With rapidly evaporating respect Mr Turnbull, that’s crap

Good poker players learn how to read signs from their opponents about…

Day to Day Politics: How to win friends…

Thursday 14 December 2017I said to my wife, “I think he’s had…

Escaping Reality: Roy Moore and the Rage of…

It all seemed to be the rage of decency. Everywhere, moral indignation…

To our Government and the Opposition: Get your…

By Tina ClausenWhat is wrong with you? Your behaviour in Parliament is…

United Nations Committee Against Torture issues interim measure…

Press ReleaseOn 11 December 2017, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) advised…

Bob Hawke Is A Martian and Merry Christmas,…

The trouble with most Prime Ministers is that you have to be…

I thought we worked all this out during…

When President Trump announced that he would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital…

Day to Day Politics: But for ideas we…

Wednesday 13 December 2017What immediately follows is a response to my post…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: News and Politics

The Racist Agenda Was Made to Destroy The Working Class

The fear of ‘the others’ permeates everything lately. Social media, politicians, commentators and the mainstream media are enabling a culture of stigma and ‘othering’. Fear of people we don’t understand shuffles beneath the surface of individual thought.  These fears have a parasitic grip on beliefs, ideas and thought. It channels thought, word and deed through the prism of fear. This fear is a man-made construct, developed by conservatives to destroy the working class.  It can be framed as the pre-agenda of the real agenda. The real agenda for the conservatives is as always – to destroy the working class. The pre-agenda is to establish a base, through fear of others, to help them get there.

Racism, Fear and Work Choices

This pre-agenda was first tried in the 1990’s with the aim to support the real agenda. That was to see more people embrace Howard’s Work Choices. In the 1990’s the stigma and fear of Indigenous people and Asian people was developed with a particular aim. That is fear would grip people. They would turn to those speaking out loudest against Indigenous people and Asian people. This would then, see people turn to the Government’s ‘paternalist-guiding hand’ agenda. In other words, stand with the Government to destroy the unions and destroy the working class. Even better if you were working class yourself and you left the union.

It was not going according to plan. To save some face, Howard had to terminate his association with the person he mentored, developed and gave a platform to, to be the voice of the pre-agenda. The agenda of racism. A person so ‘brave’ her voice shook when she spoke. A person dressed as an everyday Australian suburban woman. The mother at school, the tuckshop lady, the shop owner, the corner store worker. The person we don’t really know but feel comfortable ‘having a chat to.’ This person was Pauline Hanson. Pauline Hanson was to be the very voice to create a culture of fear, stigma and racism. This fear was to be so great that people’s attention would divert away from the atrocity of Work Choices. So blinded by fear of others, they would support it. 

Work Choices Enabled

As history has shown us, this backfired. It was the wrong time and the wrong targets of racism for longevity. It did work in part. A conservative Government was in for four terms and the biggest defining piece of anti-worker legislation was enabled.

However, the uptake was not strong enough for people to be blinded to the plight of the worker and the destructive anti-worker policies put forward by the Howard Government.The Rights at Work movement was the light of the working class fighting against the darkness of Work Choices. Good trumped Evil and in 2007 the working class won. We are seeing no such movement today. No such swell of deep angst organising to take up the cause. The ‘fear of other’s’ is blinding people to the real agenda. There appears to be no lessons learnt from the Work Choices era.

The Agenda of Fear Enables Attacks on the Working Class

Prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, racism, hatred and xenophobia suck the life from rational decision-making like an insidious contagious disease.  Once it has obtained its grip, this fear underpins and drives people to agree and believe in political ideology and political direction and policies, they would normally not have agreed with or believed in. The fear that we must stay safe from ‘the others’ now underpins agreement. Agreement to attack the worker and demonise and denigrating the poor. Those who choose to do so defend this stance vehemently. They see this as the just thing to do. It does not matter what the consequences are.

The Howard Government, along with the Abbott-Turnbull-(?) Government underpins their policy decisions with the idea that the working class do not know what is good for the country. That is, to allow the free market to flourish, by allowing the owners of the capital to tell the owners of the labour what they will be paid, how they will work and the conditions they will work in. Not to stand in they way of big business.

This is a Disturbing Reality

The fear of others is so great that some of the people who fought against this in the 1990’s are not remotely interested in what is happening to the working class, the jobless and the poor. They are too busy battling the ghosts the agenda of fear has conjured. The conservatives appear to have chosen the right time and the right targets of racism and stigma.

Muslims, in the minds of the fearful, are far more frightening than Indigenous people or Asians. In the 90’s these targets of victimisation were “stealing our social security money, stealing our jobs and stealing our land.”  Today, in a nutshell, the belief among the fearful is that Muslims will take over the world and force us to become ISIS.”  

Therefore, they must seek solace in ‘the brave’ – find their ‘protector.’  When Pauline Hanson’s voice shakes today it sounds much more brave to fearful ears, as the fear is much more magnified today with Muslims as the target. Hanson is indeed much more appealing as a consoling leader, as she speaks the loudest and the media makes her the centre of attention, which reinforces her words as ‘normal and justified.’  This is a disturbing reality towards the success of the conservative agenda of destroying the working class.

