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Tag Archives: NBN

The Magnificent NBN, Victoria’s “Right-To-Kill Bill” And It’s Just A Flesh Wound…

Writing in “The Herald-Sun” (and no, that’s not really an oxymoron) in May last year, Terry McCrann lauded the government’s NBN success:

 

“RIGHT now, over one million Australians are actually signed on to and using the National Broadband Network. When Labor lost office in September 2013 barely 100,000 were.

So in just two and a half years the number of active users has leapt tenfold — an extraordinary rate of increase in both access and use.

The total number of premises which are able to connect, when and if they choose, has similarly expanded at that spectacular pace, from around 250,000 then to approaching 2.5 million now.

The NBN is finally a done deal. There really is, or should be, no going back to the failed all-fibre $100 billion-plus fantasy of Kevin Rudd and Stephen Conroy.”

 

And just a few weeks ago were told by Malcolm himself, that the NBN was “doing an extraordinary job”. Yes, just a few weeks ago the board that replaced the one that Labor put in place had the situation well in hand and, while even one complaint was too many, now that so many people were being connected then, of course, there’d be more complaints. After all, people are such ungrateful wretches, why look at how some people are complaining about the closure of Manus. As Tony “the Legend” Abbott tweeted: “For years, Greens and Labor allies demanded Manus close. Now it’s closing, they’re still complaining. They just can’t be trusted on borders”. (N.B, NOT SATIRE. ACTUAL TWEET. I know that it’s sometimes hard to tell. Just like when the Australian Border Force told the Senate that sometimes a boat arrival was not a boat arrival. From what I could understand, a recent boat wasn’t an arrival because it happened and we haven’t had one in over a thousand days so,therefore it couldn’t be an arrival, I’m not sure if it was still a boat.)

But more on Tony later… Mm, that last bit should be read aloud. Anyway, just because in a handful of cases, people were being stuck without a landline, they complained. Don’t they understand that this is the “biggest, fastest” thing in the history of Australia? Nay, the world. Why, it’s the biggest, fastest thing since the big bang. (Not the TV show, the Big one!) Don’t they understand that it’s one of Australia’s shining achievements? Why, Turnbull himself listed it and the NDIS as the achievements of his government.

So it comes as a complete shock to me that Turnbull, the man who took over when there was but a “bare 100,000” signed on to the NBN, should suddenly decide that it was a “train wreck”. Well, in case you think that it’s a mea culpa, remember that Malcolm and his Merry Men, don’t need to apologise because nothing is ever their fault. You see, it was because Labor started the project. And they had to take over from where Labor had left it. It’s not like they could put in a whole new management… Oh wait, they did. But it’s not like they could renegotiate the contract and stop the fibre to the premises… Oh wait, they did that too. But I suppose it’s the 100,000 houses that had signed up under Labor who are having the problems… Oh wait, no it’s not.

Anyway, it’s Labor’s fault because it was their idea, like the problems with energy policy: they want a Clean Energy Target but we’ve put in place: A GUARANTEE. And we’re good at things like that. Who could forget “Our Contract With Australia”? You know, the one where we promised to “End the Waste And Debt”?

Mm. Perhaps I’d better move on to Mr Abbott and mention that he “stopped the boats”, which must have fixed up the hospital queues and the traffic problems in Sydney. A remarkable achievement. In a recent tweet, he told us:

Now, I think that we really need to object to his emotive language. Wherever you stand on the issue, the use of the phrase “right-to-kill bill” is an attempt to paint the legislation in negative light. Ok, he probably neither meant to reference Quentin Tarantino nor suggest that Victoria was declaring open season on Bill Shorten… No, it was a really pathetic way of framing a difficult decision as “killing”. Allowing a terminally ill person to end their own life is vastly different from giving people the “right to kill”. Still, one can see why poor Tones might be finding parallels with euthanasia and what the Liberals did to his leadership and that may be what’s making him behave so emotionally.

But perhaps, Tony just likes to impersonate the Black Knight from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”. You know, “it’s just a flesh wound.” How else could one explain one of his other tweets: “Re AFR story. This isn’t over. There are five million Australians yet to vote and the NO campaign is appealing to every one of them!”

Mm, does Mr Abbott mean that they are making an appeal, or does he mean that the No campaign is appealing to all of them but they just haven’t got around to voting yet?

Whatever, ya gotta laugh. The only other option is for me to decide that I’ve died and I’ve been sent to this absurd Hell, where Donald Trump is president and even after taking the leadership of Abbott, Turnbull behaves like he’s not only betraying all his previous principles, he’s putting his hand up to be the most inarticulate PM since Billy McMahon famously urged people to look at the facts and vote for the ALP… Billy did quickly correct himself, but history would have judged him less harshly if he’d pretended that he meant it. Whatever you think of Tony, he at least gives the feeling that he does have some misguided belief in the things he’s saying, while Turnbull sounds like an understudy who didn’t bother to learn his lines properly, let alone develop an emotional truth.

On a Road to Nowhere?

As we all wake up today from our election hangovers, and stagger bleary eyed to work, many are considering the real implication of living in interesting times… and the real possibility that the Governor General may be forced to call a second election.  The double dissolution election brought on by #stabilityMal has surprised everyone, not least the Australian voter; who, after casting their #rageVote now wonders what they were drinking, and who it was they spent those huddled, sweaty moments with in that election booth. Therefore, in another empty attempt to make sense of it all, it’s time for more analysis and conjecture!

Battle of the Bastards
updated 1800hrs 5 July The current count on the AEC website has the ALP leading in 69 seats, and the LNP with 66. The ALP is trending in a further two seats, and the LNP in three, though all five are too close to call… which should probably be the subtitle for this election.  The AEC has five seats undetermined; four Liberal and one ALP, which according to the current tally are likely to remain with incumbents. If that is the case we are looking at a 72/73 split  between the ALP and LNP.

updated 1800hrs 4 July The ABC (i.e. Antony Green) has a slightly different tally, with ALP at 67, LNP at 68 up from 64. Out of the 10 ‘seats in doubt’ the LNP is ahead on slender margins in four seats, the ALP on a similar knife-edge in five, and Xenophon party fairly comfortable in one. Giving us a House looking like this:
TABLES-house2

One of the key factors in this election is that traditional conservative voters have felt betrayed by the Liberal and National parties.  Mining, CSG, the NBN, foreign ownership, constant cuts and privatisation have been a catalyst for conservative voters to look at what else is on offer. Some have realised that the ALP has policies they support; others have turned even further right. As a result, immigration is likely to be a continuing flashpoint, though this time around even Pauline Hanson supports socialised healthcare and the NBN.

Greens and Andrew Wilkie have a record of voting with the ALP, though Wilkie has stated he will not enter into any deals.  Cathy McGowan tends to vote with the Coalition. Previously Katter aligned with the LNP, though this time there’s no carbon tax on the table this time. Key issues for Katter are CSG, energy privatisation and land sales, all of which the ALP have made murmurs about, while the LNP are unwilling/unable to move on either. If that will shift the pragmatic Katter away from traditional alliances remains to be seen.  Xenophon has already said he will take the number of seats either party wins into account when negotiating agreements, so if that second seat in Grey comes to Team X then he will truly be the kingmaker.

Stiff Upper Lip
The new senate is going to be a mixed bag. Media and politicians alike may decry the election results as a circus as much as they like; but the people have spoken, just not coherently.

There are two truths in democracy: The voter is always right… and you get the government you deserve… and based on ABC.net.au and the AEC website, the senate is currently looking like this:

TABLES-senate

The trend for seats in doubt generally toward the right wing parties such as Katter, Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers, One Nation, and the various Christian groups.  As per predictions, the lions’ share will likely go to the major parties; though there is a chance that either Katter or One Nation will get across the line.

