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Tag Archives: media

Government Funding and the Free Press

By Jay Smith

In the domain of politics and state government, the relationship between media and the state needs to be constantly examined. Journalists in the past have served to both promote politicians and government initiatives while investigating and scrutinising politicians and the government of the state. This relationship between the media and politics has changed over the last decade due to new influences in the form of new advertising and communication mediums. In this piece, I am going to discuss the inadequacy of the free press as a result of changes in the information-seeking behaviour in the new forms of advertising and communication mediums. While in the past the media has looked predominantly to the interests of the public by way of funding and creating quality investigative journalism, media organisations have had to increasingly look towards their own interests to maintain their capacity to function. The result has been the incapacity of the press to adapt and to be able to fund itself and sustain quality unbiased investigative journalism. I will be suggesting a new method by which media organisations can attain funding through assisting government initiatives while remaining neutral in terms of government influence over what the funding is used for and its bias towards or against the government. This method, of course, will require close examination and strong restrictions on government overreach that has yet to be put in place. There are a number of restrictions that need to be put in place to sustain a government-funded free press.

When writing of the concept of a free press it is important to define what a free press is, as all press organisations are ultimately governed by either the interest of the audience, editors, journalists, beneficiaries and advertisers or all of the above. Ultimately if a press organisation is not governed by an audience, beneficiaries or advertiser’s freedom, in general, is not about being able to do as one pleases, freedom is about having as few restrictions as possible where one can do as they please while abiding by those few restrictions. Ultimately a free press is unfiltered by a government organisation. A free press cannot operate under the suspicion of having its funding docked if certain information is published or not published. A free press has a right to protect its sources. However, press is always governed by the prerogative and inflection of the journalists and editors.

It is key to a functional society to have a free and unbiased media in regard to government initiatives. Media organisations have influence over public opinion which allows the media to sway elections and influence the popularity of political parties and government initiatives. A free press serves to without bias investigate politicians and government initiatives. Bias within the media in relation to politics and government initiatives serves to ignore and permit corruption within a government. When a media organisations funding is controlled by government organisation it serves to propagate a government’s message. This commonly is referred to as propaganda. The dangers involved with a society that is seduced by propaganda and a government that coverts corruption can easily be illuminated with a quick history lesson on dictatorial governments. Dictatorial governments in the past century have committed some of the worst atrocities against human rights climate change Governments that only need to pay lip service to the democratic process.

In the current decade privately owned and funded, trustable journalism has suffered from funding cuts. The age of trustable free market news organisations have suffered due to budget cuts resulting from the rise of social media that offers a cost-effective and more efficient advertisement medium to market products, services, and initiatives. Mediums such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become more effective in communicating with an audience and building trust and carrying a brand’s message to an audience. Companies whose advertising funds that once went to the media have become aware of the new trend of information-seeking behaviour. Having become aware of this, companies on a large scale have followed suit in their advertising spending habits. Leaving copious gaps in the funding of free press news organisations.

The creation of reliable and trustworthy news has suffered due to its limited profitability. Media organisations have taken to looking to their own interests in order to function and employ journalists. This has resulted in the rise of trends such as dubious news stories that have been given the name ‘fake news’ additionally advertorials in order for news organisation to function and to gain profit. Becoming a mouthpiece to propagate biased and untrustworthy news. With the advent of dwindling paying subscribers, news organisations have had to rely on the use of the advertorial where articles are written and paid for by companies to favourably promote a brand. I for one assume that all news articles freely acquired contain dubious content or advertorial. For one I believe that all journalists need to and deserve to be paid for their work, however, the process by which the journalist acquires funding needs to be examined thoroughly.

A popular method of subsidising income for news media is that of the advertisement separate from the article. This has been proven to be the most effective way of generating income for news organisations. Additionally, it is the most ethically sound method of news production. However, for those that wish to pursue paper-based news mediums of advertising, online advertising through organisations such as Facebook and Google has by far surpassed as a more effective form of advertising, with the possibility to niche partition an audience, monitor feedback and click through rates and cost per action accountability.

Politicians and governing bodies have in the past used the medium of advertising to promote their interests, political party and affiliations. This particularly is used in the run-up to elections when a politician needs to promote themselves or at the time of a referendum. The money used to purchase these services comes directly out of the taxpayer’s pocket charged to the government to foot the bill. While working for news organisations I handled sales of political advertising during peak and off-peak election seasons. The flow of funds from the government to the media directly for the purchase of advertising. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds are spent on political advertising each election cycle.

Government organisations outside of the promotion of politicians and political parties serve to create policies and initiatives that provide products and services to the people they govern. From healthcare to social welfare, social security to disability support, a government must engage its citizens to promote and markets government subsidised products and services. Government funds are spent to market products and services to see that they are used correctly and reach the right people. The question I considered was is there a more ethical way of governments putting copious amounts of money into media while remaining unbiased as to news content. A way for taxpayer’s funds to be spent on media outlets, while aiding governments in promoting their subsidised products and services.

In 2016, while working as part of the media I developed the basis for a model for news journalism to acquire funding through government initiatives while remaining relatively unrestricted as to government interference. While a news organisation can specialise in the production of news, in order to subsidise funding a news organisation can produce niche market supplementary services to raise revenue. This service can be applied to a limitless range of industries each focused around a common interest or clientele. This can take the form of a directory service supported by advertising and relevant important news and information. The supplementary services are completely separate from the news organisation however aid in funding the operation of the news organisation.

While looking for a potentially profitable niche market to advertise within I was able to gain firsthand access to the roll-out and implementation phase of a new government initiative. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) an Australian government department that provides products and services to support the disabled. The department began a new initiative where for the first time the disabled in the country’s history were able to choose from a range of registered private service providers. The department had a registered list of service providers companies whose operations are subsidised by the government. The capacity for choice allowed for a new competitive market to take place amongst government-funded companies.

The funding model which was implemented was for the media to approach government subsidised companies for advertising opportunities, while assisting in the promotion of a government initiative. This allowed for private companies to choose their prospective advertisers. The key component of choice by private organisations un-interfered with by the government allowed for funds to be channelled to a free press organisation from the government which removed the ability for government to influence the media. This allows for the free journalism to operate outside of the restriction of government interference.

The capacity for the client of government faculties to choose their perspective advertising agent under this model would allow for the associated journalists the freedom to operate within the use of government funding without government interference. This un-interfered operation of the free-market choice would provide a press free from the constraints of the interest of the government, an audience, and beneficiaries. The operation of the press under this model would appear superficially as the best possible outcome for news journalism, the alternative relying on philanthropy. However, the beneficiaries of these organisations that fund a press of this nature would have to be paid attention to.

For the funding model to operate without government interference, restrictions on government overreach need to be put in place. These restrictions will help to safeguard free press media organisations and stop funding from being manipulated by the government.

The free choice of government-subsidised businesses under the free market is key to the success of this model. Any government-subsidised companies that advertise through free press organisations need to be allowed to choose their avenue of advertisement without manipulation. Government interference at this level could allow the government to choose the direction of funding, directing funds to a favoured associated press news organisation. Laws need to be created to stop the restriction on choices by the government on government-subsidised organisation in regard to their choice of advertising service.

To further protect the free presses’ capacity to operate without restriction, more than one if not as many as possible separate free press organisations need to be involved in the assistance of advertising in relation to a single government initiative. The revenue raised from the product of advertising if not governed by the free market needs to be shared equally amongst free press news organisations. The capacity for the government to choose which media organisation to channel its subsidised funding through would allow for bias in regard to funding. Alternatively, if one organisation is to undertake the advertising and marketing of one government initiative the government has the capacity to withdraw channelled funding from unfavoured organisations.

Additionally, for a government-subsidised free press to operate transparency is key. Information is needed to be freely available in regard to details of the companies that are receiving government-subsidised funding. If a media organisation is shut out from accessing the details of a government-subsidised company, then the media organisation will be unable to receive the revenue raised through marketing and advertising the government initiative. This would be an ideal way for a government to manipulate funds and exercise bias. Openly available information is key.

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Should the media act more responsibly?

By Dave Chadwick

The public’s hunger for every image and piece of information about terrorist acts and mass murders does not always need to be sated. I question the effort of the media to feed this hunger with endless detailed national coverage when an attack occurs. Do they not realise that this is the exact reaction the awful perpetrators are hoping for, or are they so greedy for ratings they do not care? Would a more restrained approach make society even a few percentage points safer?

The valued concept of a free and impartial media to act as the ‘Fourth Estate,’ and hold all three branches of government accountable to their representatives has a long history in democratic theory. The importance of a balanced and independent analysis of national and international affairs is put into stark definition by the blatantly deceptive and obfuscating practices that modern politicians employ. Although its Fourth Estate role is a powerful argument against government interference (which doesn’t seem to bother our current government), it is not a licence for the media to publish and post whatever pleases them. It also charges them with the responsibility of publishing in the public interest.

I’m not an historian or expert in media law, but it seems to me that the media has misinterpreted the idea of public interest. Public interest here does not necessarily mean what the public is interested in – but what is in the public’s interest to know.

What is in the Public Interest?

I could write a whole article about media outlets’ preoccupation with selling us news stories that are really not in our interest, such as what happened on last night’s episode of the Bachelor (which by the way, I really don’t care), instead of giving us a better understanding of ongoing developments in Ukraine or the South China Sea, but I won’t. I am not really arguing against this (doesn’t mean I like it though), as I realise they have to make a commercial decision about what consumers want and some publications are marketed to a particular type of consumer.

My concern is when the media (and with the advent of online technology, all social media users have the potential to become lay-journalists) publish and share information that is actually against the public interest. Whether through greed or naïveté, media users are unthinking accomplices to the aims of terrorist groups and psychopaths with the incredibly detailed coverage they reward them with. If social media users were more discriminating with what they shared and media outlets were more restrained with their coverage, the payoff these groups and individuals get from their atrocities would be reduced, potentially reducing the likelihood of further atrocities. That sounds like something that would definitely be in the public interest to me.

Only recently, a clearly unwell man acted out his rage in a heinous double murder in Virginia and even went to the trouble of videoing it and posting it to social media. The logical inference of such action is that he wanted to share his actions with the world. How did the media and the rest of the world react? Exactly the way he wanted. Television and print media published articles about every aspect of the attack and his life, while the online community was retweeting and sharing his gruesome posts. News articles even provided screenshots and links to his social media page. I actually saw an article in The Herald Sun that published his final social media posts after describing him as a man who wanted his actions and words to go viral. Nice of them to fulfil his dying wishes. To other unwell, lonely, desperate people, what is the message? The more despicable your actions are, the more attention you will receive.