Too Busy Battling Ghosts

Today in 2017, the fear of others is so great that some of the people who fought against Work Choices in the 1990’s are not remotely interested in what is happening to the working class, the jobless and the poor. They are too busy battling the ghosts the agenda of fear has conjured. The fear of things that may never, ever happen and are not happening underpins their decisions to support anti-worker, anti-welfare and anti-community policies. They will even argue that these things are not happening, although the nightly news will tell the stories of what has been passed in parliament and although they can watch both houses live. It is a case of blanket denial, because ‘Pauline stands up for us Aussies against those Muzzie Bastards – Have you even read the Koran?‘  

They will scream, yell, insult and rant at those who are awake to the fact that these policies are being passed and are deeply concerned about their implications, and call them liars or ‘too sensitive’.  They are practised at standing firm with everyone who agrees with them and calling it ‘the right’ and those who they shun and don’t agree with them ‘the left.’

For Hanson voters, Attacking Workers Is Pro-Worker

Hanson advocates appear to have a twisted belief that Hanson, a conservative, Christian, nationalist, ex-member of the Liberal party, who shows immense support for the Liberal Party and who wants to abolish all penalty rates, abolish holiday leave loading and voted for the ABCC, somehow is ‘for the worker.’ This would indeed make Hanson ‘left’ on the political spectrum.

Yes, the pro-working class voter of yesteryear, now see being angry at the passing of legislation that will increase worker deaths, where a worker has no right to silence, that removes mandatory employment of apprentices, that sees income ripped from low paid workers and harsh and unjust punitive measures on the jobless, as weak and ‘not concerned enough about ‘the others’ (who will destroy our freedoms). Workers rights have become secondary to many people who are actually good working class people, simply blinded by unfounded fear. That is a disturbing reality.

Right Time. Right Targets

This time, the conservatives appear to have chosen the right time and the right targets of racism and stigma. This is also a disturbing reality.

With so much talk about Australian values lately; attacking the worker and denigrating the poor were conservative agendas that people would fight tooth and nail against. It was against our values. They would rise up and join the struggle to ward off this narrative from becoming the norm.

The narrative of the pre-agenda is, however, strong and it has born an entirely new class of voters. Voters who are now welcoming these baseless attacks on the working class and the poor as ‘the new acceptable norm’.  Some choose to ignore the implications, such as anti-worker policy passing both houses. Others see it as a ‘sacrifice’ for the greater good, of staying safe and not letting ‘the others’ destroy us, take over our country, our jobs and our freedoms. 

Some of these people are true conservatives. Some are the non-union working class, some are union working class and some are jobless and/or are living below the poverty line. The majority of people within the ‘right wing agenda-Hansonite groupings’ supporting this ‘pre-agenda’ are the very people conservative politics attacks.

The Mini Resistance

The desire to keep fear and prejudice strong within individuals has now formed into a collective, via contagion and has formed into a mini-resistance.  It is suffocating the empathy and understanding of the plight of the worker, the jobless and the poor. There are those who were in the trenches with the working class in the 1990s, who are now fighting against the worker, shoulder to shoulder, embracing the enemy of the working class.

There are those who fight by shouting their prejudices and wearing them on their sleeve; angrily scream at anyone who dares to ‘not see the real truth.’ Their truth.

Then there are those who consciously or unconsciously deny their prejudices. They don’t want to say these things out loud. They just want to think them. Pauline Hanson, other conservative politicians, conservative commentators and the media will say these things for them. (She speaks for me). This gives them a new confidence to speak these prejudices out loud for the first time. To speak them gives a sense of reinforcement and belonging. For some, the feeling is almost euphoric. A relief beyond comprehension. They feel they are finally part of a collective. A resistance and that they ‘belong.’

This sense of belonging brings a sense of security and protection. A belief that if the ‘protectors’ – the one’s who are loudest attacking ‘the others’ will keep us safe from harm. However, it is through this false sense of reality, that real harm is being ignored, disbelieved. For some who have made the complete transformation to anti-working class – they embrace it.

The Racist Agenda. A Man Made Construct to Destroy the Working Class

What other anti-worker, anti-welfare policies will dedicated ‘Hansonites’ ignore, accept, condone and defend, all in the name of staying true and remaining loyal to the resistance that fights against minorities and speaks loudly to denigrate ‘the others?’

The racist agenda is a man-made construct developed as a pre-agenda to assist the conservative Government to destroy the working class. In 1996, “Howard’s Battlers” of the working class enabled the biggest onslaught on the working class we have ever seen. In 2017, “Pauline’s Battlers” are on the rise.

People must stop allowing the unrealistic fear of others to underpin and guide their beliefs, opinions, and decisions and take notice of the attacks on the working class. They must make a conscious choice. Support the workers and the jobless. Otherwise, support the Christian-Conservative Nationalist anti-worker agenda of Hanson and the rest of the right-wing parties. Supporting Hanson, the Liberals, The Bernardis, the Xenophons and Hinch, gives zero support to the working class.

