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Tag Archives: Mathias Cormann

Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women (part 1)

By Tess Lawrence

Tess Lawrence is not known for holding back when holding forth. In this first excerpt from a longer treatise she calls out Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accusing him of both implicit and complicit coercive control over women in Australia, including female cabinet ministers as well as complainants of alleged rape and other forms of sexual assault and harassment.

Content warning: This article discusses rape and institutional political psychosexual violence.

Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has burgeoned into a political psychopath.

His flaccid leadership and the gross logistical incompetence he’s displayed whilst mismanaging the accumulation, distribution and access to coronavirus vaccines for the comparatively small population who inhabit our vast continent are just two reasons why his tenure is doomed.

There are other crises that warrant immediate attention despite his continuing attempts to suffocate public debate. One of them is Morrison’s ‘woman problem.’ His misogyny and contempt for women have long been stripped bare. They are self-evident; two-faced on the one coin.

The government’s shrewd appropriation of last week’s National Summit on Women’s Safety was an indictment of the continuing irrelevance of the Liberal National Party when it comes to self-examination and institutional reform.

The lack of public advocacy by LNP female cabinet ministers and their appalling political subservience to the ‘father’ of the nation is galling, when it comes down to cleansing Parliament of its sleaze and sleazebags and rehabilitating the House of ill-repute it has become.

So is this. Mere days before the summit, Morrison and his desultory flunkies turfed most of the recommendations made by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

 

 

Many good and wonderful women attended the summit and participated in good faith. Many more should have been there. The paltry 48 hours assigned to the summit was cruel insult. As was Morrison’s keynote address. He is a study in hypocrisy.

His twinkling eyes belie a smarmy paternalism. We have watched him slither from autocrat minister to prime minister, snatching the wattle crown with stealth from more politically agile expectants after the Turnbull spillage.

Morrison’s coercive control stem from Christian Sharia

Afghanistan’s Taliban are shameless in their overt control over women, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s insidious coercive control of women stems from a fundamentalist white man’s version of Christian sharia that deems women, like animals, are mere chattels owned by men and the state.

Of course, all regimes and governments exercise greater coercive control over women than men. Institutional bullying of women in particular is endemic in the construct of rule and religion. Democracy and the Westminster System alike are founded on the coercive control of women, are they not? In the West we learn how heroic women died in the fight for suffrage. They did us proud. My generation has betrayed them. How so?

Elsewhere and everywhere millions of faceless, nameless women continue to die from the catastrophic realities of simply being born female; remaining third class humans within their family household, the notion of voting or standing for any kind of parliament or public office not even a secret fantasy. We all have a shared history, a shared humanity, a shared inhumanity.

What is our Prime Minister doing about it in our own backyard? Bugger all.

We know enough of Morrison’s past and present to call out his patriarchal authoritarianism.

He is publicly steeped in evangelical, biblical primitivism and the subversive, oppressive white tribalism that fuels racial and male gender supremacy.

The latter marches alongside the latent new dawn of pan aryanism now insinuating its emergence from the darker marginalia of history into the stark daylight of global reality; the memento mori of those black and white Pathe’ newsreels replaced and repurposed with full blown glorious technicolour that capture scenes of terrorism, murder and butchery most foul.

Yet blood shed by all nations is as the same crimson shared on humanity’s own Pantone colour chart, regardless of gender.

Morrison’s laying of hands one thing – what of that other kind of laying on of hands?

Morrison may indeed possess healing powers when it comes to his religious laying on of hands upon unwitting constituents enduring hardship.

But it is his failure to adequately address allegations of the unwanted laying on of multiple hands of another kind by male parliamentary predators within the Liberal Party that renders him liable to being described a facilitator and enabler of such creeps; at the least, a bystander.

Then there’s the many allegations of historical and contemporary rape made against other politicians and staff – not all members of the Coalition either.

Morrison’s remit is Parliament and Australia entire; whether polity or populi. Time and again he has manhandled these allegations. He has weaponized them. He has turned that rapid fire assault rifle on the accusers themselves, forever trying to suppress their speech and control the public and political narrative.

His tolerance of what may yet prove to constitute criminal behaviour is disturbing.

Remember how he contemptuously nominated his bestie Brian Houston to be in Australia’s entourage and a guest at President Donald Trump’s White House state dinner?

Houston, we have a problem!

But hey, with Pastor Brian Houston, we had a problem.

Royal Commission cited Houston over father’s sex abuse.

The New Zealand-born founder of global behemoth Hillsong Church, Houston, Morrison’s religious guru and mentor was cited by the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for failing to inform police that his own father, Pastor Frank, was a self-confessed child abuser.

That failure dogs the son of the paedophile preacher man to this day. It dogs Morrison too.

Note: Houston was recently charged by NSW police with the alleged concealment of alleged child sex offences. In the United States, Hillsong continues to be mired in sexual scandals as well.

Sources say Oz big bizzo threatened boycott White House dinner if Houston attended

It was Wall Street Journal’s Vivian Salama who broke the story about Morrison’s failed attempt to secure Houston an invite to Pennsylvania Avenue. And yet before Salama’s scoop, there was loud rumour in diplomatic circles that Trump had given Morrison and Houston the finger.

Now I have learned from former White House insiders that they were not the only ones who didn’t want this episode in the life of Brian to cause political fission. I was told that powerful Australian business interests didn’t want a bar of Houston either.

Of course, Houston had visited Trump’s White House before and after Morrison’s visit but the intervention by some from big bizzo was uncompromising. Some were said to have threatened to boycott the state dinner if Houston attended.

I quote one member of the group who asked not to be identified:

“We don’t want to be in the same room as Houston, whether it’s the White House or the Lodge – let alone sit at the same table with him.”

Further, I was told by a former White House staffer that some of those White House dissidents are also amongst the group of business powerbrokers that recently approached former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to intervene in the lack of vaccines debacle in Australia.

White House rebuff kick in the goolies for Morrison

The fact that even pussy grabbing Trump knocked back the megachurch’s Pastor Houston in this instance was a kick in the goolies for the embarrassed and embarrassing Morrison.

He’d tried in vain to keep a lid on the fact that Houston’s name was on his intimate dance card, once even preposterously asserting that to do so would constitute a threat to national security.

Morrison and Houston were both humiliated by the knockback. I understand our US Ambassador Joe Hockey sided with the business power brokers. Surprise, surprise. Australia now has to endure the historical ignominy of inviting Houston to represent Australia in the first place over arguably worthier invitees.

But wait, there’s more, in less than a fortnight, SloMo is off to the White House again to attend the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Leaders Summit. President Joe Biden will be doing his darndest to get some sense out of Morrison on the subjects of Covid 19, climate change, cyberspace and oh, yeah, something about a free and open Indo-Pacific. Did someone mention China? No mention of the increasing violence towards women or the disintegration of Afghanistan and particularly the plight of women.

But out of earshot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan, Morrison will be discussing the implications of the Houston fracas.

Houston episode forensic insight into ScoMo’s psyche

The point is, this White House-Houston episode gives us important psycho-forensic insight into Morrison’s tolerance laissez-faire attitude and mindset about the proliferation and subject of sex abuse in general.