Given the wide range of voices represented in the senate, we need to ask the question: Where do the new senators stand on legislation?

The Sydney Morning Herald published this rough breakdown of each parties’ focus.  The Weasel takes a next step and looks at how the senators will likely vote on current key issues.

Positions garnered from official policy statements, news reports, and interest group websites.
Where there is no clear position, it can be assumed that senators will use the issue as a bargaining chip to further their own agenda.

Marriage Equality
Derryn Hinch:     Pro equality, parliamentary vote
Fred Nile:            Anti equality, pro plebiscite
Jacqui Lambie:   Anti equality, pro plebiscite, conscience vote for party.
Katter:                 Anti equality
Lib Democrats:   Pro equality, parliamentary vote
One Nation:        Anti equality, pro plebiscite
Xenophon:          Pro equality, parliamentary vote
see also Aus Marriage Equality site

Climate Change / Renewable Energy
Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Sceptic, pro nuclear
Jacqui Lambie:   Supports action (in statements), pro nuclear, voting record unclear
Katter:                 Pro Action, stop CSG, extend emission target, boost ethanol production
Lib Democrats:   Sceptics, support mitigation, pro nuclear
One Nation:        Wants a Royal commission into climate science “corruption
Xenophon:          Pro Action, 50% reduction target by 2030

Recognition or Treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Opposes Constitutional recognition, supports increased engagement
Jacqui Lambie:   Constitutional recognition, plus dedicated indigenous seats in parliament
Katter:                 Wants action, possibly prefers treaty
Lib Democrats:   Opposes Constitutional recognition
One Nation:        Opposes Constitutional recognition and treaty
Xenophon:          Supports Constitutional recognition

Education
Derryn Hinch:    No clear position
Fred Nile:           Improve education by adding bible study, and cutting Safe Schools
Jacqui Lambie:   Boost TAFE, introduce national-service style apprenticeship scheme
Katter:                 Pro funding boosts, also wants systematic education reform
Lib Democrats:  Stop Federal funding, pro deregulation, cut Austudy
One Nation:       Government subsidised apprenticeship scheme
Xenophon:         Pro Gonski, anti university deregulation

Royal Commission into Banking
Derryn Hinch:    No clear position, may support
Fred Nile:           No clear position
Jacqui Lambie:  Supports
Katter:                Supports
Lib Democrats:  No clear position, unlikely to support
One Nation:       No clear position, may support
Xenophon:         Supports

NBN
Derryn Hinch:    No clear position
Fred Nile:           No clear position, wants more infrastructure
Jacqui Lambie:  Supports FTTP
Katter:                Supports FTTP
Lib Democrats:  Prefers private competitive roll out instead of government
One Nation:       Wants high speed broadband, proposes wireless hubs for regions
Xenophon:         Supports FTTP

Federal ICAC
Derryn Hinch:    Probably Pro ICAC
Fred Nile:           No clear position
Jacqui Lambie:  Pro ICAC
Katter:                No clear position
Lib Democrats:  No clear position
One Nation:       Probably Pro ICAC
Xenophon:         Pro ICAC

Refugees
Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Mandatory detention, prefers Christian refugees,
Jacqui Lambie:   Wants children out of detention, strict monitoring & quotas
Katter:                 Turnbacks, faster assessment, and supply work while on TPVs
Lib Democrats:   Mandatory detention, on/off shore processing, strict entry requirements
One Nation:        Turnbacks
Xenophon:          Dislikes offshore processing, increase intake, speed up processing

Healthcare
Derryn Hinch:     No clear position
Fred Nile:            Better spending, especially in aged care
Jacqui Lambie:   Supports socialised medicine, especially for combat veterans
Katter:                 Supports socialised medicine, wants more services for regions
Lib Democrats:   Abolish Medicare, privatise, The Market will provide… apparently
One Nation:        Supports socialised medicine
Xenophon:          Supports socialised medicine, focus on prevention

On the question of which senators get a six-year stint, and which three… well that is up to the senate.  There are two options:
1. Order-of-election; Out of the 12 state senators, whoever crossed the line first gets six years.
2. Recount; Votes are recounted treating the vote as a normal three-year cycle. Whoever would have been elected on that basis gets six years.
Which one the senate uses will likely depend on the three major parties, with Xenophon once again in position as king-maker. The inestimable Antony Green, of course, covers this question in more detail.

The anti-Islam voting block of Fred Nile, One Nation, and Lambie will bring up issues surrounding Muslim Australians and immigration generally; and likely to include senate inquiries into banning burkas or halal certification and labelling. The LNP could use this flashpoint as a major negotiating chip to pass other legislation; though that is unlikely to be the ABCC bill.

On practical and ideological matters of investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure such as the NBN, the balance is definitely leaning toward the ALP.  Lambie, Katter and Xenophon have shifted to the centre on these issues, and the LNP can no longer rely on social policies to wedge support for their neo-liberal economic programme. Accepting a Federal ICAC may present the ALP with a ticket to govern, but marriage equality is unlikely to get anywhere unless the ALP can push an open vote. Action on climate will be problematic, expect another senate inquiry into nuclear power.

As predicted Derryn Hinch picked up the PUP and Ricky Muir vote, though really has very little to offer beyond his pet name-and-shame project, and animal justice.  Populist by nature, he could decide or shift his vote if a concerted push came from his electorate…

…and that is important to remember. You can write to your MP and your Senator to express your preference. This parliament is an opportunity for voters and community to have a real impact on the nature of the parliament, and what agenda the parliament pursues. Given that the independent parties may decide who gets to form government, the time to start writing is now.

I hope Rupert is happy

There was a time not so long ago when Australia’s future looked bright.

In 2008, Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generation and COAG agreed to a definitive strategy to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage.

We had successfully negotiated the global financial crisis with continued growth and relatively low unemployment.

We were world leaders in putting a price on carbon. We were addressing water issues with the Murray-Darling buyback scheme and extending marine parks.  We had introduced water trigger legislation giving the federal government the right to oppose mining in sensitive areas.

We had expanded the Renewable Energy Target and established the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Wind capacity trebled and Labor supported the installation of more than 1 million solar panels.

Needs based funding for school education was underway, tertiary education had been expanded, and we had an agreement with the states on hospital funding.

The rollout of a world class fast NBN was underway.

We had a mechanism for deriving some income from the mining of our natural resources which was just about to start earning some money as they moved into production phase and had used up their accelerated depreciation.

We had introduced paid parental leave and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

There was a Royal Commission into child sex abuse instigated.

Our troops had finally come home from Afghanistan.

We had our first female Prime Minister who was admired around the world who looked on bemusedly at the vilification she received at home.

But Rupert Murdoch wasn’t happy.

We had a debt and deficit disaster, which is now much larger.

They were a dysfunctional illegitimate government who knifed their own leader, just like the Libs have done.

We had to get rid of the carbon and mining taxes to improve investment and employment, both of which have gone backwards after the repeal.

And Juliar told us there would be no carbon tax, just like Tony said there would be no cuts to health, education or the ABC.

So what do we have to look forward to now?

Another war in the Middle East.

Paying hundreds of billions for war toys.

Paying hundreds of millions for political witch hunts aka Royal Commissions designed to demonise Labor and the union movement.

Becoming a toxic dump for the world’s nuclear waste.

A great big new tax on everything you buy.

Paying billions to polluters.

Forking out millions to try and keep Telstra’s copper network working so we can have really slow broadband.

Lots of big new coal mines and CSG mines dotting our prime farmland.

Getting sued by global corporations if our laws interfere with their profits.

An influx of 457 visa workers.

Condemnation by the world for torturing asylum seekers.