Otherwise, this time, the conservatives may win and sustain real longevity. The attacks on the working class may completely destroy everything unionists and the working class have fought for, were jailed for and died for.

The United and Ununited States of America 2030

Way back in 2016, when Donald Trump won his first election, I had sworn never to return to the USA while he was at the helm. I was 61 then, now I’m 74. The age when we attend more funerals than weddings, birthdays and christenings combined. So, it recently came to pass that I wanted very much to attend a dear friend’s funeral. In Mississippi.

Now, in 2030, we don’t know much about the USA. You see, by the time the 2020 election happened, many people were no longer allowed to vote. If a person was unemployed (and there were a LOT of unemployed by 2020), they could not vote. If a person was female, they could not vote. If a person had not been born in the USA, they could not vote. If they were a known LGBTIQ person, they could not vote. Trump was elected again. That was the last election in the USA. Trump, now 83, continued to tweet every morning but everyone except his fans ignored him.

By 2018 California was no longer part of the USA. Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode, Island, Vermont and New Jersey had all left the federation by 2021. They were now, if you like, the Ununited States of America. Yet to form a new nation formally, negotiations were ongoing. It was a bit like the Europe of old. Most of the military had aligned with the Ununited States, something that had apparently infuriated Trump because he could no longer threaten to invade other nations. Canada and several of the other Ununited States had built walls. Mexico had built a wall along the Texas/Mexico border, but California and Mexico enjoyed a mutually profitable and politically stable relationship.

I landed in Los Angeles as I always had in the past, to then be interrogated at the USA/California border before continuing my journey into the unknown. Although as an Australian, I could still get a visa waiver for California, the USA demanded to interview every non-citizen at the border. As there were no longer embassies around the world (except in Russia) it was impossible to be interviewed in Sydney or Melbourne prior to travel. Travellers were advised to allow a minimum of five hours for the interrogation.

The alternative of flying into Dallas Fort Worth, Texas was risky. If I got refused a visitor visa in California, I could just go back to my hotel. If I was refused a visitor visa on arrival in Dallas Forth Worth, I’d be incarcerated overnight then put on a return flight. While the chances of my being incarcerated were slim, I hoped, I did have a vocal anti-Trump history – if they found it. My phone was a disposable and I had a little old lady Facebook profile for just this sort of thing. Better not to take the risk.

California didn’t look much different than it had done when I had last visited in September 2016. The airport was just as busy as ever, although security was a little tighter. This, I was told, was to manage the never-ending stream of refugees from the USA. Trump, it seemed, had no problem with people leaving – if they weren’t with the program, they could go. The problem, of course, was California and the other Ununited States just didn’t have the capacity. What had started as a trickle had become a deluge in recent years.

I stayed overnight in LA. The hotel was luxurious without being ostentatious, the service was good, the staff were happy.

The next day I had a contact drive me around. I saw little evidence of homelessness or unemployment. California was a hive of activity. There was not a gun in sight except for the police. I read the local papers and watched the news channels. The crime rate was significantly lower than the peak in 2018, just prior to California leaving the federation.

Then came the time to go to the airport to fly into Trump territory. The queues were short – no-one was going in unless they had to. The five hours involved questioning and the immigration agents delving through the travellers’ phones, iPads, cameras, social media, emails and extended family connections. A lengthy questionnaire was required to be responded to in person. I almost expected to be blood tested. Finally, travellers were fingerprinted and x-rayed. I mean really x-rayed. On a table. At least this obviated the need for an internal examination. At 74 I wasn’t too keen on that idea.

There were plenty of empty seats on the plane. I popped up the armrests after take-off and slept much of the way. The plane wasn’t clean, the toilets smelt, there were not enough cabin attendants. The arrival lounge was grim. The one thing I noticed was no-one was smiling. I mean no-one. There was almost a suspicion of anyone getting off the plane, a “Why would you come here?” expression on peoples’ faces. It was very disconcerting.

In my taxi to the hotel I noticed an odd gender imbalance. There were old white men by the score, many fewer young men of any ethnicity and very few young women. I asked the taxi driver, “Where are all the women?” He scowled. In a deep southern drawl, he told me the women leave. They marry out, mostly to Chinese and Indian men (two countries with a historical shortage of women), he spat. His language was not quite as polite as I have relayed.

The people and the place looked poor, like a third world country. I’ve been to third world countries, I recognised the look, the smell, the facial expressions. The buildings were neglected, the roads badly needed repair, many of the traffic lights no longer worked. Businesses were boarded up.

What children there were (given the shortage of women) didn’t seem to be in school, but roaming the streets aimlessly. Homelessness seemed to be rife – and I was in the better part of town.

