Saturday 10 October
1 The election of Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Government has in my view done the Labor Party an enormous favor. Whereas it might have cruised to a win against Abbott – and the polls suggested so – it now has the opportunity to reform itself into a formidable force. And the signs are there. Thus far it has released policies that suggest it has not been sitting on its backside. Opinions that what Bill Shorten lacks in charisma he makes up for in policy development may prove to be true.
Five prime ministers in as many years and a destructive descent into hyper-polarisation has left a wounded electorate on the rebound as it searches reinstate democracy, trust and meaning. Thursday’s release of Labor’s $10 billion “cement bank” for big public transit, roads and ports projects is a case in point, coming well before any election is likely.
I don’t think it can be properly estimated just how much damage Tony Abbott did to our democracy, the institution of parliament and government in general.
2 “Mutual respect is the glue that binds this very diverse country together,” the PM said.
It was a measured call for calm and national unity against extremism. Somewhat different from the inflammatory language of Abbott.
What he really wanted to talk about was the value of language and his vision of Australia, “the most successful and most harmonious multicultural society in the world”. Tony Abbott also knew the value of language but he just preferred to use it to project a tough-guy image, to offer veiled threats, and to foster division.
The Muslim leadership for its part responded by telling their adherents that if they didn’t like the country they should leave. Strong language that.
3 By contrast Peter Dutton is again hiding behind devious “need to know” language with regard to the rape victim on Nauru and the future of asylum seekers in general. But being of devious character himself I suppose it’s to late for him to change.
4 If it doesn’t rain in October we have a big problem and the economy will take a hit.
5 Treasurer Scott Morrison has responded positively to the Federal Opposition’s proposal to transform Infrastructure Australia into a project facilitator with a $A10 billion budget. Morrison said on 8 October 2015 that the idea has “some merit”. Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has rejected the idea because it would be difficult for Infrastructure Australia to have the dual function of an independent assessor and a funding body.
Sunday 11 October
1 This week’s Bludger Track (published by Crikey) combined Polls aggregate has the Coalition leading Labor 52.5/47.5. Labor has some work to do.
2 Listening to Malcolm Turnbull addressing the NSW Liberal Party was rather odd. He mentions Abbott and praises his efforts. Applause follows. He says “We are not a party of factions” to sustained laughter from the audience. He says “We are not be holding to big business or back room deals”. The audience thinks he is a comedian as they laugh and jeer. How humiliating. There is deep resentment of what Turnbull did. Very deep indeed.
3 An interesting insight into the TTP trade deal. The University of Sydney’s Patricia Ranald who has spent 20 years studying international trade deals believes the jobs and economic dividends promised have in the past failed to materialise and the public is not aware of the trade-offs involved. Specifically, she says Robb has focused on delivering for farmers over other sectors of the economy, including the one million-odd people who still work in manufacturing in Australia. “He comes from the sector. He has a background in agriculture and he pays particular attention to it” she tells Fairfax Media.
Race Mathews, former right hand man to Gough Whitlam said “If Hilary Clinton can’t get the answers what hope have we? And without them how can we as citizens reach an informed opinion about the issue?”
4 Have you ever thought about what an ideology is? What is Ideology? It’s a word that seems to get tossed around a lot. But what exactly does it mean? Let’s stop for a moment and see if we can’t put some substance to this rhetoric, starting with a few possible definitions:
- A. The body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
- B. Such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.
- C. Philosophy: The study of the nature and origin of ideas.
- D. Theorising of a visionary or impractical nature.
5 How strange in Bendigo. A ‘’Muslim or an Australian You can’t be both. It’s either or” Mr Cottrell told his supporters. He says he is a patriot but I doubt he is. He acts more like a misguided Nationalist. Using his particular brand of unenlightened intelligence am I to assume that you cannot be a Catholic and an Australian or Jewish, Atheist or . . . the list goes on. You can only be Australian. Heaven forbid, don’t anyone ask him his definition of an Australian. Better to leave him in his own little world.
An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.
And Danny was there. Yes, Danny Nalliah, the fundamentalist Christian Pastor, homophobe and Muslim hater (among other things) who’s only claim to fame is that he is an insult to the faith he represents. “Rise up Australia” he calls his group and reckons he is railing against multiculturalism, (he is Indian) Islam, political correctness and the media. In my innocence I once had the misfortune to shake his hand. He is the very worst kind of Christian.
Sunday 11 October
1 Branch stacking scandal. Fairfax Media reveal that in 2013, gift cards worth thousands of dollars were used to pay Labor memberships of plumber’s union officials and suburban branch members. Bill Shorten involved!
Much the same as what Turnbull did to oust Peter King to gain the seat of Wentworth in the 2004 Election.
2 And the response to his speech at the NSW conference if nothing else illustrates just how deeply and dangerously conservative and extreme the Liberals has become. And of course Liberal members are traditionally more conservative than Liberal voters.
