is that a reasonable captain would just get on with the game. A reasonable leader, however, our PM is not. He hates better than most.

4 At least our two leaders presented a united front at the meeting on Indigenous recognition in the Constitution. Unfortunately it might all come to a sudden end with Indigenous leaders demanding protection against racial abuse together with anti-discrimination protection. Symbolic recognition might be one thing but can you imagine journalists like Bolt having their right to abuse taken away?

Midday thoughts:

1 Amanda Vanstone’s rant on ABC 24 this morning was hogwash. Current affairs programs will always be confronted with accusations of bias if only because they are confrontational. For Amanda to say she couldn’t get a word in belies her capacity to do just that.

Often what influence you have on these panels is dependent on one’s media savvy, quickness of mind and an ability to speak better than others. Some are just better at it than others regardless of ideology.

Hawke and Keating always thought the ABC were biased against Labor.

2 In addition it’s interesting to note that almost universally the PM has been condemned, even by people on the right, for banning appearances.

A thought:

“The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved”.

Thursday 8 July

1 Did you know that the Abbott government ministry is one of the worst in the developed world for gender balance?

Well I expect you did. It’s fairly obvious. A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development says the gap between women and men in ministerial positions in Australia has actually worsened since 2012, despite the government’s reshuffle in December. It says Australia now has fewer women in its highest ranks of government than every OECD country except for Greece, Korea, Turkey, Hungary and the Slovak Republic.

An observation:

“At some time in the human narrative…..in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you”.

3 This week’s Essential Poll has Labor 52 and LNP 48.

4 Nothing gives me greater pleasure than when our young people achieve success on the international stage be it in sport, entertainment, the arts and sciences. Nothing offends me more than when their petulant behavior misrepresents our sense of fair play and societal decency.

Friday 9 July

1 Politicians frequently update things undeclared. Commercial interests etc. Hockey recently did. Abbott is guilty of doing so. Political donations are dodgy on both sides. ICAC in NSW showed that. Everyone would agree that it needs to be cleaned up. But a Royal Commission costing $80 million. Strewth.

2 “The idea that Malcolm Turnbull should not be allowed to appear next Monday night is too ludicrous to believe” (Paul Kelly, The Australian).

Malcolm Turnbull still has views that spring from old Liberalism. In his address to the Sydney Institute all he was doing was expressing them. I could not imagine any other leader, other than Abbott, talking about terrorism in the way he does. Leadership requires character. Politicians on both sides of the divide could do with an injection of it.

“Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibers from which it is woven”.

3 Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce says “the world has gone mad” after his own government approved the highly contentious Shenhua Watermark coal mine in his NSW electorate, despite his vehement protests.

“I think it is ridiculous that you would have a major mine in the midst of Australia’s best agricultural land” Joyce said. He obviously doesn’t appreciate coal as much as the PM. They are becoming more laughable by the day.

Midday thoughts:

1 The Royal Commission into Unions that the Prime Minister orchestrated for no other reason than to embarrass Bill Shorten has achieved its aim. But that is all. There has been no knockout punch. However the residue of of mud thrown will hang around until the next election. Its report might conveniently come in at a time beneficial to the Government. The pity is that if Labor had a squeaky clean leader victory would be assured.

2 Tony Windsor, the maverick rural MP who helped Labor keep office during the last parliament, says he is considering running again for the seat of New England after the Abbott government gave its approval for a huge open-cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains.

I am currently reading Windsor’s book “Windsor’s Way” and I hope he does return. He decides issues on what is best for the common good.

3 Combined polling for the week has 52.2-47.8 to Labor. Primary votes for both major parties have fallen. Both leaders have disastrous ratings. The big winner was the Greens.

4 The collapse in the iron ore price will almost certainly mean a collapse in the budget forecasts. Surely Hockey would have taken this into consideration.

This is the week that was.

Two final thoughts:

1 “The most simple way to turn the profession of politics on its head would be to demand they tell the truth”.

2 Wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Abbott, instead of spending an estimated 200 million on three Royal Commissions to damage his opponents, spent it on reducing domestic violence?

dom

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday June 6

1 The Prime Minister’s and Minister Dutton’s responses to Senator Hanson Young’s objection to allegedly being spied on in Nauru was appallingly sexist and political overreach of the worst kind. For the PM to say she was “looked after” was insultingly gratuitous and condescending regardless of the rights or wrongs of the situation. And Dutton’s childish temperamental outburst was a reflection on his inadequacy as a politician. He should have stayed in the Police Force. Creepy indeed.

2 It has always fascinated me that unions can be so maligned for the slightest whiff of wrong doing yet business criminals like Bond, Skase, Elliott and others are considered by many to be folk heroes.

Sunday June 7

Did I see last night an advertisement promoting the budget? Is it taxpayer-funded? That would be a first.

Monday June 8

Peter Dutton’s inability to get his facts right on the statement by Human Rights commissioner Gillian Triggs about Ministerial powers suggests that he is the last person to decide on one’s citizenship. Or anything else for that matter

1 As if to demonstrate, yet again, he and his government’s apathetic out of touch governess, Joe Hockey, the treasurer of Team Australia, in answer to a question about housing affordability said: “The starting point for first home buyers is to get a good job that pays good money”.

House

I would have thought it’s a problem easily solved. All they have to do is produce all the jobs they said they were going too. (Sarcasm intended)

2 The Abbott government appears to be running an orchestrated campaign to “destabilise or even destroy” the Australian Human Rights Commission, according to the nation’s first federal human rights commissioner Brian Burdekin.

They are at war with everyone who disagrees with them. Vindictive bastards.

GAY MARRIAGE

3 Scott Morrison said: “If you say that you don’t get on board with the same-sex marriage bandwagon, then somehow you’re a homophobe or something like that – I don’t think that’s very helpful”.

“I think it’s time for people to have a bit of a breather about this and consider what the other options are.”

Could someone tell me what the options are to inequality?

Tuesday June 9

Nile

1 In NSW it seems Rev Nile is doing a deal with Premier Baird to get his Power legislation passed. It’s a sneaky Religious one of course. Parents of public school children will only be offered the Ethics course for their children AFTER they have turned down Religious Education courses. They won’t be told they are available on the course curriculum. Now that’s Christian transparency. Lying by omission.