The hotel was reasonably clean, but everything was old. It was as if nothing had been replaced or refurbished for fifteen years. The food was passable, the service was sullen.
If I had to sum up the atmosphere in one word, it would be despair. No-one seemed to be happy. Everyone seemed to be living hand to mouth.

The television was obviously tightly controlled. As was the internet and print media (yes, it still existed). The news was strictly local and all wonderfully good. Trump’s policies were working, people were happy, wasn’t it terrific. Trump was the best President the world had ever seen. There might have been 1% happy, the faces I was looking at were certainly not.

I had been going to stay a few days, spend time with people I knew. I couldn’t, the place was too depressing. As soon as I had paid my respects at the funeral, I left. I spent those days in California.

I have never been so glad to reach Australian soil as I was today.

Authoritarian regimes: Zimbabwe, Venezuela, next the USA

It is no secret I had grave concerns about the suitability of Donald J Trump. Now I’m having trouble sleeping at night. I’d like to pull together several articles I read today. Each paints a concerning picture in its own right. Together, they almost spell Armageddon. I’ve always been concerned about not what is happening today, but where it is leading. This is not just some small country having a few political issues. This is one of most powerful countries in the world – the outcome affects us all, especially other democracies. We’ve already seen our own government embrace Trump’s immigration bans.

The first is an article by Jennifer Wilson on this site, Trump’s Chief Strategist: I want to bring everything crashing down.

The relationship between Donald Trump and Steve Bannon is an unholy alliance, in which the shared goal is the destruction of institutions, and the undermining of the authority of traditional agents of governance and administration in the US.

There is a Twitter hashtag of #PresidentBannon indicating he is seen as the power behind the throne. He may have more difficulty than he thinks, trying to use Trump for his own agenda, as we shall see later in this article. That aside, he is a nasty piece of work with a lot of power as Wilson evidences.

The second article, How to Build an Autocracy, is written by David Frum, who was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush during 2001–02. Not exactly, one suspects, a man wearing a democratic button.

First Frum paints the future.

The business community learned its lesson early. “You work for me, you don’t criticize me,” the president was reported to have told one major federal contractor, after knocking billions off his company’s stock-market valuation with an angry tweet. Wise business leaders take care to credit Trump’s personal leadership for any good news, and to avoid saying anything that might displease the president or his family.

The media have grown noticeably more friendly to Trump as well. The proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner was delayed for more than a year, during which Time Warner’s CNN unit worked ever harder to meet Trump’s definition of fairness. Under the agreement that settled the Department of Justice’s antitrust complaint against Amazon, the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, has divested himself of The Washington Post. The paper’s new owner—an investor group based in Slovakia—has closed the printed edition and refocused the paper on municipal politics and lifestyle coverage.

Then he goes on to look at the global situation, citing a “democratic recession” – democracies are in decline.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then—but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Larry Diamond, a sociologist at Stanford, has described the past decade as a period of “democratic recession.” Worldwide, the number of democratic states has diminished. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated.

What has happened in Hungary since 2010 offers an example—and a blueprint for would-be strongmen. Hungary is a member state of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country.

He then looks at Trump’s relationship with the congressional Republicans.

Trump has scant interest in congressional Republicans’ ideas, does not share their ideology, and cares little for their fate. He can—and would—break faith with them in an instant to further his own interests. Yet here they are, on the verge of achieving everything they have hoped to achieve for years, if not decades. They owe this chance solely to Trump’s ability to deliver a crucial margin of votes in a handful of states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—which has provided a party that cannot win the national popular vote a fleeting opportunity to act as a decisive national majority. The greatest risk to all their projects and plans is the very same X factor that gave them their opportunity: Donald Trump, and his famously erratic personality. What excites Trump is his approval rating, his wealth, his power. The day could come when those ends would be better served by jettisoning the institutional Republican Party in favor of an ad hoc populist coalition, joining nationalism to generous social spending—a mix that’s worked well for authoritarians in places like Poland. Who doubts Trump would do it? Not Paul Ryan. Not Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. For the first time since the administration of John Tyler in the 1840s, a majority in Congress must worry about their president defecting from them rather than the other way around.

It is a long article, but well worth reading in full.

Jane Caro has written The Virtual Reformation. Caro looks at why we are where we are.

Social researcher Hugh Mackay has dubbed our times an ‘Age of Anxiety’. All the old certainties have been turned upside down and the only thing that we are told we can rely on is an ever-increasing pace of change.

To a jittery population that is cold comfort. In our existential dread we thrash about for people to blame: the left, the right, Muslims, refugees, feminists, believers, unbelievers, terrorists and that reliable old omnibus – political correctness. The one thing we all agree on is that the future looks alarming and unpredictable. We are, we believe, in uncharted waters.

But perhaps that is not so. Perhaps human beings have been through something like this before.

Final words of warning from Andrés Miguel Rondón, In Venezuela, we couldn’t stop Chávez. Don’t make the same mistakes we did.

