Wedged between the recent passage of legislation expanding Australia’s spy agency’s powers and a date for a Senate inquiry into press freedom after the New Year, Attorney-General Christian Porter and the Morrison government announced on Wednesday a range of measures aimed at enhancing public interest journalism and the protection of whistle-blowers.
However, both the Greens and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) have criticised the government’s announcement, claiming it doesn’t go far enough to prevent the persecution of journalists and others acting in the public interest.
And those bodies collectively warn that such persecution can ultimately lead to prosecutions unless further revisions are taken.
“Under the reforms proposed by the Attorney-General today, journalists can still have their homes or workplaces raided without prior knowledge,” said Sarah Hanson-Young, holder of the communications portfolio for the Greens, in a reaction to Porter’s announcement.
“Journalists and their employers will still not have the right to appear before a judge and contest a search warrant before it is executed.
“Journalism remains a crime and journalists can still be jailed under these reforms,” added Hanson-Young.
Marcus Strom, the MEAA’s media federal president, called for greater action to counter any shortcomings that a Peter Dutton-sponsored piece of legislation passed in Parliament’s final sitting fortnight contained in the way of oversights and transparencies.
“The impetus for this review was the raids on consecutive days in 2019 of the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC offices in Sydney,” Strom said.
“Government agencies can still obtain warrants to investigate journalists in secret, and journalists and their sources can still be jailed for truth-telling.
“There is an urgent need for much broader reform to remove laws that criminalise journalism,” Strom added.
Dutton’s piece of legislation was aimed at increasing the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to include investigations aimed at anyone from private citizens and residents, even as young as 14 years of age, to anyone acting in a public-interest capacity, such as journalists and whistle-blowers.
And while Hanson-Young and the Greens had already arranged and announced a Senate inquiry into media freedom in Australia to take place in February after Parliament reconvenes after its summer break, Porter defends his department’s announcements as being a step in the right direction.
“Transparency is a key foundation of a healthy democracy and these reforms support the right of journalists and whistle-blowers to hold governments at all levels to account by shining a light on issues that are genuinely in the public interest,” said Porter.
Specific to journalists and public-interest journalism, amendments to Dutton’s recently-passed legislation would include:
only Supreme or Federal Court judges would have the ability to issue search warrants against journalists for disclosure offences
warrants would only be issued against journalists for disclosure offences after consideration by a Public Interest Advocate
greater justifications would have to be given in relation to warrants exercised against journalists, and
the government would be required to consider additional defences for public interest journalism for secrecy offences
“Our reforms will ensure the [ASIO Amendment Bill] is clear and understandable and provides an effective legal framework that supports and protects public sector whistle-blowers, while balancing important national security considerations with regard to the unauthorised release of sensitive information,” said Porter.
enshrining a positive protection for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Australian law
with regard to broadening shield laws, Protection would have to be extended to all those involved in the newsgathering and publication process whose material or evidence may tend to reveal the identity of a source
journalists and their employers should be informed when enforcement agencies seek access to their metadata and journalist information warrants should be contestable by the subject of the warrant and their employer
and the public interest consideration required before issuing a journalist’s information warrant should be expanded to consider the potential harm that could be done by the issuance of the warrant and the public interest in a free press
“Journalists should not be charged for doing their jobs full stop. They should not have their homes raided. They should not be intimidated or threatened. They should not be attacked by the government for reporting what is in the public interest,” said Hanson-Young.
Hanson-Young also envisions areas of reporting that can be opened up without the government scrutiny which may theoretically be applied under the current legislation, should new press freedom laws become enacted.
“We have seen in recent months, vindication for those journalists whose homes and workplaces were raided over their reports on alleged war crimes and the government’s plans to spy on Australians. Public interest journalism is vital to our democracy,” she said.
“We need proper protections for journalists including a contested warrants process to be enshrined in a Media Freedom Act,” she added.
Meanwhile, Mike Burgess, ASIO’s director-general of security, feels that any reforms to the ASIO Amendment Bill – even at the reward of protecting public interest journalism, journalists, and whistle-blowers – need to be taken within the agenda of the nation’s greater interests.
“I acknowledge ASIO is granted extraordinary powers – but they are rightly subject to strict safeguards and oversight. Australians should be confident that ASIO acts in a targeted, proportionate, ethical way, and wherever possible, uses the least intrusive method available to collect security intelligence,” Burgess said in reaction to the bill’s passage last week.
“We do not just do what is legal, we do what is right,” Burgess added.
A massive pall of smoke cloaks NSW and shrouds Canberra as the state burns in a catastrophic mega-fire already the size of greater Sydney. Too big to put out, it could last for weeks. Or until rain falls. Meanwhile, Sydney itself joins the world’s top ten most polluted cities as air quality declines as a result of bushfire smoke over the last few weeks.
“Australia is the best country in the world” government MPs chorus Thursday. “I, too, am confident about Australia’s future.” A claque performing fawning self-applause begin a raucous crowing over Medevac, job creation, congestion-busting, meeting our Paris emissions’ pledges in a canter, our drought relief plan among other Morrison government pretences. In counterpoint, fire alerts and other real warnings run in the crawler under coverage on our TV screens.
“The disconnect [is] emblematic of the week. Indeed, it’s a … motif of the Morrison government. There is no emerging crisis so big that the government cannot find a way to look past it,” even Molan fan-boy Peter Hartcher warns.
Hartcher himself has his blind spots. He hails Jim Molan’s return to the senate where the coal-warrior will replace renewables advocate, amnesiac Arthur Sinodinos who’s off to be our US Ambassador. Amazingly, Hartcher backs Molan to lead a Liberal charge for democracy whilst being uniquely valuable to national security. It’s hard to see how or why.
March 2003 to June 2006 alone 601,000 Iraqis were killed. Since 2007, four million Iraqi refugees had also been created.
Allegedly, Molan was in command when war crimes were allegedly committed in Fallujah 2004 after the US illegally invaded Iraq, a military mis-adventure to which we were joined at the hip. The greatest failure of Australian foreign policy, our involvement in Iraq was based on a farrago of lies. John Howard lied to the nation that he had proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could end up in the hands of terrorists.
We are still all paying the price in all sorts of ways.
Howard ignored advice in 2002 and in 2003 from Australia’s Defence Intelligence Organisation that there was no evidence of Iraq having chemical weapons nor nuclear weapons. He lied that we had to disarm Iraq to have any hope of disciplining North Korea – another palpable lie. And he fabricated a link between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
There are votes in being tough on terror. This week, in similar duplicity, Home Affairs Tsar Peter Dutton deploys police to patrol our airports as if an extra 135 AFP officers armed with MK18, short-barrelled rifles will protect us from terrorists.
While our PM rants about suicide prevention amongst veterans, he would do better to attend to possible causes. These include growing evidence of moral injury. Fighting in conflicted wars is increasingly being seen – even by US Operations Special Command – as contributing to soldiers experiencing moral conflict or feeling morally damaged by their service.
Moral injury is the lasting mental and emotional result of an assault on the conscience — a memory, as one early formulation put it, of “perpetrating, failing to prevent, or bearing witness to acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”
Whilst current research is based on military contexts, there is every reason to suppose that moral injury is also part of our modern human condition, not only a result of our war on terror, but of our climate wars which are mis-named attempts to downplay the wilful moral injury inflicted on those whose concern for humanity opposes the extinction of the planet via global warming boosted by the continued abuse of fossil-fuels in transport and electricity generation.
New Zealand’s once-pristine South Island glaciers are turning pink. Kiwis in Auckland and Wellington cough up our soot. But none of this alters Morrison’s mission to lie about climate change. And nothing can hide his hapless government’s monumental ineptitude in grasping the nature or scale – let alone its incapacity to respond appropriately to catastrophic bushfires which have so far killed six innocent people; destroyed over a thousand homes. Keep calm and carry on. Lying.
Accordingly, a can-do Morrison-McCormack government pledged to “meaningful practical action without damaging our economy or the family budget” rolls up its sleeves. Jumps in a ute. Gets its teeth into another bush photo-shoot.
Our PM and his dapper, deputy fashionista, Michael McCormack, a former editor (1992-2002) of The Daily Advertiser, a deeply homophobic bloke’s bloke, pose in a drying dam bed which retains a stale puddle big enough to reflect a trio of eucalypts in the background, a symbolic reminder of the Morrison regime’s unholy trinity. Cruelty. Ego. Inertia.
The setting says that while it may look dry, there’s plenty of cause for optimism. And more thoughts and prayers.
“We’ve had droughts before. Bound to rain again. Only latte-sipping city dwellers panic about climate change.”
Following Jenny’s recent write-up in national newspapers, wardrobe is all. Scott models a basic black Anthony Squires trouser with classic white shirt and salmon tie, while Michael teams the traditional National’s MP man-on-the-land-rig of rumpled moleskins with RM Williams Collins button-down, open-necked shirt and RM Williams Comfort Craftsman boot.
ScoMo’s a pro. He’s never forgotten what he learnt as the Vicks Love-Rub kid in the 70s Vapo-Rub ad. It shows. Hands on hips, Mugger Morrison grins down the lens while McCormack seems about to smile at something to the right. Michael could be about to crutch a sheep while Scott looks as if he has just sold the farm to an international consortium.
Fans of merit-based equality, the boys are every bit as “natural and authentic” as Jenny Morrison is recently judged.
“It was a wonderful thing to do. We’re really advocates of wearing pieces over and over again … if something suits you – you should wear it as many times as you like, even to meet the Queen. It shouldn’t just be about wearing them once,” snipes Genevieve Smart: a verdict which should equally apply to a Stepford husband’s ability to dress himself. Jenny doesn’t have a stylist. Buys all her own clothes. Gosh. Can the same be said of her husband and his deputy?
With drought and bushfires all under control thanks to a fabulous fashion-in-the-field photo shoot, the boys are at their best when called upon to dig deep back in Canberra; bash Labor and trash parliamentary democracy to the end.
The spirit of Christmas erupts across both ochre-red and eucalypt-green chambers of federal parliament as MPs break up for the year, Thursday, with a riotous free-for-all. It’s a joyously bicameral, poly-partisan, fiesta of back-stabbing, smearing and blaming amidst the ritual, slagging-off of Labor that now usurps all policy or reasoned exchange. Government MPs seem elated that they have the numbers to deny the opposition its democratic right of reply.
Ironically, there’s no debate allowed on the re-introduced Ensuring Integrity, a bill to further silence dissent in the workforce, a law which could deprive workers’ of their right to withhold their labour; make strike action impossible. Could any Labor MP fail to get the vibe? Or mistake the lower house for a debating chamber? It’s now Morrison’s “bubble”. For Katharine Murphy, it shows how little parliament matters to a Morrison government. Albo is disgusted.
“They run in to gag the debate. They refuse to allow anyone to speak to push through legislation, to what end? So that they can make a point that while they lost in the Senate last week, they won’t on the floor of the House of Representatives?
“We know they have a majority on the floor of the House of Representatives, but this is not, or should not be, a totalitarian state … Dissent and the right of people to represent their electorates have been shut down.”
Warming to the occasion, Angus Taylor, a former Rhodes Scholar who makes Tony Abbott look bookish, over-cooks his already well-stuffed goose by accusing Naomi Wolf of anti-Semitism. His seasonal Christmas tree war is a total fabrication which plays well to misogynists, racists and all conflicted and confused opponents of political correctness.
Taylor’s outrageous fiction ignores Wolf’s objection that she was nowhere near Oxford in 1991 as he alleges. Besides, she rather likes Christmas. In a sensational development, she rings Taylor’s office whilst recording the response before posting it on YouTube and social media. In a post-fact era, her rational, logical, objections are automatically overruled.
Besides, as a woman, a feminist and a victim of male malfeasance she has three strikes against her already in the Trump era.
Yet Taylor is a racist parody in response. Racist? Taylor? Why, some of his best friends are Jewish and he’s got a Jewish grandmother. Irrefutable proof of virtue. It’s a low pitch to divert a nation still in uproar over Clover-gate.
It’s also, as Jacqueline Maley notes in The Brisbane Times, a farcical indictment of our wilful abandonment of reason and the siloes into which we’ve retreated. Or been abducted by our elected representatives. Maley sums up the spat;
“So, here we have it, at year’s end: the greatest, weirdest and the saddest encapsulation of the tribalism that seems increasingly to define our politics: two people at odds, one from the left, one from the right, both with reputations for playing loose with the facts to make ideological points.”
Equally loose with the facts in service of ideology, Morrison’s government by and for and of the ruling elite, a hardy, noxious hybrid of kleptocracy, kakistocracy and oligarchy, is hell-bent on expanding wage slavery under the guise of his vitriolic hatred of “union thugs”.
The coalition government gags debate in a ram-raid on democracy so that its Ensuring Integrity Bill, passes through a bruised lower house to await a newly compliant senate when parliament resumes next year.
Together with side-lining parliamentary democracy, Ensuring Integrity further trammels workers’ rights to freedom of association and makes it easier for governments to deregister unions as well as just interfere in union governance.
A win will further handicap unions’ efforts to monitor workplace agreements and employee entitlements; create an environment which invites wage theft. Whilst this may delight some employers it has dire implications for those families who increasingly depend on underpaid, insecure, casualised or uberised work. And it will help stuff the economy.
Workers must have wages to spend to buy the goods and services our worthy small businesses have for sale.
But there’s big profits in cutting wages and keeping wages down, down, down. Woolworths’ eye-watering underpayment of $300 million to 5700 of its employees happens right before the regulator’s eyes. Unpaid wages may even run to $620 million according to a class action launched this week, reports employment lawyer, Josh Bornstein.
Wage theft is rampant in the hospitality industry, notes Bornstein. The Good Food Guide would fold tomorrow if it excluded those eateries that underpaid or otherwise ripped off their staff.
Workers are most vulnerable in construction (~$320 million), healthcare and social assistance (~$220 million), accommodation and food services (~$190 million) and retail (~$180 million). This estimate includes ~21% of the workforce in the selected industries, or ~13% of the total Australian workforce, reports PWC.
Speaking of rip-offs How good is Gladys Liu? Thursday we learn Morrison’s Great Australian is demanding the Liberal Party repays her $100,000 donation. It was only ever a loan. Victorian Liberals needed her money to hold Chisholm, a marginal Melbourne seat, she says. Liberal Party-poopers beg to differ. Thank God for Scott Morrison’s leadership.
“That’s a matter for the Victorian division of the Liberal Party. I was a state director a long time ago. That is no longer my job,” Morrison ducks and weaves in Canberra, Thursday, eagerly leading in evasion and prevarication at every turn.
But when money talks, a nation pays attention. And even our PM’s charisma can’t compete with Liu’s story.
Australia thrills to its small business backbone to hear how Glad’s pal Allen Saylav, ex-Brighsun CEO, backpacked to raise capital for his plucky little EV bus start-up.
Gladys steered Brighsun towards federal backing in 2015, taking the wheel as the company’s pro-bono Communications Director. Her role led her to organise events with former Minister of Energy and Direct Action dirt magic boondoggler, Greg Hunt, who was then flashing bags of cash for carbon abatement.
Gladys is so passionate about clean energy, she tells Nine Newspapers, she charges no fee.
Alas, poor Saylav has no idea the million dollars in cash including a cool half million he picks up in a Oztrail Quest backpack at a Melbourne BP petrol station car park in April and May 2016 involves a heroin-dealer. A drug mule? Who would know? Not that Saylav can’t explain himself. He’s just following orders. From Mr Zhang.
Brighsun’s Chinese co-director and fat-cat backer, Zhang Genjiang is a Crown casino high roller who jets into Melbourne on his private plane for a flutter. As you do.
Australia is now completely made-over into Morrison’s own Trumpian dis-United States or commonwealth of Metanoia complete with Jacqui Lambie the post-modern anti-heroic little Tassie battler left bleating and freaking out about national security, a phrase which means whatever any MP wants it to mean – but how good’s a mystery ending?
“There is no secret deal,” Mathias Cormann insists – despite all circumstantial evidence pointing towards Lambie being gulled; duped by a promise that Morrison’s government would look into re-settling 500 asylum-seekers who have survived the repeal of Medevac being resettled in New Zealand.