The selling off of all our assets.

Working till we are 70.

The removal of penalty rates.

Being told that government spending on everything to do with society is unsustainable because we need more money for security.

I sure hope Rupert is happy because we have paid a hell of a price for him to get his way.

 

Why would anybody want to re-elect this government?

Voters must have an intense dislike of asylum seekers.

The latest Morgan Poll is great for the government, which sees them leading the opposition 56.5/43.5.

Taking away personalities (ie, disregarding that many people obviously like Malcolm Turnbull), it really is hard to see what the government has going for them.

If re-elected, they will make life harder or more miserable for near on all of the population. “Yes we can” says the poster. And yes they will. For example, if re-elected they:

  • will be doing nothing to address climate change
  • will possibly increase the GST, costing each family about $4,000 a year
  • will continue to ignore science of any description
  • will be doing nothing about housing affordability
  • will be doing nothing about the high unemployment levels
  • will be providing us with internet speeds that are the worst in the world
  • will continue to tighten the screws for people on welfare or income support
  • will still be giving billions to the mining companies
  • they will do nothing about the huge gap in wealth inequality (quite the opposite, they will continue to pander to the rich)
  • will do nothing to help the disadvantaged in our society (they will probably cut funding even further)
  • will continue to beat around the bush as far as same-sex marriage goes
  • have intentions of changing the media ownership laws which will give Murdoch even more control of our media (and they’ll probably cut funding to the ABC even further)
  • will continue to demonise innocent people (Gillian Triggs is a good example)
  • will make it more costly to see a doctor or a specialist
  • if economists are correct, the government will lead us into a recession
  • will keep ripping coal out of our beautiful country – coal that nobody wants
  • will make tertiary education unaffordable
  • will strip away our citizenship if (as a dual citizen) we do as much as destroy a government owned coffee table
  • will spy on our every movement
  • will jail anybody who dares report on atrocities committed by the government
  • . . . and on and on the list goes

But . . . they will keep telling us that they’ve stopped the boats and we’re safe from all those murderous would-be terrorists that did sneak through because they’re all locked up now on Nauru or Manus Island and with any luck they will either rot to death or be sent to a country with an unpronounceable name where they can perish without our knowledge.

And no matter how much misery this Coalition government casts over our own lives we will vote for them because of their asylum seekers policies.

And it’s got me beat.

 

Poor people have it. Rich people need it. If you eat it you die. What is it?

As the snake oil salesman and his happy clapper gear up to sell us on their compensation for a higher GST, it is worth remembering how much we have already given up in the last couple of years.

When Joe Hockey decided to forego $6.5 billion revenue from the mining tax, workers paid a heavy price through his decision to freeze the superannuation guarantee at 9.5% until 2021. Labor had scheduled incremental increases reaching 12% by 2019.  This will now happen 6 years later.

The cost of this for someone on $50,000 a year is $7,500 less deposited into their superannuation over the next decade which would compound over a lifetime of work to a significant amount.

The income support bonus and schoolkids bonus will both cease at the end of next year and the low income superannuation co-contribution the year after that.

The low income superannuation contribution gives up to $500 a year to help those earning $37,000 or less save for their retirement.

The schoolkids bonus is a $430 boost to family tax payments for primary school students, and $856 for families with children at high school.

The income support bonus is a payment of $221.20 if you are single, $184.20 if you are partnered, to people who are on benefits.

The Mature Age Worker, Dependent Spouse, and Net Medical Expenses tax offsets have all been phased out.

The proposed increase of the tax free threshold to $19,400 has been canned, costing us an extra $228 in taxation, and the income thresholds used to calculate Medicare levy surcharge and Private health insurance rebate will not be adjusted for three years.

From 1 July 2015, the primary earner income limit for Family Tax Benefit Part B is $100,000 instead of $150,000.

New mothers who receive parental leave benefits from their employers will no longer be able to also collect the government scheme from July 2016

Unemployed under 25-year-olds have to wait four weeks to get the dole.

Add to this the cuts to health and education, fuel levy indexation, proposed changes to university fees, working till we are 70, stagnant wages, and the loss of FttP NBN, and we are a long way behind where we were a couple of years ago.

Getting rid of the carbon tax was supposed to ease our cost of living but all it has done is rob us of about $7 billion a year in revenue.

And now we look like having an extra 5% added to every bill we pay (with the possible exception of fresh food), and 15% added to health and education costs. It kinda makes the GP co-payment look good.

Oh but low income earners are to be compensated.

I wonder how close that compensation will go to making up for all that has been taken from us in the last two years let alone the estimated $2500 (or $4000 according to Curtin University) an increased GST will cost the average family every year.

It’s all very well to suggest that businesses need tax breaks but if their customers have no money to spend, what’s the point?

Instead of trying to squeeze blood from a stone, how about tapping into the rivers of gold flowing to offshore tax havens.

Poor people have it. Rich people need it.  If you eat it you die.  What is it?

Nothing.

 

Give Labor a big tick

It was bound to happen and I’m glad it did.

After weekly emails from Labor – that were generally pointless or simply wanted me to sign a petition – I am pleased to announce that something constructive found its way into my inbox.

Instead of garbling on about nothing or inviting me/email recipients to send stern words to the government about whatever horrible policy they were trying to thrust upon us . . . Labor wants my opinion about the policies important to me.

I don’t know how many people received said email but I do hope that a hell of a lot of people are on their mailing lists. I want a hell of a lot of people telling Labor what is important to them.

Now to the email:

We want to make sure our community is heard. We have so many supporters who are passionate about so many different issues.

That’s why we’d like to hold a series of Facebook QandAs with Labor Shadow Ministers so that you can ask your questions about Labor’s plans and policies directly from the source.

So what issue are you most passionate about?

The Budget

The Economy

Education

Environment and Climate Change

Foreign Affairs

Health

Higher Education

Immigration and Asylum policy

Infrastructure

Innovation and Start-ups

National Security

The NBN

NDIS

Regional Australia

Social Security, Pensions and Welfare

Are Labor actually about to start implementing some policies? Are they actually trying to shake off the Liberal-Lite label? Are they actually trying to move forward again now that Tony Abbott and his wedge-style of politics have been swept away?

If ‘yes’ to all of the above, then “thank you, Labor”.

For two years I’ve been dumbfounded as to why the issues important to me have been ignored. There must be tens of thousands of Labor supporters who feel the same way, but at last Labor wants to hear from us.

As I’ve been the first to complain over these two years I will be making sure I am one of the first to tick some of the boxes. Please join me. We are about to be listened to.

Are some solutions just too easy?

Does it seem to anyone else that we are in election mode?

In reality, we are always in election mode but both sides seem receptive to ideas at the moment so how about we revisit the extra 58 fighter jets Tony ordered in his first flush of having the keys to the Treasury.

In 2002 John Howard went to the United States and signed Australia up in the early stages of development of the Joint Strike Fighter.

In 2009 it was a Labor government that ordered the first 14 of the aircraft for Australia.

In April 2014 Tony Abbott announced Australia would acquire another 58 Joint Strike Fighters at a cost of around $90 million per plane; $24 billion has been budgeted to purchase and operate the aircraft until 2024.

And while we are at it, do we really need 12 new subs?

In February the Defence Minister said the project will be worth around $50 billion.

Has anyone noticed that we don’t have long range bombers and aircraft carriers either? If we really want to do undersea work wouldn’t it be better done by robot craft/drones for a far smaller cost?

Wouldn’t subsidising the car industry to make low emission cars, building high speed rail, installing FttP NBN, and investing in renewable energy and sustainable practice all bring more jobs and a better return than war toys? The shipyards could build research vessels or hospital ships or cargo vessels – you know, constructive things.