The recipe for populism is universal. Find a wound common to many, find someone to blame for it, and make up a good story to tell. Mix it all together. Tell the wounded you know how they feel. That you found the bad guys. Label them: the minorities, the politicians, the businessmen. Caricature them. As vermin, evil masterminds, haters and losers, you name it. Then paint yourself as the savior. Capture the people’s imagination. Forget about policies and plans, just enrapture them with a tale. One that starts with anger and ends in vengeance. A vengeance they can participate in.

That’s how it becomes a movement. There’s something soothing in all that anger. Populism is built on the irresistible allure of simplicity. The narcotic of the simple answer to an intractable question. The problem is now made simple.

If we look at all those threads, we can see the interweaving. For days I had been thinking of Mugabe and seeing Trump as the Western version. Then I read about Chávez.

As Frum highlights in his article, it is not now we need to worry about – it is in four, five, six years time. Unless we stop it now. Unless the American people stop it NOW.

There is a another article which is the match that will light the flames: in these days of fake news, however, I am wary. While the article is reported in many places, I can’t find it on a mainstream website such as Washington Post – but then, does that mean anything these days?

John D. Gartner, a practicing psychotherapist who taught psychiatric residents at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, minces as few words as the president in his professional assessment of Trump.

“Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president,” says Gartner, author of “In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography.” Trump, Gartner says, has “malignant narcissism,” which is different from narcissistic personality disorder and which is incurable.

Source: usnews.com

The diagnosis is particularly worrying due to the behaviours of the patient. Behaviours that benefit only themselves – at any cost. Yes, Gartner broke his professional code to speak out, because he believes people need to know.

Robert Kuttner writes in The Huffington Post of The Inevitability Of Impeachment.

Only with his lunatic effort to selectively ban refugees (but not from terrorist-sending countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt where Trump has business interests) has Trump discovered that the American system has courts. It has courts. Imagine that.

The more unhinged he becomes, the less will conservative judges be the toadies to ordinary Republican policies that they too often have been. Anybody want to wager that the Supreme Court will be Trump’s whore?

In the past week, Republicans from Mitch McConnell on down have tripped over each other rejecting his view of Putin. They have ridiculed his screwball claim of massive voter fraud.

I believe this was written BEFORE the President fired his acting attorney general. I’m waiting for him to try to fire a judge, which he is not empowered to do.

We have every reason to be concerned. We also need to heed the lessons available to us and ensure this doesn’t happen in Australia.

Why we need more corporate tax cuts

 

ATO data shows that 36 per cent of large companies paid no tax in the 2014-15 financial year. 679 companies including McDonalds Asia Pacific, Chevron Australia, Vodafone Hutchison and News Corp made $462 billion in revenue in Australia last year without contributing a single cent to the nation’s health, education, defense or welfare.

Of the large companies who did pay tax, the effective tax rate on profits was 25 per cent – 5 per cent below the statutory rate of 30 per cent.

Of the 200 largest corporate taxpayers in Australia, companies in the health care, energy and financial sectors paid the lowest effective tax rates of 19 to 24 per cent on a combined income of over $330 billion.

Investors in Australia assume taxpayers will bail out Australia’s big four banks in the event of any of them becoming insolvent. As a result, investors lending to such large banks are prepared to accept lower returns for risk, which lowers how much banks pay for funding. The Reserve Bank of Australia estimates that Australia’s major banks receive an implicit subsidy worth between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion due to this assumption.

An international report on G20 subsidies found that the Turnbull government is continuing to subsidise fossil fuel production to the tune of $5.6 billion a year. Nearly $6 billion a year is paid to Australian corporations though the Fuel Tax Credit scheme. In 2014 it was estimated that State Governments alone had paid $17.6 billion in subsidies to mining companies over the previous 6 years.

Oxfam Australia estimates that the Australian economy is losing up to $6 billion a year in tax revenue due to Australian-based multinationals shifting money to international tax havens.

The federal government remains committed to doing bugger all about this problem, but they are pushing ahead with their plans to cut corporate tax rates. This means that while we’ll still be up to $6 billion a year down on revenue, corporate tax avoidance will be a lot less of a problem in Australia, because the less tax you’re meant to pay, the less tax you can avoid paying.

So the government would like to wish big business a happy and prosperous 2017. For the rest of us, they’ve had to made make some cut backs.

 

Day to Day Politics: the Gospel according to Craig

A departure from my usual post today. Craig Emerson is a Facebook friend and posted this last week. A witty piece of satire indeed. Hope you enjoy.

Friday March 11 2016

A Biblical, satirical piece of mine about the capturing of the tax reform debate by vested interests – the money changers. For those brethren who prefer to cut to the proverbial chase, go straight to the final two verses of the reading.

The second coming…

As commentators attack Prime Minister Turnbull for squibbing bold tax reform and he attacks Bill Shorten for proposing a sensible reform of his own, the public discourse on tax policy has fallen apart. The centre cannot hold against the anarchy being loosed upon the world by the worst – the money changers – full, as they are, of passionate intensity. Everywhere the endeavour of the innocents who offer dispassionate analysis is drowned in a blood-dimmed tide.