Not that Morrison ever said that. His leadership weasel words include “revisiting” New Zealand’s offer of a deal which was never off the table, he says – despite being rubbished by himself and Dutton as a back-door to refugees resettling in Australia – The Greatest Country in the World. A deal may still be on – but only when the US takes all 500 asylum seekers off Nauru and Manus, an event six months away, at the earliest – and after extreme vetting – in other words, most likely never.
The nation thrills this week to the riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma of the Morrison government, a puzzle, that includes Lambie’s Faustian bargain, Angus Taylor’s war on both Naomi Wolf and Clover Moore with Gladys Liu’s to-do tipping the government’s weekly balance from hyper-partisan warfare and union thuggery into utter skulduggery.
The one-time trombone-playing former teacher’s aide and ex-chemist-shop proprietor cannot keep mum forever about her Brighsun or Liberal associates, nor they about her, especially as she now has cause to ask for her money back.
Any sensible, practical government would demand the resignation of both Gladys Liu and Angus Taylor. Given his form so far, Scott Morrison is likely to find fifty shades of grey evasion including blaming Labor and Wolf to avoid taking any decision.
There is no individual, no institution nor any emerging crisis so big that this government cannot find a way to look past it.
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“People aren’t spending” sighs Fran Kelly at the end of ABC Insiders Sunday, blaming us for the government’s epic failure to manage the economy. It’s always the victim’s fault. Yet if you don’t have it, you can’t spend it.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) records a snail’s pace in the latest increase in household incomes. ABS data shows a healthy increase from 1995 through until 2012, the period of the Howard and then Rudd/Gillard governments. Then it collapses in 2013. It is yet to recover. No wonder 9,300 retail stores will close their doors this year.
Average wealth per adult Australian, also fell by $US28,670 in 2018-2019 reports Credit Suisse in its annual global wealth report. Although Credit Suisse’s calculation includes falling house prices and a falling Australian dollar – and despite Australians remaining among the wealthiest in the world, the report confirms economic mismanagement.
Vast amounts of wealth are being shunted offshore with little or no benefit to the people of Australia.
“There is no mineral resources rent tax, no other scheme to retain wealth in Australia, tax avoidance and evasion are rife, the Tax Office’s audit and enforcement divisions are severely understaffed and the Government keeps giving handouts to its foreign corporate mates,” writes Alan Austin.
What is improving is the Coalition’s strangle-hold on the media, helped in the ABC’s case by $84 million budget cuts, intimidating calls to head office, stacking of the board and a PM’s captain’s pick of Ita Buttrose as ABC Chair. AFP raids on working journalists help to increase the state’s pressure on everyone not to criticise; step out of line.
Journos pick up the vibe. Last week, Kelly’s love-in with work experience kid, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg aids and abets Coalition’s lies about its comprehensive, colossal failure to manage the Australian economy.
“When we came to government, unemployment was 5.7%. Today it’s 5.3%. We have a record number of Australians in jobs. We have just produced the first current account surplus since 1975 … the budget is back in balance, already delivered, for the first time in 11 years. And we’re going to deliver a surplus. That means paying down Labor’s debt. Right now we have an interest bill of around $19 billion a year …”
“So what we need to do is build the resilience of the Australian economy and face those domestic and global economic headwinds that all countries are facing, particularly the trade tensions,” Frydenberg lies.
OK, Josh. Perhaps you’d like to take credit for at least half of that debt and rising interest yourself. Hey Big Spender, your government spends like a drunken sailor. Since March, Australia’s gross debt was $543,409,430,000. Double all debt accumulated by every government from Federation to the 2013 election. Just tell the truth.
Global headwinds? Mathias Cormann – who’s never been the same since his arithmetic failed him as Dutton’s numbers man in the Liberals’ last leadership coup – has been wearing out this excuse since he become finance minister. Luckily, he need suffer no longer. He’ll quit politics at the end of this parliamentary session according to Paul Bongiorno. Cormann should go. Ten years ago, the nation was praised for its success during the GFC.
Now we lag the field. Global wealth grew during the past year as the five-year international boom in trade, jobs, investment, corporate profits and government revenue continues, although Alan Austin reports some easing with the new record high adult wealth reaching $70,850 or just 1.2% below last year’s record.
There are no global headwinds. The excuse is invoked whenever jobless figures rise, interest rates are cut, GDP per capita is lower than last year and declining productivity, among other factors, show our local economy stalling.
We’re all at sea. The mutinous dog in the captain’s rig may have seized the helm in last year’s dirty double, double-crossing of Turnbull. But the usurper has no charter; no vision. His first mate can’t read a compass and the crew are frigging in the rigging or sleeping in a cabin far below. No wonder Chief Purser Cormann is about to jump ship.
With Fran’s help, Frydenberg’s farrago of lies includes his party’s whopper that it has a record number of Australians in jobs. Yet Australia’s population growth of 1.7 million people (over 15 years old) during the same period, “created” those jobs. And a record number of deaths, too, not that you hear any boasting on that score.
Even if you take figures at face value, ABC, you could query the quality of those jobs. As in the US, many Australian workers are waiting up to a decade for a pay rise, income inequality is at record levels, working hours are long or unpredictable and penalty rates are being cut or do not exist. Conditions are also rapidly getting worse.
Wage theft is becoming the new normal as every month another corporation is found underpaying its workers.
“For many workers, there is no on-the-job training or chance for career progression, stress related illnesses due to intense work pressures are common and large sections of the workforce live in fear of being sacked without notice or redundancy pay because employment security provisions have been eroded,” reports the ACTU.
Above all, as The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss asks, “… if the Coalition is managing the economy, why did they grow the population rather than create jobs for those who were already unemployed?” We need to explode the pernicious myth of the coalition as good economic managers. And as Denniss puts it, the economy’s effect on the budget vastly outweighs the effect of any budget on any economy.
Budgets are important but budgets are not central to the management of the economy.
Context matters. Unemployment was indeed 5.7% at the end of the financial crisis or global recession of 2013 but that rate still put us eighth in OECD rankings – as contrasted with our 21st place today at 5.3% as shown in last month’s ABS data. That’s our lowest ranking since records have been kept. But no-one holds Josh to account.
The budget is not back in balance. As Finance Dept data reveals, the deficit at the end of October is around $14.7 billion. A surplus is predicted for next June. Alan Austin spells it out, that’s seven months away.
Above all, as Ross Gittins and others point out, any surplus requires a series of heroic assumptions which include expecting government spending to grow by just 0.1% in real terms – as opposed to 4.9% last financial year.
Then there are the decidedly unheroic calculations and assumptions of this government. Helping create a sacred surplus are cuts to NDIS, although the preferred term is “underspend”. Chief amongst these is the $4.6bn that has not been spent on NDIS, or to use the bureaucrats’ jargon, the “… slower than expected transition of participants into the NDIS and lower utilisation of participants’ individual support packages”.
In other words, our most vulnerable experience delay or denial as more stringent assessments reduce the numbers who qualify for NDIS. Wheelchair Basketball and Tennis, Paralympian Dylan Alcott is disgusted.
“I see the heartbroken families of people who try and try to get funding but can’t, robbing them to be independent, contributing members of society. Fix it.”
Then there’s the timing of receipts. Bringing forward the collection of tobacco excise collections, for example, Shane Wright reminds us, boosts the bottom line by several billions in the new financial year. But wait!
Look over there! In an “explosive allegation”, a Chinese spy ring, exposed by Nine’s 60 Minutes, Sunday, may involve the late Bo “Nick” Zhao, (32) a former luxury car-dealer in leafy Glen Iris in Melbourne’s sleepy eastern suburbs who was offered one million dollars to be a Chinese agent of influence in Australian federal politics.
Or so the self-professed Manchurian candidate, Bo told ASIO a year ago. Is Glen Iris the den of sedition, our ex-pat local sage and dramaturge Barry Humphries, has always warned us about? Sandy Stone now a suburban guerrilla?
A nation is shocked to learn of the plot to parachute Bo into the Liberal seat of Chisholm. Bo would then be injected like a bacillus into the fibrillating heart of our body politic, our parliament, like Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) in the train to the Finland Station in April 1917. Seriously? More panic from Canning MP, Andrew Hastie.
“I heard that he was a 32-year-old Melbourne resident cultivated by the Chinese Government to run as a Liberal Party candidate,” Chair of Parliamentary Joint Subcommittee on Intelligence and Security Hastie breathlessly tells Channel Nine whose chairman is former Liberal Treasurer and current chair of the Board of Guardians of our $148 billion (that won’t be invested in education, health or welfare) Future Fund, nest-egg, Peter Costello.
Sadly, it turns out Bo’s in jail awaiting trial for fraud in October when Chisholm’s preselection takes place. Gladys Liu, who also boasted she could raise a million dollars for the cause, takes his place. Bo’s bid would be a Chinese Communist Party long-term strategy, helpfully suggests Alex Joske, Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst.
Did Bo know too much? Tragically, he is found dead of a drug overdose in a Mount Waverly motel after tipping off ASIO that Chinese intelligence operatives would give him a million dollars to run for Chisholm. What could possibly have gone wrong? The party would even have given him a hand with the odd fake AEC polling booth or two.
Mandarin language electoral booths in Chisholm and Kooyong and in several other electorates with Chinese speakers instruct unwary voters to unwittingly tick the box to elect the Liberal candidate. These appear to be authorised by the Australian Electoral Commission. Prove they affected one vote say government lawyers.
Cases have been brought against the two candidates by climate campaigner Vanessa Garbett and unsuccessful independent Kooyong candidate Oliver Yates. The fake poll booth case is currently before the full federal court.
Former acting Victorian Liberal party state director, Simon Frost, has testified that signs written in Chinese at polling booths on election day were designed to look like official Australian Electoral Commission signage. Preliminary comments from the bench are not encouraging. At least the spy scandal gets our PM’s attention.
“Deeply disturbing”, Scott Morrison finds the spy claims, he says, while Liberal MP for Canning, first talent-spotted by Greg Sheridan, and an Abbott, captain’s pick, former SAS Captain, Andrew Hastie, cranks up the hysteria.
“A state-sponsored attempt to infiltrate our Parliament using an Australian citizen and basically run them as an agent of foreign influence in our democratic system,” cries Andrew “handy Andy” Hastie, who chairs the Australian Parliament’s oxymoron – its intelligence and security committee.
It seems to give Hastie a lot of prominence if not power.
Incredibly, another self-proclaimed Chinese spy, Wang Liqiang, who also comes to Hastie’s attention, is the star of a 60 Minutes’ show when he comes forward with sensational allegations. Wang claims he worked as a secret Chinese operative for five years. Worse, Beijing has directed overseas assassinations, including on Australian soil.
Yet barely a week passes before our spooks conclude the self-proclaimed Chinese spy is not a highly trained intelligence operative dispatched by Beijing to wreak havoc on China’s enemies. At most, they suggest, he may be a bit player on the fringes of the espionage community. But what a star. Let’s hope he’s awarded asylum.
“We develop friendly co-operation with Australia and other countries based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” a foreign ministry spokesman says. “We have not interfered and are never interested in interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs.”
That settles that, then. Meanwhile, it seems Wang may have some charges to face should he return to China. The Chinese Embassy insists he is merely a “self-proclaimed intelligence agent” and a convicted fraudster who was sentenced to one year and three months in prison, with a suspended sentence of a year and a half.
The embassy cites a Shanghai police statement of an investigation into Mr Wang they opened in April, after he allegedly cheated 4.6 million yuan ($960,000), in a “fake investment project”, involving car imports in February.
Chinese spies is the latest episode of Morrison’s Police State which stars our fearless anti-hero the PM as daggy-Dad, a NSW copper’s son, making yet another dud judgement call. Rather than get his Minister for Energy, Emissions, water-rorts and Round-Up, Angus Taylor, to explain who cooked up the dodgy document Taylor used to falsely impugn Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore – he rings Mick’s mobile. Is Mick’s number on Scott’s speed dial?
So our PM phones a friend; his former neighbour and bin brother, top cop, Mick Fuller. Mick’s NSW Police Commissioner, a passionate advocate of strip-searching minors, the separation of powers and augmenting the rule of law with a little bit of fear.
Young people should have a “little bit of fear” of police he tells the fear-mongering Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph. It’s a view which former AFP chief Mick Palmer does not share. He says it is frankly frightening.
Morrison tells parliament that Strike Force Garrad (SFG) won’t be going anywhere. He implies Mick’s told him.
SFG is the NSW police investigation of Gus Taylor’s use of doctored documents to ridicule Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore for declaring a state of climate emergency over some forged travel figures, Gus swears were downloaded from Sydney City Council’s website, a claim contradicted by the council’s website metadata.
Doubtless, no crime will be found to have been committed but no-one will believe Morrison hasn’t leaned on Fuller to back off.
Happily, our spooks are up to snuff. The Australian even suggests that Morrison could learn from their approach. Don’t turn crisis into catastrophe. Spymaster, ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess looms up late Sunday night to assure all loyal Australians that not only is ASIO aware of the matters but is “actively investigating them“.
A former Telstra information security chief, Mike’s a top bloke says Peter Dutton. Last August Mike “moved across” to head ASIO after heading the Australian Signals Directorate, (ASD). He was on deck to News Corp Annika Smethurst whose scoop, April last year busted an ASD plan to spy on all Australians. Mike says it’s bollocks.
Mike Burgess and two departmental heads, (always better than one) issued a rare public statement disputing the report. Later Smethurst’s home was raided by the Australian Federal Police, reports Michelle Grattan, looking for anything which would lead them to her source.
Since then, there’s been a lot of fuss and bother about the role of the free press, a debate in which News Corp is handicapped by the baggage of having urged Coalition governments to increase state powers to spy on us all.
News of the Chinese plot is enough to put a nation off its Uncle Toby’s Weeties, Monday morning and quite upstages Evangelical Stuart Robert’s frantic attempts to hose down the government’s dumpster fire which erupts when, as it knew would happen, its Robodebt assessment or extortion of the poor is ruled illegal Wednesday by the Federal Court. The Morrison government may have to repay hundreds of millions of dollars.
While MSM faithfully report that it’s a shocker of a week for Morrison, it is, in fact, a very positive week for the Australian worker. Bill Shorten also is in top form. He raises the following matter in parliament. He asks
“Given that the government has now suspended robodebt after three years of operation, is it because the Coalition government at the time of creating it either, a) didn’t seek legal advice, or b) had inaccurate legal advice or c) received legal advice but just didn’t think that Australians would notice the government unjustly enriching itself at the expense of the most vulnerable in Australian society.”
It’s a bad week for Scott Morrison chorus Nine Newspapers following News Corp’s lead. But it’s far from that. It’s a good week or at least a hopeful week for ordinary Australians. What is bad is that Ensuring Integrity and repeal of Medevac are not remotely necessary.
Worse, Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson note the hypocrisy, the double standard applied to workers and Westpac bankers who have just been called out by AUSTRAC on twenty-three million counts of money-laundering.
“The Prime Minister himself came out and said ‘it’s not up to us to deal with it, it’s up to the board to deal with the banks’ – but that’s not good enough,” senator Hanson says.
In the end, the Morrison government’s just not good enough, Pauline Hanson nails it. Or big enough.
One bill before the senate extends the government’s campaign to cripple unions; reduce further the power of workers to organise and exercise industrial action while the other is more a fit of pique – a sure sign that petty political point-scoring matters more than the human rights of asylum-seekers – or our compassion, humanity – or our doctors’ Hippocratic oath. Morrison’s government hates any law that Labor may have had a hand in.
Finally, there’s the robodebt debacle. The government has been happy to connive at extortion but even when called on it’s illegal averaging to raise a debt, all its Government Services Minister Stuart Robert can offer is;
“This government does not apologise -” Yet apologise it must. And fitting restitution must soon follow. No government can treat its people with such contempt; nor in reversing the onus of proof put itself above the law.
As for Yellow Peril 2.0, its spy drama, cooler, wiser heads must prevail. Andrew Hastie’s Sinophobia has all the hallmarks of an orchestrated diversion, designed to distract us from a government in deep trouble.
This week Scott Morrison reveals he understands neither the separation of powers nor the rule of law in our democracy; he acts the can-do PM; markets himself as a man of action. Yet this does not give him permission to ring the NSW Commissioner of Police in the midst of a parliamentary sitting to seek details of an investigation it is not his business to ask nor the Commissioner’s business to tell. Both parties are now irrevocably impugned.