Wouldn’t lifting people from poverty and investing in health, education, and affordable housing be of more benefit to our society?

Wouldn’t investing in childcare and aged care be better than investing in warfare?

Research and foreign aid are surely more important?

Come on Malcolm…think of all that extra money. Think of the jobs that could be created. Scott…you could be a hero. Can we please consider this very easy way to solve so many problems?

 

The visionary vs the wrecker

Proactive is not a word that can be used to describe Tony Abbott – regressive would be a far more appropriate term.

A comparison to another Prime Minister from 40 years ago shows just how far backwards Abbott wants to take us.

Gough Whitlam introduced Medibank, the ancestor of Medicare, as Australia’s first national health insurance system in 1975.

The Abbott government wants to roll back universal health care by introducing co-payments.  They also sold off the profitable Medibank Private which is now curtailing benefits.

Whitlam abolished university fees from January 1, 1974 which not only made a university education accessible to all young people, but also “mature-age students”, with a rush of older Australians getting degrees in the 1970s.

Abbott wants to deregulate fees which will make a university education out of the reach of many.

Whitlam established The States Grants (Schools) Act 1973 and the Schools Commission Act 1973 to create a new system of fairer funding for education. He attended Sydney’s prestigious Knox Grammar, but for him the difference in opportunity for private and government school students was “morally unjust and socially wasteful”.

Abbott abandoned the Gonski reforms and said the government has more of an obligation to private than state schools.

Ten days after taking office, Whitlam and his deputy, Lance Barnard, announced a royal commission into Aboriginal land rights and established the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. The findings of the royal commission led to the drafting of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and the establishment of an elected National Aboriginal Consultative Committee.

Abbott made $534 million in cuts across Indigenous Affairs over five years, and established the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) advised by Twiggy Forrest. The Indigenous Affairs funding environment “remains a trauma zone” though money has been provided for farmers to fight native title claims.  Action on constitutional recognition remains a talkfest and self-determination has been replaced by income management, directed learning, truancy officers, and mandatory sentencing.

Whitlam re-opened the Australian embassy in Beijing, resuming diplomatic relations after 24 years, and became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit the People’s Republic of China in 1973.

Abbott blunders around from one diplomatic embarrassment to the next – shirt-fronting Putin, laughing about Pacific Islands being inundated, telling the Indonesians we don’t need their permission to tow back boats and that we will spy on whoever we please, telling Obama he didn’t know what he was talking about re the Great Barrier Reef, saying the UN lacks credibility – the list is endless and humiliating.

Whitlam changed the Anthem from God Save the Queen to Advance Australia Fair. The Order of Australia replaced the British honours system in early 1975.

Abbott remains a staunch monarchist and reintroduced knights and dames, going to the extraordinary length of knighting Prince Phillip.

The Whitlam government in its first days reopened the equal pay case pending before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and appointed a woman, Elizabeth Evatt, to the commission.

Abbott crowned himself Minister for Women and promptly got rid of gender-reporting requirements for business. He initially only appointed one woman to Cabinet and refuses to entertain the idea of quotas to address the lack of female representation in the Liberal Party.

Whitlam and Barnard eliminated sales tax on contraceptive pills.

Abbott refuses to remove GST from women’s sanitary products.

Whitlam doubled funding to the arts in a year and created the Australia Council for the Arts.

Abbott cut arts funding to the Australia Council by $105 million, diverting the funding to a new fund called the National Program of Excellence in Arts (NPEA) where grants are decided by George Brandis.

Whitlam barred racially discriminatory sport teams from Australia, and instructed the Australian delegation at the United Nations to vote in favour of sanctions on apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia.

Tony Abbott called Mandella’s ANC terrorists and himself went on a rugby tour to South Africa.

Whitlam ordered the Australian Army Training Team home from Vietnam, ending Australia’s involvement in the war. Legislation allowed the defence minister to grant exemptions from conscription. Barnard held this office, and exempted everyone. Seven men were at that time incarcerated for refusing conscription; Whitlam arranged for their liberation.

Abbott has sent us back to war in the Middle East.

Whitlam introduced “no fault divorces” through the Family Law Act 1975.

Abbott wants a return to fault-based divorce as a way to “shore up traditional values”.

Whitlam established legal aid, with offices in each state capital.

Abbott has slashed funding to legal aid and banned them from advocacy work.

The Whitlam government abolished the death penalty for federal crimes.

The Abbott government quietly scrapped an instruction to the Australian Federal Police last year requiring it to take Australia’s opposition to the death penalty into account when co-operating with overseas law enforcement agencies.

Whitlam founded the Department of Urban Development and set a goal to leave no urban home unsewered. His government gave grants directly to local government units for urban renewal, flood prevention, and the promotion of tourism. Other federal grants financed highways linking the state capitals, and paid for standard-gauge rail lines between the states.

Abbott has made a lot of announcements but infrastructure spending has plummeted and the vision of fast NBN to all premises has been abandoned. He also does not consider urban infrastructure part of his responsibility.

One man had a vision for Australia and the strength and courage to enact it. The other is a nasty, vengeful, anachronism who is completely out of his depth and who is determined to unwind reforms purely because they were enacted by the previous government. His only aim is to save his own job and he is prepared to say and do anything to achieve it.

The Governance Report

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“You cannot believe in democracy and at the same time expect that the party you support is the only one that should ever win”.

What can you expect then, if your team doesn’t win? You won’t be happy and you know in your heart that the new government will do things that you disagree with. And it has every right to do so.

I have a general view of government that goes something like this.

“Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions. When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government.

It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair reward for the fruits of their labour and the wealth of the country. And above all it should be answerable to the people”.

And I might add that in the recipe of what makes good government the most important ingredient is ‘leadership’.

So I have an expectation that the government elected by the people in a democracy I support, might show competency. That it might govern for all the people keeping in mind that a fair proportion of them would have voted against them.

Looking back, the 2013 election was the worst in my memory. On the one hand we had a party with a public perception of dysfunction although the reality was that it passed 585 bills 87% supported by the opposition and was never defeated on the floor. It took to the election some excellent policy reforms. On the other hand the LNP, who never saw the government as legitimate, brought very little policy to the table choosing instead to play small target, piggy back Labor’s, and relied on the unpopularity of the government to secure victory.

From all this the public were the losers. There was no debate on the best way forward for Australia’s future. There was no exchange of ideas or credentials for government. It was an election devoid of intellectual integrity, discourse, ideals and honesty.

As the Abbott Government approaches its second birthday it’s interesting, for me at least, to in hindsight appraise the Prime Minister’s leadership and governance against my own performance criteria by measuring a few key factors.

Leadership

Abbott has been an abject failure as Prime Minister. His leadership has survived one challenge and as I write the feeling in political circles is that he will undergo another one soon. He chose to make unilateral captain’s calls that have done nothing more than reveal a predisposition for bad judgement.

He is a dour fellow with unrelenting negativity that runs like rust through his veins and has little time for ideas that don’t reflect his own. He is aggressive both physically and in the use of language. He is by evidence and his own admission a liar of some consistency.

Added to that he has a political gutter mentality and little respect for the institution of parliament and its conventions.

What sort of leader would say this prior to an election and then do the opposite.

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards” (Tony Abbott).

Abbott’s long history of making inaccurate and more often than not statements that offend individuals and groups is legendary.

As opposition leader he spent most of his time pursuing the demise of Gillard. Accordingly he went to the election with no policies, has developed none since, and has no vision of what a future Australia might look like.

He leads a government of political reaction. By that I mean that every reaction on whatever topic has the measure “how will it affect us politically” attached. Its first reaction is to always react rather than control situations.