While comparing the corruption of the tax reform debate by vested interests with the end of civilisation prophesised by Yeats after the Great War might be slightly melodramatic, it is true that a barrage has been loosed against innocents who simply ask what is best for our country. Defenders of privilege load up their economic models as they would huge howitzers – Big Berthas – bombarding defenseless reformers with explosive findings: it is the working poor who will suffer from closing down tax shelters, not the privileged.

During the apocalyptic second coming of tax reform after the Abbott government’s failure, our freshly anointed leader was confronted by a vast image appearing in the sky out of Spiritus Mundi – a spirit world of images and symbols available only to the most perceptive, such as poets and highly intelligent prime ministers. It was the GST. And it was endowed with mystical qualities: it could pay for cuts in income taxes that would transform the nation into a land of milk and honey, free of famine, pestilence, earthquakes and even locusts.

But the image in the sky troubled the prime minister – and more so his predecessor’s loyal foot soldiers – so he instructed the high priests of the Treasury to inquire further into these mystical powers. With the patience of Job, the prime minister awaited the high priests’ findings. He need not have done so. Half a year ago the high priests of the Treasury had released a scripture titled Understanding the economy-wide efficiency and incidence of major Australian taxes (Isaiah 61:1 “The Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor”). The high priests estimated that the fabled tax-mix switch would produce one litre of milk, no honey and a plague of locusts.

Be-plagued by locusts, the prime minister was handed the scripture 31 days after the most recent celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. He promptly declared the mystical being the shadow of death into whose valley he had no intention of walking. Every money changer in the land and the media scribes and Pharisees attacked the prime minister for this wise decision to dismiss the mystical being in the sky. In his anger, the prime minister expelled the money changers from the temple and enunciated the seven woes of the scribes and Pharisees.

Having been led once into the valley of the shadow of death by the scribes, Pharisees and money changers, the prime minister appears to have become spooked by them. He has turned to attacking his rival, Brother Shorten, who wants to use the proceeds of lower subsidies on the rental incomes the money changers receive on their holdings of houses, apartments and temples to improve the life chances of the meek. Behold, it is the meek who will suffer at the hands of Brother Bill, warns the prime minister.

Yet frightening those who hunger and thirst for righteousness is not in the prime minister’s nature. When the anointed one succeeded his predecessor, his flock looked to him as their shepherd, willing him to lead them and trusting in him to know the way and, ideally, the truth and the light. But now, as the anointed one seeks to fend off his predecessor’s efforts at a second coming, the prime minister risks remaking himself in his predecessor’s own image and likeness.

If ours is to be the land of opportunity where the poor in spirit are given a chance, we must fund their education. If we are to comfort those who mourn, we must support them through hard times. If we are to end domestic violence and persecution, if we are to make peace on earth, then we must pay taxes to finance these noble endeavours. Caring for the sick, the frail and the elderly obliges us to be merciful, to be pure of heart. The people of our great nation are merciful, they are good-hearted and they are willing to pay their fair share in taxes to support those who need a helping hand. So let’s appeal to the better angels of the Australian people instead of promising them tax cuts to be handed down by the spirit in the sky.

Craig Emerson.

My thought for the day.

‘Religion in many ways is akin to Politics in so much as it believes that telling the truth isn’t necessarily in its best interests’.

Day to Day Politics: For Christ’s sake tell the truth.

Friday 4 March 2016

It is said that in war ‘truth’ is the first causality. Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we perform. In fact lying as we understand it is an unavoidable part of human nature. Therefore it’s worth spending time thinking about it.

Whilst it might be true that truth is the first causality of war, I would contend that over the past ten or twenty years it has become a major causality of our public discourse. If I were asked to pinpoint it I would date it at around, or post, Ronald Reagan’s appointment as president of the US.

It was a period that saw the beginning of the Religious Right’s involvement in Politics and of Neo Conservatism.

In the last US election Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan took lying to an unparalleled level. Fact finders alerted the public to 2019 lies by Romney alone. I watched the first Presidential debate and became fascinated with how Romney could present fiction as fact. It is my contention that President Obama lost the first debate not because he was of his game, or that he was unprepared, but rather he was taken by surprise by the wilful lies that Romney was telling.

Political lying in Australia since Tony Abbott’s appointment as opposition leader reached unprecedented levels and insinuated itself into our public dialogue, including the media. So much so that it is now almost impossible for the average punter to know just who is telling the truth.

Which brings me to my point. What resources does the average punter have to accessing the truth? If we have the time we can do some research? Look up the facts presented by fact checkers. Pay for FOI documents. Who has time for all that?

The truth is that in the absence of readily identifiable evidence we all use what is generally called ‘the pub test or common sense test.’ In other words we digest all the available information and ask ourselves the question ’is it plausible?’ Does what I am being told have the ring of truth about it. We make judgements based on our life’s experience. Unless your personal bias clouds the ’Pub test’ your inner conscience dictates your judgement.

Two observations.