Now I don’t want to imply any less personal responsibility of the perpetrators of disgusting acts like these, but I do wonder what useful function does the saturation media coverage and vapid online sharing of these types of event serve. Would most attacks still take place? Probably, but would all of them? I’m less sure.

When the first of ISIS’s execution videos was released, like most of us I was saddened for the victim and his loved ones. I was also horrified and angered at those who would perpetuate such an atrocity and deliberately seek to use it as a political strategy. These feelings of impotent rage returned each time I saw it on TV news bulletins and heard the audio on radio or saw people sharing the video on social media. That happened an awful lot. It was difficult to avoid for a few days. If the terrorists wanted to bring their message to people around the world, they succeeded. However they only succeeded because they were allowed to.

The public execution was a propaganda strategy that held no tactical value. If no one watched the videos would there be any reason to make them? I would contend not. So why are people in the west so helpful in actually facilitating and encouraging it? I know Tony Abbott liked to see national security headlines on every paper as often as possible, but was it actually in the public interest? It was no surprise to see a string of similar videos released in the following weeks.

What if …

What if a law was passed making it illegal to broadcast or forward any vision or audio these crimes? Or even without legislation, if the media guidelines changed to dramatically reduce the frequency and detail with which they did cover them. Obviously the exception would be for the files to be passed on to DFAT or the AFP so they could take appropriate actions. A short factual, unsensationalised (I know it’s technically not a word, but its meaning is obvious) report detailing the important facts of the story is all that needs to be made public. The public’s fascination with every aspect of this does not have to be fed, just like six-year old’s love of ice cream doesn’t have to be fed. Is there any other reason people really need to see the video? I would argue it is hardly in the public interest and would suggest it is actually against it.

I realise this idea may draw some unflattering Orwellian comparisons from civil libertarians. But is this really a slippery slope to the government-controlled media of 1984 (I’m not talking about an actual year that is the title of a book for those to young to have realised)? I don’t think so. You can use a slippery slope argument to predict pretty much anything, but that doesn’t mean your prediction is correct (as Eric Abetz and Corey Bernadi have shown). Increased government regulation of the media and individuals’ online activities may ring some alarm bells, although I believe there are similar laws about child pornography and although it is a significantly different issue, I haven’t heard any complaints about such laws.

The other argument people may raise is that such a law would make people even more beholden to the media and would prevent independent verification of the reporting of these types of events. It is true to an extent, but seeing the video or reading a mass murderer’s life story (as reported in the media) doesn’t solve that anyway. I would agree the potential for media agencies to shape national dialogue with their reporting of an event is already unsettling, but social media provides a counterpoint to this already. I can’t see this change adding much to this situation as there is still much that can be reported and shared. The videos of 9/11 and the moon landing have not stopped the conspiracy theorists on either subject because some people will believe what they want to believe no matter what evidence is- that is why there are still anti-vaccers and climate change deniers in the world.

Is that the answer?

I do like the concept of an independent, uncensored media, free from government and shareholder interference, but Australia seemed to give that up some time ago. The reality is that a lot of news reporting and commentary is filtered by existing beliefs and assumptions of the commentators, even this one (astonishing I know). I have outlined how I believe current media practices around the reporting of terrorist attacks and mass murders, as well as the unthinking actions of social media users, may play a part helping the perpetrators achieve their goals. Political attacks mean very little when their message is contained, after all. I know it wouldn’t stop such actions, but would it make them less attractive to desperate individuals? I think so. As much as governments are often wary of over regulating the media for fear of public backlash, I think it would at least be worth thinking about and discussing?

What do you think?

This article was originally published as Real Agents of the Fourth Estate or just greedy Real Estate Agents on Quietblog.

A Letter to the Editor from Morrie Moneyweather.

I have refrained from writing to this blog for over a year but it has gottin to much for me. Im sick and tied of the constant attacks on the Prime Minister and his cabnet.

I really don’t know where to start. Everyday there is a constant stream of pissweek comantary from writers with little to say and all the time in the world to say it.

Take the attacks on the best Speaker the House of Reps has ever ad. I mean she shows remarkable decorum in the face of so much abuse from Shorten and his mob of fwits. She is always reasonable to the point of being overlyfair. They simply don’t deserve it.

And now they are critising her because she jumps (well not litrally but I bet she could) on a plain for a fund raising event. How bloody stupid is that. How on earth do you expect the best possible government if they don’t have enough money to win elections. Our Bronny deserves a meddle for what she puts up with.

What you people on the left don’t appreciate is that if you want the best educated ministry then someone has to pay.The one we have now is the best ever and it shows in all the ideas and policies it produces. Fairdinkum I was talking to me mate Blind Freddy the other day and he reckoned the country would have gone to the dogs if Abbott wasn’t elected.

Giving the rich discounts on Super was just what was needed to give us more effulence. After all it’s the rich that support the poor. Everyone knows that. That’s Tonies plan. Build up the wealth of those rightfully privalaged and they can then support the poor. We have always done that. They don’t appreciate it though.

Take all the things Joe wants to do for the Country. No one understands his motives. Well Labor doesn’t. All they do is critic. I was talking to my Financial Adviser the other day and he reckons they are all just jealous.I know I inherited mine and I had the best of education. Well all they have to do is get off their collective arses and get a job. God only knows Tony is providing enough of them.

And what about the climate. I mean have we ever had a prime minister so on top of the sciences. While Im at it and this is the mane reason I have written is to comment on the stuppiddy of that fellow John Lord. I told him last time that he needs a manager because hes been handling himself to long. Then he emailed bak to say he was to old to handel anything.

This is what he should have wrote:

Has Australia ever, so wisely, elected a man so positive about the countries future and exprecced it so clearly.? A person with such truth and transparency. So sensitive to those who cannot help themselves. So willing to endorse and foster equality. So knoweggible of technology and science. So aware to the needs of women. That’s why women like his as there minster. So adeptt at policy formation and its implementation. (note the good spelling. That’s what a private education gives you) So on top of good communication. So diplomatic, so ambassadorial, so sensitive, in his attitude toward oth…ers. So accomdating of those who desire equality. And in touch with a modern pluralist society. A man so sophisticated in deep worldly acumen and discernment, yet religiously motivated.

Glad I got that of me chest actually. Might I suggest that the writers on this blog try a bit less bias otherwise they will end up like the ABC. Christ don’t start me on them. I have no malcontent toward anyone. Just try to be more fair and give credit where credits dew. Then we con have some real intercourse.

Thanks again to my son Miles and his mates from Melbourne Gramma year 12 english class for all there help with the composition and proof reading.

Its testimy of what Commonwealth investment in private schools can achieve.

Morrie Moneyweather. Malvern.

PS Say hello to Kaye. She is the only one at the blog who apprecuates my intellect and ability to see through all the shit.

 

Calling “Game Over”

Human-induced climate change is real. The risks of inaction are real and mounting.” So Fairfax editorialised in this week’s papers. The gist of the article is that we still have time to mobilise and get our governments and policymakers to take real action on stymieing climate change. It is probably true, as the article claims, that we are witnessing a slowly dawning awareness of the Australian people and by the global economy. But by some measures, this is significantly too little – and way too late.

“Two degrees celsius.” How many times have you heard the “two degrees” target proposed as the benchmark? Almost every popular media outlet, when writing about climate change (when they’re not claiming it isn’t happening or isn’t worth our attention) includes a statement like “We can still keep warming below two degrees, but we have to start now.” So we talk about carbon budgets. We talk about carbon capture and storage. We argue about the merits of a cap-and-trade system, an incentives system, a carbon tax – as if we still have time to compromise, time to experiment and find the ideal balance between maintaining our treasured social systems and the rescue of the global environment.

The current climate change narrative is based on a series of mistruths and falsities. We are told that we still have time to turn the ship around. The truth is that we do not.

We are told that two degrees is a hard and fast target, beyond which everything turns to disaster and before which we will be okay, if slightly uncomfortable. The truth is that there is no safe limit, that two degrees is not a magic number, and that two degrees is likely already beyond our prevention. The truth is that we have already emitted more than enough carbon to take us to two degrees and well beyond, and we’re showing no signs of slowing.

We are told that even if we go beyond two degrees, the disruption that results will come in the form of hurricanes and bushfires and rising tides. The truth is that while increased frequency and severity of hurricanes and bushfires will be a part of the outcomes of climate change, this is the merest tip of the iceberg. These visible disasters can be constrained and understood as freak occurrences that interrupt the status quo and from which we can recover. Less so is the permanent loss of arable land, the global starvation that may result, and potentially the tipping of our environment into a hellish morass incapable of supporting human life. That we are now seeing reputable sources raising the spectre of near-term human extinction in public narratives is telling of both how far the public discourse has gone ahead of public policy, and of the potential import of the fact that we’ve been so slow to act.

Whilst we have seen that the public and the media are far more accepting of the urgency of action on climate change than any of our leaders are willing to countenance, the public narrative is nevertheless generally years behind the science. Science has been telling us for the better part of a decade that two degrees is both insufficient and unattainable. Meanwhile the news media, and through them the general public, have been absorbed by the question of the reality of climate change, a question that climate researchers put to bed decades ago.

Only in the last few months have we started to see the global narrative start to catch up to reality, which is at the same time optimistic and disheartening. The truth that the media are slowly coming to understand is that two degrees might be possible, but not in the world that we know and live in now. As the media have finally started to catch on that yes, climate change is happening; yes, climate change is deadly serious; and no, we have not acted as quickly and as desperately as required; it begs the question. What is the current state of scientific understanding and how long will it take for the world to catch up to that?

An inevitable outcome?

There are reasons for the lag in public understanding. In years to come the placing of blame might become a hobby, but while attributing responsibility to various groups and individuals is easy, it is also simplistic. The long answer is that our inaction on climate change has been driven by the systems within which we work and live. These systems are well designed to order society and to offer freedom and opportunity to some. They are not effective, however, at providing for philanthropy. Our current systems of democracy and capitalism reward selfishness and self-interest and they pander to our genetic weaknesses. And the unstoppable forces of consumerism encourage and reward immediate gratification not only as a personal pleasure but a social good. The system requires us to buy and consume in order to sustain the order of things. More fundamentally, we need to buy and consume in order to feel good, and we are rewarded by a sense of accomplishment, we are rewarded by social approval and we are rewarded by endorphins. The same psychological tendencies that cause us to become fat and unfit also put barriers in our way to accepting bad news.