Some governments manage to negotiate the inevitable potholes of office with a modicum of grace. The Abbott Government has been hopeless at crisis management. It has repeatedly failed to foresee obvious perils, and struggled to deal with soluble dilemmas. The cause of this has undoubtedly been very poor leadership.

Employment

The fact is that despite all its propaganda to the contrary there are now 800,000 people without a job. More than when Labor was in power. Or the highest total in 23 years.

Marriage Equality

Public support for Gay Marriage in current polling is at 69 per cent. With all the polls indicating such high support why is it necessary to spend 100 million of a plebiscite. The demand to act and act now is further reinforced. Otherwise the public will view a non-decision as nothing more than a tactic to first delay and then defeat the push for equality. Which it probably is.

The Economy

Hockey and Abbott whilst in Opposition hounded the Gillard/Rudd Governments as hopelessly incompetent financial managers. Abbott said things were so bad that he described the budget as an emergency, when the deficit was $18billion and Net Debt was $176billion. The deficit is now $35 billion and net debt $265billion. What explanation have they.

Hockey’s first Budget was the worst received ever and his second amounted to nothing more than a repair job on the first. It predicted a deficit of $35.1bn this financial year. This would be followed by deficits of $25.8bn in 2016-17, $14.4bn in 2017-18 and $6.9bn in 2018-19, and these figures assume the passage of contentious budget savings that are stalled in the Senate and unlikely to pass. On top of that the growth projections in the budget are considered by both Howard and Costello to be fanciful.

The importance of budget surpluses has been overstated. Since 1945, significant budget surpluses have been achieved only rarely: once by Ben Chifley, three times by Bob Hawke, and eight times by John Howard, who shared another with Rudd, who was elected during the 2007-08 fiscal year. That is, the Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon and Fraser governments managed only a few, small surpluses. So much for the claim about the Coalition’s fiscal management being superior to that of Labor… The surpluses by Howard came from an unprecedented, never to be repeated mining boom and the sale of public assets. Let’s keep it in perspective.

The NBN

The NBN was a major initiative of Labor. Howard during his tenure of government tried 13 times to develop a policy and failed each time. Abbott being the Luddite that he is wanted to destroy it and appointed Turnbull to do so. He at least saw the light in terms of future benefits and possibilities but as it stands now the LNP continues to make a meal of the NBN rollout with a cost blowout of $15b since last estimate in December 2013.The budget had already blown out considerably (after having blown out to $41 billion, twice what the Coalition insisted their less-ambitious version of the NBN would cost before the 2013 election) and that NBN Co are going to have to find the money from either greater debt or private equity. Yes they were telling lies all along.

And the revised rollout of the network will end up being 20 per cent fiber-to-the-premises, 38 per cent fiber-to-the-node, 34 per cent HFC, 5 per cent fixed wireless and 3 per cent satellite.

Fiber to the house is the rolled gold connection and MPs will have to explain to their electorates why some are getting it and some are not. Are you in a marginal seat?

Morality of governance

The Abbott Government has demonstrated a willingness to govern for the rich, the privileged and corporations.

The word “lying” (in political terms) has been replaced with the more subtle reference of “overstatement. Almost everything spoken by him and his Ministers has an element of exaggeration or downright untruth about it.

By appointing Bronwyn Bishop as speaker he knowingly trashed an already tarnished Question Time. Bishop treated the position as some form of reward or distinction for longevity of service. Under her stewardship, and with Abbott’s approval, Question Time descended into a chamber of hate. Now it is just an excuse for mediocre minds who are unable to win an argument with intellect, charm or wit to act deplorably toward each other. And in doing so debase the parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals.

By allowing cabinet papers to be scrutinized by Royal Commissioners he trashed another long held convention.

The people’s right to know became obsolete with the FOI Commissioner forced to work from home because of funding cuts.

Ministerial responsibility became a principle of yesterday, unsuited to today’s politics.

Parliamentary expenses became privileges and over a long period the Prime Minister showed a taste for extras by leading the way.

Climate Change

Tony Abbott from the very start of his term of office has conveniently said that emissions cause Global Warming but his every action, his every statement, would indicate otherwise.

The Governments announced 26% target on greenhouse emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 is pathetically inadequate and less ambitious than most other developed countries.

We have a group of deniers being reluctantly dragged to Paris without a clue about what the science is telling them.

People should not be fooled by the % but consider the level by date and the end date. The government might also explain how it intends to pay for it.

On these numbers we would still be the world’s highest per capita polluter in 2030.

Royal Commissions

Abbott’s leadership has had all the hallmarks of retribution. Politics to him is as much about the annihilation of ones opponents as it is about making the country a better place. So he set about implementing Royal Commissions that in reality were nothing more than witch hunts against his opponents calculated to damage them as much as possible. There is nothing that has been found thus far that could not have been investigated by existing authorities. The appointment of Dyson Heydon who was a known Coalition supporter and the consequent controversy over his perceived bias has tarnished the process to the point that democracy itself is the biggest loser.

Women

Although he purports to be the Minister for women what he says and does are direct opposites. In the budget he withdrew money from Domestic Violence programs only to have to embarrassingly reinstate it later. On the whole he has done nothing to advance the prospects of women. Even in his own party, despite the rhetoric, women find it difficult to find a pathway to political representation.

Indigenous Recognition

Again he is found wanting in the area of Aboriginal advancement. There is much confusing talk that simply amounts to putting the ‘’black fellars’’ in their place but little in the way of constructive policy outcomes.

Conclusion

There are many other areas that I could have touched on like International Diplomacy, Health, National Security and the NDIS but I have said enough to make my point. Even if you voted against him you are entitled to expect better than this rabble. Even if, in all fairness, you admit that the winner has won the right to rule according to the parties ideological strategies, you are still entitled to expect a modicum of good government.

We have not had anything like it. On the contrary, commentators suggest Abbott has led the worst government ever.

People need to understand that to re elect him would only serve to reinforce his extremism. The consequences of which this writer does not want to even comprehend.

 

Labor need to stand for more than just climate change

The latest email from Labor read:

Roswell —

In case you missed it: last week Tony Abbott committed all of us to one of the weakest emissions reduction targets in the developed world – 26%. 

This means we would fail to meet our commitment to help limit climate change to 2 degrees in the lead up to the Paris Climate Change Conference. Climate scientists say that if the world fails to limit warming to 2 degrees, we reach a dangerous tipping point where there are natural changes that release huge amounts of greenhouse gases like methane from melting permafrost and huge forest fires. That’s why we have to have a serious commitment to joining the world in limiting warming to 2 degrees, but it’s clear the only way to get real action on climate change is to get rid of Tony Abbott. He never believed the science of climate change, and not even the rest of the world can convince him.

The polls show the Australian people are well and truly over this guy, but a week is a long time in politics and we can’t assume we won’t have one hell of a fight on our hands to win back government and put in place a decent and responsible climate policy. To do that we need passionate Australians like you to give us a fighting chance at the next election and righting this wrong. Can you contribute $5 today?

The next election will be a choice between real action on climate change vs none. Labor has a vision to reach 50% of renewables by 2030 and we want to see our country do its part to reduce emissions. Please help us and together we can get this message out – climate change is too important for us to remain quiet.

Thank you for your support,

Skye Laris
Digital Director  

Maybe, to a point, the next election will be a choice between real action on climate change vs none, but I don’t agree that it’s the only issue as they so suggest.