2 “I’m for individual freedom … to the max. So you can imagine my profound disappointment, bordering on despair, when I see some on ‘my team’ thinking it is OK for a minister alone to take away a citizen’s rights – indeed, take away citizenship – in the blink of an eye. No appeal, no judicial process, just a ministerial decision. What were they thinking?” (Amanda Vanstone).

3 The conservative Christian forces in the Coalition are gathering their forces to confront Abbott on marriage equality. Extremists like George Christensen are determined to go against public opinion and govern for the minority.

4 NBN have let contracts to try and speed up its implementation.

An observation:

On the NBN: “The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow”.

5 Now hear this: Labor put in place laws that guaranteed 700 companies (including Packer, Reinhardt etc) would be more transparent in terms of tax liability. They respond by saying it would make them more susceptible to kidnapping, privacy, personal security and extortion. Without any evidence from any law enforcement agency to back up this assertion, the government decided to shield these companies from any disclosure. Rotten to the core.

Wednesday June 10

1 “Even as a cabinet minister, sometimes it’s hard to pay a Sydney mortgage and I know over the years I’ve earned a lot more than the average person” (Tony Abbott).

If he finds it hard, what hope the average wage earner? Just as well he got free education and didn’t have to pay University fees. Gee you have to feel for his hardship being the world’s highest paid politician can’t be easy.

Meanwhile Treasurer Joe Hockey is selling his $1.5 million farm. Umm, it all reeks of privilege and elitism. And Glen Stephens thinks the housing market is crazy.

2 Scott Morisson said yesterday: “The institution of marriage came from religion. It was adopted by the state and I have always been a firm believer in the separation of church and state and the main reason for that is it protects the church – and I think the church’s institutions do need to be protected”.

He is factually wrong on the first count and on the second I am wondering what it is the church needs protection from.

3 Bill Shorten has moved to make the gender gap an issue for the ALP’s July national conference and for Labor more widely.

“Wanted: more female politicians”

An observation:

“At some time in the human narrative . . . in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you”

Thursday June 11

Wind farms

1 The PM was certainly out and about yesterday. He described wind farms as visually awful and a danger to people’s health. Of course there is no scientific evidence to say people’s health is effected and no doubt he finds the sight of coal stations spewing their filth more aesthetically pleasing.

Coal mines

I am an artist with a Diploma of Fine Arts. How anyone could say that Wind Farms are a blot on the landscape is beyond me. Thank God he didn’t pursue a career in industrial design.

A study conducted by the government’s own National Health and Medical Research Council recently found that there is no “consistent evidence” that wind farms damage human health.

On top of that he wishes a RET had never been implemented.

Farm

His ignorance of the way the world is headed in terms of renewable energy is breathtaking in its arrogance.

His new-found frankness contradicts claims he and his ministers made before and after the election about how committed they were to renewable energy.

2 Good to see the Member for Gippsland (my electorate) Darren Chester has become the first National’s MP to openly throw his support behind same-sex marriage. Not much we would agree on but on this one yes.

3 Labor is considering changes to capital gains tax rules as well as negative gearing if elected, but remains tight-lipped about the policy it will adopt before the next election.

The PM responded by saying:

“If you look at what the Labor Party is proposing at the moment they want to hit your super with more tax, they apparently want to drive down the value of your existing home and now it seems they want to put rent up by fiddling with negative gearing”.

He neglected to say they plan to raid your bank accounts.

4 It seems AMEX has not paid tax in Australia for 7 years on a turnover of 8 billion. How is that possible? I wonder if Hockey might know.

5 This week’s Essential Poll is unchanged with Labor leading 52/48.

6 Abbott’s terrorist language is becoming more alarmist and sensational every day. The adults are still yet to take charge.

Friday June 12

1 In denying to answer a question as to whether Australia paid people smugglers to turn boats back Tony Abbott has more or less confessed that we did. He just doesn’t like telling the truth. Does it then mean that we were complicit in people trafficking?

2 What a thoroughly detestable grub of a Prime Minister he is. A liar who will do or say anything that suits him at the time. His comments about wind farms are implausible. The one he referred to was on Rottnest Island, funded by the Howard Government, supplies 40% of the Islands power, and is perfectly acceptable to the residents. To say that they are ugly and noisy based on an experience some years ago is ridiculous. Any wonder international leaders call him a fool.

3 Speaking of political grubbiness. Radio shock jock Ray Hadley and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton have been accused of “sexist claptrap” after playing a song labelling Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young as the “Dumbest Politician in Australia”.

Must be Christopher’s turn next.

And this is the week that was. Well except that Bill Shorten made yet another speech about Australia becoming a republic. Perhaps he should just say that if elected a plebiscite is assured.

And I won’t comment on the Murdoch accession plan because its as clear as mud as to who is actually in charge.

 

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My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday May 30

1 I put on the telly this Morning to find Greg Hunt giving a press conference self-congratulating himself on the UNs decision to not place the Great Barrier Reef on the endangered list. Then a half hour later a Greenpeace spokesperson explains that we are only on probation for 18 months and that the effect of future climate change had not been taken into account, nor the proposed coal mine.

What a snake oil salesman he is.

2 Sepp Blatter wins another term as boss of FIFA and gives corruption a serious boost.

3 It comes out that our Prime Minister and the Emigration Minister tried to put one over on the Cabinet and we’re suitably chastised. Abbott had even tipped off The Daily Telegraph without any Cabinet discussion.

When you try to dud your own Cabinet you cannot expect its respect.

4 Does the public realise that the Government has put a freeze on doctor’s fees which, in effect, is the same as applying a copayment because it will force the Doctors to raise fees to cover costs. Sneaky bastards aren’t they.

Sunday May 31

Australians were greeted yesterday with this headline in the Fairfax press.

“Deficit decade: Tony Abbott’s $100 billion black hole”.

black hole

Only weeks after presenting a budget based on pie in the sky predictions punctuated with so many ifs and crystal ball maybes, independent analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office suggests the economy is in dire straits.