Bad news is a climate scientist’s stock in trade. Scientists are conservative by nature – they have to be. Crying wolf leads to a loss of respect and credence, and inevitably to a loss of funding. For a scientist or scientific organisation to decry an oncoming disaster, a high level of proof is required, and this takes time. The rumbling on the tracks isn’t enough: they need to be able to see the oncoming train’s lights before they’re willing to commit.

Scientists are not to blame for their reticence. One of the most constant criticisms of the IPCC’s work is not that the work is flawed, but that the resulting reports are universally conservative. They err on the side of caution. IPCC reports contain a range of projections, using a selection of different assumptions and resulting in very different outcomes, but they do not advise on the relative likelihood of being able to meet these curves. The effect is to allow policymakers to treat each projection as equally possible, and when one or more of the scenarios results in a temperature rise under two degrees, the opportunity arises to claim that this is still in reach. Scientists would say that the contents of the reports are reliable as a best-case scenarios, but that’s not how the reports are received in practice. The policy makers who must take IPCC reports into account largely consider them to be worst-case scenarios, and the urgency of the problem is diminished.

Tempting as it may be to do so, politicians also cannot be blamed for their inaction. Politicians are rewarded (in electoral popularity) for populist messages of hope and optimism. Politicians are punished, severely, for being the messenger that tells their people that they will have to make sacrifices (financial, creature comforts, lifestyle changes) for the sake of the public good. Far worse awaits those who attempt to impose these sacrifices. It is entirely reasonable to expect politicians to clutch at any straws offered, be they a possible solution that doesn’t carry electoral cost (e.g. direct action) or a skerrick of doubt about the science. In an environment filled with lobbyists arguing that there will be consequences to climate action, and think tanks and vested interests obscuring the science with manufactured doubt, motivated by a kind of economics that cannot afford to take climate change into account, it takes a special kind of political courage to take a stand. As we saw in the case of the 2013 election, all too often The People will punish such presumption.

We can’t even blame The People. The truth is that our evolution has not equipped us well to handle the kind of challenge that climate change presents. Humans are an immensely adaptable species, and when we cannot adjust our environment to suit our needs, we can adjust our own lifestyle to suit. However, we almost always need to be spurred into action. We evolved from hunter-gatherers who would gorge in the good times, in preparation for the long stretch of privation that would follow. At our core, we’re not prepared to leave the carcass on the ground.

Too little, too late

However it happens, whatever the cause, we are caught by it. Humanity is having a cook-out in a tunnel and we’ve ignored the rumblings underfoot for too long. It’s not until we see the lights of the oncoming train that we even start the engine of our getaway car and there’s no way we’re dodging this express train.

We read that we have, at most ten or fifteen years to turn the ship around. Here’s the thing, though: they told us this ten or fifteen years ago, too. If the problem was that urgent then, if the need for change was so pressing then, how can we still have a decade left to act now? The explanation is that the definition of “action” is changing. Climate scientists, pressured to give an optimistic outcome – to avoid calling “Game Over” – move the goalposts. They adopt increasingly unrealistic assumptions and expectations in their models of climate action. They invent ever more fanciful future technologies – magic bullets, couched in scientific-sounding terminology.

It is finally reaching the point where normal people – journalists, activists, even politicians – are calling them out on it. The likelihood of us being able to meet a trajectory to keep temperature increases below two degrees is presently somewhere between none and laughable. But so long as it is still technically possible to succeed at halting global warming, we keep hearing the “we still have time” message. So let’s have a look at what is actually required to stave off the kind of climate change that runs an even risk of killing every human on the planet.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/12/two-degrees-will-we-avoid-dangerous-climate-change/ : “In order to get back on track, emissions need to peak and then fall by between 40 and 70 per cent by 2050, the IPCC says, with unabated fossil fuel burning almost entirely phased out by 2100… That would require a never-before seen global effort to be sustained for a generation.”

http://www.vox.com/2015/5/15/8612113/truth-climate-change : “Holding temperature down under 2°C — the widely agreed upon target — would require an utterly unprecedented level of global mobilization and coordination, sustained over decades. There’s no sign of that happening, or reason to think it’s plausible anytime soon.”

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119757/two-degrees-climate-change-no-longer-possible : “To be sure, the IPCC noted, it’s conceivable the world still could stay below that level – but only if governments immediately imposed stringent and internationally uniform carbon limits, and if a host of new low-carbon energy technologies proved able to scale up. Those are massive “ifs,” and though the IPCC wasn’t so impolite as to say so, there’s little to suggest that perfect trajectory will play out.”

In order to achieve the goal, humanity as a species must put aside national partisanship, untrammelled economic growth as a priority, and our current industrial machinery. Advanced economies must immediately and radically decarbonise their economies, at the same time as effectively building first-world economies in less advanced nations who would otherwise strive to catch up to “modern” standards of living via their own industrial revolutions. Humans in the affluent West must accept a curtailing of their profligate lifestyles and their aspirations.

Some have likened the effort required to the mobilization of the West in the early days of World War II, when entire economies were retooled to face an existential threat. But these similes were raised half a decade ago, and the problem has become even more dire since then. We must, as a species, put the good of the planet and the environment ahead of our own short-term interests. This is something that goes against our very nature.

But even our best intentions are not enough. At this point, there is enough carbon in the atmosphere to blow through two degrees and well beyond – potentially setting off the feedback loops and tipping points that bring us to a very final The End. In order to limit temperature rise to two degrees, current models include assumptions about negative carbon emissions – capturing carbon from the atmosphere and putting it into the ground or into trees. This requires either huge swathes of territory to be converted to forests – and only good, arable, important-for-feeding-seven-billion-humans land will do – or the widespread adoption of technology that doesn’t even exist yet.

Is it time yet to call game over?

You can’t get there from here

There are a number of good reasons to declare “Game Over” on climate change.

Because there is a point beyond which hope becomes denial.

We see an example with Australian farmers in northern Queensland. Devastated by crippling floods in early 2013, it did not take long before large portions of Queensland were back in the Long Dry. By March 2014, the State’s largest ever drought had been declared, following the failure of the “wet season”. Drought is a largely artificial definition, designed primarily to enable governments to provide assistance to affected areas, predicated on the understanding that this is a “natural disaster” and will come to an end. The terminology of “drought”, at core, assumes that there is a normal state of being, and the lack of rain is an exception, an aberration, on par with storms or cyclones.

More than a year later, the rains have failed again and the drought has not broken – it has become worse. All this in advance of a predicted severe El Nino. The signs are not looking good for relief for our beleaguered Queensland farmers any time soon. And still we hear politicians State and Federal talking about drought assistance, of getting the farmers through the hard patch before the rains return.

According to my calculations, most of Queensland has been officially in drought for fifteen of the last twenty-five years. An El Nino can run for up to seven years, so we may be in for a significant period before the end of this cycle. If you’re living under drought conditions for more years than under wet conditions, can it really be called a drought any longer? At what point do we bow to the inevitable and admit that, rather than being a drought, this is the new normal? That climate change has made these areas untenable for ongoing agriculture? That continuing to support farmers with “drought assistance” is a never-ending battle that cannot be won?

Admitting defeat would mean the departure of farmers from these lands and force an alteration to the economy and markets of the State. It could be argued that reclassifying land as non-arable will destroy the lives of farmers trying to eke out a living on it, but it could as well be argued that those lives are destroyed anyway and farmers seeking support are modern-day King Canutes who will eventually have to move anyway.

Sometimes, it makes more sense to just admit defeat, rather than throwing good money after bad.

Because denial makes us focus on the actions that we need to take to win, rather than getting started on the actions required upon losing

As long as electors are told that two degrees is possible if only we find the right balance of punitive and reward policies the longer the policy debate remains mired in detail and technicality. It allows governments to hold out policies like Direct Action as a valid approach to climate change. It allows an ETS to include a variety of loopholes and concessions designed to protect vulnerable industries at the expense of the scheme’s effectiveness. This author has been a critic of the Greens’ approach to Labor’s ETS, scuttling a plan that might have gotten a foot in the door because it wasn’t ideal at the outset. But that was then, and this is now. It is far too late for half-measures. Unfortunately, we will never see full-strength climate policies as long as politicians can still argue that all will be well if we just cut our emissions by “five percent over 2000 levels”.

Because reality

If for no other reason, it might be valid to call an end to the charade of climate change action because it’s a colossal waste of time and money on the basis of a lie. It’s a lie, because none of those arguing loudly that we can still save the world are taking the next step and adding “only if we do what the world has never managed to do before and only if all the cards fall our way”. This is a lie of omission, and those telling it are often not even aware of it because they themselves have not been shown the sheer unlikelihood of what they’re proposing. If we reframe the argument in the appropriate terms, at least we can start talking about things with a sense of truth and reality rather than what we hope might be the case.

Reasons not to declare “Game Over”

Because it might not be

There may still be time – if atmospheric sensitivity is lower than modelled, and if we can invent and distribute carbon capture technology, and if the world radically reverses direction. Under the IPCC’s optimistic models, there is still time. Meeting these optimistic assumptions will be a heroic task, but we won’t get there if we don’t try and we won’t try if we’ve already thrown in the towel. An important first step would be the support of research into carbon capture / atmospheric cleaning technologies that will be absolutely fundamental to any kind of success from here.

Because it’s too important

Declaring “game over” sends the message to those who’d be most harmed by climate change that they aren’t worth saving.” Our mythologies are full of humans in dire circumstances not giving up on hope. If there has ever been a cause around which the world could rally, that has the immediate threat to human survival on a global scale and the fortunes of small groups of people in specific, this is it. To give up on climate action is to give up on a large part of the world, raise the fences around the wagons and wait out the next great Human Extinction. Those most badly affected will be those who contributed to it the least and are least deserving. For the advanced nations to give up while there is still even the ghost of a chance is to add insult to lethal injury.

Because we need the urgency

We need urgency; we need the seriousness. There’s a fine line between panic-inducing immediacy and threat, and inertia-generating fatalism. World War II, in its size and ferocity and its immediacy, was enough to jolt the western world into action. We will see, over the next decade, increasingly dire climate outcomes. At some point, public attitudes and governmental policies will catch up with the exigencies of climate reality. The media and the government may always be a decade behind in understanding the threat, but action taken now on the basis of last decade’s threats will still have a beneficial effect on this decade’s crisis. We don’t know for sure that we can salvage the silverware, but we can be absolutely certain that nothing will survive if we stop fighting for it.