It exposes a worrying personal and political diffidence towards the many historical and contemporary allegations of rape, sexual harassment, insult, abuse and violence made by women – and directed at women within and beyond parliamentary precincts.

It shows too, how Morrison puts his mates first and Australia second. He does this time and again.

Note: Here we must also cite the Coalition’s failure to implement critical aspects of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, specifically the Redress Scheme.

Does Scott Morrison really treat men against whom allegations have been made differently to their alleged victims? Yes. His biases favour males in general and they include alleged male perpetrators.

The siring of daughters has clearly done little to prompt him to be either friend, mentor, protector or prime minister for womankind. We are the last among equals and our Indigenous sisters are the least among the last.

The barbarians at the Holgate

Consider the outrageous bullying and egregious cowardly attack under the protection of parliamentary privilege upon then Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate, by Scott Morrison.

On the morning of October 22, last year, Ms Holgate appeared before Senate Estimates where it was revealed Australia Post had gifted $3000 Cartier watches to four employees, as a bonus for (it has since been revealed ) securing contracts worth several hundred millions of dollars.

In feverish delight, Morrison seized the opportunity to put the boot in to Holgate in Parliament, once again displaying his capacity for demeaning women, going so far as to cast aside common sense let alone natural justice and the law:

“She has been instructed to stand aside, if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go.”

It was a repugnant abuse of power and parliamentary privilege by a Prime Minister who is accustomed to maintaining a political harem of proudly compliant female ministers who lack the moral and political fortitude as individuals or even as a group, to seriously denounce and indict allegations of bullying and sexual abuse within their own party, even within their own cabinet.

Morrison’s notorious corporate slut-shaming and bullying of Holgate is forever documented in hansard and the ugly saga of the barbarians at the Holgate is far from over. Holgate recently received a $1million payout from Australia Post.

Morrison’s outrageous presumption of the woman’s guilt was out of order, given he did not have the facts at sleight of hand. It was an act of political psycho-violence against Holgate; part of a behavioural pattern, coercive control.

He bloody well knew that Australia Post had a history of dishing out opulent bonuses, including those made to Holgate’s male predecessor Ahmed Fahour.

Mathias Cormann, Onan the Invisible v CEO Holgate

Revelling in his power and toxic masculinity, Morrison proceeded to demean and vilify Holgate in the people’s house. In our name. Not only was he her accuser but also the jury and sentencing judge.

But there had been a long-time plan afoot. Months earlier, he’d sent in his bovver boy Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to politically stalk and undermine Holgate.
Go-fetch-her-Fletcher was only part of it.

There was the sneaky skullduggery of Onan the Invincible, former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, he who was the regurgitator in 2014 of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s offensive “economic girlie man” slur. How is it okay for a minister to use the word ‘girlie’ as an insult?

The Government needn’t have bothered paying for actors for this ‘play like a girl’ ad– it simply should have featured Mathias Cormann and his ‘girlie man ’insult. After all, there’s no copyright on sexism:

 

 

Together with certain members of Australia Post’s Board and Executive, the blokes plotted to get rid of Holgate, who’d dug in her high heels, to keep Australia Post intact, despite being subjected to industrial strength gaslighting, undermining, mudslinging and character assassination.

Magna Cartier

She was steadfastly opposed to any Coalition privatisation or divestiture of Australia Post, as had been conveniently recommended in a Boston Consulting Group report.

It just so happened that Boston Consulting’s report happily coincided with the LNP’s intent to sell off AP and sell out Australia’s iconic mail delivery service.

Holgate’s apparent largesse provided Morrison with the perfect sexcuse. The perfidious plan to flay Holgate in public was detonated by the Primed Minister.

The Magna Cartier ‘scandal ’ provided him with cover for political thuggery. Or so he thought.

Parliamentary privilege – the politician’s condom and ScoMo’s soiled French letter to Ms Holgate.

There is nothing that I can find to compare with the circumstances and sly subtext of Morrison’s deplorable abuse of privilege – and personal attack on Holgate.

It was malevolent character assassination writ large. She was a soft target. She wasn’t there to defend herself. It was a political mugging and seemingly entertained much of the hypocritical rabble in the well named Lower House. It was below the bikini line for sure and symptomatic of the toxic boys club that is our Parliament.

Wearing the politician’s protective condom of parliamentary privilege, Morrison had Holgate by the short and curlies. But it was a soiled French letter that again contained more forensic evidence of his appalling attitude towards women – and the CEO of Australia Post in particular.

Look at his body language in Parliament as he goes in for the Holgate kill. He’s enjoying it big time. He’s getting off on it. No question.

 

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison – and his government – is guilty of exercising coercive control not only over Australian women, but also those women and children seeking asylum, and refugees seeking a new life in Australia.

The popularity and proliferation of coercive control runs rampant across all societal strata: such is the level of physical and mental sexual violence towards women and girls in Australia, that it may as well be declared a national sport.

It is dangerously close to being described as a bonding mechanism for some males, given vituperative social media posts. For some males it is not a badge of dishonour but rather a campaign medal.

A war on a particular woman so often evolves into a war on all women.

If the sport was granted Olympic status, given our prolific expertise in domestic violence, we would probably win gold, silver, bronze and be runners up as well. This is the ugly reality for so many women in Australia. I know it to be true for my sisters everywhere.

Don’t just take my word for it. Let’s have a shufti at last year’s Parliamentary Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence and check out what it recorded about coercive control.

What is coercive control?

4.7: The concept of coercive control was developed by Professor Evan Stark, a sociologist and forensic social worker, who defined it as a ‘pattern of domination that includes tactics to isolate, degrade, exploit and control’ a person, ‘as well as to frighten them or hurt them physically’. Professor Stark describes coercive control as a ‘liberty crime’, and it has also been described as ‘intimate terrorism’.

4.8: Submitters to the inquiry characterised coercive control in various terms, but a common theme in evidence was that coercive control is not incident based, but instead involves a pattern of behaviour.

I rest my case. And for the time being, I rest my heart.

Please Note: If you need any support, please reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. You are not alone.

Continued tomorrow …

© Tess Lawrence

Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.

 

 

 

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“No emerging crisis so big the government can’t find a way to look past it.”

A massive pall of smoke cloaks NSW and shrouds Canberra as the state burns in a catastrophic mega-fire already the size of greater Sydney. Too big to put out, it could last for weeks. Or until rain falls. Meanwhile, Sydney itself joins the world’s top ten most polluted cities as air quality declines as a result of bushfire smoke over the last few weeks.

Some schools are forced to close while others cancel playtime and sports because of polluted air. Red dust and ash waft 2000 km across the Tasman. Smoke also reaches South America. Yet Coalition MPs back-slap and high-five each other on parliament’s last sitting day over their secret deal to repeal Medevac and endanger asylum-seekers’ lives.

“Australia is the best country in the world” government MPs chorus Thursday. “I, too, am confident about Australia’s future.” A claque performing fawning self-applause begin a raucous crowing over Medevac, job creation, congestion-busting, meeting our Paris emissions’ pledges in a canter, our drought relief plan among other Morrison government pretences. In counterpoint, fire alerts and other real warnings run in the crawler under coverage on our TV screens.

“The disconnect [is] emblematic of the week. Indeed, it’s a … motif of the Morrison government. There is no emerging crisis so big that the government cannot find a way to look past it,” even Molan fan-boy Peter Hartcher warns.