It is not beyond repair. All it needs is a government prepared to forego its ideology and govern with fairness for the common good. Too much to ask you say. You’re probably right.

Monday 1 June

1 Labor’s offer for a Liberal to replace Tanya Plibersek as co-sponsor of its Marriage Equality Bill will be rejected and it will lapse. Abbott, who vehemently opposes gay marriage, will present a bill in his own time so as to get all the kudos. Ironically it may be the only legacy this out of touch Prime Minister will produce from his tenure of office.

Abbott lies

2 Another stunning example of his lying is when he says it’s only the States who can change the GST. In 2004 a number of items had their GST status changed. Guess who the Health Minister was at the time. Yes none other than TA himself.

Tuesday 2 June

House of cards

1 After three seasons of “House of Cards” I have concluded that it is the most compelling television show I have ever watched. A superb production on every level. Can’t wait for season four.

2 In my experience young people are fully conversant with the issues of the day if not political ideology. The worldwide move to lower the voting age to 16 is a good debate to have but equally so is the need for a form of Political Education in our teaching curriculum.

3 After listening to Abbott’s press conference this AM I am left with the undeniable conclusion that he is going to fight tooth and nail to destroy marriage equality. He won’t win of course.

4 Someone is lying about what happened in cabinet about withdrawing citizenship. I am under no illusions who that might be. And if 27 back benchers supported the proposition they are as stupid as those who proposed it. They have denigrated science now it’s the law’s turn.

An observation:

“The word “Frugality” is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying and a consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.”

Therefore life is about doing things not having things.

Midday Thoughts

1 Interesting to see the Government Benches empty when Bill Shorten presented his Marriage Equality Bill. Although it’s not surprising when, if you recall, they were also absent when the NDIS was introduced.

2 “We are on a steady path back to surplus” The PM said in question time. The Independent Budgetary Office tells us the opposite.

Bishop b&w

3 What an embarrassment the Speaker of the House of Representatives is. She seems to have a rule book of her own. Tony Burke, yesterday showed up her bias in no uncertain manner.

4 Morgan Poll has Labor at 53/47. Returning to pre-budget figures further confirming my belief that the budget did nothing for the Coalition. Well other than not making it worse that it was.

Wednesday 3 June

 

1 After doing some research I can explain what the term “come to Jesus” means in the context of politics. It is an American Tea Party expression to describe the instant at which team members recommit to working in unison or pursue their own interests. You’re either on the team or you aren’t.”

How did this religious nut job ever become Prime Minister?

2 The third last poll we are likely get from Newspoll-as-we-know-it, has Labor’s two-party lead at 52-48, down from 53-47 a fortnight ago.

3 Essential follows with the same numbers. In addition their polling on Same Sex Marriage has yes 59% no 30% and undecided 11%. That’s an overwhelming YES I should think.

joan kirner

4 Joan Kirner was underestimated as a politician and her work for women and the advancement of education will not be forgotten.

Thursday 4 June

1 A reminder:

“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).

Urinal

2 There are that many Cabinet Ministers denying they leak that one might wonder if they use the bathroom at all. The journalist in question is a friend of the Foreign Minister. Leave it at that.

3 Yesterday in Question Time the PM responded to a question from Bill Shorten about violence against women in a very bi-partisan manner. He must be reformed I thought. Remember he was accused of assaulting a woman at University and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself. Another women accused him of throwing punches at her and hitting either side of a wall she was standing against. He says it never happened but others collaborate her story. The newspaper involved settled out of court.

Posted my thoughts on Australian democracy.

Friday June 5

1 The worst trade deficit ever.

There are people who say what they think and do the opposite of what they say! There are people who say the opposite of what they think and do what they say! Then there is the current LNP who don’t think, say the opposite of what everyone else thinks and does absolutely nothing! This has been coming for a while and no, it’s not this governments OR the last governments fault but most definitely the Howard Governments fault and the current and previous governments have stuck their heads in the sand. However, only the Abbott lot have made such a song and dance about how bad Labor were at economics while at the same time adding to the problem!

2 Its called an own goal or a self wedgie.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has again put himself at odds with Prime Minister Tony Abbott by failing to rule out reforms to superannuation if the government wins a second term.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said super will not change in this or future terms, despite calls for an end to retirement tax breaks for wealthy retirees.

Reject

3 Tony Abbott’s Reject Shop photo aptly highlights the political worth of our PM. Every picture tells a story.

3 No wonder Parliament House cleaners are asking for a pay rise. People are leaking everywhere. Peter Hartcher, the journalist who got the leak in the first place, makes it clear that the cabinet dispute may never have seen the light of day were it not for extreme frustration within cabinet, not so much over the proposal of the policy itself but over the poor excuse for a cabinet process it constituted.

5 On World Environment Day UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says Australia is not taking credible action on Climate Action and calls us a free rider.

Two observations:

In terms of the environment. I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today

“We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet”

6 If the week in politics has revealed anything, it is that Tony Abbott is has never divorced himself from the negativity of opposition. He is continuously in electioneering mode. He told voters a Labor government posed a threat to their house prices and their superannuation.

“It is absolutely crystal clear what would happen if members opposite were ever to get back into government: the carbon tax would come back, the people smugglers would come back, the value of your house would go down – because hasn’t he been trying to talk down the economy for the last few days? And your superannuation is going to be raided again and again to try to get a Labor government out of trouble,” Abbott said.

He wants to pick fights with the opposition – even where there is agreement, or a strong prospect of it – and to deeply plumb populism. This maybe marginally helping in the polls, but it is degrading both policy and politics.

We are still waiting for the adults.

A final thought.

I am having trouble coming to terms with the unhinged nature of the rhetoric in which our Prime Minister now engages.

And this is the week that was.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

 

Author’s note:

I have decided to convert what was my ‘A Month in Politics’ post into a weekly commentary: ‘My Thoughts on the Week That Was’.

Saturday 2 May

1. The Indonesian Government legally murders two Australian citizens and then apologises to the parents for their suffering. That’s strange diplomacy.