Today while walking my dog my thoughts drifted to the state of the world. Now nearly 75 I can only conclude that our inability to resolve the major issues facing mankind can be attributed to three things. The first is religion and the second is a disbelief in science, and the third is that men have never really grown up.
3 Doctors at Melbourne’s Children’s Hospital are refusing to send back asylum seeker children to detention centres amid a showdown with the Immigration Department. News Corp is reporting the doctors are concerned about the welfare of their dozens of patients and say it would be unethical to discharge them to unsafe conditions that could compromise their health. Doctors after all have a duty of care and legally can’t return children to dangerous situations. They’re also legally bound to report child abuse to the police.
It’s difficult to imagine that in a democracy such as Australia we would have federal laws threatening two years’ jail for health workers who speak out against immigration detention centre conditions. Really, what sort of a democracy do we live in?
Monday 12 October
1 Newspoll has Labor and the Coalition level on 50%. My interpretation is that the punters like Turnbull but still dislike the policies.
2 Who said this? “Solar panels are not renewable. The light is lost forever. Much like wind energy just produces used wind. Once it’s used it’s gone forever. Solar panels are wearing the light out”.
3 Even Australian Super chairman Heather Ridout has said the country “will regret” signing away sovereignty over government policy in the Trans-pacific Partnership agreement. In Question Time yesterday after listening to members being so effusive about its benefits to Australia I was forced to ask myself “at whose expense?”
And so mundane was question time. No one got the boot. The questions were routine and got only cursory answers. Turnbull put in a lack luster performance with an appalling answer to a question from Adam Brant on kids in detention. Whatever happened to what, last week, he called emotional intellectualism.
It’s arguable whether the broad Australian public has ever stood up and said it’s “not on” regarding the treatment of asylum seekers, but there are tantalising signs that keeping children in indefinite detention has now become broadly unacceptable.
Having said that, Turnbull has a presence that others don’t.
4 A new member, Andrew Hastie, was sworn in. We now have another religious zealot.
5 Evidence coming out of the Trade Union Royal Commission from former Theiss John Holland boss Stephen Sasse would suggest that he and Bill Shorten were looking after each other’s interests.
6 The conservative right wing of the Coalition have an ambush waiting for the PM on Thursday. It looks like he will face pressure to reinstate the Coalition’s policy to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act after he previously backed a compromise bill up for debate in the Senate this week. The so-called Day amendment would make it no longer an offence to offend or insult a person on the basis of their race. It would remain unlawful to humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people based on their race or ethnicity. The bill defies Malcolm Turnbull’s commitment to adopting more inclusive government rhetoric. He can’t have it both ways.
The difference between insult, offend, humiliate and intimidate is a mystery to me.
An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.
Tuesday 13 October
1 The older I get the less stomach I have for conservative values. Rampart worldwide capitalism is intent on creating more inequality that only results in making the rich richer.
2 My thoughts on Free speech:
The peddlar’s of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate monger’s seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.
The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first constitutional amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.
Contrary to popular belief the Australian constitution does not guarantee free speech. It only implies.
In a democracy the right to free speech in given by the people through the government. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten both here and in the United States.
3 A response to my comment on Monday about the Royal Commission into Trade Unions:
“As an ex Union official myself I am starting to become very confused with what the Trade Union Royal Commission is about. A Union official negotiates a deal with a company official, the Union is happy, the company is happy, the workers are happy, The deal is approved by the appropriate bodies. The project is completed on time and under budget, all is good. Years later, we have the deal nit-picked by a biased Royal Commission just so we can demonize the opposition leader. I think Bill Shorten is to be applauded for breaking out of the traditional adversarial work place negotiations and moving to a co-operative approach”.
4 In Question Time the Treasurer said “Australians wanted to see the plan going forward.” Given that the plan seems to nonexistent I am now waiting on the PM to say: “Good Government starts today”.
Wednesday 14 October
1 This week’s Essential Poll has the Coalition in front 51/49. Combined with Newspoll there’s not much in it.
2 The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told Parliament that the Federal Government will examine a range of options for changing the superannuation tax regime. He has signaled that it may even be open to adopting tax reforms proposed by the Opposition. The Treasurer yesterday in QT wasn’t all that sure.
3 Meta Data. The service providers are not sure what the government wants. The Government knows not what to do with it. The answer whenever a problem of terrorism arises is to give the law more power. What’s missing is perspective. In 36 years 113 people have died from terrorism. So this year, yes this year, 730 will die from Domestic Violence and around 2500 will take their own lives.