Hartcher himself has his blind spots. He hails Jim Molan’s return to the senate where the coal-warrior will replace renewables advocate, amnesiac Arthur Sinodinos who’s off to be our US Ambassador. Amazingly, Hartcher backs Molan to lead a Liberal charge for democracy whilst being uniquely valuable to national security. It’s hard to see how or why.

March 2003 to June 2006 alone 601,000 Iraqis were killed. Since 2007, four million Iraqi refugees had also been created.

Allegedly, Molan was in command when war crimes were allegedly committed in Fallujah 2004 after the US illegally invaded Iraq, a military mis-adventure to which we were joined at the hip. The greatest failure of Australian foreign policy, our involvement in Iraq was based on a farrago of lies. John Howard lied to the nation that he had proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could end up in the hands of terrorists.

We are still all paying the price in all sorts of ways.

Howard ignored advice in 2002 and in 2003 from Australia’s Defence Intelligence Organisation that there was no evidence of Iraq having chemical weapons nor nuclear weapons. He lied that we had to disarm Iraq to have any hope of disciplining North Korea – another palpable lie. And he fabricated a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

There are votes in being tough on terror. This week, in similar duplicity, Home Affairs Tsar Peter Dutton deploys police to patrol our airports as if an extra 135 AFP officers armed with MK18, short-barrelled rifles will protect us from terrorists.

While our PM rants about suicide prevention amongst veterans, he would do better to attend to possible causes. These include growing evidence of moral injury. Fighting in conflicted wars is increasingly being seen – even by US Operations Special Command – as contributing to soldiers experiencing moral conflict or feeling morally damaged by their service.

Moral injury is the lasting mental and emotional result of an assault on the conscience — a memory, as one early formulation put it, of “perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”

Whilst current research is based on military contexts, there is every reason to suppose that moral injury is also part of our modern human condition, not only a result of our war on terror, but of our climate wars which are mis-named attempts to downplay the wilful moral injury inflicted on those whose concern for humanity opposes the extinction of the planet via global warming boosted by the continued abuse of fossil-fuels in transport and electricity generation.

New Zealand’s once-pristine South Island glaciers are turning pink. Kiwis in Auckland and Wellington cough up our soot. But none of this alters Morrison’s mission to lie about climate change. And nothing can hide his hapless government’s monumental ineptitude in grasping the nature or scale – let alone its incapacity to respond appropriately to catastrophic bushfires which have so far killed six innocent people; destroyed over a thousand homes. Keep calm and carry on. Lying.

No credible scientific evidence links climate change and fires, Morrison insists. Besides, he just gets on with the job.

Accordingly, a can-do Morrison-McCormack government pledged to “meaningful practical action without damaging our economy or the family budget” rolls up its sleeves. Jumps in a ute. Gets its teeth into another bush photo-shoot.

Our PM and his dapper, deputy fashionista, Michael McCormack, a former editor (1992-2002) of The Daily Advertiser, a deeply homophobic bloke’s bloke, pose in a drying dam bed which retains a stale puddle big enough to reflect a trio of eucalypts in the background, a symbolic reminder of the Morrison regime’s unholy trinity. Cruelty. Ego. Inertia.

The setting says that while it may look dry, there’s plenty of cause for optimism. And more thoughts and prayers.

“We’ve had droughts before. Bound to rain again. Only latte-sipping city dwellers panic about climate change.”

Following Jenny’s recent write-up in national newspapers, wardrobe is all. Scott models a basic black Anthony Squires trouser with classic white shirt and salmon tie, while Michael teams the traditional National’s MP man-on-the-land-rig of rumpled moleskins with RM Williams Collins button-down, open-necked shirt and RM Williams Comfort Craftsman boot.

ScoMo’s a pro. He’s never forgotten what he learnt as the Vicks Love-Rub kid in the 70s Vapo-Rub ad. It shows. Hands on hips, Mugger Morrison grins down the lens while McCormack seems about to smile at something to the right. Michael could be about to crutch a sheep while Scott looks as if he has just sold the farm to an international consortium.

Fans of merit-based equality, the boys are every bit as “natural and authentic” as Jenny Morrison is recently judged.

“It was a wonderful thing to do. We’re really advocates of wearing pieces over and over again … if something suits you – you should wear it as many times as you like, even to meet the Queen. It shouldn’t just be about wearing them once,” snipes Genevieve Smart: a verdict which should equally apply to a Stepford husband’s ability to dress himself. Jenny doesn’t have a stylist. Buys all her own clothes. Gosh. Can the same be said of her husband and his deputy?

With drought and bushfires all under control thanks to a fabulous fashion-in-the-field photo shoot, the boys are at their best when called upon to dig deep back in Canberra; bash Labor and trash parliamentary democracy to the end.

The spirit of Christmas erupts across both ochre-red and eucalypt-green chambers of federal parliament as MPs break up for the year, Thursday, with a riotous free-for-all. It’s a joyously bicameral, poly-partisan, fiesta of back-stabbing, smearing and blaming amidst the ritual, slagging-off of Labor that now usurps all policy or reasoned exchange. Government MPs seem elated that they have the numbers to deny the opposition its democratic right of reply.

Ironically, there’s no debate allowed on the re-introduced Ensuring Integrity, a bill to further silence dissent in the workforce, a law which could deprive workers’ of their right to withhold their labour; make strike action impossible. Could any Labor MP fail to get the vibe? Or mistake the lower house for a debating chamber? It’s now Morrison’s “bubble”. For Katharine Murphy, it shows how little parliament matters to a Morrison government. Albo is disgusted.

“They run in to gag the debate. They refuse to allow anyone to speak to push through legislation, to what end? So that they can make a point that while they lost in the Senate last week, they won’t on the floor of the House of Representatives?

“We know they have a majority on the floor of the House of Representatives, but this is not, or should not be, a totalitarian state … Dissent and the right of people to represent their electorates have been shut down.”

Warming to the occasion, Angus Taylor, a former Rhodes Scholar who makes Tony Abbott look bookish, over-cooks his already well-stuffed goose by accusing Naomi Wolf of anti-Semitism. His seasonal Christmas tree war is a total fabrication which plays well to misogynists, racists and all conflicted and confused opponents of political correctness.

Taylor’s outrageous fiction ignores Wolf’s objection that she was nowhere near Oxford in 1991 as he alleges. Besides, she rather likes Christmas. In a sensational development, she rings Taylor’s office whilst recording the response before posting it on YouTube and social media. In a post-fact era, her rational, logical, objections are automatically overruled.

Besides, as a woman, a feminist and a victim of male malfeasance she has three strikes against her already in the Trump era.

Yet Taylor is a racist parody in response. Racist? Taylor? Why, some of his best friends are Jewish and he’s got a Jewish grandmother. Irrefutable proof of virtue. It’s a low pitch to divert a nation still in uproar over Clover-gate.

It’s also, as Jacqueline Maley notes in The Brisbane Times, a farcical indictment of our wilful abandonment of reason and the siloes into which we’ve retreated. Or been abducted by our elected representatives. Maley sums up the spat;

“So, here we have it, at year’s end: the greatest, weirdest and the saddest encapsulation of the tribalism that seems increasingly to define our politics: two people at odds, one from the left, one from the right, both with reputations for playing loose with the facts to make ideological points.”