‘I don’t judge people but I do form my own opinion of course’.

‘Life is about perception, not what is but what we perceive it to be’.

Let’s take two current items currently making headlines.

Firstly, there is a National Security leak. There is nothing more serious politically. The story appears in The Australian Newspaper which is a known supporter of former Prime Minister Abbott. The journalist in question, Greg Sheridan is also a personal friend of Abbott. Abbott is also quoted in the piece thus giving the leak credibility. To adhere one’s own words to a leaked document is dangerous.

Everyone knows that our former Prime Minister is a liar. He might even be the worst in our political history. He is certainly the worst this nation has ever seen. Many of our most respected journalists and media commentators have said so. He has even admitted he is a liar himself.

The evidence is so abundant, so overwhelmingly copious that it is beyond contradiction. It is fair to say that in general the populace accepted his lying as a fact. I and many others have listed them, quoted them, itemised, analysed them and exposed them in crystal clarity. Even members of his own party have accepted that he is a liar of nefarious intent.

And his sheer indifference to the fact that he lies together with his lack of conscience about it I found sickening. The list is as long as a toilet roll.

Secondly, Cardinal George Pell gives evidence at the Royal Commission into Child Abuse. Despite at all times being but a breath away from all the vile conduct of the church, the suicides, molesting, families destroyed, he denies everything and blames everyone else pleading that he was told nothing.

In the first instance, the leak, an investigation is being carried out. Leaks of course are not uncommon in politics. John Howard famously leaked to Andrew Bolt at the time of the Iraq war to discredit the outspoken Andrew Wilke. It wasn’t successful because Wilke had too much integrity.

History shows that enquiries reveal nothing. I therefore in the absence of hard evidence I conclude that my common sense tells me that Abbott is still upset with losing the Prime Ministership and is intent on undermining Turnbull’s position. The same as Rudd did to Gillard.

In the case of Pell I conclude, again in the absence of proof, that he could not possibly have been that close to the action, and not be aware of the unmitigated evil being carried out. Time and time again he pleads ignorance. I didn’t know I wasn’t told. Even when he pleads the greyness of the context of the time I deduce that time doesn’t diminish the crime.

An observation.

‘The standards we walk past are the standards we accept’.

Despite a tendency inherited biologically by all to lie. Truth in politics and society in general matters enormously. It is not a trivial matter in any democracy. Our whole system is based on the assumption that truth prevails over all else and that it is the people who judge its veracity.

Without truth the people cannot give informed accent to office and democracy fails. There are ethical obligations of integrity and coherence upon which society depends. Our leaders when they lie fail the highest standards of social morality.

At this time in our history we are experiencing a toxic tide of leadership mistrust. No other politician has contributed to it more than Tony Abbott. Is he the most dishonest, the most cynical and pathologically perverted liar to ever lead our nation?

Pell may indeed be found to be the worst religious liar this country has seen. A blight on the very essence of the teaching of Christ.

I will leave you to ponder the question. Use your common sense and ask yourself is what they are saying plausible. It’s the pub test.

Two thoughts for the day.

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that enables human progress’.

‘Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Faith is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Random thoughts on many things.

Monday 29 February 2016

1 Tony Abbott said he wore his 2014 Budget like a ‘Badge of Honor’. Veteran economics journalist Ross Gittens put it this way at the time:

The first and biggest reason the government is having to modify or abandon so many of its measures is the budget’s blatant unfairness. In 40 years of budget-watching I’ve seen plenty of unfair budgets, but never one as bad as this’.

2 I do wish writers, even those on this blog would use the term ‘Abbott/Turnbull’ government.

3 And I do wish that writers would empathise the fact that the Abbott/Turnbull government has been in power for two and a half years.

4 Are the often outlandish statements from the likes of Cory Bernardi, George Christiansen and others about the Safe Schools programme just a forerunner of what we might expect in the plebiscite debate on marriage equality?

Some of what they are saying isn’t even in the programme.

This plebiscite might unearth, without quality leadership, some unwanted social disharmony.

Turnbull is only pursuing his expensive $160m plebiscite as a delaying tactic to satisfy the right of his party — extreme Liberals like Christensen. The fact is, if he were a strong leader, Turnbull would allow a free vote in the parliament on marriage equality next week.

5 I notice ‘The Fixer’ is saying that he is responsible for the defence policy announced last week.

6 Roy and The Fixer are helping police with their enquiries. Found this on Facebook. Can’t name the source.

‘My sources tell me the AFP is acting on a complaint made by the Federal Court that, at the least, Brough, in collusion with Ashby and Harmers Workplace Lawyers, set out to to subvert the court process.

How Harmers has gotten away with its patently false claims in the Originating Document beggars belief. They said they had a sworn, detailed affidavit of Slipper romping indecently with another male when they simply did not. It was total bullshit, but included the precise details of a lurid sick mind.’

7 How could George Pell possibly not have known about the child abuse happening all around him? Those who say there is some sort of vendetta against him are wrong. All they want is for him to tell the truth.