  1. The Royal Commission into Unions may get itself into murky waters if it extends its inquiries into the Labor Party when it is not part of its terms of reference. A future RC into Ashbygate might be a fair retort.
  2. Labors Justice Spokesperson, David Feeney asks a reasonable question “why the government’s opposition to the death penalty had been removed from the ministerial direction to the Australian Federal Police” He got the “How dare you” response from the Government. Sure his timing could have been better but it is a legitimate question deserving of an honest answer. And Feeney is right on the facts.

Sunday 3 May

  1. On the Royal Birth. Thousands of children are born every day. Some into privilege and some into poverty. Why can’t they all be born into a society of equal opportunity?

“Surely the Monarchy belongs to our past and not our future”.

2. Budget leaks are beginning to appear. There will be cuts to welfare. The question of fairness will be paramount. So how will the Coalition justify cuts to welfare for the poor and middle classes while not being willing to tackle the tax havens of the wealthy?

3. An observation. In the United States, the Republican mantra for cutting taxes for the rich and other policy initiatives seem to flow from their adoption of radical Christian fundamentalist belief. In fact the GOP seems to be the mouthpiece for the extremities of right wing Christian belief. When you set your principles and ideas on religious belief rather than reason then the politics of fear erode the common good.

Monday 4 May

1.The assumption by conservative economists that reducing the tax of the rich will reduce their desire to avoid it, ranks with Margaret Thatcher’s “The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich” as the two most proven failures of right wing economics.

  1. Whilst the government is sounding tuff on foreign housing investment it must be remembered that the new rules only apply to houses out of the reach of ordinary Australians.
  2. I am a fervent supporter of marriage equality but it is hard to argue that Labor should have a binding vote while at the same time insisting that the Coalition have a conscience one.
  3. I’m a little upset that high income earners (threshold of $250.000) will have the assistance of nannies. At a cost of course. Oh well I suppose my wife and I will, as grandparents, continue to do it for free

Tuesday 5 May

According to former Liberal Leader John Hewson the tax cuts Howard and Costello gave are now costing (the budget) about $30 billion a year, and the deficit’s $40 billion. . Without these cuts and the 9 billion Hockey gave – unasked for and against the will of treasury-to the reserve bank. The deficit problem wouldn’t exist. And that’s without including some $40 billion in tax concessions for superannuation, which accrue overwhelmingly to the wealthiest 20% of taxpayers. You can easily add it up to show that the deficit that exists today is a fake number, says Hewson. ‘’They’ve basically imposed it on themselves’’

Wednesday 6 May

  1. AFP said it did not have enough evidence to arrest the Bali 9 before they left for Indonesia. How much evidence do you need to prevent a crime from being committed? And why isn’t Mick Kelty answering the questions.
  2. Bill Shorten, I thought, made an impassioned speech at the McKell institute but I suspect those waiting for a Messiah will disagree.
  3. When asked about a date for a surplus the PM said he had never put a date on it. If my memory serves me correctly he said we could expect one in his first term……His lying knows no bounds.
  4. The Morgan pre Budget Poll has Labor at 53.5 and the Coalition at 46.5

5. Newspoll pre budget poll gives Labor a 52/48 lead over the Coalition. The Australian Newspaper announced that future Polls would be conducted by Galaxy. Could it be that they have finally woken to the fact that land lines, in an age of mobile telephony, do not give an accurate picture. Essential has Labor 53/47 Pre budget which suggests that Abbott’s budget would have to be exceptionally well accepted to get a bounce.

Thursday 7 May

  1. When asked about interest rate levels and his statement in 2012 that they had reached emergency levels Joe Hockey denied he had said it. In the Coalition fashion of blaming Labor for everything he said that it was Wayne Swan’s description. A utube clip clearly finds him guilty. Poor memories make for bad liars.
  2. wayne Swan

2 In keeping with Green’s resignation tradition Christine Milne choose a time of her own. The new leader Richard Di Natale gave a press conference that the leaders of the major parties should emulate, particularly the PM. It was impressive. It was no-nonsense. Just be honest for God sake.

3 Kevin Andrews commented on Twitter:

Does it really matter who will lead the freedom hating @Greens? Their anti-family & community destroying policies remain #greenspill #auspol”

4 Andrew Bolt’s latest rant on the same subject uses misogynist witch imagery to depict female politicians.

Andrew Bolt

5 The PM seems to be giving loads of advice to Europeans on their immigration problem saying there had been discussions. European Commission spokeswoman, Natasha Bertaud, denied there had been any official contact and said the “Australian model can never be a model for us”, because the policy involved the refoulement of people who could be genuine refugees.

Labor’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said Abbott was using the boat crisis for political point scoring in Australia. “It’s the low-rent act of a snake-oil merchant and he should be called out as such.” He is probably correct.

Friday 8 May

1.The Government’s decision to revise pension eligibility is welcome. However it comes as a result of a lie. “There will be no changes to pensions” And of course their first option was to deliberately reduce the livelihoods of the least well off.

2 In a column in The Australian on Thursday, former Coalition adviser Nikki Savva reported that Mr Buchholz had told the Prime Minister’s office that Mr Abbott would have to dump his treasurer if the second budget went down badly.

Mr Abbott said he had spoken to Mr Hockey on Thursday to reassure him that the story was a “complete invention”. So Peter Costello’s former press secretary is telling lies.

  1. The federal government will move to impose the goods and services tax on services such as Netflix, music downloads etc., under new rules included in next week’s budget.

It’s a pity they don’t do something about the tax the same companies don’t pay.

  1. I think the spin the Coalition will endeavor to present following next Tuesday’s Budget will be that there’s no budget crisis even though it’s got far worse under their stewardship.

They will tell us that it is fair and blame Labor for their own mismanagement of the economy. They will say that no one needs to be hurt even though blind Freddy knows that some pain is required. They will leave in savings not yet passed in the Senate and spin that it is good accountancy to do so.

But big measures that offend large numbers of people will effectively be left off the table.

As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott convinced many that the GFC was only in people’s imagination. Now he will try to convince them that the budget crisis of gargantuan proportion that he and Joe Hockey manufactured wasn’t the crisis they thought. All smoke and mirrors.