4 I have always been of the view that Tony Abbott is the greatest liar Australian Politics has ever seen but the prize for the single biggest lie remains with Robert Menzies. I have quoted it many times but I came across it again when I had a preview reading of a remarkable four part series about the Whitlam years soon to be published at The AIMN. More later, but if ever the term “must read” ever applied to a piece, it is this. Here is a short extract:
“But one of the most important moments in the life of Menzies must have been when, on 28 April 1965, he lied to the Australian Parliament and people over an alleged call for assistance from the Saigon Regime of General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu as official head of state and Air Marshall Nguyễn Cao Kỳ as prime minister. The first battalion arrived in Vietnam the following month. After March 1966 National Servicemen were sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army. Some 19,000 conscripts were sent in the following four years. 521 lost their life. The number of Australian invalid and otherwise victims of the war is still uncertain. The document carrying the alleged call was never found”.
Which of course means that on the basis of a lie 521 young men who weren’t even eligible to vote lost their lives.
5 The things that go unnoticed. The Senate on Tuesday forced the Government to table a letter that revealed that as Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull explicitly asked the NBN Company to create information that could help the Coalition make the case that Labor’s Fibre to the Premises model was not worth pursuing. He is as ruthless as he seems reasonable.
6 Labor is on the attack over investments the Turnbull’s have that are registered in the Cayman Islands. It may be all perfectly legal but it’s a poor look for the leader of the nation. President Barack Obama describes the haven as “the biggest tax scam on record”.
Wouldn’t it be great if a leader came along who was squeaky clean?
7 As sure as night follows day the other banks will raise interest rates in line with the CBA making the Reserve Bank obsolete.
8 The conservatives in the Catholic Church are upset with a progressive Pope. Why? Because they would be happy for the institution of the church to survive with fewer adherents than to in any way progress.
Thursday 15 October
Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.
1 Good news on the NBN. Jason Clare has indicated Labor will ramp up the number of homes connected using fibre-optic cabling as part of the $56 billion national broadband network if it wins the next federal election.
2 Interesting that the CFMEU were responsible for most of the 948 breaches of workplace laws investigated by the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate. Labor should disassociate themselves from this rogue union.
3 The Senate yesterday passed legislation guaranteeing that private companies with a turnover in excess of $100 million could keep their tax arrangements hidden. They had requested this because they feared family members might be kidnapped. Pull the other leg.
4 More Liberals willing to cross the floor in support of hate speech.
5 In giving the green light to build the massive Carmichael Adani coal mine Greg Hunt has committed a major crime on the environment. Being complicit in the decision, Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that he is captive to the deniers and all those things he said as the Environment was just bullshit. We can only hope that other banks will follow the National and refuse to supply funds. And if they try us on again about 10,000 jobs when the company has said 1500. Well l should be used to it I suppose. It was only a couple of days ago Hunt was encouraging investments in renewables. And of course, how much is the taxpayer putting in?
6 It’s about time a person by the name of Shorten started talking like a man named Sanders. Talk about injustice, inequality and corporate greed. Negative talk about Turnbull’s wealth is just plain stupid.
6 We are now in our fifth week of a Turnbull led Government. Nothing has changed. Sure there is a lot of “we’re looking into that” talk together with a few feel good decisions here and there. But you can hear the thumping heartbeat of a lot of very upset far right conservatives shouting to get their way.
My feeling is that the “looking into it” talk is all about the development of policies for a sooner rather than later election.
7 Extraordinary that you would convene a meeting to discuss radicalisation and terrorism and not invite the very people who might just have the answers. Earlier the PM was talking inclusion but his rhetoric is empty of substance.
Friday 16 October
1 Two things occupy my mind as another week bleeds into the next. Firstly is the need for a national ICAC. One with real teeth able to investigate and prosecute without fear or favor. At the moment we have a Royal Commission into Trade Unions and when corruption rears its head it always seems to be the Unions who are for most in the public mind.
However the history of illegal corporate behavior far outweighs that of the Unions. It is not so long ago that Richard Pratt was formally accused of price fixing, cheating customers and companies out of approximately A$700 million in the nation’s biggest-ever cartel case. After more than a year of denials Pratt subsequently admitted his guilt, acknowledging he and his company, and “rival” company Amcor deliberately broke the law. Not to mention Christopher Skase, Alan Bond and John Elliott to name a few.
2 Secondly, five weeks in, the punters have overwhelmingly endorsed the elevation of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister. The Polls tell us so. He has rid us of distasteful Abbottism, although I believe attached to the endorsement is an expectation that policy change would be a pre-condition of it.
Whilst on the one hand the polls endorse Turnbull’s personal popularity, on the other the “who would you vote for” figures suggest that policy changes are uppermost in people’s minds.
This Turnbull’s dilemma. How does he retain his popularity as a moderate conservative without demonstrating it, whilst at the same time delivering right wing policies for a cabinet whose ideas and demands are so extreme? You can’t satisfy both.
At the moment he is somewhat like the Pope. He says all the right things, makes all the right noises but everything says the same.
And that is the week that was.
A final thought:
It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.