Because game over isn’t necessarily “game over”

We will miss two degrees – but the story doesn’t end there. “Everyone agrees on the general point — risks and damages keep piling up as the world gets hotter. So if the world can’t prevent 2°C of warming, it’s still a good idea to try and avoid 3°C of warming. If we can’t avoid 3°C of warming, it’s still a good idea to avoid 4°C. And so on.” The world doesn’t end at 2 degrees. Tipping points and reinforcing cycles may mean that the world is more fragile than it appears, but every extra degree of warming increases the inhospitability of our future world far more than the degree before it. If we can halt warming at three degrees, it’s still worth doing.

Because victory ain’t what it used to be

In the end, we may be forced to move the goalposts of what constitutes success. The two degrees scenario is aimed at preserving our current civilization. Restrain global warming to two degrees and we may be able to retain our present way of life, our creature comforts, our technology, and our populations. It may be – it probably is – too late for that: our world will change and our way of life must change to suit the new, hotter world we are creating.

But the end of our current, comfortable civilisation does not have to be the end of the human story. If the worst case scenarios are true, then the game is no longer about salvaging a world for our children: it is about salvaging a world for ANY children. If it is too late for current nation-states to survive, it’s not yet too late for modern life somewhere, somehow. If it becomes too late for capitalism as we know it, it’s not yet too late to preserve some kind of civilisation. If it is too late for us, it is not yet too late for humanity. We don’t know where we’ll end up, but however far beyond the point of no return we may have gone, we know that there is more road yet to travel. In the end, the best reason not to call Game Over – not to just stop trying and learn to love the bomb – is that there may yet be time to salvage some kind of future for some of us.

Just probably not all of us.

 

Be Alert, Be VERY, VERY Alert! The Person Next You May Have An iPhone.

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

“A Man For All Seasons” Robert Bolt

 

* * *

Robert Bolt. Mm, I suspect no relation to Andrew, who does a neat little backflip, with a half-pike just so we don’t notice. When commenting on the recent Q&A, he wrote this:

And that goes to the wider issue: how and why did the ABC get together such a collection of Muslim firebrands savaging Australia? How grossly irresponsible to give viewers the impression that every Muslim in our country was like every Muslim on Q&A – militant, damning of Australia and full of excuses for extremists. How dangerous to give any extremists the idea that their rage against this wicked country was justified.

 

But it was his neat bit of “framing” his audience to see a conspiracy that most impressed me:

Naturally, host Tony Jones has stacked the panel: two Muslim activists (who do most of the talking), plus one MP each from Labor, the Liberals and Greens.

Stacked the panel. Mm, is he suggesting that they were all lefties apart from the one Liberal? Or is he suggesting that because you have two Muslims to three “Aussies”? (yes, I know there’s no need to comment) Or is it the fact that it’s three men to two women? (Four, if you count Jones). Exactly how was the panel stacked? Because there was nobody from the IPA? Or the Australian Defence League? No Christians?

As for the Muslim activists this is from the bio for one:

Anne-Azza Aly

Dr Anne Aly is a research fellow at Curtin University, Perth, with a focus on radicalisation, counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism.

Anne leads the Countering Online Violent Extremism Research (COVER) Program at the university’s Centre for Culture and Technology. Her research focuses on the use of social media by violent extremists and strategies to interrupt online activities, including understanding of the audience and the role of victims and formers in counter narratives to extremism. She has written over 50 publications on topics ranging from Islamic identity to counter narratives and the policy response to violent extremism. Anne is the author of four books including Terrorism and Global Security: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives– Australia’s first text book on terrorism and security.

 

The other

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Randa Abdel-Fattah was born in Sydney in 1979. She is a Muslim of Palestinian and Egyptian heritage. She grew up in Melbourne and attended a Catholic primary school and Islamic secondary college where she obtained an International Baccalaureate…

During university and her role at the ICV, Randa was a passionate human rights advocate and stood in the 1996 federal election as a member of the Unity Party – Say No To Hanson. Randa has also been deeply interested in inter-faith dialogue and has been a member of various inter-faith networks. She also volunteered with different human rights and migrant resource organisations including the Australian Arabic Council, the Victorian Migrant Resource Centre, the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council, the Palestine human rights campaign and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

 

Say No To Hanson? We can do without activists like that, thank you very much. Send her back where she came from… Sydney, wherever that is!

* * *

Last night a man was shot by police. A policeman is in hospital with serious wounds. These events are tragic and I’m not making light of them. The man is alleged to have made threats against the Prime Minister (who is currently out of the country). Whether these threats involved a knife or a chaff bag is unclear at this stage.

My “chaff bag” comment is not meant to be flippant. It just strikes me as inconsistent that we can dismiss a threat to one prime minister as just being “a figure of speech”, but another will be used by many people as justification for a range of measures. And yes, it’s true that this has resulted in a violent altercation.

Of course, I have sufficient respect for the law not to speculate too much about something that is still being investigated. It’s just the inconsistency that troubles me.

But then there’s a lot of inconsistencies that trouble me. A few days ago, the terrorist threat was raised to high, but we were told that there was no particular threat.

Then we had the raids. Which we were told had been part of an investigation which had been going on for months. And that an attack would have been carried out within days. No imminent threat?

We’re told that the PM and Parliament are a potential target for threats. (Hasn’t this always been the case? If you say no, look up the meaning of “potential” or ask yourself why John Howard wore the bullet proof vest when speaking to good, old responsible Aussie gun owners.)

Tony Abbott tells us a few days later that all that’s needed for an attack is “a knife, an iPhone and a victim”, but he adds:

“Terrorists want to scare us out of being ourselves and our best response is to insouciantly be fully Australian, to defy the terrorists by going about our normal business,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Abbott went on to tell us that orders to carry out demonstration executions had been sent to the the “small networks” of followers in Australia and other countries.

So, let’s make sure that those “small networks” didn’t miss the orders by broadcasting them on the nightly news. Let’s tell everyone that how easy it is to become a terrorist – all you need is “a knife, an iPhone and a victim” (an iPhone? Did he get paid for product placement? Can’t you be a terrorist with a Samsung?)

Then say that you need to be “fully Australian” (this is code for trust me, I really have renounced my British citizenship) and just say “She’ll be right, mate” and go off to work.

When I added music to a slide show which I posted on the internet a couple of years ago, it was down within minutes. Yet video posted by ISIL stays there and nobody takes it down. Some sort of perverse respect for freedom of speech?

And it concerns me that the Murdoch media can completely ignore hundreds of thousands (world-wide) marching on climate change, but find it worth writing stories about less than a hundred protesting the building of a mosque.

This Reprehensible Rabble

If anything was patently obvious from the events in Canberra last week, it is that Clive Palmer thinks he is running the country and the media seem to think so too. They are all over him, relegating Tony Abbott to the role of a bit-player. It is also patently obvious that the government’s negotiating skills sit somewhere between pitiable and non-existent.

The repeal of the carbon tax is only the beginning. There are still budget bills to be passed as well as the mining tax and Clive Palmer appears intent on maintaining the chaos. It is conceivable that Tony Abbott will soon be cornered into either giving Palmer everything he asks or calling a double dissolution. At the moment he is vacillating and his weakness on this issue will expose him for what he really is. His pre-election bluff and bluster has dissolved.

Last week’s circus in the senate was inevitable and it will happen again. The closer you get to your enemy, the sharper you need to be. Clive Palmer has been around long enough not to trust anyone and knows since the day Joe Hockey delivered the Budget that the Prime Minister’s word has little or no value.

kerry

Image by The Sydney Morning Herald

Palmer probably remembered Abbott’s comments when interviewed by Kerry O Brien a few years back. “The statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth are those carefully prepared scripted remarks,” Abbott said. In that interview Abbott revealed that he sometimes went further than he should when making a promise. I’m sure it was no surprise to Palmer when the wording to the amendment on the bill to repeal the carbon tax wasn’t quite what it was supposed to be.

If the Coalition think for one moment that they can put one over Clive Palmer, they are deluding themselves. But, given Abbott’s penchant for verbal dishonesty they will probably keep trying and in the process, expose themselves for the utterly reprehensible rabble that they are.

That is not to say that Palmer will not acquiesce when it suits him. He is unpredictable and, I suspect, delights in keeping the government, the opposition and the media guessing. But as time passes (and it can’t come too quickly for most of us), the interaction between him and the Prime Minister will further expose Abbott’s difficulty in negotiating to a point where even his most steadfast supporters will have had enough. The government couldn’t even get their amendments right. A double dissolution could see him lose office or at best see his lower house majority whittled down to one or two.

The senate result could be worse with a strong chance that both major parties would lose numbers to the PUP. If for some reason the people go against PUP and vote to restore some sanity the result will likely favour Labor and the Greens. Either way, Abbott is in trouble. Doubtless his party’s electoral engineers are doing their sums and would be weighing up the pros and cons. The advice given to them by outgoing senator Ron Boswell to stand up to Palmer is the right advice but they appear unwilling to take it.

promises

Image by BBC.com

For the electorate, the greater issue here is honesty, or lack of it. The budget exposed the Coalition to be utterly dishonest, something they brought on themselves; an own goal. They can no longer claim the moral high ground. Their claim to have a mandate is, and always was, spurious. There is just too much evidence out there to show that they have treated the electorate as fools. Clive Palmer has realised that as the self-appointed defender of the underdog, his political future has promise. He will not want to betray his image and backtrack on anything he has said to the pensioners and the battlers who have crossed over to his side.

By way of comparison the government is showing signs of cracking under the pressure. Tony Abbott’s speech to the LNP annual state conference in Brisbane on Saturday bordered on the bizarre.“You and we are rescuing our country . . . it is only us who can rescue our country right now,” he said. Rescue from what? His attack on Bill Shorten was equally weird and suggests he is beginning to lose the plot.

election

Image by news.com

His upbeat display of confidence was in direct contrast to the events in Canberra and the reality of the situation as it unfolded. He referred to the events in the senate as “a lot of colour and movement.” It was chaotic. Under Abbott’s leadership thus far, the Coalition has lost all the support they had at the election and then some. Their only way forward is to replace their leader and try starting again. That is unlikely for now and things are only going to get worse.

 

 

Introducing the new “ABC free” AUSTRALIA … now with extra ignorance, selfishness and cruelty

(Or why we need the ABC)

abc

Since the coalition’s Murdoch lead victory in last September’s federal election there has been a palpable shift in our national narrative. The images of a sun burnt country forged by convict sweat and hard working immigrants is fading fast, and in its wake a new story is being fashion.