  1. As negotiations between the Government and the Opposition reach a conclusion on the RET, the PM’s Chief business advisor (and climate nut job) on Climate Change says it’s all a ruse.

“This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN”

It all fits in with Abbott’s “socialist plot” statements which can only be taken as representative of the governments true position. What nutters they really are.

This is the week that was.

 

“The Rise and Fall of Australia”

The-Rise-and-Fall-of-AustraliaBook Review by John Lord

Nick Bryant Is a BBC correspondent and author who often appears on Q&A and The Drum.

I made the dreadful mistake of reading some reviews of this book (that conflicted with my own analysis) before I sat down to write this. Now I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but in this case, I must say, they all had a clear misunderstanding of exactly what the author was on about.

That being an inability by some social commentators and critics to acknowledge that we have, to a large degree, thrown off our cultural cringe, our adolescence, and taken our place in the world.

We have come to realise the profound truth that we have gone through a period of becoming mature, knowing who we are, and feeling deeply about it. We have earned a national consciousness.

It seemed to me that the reviews I read resented the fact that we were being dissected by an outsider, and a bloody Pommy one at that.

But this is exactly what makes it such an enthralling read. He dares to go where our own self-consciousness about ourselves won’t, unrestrained by our provincial restrictions of self-analysis.

The directness and astuteness of his writing is impressive. His research impeccable and for a person of my vintage his writing gave understanding to my life’s Australian experience. From what we were to what we are. He exhaustively covers every cultural aspect of our society from sport, art, music, dance, theatre, science, medicine, government and our financial structures. He describes a full compilation of our assets and eccentricities.

In some chapters I felt positively enthused about how far we have come as a nation. How much we had achieved, often in spite of ourselves.
He states that today the characteristic that most defines modern Australia is “diversity”. In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation. That is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

But the contradiction, as he points out is:

The great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished.

It is in the chapters that deal with politics and our democracy that Bryant rightly portrays the sagacious ugliness of our system.

He abhors the fierce partisanship of our politics and the Abbott government’s currentattempts to take us back to an older Australia, a place that we no longer inhabit.

A place languid in the institutionalised comforts of post colonialism.

And this is the paradox the author speaks of. How is it that our politics has gone so backwards while at the same time we have progressed, in other areas, so much?

Might it be as the Prime Minister so sarcastically remarked when asked about the state of our democracy:

There is nothing wrong with it. It’s just the people who inhabit it from time to time.

Or might it be when he describes his cricketing skills.

I couldn’t bowl, field or bat, but I was a good sledger.

This is a refreshing look at this country with new eyes. Eyes that have taken, with simple exhaustive elegance and skill, the time to see us for what we truly are.

The most agreeable thing about, about this book, is the author’s confirmation of my own view. That being that we are being led by a moron.

Although I do concede that he doesn’t say it exactly in those terms. He in fact gives both sides of politics a decent serve. As Australians are so apt to say.

 

Whitlam eyed our conscience, not our wallet

First of two guest posts by Race Mathews. Race is former chief of staff to Gough Whitlam and Labor leaders in the Victorian parliament, federal MP and state MP and minister.

Gough Whitlam’s objective was equality for all. He believed the proper business of politics was to secure informed public consent for necessary change, through objective information from trusted sources. He gave back hope to my generation of Labor Party members. Chifley’s “light on the hill” was re-kindled. The party’s electability was restored. His political career invites us to recall the words of Robert F. Kennedy: “Some see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say ‘Why not’?”

Whitlam realised from the start that in order for policies to be accepted by the electorate they had first to be understood. Medibank (later Medicare), for example, was explained constantly from 1967 until 1969, and again from 1969 until 1972, in Parliament and wherever public platforms or media attention were obtainable. He required the speeches that were prepared for him to be in part repetitious, in order for their proposals to become as near as possible universally accepted. Once a basic theme and content of a speech had been settled, drafts were exchanged repeatedly between him and whoever was doing the writing, until he was satisfied that the best possible outcome had been obtained.

Speeches such as the definitive “Political and Constitutional Problems in National Transport Planning”, which he delivered for the Department of Civil Engineering at Melbourne University in April, 1968, could take weeks to complete. His memorable 1972 election policy speech was a distillation of all the speeches which had gone before it, as far back as his entry to Parliament in 1952.

Malcolm Fraser mistakenly supposed that Australians would accept his abolition of Medibank – in defiance of his 1975 undertaking to retain it – because it had been in place for only two months prior to the notorious Remembrance Day Coup. The real strength of Medibank stemmed at that point from the fact that it had been explained to the electorate more thoroughly than any other Opposition proposal in our history.

A consequent Whitlam government innovation was the creation of the great Investigatory, reporting and recommendatory commissions, such as the Schools Commission, the several post-secondary education commissions and the Hospitals and Health Services Commission. Legislation for a Children’s Commission that would have revolutionised early childhood development, education and care was introduced, but lapsed with the dismissal of the government in November 1975. Like the Ombudsman and the Auditor-General the commissions were empowered to inquire as they saw fit into any and all aspects of their respective briefs and report directly to Parliament on the outcomes of their investigations and the recommendations arising from them. Their outstanding work opened up government services to unprecedented levels of scrutiny, facilitated forward planning and budgeting, and enabled informed and constructive public debate at unprecedented levels to occur. Their subsequent abolition at the hands of both Coalition and Labor governments has been a public policy and democratic enfranchisement setback of epic proportions.

The provenance is plain. Whitlam epitomised throughout his career the Fabian approach to politics and policy development. As he once said tongue-in-cheek of himself, “Among Australian Fabians, I am Maximus”. Each new piece of work he undertook started from the principles of social justice and egalitarianism that had given his career its whole motivation and direction.

Facts were then painstakingly and meticulously analysed, so that policy options could emerge and be tested. Once the final form of a policy had been settled, it was fought for with all the formidable force of his intellect and eloquence.

Australians are accustomed to having their votes sought through their purses and pockets. It is Whitlam alone in the memories of most of us who has addressed himself uncompromisingly to our consciences and intellects. He himself would not necessarily have regarded so sweepingly affirmative an assessment, as inappropriate, as a further flight of self-mockery attests.