Equally loose with the facts in service of ideology, Morrison’s government by and for and of the ruling elite, a hardy, noxious hybrid of kleptocracy, kakistocracy and oligarchy, is hell-bent on expanding wage slavery under the guise of his vitriolic hatred of “union thugs”.

The coalition government gags debate in a ram-raid on democracy so that its Ensuring Integrity Bill, passes through a bruised lower house to await a newly compliant senate when parliament resumes next year.

Together with side-lining parliamentary democracy, Ensuring Integrity further trammels workers’ rights to freedom of association and makes it easier for governments to deregister unions as well as just interfere in union governance.

A win will further handicap unions’ efforts to monitor workplace agreements and employee entitlements; create an environment which invites wage theft. Whilst this may delight some employers it has dire implications for those families who increasingly depend on underpaid, insecure, casualised or uberised work. And it will help stuff the economy.

Workers must have wages to spend to buy the goods and services our worthy small businesses have for sale.

But there’s big profits in cutting wages and keeping wages down, down, down. Woolworths’ eye-watering underpayment of $300 million to 5700 of its employees happens right before the regulator’s eyes. Unpaid wages may even run to $620 million according to a class action launched this week, reports employment lawyer, Josh Bornstein.

Australian bosses underpay their workers by $1.35 billion every year, PwC estimates, in its November report.

Wage theft is rampant in the hospitality industry, notes Bornstein. The Good Food Guide would fold tomorrow if it excluded those eateries that underpaid or otherwise ripped off their staff.

Workers are most vulnerable in construction (~$320 million), healthcare and social assistance (~$220 million), accommodation and food services (~$190 million) and retail (~$180 million). This estimate includes ~21% of the workforce in the selected industries, or ~13% of the total Australian workforce, reports PWC.

Speaking of rip-offs How good is Gladys Liu? Thursday we learn Morrison’s Great Australian is demanding the Liberal Party repays her $100,000 donation. It was only ever a loan. Victorian Liberals needed her money to hold Chisholm, a marginal Melbourne seat, she says. Liberal Party-poopers beg to differ. Thank God for Scott Morrison’s leadership.

“That’s a matter for the Victorian division of the Liberal Party. I was a state director a long time ago. That is no longer my job,” Morrison ducks and weaves in Canberra, Thursday, eagerly leading in evasion and prevarication at every turn.

But when money talks, a nation pays attention. And even our PM’s charisma can’t compete with Liu’s story.

Australia thrills to its small business backbone to hear how Glad’s pal Allen Saylav, ex-Brighsun CEO, backpacked to raise capital for his plucky little EV bus start-up.

Gladys steered Brighsun towards federal backing in 2015, taking the wheel as the company’s pro-bono Communications Director. Her role led her to organise events with former Minister of Energy and Direct Action dirt magic boondoggler, Greg Hunt, who was then flashing bags of cash for carbon abatement.

Gladys is so passionate about clean energy, she tells Nine Newspapers, she charges no fee.

Alas, poor Saylav has no idea the million dollars in cash including a cool half million he picks up in a Oztrail Quest backpack at a Melbourne BP petrol station car park in April and May 2016 involves a heroin-dealer. A drug mule? Who would know? Not that Saylav can’t explain himself. He’s just following orders. From Mr Zhang.

Brighsun’s Chinese co-director and fat-cat backer, Zhang Genjiang is a Crown casino high roller who jets into Melbourne on his private plane for a flutter. As you do.

Australia is now completely made-over into Morrison’s own Trumpian dis-United States or commonwealth of Metanoia complete with Jacqui Lambie the post-modern anti-heroic little Tassie battler left bleating and freaking out about national security, a phrase which means whatever any MP wants it to mean – but how good’s a mystery ending?

“There is no secret deal,” Mathias Cormann insists – despite all circumstantial evidence pointing towards Lambie being gulled; duped by a promise that Morrison’s government would look into re-settling 500 asylum-seekers who have survived the repeal of Medevac being resettled in New Zealand.

Not that Morrison ever said that. His leadership weasel words include “revisiting” New Zealand’s offer of a deal which was never off the table, he says – despite being rubbished by himself and Dutton as a back-door to refugees resettling in Australia – The Greatest Country in the World. A deal may still be on – but only when the US takes all 500 asylum seekers off Nauru and Manus, an event six months away, at the earliest – and after extreme vetting – in other words, most likely never.

The nation thrills this week to the riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma of the Morrison government, a puzzle, that includes Lambie’s Faustian bargain, Angus Taylor’s war on both Naomi Wolf and Clover Moore with Gladys Liu’s to-do tipping the government’s weekly balance from hyper-partisan warfare and union thuggery into utter skulduggery.

The one-time trombone-playing former teacher’s aide and ex-chemist-shop proprietor cannot keep mum forever about her Brighsun or Liberal associates, nor they about her, especially as she now has cause to ask for her money back.

Any sensible, practical government would demand the resignation of both Gladys Liu and Angus Taylor. Given his form so far, Scott Morrison is likely to find fifty shades of grey evasion including blaming Labor and Wolf to avoid taking any decision.

There is no individual, no institution nor any emerging crisis so big that this government cannot find a way to look past it.

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Pauline rushes to rescue farmers while the coalition falls apart.

“I want to put out a call to these farmers; please don’t give up hope,” Senator Pauline Hanson says shortly before breaking down in tears on her old pal, Alan Jones’ 2GB radio show, Friday last week.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep off microphone. But no longer need you weep alone, Australia. Help is on its way. No. Not Joel Fitzgibbon’s outrageous suggestion of a bipartisan “war cabinet” approach to drought relief. Drought relief is for ScoMo & Co to pork-barrel; grandstand on grief. The government has no drought relief policy. The last thing it wants is Labor to show it up.

ScoMo ridicules Fitzgibbon in Question Time, an institution now entirely corrupted by a government in perpetual campaign. Vitiated by Dorothy Dixers, Labor-bashing and political assassination by quoting News Corps, the nation’s most powerful political party. Monday, ScoMo quotes Troy Bramston of The Australian on Anthony Albanese’s hopeless leadership.

“A Labor frontbencher told me …” is Bramston’s prelude to back-stabbing Albanese. Trump uses ” people tell me…” When no specific authority or evidence is given, the slur may be mere confection or confabulation. But it is also impossible to refute.

“For a guy who wanted to be leader so bad, and couldn’t wait to announce he was running for it less than 24 hours after the election, he does not know what to do with the job.” A Labor frontbencher?

Sure he did, Troy. Sure. Look. It’s uncanny. ScoMo’s cock a hoop with your “scoop”, first up Tuesday.

Labor couldn’t be trusted when it was in power, Mr Speaker, Morrison scoffs. It’s vital to repeat the one big lie of Labor’s hopelessness with money. As experts now, daily, attest to ScoMo and Co’s economic incompetence and the Reserve virtually begs for some serious stimulus measure, it’s especially important to repeat the lie that the GFC didn’t happen here or that we are still paying for Labor’s mess.

As The Guardian Australia’s Greg Jericho notes, Mathias Cormann now claims absurdly that Labor’s GFC stimulus drove up interest rates and the value of our dollar.