It is a tale of well intentioned, hard working corporations, (who really just want to keep us all employed), being squeezed by draconian regulations and pushed offshore by rampant, out of control wages. It’s the chronicle of a government being driven into the red, not by cutting taxes for the wealthy and turning a blind eye to the corporate “offshoring” of profits (read “legal” tax evasion), but by those lazy unemployed/disabled bludgers on welfare, and their “anti business” environmentalist buddies. It’s the saga of nation overrun by so called “illegals” intent on subverting our immigration laws for the sole purpose of suckling endlessly on OUR government teat, (Ironically most of whom are coming here LEGALLY as refugees).

These new LNP/Murdoch sanctioned mantras are repeated so often, and with such earnest conviction it seems people are finding it pretty damn hard not to buy into it. There are even those in the Labor party who seem quite happy to have joined the chorus.

I hear it everywhere I go, everyday Aussies out there parroting the coalition’s vitriolic hatred for anything even vaguely related to the unions, the unemployed, the environment, asylum seekers, disability pensioners, ABC lefties, foreign aid, etc.

So why all the negative jawboning?

Well, if you read the papers Australia has, up until our recent electoral liberation, been a nation under siege by left wing “special interests”! Because of this evil leftist scourge we have been forced to endure such indignities as the 2nd highest standard of living in the world (after Norway), the planets largest houses, one of the worlds best/most affordable health care systems, quality education, disposable incomes such that we can afford to be the be the worlds leading per capita emitters of of CO2, and the dubious privilege of ranking 69th in our per capita refugee intake (49th in overall terms).

australia__s_contribution_to_the_asylum_seekers_by_wordswithmeaning-d56owrr

When you lay it out like that it’s easy to see why we have all been so unhappy, we have been really suffering! Clearly something had to be done.

But seriously, something has happened to us. If you listen to the rhetoric, it would seem we are no longer a nation that strives for the fair go, but rather one that values our own perceived self interest above all other concerns.

I scratch my head and wonder, how did this happen? When did Australia become a place that embraces the social and political agendas of the most ignorant, selfish and cruel among us?

It wasn’t that long ago that Australian public opinion was DEEPLY CONCERNED with the environmental legacy we are leaving for our children. As recently as last year people seemed happy to talk about the scandal that is corporate tax evasion. There was even a time, in living memory, when refugees that came here by boat were welcomed with a broad smile and a hand up.

So what happened? How did the social and moral imperative get banished from our national narrative? Did it happen by accident, or by design? And if by design, then by who’s hand?

And then there’s the bigger questions. Exactly who’s interests are served by these apparent changes in our attitudes? And is anyone standing against the tide?

The sculpting of public opinion has a long history and there are many tools, such as fear and scapegoating, that have been used to great effect through out the ages. “Group think”, for example is an extraordinarily powerful weapon, (after all who wants to run outside the herd, everyone knows how dangerous that is). The truth however has never been a necessary component when seeking to sway the prevailing sentiments of the masses.

William James, the father of modern Psychology notably once quipped “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will not believe it”. This rather glib observation was most infamously put into practice by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, (a man on whom the power of the press was most certainly not lost), who used the simple “lie, repeat, lie, repeat, lie, repeat” principle to whip up the greatest genocidal frenzy in history.

More recently Goebbel’s philosophical musing “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” has been turned on it’s head by the irrepressible Rupert Murdoch, our prodigal puppeteer d’jour, who, like some gruesomely wizened “whack a mole” has popped up here again to lead his relentless political cheer squad for which ever side will acquiesce to do his bidding. It would appear that, in spite of his meddling hand being beaten down in UK and much of the USA now being hip to the fact that “FOX NEWS” is an oxymoron, if you hand the old boy a monopoly he’ll show you he’s still got it.

murdoch-puppet_1940215i

One rather startling revelation that came out of the UK’s recent Levinson enquiry into press standards , was was that Murdoch had actively lobbied former UK prime minister John Major to change the Torries policy on the EU, lest he engage in willfully biased coverage in order to “hand the election” to Blair’s New Labor (a party/man seemingly more willing to do his bidding). Major refused to allow Murdoch to dictate policy and was duly slammed by the Murdoch press, who came out swinging hard for Blair.

So in spite of the Torries having had a clear lead in the polls up until Major’s “disagreement” with Murdoch, the Torries, (much like Gillard), found the power of a vindictive, inflammatory press mobilised against them simply too great to overcome. Blair was elected and the rest, as they say, is history.

While the Brits were duly outraged, you would think something so blatantly corrupt as seeking to dictate government policy in return for favourable press would raise a dubious brow from someone back here in Aus; but much like the “March in March” (a mysteriously unnoticed gathering of over 100,000 Australia wide) somehow it failed to be deemed newsworthy enough to make any significant impression on the Australian mainstream media.

So… If a media baron is dictating government policy in return for press support, but no one ever hears about it, is the political process actually being subverted? Probably, (but then who has time to worry about such things when we are all so busy hating and punishing refugees).

no to refugees Nauru Detention Centre

Or… If a crowd gathers in the city and no one is there to report it, did it really gather? Maybe it did in the hearts and minds of those who were there, but for anyone else, or in the archives of history?… Well maybe not.

march in march

We have been told a lot of things recently, (much of it negative), about everything from the unions to environmentalists, from asylum seekers to the NBN. And while it’s easy to put a question mark over anything a politician might say in an effort to popularise their chosen policy agenda; I can not help but wonder if a press core that is practically a monopoly, (and known to actively pursue it’s owners personal agendas), is actually telling us the whole truth, or even any small part of it?

Like many others I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re being fed a grab bag of skilfully crafted misinformation, half truths and innuendo designed to direct our hostility toward the poor and disenfranchised, or anyone out there pushing for a fairer, more sustainable policy agenda.

According to the official story, Australians are apparently (on average) far richer than we were 10 years ago… but for some rather opaque reason we just don’t feel it.
I can’t help but wonder why that is?

Is it because we feel more entitled than we used to? (If we don’t have a car, a mobile phone, a laptop, an ipad, a kindle, a 50″ TV, Foxtel, Quickflix, a yearly overseas holiday, and at least 3 restaurant meals a week we think we are suffering an intolerable injustice?).

Is it that we are constantly being assaulted by the relentless negativity of a 24 hour news cycle, telling us that our unfettered access to “more stuff” is being threatened by the poor and disenfranchised?

Or maybe it’s that the wealth is only going to the top end of town, and no one else is reaping the benefit?

It’s perfectly understandable that when we are feeling squeezed we like to have someone to blame, but it is worth asking ourselves, is our anger being misplaced?

Here we are, literally seething with contempt for refugees, single mothers, greenies, protesters, students, socialists, the disabled, lefties, intellectuals and the all those former bank and manufacturing workers that have now joined the ranks of the unemployed. Meanwhile the gap between the haves and have nots is at an all time high. Our trusty government is busy reducing taxes for the top end of town, Corporate profits are breaking records left and right, (but strangely corporate tax receipts are not, Google, for example, had revenue of over $1 billion in Australia in 2012, and yet paid only $74k tax). CEO’s wages and share options continue to defy gravity, and our banks, whilst being incredulously profitable, are shipping jobs off shore faster than you can say “transaction fee”, and so it goes…

*(brings to mind a joke I heard recently: A banker, a Daily Telegraph reader and a refugee are out to lunch. The waiter puts down a plate with twelve biscuits on it; the banker takes eleven, nudges the Telegraph reader and says “hey watch it mate, that refugee wants your biscuit”)

Everyone knows trickle down economics is bunk, and yet we keep buying into the myth, lauding the lords and kicking the powerless. The cognitive dissonance simply staggering!

So my question is this…Who’s interests does this new hateful narrative really serve? Murdoch and his buddies in the 1%, or those of us in the mortgage belt?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not wholly blaming Murdoch. We all lobby for our own interests, and why should he be any different. What I am saying however is that a virtual monopoly concentration of Australia’s media in any ones hands is dangerous. We need visible, diverse mainstream media to give a balanced range of views.

We also need some measure of mainstream media presence that is not driven by profit, or dictated to by advertising revenue and share holder values. We need a media that is prepared to objectively challenge the veracity of the story as told to us by Murdoch, (and given the governments proposed changes to section 18c of the racial vilification act this is now more important than ever).

In short, we need our ABC.

[twitter-follow screen_name=’LetitiaMcQuade’ show_count=’yes’]

Just Political Language or the Tony Abbott Art of Lying

Tony Abbott lying it seems (image from abc.net.au)

Tony Abbott lying it seems (image from abc.net.au)

Lying in Australian politics – in particular the ‘Tony Abbott art of lying’ – has reached an unprecedented level. The Prime Minister and his cabinet are taking lying to such depths that it is not disingenuous to suggest that they no longer have a moral compass or understanding of truth.

Some time ago I wrote the following in a piece titled. ‘’Abbott Tells Another One’’:

‘’If this means I am saying he is a pathological liar then so be it. It’s not a nice thing to say about anyone but we are dealing with truth here. It’s not so much that he is a serial offender, he is. I think the electorate knows that and factors it in. The fact that he lies can and is easily supported by volumes of readily available, irrefutable evidence. (I can provide it if need be). However what is of equal concern is that the main stream media (the so called fourth estate) who are supposed to be the people’s custodian of truth, condones it’’.

Since being elected Prime Minister some political commentators have suggested he has made a genuine attempt to be Prime Ministerial. If he has it has been a forlorn attempt. He has been unable throw off a lifetime image of political thuggery, negativity and gutter speech.

As Prime Minister he has continued to lie in the fashion of an opposition that knows that its words can be lost in a mist of factual uncertainty and exaggeration. Oppositions can at times be forgiven for over exuberance. Governments and particularly Prime Ministers cannot.

It is the blatantly despicable and obnoxious manner in which Abbott does it that grates. On 12 February in question time he rose to deny that he said that he would spend the first week of his Prime Ministership with a group of indigenous people. The denial was indefensible and there would not be a member of both sides of the house who could justly defend him. Yet this flagrant misrepresentation of truth goes unreported in the mainstream media. Not to mention the misleading of parliament.

And it’s not just his lies that offend. It’s the silliness of his diplomacy when he uses phrases like ‘’goodies and baddies’’ to describe international conflicts. Or when he says Holden workers ‘’will feel liberated’’ after being sacked. Or “Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”

When a liar continues to lie and do so with such consistency and fervour one can only conclude that he is a person that believes his own bullshit. To use an Australian colloquialism.