Viewed in conjunction with his eagerness to silence dissent and his government’s passage of at least eighty laws increasing the powers of the state to spy on its citizens, his behaviour is not only entirely inappropriate it is truly alarming. The road toward a police state is paved with such incursions into liberty, democracy and justice.
Just as the incessant repetition of party propaganda and lies mask a grave unwillingness to consult others, let alone fairly and effectively manage our nation’s economy and resources whilst elevating illusion over truth.
Yet this tyranny is not inevitable. Armed with knowledge we can resist. We must. Our democracy depends upon it.
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“This is not about free speech, it’s not about the ability to protest, these people are completely against our way of life,” former Queensland drug squad and sex offenders cop, now Home Affairs Supremo and family child care business partner, self-made millionaire, MP Peter Dutton tells Channel Nine Friday.
“For many of them they don’t even believe in democracy, … the disharmony they seek to sow within society is unacceptable,” says our super minister who, only recently, was keen to dog-whistle racists by falsely claiming that African crime gangs make it unsafe to go out on the streets in Melbourne.
A fretful nation is overjoyed that Il Dutto has spotted another enemy within. In a nifty intercept, former Hillsong Elder, Scott Morrison, now our PM for extractive industries, snatches the ball and punts it.
How good is our media? By Friday night, every newspaper in the land carries the banner “radical activism threatens mining”. It’s a spectacular, mass propaganda drop which highlights how smoothly a Prime Minister’s staff of fifty can swing into gear should Dutton or any other MP steal the limelight.
“High velocity bollocks” is Katharine Murphy’s view of Morrison’s alert on ABC Insiders. A tad unfair. ScoMo has to create a diversion from Thursday’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report of scandal that has taken place during the Coalition’s six years in government.
It’s a shocker. Health Minister Hunt bobs up also on Insiders to pat the government on the back for ordering the Royal Commission but skips the $2 billion cut by the Coalition since it came to power.
“… the aged care system fails to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them,” report commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs in a media release.
Images of Morrison are everywhere. Speechifying. Threatening protesters at a Brisbane mining lobbyists’ free lunch. And anyone daring to impose a secondary boycott. “Wedgislation” rasps Murpharoo.
All it would take, mumbles former News Corp hack, now Brisbane free-lance, Dennis Atkins, deftly sidestepping the ScoMo police state elephant in the room, is to change the bit in the law where unions’ secondary boycotts are outlawed and extend that … section … mumble … something DD.
The bit in the law? Generally, in Australia strikes are unlawful, in breach of international law which holds that the right to strike is recognised as a fundamental human right, as the ILO has been reminding Coalition and Labor governments for the last thirty years. But the PM’s team plays a blinder in giving him a time and a place and a text Friday, to normalise the outlawing of secondary boycotts.
“If it’s not OK to have secondary boycotts being run by unions … it’s not OK for environmental, well, they’re anarchist groups … to be able to disrupt people’s jobs, their livelihoods, to harass people as we saw down in Melbourne,” Morrison blusters, glossing over the highly contentious anti-union law.
Naturally there is no detail from such a big picture thinker. And scare tactics work best without specifics. But Morrison needs to explain what he means. How can he possibly legislate against freedom of choice, one of the set-pieces of Liberal rhetoric? Aren’t we free to choose which firms we patronise?
Also skipped is the real disruption that accrues now that our largely de-unionised workforce has so little real bargaining power over wages that spending drops and helps tip Australia into economic recession. But you’ve got to hand it to the PM’s staff. They’ve had wage cut-backs, too. 13 per cent since Malcolm Turnbull was double-double-crossed by Morrison and his right-hand evangelical Stuart Robert and crew.
At an average salary of just over $200,000, the PM’s minders work wonders on a shoe-string budget. And a skeletal staff. All up, the Morrison government must battle on with a mere 457 ministerial advisers.
(Theresa May’s UK government employed 99 ministerial advisers in December last year, including 2 who earned the maximum salary of £140,000 pounds.)
But it’s all about team work. Our press flacks fall in behind the Coalition’s muppet-show and the mining and banking lobby which pulls their strings. Morrison threatens “a radical crack-down” on protesters.
The team plan is to demonise those who protest against a government in denial that holy coal mining and coal-burning power stations even cause global warming, air and water pollution. On present trends, let alone with new mines, coal will destroy nature, our health and ultimately extinguish our future. But just as we’ve created illegals out of those who seek asylum, we’ll do it with climate protesters.
Morrison is addicted to the politics of division. And it worked with vegan activists. The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 which outlaws “farm invaders”, passed 12 September.
Labor was wedged into voting for draconian, superfluous legislation. Trespass is covered by state laws. Labor senators Kim Carr and Anthony Chisholm warn farmers, themselves, are at risk from the new law, if opposing fracking. Whistle-blowers and journalists are also at risk of prosecution for inciting trespass.
While the brave new ag-gag law has yet to be tested in court, Morrison is playing hyper-partisan politics again with the help of his imaginary arch-fiend “absolutist environmentalism”. Some complain that attacking an “ism” indicates mental laziness. Imprecision. But fear-mongers just love it. And it works.
Protesters are “anarchists, radical activists; extremists”. If a lie is half way round the world before the truth can get its boots on, vilification is even quicker. Once the PM puts the boot in; Morrison’s gutter politics leadership immediately has its own followers; copycats -even in the police.
A Victorian police officer faces disciplinary action for wearing a sticker with the phrase “EAD Hippy” – slang for “eat a dick” – while patrolling this week’s anti-mining protests in Melbourne. Instead of heeding dissent, the federal government joins some states in choosing to dismantle democracy instead.
Protesters have a right to stage community campaigns to voice their concerns, as Kelly O’Shanassy CEO of Australian Conservation Foundation ACF quickly points out. Moreover, demonstrators and protesters come from diverse walks of life and their dissent is expressed in many different ways, she explains.
Morrison’s not listening. The PM loves his bully-pulpit. You can tell he gets a buzz out of casting out evil.
Progressives seek to deny the liberties of Australians, he tells The Queensland Resources Council, (QRC), another mining lobby, Friday – giving his spin an extra twist by preaching to the converted. It’s a whopping lie, of course and a masterly piece of projection and deflection. But the QRC is cheering.
“The QRC welcomes new laws passed by the Palaszczuk Government to deter people from using dangerous devices …” runs the lobby’s 25 October media release.
Yet the “dangerous devices” turn out to be unsubstantiated claims that some “lock-on devices” contain dangerous items, such as glass or gas canisters aimed at deterring police. No evidence has yet been provided, beyond a few images of a protest in 2018, a case which was prosecuted under existing law.
“Any laws that may infringe on important rights such as peaceful protest ought to be subject to a detailed and proper parliamentary scrutiny process. We are concerned that this has not occurred…,” says Bridget Burton, Director of Caxton Legal Centre’s Human Rights and Civil Law Practice.
Enter Macca. QRC CEO Ian, “Chainsaw”, Macfarlane, a former federal Minister for Industry. After being sacked from the front bench and when his attempt to defect from the Liberals to The Nationals was blocked, Macfarlane quit politics and signed on to head QRC, for a modest half million dollars a year, in 2016, to help eke out his $150-200K income from the Parliamentary Contributory Super Scheme.
Ian’s terribly worried these days about the need to lock up protesters. Their bullying and reckless endangerment of lives – even their own – must be stopped. Tougher laws are the key. Always.
“It is often the case that fines are small and no convictions are recorded,” he tells Brisbane Times in August. Morrison says he is working on legal measures to outlaw the “indulgent and selfish practices” of protest groups that try to stop major resources projects. As if he can outlaw protest.
“Now, we will take our time to get this right. We will do the homework and we’re doing that right now. But we must protect our economy from this great threat,” he thunders. It’s the sacred economy again. Amen. Or did he mean surplus? Meanwhile, the multinational mining companies protesters target bleed us dry in tax evasion. Not to mention what they cost us in subsidies.
Tenderly, our government takes our taxes and spends billions of dollars to help more coal, gas and oil to be extracted and burned. Other favours include tax-based subsidies, direct contributions, concessional loans from public financial institutions, lax environmental laws and approvals for disastrous projects.
Now ScoMo takes time to hiss the villain. Progressivism, a “new-speak type term”, ScoMo claims (of a movement achieving social and political reform in the US, two decades before Orwell published 1984), aims “to get in under the radar, but at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians.”
“Apocalyptic in tone, it brooks no compromise,” Elder Morrison continues, as if he were describing the template for a Hillsong sermon. “It’s all or nothing. Alternative views are not permitted.”
But no “needless anxieties”, please. Think of the children. What we need at times like these is some “context and perspective”. The Australian Way of Life must remain secure in its glass case along with a bust of Langley Frederick Hancock, a piece of coal and a blue ribbon for best country in show at Liberal HQ, protected by the eternal vigilance of Dutton’s AFP, ASIO and the web of eighty-odd federal national security laws governments have spun to catch evil-doers since September 11, 2011.
Nobody seems to know precisely how many laws. Or care. The more the meh-factor.
Our most recent bit of spy fly-paper is the Coalition’s Foreign Influence Registry, part of its visionary Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, which became law last December. In a mass mail-out last month, the Attorney General asks all foreign agents of influence to put their hands up. Way to go.
Who? What? Defining influence can be a tricky business, which is probably how Tony Abbott got caught in the net. In deathless prose, Porter’s department appeals to lobbyists of a “parliamentary and general political nature” but includes those involved in “communications activity” and “disbursement activity”.
Transparent? Sheer genius. Sadly, this little list is in its infancy. And it’s a one way mirror. It does not run to how we influence other nations such as our ASIS agents’ spying on Timor Leste’s cabinet in 2004.
Given the high esteem with which they are held in Timor Leste, you might expect the whistle-blower, Witness K – as the ASIS officer has become known – and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery to feature. These men represent our finest, as former Timor-Leste president José Ramos-Horta writes in August.
“Individuals with a conscience and courage, representing the very best of Australians as I know them – instinctively sympathetic to the underdog, the weak and vulnerable.”
The tribute is a salutary corrective to ScoMo’s rhetoric. The men should be venerated as public heroes.
Yet their secret trials, revealed by Andrew Wilkie under parliamentary privilege, in June 2018 and currently under way in two Canberra courts, the Magistrates Court for Witness K and The Supreme Court for his lawyer Collaery, represents “… the national security state’s assault on Australia’s democratic culture”, writes Clinton Fernandes, University of NSW Professor of International and Political studies.
Both face lengthy prison sentences. An example must be made of whistle-blowers to discourage others. Some suggest that given some unexplained questions in his past careers and the fact the someone knows the answers, Morrison is keen to diminish the likelihood of the whistle being blown on himself. Whatever his personal investment, national security agencies are keen to punish whistle-blowers.
It’s not citizens in Queensland and Melbourne exercising their rights to protest but the state itself which is attacking the rule of law, a corner-stone of our democracy. A police state? To Fernandes, it’s more.
“These prosecutions come at a time of vastly increased powers for police and intelligence agencies, raids on the homes of journalists and news organisations, and the deployment of technologies of mass surveillance. The aim of this power grab must be understood clearly, if it is to be resisted. The national security bureaucracy doesn’t want a police state. It is more ambitious than that. The hope is to return Australian culture to the conformity and political quietude of the 1950s.”
In this context, Porter’s Registry is but one small step but could well escalate into a flight of stairs.
In the last decade, 81 per cent of political donations from the mining industry have been to the Coalition; 71 per cent to the Liberal Party. The Grattan Institute reveals that mining has the most lobbying contacts with government. Many of these are foreign-owned firms. Surely these should appear on the registry?
Nowhere does the registry list other influential foreign companies who run local branches to great tax advantage. These include household names: Uber, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, McDonalds, Ikea and Aldi. Perhaps they need more than four weeks to gauge their influence. If it can be done at all.
Multinational parent companies do not register their Australian operations as branch operations. Consequently they do not comply with ASIC’s disclosure and reporting obligations. In fact, we generously give them a tax deduction when they send royalty payments to arms of their own company overseas.
Are we Thinking Big enough? Perhaps, given the meagre 194 entries, so far, there is room for our own agents of influence abroad to declare themselves. Scott Morrison would doubtless be keen to explain what he did to get the flick from his job as head of NZ Tourism and Sport in 2000.
It would help greatly with our close trading neighbour – where Think Big was a state intervention strategy – and it would clear up a mystery or two. The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton reports that a Kiwi Controller and Auditor-General audit found that ScoMo hi-jacked the NZ Tourism Review.
It is early evidence of ScoMo’s gift for taking charge and his top-dog inter-personal skills. Not for him the namby-pamby consensus type or a democratic style. “Absolute arsehole” is former MP Michael Kennan verdict. Keenan served as Justice Minister when Scott Morrison was Immigration Minister.
His comment is recorded by Niki Savva in Plots and Prayers as having been made to colleagues at lunch at Garum Restaurant in Perth in April 2018 just before Morrison deposed Malcolm Turnbull.
“Porter joined in, saying he did not think Morrison was a team player. Cormann said he had seen Morrison up close now, and, in his opinion, Dutton was better,” Savva writes.
Similar charges would be made by the Australian National Audit Office, (ANAO) nine years’ later when it looked into his management of Tourism Australia. ANAO found “non-consultation, making unilateral decisions, not observing due process and restricting board access to information.”
But Morrison gets off Scott-free. Not so one of his illustrious predecessors. All hot and bothered this week, Tony Abbott, The Australian’s Prime Minister-in-exile is asked to sign The Registry…
Abbott is incensed by Christian – (but a Jedi on his census) Porter’s department’s recent demand that the budgie-smuggler register as “an agent of foreign influence”, just the day before CPAC, in Sydney, last August. The department of the Attorney-General is not one to rush matters. But it has improved.
Porter’s predecessor, George Brandis dithered for two years and three months over prosecuting Bernard Collaery and Witness K. Then he got posted to London as our High Commissioner. Porter, on the other hand, took the decision to prosecute only six months after coming to office. But Abbott’s underwhelmed.
The Incredible Sulk is happy to ear-bash fellow reactionaries at non-events such as CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, an oxymoron on steroids. Tipped to be the next Director of the weapons industry sponsored National War Memorial in Canberra, he’s clearly still a VIP.
But foreign influence? The former Riverview boy refuses the request, labels it “absurd” and in a direct dig at the Jedi claims “senior officials of the commonwealth have better things to do with their time.”
Scott Morrison’s pledge to crack down on climate protesters is in part a deflection, a ruse to encourage climate change deniers by implying that there’s nothing wrong with building more coal-fired power station; it’s the “extremist, radical activists” who are out of line. And it’s a way of wedging Labor. Yet it would be wrong to see it merely as an act of bellicose posturing from a wannabe populist strong man.
Morrison’s past record suggests more than a hint of an authoritarian, if not autocratic, personality beneath the evasions, the secrecy and the cultivated, folksy veneer of the sport-loving, cap-wearing , beer-drinking suburban dad as populist leader.
Given the proliferation of national security laws which have hugely strengthened the power of the state, since 2011, moreover, we must challenge Morrison’s latest florid, rhetorical assault on democracy; resist all attempts at division and the silencing of dissent. Our future as a civil society; our freedom depends upon it.
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Applause, stamping, hoots and catcalls resound up and down our wide brown land as another big week in Oz-politics lives down to expectations, as John Crace says of Boris Johnson, now the incredible sulk, after his inevitable Brexit flip-flop just flops with a not-so-super Saturday vote to delay, a thinly-disguised ploy to sink the whole mad shebang in the middle of the Irish Sea. Brexit continues to make fools of fools, says Crace.
A week when our parliament is actually sitting, despite its increasing rarity, has a similar effect. This week the government tries to fool us that Labor is in government and to blame for all kinds of feckless fiscal ruination.
Like our own populist tosser Morrison, professional political clown, Boris is clueless about what to do – that’s for “girly swots” – and neither narcissists can take advice – so every waking hour is an epic battle with reality.
At home, a fever of anticipation erupts at the chance of being re-tied to Britain’s apron strings with beaut new trade deals, an agile Coalition with economic management in its DNA can whip up in weeks. Or a year. Tops.