Barry Cohen – elected to the House of Representatives on Whitlam’s coat-tails in 1969 and a Minister under Hawke – has a relevant story in his book, After the Party.

It reads:

I had heard that on the release of the massive tome The Whitlam Government 1972-1975 Gough was asked by an intrepid young reporter whether this was the third major work on his period of government, the others being The Truth of the Matter by himself, and A Certain Grandeur by Graham Freudenberg. He was reported to have replied loftily, “Yes, there was the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and now we have the Gospels”.

I had tried to check the authenticity of this wonderful story with the man himself but was unable to do so as he was away overseas for a considerable period, fulfilling UNESCO obligations.

I eventually caught up with him and repeated the story. He paused for a moment before replying, “I must say I can’t recall it, although it has a certain ring to it. However, I can tell you that I do keep ‘THE THREE BOOKS’ together on my office shelf”.

“The three books?” I inquired innocently. “Yes,” he replied, “The Bible, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and The Whitlam Government.”

Tomorrow… Gough Whitlam remembered: gallows humour and monumental rages

 

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A Week is a Long Time in Politics

If ever a week in politics supported a headline it was the week that Gough Whitlam died. In the main the death of this undeniably charismatic, but gifted man was met with sadness by both supporter and foe alike.

gough

The exceptions who didn’t were Bolt and Jones. Yes, the two who write and comment outrageously on the basis of payment for controversy didn’t but eventually they will pass on as Gough did.

They will be quickly forgotten but he will go down in the annals of Australian history as a decent, sanguine, passionate and sagacious Prime Minister who made an enormous contribution to Australian society.

Something they could never aspire to do.

Yes the week was filled with controversy that only a government devoid of any semblance of leadership could muster.

barnaby joyce

In Parliament the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce (the probable deputy PM if Abbott wins the next election) got the details of how many Australians have received drought assistance completely and utterly wrong.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon called him out but as you would guess, Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer. It wasn’t until early evening he skulked back into the chamber and quietly corrected his answer. It’s hard to explain what Barnaby said. If you can decipher it you deserve a medal.

“…you actually get the money until the department decides that you are not allowed to get the money, and at this point in time. So you keep on getting the money, you keep on getting the money, until such time as, on the application being assessed, they decide you are not eligible for it. But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved, you actually get the money straight away.”

Anyway, on Tuesday of this week he got a whiff of his own ineptitude and tried to change the official Hansard record.

com bank

Then the Government for a Royal Commission into anything Labor did refused to hold one into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as part of its response to a landmark Senate inquiry. This is one of the worst scandals in Australian corporate history. It has ruined the lives of thousands of people but the government’s approach seems to be to let financial planners proceed as if nothing has happened.

During all this the boss of the corporate regulator, ASIC said.

‘’Australia is too soft on corporate criminals and increased civil penalties including more jail terms are needed.’’

“Australia is a paradise for white-collar crime.” He said.

On Royal Commissions that are politically motivated John Howard had this to say.

“I’m uneasy about the idea of having royal commissions or inquiries into essentially a political decision…”
“I don’t think you should ever begin to go down the American path of using the law for narrow targeted political purposes.”

Abbott obviously believes in the total obliteration of one’s opposition and will even provide cabinet papers if he has too.

tell tony

In senate estimates we heard from treasury officials that the Prime Ministers Paid Parental Leave Scheme has ground to a halt. According to senior insiders, it is in serious trouble and loathed by virtually every minister in cabinet.

Our Prime Minister once again showing that he is incapable of governance for the common good.

turnbull

In the midst of all this we had talk of Malcolm Turnbull replacing Hockey as treasurer.
“It’d be a game changer,” one minister summarised. No one disagreed with the soundness of the idea. True, he would bring competence and authority to the Treasury portfolio. He has the ability to articulate a message clearly and forcefully.

But the mere suggestion that this might happen is a reflection of the total incompetency of this Abbott led bunch of out of touch morons.

freya newman

We were greeted with another headline that the whistle-blower Freya Newman had had her sentence deferred until November. Did she break the law? She did, but in so doing revealed yet another instance of the Prime Minister’s use of his office for personal gain further defining his personal lack of integrity. As if it could degenerate any further.

The curriculum taught in our schools never seems to go away when conservatives are in power.

barry spurr

For its review the coalition appointed its usual array of religious zealots and those of indigenous indifference, all sympathetic to the government’s point of view. But this time one of the appointees, Professor Barry Spurr, further advanced his expertise in all things conservative with some emails that could only be describes as indecent. He said they were part of a ‘linguistic game’. Ah the games people play.

Perhaps the PM might consider some people of independent mind for future inquiries instead of the usual hacks.

But there’s more. It was a long week.

indexscott morrison

It seemed that Scott Morrison wanted to be the minister for everything. When interviewed on AM he denied that other ministers were resentful of him trying to take over part of their portfolios. But members of the press gallery confirmed it.

When asked in question time how his portfolio crossed over with Foreign Affairs, Defense, Agriculture, Health, Defense, Attorney-Generals and Prime Minister and Cabinet it wasn’t only the Labor side of the chamber laughing at him.

But Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer.

And to add to the weeks worries the Government still cannot get its budget passed. To quote Lenore Taylor in the Guardian.

budget

The Abbott government’s “Operation Budget Repair” appears to have morphed into “Operation Let’s Salvage What The Hell We Can”.

Kevin Andrews said he would consider “any reasonable offer” from crossbench senators in a last-ditch bid to get at least some of his $10bn in stalled welfare changes through the Senate. On top of that there is the fuel excise, that Medicare co-payment and the dramatic changes to higher education. What a bloody nightmare. It’s a pity Abbott doesn’t have the negotiating skills of Gillard.

He and Joe have never been able to admit why the electorate so comprehensively rejected the budget? We all know that the savings fell heaviest on those least able to pay. Now they are saying they will reveal more in the mid-year budget update. This can only mean more unpopular cuts. Or a mini budget.

essential

The Essential Poll during the week found 72% felt the cost of living had become worse in the past 12 months and 48% believe that over the past two years their income has fallen behind their cost of living. That figure rises to 57% for those earning less than $1,000 a week.