Perhaps they need to read my earlier post and start getting real vocal in their support for things like:

  • same sex marriage (glad to see that they do)
  • the National Broadband Network (which they’ve gone quiet on)
  • raising taxes for the rich (which they haven’t mentioned)
  • taxing the super profits of mining companies (which they’ve also gone quiet on)
  • getting rid of internet regulation (OK, they’ll be called hypocritical after first having supported it, but they shouldn’t have supported it in the first place)
  • holding politicians financially responsible for promoting false statements
  • investing in the construction of a high speed rail (they’ve also gone quiet on this)
  • pricing carbon emissions (we’re starting to here a whimper about this, but it’s all negative rubbish coming from Murdoch)
  • not allowing Coal Seam Gas (CSG) projects in Australia.

For goodness sake, start fighting for what the people want and don’t be afraid to mention it.

And by the way, I can’t spare the $5. However, if you start being a bit more proactive in listening to your supporters then I might chuck in ten.

Are our elected representatives really representing us?

The House of Representatives currently consists of 150 members, elected by and who represent single member districts.

How can they possible be representing us when people are asked:

– Should Australia allow same sex marriage and 67 per cent say ‘yes’ (other polls show this as high as 72 per cent) yet most of our politicians don’t support it.

– Should the Australian government continue to invest billions of dollars into the development of the National Broadband Network and 60 per cent say ‘yes’ but the government ignores them.

– Should Australia raise taxes on the rich and 60 per cent say ‘yes’ but the government does the opposite.

– Should Australia tax the super profits of mining companies and 71 per cent say ‘yes’ but the Abbott Government repeals the mining tax.

– Should the federal government regulate the internet and 70 per cent say ‘no’ yet look at what the government (supported by the Opposition) has legislated.

– Should politicians be held financially responsible for promoting false statements and 80 per cent say ‘yes’ . . . well, that’s a joke.

– Should the federal government invest in the construction of a high speed rail and 61 per cent say ‘yes’ yet the government hasn’t even floated the idea.

– Should Australia set a price on carbon emissions and 43 per cent say ‘no’ yet the government listened to them.

– Should the government allow Coal Seam Gas (CSG) projects in Australia and only 47 per cent say ‘yes’ yet the government supports it.

If the elected representatives are not representing us, then who the hell are they representing?

Please note: the polls, like any poll, are always open to interpretation.

 

Vote for Tony

By opposing same sex marriage, Tony Abbott has reinforced the notion that homosexuality is “queer” – that members of the LGBTI community are a threat to our society.

By indefinitely incarcerating asylum seekers in offshore detention camps he has reinforced the idea that refugees are not victims but criminals who pose another threat to our society.

By labelling us as lifters or leaners he has reinforced the perception that those on welfare are bludgers, scamming the system because they are too lazy to get a well-paying job.

By calling women who receive maternity leave from their employer “double-dippers” who are committing fraud, he has failed to appreciate the disadvantage women face in the workplace and denied them their workplace entitlements.

By saying he wants Sydney house prices to go up – if people are buying them they must be affordable – he shows an unbelievable ignorance of the housing affordability crisis.

By his perpetual dog-whistling about imminent terror threats from an apocalyptic death cult, as well as brief flirtations with banning cultural dress, he has alienated the Muslim community and made them the target of suspicion and abuse.

By ignoring all scientific evidence about climate change and the dangers of burning more coal, he has destroyed the renewable energy industry and damaged the global effort to avoid catastrophic weather events.

By proposing the deregulation of university fees, despite receiving the benefits of a free education and several of his ministers campaigning against fees when student politicians, he is potentially saddling our children with a huge debt before they even begin their working lives thus precluding large numbers from even considering a tertiary education.

By dismantling FttP NBN, he has made Australia an information backwater, ranked 44th and falling for internet speed. While the rest of the world moves to fibre, we are paying a fortune for Telstra’s copper network.

By stripping people of their citizenship, he is breaking up Australian families and leaving people homeless.

By demonising unions he has robbed workers of their collective voice in preparation for the resurrection of workchoices and the demise of penalty rates.

By slashing over $500 million from Indigenous funding, combined with intemperate comments about uninhabited Australia and lifestyle choices, he has shown a blatant disregard for our First People, their culture, the crisis of Aboriginal incarceration, and our failure in closing the gap.

By defunding NGOs, charities and community groups, he has caused the closure of refuges, crime prevention and mentoring programs, and domestic violence support groups.

By introducing metadata retention and criminal charges for disclosure, he has sanctioned spying on all citizens and overridden the public’s right to know what is done in our name.

By refusing to release government advice and modelling, he is robbing us of the chance to make informed decisions.

By slashing funding to the States he is making it basically inevitable that the GST will go up, greatly increasing the cost of living.

By freezing the indexation on Medicare payments, he will force doctors to make up the lost revenue – a co-payment by stealth. He has also almost entirely dismantled Australia’s national preventive health system.

By slashing funding to the CSIRO and other research bodies, he has caused many promising programs to be abandoned and we are losing our brightest researchers to other more enlightened countries who understand the value of their work.

By being unwilling to undertake economic reform, he has overseen a deterioration in all economic parameters with no upturn in sight.

By insisting on captain’s picks, usually advising his colleagues via the Murdoch press, he has alienated his Cabinet, his party room, the Parliament and the people.

By abrogating our global responsibilities towards asylum seekers and credible action on climate change, combined with gaffes too numerous to mention, he has trashed our international reputation.

But hey, he gave up billions in revenue from the carbon and mining taxes and stopped talking about the boats. And IS haven’t invaded us yet. Surely that’s enough reason to want him as our leader?

No courage, no vision, no plan

In 1946, after World War II, gross debt in Australia peaked at 120% of GDP.  Despite this, in 1949, the government of the day had the courage and foresight to embark on the largest construction project undertaken in Australia, the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme.

The Scheme cost $1.16 billion and was completed in 1974.  By then, gross debt had declined to around 8 per cent of GDP.

In the 25 years it took to build, more than 100,000 people from over 30 countries came to work in the mountains to make true a vision of diverting water to farms to feed a growing nation and to build power stations to generate renewable electricity for homes and industries.

The project is often used as an example for multiculturalism, having employed thousands of migrant engineers and labourers. Their influence radically changed Australian culture for the better in the years that followed.

Sixteen major dams, seven major power stations (two underground), a pumping station, 145kms of inter-connected trans-mountain tunnels and 80kms of aqueducts were constructed. Even before the Scheme was completed, it was named as one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world.  The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation now sells its engineering knowledge overseas.

Today, Snowy Hydro continues to play a vital role in the growth and the development of Australia’s national economy, by diverting water that underwrites over $3 billion in agricultural produce and by generating clean renewable energy.

Snowy Hydro currently provides around 32% of all renewable energy that is available to the eastern mainland grid of Australia, as well as providing fast response power to light up the morning and evening rush hours of Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide.  Water flow from dams is much easier to turn off than a coal-fired power station.

Had the government of the day worried about the “debt and deficit” disaster, this nation-changing project may not have gone ahead.  Thankfully, they realised the future return on their investment and the immediate advantages of the employment and skills training it provided.

Abbott had his chance to be part of a similar boost to our nation with the NBN.  He chose instead to go with the rhetoric contained in the daily talking points provided by the red-shoe wearing Mark Textor and destroy this productivity enhancing reform for no reason other than he wants to be able to say he achieved a surplus just like John Howard.  He patently doesn’t understand its potential.  Gillard started it so it must be destroyed.

Tony’s wants his big contribution to be more roads whether we want them or not.

He seems oblivious to the heat island consequences of thousands of kilometres of bitumen, the pollution caused by more cars on the road, and the effect on climate change from using fossil fuels.

He doesn’t care about cost benefit analyses or the priorities outlined by Infrastructure Australia or the lack of parking in the cities.

He doesn’t seem to understand that if we got cars off the road by investing in urban public transport it would free it up for road freight or that if we built a high speed rail between Melbourne and Brisbane that it would free up the rail lines for rail freight and the airports for air freight.