“We are match-fit and ready,” ScoMo’s already promised Boris, an MP with whom he feels an immediate affinity. Scott’s got his mandarins all sworn to secrecy and totally Sco-Motivated to all-new levels of public service loyalty and fidelity. It’s not just manspreading or mugging for the camera in Fiji’s Rugby change-rooms, ScoMo channels the blokey banality of the footy coach in his unsubtle instructions to our public servants.
“It’s the bacon and eggs principle – the chicken is involved but the bacon is committed,” he says. Boom-Boom. Somehow, it’s all about how ministers can only set direction by being sensitive to quiet Australians, whose deepest desires can only be deduced through some miraculous phatic communion.
“Look beyond the Canberra bubble” says our PM, who is nothing but Canberra Bubble. A former Liberal apparatchik and player in the game of mates before being called to lead his people as prophet and seer; a high priest of populism and neoliberal revival. As William James and Bertrand Russell said of the turtles who hold the flat earth in its place in creation, for ScoMo, it is Canberra Bubble all the way down.
How good is a well-done Free Trade deal? Our brilliant new Free Trade Agreement with Indonesia has been quietly simmering since 2012. Morrison promised it August last year, when after six years it had progressed to a most promising single page but hopes no-one recalls. Then – as now- the fact of its brevity does not mean that it is not miraculously close to conclusion. He’s doubtless been out praying. And the spirit’s there.
We only have to “paper it”, as President Bone Spurs says, faking a breakthrough in his tariff war with China.
Stealing the show is Gladys Liu, MP (via AEC poll-booth signage simulation) for Chisholm who’s finally sorted her membership of Chinese organisations known to ASIO. She’s clear of them all, “she thinks”. Or is she?
In a flash, Rupert’s Hun is on to her, protesting Ms Liu’s links with top property developer Chen Guo Jing, whom the MP described as one of her “good friends” in her maiden speech. Chinese language sites call Chen the “implementer” of the Australasia Belt and Road Advocacy initiative, The Herald Sun adds helpfully.
Gladys is now well beyond hapless Sam Dastyari’s villainy in the latest instalment of rabid Sinophobia, Yellow Peril 2.0. She’d resign immediately but “Mandate” Morrison’s government has only a one seat majority.
Rushing to assist, is cuddly Peter Dutton, the Minister for Home Affairs, whose portmanteau portfolio covers everything best left unsaid. Whilst we love to profit out of China’s coal and iron custom, its tourists and its students, whose insatiable thirst for knowledge causes them to take up full-fee paying places in tertiary institutions, there’s just one thing about our biggest single trading partner. Its government’s values suck.
“Our issue as I’ve said before is not with the Chinese people,” Dutton thunders. “My issue is with the Communist Party of China and their policies to the extent that they are inconsistent with our own values.”
Aussie values include lying, spying, cheating and stealing as the case of East Timor reveals. Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery are still holed up in a secret trial in Canberra where they are not even permitted to know the charges against them – except the bleeding obvious; they have embarrassed the government by reporting the fact that Canberra bugged the cabinet rooms of Timor-Leste in 2004 in order to draw up geographic boundaries which would yield Australia more than its fair share of gas and oil.
Alexander Downer is still pouting. Lord knows how his friendship with ScoMo’s going now he’s promised Trump he’ll snoop on the spy-master; find out just how Downer morphed into a small “L” Liberal; set the Mueller Inquiry on to that fake Russian collusion witch hunt. Be very careful with your bus-travel, Alex.
As fans of Q&A, Sunrise and The Drum would know, freedoms come into (and out of) the grab-bag of Aussie values a fair bit, in what is fondly termed “our national conversation”, (but which isn’t ours or even national – and so often turns out to be a power elite talking to itself in public).
Freedom? Sheesh! It’s right up there with crony capitalism, gambling, racism and elder abuse- yet we are currently debating how we know just how much freedom of speak we are allowed to have? Seriously.
Word comes this week that former Amnesty poster-boy Phil Ruddock’s religious freedom bill which would have restored some of the losses felt by the anti-marriage equality brigade pleases neither church nor state.
Given that it was a solution in search of a problem – religious freedom is already protected in law -it is hardly surprising but will ScoMo’s “top priority” just go? Leave privilege unprotected? Impossible.
But don’t rule out another inquiry. At present the draft bill offends all parties – and cross-bench Tassie Senator, Jacqui Lambie can’t see the need for it. Unlike her sympathy with national security justifying expanding state power even further. We’re world leaders in this field.
Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow, notes Australia has “passed more counter-terrorism and national security legislation than any other liberal democracy since 2001”.
Instead of agonising nightly on The Drum about how we need to “get the balance right”, wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier just to ask government permission? A journo with a story that seeks to hold a government department accountable must run the story by the government first. It’s the position favoured by Mike Pezzullo who is the eyes and ears of Dutto’s Home Affairs mega-department. What could possibly go wrong?
In the meantime, Attorney-General Christian Porter confirms, on Sunday’s ABC Insiders, that his government will continue to intimidate journalists by refusing to rule out AFP raids. He pretends that the AFP is at arms-length from government. Hilarious. Lie. The AFP comes under the (big right) wing of Minister Dutton.
Turning the thumbscrews, Porter would be “seriously disinclined”, he reckons, “to sign off on the criminal prosecution of journalists” for public interest journalism, but says he cannot give any guarantees. No-one on Fran’s panel calls Porter on his pretence that the AFP is independent of the federal government of the day.
Canberra Times veteran, Jack Waterford reminds us that never in its forty years’ operation has the AFP come up with a finding which might embarrass a sitting government – apart from Abbott’s Peter Slipper witch hunt.
“The AFP behaves rather more as a department of state, pathetically anxious to please the government of the day. The department seems to lack internal checks and balances, and sometimes seems to put outcomes ahead of process and sound management, and seems to lack people with the courage to stand against any of the enthusiasms of its secretary,” observes the former editor and investigative journalist of 43 years’ service.
We can’t blame Fran Kelly – or any of her guests for not nailing the minister on the furphy of the AFP’s independence or the farcical pretence that as Attorney-General, Porter is led, like a lamb, to slaughter offending journalists.
But don’t shoot the mixed messenger.
Our ABC is under extra pressure in the form of a ripper new bill for silent Australia due in the house early next week. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Measures) Bill 2019 requires the ABC to set up a Regional Council, at a cost of $100,000 PA to help it contribute to a sense of “regional” identity” as well as “a sense of national identity” and to reflect “geographical”, as well “cultural diversity”. Sounds as simple to get sorted as the Nicene Creed.
Accompanying the push to the bush, a second bill is a sop to Pauline Hanson. It’s an ABC “Fair and Balanced” yard-stick-slogan-logo-thingy while the bill also orders Aunty to supply regional content – even though this is totally impossible on a reduced budget. The result is to give the government a new big stick or two to beat the public broadcaster into compliance. Or soften it up before it’s sold off as in the IPA wish-list.
“This regional push by the Coalition government is no benign shepherding of the ABC back to its core duties. It’s actually designed to tie the corporation up in red tape and shift its attention away from national coverage – and the machinations of federal government” warn Sydney University’s Fiona Martin and Michael Ward.
News this week that Dili wants a $5bn refund to compensate for gas and oil illegally taken is likely to be music to Josh Frydenberg’s ears given that he’s making it clear that his government’s surplus fetish does not mean “surpluses are like a trophy in a cabinet,” The AFR’s Jennifer Hewitt reports. But that’s exactly what it means.
It takes genius to con so many Australians for so long that a meaningless line on an annual budget is a sign of good management – let alone the allied bullshit about “fiscal responsibility” and “living within our means”. Yet to claim a budget surplus means anything at all, is a hoax. And a cruel hoax when it means that NDIS applicants, for example, are made to wait or face stricter qualifying tests to “save up” a surplus.
The only reason a budget surplus ever comes in handy is as a brake on inflation,Greg Jericho reminds readers of The Guardian Australia. No danger of that now where even the Reserve is begging the government to do something about a shrinking economy. Would Joe Hockey squander his $80 billion gift/investment in 2014?
“The Opposition is addicted to panic and crisis”, Bovver Morrison hollers across the despatch box as he accuses Albo of a stacking a tantrum. Not only is ScoMo a past master at projection, he knows we live in the present. In the eternal now of modern politics, he assumes that few will recall the metanoia of Tony Abbott’s hyper-partisan opposition’s debt and deficit disaster fear campaign when Labor borrowed to get us out of the GFC.
Forgotten, also, he hopes, is Abbott’s brief-lived Coalition government led by “warrior” Peter Credlin with its war on the poor, on indigenous Australia and on workers amongst others. We have yet to recover from its sick militarisation of compassion – the paramilitary Border Force with its ludicrous uniforms and cruel protocols.
Clayton’s PM Junkyard Abbott’s sidekick BJ helped warn us all that Whyalla would be wiped off the map or that we’d being paying hundred dollars for a lamb roast. They rushed to kill off their carbon tax scare.
Their subsequent revoking of a price on carbon has helped lead us to record carbon emissions ever since.
ScoMo opened Christmas Island just for his Medevac scare, an extension of his asylum-seeker paranoia, a rabid and irrational fear febrile of others. Jacqui Lambie may now help him get to revoke the Medevac Bill.
Yet he proceeds with his name-calling, baiting and jeering at Labor for what they might do to ruin us all. It helps create an illusion, as Katharine Murphy of the Guardian observes that Labor is in power -yet by some miracle that Morrison, a solo act throughout his career, is a PM primum supra pares (first above the rest).
In a moment of madness, Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon proposes a bipartisan war cabinet for the drought. Settle down, Fitz. That would be like a union between the arsonists and the fire-fighters. Besides, could you really trust any of them on their past performances? No-one else in the world takes their climate figures seriously.
Australia is a world leader in climate change abatement per capita in the Coalition’s Gospel according to Morrison. Doo wah boy, Gus Grassgate Taylor, Minister for Global Warming Energy and Big Irrigation does backing vocals.
“The comments made by the Prime Minister at the UN, that we are going to meet our emissions targets, was a gross misrepresentation and was staggering for someone in his position,” protests former Liberal leader, John Hewson, addressing the Round Table in Canberra. Global warming heretic Hewson favours regenerative agriculture. Expect his immediate retribution via ridicule in some Rupert rag.
Reverting to wilful ignorance and disinformation, the Australian economy is not tanking a bit, insists the PM, despite this week’s IMF growth downgrade by almost twenty per cent from 2.1 to 1.7. On the contrary, our nation’s growth something to shout about in parliament.
“Australia’s economic growth is the second highest if compared to the major Group of Seven economies, and the government has helped create 1.4 million new jobs,” ScoMo misleads parliament.
Reliant on resources, Australia lacks diversification of exports and its economy is now more like that of a developing country with fewer prospects for growth, reports the Harvard’s Atlas of Economic Complexity. It predicts growth to slow to 2.2% over the next decade, ranking us in the bottom half of countries
Australia is not even in the G7, however much ScoMo loves to boast about his special invitation to observe last August’s meeting; a token of his government’s leading role as hyper-partisan US ally in the ruinous trade war between Trump’s administration and China.
As for jobs, his claim covers six years. Growth doesn’t even keep up with population.
A stoic ScoMo won’t be spooked by international events; or lift a finger to stimulate a stagnant economy. All this – and more – promises the PM’s turd-polish unit, which accidentally emails the media its jumbo economy super-savers’ pack of lies meant for Coalition MPs, this week.
It’s an innocent mistake. And easily made. Our media lead the world in recycling government press releases. No heads will roll this time. The chooks just get an extra feed of MPs’ “talking points”, the rich mix of fantasy, lies, evasions, disinformation and other conversation-stoppers confected non-stop by the PM’s spin doctors.
Australia’s national net debt is now a record $400 billion plus, according to Matthias Cormann’s own Finance Department’s report last Friday. It’s a peculiar type of nincompoopery that can take Labor’s puny $174 billion net national debt and double it in six years, despite some of the most favourable global economic tailwinds in history, yet the Coalition is on track to get to $700 billion in a canter.
The biggest issue for the economy remains the decline and fall of our household incomes. This will not be revered by some slick tax cut. Nor will it show any improvement, whatsoever, if the government having utterly no idea what to do by way of stimulus measure clings to the mantra of a budget surplus.
But that’s not in the talking points.
There’s so much to crow about it’s not funny. Cue standing ovations from the poor, the elderly, the under-employed and those who need wait only a matter of months before they’re trampolined off welfare and back at work at the local widget factory.
Above all, Australia is God’s Own Country and as the PM reminds a national prayer breakfast, Tuesday,
“The only prayers that you can be assured are never answered are the ones that are never prayed.”
Our latter day saints, the nation’s hard-working farmers are clearing land at record rates yet some find the time to take out of helping cause the problem to wax ecstatic over Drought Relief; the Coalition’s most shameless pork-barrelling since its 1700 kilometre Inland Rail boondoggle. No-one’s getting any money for a year and the $7 billion doesn’t add up, former farmer’s lad Alan Jones berates the Prime Minister.
Jones asks how all of the drought relief grandstanding that’s been going on three months is going to feed a cow?
How good’s a Farm Household Allowance worth a measly $250 a week? $5 million for rural financial counselling? $115.8 million that Morrison says “went directly to drought communities”. Morrison finally gets to talk. He embraces the theme of weed eradication. Jones cuts in, “Oh, PM, don’t talk to me. I’m a farmer’s son, you’re not.”
When the IMF tells you the economy is down the gurgler and your own Finance Minister reports the same – When Alan Jones gives you a bollocking, ScoMo, you may need more than a new set of talking points.
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Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there! He wasn’t there again today, Oh how I wish he’d go away!
When I came home last night at three, The man was waiting there for me But when I looked around the hall, I couldn’t see him there at all! Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more! Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…
Last night I saw upon the stair, A little man who wasn’t there, He wasn’t there again today Oh, how I wish he’d go away…
He’s still there Scotty, standing right behind you; those vacant, hooded eyes in that cadaverous countenance are studying your shoulder blades. You’ll feel his fetid breath quicken and sense his arousal as he imagines plunging the shiv. The Prince Of Darkness, in the form of a potato, is getting tetchy.
* * * * *
Herr Kipfler, the dismal Dutton, will not be denied his ultimate prize – the triumph of the dark forces of uniformed goons and hoodlums of his Gestapotato as the absolute political authority with himself as Ubermensch. Not satisfied with effectively being Skidmark Morrison’s number 2 he desperately wants to take his place on the throne*.
And, who knew… his contrived daggy dad routine had literal origins.
Spud-Dutton, the dark lord, is plotting and scheming; testing the mettle of Skiddy the great pretender by publicly opining on subjects that are still, as yet, outside of the broad-reaching netherworld that he’d built for himself when Trembles Turnbull as PM meekly surrendered his balls to the dark side.
Spud on China
Spud is not the ripest legume from the Lib’s veggie patch; he’s a man who thinks the Terracotta Army are soccer supporters from the small Balkans country of Terra Cotia, so when calling out the Chinese in Skiddy’s absence there was no thought given beyond poking the dragon for effect –
geeing up the winged monkeys of the lunar right by flashing his tough guy credentials to garner commitment to his evolving coup, and
daring Skiddy to call him out – anything less demonstrates that Morrison is weak and vulnerable.
The crusty-trousered clown from The Shire may have been the winner from the Liberal’s last season of Survivor but his aberrant dedication to trickle-down theocracy, the painting of his farts as rainbows and his arrogant avoidance of accountability will make for a bad look as the next election draws closer and the dupes start to reach for the smirk removal cream.
Surely though the feculence that is Dutton is beyond the pale, even for the Nasties? Howard was abhorrent, Abbott was ludicrous, Morrison is appalling and yet all three were embraced by the lead paint lickers who now dominate their party. Consider a random sample of the trough snorkellers who will be called upon to back the uber tuber – those grifters and gleaners who’re swamping the drain:
Count Yorga impersonator Kevin Andrews – who, upon emerging from his crypt and opening an umbrella has people thinking he’s turning into a bat.
Grecian 2000 poisoning had Kev fancying himself as PM material at one time but his inability to form an image in a mirror or cast a shadow spooks the punters.
Kev could boost Spud’s appeal to the hordes of undead – those wrinkled masses of “where’s my franking credits” fogies who would sell their grandchildren’s future for a discount coupon at the bingo.