“If interest rates went up due to the stimulus then that meant it had helped improve demand in the economy, which was the whole point.”

Hang on. Help is on its way. Good news this week. Dairy farmers struggling to squeeze out $3.00 an hour in an industry milked dry as de-regulation, duopolies and globalisation lead to ruinous farm gate prices – while many suffer drought and ScoMo photo-ops – rejoice to learn that Pauline Hanson has their backs.

“Give me an opportunity to keep fighting. I don’t want these farmers to give up.”

The plucky One Nation leader heroically battles on at Jones’ microphone before it’s all too much and she’s led, sobbing inconsolably, off-air. But not before a word from her sponsor. Pauline’s “upset”, Big Al explains to listeners, “for the farmers” and exhausted as she “fights the bureaucrats” in Canberra.

Pauline is tirelessly fighting up hill and down dale to get our honest, hardworking, dairy farmers a fair price for their milk, a long-lost cause she shows no sign of understanding.

Fairness would involve the dismantling of global price-fixing and regulating the Fonterra-Saputo duopoly that dominates our milk-processing. (Canadian giant Saputo, which enjoys a monopoly in British Columbia bought out a troubled Murray Goulburn, our largest milk processor in April 2018.) Murray Goulburn had contracted with Coles to supply one dollar milk to 2023.

None of this matters to Hanson’s quest for self-aggrandisement. But Pauline’s plan will entail having Canberra bureaucrats very much on side. And supermarkets. Not to mention Saputo and Fonterra.

“It’s hard to say this but it makes no fucking sense,” sweet-talking Saputo boss, Lino Saputo Jnr admits freely. “$1.10 still doesn’t make sense when you can buy water at $3 a litre, when you can buy soda pop at $4 a litre, when you can buy Gatorade at $5 a litre.” No? Never heard of a loss leader, Lino?

Yet loss-leading supermarkets are not the only bad guys. More than half Australia’s milk is sold overseas. The same neoliberal ideology that has us paying export prices for our own gas works with milk, too.

Even if the price of milk on the supermarket shelf were to double, the extra profit wouldn’t go to farmers directly as the ACCC found in its 18 month report on the dairy industry last year.

Dollar milk is the scapegoat, regardless. Even those who may be expected to understand how farmers contracts are set by producers play along with this. Yet never in Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie’s howls of outrage (or Drought Minister David Littleproud’s) does either stop to recall that Labor’s policy last election was to set a minimum price dairy farmers can be paid for the milk they produce.

Doubly unhappy is Bridget McKenzie, the Nationals’ “flash bit of kit” (as Barnaby once described his party’s deputy leader during a late night senate debate). Ms McKenzie cops flak for letting Hanson grand-stand as the cow cockies’ saviour. It’s not just a turf war; everyone knows that hand-wringing over drought or flood or farmers being robbed blind by multinational middlemen is the Nationals’ pitch.

Below the topsoil, the post Barnaby-era party writhes in existential crisis. It lacks leadership, identity and others are muscling in on its patch. Things quickly go bad – with a little help from New England. Friday, the Nationals split with their Coalition partner by leaking a $1.3 bn drought funding policy without approval from Michael McCormack – aka Mick-Mack. Scott Morrison is gob-smacked; blind-sided.

So much for the tremendous authority which pundits confidently predicted Scott Morrison was sure to wield over the Coalition after his miracle win. Or is that all spent in gagging and finger-wagging? The National backbench policy committee, which includes Barnaby Joyce, is the author of the rogue policy.

Such perfidy will not go unpunished – but, that it occurs at all – indicates how weak is ScoMo’s hold on Coalition reins. Are the Nats paying him back for crowding them out of his drought-porn photo-ops? Or did Pauline Hanson’s calling them weak and ineffective” do the trick? The Oz thinks so. The truth hurts.

Extra funding? It’s part of a ten-point plan. This includes setting up committees to oversee who gets their forks into $10m pork barrels, help with boarding school fees and other thought bubbles which will do less to alleviate drought suffering than improve the Nationals’ political identity. Rivals appear, artfully clad in Collins Street bushman’s kit of RM Williams’ moleskins and boots. Topped with spotless Akubra.

Is it identity politics? The Nats argue that their cash-splash will send a message. Or a vibe. It would “appear as an unambiguous package that is clearly labelled Nationals” they claim. Naturally. Nothing shrieks National Party so clearly and plainly as a barrel clearly labelled “pork”. But even a simple lack of ambiguity can come back to bite you in the bum, as the trepid party deputy leader discovers.

Adding to the Nationals’ woes, Bridget McKenzie’s brazen pork-barrelling of grants has rejected 618 applications for community sports facilities. Labor’s sports spokesman Don Farrell cuts to the chase;

“The minister, we now know, rejected advice from her own department, Sport Australia, as to who should get these grants, and she imposed her own favourite grants in their place.”

Above all, despite McKenzie’s promising the ACCC’s recommendation, a dairy industry code of conduct by 2020 – hey – presto -to keep Hanson’s vote, the code will miraculously be available later this year. So far, Hanson seems happy. Early report had her demanding re-regulation of the dairy industry.

Mathias Cormann must be a sweet-talker if Pauline’s being fobbed off with a code of conduct.

How bad are codes? Hopeless -if the PM’s own code for MPs, Morrison’s Statement of Ministerial Standards, tabled last August, is any guide. Gus Taylor just goes ahead and does what he likes. Clearly. Attacking Clover Moore is part of a rational plan?

Oddly, all hell breaks loose. Gus ducks and weaves. Evades all responsibility for the patently false figures in his bizarre letter lecturing Sydney’s lord mayor, Clover Moore on her travel. Tries to claim that the City of Sydney published fake figures on his website. Yep. The old “fake figures made me frame you” defence.

Worse, his PM supports Taylor, a serial offender, yet again, refusing to sanction his Energy Minister. It’s yet another sign of weak leadership and utter lack of integrity.

By his own code of rules, ScoMo should at least sack Taylor from cabinet; report him to the police.

Shadow climate minister, Mark Butler, tells an Adelaide presser Friday,

“Instead of the prime minister actually putting his words into action and putting this into the hands of the New South Wales police, he has shown that there is one rule for one group of Australians – cabinet ministers in the Morrison government – and another rule for everyone else, including the journalists who are currently under threat of prosecution for doing their jobs.”

Gus is helped by The Daily Telegraph, which publishes an article claiming hippy, tree-hugging, bicycle-riding, Clover Moore is not merely a progressive and independent pain in the establishment’s bum, a theme familiar to Telegraph readers, the Lord Mayor has been “told by the federal government to rein in the hundreds of thousands of dollars her council is spending on international and domestic travel if she is serious about lecturing Australia on climate change”. It’s madly untrue, of course, but well-timed.

Trump-like, Taylor uses what seems to be a forged City of Sydney council document to accuse City of Sydney council of spending “$1.7m on international travel and $14.2m on domestic travel” for councillors. The real figures are $1,727.77 on international travel and $4,206.32 on domestic travel.

Taylor’s dead cat on the table, distracts from Morrison’s stuff-up: his upstaging of the Nationals’ announcement of the breakthrough on the dairy code, Thursday. Experts warn that ScoMo’s holy surplus may now never eventuate. Or if it does it may come smack dab in the middle of a recession. Bad look.