It was the worst received budget in many decades. Spending cuts have to be fair, and be seen to be fair, but people also need to understand the overall plan, the purpose, dare we call it the program.

Later in the week when talking about Federal and state responsibilities Abbott said.

“It is in this great country of ours possible to have a better form of government”

I would have thought a good place to start would be to stop telling lies.

ret

Having appointed a group of climate deniers to report on the Renewable Energy Target and Tony Abbott wanting it removed altogether the government, in the face of public opinion, now finds itself in a dilemma. It wants to compromise on the 20% target saying electricity usage has already declined. Shorten should not fall for that nonsense. Add in their ridiculous Direct Action policy and you can see we have, in spite of their various university degrees, a bunch of dunderheads governing us. Perhaps I should have said dickheads.

To be honest I could go on for another couple of thousand words but I’m exhausted. I haven’t mentioned Bishops aspirations for leadership, the credit card negotiations with the banks on welfare payments and fact that his sisters have joined the chorus of condemnation for a privately owned aged-care facility on public parklands at Middle Head.

Then there’s the criticism of the proposed Medibank float that has been described as laughable. Oh, then of course reports that Chrissy Pyne was backing down on his university policy. He said he wasn’t but then I’m not that sure he would know himself.
Goodness I have left out the most serious issue of Ebola. The government’s response has been abysmal to say the least. Just another example of their ineffectiveness. The AMA was right to give Abbott a serve.

In an effort to sound amusing and to allay the fears of those who think I am being overly negative I will close with this.

indexCarbon tax celebration

“I promise this is true”, said Tony Burke: “Greg Hunt, is the man who some people refer to as the Environment Minister.

In Opposition he advocated for the protection of the Tasmania Tiger, extinct since 1936. In Government he’s turned his attention to the Antarctic Walrus – population: zero. Walruses live in the Northern Hemisphere”.

Oh wait, bugger I almost forgot. Were you also aware that Catherine King exposed how it would soon cost up to $2,207 for someone to have their liver metastasis diagnosed? Tony Abbott refused to say how many people will miss out on being diagnosed as a result of the hit to imaging and diagnostic services.

But the week did began with the Speaker announcing she would not continue with the policy of segregation which had been announced as Parliament rose a fortnight earlier.

Hopefully we can now go back to segregation being something kids learn about in the courtroom scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird not during their excursion to Canberra.

The final word for “A week is a Long Time in Politics” must go to Newspoll which had the Opposition six points up on the Government without so much as them striking a blow.

“A Giant of a Man”. Yes he was indeed.

Image from sbs.com.au

Image from sbs.com.au

Gough Whitlam (1916-2014).

I recall the first time I laid eyes upon him. It was at a Labor rally at the suburban Greensborough Football oval in Victoria.

The “Its Time” slogan had indelibly entrenched itself on my political awareness. All that I thought decent about Labor and its reformist zeal was encapsulated in the words of this intellectually formidable man.

Having played both football and cricket on this oval its environs were familiar to me and we secured an excellent vantage point to view the proceedings. A social cricket match was in progress of which Bob Hawke was a participant and when I went into the club-rooms Bob was alone taking off his pads.

“G’day” he said in inimitable Hawke speak.

“Make any?” I replied.

“Yeah got a few mate”.

I visited the men’s room and when I came out he was gone. He had begun to speak when I returned to my wife. He spoke for an hour off the cuff, without notes, and with earnest enthusiasm.

As the sun was making its way to its place of rest everyone looked toward the park entry. The assembled comrades waited with anticipation. With his back to the sun standing in the back of a ute he rode toward the stage. I felt the awe of his presence. His charisma was something I had never, until that time, experienced in a man.

In contrast to Hawks raspy delivery Whitlam was all eloquence and style and he took me on a journey that had “It’s Time” engraved on every word he spoke.

It’s a journey that has lasted 52 years and adhered social justice, the collective common good and social reform on every fiber of my being.

Gough made it so that it would never go away. My hope in his passing is that the Labor Party might once again find those ideals that Gough with such clarity of vision, and force of personality, sought to execute and did.

To those who would be critical I say this. The best measure of a man is the legacy he leaves behind.

In his book “Crash through or Crash”, Laurie Oakes said this:

In his brief three years the Prime Minister produced profound and lasting changes – reforms which could not have been so broadly conceived and so firmly implemented by a lesser man. The Whitlam Government without doubt was the most creative and innovatory in the nation’s history. Under Whitlam, Australia’s foreign policy came of age. His Government made education its top priority and poured money into schools and colleges throughout the country. It created Medibank, set up community health centres, gave a new deal to pensioners, took an active role in urban improvement and development, provided funds directly to local government, and gave a healthy boost to sexual equality and aboriginal advancement. It promoted greater Australian ownership and control of resources, legislated against restrictive trade practices, introduced the most civilised and sensible divorce laws in the world, gave encouragement to the arts, and in its final budget implemented some fundamental reforms which made the income tax system considerably more equitable. Whitlam himself dominated both his party and the Parliament, and he commanded respect when he travelled overseas in a way no previous Australian Prime Minister had done.