Really one has to wonder if he is worse than some of those extreme right wing religious fanatics that blame natural disasters on gays. When an Australian Prime Minister says Australia is spying on a close neighbor to “help our friends and our allies, not to harm them.”, you have to wonder if he needs a manager because he has been handling himself for too long.

His Ministers also seem to have carte blanche to follow his example. George Brandis when asked about Abbott’s one million jobs target blames Labor and suggests there is a wages breakout working against them, the facts say that this is not the case but there is no withdrawal. Truth is the victim.

Kevin Andrews recent comments that we would become like European countries if we didn’t reduce our Welfare Assistance was lying at its worst because it was linked with fear and it lacked factual supportive evidence

George Brandis in the Senate makes the claim that the whistle blower Edward Snowden is guilty of putting Australian lives at risk. When the on line commentary site Crikey asks him for the evidence of this he is unable to substantiate his claim. Remember he had the gall to call Howard a lying Rodent. Then I suppose it takes one to know one.

Tony Abbott tells lies about workers benefits at Ardmona. The company refutes his assertions but he insists he is telling the truth. He insists that Cadbury is a different case in so much as the subsidy to them was for tourism. Video evidence confirms that he is lying but he rises in Parliament to repeat the lie. Remember the many company rejections of his carbon tax assertions when Opposition Leader.

He makes the following comment.

‘’All we are getting from the opposition is relentless negativity and one scare campaign after another.’’

I remember Peter Reith saying something similar on The Drum not long ago and all the panellists laughed. Including the conservatives.

In October last year Abbott said this.

“Can I just scotch this idea that the Coalition’s policy is or ever has been tow-backs … There is a world of difference between turning boats around in Australian waters and the Australian Navy towing them back to Indonesia.”

Scott Morrison said this.

Border Protection Command assets had, in the conduct of maritime operations associated with Operation Sovereign Borders, inadvertently entered Indonesian territorial waters on several occasions.”

Now of course we know they were both lying.

During a press conference at Parliament House, Tony Abbott was asked how it could transpire that professionally trained and highly skilled naval personnel could mistakenly sail, more than once, into Indonesian territorial waters.

We got this answer that suggests the Prime Minister could have made a fortune from writing comedy.

“Even people who are at the very top of their game… will occasionally make mistakes,” Mr Abbott replied, while praising the skill and professionalism of the Australian navy.

“Test cricketers occasionally drop catches, great footballers occasionally miss tackles and regretfully, there were a couple of occasions when this mistake was made.”

“On the high seas, all sorts of things happen,” Mr Abbott added.

“There are winds, there are tides, and there are other things that they’re focusing on.

YES FOLKS THAT WAS YOUR PRIME MINISTER SPEAKING

Cricketers don’t need a GPS to play a straight bat. Nor should the government.
Secrecy is lying by omission.

To quote Barnaby Joyce.

“I know both the Treasurer and the Prime Minister well enough to know that they are not liars”

One lie does not justify another.

If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information the public has a democratic right to be aware of, it destroys the very democracy that enables it to exist.

In his joint attack with The Australian on the ABC Tony Abbott had this to say.

“My concern as a citizen of our country is to try to ensure that our national broadcaster is fair, is balanced and is accurate”

At the same time the Murdoch Press was destroying the reputation of an Australian sporting legend in Ian Thorpe. The Prime Minister was silent.

Joe Hockey blames unions and wages on the demise of Toyota and reckons the company privately told him so. The company repudiates the suggestion but Joe sticks to his guns. A bit sus as we Australians are apt to say.

When Tony Abbott said this what did you think?

“You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.

“There will be no change to school funding under the government I lead”.

Then he made the following statement.

“The Coalition will deliver on its education election promises, not on what some people “thought” it was going to do”

I know what I thought and I know what I’m still thinking now. Lying deceptive bastard.

Some time back Tony Abbott told us that the best way to understand the truth of what he was saying was to have it in writing. Otherwise what he was saying was just idle chatter for an audience.

So now I’m a little confused. You see, now he is saying that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing, he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant.

I know that I am 73 and I have the odd senior moment but usually I know what I mean and what is meant by what I say. I also know that people understand what I’m meaning.

I have done a Google search for an Abbott code breaker but it doesn’t understand what I mean.

I am deeply offended when people lie to me. When the Prime Minister and his ministers do it so unashamedly and with impunity I feel shame for their incapacity to comprehend the goodness of truth. They seem intent on destroying the discernment and astuteness of how we communicate. Indeed if the necessity for truth is eliminated from relationship, debate and normal discourse then a breakdown of society is inevitable.

If the mainstream media cannot hold Abbott and the government he leads to account then they are as complicit as he in his lying.

‘’It is better to be told the absolute truth than be controlled by lies’’.

Alan Austin has also written a great piece on this subject.

A 21st century Labor Party – our future depends on it

The Labor Party - our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

The Labor Party – our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

Another guest post from Stuart Whitman. National Convener of Local Labor.

It is possible to argue a similar case for acting on Labor Party reform as the former federal Labor government argued for pricing carbon and addressing climate change, there is no time to lose and that it is better to make small sacrifices now than painful ones later.

As noted in a recent Cosmos Magazine article IPCC reporting suggests we may have as little as 30 years left to get carbon emissions to a level where we have a chance to slow down, mitigate or adapt to global warming.

The alternative is a rapid spiral into catastrophic and potentially civilization-ending climate change.

Every term of an Abbott government is another 3 years robbed from that critical 30 years for Australia to work with the international community and perhaps take a lead in helping prepare for the transformational changes ahead.

The CSIRO has indicated that Australia will be one of the countries most at risk from climate change. However, by harnessing our great wealth and the talent of our people, we have the potential to become the model nation to show the world how to adapt.

Yet to be ready for the revolutionary transformation of economics and governance that will be required, we need a transformed Labor Party. This is ultimately what I believe the ALP reform campaign is about – building a Labor Party with the capacity not just to win elections but to reflect, help prepare for and equitably guide Australia through the massive economic, environmental and social shifts ahead.

We must reform and renew our political movement now to be able to ride the coming wave of 21st century politics and provide the good governance and leadership our country, and the world, deserves. And we need to have an honest conversation with our members, supporters and voters to achieve it, including articulating the stark realities facing us all many election cycles ahead.

This new politics employs pervasive technology tools to maximise the participation of individuals and communities in economic and government decision-making resulting in the widest distribution of economic and political power. The old adages of “think globally and act locally” and “all politics is local” rings true more than ever. It is the only solution to address the abuses of a corporate ideology that is wreaking havoc on our ecosystem and social equity.

The corporatisation of economic and political power has brought us to the precipice on which we now stand. Society and political parties should not be run like corporations with power and information vested in the hands of an elite board of directors.

Corporate models of power that concentrate decision-making in the hands of a few tends to stifle the possibility of a fair contest of ideas and a fair system of representation based on merit rather than just patronage. Corporatism disconnects decision-makers from those for whom the decisions are made and risks our being held hostage by short-term sectional interests.

The ALP was always intended to be a member-based organisation and a member-driven political movement. We are at our best when we are open and connected and brave. This will require re-organising the party so that Labor values, ennobling policy goals and diversity of experience is embraced and opinions, and at times dissent, arising from a broad membership representative of the broader Australian community is welcome.

This new broad-based and open ALP culture will succeed if it is founded on genuinely democratic processes that work towards reaching consensus alongside a system of governance that ensures the rule of law rather than the law of the jungle applies.

Corporate style politics in the Labor Party will become increasingly unworkable as the nature of politics itself shifts to more flexible, participatory models of governance while the electorate grows more volatile.

Genuine dialogue between communities and Labor policy-makers and members helps us avoid the trap of groupthink that would constrain the ability of our party leaders to respond to and accurately interpret real-time accurate quantitative and qualitative data that pervasive intelligent technology systems will generate. And decisions based on that stream of information must be framed by our Labor values and wide consultation as much as scientific rationale.

If we fail to become more sincere about internal and external dialogue and transparency in decision-making the ALP will be tarnished in the minds of electors as merely a machine that manufactures banal corporate marketing slogans. Sending signals to our members and to the electorate that our board of directors “knows what’s best for you” only contributes to growing disenchantment with the political process and infects society with a sense of frustration and powerlessness to all of our detriment.

The decades ahead may be a grave story of the unravelling of social order and harmony across the world arising from the greater frequency and intensity of natural disasters; diminishing financial capacity of even developed societies to rebuild following these disasters; conflict over rapidly depleting energy resources and arable land and clean water; unrest from lack of opportunity, growing inequality and the displacement of large populations. This pain will be felt most acutely at the personal and community levels.

On the contrary, it may also be a triumphant story of the resilience and capacity of human beings to adapt to meet those challenges with historic international cooperation, and the application of our ingenuity and new technological tools to finds solutions also at the personal and community level.

Either way, it is a choice we need to make now.

To attain the latter scenario will require a post-ideological politics where political parties are organised around common values, and decision-making depends on scientifically obtained and critically analysed evidence not old ideological dogmas or personality cults.

Effective political parties will be those that encourage an independence of thought within the party’s membership and openness to sharing ideas and information to sustain ongoing engagement between the party’s members with their communities.

The Australian Labor Party already has those critical values of fairness, justice, compassion and equity relevant to the new politics. We already have the talent to optimise and apply new technologies to more frequently and deeply involve our members in the development of the necessary policies. We have the resolve and hunger among our members and branches to more actively and meaningfully engage with our communities.

But we need an ALP organisation that does not lock us into outdated modes of thinking, or to corporate paradigms of concentrated top-down power. We must seize the coming year to implement reforms that empower our members’ ability to obtain information and evidence, think more critically, speak more openly and act more locally.

We need an ALP that is transparent, accountable and responsive to its members and upholds Labor values and encourages the fullest participation of members in party decision-making.

If we want Labor governments back in power soon so that the next 30 years are not wasted, and so that Australia can be a model country to help guide the world through the upheavals of climate change to come, we must become the party that embodies the participatory politics of the 21st century.

By mobilising the capabilities of as many of our fellow Australians as possible and engaging their trust and involvement in the political process through Labor membership and support we can rise to meet the unprecedented challenges ahead.

These challenges present us with the prospect of a world with increasing demand colliding with increasing scarcity, that can only result in inequality and conflict. It is the defining moment for our Labor Party that is dedicated to increasing equality, abundance and social cohesion, and we really do have no time to lose to prepare ourselves to lead Australia safely through.

Stuart Whitman, National Convenor of Local Laborimg-profile-stuart

Local Labor https://www.facebook.com/groups/locallabor/

Local Labor http://local-labor.org/

 

 

 

 

Your guide to becoming Andrew Bolt!