But a line has to be drawn in the sand. News surfaces, Sunday, that Scott Morrison told Craig Kelly, chair of the Coalition’s backbench energy and environment committee, not to appear on Q&A with his daft graphs that show that climate change is a hoax. So much for Howard’s broad church Liberal Party.

Gagging Kelly is as much an extension of ScoMo’s naturally despotic leadership style as it is his way of “moderating public perception” to use Michael Koziol’s euphemism for the PM’s hiding an inconvenient truth from voters. ScoMo’s keen to conceal his climate change deniers and cover up the fact that they control the black hole that passes for government policy, a course largely determined by the coal lobby.

Kelly was due to wow ABC audiences with his insights on 16 September. A week prior, the climate denier regaled the multitudes who packed into an Australian Monarchists League function with the amazing news that the South Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is “floating, not sinking [due to climate change]”, because it was a coral atoll and “a coral atoll actually floats on the ocean”. Seriously.

It’s not clear that Kelly is aware that coral is acutely sensitive to sea-level changes. Or that Tuvalu is sinking. Already two of its nine islands are on the verge of going underwater swallowed by rising sea-levels and erosion. Scientists predict Tuvalu will become uninhabitable in fifty to a hundred years.

Porous, salty, soil is already useless for planting crops while Tuvalu’s water supply is now contaminated by rising seawater leaving Tuvaluans entirely dependent on rainwater. Even the fish are now toxic. Ciguatera poisoning affects reef fish who have ingested microalgaes expelled by bleached coral.

When fish infected with ciguatera toxins are consumed by humans, it causes an immediate and sometimes severe illness: vomiting, fevers and diarrhoea. Someone should tell Kelly and his committee but communicating scientific information is heresy in a government devoted entirely to spin.

Clearly, Morrison doesn’t talk to Mick-Mack, his pet name for his deputy Prime Minister. Mick-Mack is also in danger of being drowned by a rising tide of nostalgia for the good old days when Barnaby ruled.

For the Nationals, another backward-looking party firmly rooted in the past, Barnaby can do no wrong.

Yet it’s not what the historical record suggest. It’s never perfect with agrarian socialism or any other cult. Never ends well. Investigative journalist Jommy Tee sums up a topical part of Saint Barnaby’s legacy.

As Minister for Water and Agriculture, Barnaby was responsible in 2017 when the government coughed up $80 million in water buybacks to Eastern Australia Agriculture (EAA), the company where Angus Taylor had been a director and consultant. Eastern Australian Agriculture, a company founded by Gus Taylor made a two hundred percent profit out of Australian water and cotton farms.

Barnaby offered Clyde, a cotton-growing property to the LNP QLD government in 2006. Queensland approached the federal government only to have the sale knocked back by Malcolm Turnbull, then parliamentary secretary to the PM. The federal government deemed the $20m price tag – for both property and water too high, given the water flow’s unreliability and its high price.

Joyce, Taylor and the current federal coalition government have much to explain. This includes:

“Why in 2017, did Barnaby Joyce, as Minister for Water, engineer the purchase of that same water from Clyde at the exorbitant cost of $40 million to taxpayers?”

Doubtless, refreshed after their five week break, our Coalition MPs will rush back to Canberra to clear up the stench of Watergate. Resignations will be tendered. Heads will roll. On the other hand, if Home Affairs top shiny-bum, Mike Pezzullo has his way, people will be jailed for leaking government information to the media.

But at present, it seems, neither partner in the coalition can even synchronise their diaries. Snap! Morrison holds his PM’s presser Thursday, on 2SM Radio.

ScoMo’s broadcast is heard just as the Nats gather at parliament house to simultaneously announce the good news on the code and cheer on the same pitifully small cash grants of $7000 and $13000 to farmers coming off the totally inadequate Farm Household Allowance (FHA) of up to $600 a fortnight.

Centrelink grants FHA to those who can pass its convoluted and protracted application process. Most applicants give up. Of 26,000 eligible households, only 2000 apply.

But of those 2000 who have persevered against all expectation – all will be overjoyed to receive a pittance extra, provided they don’t want to do anything rash like buy feed or replace a set of tractor tyres. See a dentist. Or pay the rates or the electricity bill.

Yet help is on its way. Professional empathy consultants, Futureye, are out in the field, helping ScoMo & Co win hearts and minds; forge its social licence in the bush. It’s not all photo-ops up dry creek-beds and matching green shirts.

Revealed by senate estimates committee questioning, this week, the ever more marvellous Morrison government approach to forging consensus.

Queensland Labor senator Murray Watt asks how Futureye works. Senior Inland Rail project officer Dr Garth Taylor is keen to explain, a rarity in the week’s proceedings where across four committees, ministers and mandarins take hundreds of questions on notice.

“Three key areas come to mind. “One is around empathy, around getting the right tone of voice to deal with landowners along the way … We start with getting the tone of voice right and getting the narrative right, and that leads to empathy. I think that along the way, with the landowners we’ve been dealing with, there has been an appreciation that there has been a more empathic approach taken since the social licence initiative.”

Picking up the $190 million tab to help ScoMo and Co build empathy along the tracks across the backblocks is the Department of Infrastructure’s Train to Nowhere, its Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Project, a $10 billion boondoggle which is battling to establish its credentials, let alone goodwill. Even the government’s own hand-picked experts told it, the inland rail would never pay its way. It went ahead anyway.

The week ends with Matt Canavan being sent out on damage control. Canavan talks all over Fran Kelly on ABC Insiders, Sunday, to demonstrate his party’s superior empathy. Instead he gives a virtuoso display of gaslighting; arguing black is white. It’s his Prime Minister’s if not his government’s favourite tactic.

Instead of an utter disaster, a catastrophic rout by its own incompetence, in brief in spite of all the damning evidence, we are to see the week as the Nationals’ finest hour?

Finest hour? The reality is that the Coalition is unravelling as the going gets tough,with bad news on the economy that is ever harder to explain away and no sign that any of its carefully choreographed show of concern for drought victims is yielding any result.

Fighting over who gets credit for what is at best a band-aid solution or a PR stunt is not an edifying end to a parliamentary term. Nor does it augur well for the next.

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A Political Watcher’s Pig Heaven

Over the last two years a number of articles have been written here at the AIMN about tax expenditures and the need to rein them in if the economy is going to reflect a more even distribution of the wealth.

I couldn’t count the number of times mainstream journalists had put the question to former Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

I cannot recall the number of leading economists that have also added their voice to the need for reform to end the waste of concessions to superannuation, negative gearing, the mining industry and capital gains.

But I know there have been many.

Yet for two years, Hockey and Cormann defended their decisions not to touch these sacrosanct areas of welfare for the wealthy at the expense of the average worker.

It was the elderly, the low paid and the sick who were told to pull their belts in, stop leaning on the rest of us and pay more for health care while receiving less in retirement.

Yet, five minutes after both Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are given their marching orders and despite Mathias Cormann miraculously holding on to a job he is not very good at, the government has finally agreed these areas of obscene generosity can be now be looked at. What has changed?

mitchell Former PM Tony Abbott did the rounds of his favourite shock jocks last week to vent some of his angst about the treachery he experienced from within his cabinet that resulted in his overthrow. He has made a point of saying nothing has changed. It would seem he hasn’t looked very far.