Eric Fabio Abetz has given up on his dreams of invading Poland, stripped to the waist on a panzer turret with blonde Aryan locks streaming in the wind as he rushes towards Warsaw. These days Fabio is holed up in Hobart managing his real estate portfolio, peeling oranges in his pocket to avoid sharing and licking his Tony Abbott bicycle seat collection.
The promise of a promotion to Reichsinspekteur of Tasmania could see Fabio endorsing Spud’s pending night of the long knives.
James Paterson. Monty Burns’ love child, little Jimmy yearns for the day when he can grow a toothbrush moustache on his upper lip rather than having to train his emergent pubes into a fuzzy replica.
James would make an excellent apprentice for Spud, striding along the razor wire in black uniform poking the Newstart queues with his riding crop while fondling his sidearm.
This smarmy arse-dandruff is the future of the Nasties? FMD!
Michaelia Cash, with alsatian at her side, snarling and foaming at the mouth (her, not the dog) hauling unionists from their beds, boiling bunnies and foreclosing on orphanages is a nightmare in a trouser suit.
I’ve seen more attractive heads hanging out of a poacher’s pocket. This dunking stool passenger is ugly inside and out and hence an ideal candidate for Spud’s front bench.
Image from YouTube
Anne Ruston. Equipped with a face like a kelpie’s chew toy, a fully functional FMD chromosome and delusions of adequacy, Ruston is yet another bible-toting myopic moron from the Nasty Party book-burners’ club.
This scatologist’s specimen is one more six-fingered bandit who, on $200,000 p.a. + grift, thinks that $40 per day of Newstart is a disincentive to finding work. Ruston would be right at home in a filth-filled, fly-blown garbage skip i.e. any possible Dutton government.
* * * * *
These are but a very few random examples of those who could back Dutton, Beelzebub in sub-human form, to deliver another spill.
Morrison’s new threshold for a leadership change requires two-thirds of the party-room vote to trigger a spill motion, which is a difficult hurdle for Spud to overcome particularly given his Wile E. Coyote-level logistical skills.
However, despite Skiddy Morrison’s pretence that the Nasties are a “united team” they remain a tumult of hatreds, unfulfilled vendettas, venality and ugly ambition.
Skiddy’s daggy dad contrivance is devolving into a bogan-in-Bali national embarrassment, Labor is finally starting to show some mongrel by targeting his weak spots (some may say wet spots) and Morrison’s notionless floundering on any and all issues is becoming too obvious to ignore.
The real intrigue however is what Dutton’s pet spooks may have to use on Morrison and how Dutton may play those cards.
Red Gladys, Chinese Communist Party enthusiast, Liberal member for Chisholm and ASIO person of interest
Prolific fund raiser and poster child of the Chinese Communist Party, Gladys Liu is skilled in the art of hiding in plain sight. With the Lib’s habit of looking the other way when large donations are involved she could’ve rolled up to her preselection in a Chinese tank, the pulped entrails of Tianamen protesters congealed in its tracks, a burning Tibetan flag flapping and a cock & balls drawn on her forehead in day-glo lipstick and the Lib’s would’ve just made sure the cash was banked before validating her parking.
The Libs left it to Gladys to investigate herself on allegations she’s a Chinese government agent of influence and to no-one’s surprise she’s returned a verdict of not guilty.
But Spud’s spook pals will have the full skinny on Glad – some leverage for her vote for a spill perhaps?
Brian Houston, Jesus-R-Us CEO, entrepeneur, financial planner and Skidmark’s BFF
After airing the TV pilot of ScoMo Does Jesus At Horizon Church and Audi Showroom our proselytizing Prime Minister seems to have cooled on that particular maketing initiative, getting surly and evasive when his best bud Brian from Hillsong is mentioned in context of Scotty and Brian’s excellent adventure to Trumpworld.
Dutton knows that Morrison’s bizarre brand of Jesusing and his default to prayer as a viable option for addressing climate change is a troubling dimension to his character. I’m willing to bet that as environmental crises and public discontent builds that Dutton will ramp up the demonising of protesters and dissident oganisations as a dog-whistle to the Nasty’s hardcore climate troglodytes – man of action vs Morrison’s prayerful phaffing.
This is pure gold. QAnon is a right-wing conspiracy fantasy – QAnon’s central premise is that Donald Trump is secretly working to take down a global ring of elite, cannibalistic, satanic paedophiles.
QAnon is listed on the FBI Domestic Terrorism Watch List and has been associated with 8chan, where many members discussed and celebrated the mass shootings in Texas and in Christchurch.
“One of the bigger QAnon followers in Australia tweets under the handle @BurnedSpy34. He has over 21,000 Twitter followers and tweets QAnon-related thoughts and memes, plus original posts about consciousness. Like many QAnon followers, his political theories are bizarre, sometimes veering into sheer fantasy.”(Newsweek).
@BurnedSpy34 is close family friend of Morrison’s and his wife works on the PM’s staff.
You can bet your left bollock that Spud has mined all the info he can on this guy and will have this prepared as a potential coup de gras for his godly nemesis Scotty.
* * * * *
Dutton won’t want to stand idle as we get closer to another election and his prospect of multiple terms in opposition. He’ll be getting antsy and Morrison will be getting nervous. If you think Morrison is an appallingly incompetent and dodgy PM you’d be right – but should the satanic potato succeed we’ll be truly on a highway to hell.
“With everything that’s going on at the moment we need to be in the tent and we need to know what’s going on – and we are,” Scott Morrison spruiks his star role as a fly on the tent wall, a vital bit part in the latest instalment of the G7 soap opera, a chic, dysfunctional clique; a G6+1 held this year in Biarritz, artificial pearl of the Basque coast.
Next year, Trump wants them to kick back at his Trump National Doral in Miami, one of his top golf resorts in Florida. Invite his old pal Vlad Putin. Get a few holes of golf in. “It would be better to have Putin inside the tent than outside the tent,” Trump says. He doesn’t explain. Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea are but two stumbling blocks for most G7 members. Putin won’t attend as guest. He wants full membership again.
Tent? Is ScoMo being droll? Few at the G7 know what’s going on – neoliberalism is dead for starters. The post-war world that spawned the Group of Seven, “advanced” non-communist economies the UK-Atlantic alliance is long gone. So, too are some G7 economies. Is France “advanced” or merely held up by transnational receipts, asks Crikey’s Guy Rundle.
Others will never know. The terminally bewildered include Donald Trump who may or may not attack Iran any minute, “bonkers”, Boris Johnson, whose EU ignorance may take the great out of Great Britain and Jair Bolsonaro who puts a sixty-day ban on lighting fires in the rainforest, while the Amazon, the lungs of the planet, burns out of control.
Did you see that tie-dye that Melania wore? It gets more ink that any international political or environmental or climate crisis. Or the fact that her husband doesn’t even deign attend the climate conference. Thank God we had ScoMo there, beavering away at “rules-based order” or keeping extremists off the net. It’s too late for The White House. Hopes that monster-baby Trump will pick the toys he threw out of his playpen, abandon the trade war with China – which he thinks he’s winning or the plan to attack Iran which he’s happy to leave out there – are dashed from the start.
After Trump repudiated last year’s motherhood statement, there is no attempt at a 2019 G7 consensus communique.
This year, he also vetoes ScoMo’s proposal for self-regulation of social media, an ineffectual, if not futile proposal to counter online extremism, which will collect data from law-abiding citizens and do nothing to curb extremists. It’s a quality thought–bubble that in the end, Trump sycophant ScoMo, sniffing the wind, doesn’t even vote for himself.
Luckily Morrison, still gets to wow leaders with our space research, a type of astral Spakfilla which “will fill space infrastructure gaps to support businesses and researchers to participate in the global space economy.” Or at least his latest BFF, Boris bird’s nest head Johnson, Britain’s professional clown who is also putting in a top performance in vacuity as clueless Prime Minister tells him “it’s a fabulously interesting, brilliant and exciting project, Scott.”
Morrison is in Biarritz because, France’s President, Emmanuel Macron invited him to observe- along with India’s PM Narendra Modi and G7 pariah Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister. Despite reporting how Boris Johnson, is absolutely gob-smacked by Australia’s space agency space, ScoMo totally assures everyone he’d rather be at home.
“As Australia’s Prime Minister, I always prefer to be in Australia dealing with issues on the ground domestically,” says our most evasive PM since Abbott and the least accountable ever. He’s pleased to be out of the country when his government’s religious freedoms bill is finally published. It’s superfluous – religious freedom is not under threat; but it’s a sop to those who were out-postal-voted on marriage equality but who still claim they have a right to discriminate.
The bill, which skips the tricky stuff of actually defining religious belief, upsets progressives and conservatives alike, while dividing the broad church of the Liberal Party including some of its de-facto partners in the open marriage of convenience with the National Party (and anyone else it can bed), a secret agreement which has, at its core, an uneasy juxtaposition of mutual suspicion and condescension but which both sides pretend is a viable coalition government.
Laura Tingle warns, Morrison’s biggest domestic political challenge yet may be his need to deal with MPs such Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who claims, Friday it is “clear from my ongoing consultation and engagement with religious leaders that the bills are likely to fall far short of properly and fully addressing their requirement”.
If Morrison moves to appease the reactionaries, he is in danger of alienating the conservatives whose support he courted when he declared religious freedom to be his key priority at the outset of his accidental prime ministership. On the international front, his government is choosing to fall in with Washington’s plan to wage war on Iran, a reflex appeasement of the Trump administration’s bullying which may well lead to catastrophic consequences.
In a brilliant show of legerdemain, a triumphant Macron produces the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif from behind a screen, a move which is reported to surprise Trump and other leaders despite their prior warning.
Will Trump and Zarif talk? No. Iran’s PM Hassan Rouhani wants the US to lift sanctions first. Trump says he’ll meet Iran’s leader because “We’re looking to make Iran rich again.” US sanctions on Iran under the Trump administration have caused the rial to lose 75 per cent of its value this year. Yet Trump rules out direct US financial assistance.
“No we are not paying, we don’t pay,” Trump says. “But they may need some money to get them over a very rough patch and if they do need money, and it would be secured by oil …, so we are really talking about a letter of credit. It would be from numerous countries, numerous countries.”
But all is not lost. Love is in the air. Bromance blossoms between BoJo, (Boris Johnson) and DoJo (Donald John Trump) two confirmed narcissists who praise each other to the skies and promise all manner of fabulous trade deals guaranteed to make Britain great again. Again. Hugely.
No-one bothers Trump with picayune details such as the way he depresses world markets and how he is a huge drag on the global economy with his mindless trade war with China. Or his conflict of interest in next year’s proposed venue.
Or they see no point in raising it during his bromance with Boris. Luckily, BoJo and ScoMo are also now best friends forever. “Let’s just say that we’re going to have a great relationship,” Morrison sighs after his speed-date with Boris. Our nation is overjoyed by the potential outcome of the marriage of two such uncannily alike minds.
ScoMo caps his G7 gig in Biarritz, a world first for Australia, according to the hype but only if you ignore Kevin Rudd’s presence at a G8 in Japan in 2008, with a bromide on how the G7 team should root out violent, extremist, anti- social media, (but still allow its MPs to attend extremist rallies), with a quick Dili-dally on the way home to take care of business while upstaging the 20th anniversary of Timor-Leste’s democracy. Oozing unfunded empathy, our Neo-colonial Big White Bwana, reprises his brilliant Pacific shtick. Celebration? Locals should be grateful to Australia, he suggests.
Super-ScoMo, now with added whiteness power, repeats lying rodent John Howard’s fib that Australia protected and liberated Dili from Indonesia which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 in an illegal, genocidal annexation, massacring 2000 Timorese in the first weeks alone in a campaign of savage brutality in which 200,000 were killed.
Morrison’s chief mission is to see Woodside, or some other capitalist-crony, still gets to rip off Timor Leste’s oil and gas reserves while warning locals about Yellow Peril 2.0. It goes over nearly as well as when our PM also tells locals Australia won’t refund $5bn in royalties, already fraudulently gained by deception by bugging Timor-Leste’s cabinet in 2004.
Whip-smart, Morrison’s charm offensive includes telling locals that his government’s secret star chamber trial of Dili bugging, whistle-blower, former ASIS agent, “Witness K” and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, a case of international espionage is “a domestic matter” . Besides, how good is democracy, truth, justice and the Quiet Australian way?
Locals know the truth. If John, “The Liberator” Howard’s pro-Jakarta government had got its way on 30 August 1999, when it let Indonesian- backed paramilitary militias punish East Timor after daring to vote for independence from Indonesia in its 30 August 1999, referendum, there would have been no democratic state of Timor-Leste for Australia’s paternalistic PM, Scott Morrison, to pat on the head this week. Yet that’s not ScoMo’s narrative.
Instead, the thoroughly postmodern, post-fact, post-truth, Trumpist Morrison government; peddles an ancient myth. “Australia played a major role in that period when East Timor broke away from Indonesia. A letter from former PM John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer led to Indonesia holding the vote,” Seven mis-reports, helpfully. The story is the subtext in every photo opportunity as ScoMo happily takes credit where it most certainly is not due.
It’s pure fiction, a lie confirmed, this week, when a ruffled Downer howls down the unequivocal evidence of newly declassified US intelligence documents, published by The National Security Archive based at the George Washington University Washington which cast fresh light on Howard’s letter to B. J. Habibie, then Indonesian PM.
The US, in fact – not Howard – leaned on Jakarta to call off its dogs of war; rescuing East Timor’s independence referendum of 30 August 1999. 78.5 per cent voted for independence. Almost every East Timorese adult voted.
Brutal was Jakarta’s reprisal. Indonesian military and police forces and their local paramilitary allies retaliated with a scorched earth campaign which killed over 1,500 Timorese and displaced nearly half the population. 100,000 were forced across the border into West Timor. Much of East Timor was razed to the ground. Australia looked the other way.
Australia had no plan for peace-keeping and acted only after the US. Howard and Downer’s hopes of cleverly engineering Indonesia’s permanent incorporation of East Timor, a bogus, special autonomy ruse had failed.
There’s no apology. ScoMo soft-soaps his hosts, congratulates them on the anniversary of their independence and proffers other heavy-handed platitudes. How good is democracy? How good is the people’s voice?
How good is the secret trial of Witness K and Bernard Collaery who are currently being punished in a star chamber?
Their crime, as all of Timor-Leste’s leaders know, is that Witness K had the conscience to blow the whistle on his government’s illegal bugging, in 2004, of the, then, East Timor cabinet during negotiations in which Woodside Petroleum was going to do very nicely out of fudging a boundary that gave Australia a 50 per cent share of oil and gas resources – located 150 kilometres from Timor-Leste’s shore but 400 kilometres from Australia’s.
His hosts mostly feign a polite tolerance but local hero, former independence leader and first President of Timor-Leste,
Xanana Gusmão threatens to come to Canberra to testify in person – not that Christian Porter’s kangaroo court could cope with something as fair and just as expert testimony.
No, ScoMo says, speaking quickly, Australia won’t pay back the $5bn in gas revenue it rorted from the government of East Timor. An earlier, treaty gained Australia an unfair advantage, thanks to information obtained by the illegal bugging of East Timor cabinet meetings in Dili. The bugging was allegedly ordered by then Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer. Downer denies it. Timor Leste successfully appealed to the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague
There is nothing to be proud of historically. Despite John Howard’s claims, Australia wanted East Timor to remain Indonesian and lobbied to exclude peace-makers. Howard’s backflip was forced on him only after the US stepped in on 9 September, 1999, to halt the carnage after the 30 August referendum in which 78.5 per cent of East Timorese voted to become independent. Nor is there anything to be proud of today.
A world statesman, whose presence is now du rigueur wherever heads of state may gather, our internationally- acclaimed, but “just a normal guy”, PM disappears when he returns home to Kirribilli House right after telling reporters at the G7, he’d rather be keeping the home fires burning, some fantasy about “dealing with issues domestically”.
Dealing or dodging? Despite nation-wide protests, ScoMo has nothing to say on “The Tamil family”, as newshounds call Peter Dutton’s paramilitary Home Affairs’ latest victims, now banged up on Christmas Island, before deportation, gaol and torture in Sri Lanka. Once in Colombo, they’ll be arrested for “illegally leaving the country” – despite it being completely legal, under international law, to seek asylum. Even in boats. Sri Lanka’s human rights abuses are legion.