Climate change think tank Beyond Zero Emissions found that a high-speed rail network on Australia’s east coast could be built for $84 billion and the system would be faster, cheaper and cleaner than air travel.  To put this in perspective, the budget allocated $36 billion over 5 years to be spent “building the roads of the 21st century”.  State and federal governments spend a combined $18 billion each year on roads.

HSR would allow people to travel from Sydney to Melbourne in two hours and 44 minutes, and Sydney to Brisbane in two hours and 37 minutes — potentially faster than flying once you take into account time at the airport.

Its design envisages a network powered by 100 per cent renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from regional travel by 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over 40 years.

The rail link would also turbocharge regional development.

“High-speed rail will allow people to live in cities like Shepparton and Goulburn but commute to Sydney or Melbourne for work,” CEO Dr Bygrave said.

“It would allow people to live outside of urban cities but still work in them. It’s a pretty important nation-building exercise.”

This would make living in regional areas more attractive, and in turn alleviate pressure on house prices in capital cities.

“High-speed rail would revolutionise interstate travel, and would also be an economic game-changer for dozens of regional communities along its path. That’s why the politicians need to exercise vision and think way beyond the current political cycle,” Mr Albanese said.

The HSR advisory group was disbanded after Abbott won the election and the funding for long term planning was cut in the budget.

While politicians continue to foolishly and needlessly pursue a surplus, we are committing intergenerational theft by refusing to invest in the infrastructure they will need in the future.

This government has no courage, no vision, and no plan.

Pave paradise, put up a parking lot

When Julia Gillard left office we had a carbon price in place, a burgeoning renewable energy industry, and the respect of the world as leaders in taking action on climate change. The system had not been perfected but it was underway and open to refinement with expert bodies set up to advise us on the best way forward.

Now we are advised on climate change by Maurice Newman and Dick Warburton. Billions of investment dollars have been lost due to the abandonment of the Renewable Energy Target.  Instead, we are pinning our economic future on coal whilst killing our natural wonders and tourism industry.  Instead of collecting $10 billion from polluters, encouraging them to move to clean practices, we will give them $3 billion to do their upgrades while we pay for the research – a $13 billion turnaround in revenue.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had a mIning tax that paid us a small but growing dividend for the huge profits being made by selling our resources. Once again, it was not ideal but at least it was in place and the original concessions like accelerated depreciation were running out.

Now we have no mining tax which, even according to Hockey’s pessimistic outlook, will cost the budget about $5.5 billion in foregone revenue.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had signed agreements with most states and territories for hospital and school funding. To get the federal funding, the states had agreed to matching proportional funding, locking both parties in, and to accountability reviews where standards had to be achieved to maintain funding support.

Now we have reneged on those agreements, cut $80 billion in funding from health and education, released states from their obligation to direct set amounts into these areas and from accountability goals, and seem on the road to privatising both sectors and increasing the GST.

When Julia Gillard left office, the rollout of a world class National Broadband network was underway where over 90% of us would have fibre to the premises. There were teething problems as there would be with any such undertaking, but the contracts were signed, the plan was made, and premises were being connected at an increasing rate.

Now the rollout has slowed down while Malcolm Turnbull conducts three reviews into why Labor was bad. In the meantime we have no contract with Telstra, who are in a monopoly situation, who can hold out for the best deal for their shareholders (note the dividends this year were higher?).  We will now get some mix of technology sometime, maybe, but certainly not soon and definitely more expensive in the long run.

When Julia Gillard left office, the orders had been given to bring home our troops from Afghanistan.

Now we are sending them back to Iraq and farewelling them with a wage cut.

[And before anyone mentions the one year freezing of politicians’ wages, could I point out that in the 16 months leading to July last year, they received three payrises, delivering a salary boost of $54,220 or more than $1000 a week since March the previous year.]

When Julia Gillard was in office, she was unable to get her media reform laws passed that would have protected against ownership monopoly, and against factually incorrect reporting. Who could forget the screams of censorship and the Murdoch photoshopping.

Now we have the possibility that the Attorney-General can decide to prosecute and incarcerate a journalist for ten years for telling the truth about what our government bodies are doing.

When Julia Gillard left office, pensions were indexed to rise with Average Male Weekly Earnings which kept their standard of living relative to the community.

Now pensions will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. The proposal to change the indexation, due to commence in 2017, would cut the value of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Veterans’ pension and Carer Payment by an estimated $80 a week within ten years. Despite the anger the changes sparked, they raised a modest $449 million over five years.

When Julia Gillard left office, we had a universal health care system that was the envy of the world.

Now we will have to pay every time we see the doctor or have a test and our Pharmaceutical Benefits System will be at the mercy of free trade agreements.

When Julia Gillard left office, we finally had universal agreement for a National Disability Insurance Scheme funded by an increase to the Medicare levy, a move widely accepted by the population, even if the Opposition didn’t bother to turn up for the introduction of the legislation of this groundbreaking reform in Parliament.

Now we find Mitch Fifield tasked with the job of holding it up for as long as he can while he conducts….you guessed it… more reviews.

The third quarterly report on the NDIS, released in May, makes clear that there is no case for any cut, cap or delay to the NDIS but Tony wants a surplus so I guess he will collect our increased levy and sit on it while he pays consultant mates to recommend winding it back or leaving it to Labor to pay for.

“In response to the capability review, the Agency has developed an action plan and will provide further advice as to whether the current implementation timetable is consistent with a successful full scheme rollout.” – Mitch Fifield, March 2014

Senator Fifield’s comment echoes previous statements from senior Coalition figures that indicate the national start date of 2018-19 could be pushed back.

CEO of Carers Australia, Ara Creswell, said:

“The NDIS has an inbuilt review, a cost review at this point in time is both curious and concerning. Costs are right on track, package numbers are consistent and hopes are high. We need to move forward, not tread water while we undertake yet another review.”

[ARA CRESWELL, CARERS AUSTRALIA, 1 MAY 2014]

Kevin Stone, President of the National Council on Intellectual Disability said:

“…we expect the State and Territory Premiers and Treasurers to stand by people with disability and their families and stand firm against any attempts to change the agreements made”.

[KEVIN STONE, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY, 1 MAY 2014]

What will be next?

“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.”

Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’

-Martin Niemoller

 

“This election is all about trust.”

In December 2012, in an interview on Sunrise, Tony Abbott said “It is never a good thing for a government to break fundamental promises and this government has broken its two covenants with the Australian people: no carbon tax and a budget surplus. They’ve broken both of them. You just can’t trust this mob.”

Fair enough. They were silly promises in the first place and Labor did a pitiful job of explaining the need to maintain deficits in the short term, and that our carbon pricing mechanism was actually an ETS with a temporary fixed price period.  They needed to talk about the necessity of creating jobs and the economic consequences of inaction on climate change.

Instead, this was the wedge that Abbott used so successfully to bring Gillard down.

In August 2013, Tony Abbott said “I want to be known as a prime minister who keeps commitments.”

In his victory speech, Abbott reassured us

“In a week or so the governor-general will swear in a new government. A government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses.”

So let’s have a look at a few examples of Tony et al saying what they mean.

At his campaign launch Tony said

“Within 100 days….The NBN will have a new business plan to ensure that every household gains five times current broadband speeds – within three years and without digging up almost every street in Australia – for $60 billion less than Labor.”

More than a year has passed and the Coalition’s NBN truly is in no-man’s land with Telstra holding Turnbull, the NBN effort and the entire Abbott Government over a barrel.  Turnbull is still happy to keep fighting the election with endless reports supporting the Coalition’s increasingly untenable NBN policy.