Andrew Bolt (image from theage.com.au)

Andrew Bolt (image from theage.com.au)

First, you need to be very, very sure that you’re right. Not right-wing, mind you. Just right. About everything. You know this because, well, you’re always right aren’t you?

The best way to show people that you’re right is to point out that how wrong others are. You can attack them for being nasty and mean-natured and show examples where they have attacked Tony Abbott or John Howard. This just shows how pusillanamous they are. (Throw in a word like that to show your reader that you’re smarter than they are). You can also show how those feral losers support people like Bob Brown and Julia Gillard, who no-one should support because people organise demonstrations with things like “Ditch the Witch” signs. If anyone puts a comment on your blog, pointing out the contradiction here, delete it as offensive, as are all comments that disagree with you.

Similarly, if any other news outlet presents a view different from yours, attack them for their bias. Cite examples where they present a different perspective and use this as proof of their lack of balance.

Next, you actually quote those you are trying to make look ridiculous. But quote selectively. Don’t give the context, or the full quote. And never let them get away with irony or hyperbole, make sure that you reader knows that they meant exactly what they said.

For example, in his recent blog, Andrew Bolt wrote:

‘Every one of them knows what a supporter I have been of the Jewish community, not just in print, yet not one publicly protested when a Jewish QC told a Jewish judge in my case something far more foul than anything I had written – that my thinking resembled that of the Nazis who drew up the Nuremberg race laws. That obscene slur struck me as a legally sanctioned defamation’

Now, the way to quote this would be:

“After, for some reason feeling the need to point out that both his prosecutor and the judge were Jewish, Bolt wrote: ‘my thinking resembled that of the Nazis who drew up the Nuremberg race laws'”

He adds the following Postscript:

‘I have been warned that some people are taking offence at my mentioning the religion of the judge and the barristers for the complainants. One Jewish community leader has even had the hide to wonder in an email to me if I was suggesting a “Jewish conspiracy”.

It should be clear – and would be to those who know me – that the reference is made to suggest just how much an insult was meant by the Nazi reference and how explosive it was in the context of the case.’

After some selective editing, this, of course, becomes:

“Bolt went on to say, ‘I have been warned that some people are taking offence at my mentioning the religion of the judge and the barristers for the complainants…

It should be clear – and would be to those who know me – that the reference is made to suggest just how much an insult was meant’.”

However, it’s not enough to expect your readers to just accept that you’re right. You need to back it up with evidence. Numbers are always good. Just quote some statistics. They don’t need to demonstrate anything, but they look good. For example, you could say that since this morning there have been no boat arrivals, whereas on this date in 2009 thirty seven “asylum seekers” invaded Christmas Island. Call it a drop of 100% and use it as undeniable evidence that Abbott is not a mysognist.

You can also quote experts. An expert is – by definition – someone who agrees with you. If they’re in the majority, that’s proof enough that they’re right. After all, that’s how democracy works. Any contrary views are “radical” or “whacky”. But, if the expert is in the minority, that’s evidence that they’re thinking for themselves, and not going along with the mob. Even if they’ve only been published in an obscure newspaper in Lithuania, this is proof that that sensible views like this – which coincides with yours – can’t get widespread publication. (And if anyone points out that your column gets widespread publication and, therefore, so do these views, tell them that, typically, the Left is trying to distract from the main argument, or better yet, delete their comment as offensive.)

Emotive language is another useful tool.

People making extreme predictions on climate change are “alarmist”; anyone making less extreme predictions just shows that climate scientists are admitting that they were wrong.

Unions using money to further political interests is a “slush fund”; business groups, on the other hand, have a “war chest” or “fighting fund”.

Any government initiative or tax break is “socialism” or “social engineering” if it doesn’t go to an approved industry; on the other hand, tax breaks on diesel to primary industry encourages capitalism.

Climate scientists joined with the Gillard government to invent as excuse for a “toxic tax”; anyone suggesting collusion between businesses is “paranoid” or “delusional”.

Women can be “hysterical” or “shrill” if they argue against you; should anyone complain about this the “feminazis” and “politically correct” are stifling free speech.

Remember that your aim is not find solutions to complex problems. You already have all the answers – they’re obvious and don’t need to spelled out in any detail.

Your aim is to annoy as many people as you can without upsetting your supporters!

If you can do all this, then you, too, may be able to have a column read by thousands of people every day. So what if future generations read your predictions and laugh. You know, after some of the statements from people in the Abbott Government, anything you’ve written will seem minor by comparison.

The ABC of Bias, Perspective and Reality

After telling me the way that it was, he concluded with, “Don’t think I’m racist or anything!”

I replied, “Gee, I expect that I am. I’ve grown up in a country that endorses predominantly white Anglo-Saxon attitudes. I don’t see how I can avoid some of that rubbing off on me.”

He looked at me.

“I know that I shouldn’t be, and I try to notice if I’m being racist, but I’ll bet that some the views and values that were around as I growing up affect the way I view things.. Still, the points you were making about the apology to the stolen generation strike me as quite reasonable. LIke the bit about people thinking that they were doing the right thing. So long as a person thinks they’re doing the right thing, there’s no need for an apology. It’s only when people knowingly do the wrong thing that you should apologise. Sort of like speeding because you’re in a hurry and having an accident, no need for an apology because you believed that you were doing the right thing by trying to get home as quickly as possible…”

“What the f*ck are you talking about?” he interrupted.

* * *

From time to time, some Tony Abbott supporter will post a comment along the lines of me being a Labor-supporting looney, as though being a member of the Labor Party automatically disqualifies you from an opinion.

Pointing out the fact that I’m not a member of the Labor Party and have criticised them in the past doesn’t seem to matter. The next assumption is that I’m a supporter of The Greens.

You see, unless you support the Liberals and Tony Abbott, their logic goes, you must be biased.

Normally, I just laugh such things off or put truly outrageous arguments back. Or just thank them for their intelligent contribution and say how nice it is to hear that people are reading what I write and actually thinking about it – it’s gratifying to know that I’ve changed someone’s mind. Their abuse when they tell me that I haven’t changed their mind and that latte-sipping lefties like me should be taken out and shot enables me to tell them that I’m about to have another Chardonnay – which in case they haven’t heard is making a comeback. Probably thanks to Tony Abbott.

But lately the debate on the ABC has made me truly worry about the state of some people’s mental health.

Let me see if I can give you my perspective. Of course, it will be biased. Everyone is, because everyone has a different perspective. By sharing perspectives, we can work out whether one’s perspective is similar to everyone else’s or radically different. If the latter, why? What experiences have lead one to question the orthodox view? And through this process, we gain greater understanding and greater perspectives.

* * *

All right, stop the bleeding heart stuff, next you’ll have us all singing “Kumba Ya”.

Why are you complaing about alleged ABC bias, didn’t the Murdoch Press attack the Labor Government ceaselessly?

The Murdoch Press is allowed to criticise the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government because it was truly incompetent – the “worst ever”.

How do we know this?

Well, the Murdoch Press told us.

Isn’t this showing bias?

No, it’s just stating the facts!

Isn’t “worst” an opinion?

Well, the Murdoch Press is privately owned, why shouldn’t it be allowed to express an opinion – are you trying to stifle free speech?

No, but on the ABC last week…

The ABC! It’s left wing bias has to be stopped.

Didn’t you just say that the media should be allowed to express an opinion?

The privately owned media, the ABC is taxpayer funded – it shouldn’t be biased

Yeah, but what’s the evidence of bias?

Their presenters often disagree with the Murdoch view. They never have a right wing perspective, as Josh Frydenberg said on ABC radio last week, backing up the point Piers Akerman made on “The Insiders” a few weeks ago.

Aren’t they a right wing perspective on the ABC?

Yeah, but they’re the exception.

Well, there’s a weekly show on ABC radio where a member of the IPA debates a more left-wing person on the events of the week.

Why couldn’t the IPA person debate without another leftie being there?? And where’s the right wing equivalent of Philip Adams on the ABC?

Philip Adams, the millionaire who writes for The Australian? Is he the most extreme example of the left on the ABC?

That just shows that the Murdoch Press give a variety of views! The ABC needs to sold.

* * *

Of course, perhaps Howard’s appointments to the ABC were an attempt to ensure that it had no bias. Let’s see, there was his close friend, Donald McDonald, as well as Janet Albrechtsen and the “anti-blackarm- band” campaigner, Keith Windschuttle. Balanced appointments there! And Michael Kroger, ex-president of the Liberal Party.

Now, that should have helped provide some balance, I would have thought. Or was the culture so entrenched that they somehow thought that these people might be showing a bias of their own, rather than realising that – like Murdoch – they had an implicit understanding of the Truth, and any disagreement displayed an entrenched bias and a refusal to recognise the Truth.

Let’s ignore the polls for now.

Just in case you missed this, the latest Roy Morgan opinion poll puts Labor ahead 51.5% to 48.5% two party prefered.

Now, I know it could be argued that a poll this far out from the possible election is hardly worth commenting on. This seems to be the view of much of the mainstream media, because I certainly haven’t heard much about it. Last week we had the Nielsen poll putting Labor in front one day, but Newspoll the next day, supposedly affirming that voters hadn’t changed the election. A couple of feature writers went as far as suggesting that the Neilsen poll was an outlier.

To quote “Australia’s most read columnist”, He Who Must Not Be Named, (Boltemort)”:

Which polls? The Newspoll which has the Government 52 to 48 ahead of “Labor? Or the Essential Media poll which has it ahead by even more – 53 to 47?

Oh, let’s base this analysis on the one clear outlier with suspicious results particularly in Queensland – the only poll which has Labor ahead.”

Strangely though, there doesn’t seem to be seem to be much comment on the second “outlier”. I certainly haven’t noticed anything about it in today’s “Herald-Sun”, but maybe I was too busy looking at their letters page, where I discovered this gem:

Image

In fact, the poll doesn’t seem to have been mentioned in any of the other papers I’ve read today. Neither have I heard it mentioned on the ABC.

Although, I did read that Malcolm Turnbull was giving the ABC a “lashing”:
Malcolm Turnbull accuses ABC of shocking error of judgment on spy story
Interesting that the Murdoch press who were say scathing about the need for any controls on the freedom of the press, now have no problem with the Communications Minister telling the ABC what they shouldn’t be publishing.

Perhaps that’s why there’s so little about the Morgan poll – it’s been deemed an operational matter and therefore it would be an aid to terrorists and/or people smugglers if it were published.