This week’s summit, both called for and chaired by Malcolm Turnbull, was a big change. The summit was a means of getting stalled reform initiatives back on the table.

Business groups, unions, welfare and social groups all got to have a say, with the notable exception of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), Abbott’s favourite policy spruiker.

So, some things have changed.

It is inconceivable that Turnbull will not try for further, more substantial changes. The difficulty he faces is the hard right wing of the party who reluctantly allowed him back as leader.

They still don’t trust him. They think he is a Labor stooge, a socialist at heart, one who needs to be watched very carefully.

This lack of trust, this suspicion from the Right that Turnbull is not one of them will continue to undermine his agenda for Australia.

If the Right succeeds in holding him back they will stall the nation’s ability for genuine economic recovery and frustrate the voters.

Under Abbott, the Liberal Party made a hard turn to the right on practically everything. Turnbull wants to bring it back to the centre. In doing that, he risks both alienating an important support base within the party as well as making the party appear no different from Labor on issues that matter to the voters.

The Australian voter will generally go along with either party on foreign policy, immigration and national security. Their main interest is in education, health, climate change and the economy.

Thus far, both parties have no answer to what is perceived as spiralling debt and ongoing deficits. The next election will be fought on these four issues.

MORRISON The new treasurer, Scott Morrison has already blotted his copy book claiming we only have a spending problem. He is wrong, of course, but the mere fact that this was his opening salve doesn’t look good for his, or the government’s, credentials as economic managers.

In the meantime, Labor will always trump them on climate change, education and health. The next twelve months will be a political watcher’s pig heaven. Can Labor convince the electorate that they were better at running an economy?

Can Turnbull build a consensus between the unions and industry while keeping welfare groups happy? Can he convince anyone that Direct Action is not a waste of money?

One thing is certain. The bad air, the despondency, the feeling of being dragged back into the middle of the last century has passed. We have been liberated from the threat of a recurring dark age. No longer are we embarrassed, ridiculed and portrayed as recalcitrant dimwits from down-under.

For that I’m grateful, but I suspect the turbulence for change within the electorate is going to make life inside the Coalition a smouldering keg of discontent that threatens to explode at any time.

 

Cormann was once a little Focker

There was an article in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today with the heading, “Govt to tackle head on claims it is unfair and say borrowing against our kids is the most unfair act of all”, by Latika Bourke.

Whoever came up with that headline needs fatigue counselling, but putting that to one side, it is the content that, if accurate, displays an incompetence within the ranks of government thinking, which is simply mind-boggling.

For a start, “borrowing” against our kids is what successive Australian governments have been doing for 100 years. It has made us what we are today. How is that unfair? We allow them to attend the schools and universities that were built. We allow them to use our hospitals. We let them travel on our trains, buses and trams, all of which were built for us as well as provide a future that would prepare them to become productive members of society. How is that unfair?

cormann Does Mathias Cormann think that his generation paid for all of today’s infrastructure? When he says, “No parent would keep putting a chunk of their grocery bill on to their credit card every week through their whole life and ask their kids to pay it off after they go,” what does he think he has been doing most of his adult life?

Of course we ask our kids to pay some of it off, but not until the little Focker’s have left home, got an education and a job and taken over from us as we start to retire. What sort of fantasy land does our finance minister live in?

Does he not realise that he is paying now for things his parents helped provide for him? Does he think it all came off their credit card? That is how government works. We build stuff, we create stuff that we expect will last a couple of generations before it needs to be updated or replaced. When it does, that generation replaces it and successive generations thereafter help pay it off.

A handful of examples spring to mind: the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop, the Australian Submarine Corporation, the Commonwealth Bank, the Ord River Project, the Melbourne/Sydney/Brisbane Rail line and so on. Does the minister think these projects were all paid for by the generation who built them? No, minister, You and I are doing that now!

And just to labour the point, his and my little Focker’s will be sharing that load too. Has he forgotten that he was once a little Focker?

There is a name for all of this. It is called deficit spending. Since Federation in 1901, 112 years ago, 82 of those years involved deficit budgets. There have been 18 surplus budgets over that period, 10 of them came during the Howard/Costello years, a period where private sector debt soared to record levels. They were the most unproductive years since federation. There have been just 12 balanced budgets.

If anything demonstrates the failure of sustained budget surpluses, surely that does. Successive generations have always paid off deficit budgets. Budget surpluses make no contribution to major infrastructure projects whatsoever. They do the opposite. They starve the country of money to build infrastructure. Name one major project the Howard government dreamt up and built that we are not paying off today. Did they build anything?

reith In the article, the main thrust seems to be the minister’s concern for rising unemployment; and well it should be. It is his government’s policies that are forcing unemployment up. The article also claims that former Howard government minister, Peter Reith said unfair industrial relations laws were stopping young people from getting jobs and he criticised Prime Minister Tony Abbott for not doing anything to solve the problem.

Far be it for me to criticise anyone who criticises Tony Abbott, but the former minister is quite wrong. It is not our industrial relations laws that are preventing people from getting jobs but a failure of government to provide stimulus spending that would generate demand. Demand is what creates jobs, not laws.

Little wonder a former minister of the Howard government would think that way. He had lots of friends, who today, have no idea of how little they did for the nation.

Message of the day

As Lenore Taylor reported on Friday, every morning the major parties send out the “messages” of the day. These aren’t really super-secret documents since ministers and MPs dutifully recite them into any available open microphone.

At the media briefing after the Coalition’s party meeting the assembled journalists were told, “The prime minister said 2014 had been a very good year for the government and he’s confident next year would be at least as good if not better.”

And last night on Lateline we saw Steve Ciobo dutifully relaying the “message”.

The Abbott government’s plan is THE ONLY PLAN to improve economic growth and repair the budget – regardless of what question is asked, this is to be the reply. They are to repeat over and over again, what a good year it has been.

Look how Scott has stopped the boats. (But don’t look at the offshore gulags where children are locked up in appalling conditions.)

Look at how many Free Trade Agreements Andrew has signed. (But don’t ask for the detail about what we sacrificed for those signatures.)

Look at Julie – isn’t she pretty? (But don’t ask us for foreign aid or any contribution to global action on anything that doesn’t involve bombing people.)

Look at Matthias – there’s a man who knows how to repeat the lines (But any deficit blowout is most definitely not his fault – it’s Layboor’s debt and deficit disaster and when you get sick of that it’s Joe’s fault for not selling the message).

Ciobo slipped right into the script we knew was coming. He said that the Coalition has already cut Labor’s debt by over $300 billion.

That would be a spectacular feat if true since gross debt when they left office was about $280 billion.

PEFO showed that gross debt was expected to climb to $370bn by the end of 2016/17. In Hockey’s MYEFO that figure had grown to $430 billion and then to $450 billion in the budget, and by all accounts it is still growing as we shall see in Hockey’s next MYEFO in a couple of weeks.

So where is Ciobo getting his figures from? This little piece of number gymnastics from Hockey’s budget.