If world leader ScoMo knows what’s going on, he keeps it to himself – until Monday, midday, when he resurfaces to call a press briefing. Fluently, he repeats his government’s lies that Kevin Rudd was soft on borders. Labor caused children to drown. Incredibly, Richard Ferguson writes almost a verbatim account of ScoMo’s spiel in The Australian, minutes later.
Deporting the Tamil family is ScoMo’s only honourable option, he says. The PM claims his period as Immigration Minister means he cannot “in good conscience” allow the family to stay since they came by boat and have been found not to be refugees. No evidence is given; nor do Sri Lankan authorities provide a guide to who is likely to be persecuted.
Aran Mylvaganam of the Tamil Refugee Council tells The Guardian Australia that our legal system fails to investigate asylum claims. Tamil asylum seekers have no means to prove claims of persecution, yet they are still being “disappeared” in northern Sri Lanka, where the ethnic minority is under the world’s most intense military occupation.
In Mullaitivu District, a 2017 report found at least 60,000 Sri Lankan Army personnel among just over 130,322 civilians.
Sri-Lankan family, Priya and Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born children Kopika, four, and Tharunicaa, two, lived in Biloela, Queensland until Border Force put them into Melbourne detention seventeen months ago. A wave of public sympathy is joined by family man, Barnaby Joyce and noted humanitarian, Alan Jones. But look over there – suddenly, reports The Australian’s Coalition hack, Simon Benson, “a surge” of six Sri Lankan asylum seeker boats.
Who needs evidence? ScoMo’s government works by bald assertion, the endless recycling of lies and racist dog-whistling. Borders must be enforced. It’s all a matter of national security. Sovereignty. People have to come to Australia through the front door. The Medevac Bill will be fast-tracked; repealed when parliament resumes (for two weeks) next week. But not if Jacqui Lambie’s bluster is to be believed. She wants a parliamentary inquiry to proceed as planned.
“Use your bloody manners,” Burnie blowhard, Tasmanian Senator, Jacqui Lambie milks press attention with another of her plain-speaking truth-seeking, salt-of-the earth, Senator For-Ordinary folk performances. Lambie has a solid record of walking back her rhetoric and capitulating to the government. Who knows how she’ll vote this time?
The Australian also carries another piece from Morrison’s office which states that the PM will not intervene to stop a Tamil family being deported from Australia. An “exception here or there” would only kick-start the people-smuggling trade. Yet Peter Dutton is happy to allow exceptions for au pair visitors and others. And ScoMo’s first speech as PM in August after his double, double-cross and back-stabbing of his leader, Turnbull, was a pledge to populist solidarity.
“We’re on your side because we share beliefs and values in common. As you go about everything you do each day …”
Sharing? ScoMo totally ignores thousands of people demonstrating in the streets, or those petitioning his government to show some humanity. Opinion polls – for what they worth – given an issue strewn with wanton disinformation and misunderstanding – show Australians are at best divided on the Coalition’s hard-line policy. Morrison’s government is back to the dark old days of Howard’s babies overboard, exploiting and generating division for political advantage.
Most telling is eminent criminal lawyer, Robert Richter QC’s opinion on ABC 774, that the Morrison government’s wilful neglect of the duty of care constitutes a criminal offence. Since all detention facilities are Commonwealth workplaces, the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act), applies to them, across Australia and its Territories.
Above all, former Worksafe Prosecuting Solicitor Max Costello writes, section 19 imposes on workplace operators – in this context, Peter Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs – a “primary duty of care” for the health and safety of not only “workers” but also any “other persons” at the workplace – such as detainees. The relevant government agency to police the legislation is Comcare.
Whisked away to Christmas Island is two-year-old Tharunicaa, the little Tamil girl whose rotting baby teeth had to be surgically removed, a stark and compelling reminder of Peter Dutton’s department failure to provide duty of care.
Other cases are tragic. Damning. Manus asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei arrived brain dead at a Brisbane hospital in August 2014. An infected cut on his leg was not responding to treatment. He was developing blood poisoning. His airlift was delayed by the Department under then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Yet Comcare found no fault.
Costello reports, “Comcare’s Khazaei Inspector Report EVE00229456-0001 found “no evidence … that the [airlift] delay … was a contributing factor to the final outcome …”, and said “there were no apparent breaches of the legislation” (see Senate submission 47, pp 35–36).
Yet Queensland coroner Terry Ryan’s inquest report, 30 July 2018, concludes that the “overly bureaucratic” airlift process which involved no fewer than four levels of public servants, did, in fact, contribute to Khazaei’s death.
The department’s failure to stock the Manus clinic with Meropenem also contributed to the Iranian man’s death.
Costello cites four other cases and concludes, “If Comcare prosecuted the Department and a senior officer in, say, 2015, over alleged RPC-related offences; so that by, say, July 2016, both were found guilty, with the Department being fined $2 m and the officer jailed for 2 years, the (disgraced) offshore cruelty regime could’ve ended by, say, 1 October 2016.
If that had happened, six deaths would’ve been prevented, and the remorseless mass destruction of physical and psychological health would’ve been curtailed.
Finally, ScoMo must also keep mum about Attorney-General Christian Porter’s rip-snorting new religious discrimination draft bill which pleases neither progressives nor reactionaries and which may prove a bridge too far for our star of Dili, Pacific and European diplomacy. Or our globe-trotting PM may just be plumb tuckered out; a daggy dad with bad jet-lag. On the other hand, he’s been exceptionally ineffectual and deceptive, even by his own government’s yard-stick.
The key question is when will he and his government be held to account?
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No matter how much money you put on the table it doesn’t give you the excuse not to do the right thing, which is cutting down your emissions, including not opening your coalmines.” (Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, 14 August 2019).
“Shove a sock down the throat of Jacinda Ardern” – urges Alan Bedford Jones, 2GB Sydney’s sock-shock jock, another former, failed, Liberal Party candidate and inveterate misogynist,Thursday, as New Zealand’s PM supports Pacific Islanders’ global warming concerns, endorsing the resolutions of all but one of the eighteen countries and territories of this week’s 50th Pacific Islands Forum, (PIF) meeting in Tuvalu’s capital, Funafuti.
Left on its own, promoting global warming is Australia. Ms Ardern says, diplomatically, that our land down-under can answer to the Pacific for itself. New Zealand, or Aotearoa, as its Maori people named it, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud, or, continuously clear light is doing what it can to limit its carbon emissions to 1.5C.
Ms Ardern expects all nations to make a similar commitment but will not lecture others.
Rabid climate change denier Jones turns puce. He rants; spits foam at the microphone. Does ScoMo’s office tell Jones to put the boot in? For Jones and his audience – and, indeed, for much of Morrison’s government, global warming, is a hoax. And an aberration, a perversion of reason. The notion is an unnatural hoax, as is the monstrous regiment of women who dare to demand their fair share of political power from blokes.
“Here she is preaching on global warming and saying that we’ve got to do something about climate change,” Jones harangues listeners from his bully pulpit. His signature outbursts of outrage, his demonising and his scapegoating are his own take on Orwell’s two-minute hate. Jones down low may be heard playing daily in all the best dementia wards in hospitals all over Sydney. Thursday, Jones goes off like a frog in a sock.
Preaching? It’s precisely what the Kiwi PM takes pains to avoid, but Jones rarely lets fact spoil his argument.
New Zealand has cows that burp and fart, he sneers, in a rare, brief, departure into scientific truth.
Jones role has little to do with reporting and even less with respecting fact. In the 1990 cash for comment scandal, where he and John Laws were found to have accepted money from a slew of corporations, QANTA, Optus, Foxtel, Mirvac and big banks, the jocks’ defence was that they were not employed as journalists, but as “entertainers” and thus had no duty of disclosure or of journalistic integrity. Yet Jones hopes the PM is briefed,
“I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.”
Outraged by Ardern’s audacity – as much as the fact that she’s a Jezebel – a woman brazenly asserting authority, independence and leadership, Jones works up a lather. Arden’s an impudent hypocrite, he squawks. Australia act responsibly or answer to the Pacific on policy? Accountability is heresy in ScoMo’s government. Perhaps Jones hopes that his “sock it to her” will be an Aussie form of “send her back”.
Sending Kiwis home, if Peter Dutton doesn’t like the look of them, is at least one Morrison government policy that’s coherent. Repatriation on “character” grounds saw a thousand forcible deportations between 2016-2018. Under Morrison as Immigration Minister in 2014, the policy was expanded to include all those Kiwi-born residents who’d been sentenced to twelve months or more in prison.
Many of those deported under the “character test” have no family or friends in New Zealand; have extensive family ties in Australia and have spent very little time in New Zealand, having arrived in Australia as children.
It’s another source of friction between Australia, its major trading partner, despite China (NZ$15.3bn) now having eclipsed Australia (NZ$13.9bn) as New Zealand’s biggest export market.
Friday, Jones’ sock-jock mockery continues. “The parrot” ridicules one of New Zealand’s most popular and effective Prime Ministers; alleging Ms Ardern is “a clown” and a “joke” for “preaching about climate change”, claiming, falsely, that New Zealand’s carbon dioxide has increased per capita more than Australia’s since 1990.
The Parrot’s problems with women in power, rival those of the Liberal Party itself. Worrying aloud in 2012 about our Pacific policy and how “women were wrecking the joint” during Gillard’s highly successful minority government, Jones said he was “putting Julia Gillard into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea”.
Gillard’s government invested $320 million in promoting Pacific Island women’s role in business and politics.
“She said that we know societies only reach their full potential if women are politically participating,” he shrieked in utter disbelief to listeners during an on-air hate update from Barnaby Joyce about the sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led consortium.
“$320 million could have bought the 93,000 hectare Cubbie Station and its water rights, he reckoned. Kept it in Australian hands. There’s no chaff bag big enough for these people.”
“Women are destroying the joint – Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here. Honestly.”
Gillard’s father John a former psychiatric nurse who passed away at 83, “died of shame”, he added in 2012, “To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament.”
Also socking it to Jacinda, Jones is joined in combat by another Liberal supporter and climate denialist, One Nation’s resident empiricist, Malcolm Roberts, who knows how much Kiwis love sheep jokes.
“New Zealand has over 60 million sheep. Sheep produce about 30 litres of methane a day. If Ardern was serious about addressing ‘climate change’ shouldn’t she start by culling the entire sheep population of NZ? Or is she just climate gesturing?”
Roberts is wrong in several respects as an AAP fact check demonstrates. He can’t count sheep. New Zealand’s official data agency, Stats NZ, reports the most recent farm census, conducted in 2017, records 27.5 million sheep in the country. A 2018 provisional update reports a drop to 27.3 million.
Nor are sheep the major culprits. New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2017, released in April 2019, shows sheep produced 12.7 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy cattle accounted for 22.5 per cent, while electricity generation created 4.4 per cent.
Above all, this year, New Zealand introduced a bill to reduce emissions of methane by animals to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030, and between 24 and 47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050.
Fellow climate science denier, Mick-Mack, as Coach ScoMo calls our deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, must grab a headline to delay being deposed by Barnaby Joyce. Mick-Mack chimes in with a killer argument. Lenore Taylor says on ABC Insiders Sunday, that he couldn’t be more “offensive or paternalistic” if he tried. Itinerant Pacific Islander fruit-pickers, he says, should thank their lucky Aussie stars.
“They will continue to survive,” the part-time Elvis impersonator says in his most tone-deaf, judgemental manner. “There’s no question they’ll continue to survive and they’ll continue to survive on large aid assistance from Australia. They’ll continue to survive because many of their workers come here and pick our fruit.”
And our tomatoes – for eight dollars an hour, as reported in the recent settlement of a case on behalf of fifty workers from Vanuatu, who suffered bleeding from the nose and ears after exposure to chemicals at a farm near Shepparton under the government’s seasonal worker programme.
Brisbane based Agri Labour Australia refuses to admit liability, even after being taken to court and even after agreeing to an undisclosed financial settlement. The Fair Work Ombudsman takes separate legal action. This results in nineteen workers being compensated $50,283 for wage theft – a crime rife in our migrant workforce be it in horticulture or in hospitality. No records were kept of the workers’ labour over six months.
Seasonal worker and father of six ,Silas Aru, worked for six months, yet was paid a mere $150 in total in farms across Queensland – also as part of a government seasonal workers’ or slave labour scheme. Federal Circuit Court Justice, Michael Jarratt struggled to imagine a “more egregious” case of worker exploitation.
Exploited to the point of criminal neglect or abuse, men and women from the Pacific Islands are often the slaves in our nation’s overworked, underpaid, casual or part-time workforce. Mick-Mack knows how to pick ’em. Rip off the vulnerable. Trick them. Rob them blind. Then remind them what a favour you are doing them.
As the bullying of the Pacific Island leaders rapidly turns into an unmitigated disaster, something must be done. ScoMo’s staff work long and hard to orchestrate a shit-storm in response. It’s specialised work. Howard allegedly had an operative in his office solely working on “Alan Jones issues” throughout his term in office, former 2UE Jones colleague and big critic Mike Carlton tells The Saturday Paper’s Martin McKenzie-Murray.
Jones’s confected outrage is a tactical dead cat thrown on the table; distracting media from ScoMo & Co’s default policy of bullying and duplicity. Con-man Morrison promises $500 million over five years for “climate and disaster resilience” but it’s an accounting trick; a shonky repackaging of existing aid. No-one falls for it.
“The PM … apparently [backed] into a corner by the leaders, came up with how much money Australia have been giving to the Pacific.” He said: “I want that stated. I want that on the record.’ Very insulting.”
Bainimarama is ropeable. By Saturday, he is all over the media after phoning Guardian Australia. ScoMo’s “condescending” diplomacy is as much of a massive fail as his government’s energy or environment policy or overseas aid abroad vacuums. The Fijian PM is clear that by alienating and insulting Pacific Islanders, ScoMo is helping drive the leaders into the arms of the Chinese. In other words, Morrison’s mission is a total failure.
Kick Australia out of the PIF, calls Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati, and veteran advocate for nations battling rising sea-levels caused by global warming. Australia’s membership of the Pacific Island Forum should be “urgently reviewed” for possible sanctions or suspension over the Morrison government’s pro-coal stance, he says. There’s a precedent. Fiji was barred until recently in a move to censure its departure from democracy.
(PIF) … is supposed to be about the well-being of the members,” Tong tells The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age. “If one country causes harm to other nations, such as by fuelling climate change, “there should be sanctions”.
“Pacific people see through this facade. We won’t solve the climate crisis by just adapting to it – we solve it by mitigating it, reducing emissions, investing and transitioning to renewables, not shirking our moral duty to fight,” Greenpeace’s Head of Pacific Joseph Moeono-Kolio says. But our federal government just doesn’t get it.
ScoMo started badly by opting for antagonism and insult. Sending junior minister, coal lobby shill, Alex Hawke on ahead to set up talks did not go over well. Hawke recycles denialist garbage. Human influence on global warming is “overblown” he reckons, while in Tuvalu, he peddles the lie that our economy depends on coal.
In reality, the Morrison government’s dance to the tune of the coal barons costs us a fortune. Avoiding climate change reduces our GDP, by $130 billion a year, reports The Australia Institute, citing calculations by government consultant, Brian Fisher. Yet in the reporting of the Forum, our media helpfully relay the government’s re-framing of our global warming crisis into a choice between jobs or a few more emissions.
We are “family” insists Great White Bwana Morrison. A dysfunctional family where a crafty Father Morrison tells the younger fry lies. The Greens Adam Bandt puts his finger on it. Our wretched carry-over Kyoto credits are yet another shonky accounting trick to allow ScoMo to continue his hollow boast that “we’ll meet and beat” our Paris emissions reduction targets. The stunt certainly does not impress beleaguered Pacific leaders.
“At the moment we are not on track to meet the Paris targets. No one in the world is. We are on track to exceed 3.5 degrees of global warming, which will be a catastrophe. The Pacific Island leaders know this.”
Worse, it spells out how Islanders are paying for our denialism. Australia intends to use 367 Mt of carbon credits to avoid the majority of emission reductions pledged under its Paris Agreement target. Meanwhile, the entire annual emissions from the Pacific Islands Forum members, excluding Australia, is only about 45 Mt.