A Liberal Defence

We’re Liberal – With The Truth!

Ok, it’s time for some balance on The AIMN. There have been far too many anti-Government posts and I’m taking it upon myself to defend the actions of Abbott and company.

Let’s start with the clear bias being showed by certain media outlets. The ABC have tried to embarrass the Government by revealing the Powerpoint that suggested that we had been spying on the Indonesian President. It was ABSOLUTELY wrong of them to publish this. Stories about what Australian Intelligence is doing should NEVER EVER be published. Reponsible media outlets have frequently surpressed stories that aren’t in anyone’s interest. How much have you read about the TPP, or the Leveson inquiry? As some have suggested, this borders on treason. The second point with this, of course, is the timing. Clearly, the ABC and The Guardian conspired together to wait until after the election. This story should have been published months ago when Labor was in power.

Of course, the media does have a set against the Liberals. As Andrew Bolt points out in his blog, there have been a number of articles in the Fairfax papers critical of members of the Abbott Government. Headlines like “Hockey blows $3b hole in budget” and “Barnaby Joyce says that rugby league expenses were official business” are clearly designed to create a negative impression on the reader. Nothing Barnaby says should be reported unless it’s first cleared by one of the adults.

(The ABC in particular keeps trotting out shows with ex-Labor ministers, and they even tried to make you see Julia Gillard in an affectionate light, with their program, “At Home With Julia” – a sit-com purporting to show Tim and Julia at home. But will they have something like “Hard Times With The Boys” – a sit-com supposedly showing what a ficticious Abbott is doing at the police training academy? I very much doubt it!)

We promised to stop you having to worry about boat arrivals being the front page of your newspaper every day. I don’t think anyone can accuse us of failing to deliver on that promise. But the media are upset because now they actually have to find other things to write about, but why should the Abbott Government get the blame for that?

Then there was the furore over Hockey’s request to raise the debt ceiling to a mere five hundred billion dollars. The way some of the media reported it, you’d think that debt was a problem in this country. Fortunately, many economists and other experts were quoted as saying that we don’t even need a debt ceiling. Unless, of course, Labor is in power, because they put things on the credit card and we have to pay it off, by borrowing more money, so they should have one, but a much lower one. We’ll only be using the increased borrowings to pay off the debts that Labor will be racking up over the next two or three years.

As for the recent attempts by the press gallery to suggest that the recent statements by Christopher Pyne on education were somehow a broken promise, I find it incredible just how stupid some of the media can be. What Pyne said before the election was that they had a “unity ticket” on Gonski and as we all know, just because you have a ticket, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the show. Some people might give their ticket to someone else. Or sell it. There is no compulsion for you to use your ticket and the Liberals can hardly be blamed if the media is too stupid to recognise that.

As for the statement: “you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”, it’s easy to see that by “your school” what was meant was overall funding and not specifically your particular school. To try and argue that “your school” means “the school you send your kids to” is the sort of tricky word play that we’ve come to expect from Shorten and his mob, and really you shouldn’t be sucked in by it.

Finally, we have the inconsistency on complaints about foreign aid. First the bleeding hearts want us to help out other countries, then they complain when we give Sri Lanka a couple of boats to help save people from ending up in a place like Manus Island or Nauru. Not that there’s anything wrong with these detention centres. In fact, by the time we may even lease them out as holiday detentions once all the boats are stopped.

[polldaddy poll=7600353]

Double Dissolution Now! Well, no, that’s actually not possible…

Photo: Australian Electoral Commission

Photo: Australian Electoral Commission

At the end of an article on the Governor General’s offer to resign, a journalist wrote that there better not be a Double Dissolution before March, which is when Quentin Bryce is due to finish her term. This struck me as odd. I realise that there are a lot of people who don’t understand the Constitution, or the rules surrounding such things. But this was a political journalist writing for a major newspaper.

So let’s look at why this comment was either sensationalism or stupidity. For a double dissolution to occur certain conditions need to be met. The first is that there needs to be a “trigger”.

The conditions stipulated by section 57 of the Constitution are—

  • The trigger bill originated in the House of Representatives.

  • Three months elapsed between the two rejections of the bill by the Senate (“rejection” in this context can extend to the Senate’s failure to pass the bill, or to the Senate passing it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree).

  • The second rejection occurred in the same session as the first, or the subsequent session, but no later.

Now, the first point is that Tony Abbott has been in no hurry to recall Parliament. We don’t have a date but let’s say it’s in November sometime. A Bill has to be introduced, debated AND rejected by the Senate. Generally speaking this is not a quick process. The Senate could use a number of means to slow down the outright rejection of the Bill, such as amending it, and sending it back to the House of Representatives. But for the sake of fairness let’s say that the Bill is rejected by end of November.

Parliament won’t sit again until February, so assuming the Bill is rejected at the end of February – again it needs to be three months after the first rejection, so that’s the earliest before the conditions for Double Dissolution can be met. From this time, even if Tony Abbott picked the shortest possible time to campaign, the election would still be a month later.

So, the END of March is the EARLIEST a double dissolution could be held. There is no way that Bryce will still be there when the election is held. Well, unless you consider the possibility that Abbott will ask her to stay on for a while longer.

Now, let’s just consider the politics of this for a second. It looks possible that Clive and his PUPets will suppoort the end of the Carbon Pollution Tax. (Once they can get people to drop the “Carbon” entirely, Labor have won the Framing battle. See my previous Framing blog, if this doesn’t make sense.) Would Abbott risk reducing his majority just to get the Carbon Tax through a few months earlier? In terms of balancing the Budget, returns from any tax are helpful – particularly a “great big tax on everything” – and when you can collect revenue while blaming the previous government, why would you be in a rush to end it?

For several months, I kept pointing out there was no way that the charges against Craig Thomson would bring down the Gillard Government. He may resign because he just didn’t want the pressure, but there was no way that he’d be charged and convicted before the election, even if one ignored the possibility of him staying in Parliament, pending an appeal. The Courts just don’t work that quickly. Compared to the idea that a double dissolution could be held by March, at least there was some scenario where that was possible.

Newspapers complain that the Internet is dangerous because ordinary people can put out misinformation. Before they can be even remotely be taken seriously, they need to stop presenting gossip and ignorance as news.

 

An invitation to Tony Abbott

Three months out from the federal election Tony Abbott must be very frustrated. He has only three months to tell us what he will do as Prime Minister but the mainstream media (MSM) cruelly refuse to hand him the microphone. He must be wondering why they’re not interested in asking him those little things about policies, plans, visions. I’m sure he has many. I’m sure he wants to tell us what they are.

If the MSM refuse to show him some courtesy then he has one alternative: the independent media. We would love to accommodate him. We’d love to ask him those questions that the MSM so rudely ignore.

Tony, we’re here to your rescue. Among the social and independent media your policies, plans and visions will reach an audience of hundreds of thousands of news hungry readers. At least those readers will be privileged to hear first hand what to expect from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

So we invite you to speak to us.

I know that political parties keep a very sharp eye on political blog sites so I know that someone in the Coalition will be alerted to this post. Could that person please inform Tony Abbott that we want to speak to him? He could always get in touch with us here at The AIMN and following on from that we can arrange an interview with the independent media groups. It will provide Tony with the best opportunity to proudly announce what he has, to date, been robbed from doing: answering questions.

We, and only we, are interested in revealing Prime Minister Abbott to the electorate prior to the election. And I’m sure that Tony Abbott is desperate for the electorate to know more about him. How can he hope to promote himself through a lazy, uninterested, incompetent mainstream media?

By talking to our keen ears we can hear of – and propagate – the election-winning policies that are currently being stifled by the media. At last he’ll find an audience to hear him out.

Hence, Mr Abbott, we offer this invitation to you to come and talk to us.

Allay the fears of many undecided voters who have not had the opportunity to learn what you stand for, especially given there is a possibility that you might control both houses of Parliament. Some people are petrified at this prospect and the devastation you might create because of your inane personality, your reliance on Catholicism and the simplistic minds of your shadow cabinet. You can dispel those fears, which is something the MSM have not given you the opportunity to do.

Your vision is worthless without public support and yes, we are here to support you.

But let’s cut to the chase. Talk to us, on more than anything, about the Institute of Public Affairs; that free market right wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and closely aligned to the Liberal Party. There are rumours in the electorate that every one of your policies, plans or visions has been generated from the influence this think tank has over your party. And while the MSM are not interested to discuss this issue with you, we are.

In an article by the IPA titled Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia the authors suggest that:

“If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal Party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigour when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.”

It is the essence of that last sentence that particularly grates people and the following list gives people the wrong impression of the havoc you might cause. Here’s your chance to undo it. A chance denied by the MSM.

1. Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
2. Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4. Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5. Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
6. Repeal the renewable energy target
7. Return income taxing powers to the states
8. Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
9. Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
10. Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
11. Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
12. Repeal the National Curriculum
13. Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
14. Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
15. Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
16. Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
17. End local content requirements for Australian television stations
18. Eliminate family tax benefits
19. Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20. Means-test Medicare
21. End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
22. Introduce voluntary voting
23. End mandatory disclosures on political donations
24. End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
25. End public funding to political parties
26. Remove anti-dumping laws
27. Eliminate media ownership restrictions
28. Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30. Cease subsidising the car industry
31. Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
32. Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
34. End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
35. Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
36. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
37. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
38. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
39. Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
40. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
41. Repeal the alcopops tax
42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams

43. Repeal the mining tax
44. Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
45. Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
46. Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
47. Cease funding the Australia Network
48. Privatise Australia Post
49. Privatise Medibank
50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51. Privatise SBS
52. Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
53. Repeal the Fair Work Act
54. Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
55. Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
56. Abolish the Baby Bonus
57. Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
58. Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
59. Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
60. Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
61. Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
62. End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
63. Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
64. End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
65. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
66. Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
67. Means test tertiary student loans
68. Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
69. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
70. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
71. Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
72. Privatise the CSIRO
73. Defund Harmony Day
74. Close the Office for Youth
75. Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

Of course, some of those have very little bearing on the electorate. But some have a massive impact. You have been denied the opportunity to discuss these issues with the MSM while we in the independent media have been screaming for you to have a say. So come along and meet with us. Let us be the microphone that blasts your message across Australia. I doubt you’ll never get another chance.

We’d love to chat with you about the above, plus much more. You might even take this as an opportunity to re-affirm that WorkChoices is dead in the water. Put our minds at ease. You can only do this through bypassing the MSM.

My thanks go to John Lord whose article “Public apathy and 75 ideas to make you shudder” inspired this invitation to Tony Abbott.

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