“The published 2013‑14 MYEFO face value of CGS on issue figure of $667 billion in 2023‑24 did not include a cap on tax receipts. The projection for MYEFO in Chart 1 includes a 23.9 per cent of GDP cap on tax receipts, increasing the face value of CGS on issue projected to $748 billion in 2023‑24.

In comparison, at 2014‑15 Budget CGS on issue is projected to be $389 billion in 2023‑24, an improvement of $359 billion. By 2024‑25, the projected end‑of‑year face value of CGS on issue is expected to reach $362 billion.”

When Emma Alberice pointed out that using MYEFO as a basis of comparison was ignoring the Charter of Budget Honesty, and that it contained Hockey’s spending and revenue cutting measures like gifting the RBA almost $9 billion and foregoing the revenue from the carbon and mining taxes and wasting billions on Direct Action, Ciobo just spoke over the top of her saying Labor had left the RBA in a vulnerable position. Tony Burke then tried to point out that the Coalition had taken $1.24 billion in dividends from the RBA this year, something they roundly criticised Wayne Swan for doing, he also was interrupted and spoken over.

The first instalment, over $600 million, has already been paid back to the government in August.

As reported in Crikey:

“When Wayne Swan took a dividend of just $500 million from the RBA in 2012-13, he was accused of “raiding” the bank, by Hockey among others. It was subsequently revealed that Treasury, after consultations with the RBA, didn’t believe there was any imperative to increase the Reserve Bank’s capital buffers. But if $500 million is a raid, over $1.2 billion looks more like open plunder. How dearly Swan would have liked being able to get another $700 million that year. So as some of us predicted back in 2013 Hockey, having blown out the 2013-14 deficit with his $9 billion gift to the RBA and blamed it on Labor, has got his first repayment to bolster the 2014-15 budget bottom line.

Curiously there is no mention of the dividend in RBA governor Glenn Stevens’ foreword to the report, despite discussing how the $8.8 billion had replenished the bank’s capital reserves; you have to go down to page 77 to get an explanation of the dividend. It’s particularly curious given that the dividend — whether one is to be paid or not, and how large it will be — is regularly mentioned in the forewords of previous annual reports. The omission doesn’t help the impression that the whole business of the $8.8 billion has undermined the perception of RBA independence.”

This politicising of independent bodies like the RBA, Infrastructure Australia, NBNco, the CSIRO, the AFP and the ABC, is a very worrying trend designed to keep even more information from the public.

So my “message for the day” is stop the crap Joe and co. If MSM journalists are incapable of exposing the bullshit then step aside – you have made yourselves redundant.

Let’s be absolutely crystal clear about this

Photo by The Daily Telegraph

Photo by The Daily Telegraph

If you click on the official Prime Minister of Australia government page the first thing you will read is:

“Over six years, Labor ran up a $667 billion debt on the nation’s credit card.”

Aside from wishing that the Prime Minister of Australia had a more visionary or engaging opening line, it is a bald faced lie and that isn’t a good way to convince people to trust you.

You will be subjected to a rolling slide show of Tony, Joe and Matthias, photographed in various serious looking poses. Is anyone else getting sick of these photos of Tony sitting at tables with people surrounded by lots of booklets and oversize graphs? Is that supposed to convince me that he knows what he is doing? Because he has his photo taking wearing a white lab coat trying to look into a microscope am I to say oh well the $7 co-payment must be a good idea?

But back to the lie.

“Ran” indicates past tense – in fact Tony Abbott specifically states that this happened “over six years”. What he fails to mention is that the figure of $667 billion was a projection for possible debt in ten years’ time from Hockey’s MYEFO report produced last December, and it included increased Coalition spending decisions like the $8.8 billion gift to the RBA and all the interest that will cost us, and the foregone revenue from the carbon and mining taxes, and changed assumptions about future unemployment – in other words it was a political exercise designed to come up with as big a number as they could so they could then justify draconian measures as they claim to be reducing it.

Using the term “nation’s credit card” is purely designed to cause fear. The nation doesn’t have a credit card. In fact we actually print money and can do so if we have to as they have done in the US. Credit cards can get individuals into serious debt and the interest rate is crippling. Using that term makes people think of that rather than a sensible understanding of how government finances work.

While the Coalition continues to peddle this lie I will continue to remind people of the truth because the Australian people have a right to know the real state of our finances. And because nothing pisses me off more than getting lied to about important stuff.

So what is the truth?

The independent pre-election economic and fiscal outlook’s (PEFO) medium term projections, using long-standing methodology, show that on Labor’s policy settings the Budget reaches a modest surplus in 2016-17, surplus grows to 1% of GDP in 2020-21 and net debt returns to zero in 2023-24.

The latest Budget update shows net government debt for 2013-14 of $191.5bn, or 12.1% of Australia’s GDP (not $667 billion Mr Abbott). By contrast, net government debt in advanced economies around the world averages 74.7%, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Gross debt in 2023‑24 is projected to be $389 billion with surpluses projected to build to over one per cent of GDP by 2024-25. There are no surpluses predicted over the forward estimates, there is a higher debt, and surplus of 1% 4 years later than predicted by PEFO using Labor policies.

After the GFC hit, the deficit peaked at $54.5bn, or 4.2% of GDP, in 2009-10 – less than half the advanced country average. In 2012-13, the federal deficit was $18.8bn or 1.2% of GDP, compared to an advanced economy average of 4.9%.

The claim that Labor left “fiscal time bombs” and secret cuts and spending is another blatant lie. In the 2013-14 Budget, Labor took the unprecedented step of releasing 10 year figures for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Gonski school reforms, demonstrating how they were funded over the long term. Those figures, as well as the efficiency dividends on the public service, were there for all to see. The fact is that Tony’s election promises were made knowing this but, as we saw, working out how to pay for his promises was not on his mind.

Australia is one of only 10 economies in the world with AAA ratings from all three agencies – in the company of other countries with strong public finances like Germany, Canada, Sweden, Singapore and Switzerland. This status shows our finances are considered to be stronger than those of the vast majority of advanced economies – including the US, the UK, Japan, France and New Zealand.

Despite headlines to the contrary, and ill-informed statements by the Prime Minister, the agencies have confirmed our credit rating with a stable outlook.

I hesitate to compare government finances with individual or business finances, but I will say this. When you go into significant debt, you usually aren’t looking to pay it off completely the next week. The decision to go into debt is made by looking at your assets, your ability to service the debt, and the value of the investment of the debt.

We do need to make some changes. There will never be a time when fine-tuning isn’t needed because we live in an ever-changing world with an often volatile global economy. Situations change requiring adjustments to be made.

We are not in any sort of crisis. We have the luxury to be able to do long term planning to meet the challenges of the future whereas so many other countries are having to make decisions for the short term as a matter of survival.

Tony Abbott is looking for a legacy for himself rather than for our nation. He wants to say the debt was huge and I made it smaller and he doesn’t care if he has to lie about figures to make this look true. If he really wanted to reduce debt why on earth would he stubbornly insist on his paid parental leave scheme? Why wouldn’t he look at negative gearing and superannuation tax concessions and capital gains reductions? Why would he buy 58 fighter jets that won’t be in service until sometime next decade?

The “Infrastructure Prime Minister” is building the Abbott Highway to Hell to speed up the path to destruction and he is more than happy to sacrifice anyone who can’t help him along his way.