The bad faith continues. ScoMo & Co coerce Island leaders into watering down the text of their draft declaration. Or so it seems, unless you are tuned to Radio New Zealand. Local reports have it that after twelve hours, the PIF comes up with a hollow text that mimics the Coalition’s own climate change denialism.
Pacific leaders released a draft declaration in Tuvalu, Tuesday, calling for “an immediate global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coalmines” and for all countries “to rapidly phase out their use of coal in the power sector”. It echoes the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call last May.
All references to coal go from the forum communique and climate change statement. Expunged also, are any aims to limit warming to less than 1.5C or any commitment to a plan for net zero emissions by 2050.
Naturally, the Pacific leaders have the nous to issue their own separate declaration with targets which echo its draft statement and which follow the lead of the United Nations, sadly, a body increasingly ignored – if not ridiculed – by our own government and that of its great and powerful friend the US, among a host of others.
By Saturday, Morrison’s stunt with grateful fruit-picker and sock back-up is unravelling badly. Promising to be “a good friend, partner and brother of Pacific Island countries” is China’s special envoy to the Pacific, ambassador Wang Xuefeng, who is quick to exploit the rift between Australia and its Pacific neighbours.
Morrison insists the Forum is a “family gathering” and that “when families come together they talk about the stuff that matters, that’s most important to them. Over the next few days that’s exactly what we’ll do.” It’s ScoMo code, Newspeak for insulting, alienating and bullying the leaders; trashing their hopes and aspirations.
Let the Pacific Islanders worry about rising sea levels and increasing salinity which is rapidly making their homes uninhabitable. In Australia, government energy policy is dictated by a powerful coal lobby – with powerful allies in the media. The PM who brings a lump of coal into parliament also has an assistant recruited from Peabody Coal and has his fossil-fuel lobby and a daft hard right with the upper hand in mind all week.
The Prime Minister’s performance at the Pacific Islands Forum is a monumental failure. Even if his bullying, his intransigence, his inhumanity and chicanery do impress a few one-eyed partisans at home it has dealt irreparable damage to our goodwill in the Pacific, which has not really recovered since the Abbott government cut $11bn from overseas aid in 2015, a cut which the budgie-smuggler insisted was “modest”.
Fears that China will exploit Australia’s neglectful – if not abusive – relationship with its Pacific neighbours are aired all week but the Morrison government isn’t listening. It does everything in its power to offend and alienate Pacific leaders as it clings to its ideological fixation with supporting a moribund coal industry at home.
Above all, enlisting or inspiring the support of Alan Jones, aka The Parrot, has helped the Morrison government shine a light on the unreason, the bullying, the racism and the misogyny which lie at its heart.
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“I’ve been to the border,” Fox TV’s Judge Jeanine Pirro says. US citizens living there talk of “rape trees” upon which the clothes of rape victims are hung she says. They talk of children having their hearts cut out with machetes. The US, as Donald Trump regularly tweets, is under siege; its way of life threatened by an invasion of rapists from south of the border. Trump’s re-election campaign team repeats the siege message 2199 times in paid Facebook ads since January.
Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC ‘s travelling show, a rabble of far right US fear-mongers, liars and conspiracy crackpots convinced by Trump’s canard that George Soros or The Democrats fund the migrant caravan. It’s a popular idea which provokes distrust and permits inhumanity.
Peter Dutton expresses similar ideas regarding our refugees on Manus and Nauru. He claims they are “economic refugees” who own “Armani jeans and handbags”.
Add the odd stray Brexiteer and sundry alt-right camp followers. Blend in two, confused members of the Morrison government, Craig Kelly and Amanda Stoker, bestowing a type of legitimacy -and presto -we have a three-day bag-fest of racist hatred, intolerance and ignorance vital to any healthy democracy. Or so our Federal government insists.
CPAC’s enriched US politics. It helped launch Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, two useful idiots who could attract, repel or just distract the masses while lowering taxes and elevating naked greed; allowing finance, business, mining and gambling get everything they want. It’s a recipe for success that the Morrison government is following religiously.
The gory border story is a fiction told by Trump buddy Judge Jeanine. It’s all part of the enriching offerings to a conference which our Coalition government has sagely declared not to be white hate speech at all. Nope. Nope. Nope.
CPAC’s the voice of sweet reason itself, a symposium vital to any free speech-embracing democracy to add to its community conversation about why we should hate Mexican rapists, child-murderers and fear refugee-invasion. In local content, Craig Kelly MP says the CSIRO should go to jail for its science and calls for us to embrace nuclear power plants.
How good is the power of the nuclear energy industry?
Pirro’s in Sydney to help spread hate and fear at CPAC, a forum for the lunatic right, which began in 1974, with a speech from Ronald Reagan who entered national politics ten years earlier after a televised address promoting Barry Goldwater. Reagan’s talk did not help Goldwater win the election. Oddly, voters saw Barry as a dangerous, right-wing extremist.
True, Goldwater did want to nuke Hanoi. But this strategy was also advocated in 1965 by the US military’s Joint Chiefs during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Daniel Ellsberg reports, a plan, he believes, which was aimed at provoking a nuclear war with China. The Joint Chiefs envisaged a big show which would need 500,000 to a million troops.
Even more oddly, Johnson said no. He chose to do some socially useful projects. His Great Society and War on Poverty.
All was not lost, however. California’s business elite saw in Reagan a man with the charm to sell right-wing extremism. Reagan was duly recruited as Republican Party candidate for Governor of California. He won easily by promising tax cuts. His victory was helped by a smear campaign against his opponent, Pat Brown. Trump’s rise to power has many parallels.
Star of her own Fox reality TV show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro is more than an incendiary hate-speaker, she’s a total pyromaniac. Her role as a tireless Trump cheer-leader has helped her to rebuild her TV career after a setback in the 1990s when her ex-husband Al Pirro, a Trump power-broker, went to jail for conspiracy and tax evasion.
Trump’s a HUGE fan. Not only does their friendship go back decades, the pair enjoy what The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison calls “transactional loyalty”, a concept well understood by Morrison and Liberal Party leadership strategists.
“She’s as sexy as hell,” Trump tells New York Magazine; Pirro’s show is a relentless defence of everything Trump, but this week, she’s in Sydney spreading a type of lie that inflames prejudice and helps incite violence. Invasion is a fixation in the online manifesto of Patrick Crusius, the 21 year old who is accused of killing 22 people in a Texas Wal-Mart.
Headline speakers, such as Pirro, peddle xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, hatred and work themselves into a lather with their lurid anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic murder and rape fantasies in a ballroom set up with brown vinyl chairs at Sydney’s Rydge’s World Square Hotel, Friday to Sunday. But it’s not all rabid hate-speaking. Organisers thoughtfully include some local comic talent. Clown duo, Mark Latham and Ross Cameron, for example, do the warm-up.
Boosted as the largest gathering of conservatives in Australia, in fact it’s tiny; roughly one tenth of the size of all registered Tasmanian Organ Donors or 0.17% of the Melbourne Cricket Club’s waiting list.
But size doesn’t matter. Organisers have deep pockets; grand plans. CPAC’s powerful backers tell The Guardian’s Michael McGowan, they are committed to making the event a “multi-year, forever-type project” aimed at “galvanising” the right wing of Australian politics. Why not? Luigi Galvani even made dead frogs’ legs twitch by applying an electric current.
CPAC’s a show that ScoMo & Co sagely decide we all need to see. In fact, there are more than a few members of the government mad keen to attend – but don’t for a moment think MPs’ attendance is any endorsement, cautions failed Dutton coup numbers man, Matthias Cormann. No? Nor does it add any legitimacy to see George Christensen in the crowd, Jim Molan, former deputy PM National Party hack and mining shill John Anderson with Tony Abbott on stage.
Liberal Party MP when he’s not doing stand-up comedy, Craig Kelly’s a crack-up with his routine about how Tony Abbott won the Coalition’s election for it by attracting all the “crazies” to Warringah. “Took the bullets” for the others, he says, in what has to be least well-judged metaphor of the week. But wait. There’s more. Kelly says CSIRO ought to be in jail.
He accuses the science agency of a “bogus report” on energy costs because its 2018 report finds solar and wind generation technologies are the cheapest power stations to “build new”. CSIRO, of course, is correct. So, too is The Climate Council which reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conclusion,
“Due to the continued fall in the cost of wind and solar, as well as the higher international price for black coal, it is now the same cost or cheaper to build a new wind or solar plant in Australia than to continue operating old coal power stations in New South Wales and Queensland.”
“If an ASX-listed company said that in an annual report, they would likely end up in jail because of how misleading it is,” Kelly claims modelling, himself, the sort of wilful disinformation he tries to rail against.
Meanwhile, Federal Energy Minister, the Watergate and Grass-gate survivor, Angus Gravy-train, Taylor is forming “a new taskforce” to pressure AGL to keep coal-fired Liddell power station open. It’s all part of ScoMo & Co’s big-stick approach.
Taylor says his taskforce, to be set up in partnership with the NSW Government, will consider “all options” – Liberal code for putting on blinkers; propping up coal. He does not rule out using taxpayer money to extend the life of the plant. AGL responds by pointing out that doing so would cost “a lot of money” and any such move “does not stack up.”
The IMF reports that the Australian tax-payer is already subsidising fossil-fuel industries to the tune of $29 billion a year.
In the CPAC spirit of personalised ridicule, Kelly has a presentation trophy to award to Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally.
“This is the CPAC Freedom Award, which goes to the individual who has done the most to promote the CPAC conference,” Kelly tells about 200 attendees. Thigh-slapping hilarity erupts on one side only. Keneally sees it as part of a Two-minute Hate and straight from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future 1984.
“It’s uncanny how much CPAC is exactly what it claims to oppose,” Keneally tweets. “They are … spending all day yelling about their ‘enemies’. This is exactly how people under totalitarian regimes behave.” And key National Party figures.
Farmers’ friend and champion of the man on the land, John Anderson was chairman of coal seam gas frontrunner Eastern Star Gas, bought out by Santos in 2011. He’s one of a herd of former Nationals MP who model transactional loyalty, locally, despite some fuddy-duddy farmers seeing the defection from agriculture to mining as a betrayal.
Former Nationals MP, and pro-coal energy minister, Garry West ,chairs, for undisclosed sums, the Integra Vale, Ulan coal, Moorlaben coal, and the BHP Caroona Coal project, adjacent to Shenhua Watermark’s mine. It’s all part of the mining industry community consultation hoax. Former Nat, Larry Anthony, a former Shenhua Watermark lobbyist, was an advocate for a coal mine which was recently in the news for rigging the storage volume of underground aquifers.
“The values used were implausibly high based on our research,” Ian Acworth, UNSW Emeritus Professor, says in May.
Asking the questions, always more engaging than a talk, Ando interviews his old pal Abbo – who makes a double debut as ex-MP, and ex-PM. Australia is now a nation that offers “death on demand” warns the former minister for women, a master of the hollow three word slogan.
In NSW, an abortion law reform bill which has yet to pass the upper house, had been sprung on voters. “No due consultation”, protests the former PM who sprang a postal vote on marriage equality on the entire nation rather than face a divided party room. Victoria’s recent, assisted dying law proves we’ve lost our moral anchor points. Christianity used to anchor our morality, asserts Abbott, whose former spiritual mentor and adviser was Cardinal George Pell.
Death on demand? Lost moral anchor? “It’s pretty rich”, writes Junkee’s Joseph Earp, “coming from a man who helped speed along an environmental apocalypse that will cost the lives of animals and humans alike.”
“Faith is a gift,” Abbott offers generously. “Some people have it, some people don’t.” Go bite an onion.
Recording or photographing Abbott’s riff is forbidden. He insists. Some of the small audience applaud. The left, he says, opaquely, is wallowing in identity. Wallowing. “Spiritually we’ve rarely been worse off than we are now,” he adds for good measure, perhaps, a typically public-spirited projection of his own long, dark, night of the soul.
Equally benighted but in Australia’s post-modern under-paid, casual, part-time workplace where wage theft is rife, Queensland senator, Amanda Stoker drones on about how industrial relations means labour hire and localised enterprise-bargaining, a vision of the future, surely, now that the government has its Ensuring Integrity bill through the lower house. The cross-bench will be sure to fall in line, especially if demon union thug John Setka’s name is mentioned.
But don’t get the wrong idea. So the government is cosying up to the lunar right in public? Don’t mean a thing. OK? But it does lend a dangerous legitimacy to the lunar right, as Jason Wright thoughtfully observes in The Guardian.
Friday, in a speech largely devoted to attacking Kenneally and accusing her of putting his life in danger, Kassam says,
“She should be ashamed of herself … There’s nothing Christian about silencing your opposition,” he says, preferring an ad hominem attack on Senator Keneally and her Catholic beliefs, to any reasoned rebuttal. Kassam illustrates the fallacy of the Morrison government’s claim that CPAC even vaguely involves or promotes rational debate. Kenneally is closer to the mark when she describes the gathering as a “talk-fest of hate”. And anger.
Warming the chair for Sky’s David Speers, ABC Insiders’ Patricia Karvelas asks an evasive Simon Birmingham if “we are we seeing a more aggressive position taken by conservatives after the election of your government?”
Birmingham evades Karvelas’ question. He might well quibble with her misuse of the term. CPAC is conservative in name only.
Morrison’s government is cosying up in public to win votes from the radical right attending CPAC and those who share its prejudices, its racism and xenophobia. It is also being disingenuous about its motives and the effect of its attendance.
“Their attendance at this conference does not imply agreement or endorsement with the views of any of the other speakers attending in any way,” a dangerously deluded Cormann would have us believe. He fails to explain how or why not.
“The government will always stand against divisive, inflammatory commentary which seeks to incite hatred or which seeks to vilify people.”
“However the way to defeat bad ideas, bad arguments and unacceptable views is through debate, especially with those we disagree with. It is not by limiting our conversations only to those who at all times share all of our views.”
We could add many more examples. There’s Handy Andy Hastie’s “Islam must change.” But this just brings him into line with the budgie-smuggler who declared that Islam has a massive problem and who called for a “reformation”.
Penny Wong points out the difference between hate speech and “bad ideas.” The nonsense that any of the speakers attending is willing to enter into rational debate or is as farcical as expecting the Morrison government to heed the science on climate change or to expect Peter Dutton to retract his scare campaign on the dangers of refugees using Medevac legislation to flood our shores. Or issue an apology for his Melbourne African gang fear-mongering.
Having Cormann lecture us on bad ideas is hilarious coming from a man who tried to make Peter Dutton PM. As for rational debate, this is the Finance Minister who claims that tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy. Sorry Matthias, you Belgian sausage, all evidence is to the contrary – especially in Trump’s Dis-United States of America.
Augmenting top acts from Trump’s America is not only “Mr Brexit” nifty Nigel Farage, former head of the United Kingdom Independence Party, introduced to the CPAC audience as “quite possibly” Britain’s next PM. Seriously?
“A snake”, hisses Nigel Farage attacking a straw man; a mythical Malcolm Turnbull who starts out all right but who engineers a serpentine leftist coup. The crowd cheers, thrilled by Nige’s Olympian detachment, halcyon objectivity and utter historical falsehood. Farage’s farrago of lies offers a ludicrous parody of the hapless captive of the right.
“Your Liberal party, your conservative movement was hijacked by the other side, taken over by Malcolm Turnbull, who pretended to be a conservative but actually turned out to be a snake.”
Wrong in fact and egregiously wrong in function, CPAC and its backers can stay at home in the USA in future. We don’t need to invite far right ideologues or neo-fascists or hate-speakers to Australia. We have enough of our own at home, already.
Nor do we need to kid ourselves that CPAC speakers are interested in debate. All we’ve seen and heard is personal abuse and an eagerness to win converts to conspiracies.
There is a world of difference between freedom of speech and being granted a licence to spread hate-speech. And the last thing our politicians need is to court the far-right or let themselves be used to legitimise your fear-mongering and your lies.
Forget the idea of a “multi-year, forever, project”. Once is way more than enough.
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On Friday, Phil Coorey published an article in the AFR lauding the credentials of Peter Dutton as a future Prime Minister.