NBN Co’s Strategic Review makes it very clear that the company could deliver an all-fibre FTTP network to Australians for just $15 billion more and only three years later than the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix project. This infrastructure would be vastly superior to the Coalition’s version and would not need to be upgraded. The review also showed, rather than costing the government anything, the investment will bring a return.  Turnbull is being deliberately misleading in describing this as an expense when it is actually a capital investment.  We are still waiting to hear the result of the Michael Vertigan-led cost-benefit analysis.

While this may be an example of a Minister determined to get his own way who is now on a learning curve on how difficult business negotiations can be in such a large scale project, that can’t be said of other commitments which have been abandoned, though Tony will tell you that you misheard him.

In December last year, Tony told Andrew Bolt

We are going to keep the promise that we actually made, not the promise that some people thought that we made or the promise that some people might have liked us to make. We’re going to keep the promise that we actually made.”

He was referring to his backflip on school funding. So let’s look at the promises that were made.

“In order to ensure funding certainty, we will honour the deals that the government has so far made and we will match the offers that the government has so far made in terms of funding.” –Tony Abbott, interviewed by Sabra Lane, ABC Radio’s AM, 5 August 2013

“I can promise that no school would be worse off under the Coalition.” –Joint doorstop interview with Russell Matheson, Camden, NSW, 15 July 2013

“As far as school funding is concerned, Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket. There is no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding.” –Joint press conference with Christopher Pyne and Alan Tudge, St Andrew’s Christian College, 2 August 2013

And it’s not just on school funding where Abbott is trying to tell us we misheard him.

In May last year in South Australia, the defence minister David Johnston gave this doorstop media conference on the future submarine project.

“DAVID JOHNSTON – The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide, we will get that task done, and it is a really important task, not just for the Navy but for the nation. And we are going to see the project through, and put it very close after force protection, as our number priority if we win the next Federal Election. Over to you Steve.

MARSHALL – Can I just say I am very grateful for Senator Johnston coming to South Australia and confirming the Coalition’s policy, to build 12 submarines here in South Australia. It’s fantastic news for South Australia, it’s fantastic news for the people who work in the defence sector in South Australia, there has been a big cloud having over their heads for an extended period of time, the Government announced this in 2009 and as Senator Johnston said has done very little since then, we still have no clarity about the time frame, the cost for the project from the Government whatsoever, but what we have got today is a real focus from the Opposition, this a major priority for us as the Federal level and we are just so delighted here in South Australia that Senator Johnston has been able to come along and confirm that for us today.”

Sophie Mirabella was appointed to run the show.

“Once she has straightened things up, implemented a few changes and bullied or cowed the workforce, her operation will be made to float (or sink, when necessary) on their own merits, without any assistance from taxpayers. And to make a profit doing so.”

Then on October 23, Peter Hendy, member for Eden-Monaro, rose to say in Parliament

“The coalition promised at the last election that the new submarine project will be centred on Adelaide. Any more specific commitment than that would have been grossly irresponsible in defence strategy terms. We need to ensure that the best capability is purchased, not simply have an industry policy propping up one region of Australia. I think that whatever decision is made there will be plenty of contracts and jobs for South Australia. This can be done without jeopardising the overriding priority of good defence policy.

I note that the Leader of the Opposition did the exact opposite in his recent speech on the topic. His speech, promising amongst other things that, under Labor, the submarines would be built in Adelaide without first doing the proper due diligence harked back to the protectionist, xenophobic unionism that we all thought had been relegated to the past—obviously, not.”

And then we have the Renewable Energy Target.

On 19 June 2013, Greg Hunt said on Sky News:

“We agree on the national targets to reduce our emissions by five per cent by 2020. We also agree on the renewable energy target. And one of the things we don’t want to do is to become a party where there is this wild sovereign risk where you are, where businesses take steps to their detriment on the basis of a pledge and a policy of Government. And we’re very clear that that’s not what we want to be.”

From a doorstop interview on 29 September 2011:

“QUESTION: Is the Coalition committed to a renewable energy target?

TONY ABBOTT: Look, we originated a renewable energy target. That was one of the policies of the Howard Government and yes we remain committed to a renewable energy target. I certainly accept that the renewable energy target is one of the factors of the current power system which is causing prices to go up but we have no plans to change the renewable energy target.”

Now we have Ian McFarlane attempting to convince us that the Coalition is keeping their promise to stick to the 20% RET but, due to falling demand, the actual amount will be reduced by 40%.  This, he says, is not a reduction and he played the “baffle them with numbers game” on Insiders this morning.

Unfortunately for him, the government website explaining the RET legislation is very specific on this matter.

“The RET policy is often expressed in terms of a percentage target, specifically to ‘ensure that at least 20 per cent of electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2020’. However this is translated into a fixed GWh target in the legislation in order to provide a clear goal for industry and certainty for market participants. The target has been expressed in GWh since the original Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme commenced in 2001.

The Government agrees that the existing 41,000 GWh Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and annual targets should be retained. A change to the target (either an increase or a decrease) would create instability in the renewable energy industry, impact on the risk premiums required by lenders and investors, and decrease the likelihood of any target being met.

The Government also notes that modelling conducted for the Review found that reducing the target would not result in a material reduction to average household electricity bills and would not justify the damage to investor confidence that would be caused by such a change.”

And then we have the car industry.

On July 28 2013 Tony Abbott said

“What I want to do is make it easier for this industry to flourish. I want to make it easier for people to get on with their lives and to enjoy driving great motor cars, particularly great Australian made motor cars.”

On 21 August 2013, he assured us that “We have a good record when it comes to working with the car manufacturers to help them, not just to survive, but to flourish, and we will act in that same spirit in the future.”

In his campaign speech he said “the motor industry will be saved from Mr Rudd’s $1.8 billion tax on company cars.”

Instead, not only did he give up almost $2 billion in revenue from stopping tax rorting, he wasted no time in putting the nail in the coffin for car manufacturing in Australia.

And the lies didn’t stop after the election. During the by-election for Kevin Rudd’s old seat the Medicare co-payment was a hot topic.

REPORTER: “Can you guarantee there won’t be a Medicare co-payment?”

TONY ABBOTT: “Nothing is being considered, nothing has been proposed, nothing is planned.”

-Joint doorstop interview with Bill Glasson, Brisbane, 1 February 2014

REPORTER: “Would you consider a co-payment, a means testing to help relieve the pressure on the health budget?”

TONY ABBOTT: “Obviously the budget, generally, is under pressure and it’s very important that we do what we can to fix the budget, as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to do it in ways which are consistent with our pre-election commitments. Don’t forget, I said we were going to be a no surprises, no excuses government.”

-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 20 February 2014

REPORTER: “In light of the latest scare campaign however, can’t you just knock it on the head, pull the rug out from under Labor’s scare campaign and guarantee no co-payments?”

TONY ABBOTT: “Well I think I have knocked the scare campaign on the head and again this is all the Labor Party has got.”

-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 20 February 2014

We also had continual promises about no new taxes.

“The only party which is going to increase taxes after the election is the Labor Party.” -Joint press conference with Greg Hunt and Bill Glasson, Brisbane, 9 August 2013

Instead we have the high income earners levy, the Paid Parental Leave levy, fuel excise indexation, and the medicare co-payment. We have also seen funding to the States slashed by $80 billion in an obvious attempt to starve them into being the ones to ask for a hike in GST.

And who could ever forget…

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.” -on SBS TV on election eve, 6 September 2013

This list is by no means exhaustive but I am already well past the attention span of most readers. I will close with some wise words of advice from our current Prime Minister….

“Look, if I tell the kind of massive fibs that this government has told, I would deserve the most condign electoral punishment.”

-Tony Abbott, Interviewed by the Grill Team, Radio Triple M, Sydney, 25 February 2011

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