His record:

1. ended Conscription,
2. withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam,
3. implemented Equal Pay for Women,
4. launched an Inquiry into Education and the Funding of Government and Non-government Schools on a Needs Basis,
5. established a separate ministry responsible for Aboriginal Affairs,
6. established the single Department of Defence,
7. withdrew support for apartheid–South Africa,
8. granted independence to Papua New Guinea,
9. abolished Tertiary Education Fees,
10. established the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme (TEAS),
11. increased pensions,
12. established Medibank,
13. established controls on Foreign Ownership of Australian resources,
14. passed the Family Law Act establishing No-Fault Divorce,
15. passed a series of laws banning Racial and Sexual Discrimination,
16. extended Maternity Leave and Benefits for Single Mothers,
17. introduced One-Vote-One-Value to democratize the electoral system,
18. implemented wide-ranging reforms of the ALP’s organization,
19. initiated Australia’s first Federal Legislation on Human Rights, the Environment and Heritage,
20. established the Legal Aid Office,
21. established the National Film and Television School,
22. launched construction of National Gallery of Australia,
23. established the Australian Development Assistance Agency,
24. reopened the Australian Embassy in Peking after 24 years,
25. established the Prices Justification Tribunal,
26. revalued the Australian Dollar,
27. cut tariffs across the board,
28. established the Trade Practices Commission,
29. established the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service,
30. established the Law Reform Commission,
31. established the Australian Film Commission,
32. established the Australia Council,
33. established the Australian Heritage Commission,
34. established the Consumer Affairs Commission,
35. established the Technical and Further Education Commission,
36. implemented a national employment and training program,
37. created Telecom and Australia Post to replace the Postmaster-General’s Department,
38. devised the Order of Australia Honors System to replace the British Honors system,
39. abolished appeals to the Privy Council,
40. changed the National Anthem to ‘Advance Australia Fair’,
41. instituted Aboriginal Land Rights, and
42. sewered most of Sydney.

RIP Gough Whitlam.

Mark Latham: “The Political Bubble”

In this hard-hitting analysis of Australian democracy, the political parties that inhabit it, and other important components necessary for its existence, Mark Latham leaves the reader with an “if only” thought to reflect on.

That’s what I did before writing my piece Seriously, Is Our Democracy Stuffed?

If only we could look beyond our party affiliations and see that our democracy is in deep trouble.

Latham does so, and along the way gives his own party a decent serve, particularly its inability to construct an effective climate change debate based on factual evidence. He persuasively argues that to put the case where people saw it as weather, rather than climate, was wrong and he forensically reasons the way it should have been debated. In the process he takes apart people like Andrew Bolt and others who can only ever argue from a position of limited knowledge and say that “environmentalism” is a code-word for “socialism”.

The chapter on climate change will madden both sides but provides a good analysis of why the issue has degenerated in recent years.

There are a number of single issues that he addresses like the attacks on Gillard, (a whole chapter) the role of the media and its declining ethics, and the cult of personality. He does so with considerable gusto calling a spade a spade, not sparing a thought for the niceties of diplomacy.

Richard Fergusion of The Australian:

In true Latham fashion, a lot a space in this book is devoted to ripping apart old enemies and sneering at opponents. It’s a shame because under the rage and the bile and what looks at times like pure hatred, he does articulate a manifesto for governance that may intrigue people with a love of politics, even if it sometimes lacks coherence.

As I said Latham writes with a degree of straightforwardness but never indulges in hatred. But then Fergusion writes for Murdoch press so one would expect a degree of perfunctory mockery.

However the central tenet of his highly readable observations is that people have lost their trust in the system. That trust has collapsed.

He reckons that the average punter has turned off to the spin cycle, the hyperbole and manufactured outrage of people like Pyne and Abbott. The partisan politics that has nothing to do with the common good.

“Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart.”

When Abbott came to power he promised to restore trust in Australian politics. At the launch of a book by Paul Kelly he said when asked about the state of our democracy.

“It’s not the system which is the problem, it is the people who from time-to-time inhabit it. Our challenge at every level is to be our best selves.”

The assumption in the answer was now that Labor, and in particular Rudd and Gillard were out of the system democracy would right itself. Nathan contends and illustrates that it is indeed Abbott as opposition leader and now Prime Minister who, by his actions and policies, has made the major contribution in the corruption of our democracy.

“Tony Abbott promised to restore trust in Australian politics but, as with most of his promises, it was dispensable.”

Still Latham maintains that both sides of politics are guilty of inflated or broken promises that only contribute to voter disillusionment. He concludes that the disillusionment with major party politics had given way to contempt, and leaders must adapt to a new reality: a more self-reliant, affluent and educated community that was less trusting of institutions, sick of old-style politics, and more attuned to the scourge of “spin”.

"We are witnessing a major disruption in democratic practice" (Mark Latham. Image from 3aw.com.au)

“We are witnessing a major disruption in democratic practice” (Mark Latham. Image from 3aw.com.au)

Latham says governments across the western world are struggling to deliver improvements for their people, with technological change and globalisation neutering traditional policy areas. In Australia the delegation of utility pricing to independent regulatory bodies and the advent of national competition policy has further reduced the role of government in economic settings.

“We are witnessing a major disruption in democratic practice”, Latham writes. “The formal structures of politics still function by their traditional rules and conventions, while the people they supposedly represent have moved on to a new world of self-reliance and institutional distrust.”

For all his criticism of the system and the people who inhabit it Latham doesn’t shy away from solutions. He lists 10 proposals for change that include the introduction of voluntary voting, on the basis it could force parties to develop policy ideas that captured public imagination, along with caps on election spending, transparency measures to expose meetings between lobbyists and ministers, and expansion of community ballots to widen input into the selection of candidates.

His 10 proposals for change include a prescription for arresting voter apathy – “the cycle of apathocracy” – is based on the belief that Australia “will never return to an era of mass membership politics and democratic participation”. Instead, party politics should be brought into line with public expectations: “less obtrusive, less grandiose, less pretentious.”

This is a most serious subject and this book is worthy of a considered read. It guarantees to please those like me who are in agreement with his premise that our political system has lost the trust of the people. It won’t please those with a right to rule mentality and for those who sit on the fence it might provide some answers to the ‘’what if’’ question.

If you want to read the 10 proposals click here.

‘A brilliant analysis of Australia in the era of Tony Abbott and fanatical right-wing politics.’ ROBERT MANNE

Author Information:

Mark Latham was the Federal Member for Werriwa from 1994 to 2005, becoming Leader of the Labor Party in 2003. Prior to entering Federal Parliament, he spent seven years on Liverpool Council in south-west Sydney. He is the author of eight other books, including The Latham Diaries (2005) and Not Dead Yet (2013).

Since leaving politics, Mark Latham has been a columnist for the Australian Financial Review and worked on radio and television as a political commentator. He lives in outer-south-west Sydney with his wife Janine and their three children.

 

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