He quotes an unnamed Liberal colleague (but factional opponent) as saying “Everyone listens when Peter intervenes. He’s the closest to a statesman we have.”
If any statement has shown how much trouble the Liberal Party is in, it’s that one.
Peter Dutton? A statesman?
According to Wikipedia, “A statesman or stateswoman is usually a politician, diplomat or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career at the national or international level.”
Dutton has been in parliament for almost 17 and a half years so I guess you could call his career long, but respected? For what?
After joining the Young Liberals and purchasing his first property at age 18, Peter Dutton first ran for parliament in the 1989 Queensland state election, less than a month after his 19th birthday. He lost the 2PP vote 72.5% to 27.5%.
The next year, Dutton graduated from the Queensland police academy and then spent nine years as a police officer in a force reeling from corruption scandals whilst also “working” with his father in a building business – a business that operated under several different names and which continues to operate today.
He married in 1993 but it only lasted a few months.
On leaving the police in 1999, he completed a Bachelor of Business at the Queensland University of Technology before (or during) being elected to federal parliament in 2001 at age 30. During the campaign, his Labor opponent Cheryl Kernot suggested that journalists should question why Dutton quit the police force when he did. That question was never answered.
The next year he had a child out of wedlock and the year after that he married his current wife.
The following year, 2004, he was made Minister for Workforce Participation in the Howard government, a position he held until 2006 spanning the period of the development of the Workchoices legislation.
In January 2006 he was appointed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue and was questioned by Labor about a conflict of interest regarding childcare rebate legislation when his company owned several childcare businesses.
That year, he was also questioned about a 7-day trip he and his wife took to the US for which he claimed $75,000.
In 2008, Dutton chose to boycott the apology to the stolen generation because, in his opinion, it was meaningless symbolism.
As shadow health minister, he was completely silent. When he became Minister, the medical profession voted him the worst in 35 years.
Dutton’s time as Immigration Minister has been no better.
His bullying of women like Gillian Triggs, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Sarah Hanson-Young has been shameful. He also called journalist Samantha Maiden a “mad fucking witch”.
He was caught on a microphone laughingly joking about Pacific islands being inundated, and how they must be running on “Cape York time” as a reason a meeting was delayed.
He has refused medical assistance to suicidal children, lied about the cause of disturbances on Manus, and been singularly unsuccessful in finding resettlement options for the people stuck in detention camps. He denies any responsibility for the refugees he has incarcerated offshore despite countless UN and legal directions that he has a duty of care that is not being met, resulting in many successful compensation claims.
The men he chose to command his new paramilitary Border Force both left in disgrace after having affairs with junior staff.
He uses his position to grant wishes as he pleases. On the basis of a phone call from a member of the public, he overturned a court decision and had a man immediately taken into custody for deportation. He ignored his own department’s advice, granting visas on two separate occasions to young women who arrived illegally to work as au pairs even though one was a repeat offender. He refuses to say who the women were working for or who contacted him to overrule the Immigration authorities.
He has offended the South African government by offering asylum in a “civilised” country to white South African farmers. He has been ridiculed by Melbournians after he claimed they were too scared to go out to dinner because of violence from “African gangs”.
Dutton’s department has been the subject of several scathing reports from the National Auditor with a lack of leadership, communication and accountability being blamed for poor workplace practices and outcomes.
Meanwhile Peter has been collecting investment properties, 6 so far, as well as having a family trust, a self-managed super fund, and interests in the building business and a childcare centre.
In 1887, the Queensland Figaro reported of Charles Boydell Dutton:
He knew he had “no case” so he “abused the other side”. He is a fool for his pains. He has made his Press opponents laugh at his helpless rage, and he has made those pressmen who excused and shielded him turn angry at his base ingratitude.
The same newspaper in 1884 described Charles as a “squatter of the squatters” and “an out and out Tory in the guise of a Liberal – a wolf in the guise of a lamb…”
Then again in 1887:
If he isn’t an idiot himself, he must fancy that the average elector is a born fool, or he would not attempt to gull him with such transparent rot as that with which he dosed the people at the Ipswich Show banquet.
It seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It’s a pity our current journalists are not as astutely critical as their predecessors.
If this heartless, misogynistic, racist, lying, self-aggrandising buffoon is the best the Liberal Party has to offer, then they really need to overhaul their preselection process.
A long career sucking on the public teat does not make Dutton a statesman, just a conniving powerbroker whose only concern is his own enrichment.
On Friday, Barnaby Joyce posted the following on his Facebook page:
The fastest growing sector of our economy is agriculture where farmers are doing the heavy lifting to keep the standard of living we take for granted. At the same time in South Africa, farmers are under attack, being murdered, raped and assaulted on their own property – something we would never accept in Australia. You are three to four times more likely to be murdered as a South African farmer than the average South African, with an average of two farm murders a week. After representations to my electorate office and at the Local Land Services farming seminar in Tamworth yesterday, I support Minister Peter Dutton’s push to give these people refuge in our nation because not only can we help them, they can also help us by moving into regional areas and helping grow our agricultural economy.
Dear oh dear, where to begin.
Let’s start with Barnaby’s claims about the agriculture industry’s contribution to the economy.
In 2015-16, output from the Services industry was $1,051.1 billion which represented a 61.1% share of GDP and 79.2% of all industry, employing 9.4 million people. Agriculture’s output was $36.7 billion, which was a 2.2% share of GDP and 2.7% of all industry, employing about 300,000 people.
Whilst minerals and fuels still dominate exports, in FY2017, services exports were worth about A$81.6 billion. That was much larger than the value of exports of manufactures (about A$44 billion) or of exports of food (about A$43 billion).
As far as being the fastest growing industry is concerned, according to the March 2018 update from the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, in 2017-18, the gross value of farm production is forecast to decline by 5 per cent, the gross value of livestock production to increase by 2 per cent, and the gross value of crop production to decline by 11 per cent.
Barnaby’s ode to agriculture then somehow morphs into support for Peter Dutton’s shout out to persecuted white South African farmers.
I am sure there are problems in South Africa. It was kind of inevitable when 95% of the country’s wealth is held by 10% of the population, when 73% of farmland is owned by white people even though less than 9% of the population is white, when the wage for a farm worker is less than $15 for a 9 hour day.
But the point is, they didn’t ask for our help, they don’t want to abandon their farms and, far more importantly, there are genuine refugees who desperately need help. What happened to the concern for the people who have been languishing in camps for years? Do two farm murders a week outweigh the deaths in Myanmar, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan? Do they outweigh the millions facing famine?
There is something odd about this sudden, and unwanted, focus on white South African farmers. It seems to have been a clarion call for the far right. A predictable lineup of suspects have been quick to express their support for Peter Dutton – Steve Ciobo, Barnaby Joyce, Andrew Hastie, Ian Goodenough, Andrew Laming, George Christensen, with David Leyonhjelm joining in as well.
Is the band considering a new line up? Is that Peter humming in the wings? Is anyone game to tell him that he’s tone deaf?
As Arte Johnson on Laugh In would say … very interesting.
It was a big day yesterday for our newly minted Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton.
Firstly, Dutton’s hand-picked choice to head his paramilitary Border Force, a colleague from his days as a Queensland copper, was finally sacked for using his position to get his girlfriend a job and for not disclosing the relationship. Roman Quaedvlieg is obviously held to a higher standard than Barnaby Joyce who just took a self-imposed temporary demotion for the same thing.
Then we hear that, after meeting with Bob Katter’s son-in-law, who happens to be one of the largest gun importers in the country, Dutton is considering forming an advisory board where the gun lobbyists decide on the suitability of legislation.
That’s like letting the aluminium smelters advise us on emissions reduction or the cotton farmers advise us on water management. Or letting the mining companies devise a mining tax that costs them nothing.
But this is about more guns in our society – a move that could change Australia forever because once the dam is broken, there is no going back.
And then to round off a big day for a little man, we witnessed the ridiculous farce of the Minister, purely on the basis of a television show he watched, offering to rescue “white” South African farmers from the “horrific circumstances” and “persecution” they are facing in their country.
“I do think, on the information that I’ve seen, people do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours,” Mr Dutton said.
Except no-one asked for his help. The farmers responded by saying that, surprisingly, they don’t want to walk away from their homes and livelihoods.
The South African government were furious. Who are you calling uncivilised?
They hauled in Canberra’s High Commissioner for a diplomatic ticking off, demanding that Dutton retract his comments.
And that doesn’t even address the blatant racism in Dutton’s stupid comments.
Dutton was voted worst health minister ever by people in the industry. As Immigration Minister, he has been singularly unable to find a solution for the resettlement of refugees trapped on Manus and Nauru. The deal with the US was negotiated by Turnbull, not Dutton.
He is a proven liar, telling us that a disturbance on Manus Island was caused by locals reacting to asylum seekers luring their children away for evil purposes, when, in fact, the asylum seekers gave the child some fruit and it was drunken military arguing over a football pitch who started shooting at the refugees.
There have been countless scathing reports and reviews on the dysfunction in the DIBP detailing the lack of management and due process.
Dutton walked out on Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation. He has made innumerable gaffes – joking about islands in the Pacific being inundated, calling a journalist a mad fucking witch in a text in support of a sexual harasser, which he then sent to the journalist by mistake.
The list of ineptitude is long. In fact, I cannot think of one achievement, one positive contribution, that Dutton has made in over 16 years suckling on the public teat, other than expanding his property portfolio.
So why has this inadequate politician been made the most powerful man in the country? Why is he touted as a future leader for the Liberal Party?
It was inevitable that any opposition by the ALP or Greens to Abbott’s reeking legacy, the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality, would provide the Turnbull government with the ammunition to claim (with confected indignation) that both parties are creating an obstacle that thwarts an opportunity for same-sex marriage.
There are bound to be those who accept this warped inversion, however they are likely to be the same groups and individuals that reject marriage equality anyway.
What this situation reveals yet again is the profound nastiness of the LNP. This nastiness (there really isn’t a better word for it, their attitude towards their fellow humans is as base as that) has been evidenced in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s decision to deprive the unemployed and pensioners in order to fix his budget, and the vengeful exercise of raw power as illustrated by Peter Dutton’s ongoing implacability over asylum seekers and refugees. It’s reflected in the image that heads this post: even the dead are perceived as new sources of revenue for the LNP.
I don’t need to go on, the evidence of their nastiness is everywhere we look, and it multiplies as we sleep.
Nastiness is the Turnbull government’s default position. From the apparent banality of nastiness all manner of evils flourish, and if you ever doubted that it is being enacted daily, for you to witness, in our parliament.
Though the Northern Territory can’t be ever be taken as typical, the carnage wrought on the CLP this weekend gives me small hope. Citizens can become sickened by nastiness, and they can wreak havoc on the party of nasty when they’ve had enough.
There is not one rational reason to deny marriage equality. We are a secular state: religious arguments ought not to influence our decisions. The unholy alliance of religion and nastiness currently hold sway.
It’s my hope that the ALP hold out against a plebiscite. No Liberal MP has any obligation to honour a yes result. Those who touchingly believe a plebiscite = marriage equality need to disabuse themselves of that belief, because it does not. We could well go through the torturous process and still have necessary amendments to the Marriage Act blocked by MPs who are not bound to accept a ‘yes’ vote.
At the heart of the demand for a plebiscite is nastiness, and a poisonous hatred for anyone who doesn’t fit a narrow definition of ‘normal’. The influence of pure nastiness has been overlooked in our arguments yet it is a powerful driver of irrational behaviour and you’d have to go a long way to find behaviour more irrational than that of Turnbull’s government in just about any area you can name.
There are rumours again that Abbott is preparing himself to challenge Turnbull’s leadership. Not only are they nasty to citizens, they are exceptionally nasty to one another. I would take great pleasure in watching the LNP continue to cannibalise itself. I doubt it would affect our governance to any great degree: they aren’t doing much of that anyway.
It’s my hope that the fate of the NT CLP is the Turnbull government’s future. Barely enough seats left to form a party? I’d go for that.
Yesterday I had a Twitter conversation about Kathryn Bigelow’s movie, Zero Dark Thirty, which was shown on SBS last night.
Many angry critics have described the film as CIA propaganda advocating torture, and accused Bigelow of making an immoral argument that torture works. That wasn’t my reading as I argue here.
This revisiting of the film and the arguments surrounding it made it obvious to me that the message “torture works” is precisely the message the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison before him, and several former Prime Ministers including Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have sent to the world since the indefinite detention, off-shore and previously in the hell holes of Woomera and Baxter, of waterborne asylum seekers began.
They are not even particularly subtle about conveying this message: forcing women, children and men to live in circumstances in which they are tortured will deter others from attempting to seek asylum in Australia. It’s that stark.
To dissuade attacks from rusted on ALP supporters: Paul Keating built Woomera. I went there. It was one of Dante’s circles of hell. So please don’t come at me with the usual defence of your political party’s position on asylum seekers. There’s a bee’s dick of difference between the major parties.
Every time politicians insist that bringing refugees from Manus and Nauru to Australia will “start the drownings at sea again”, he or she is arguing, to the world, that “torture works.”
Frank Brennan, John Menadue, Tim Costello and Robert Manne have here proposed a solution to the current ghastly impasse. Their proposal retains the turn-back policy:
We believe there is no reason why the Turnbull government cannot do now what the Howard government previously did – maintain close intelligence co-operation with Indonesian authorities, and maintain the turn-back policy, while emptying the offshore processing centres and restoring the chance of a future to those we sent to Nauru or Manus Island three years ago or more by settling them either in Australia or, if any are willing, in other developed countries. Like Howard, Turnbull could maintain the offshore processing centres in case of an emergency.
Boats are to be turned back to their point of departure, usually Indonesia or in the case of Sri Lankan refugees, southern India where they continue to live as stateless people with few, if any rights.
The proposition put by Brennan et al would at least thwart the message that torture works, to which our politicians seem alarmingly attached. It’s by no means an ideal solution, but it could be our next step in addressing a situation that in its current manifestation is hideously wrong in every possible way.
Critiquing their proposition is a post in itself, and I won’t do that here.
As I argue Bigelow’s film demonstrated, the proposition that torture works is in itself a terrifying premise for debate. Who are we, that we would engage in such a debate in the first place?
It isn’t about whether or not torture works. It’s about torture even being considered, and then implemented as an option. You might argue that no politician foresaw or planned the circumstances that have evolved on Manus and Nauru, and you’d likely be correct. So we have come to torture by accident, rather than by design. Having arrived at that point, even accidentally, we are culpable and every day we reinforce the message that torture works, we add to our burden of culpability. What was initially accidental, thoughtless, ignorant, uncaring, politically self-seeking becomes, in the maintaining of it, deliberate.
Which puts us in the company of the CIA and its propaganda, does it not? Not to mention Donald Trump.
“Why is the Australian Government so frightened of David Icke?” asks Mandy Kane.
On Tuesday 15 December, UK based researcher David Icke posted a video to his YouTube channel relating to his Visa application for a 2016 Australian tour. He explained that despite being approved in both 2009 and 2011, his most recent application had been denied and that a significant amount of additional paperwork had been requested to delay the process.
After viewing Mr. Icke’s video, I started a petition on change.org requesting that Peter Dutton MP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection approve his Visa. The petition can be viewed here.
The following day (16 December), I received a call from a reporter named Michael Safi, who writes for The Guardian. Following the conversation, he published this article which has since received over 700 shares and 600 comments.
On 19 December, Mr. Icke’s video was removed by YouTube, who cited a ‘copyright claim’. This was unusual, as Mr. Icke has hundreds of similar videos uploaded to his channel and this one appeared no different. As far as I am aware, no copyrighted content was included. Thankfully, another user uploaded a back up copy of the video to their account, so I was able to link this back in to the petition.
The petition has received more than 2,600 signatures to date, with many Australians and residents of other countries leaving comments to express their disapproval of what appears to be a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech and choice on behalf of the Australian Government. As far as I am aware, the Department has not responded to any enquiries as to the status of Mr. Icke’s Visa at this stage. The petition will be forwarded to Mr. Dutton once we are confident we have significant traction in support of Mr. Icke’s Visa approval.
I am informed that Mr. Icke’s Visa denial is among many high profile cases in the past year and until the Department can provide a reasonable explanation in this instance we are seeking to expose this trend before it becomes more prevalent.