8 My reference to George Christianson and penis tucking yesterday seems to have gone over the heads of those who read my posts. George is indeed an obese man.

An observation.

It is the misinformed who shout the loudest. The rest of us are content with the truth we enquired about.

9 Thank goodness the latest series of ‘House of Cards’ commences Friday. Back to some reality at last.

10 To quote Paul Kelly: ‘Malcolm is starting to sound like Tony Abbott’.

11 There are some truly some excellent comments on my post yesterday. We are blessed to have some who make a virtue of responding.

12 Changes to Media Rules. This is how Fairfax puts it. Whatever the outcome Murdoch will be the big winner.

‘The reach rule currently prohibits television networks from broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population. The two out of three rule bans media proprietors from controlling a newspaper, television and radio station in the same market. Scrapping the two out of three rule is the more controversial change because of concerns about media diversity. Labor MPs are concerned about the change because it could allow a proprietor such as Rupert Murdoch to extend his control in major markets’.

13 Talking about Fairfax, if ever there was an illustration of how journalistic standards have slipped it has to be Paul Sheehan’s recent story ‘Louise’. It was just an unsubstantiated Islamophobia beat-up in an area in which he has substantial form. How he is still in a job is the bigger mystery.

14 John Howard says he shudders at the thought of Donald Trump becoming America’s next President:

‘In part, his success is emblematic of people’s frustration with political correctness. What people like is he seems to call it as it is’.

Does he mean that he agrees with the manner in which he conducts his public discourse?

15 The conservative objection to political correctness it seems to me is in large part sour grapes. I don’t see the right or the extreme right not having a voice or indeed the capacity to use it. What I hear is an incoherent voice that cannot get its point across.

16 Did you know that current wages growth at 2.2% is the lowest ever recorded?

17 Someone emailed this to me without leaving a name:

‘If the Catholic Church was a corporation, or a charity, it would be shut down and its assets sold off. All Catholics are now disenfranchised apologists for an organisation that has utterly betrayed their faith and the god they love. Pity the faithful. They don’t deserve the harm the men within the church have inflicted on them. A new reformation is needed. A revolution in thinking is required’.

18 The Prime Minister was out and about yesterday spruiking his scare campaign against Labor’s Negative Gearing policy. There was not a hint of the explaining he said he would do.

19 Sydney radio station 2GB is conducting a Poll on this question:

‘If you voted Liberal in the last election, who’s your preferred Prime Minister now?’ At 4pm yesterday the count was 96% for Abbott and 4% for Turnbull.

20 Donald Trump has the support of the KKK and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Only in America.

My thought for the day

‘There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind’.

 

Day to Day Politics ‘That’s a bit Rich Mate’

Thursday 21 January 2016

1 The growing curse of inequality. Did you know that 10 per cent of Australians now hold more wealth than the other 90 per cent combined? Let me put it another way. The richest one per cent of Australians are collectively wealthier than the poorest 60 per cent. Or try this 62 mega-rich people across the globe now hold as much wealth as 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest. Try this. Australia’s richest person was worth $18 billion, equalling the wealth held by the poorest 10 per cent of Aussies.

Here’s some more from an Oxfam report titled.

An Economy for the 1% report

The world’s richest 1% now hold more wealth than the rest of the planet

The richest 10 per cent of Australians hold more wealth than the other 90 per cent combined

The gap between Australia’s richest and poorest is accelerating

In 2015, the wealth of Australia’s richest 1% outstripped the poorest 60%

Dr Szoke from Oxfam, the reports writer said Australia must be part of a global solution to a global problem, and a renewed international focus on corporate tax avoidance would be critical to efforts to address wealth inequality.

So isn’t it odd that the Turnbull Government is contemplating increasing the rate of its consumer tax, GST, in order to give the same companies a reduction in the amount of tax they pay. Figure that out. Let me repeat. They want you to pay more for your everyday requirements so that multinationals pay less tax.

It is perplexing that the opposition doesn’t make the issue front and center.

2 It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated. We know main stream media just makes things up but the story in the yesterday’s Telegraph about Abbott’s future intentions was a dandy. We read that, from unnamed sources mind you, that Tony Abbott will recontest his seat.

Sydney seat of Warringah at this year’s federal election. The article in the Daily Telegraph tells us that he one day hopes to become Prime Minister again. If he does it’s a forlorn hope.

The newspaper says that his former chief of staff Peta Credlin has advised him to stay in politics. She obviously doesn’t share the relief that the rest of the nation felt on his demise.

The article rather reminds me of the ‘sources say’ leadership campaign News Ltd ran against Julia Gillard. Never a name, a fact or evidence. Just ‘sources say’ or an ‘unnamed source said that.’’

Like this.

“He appears from what people are saying to be quite bitter, quite resentful, in fact I think it’s got worse,” a Liberal source is quoted as saying.

Even though it’s obviously made up in this case blind Freddy could have done written it. Just terrible journalism.

How lightly they take our democracy.

An observation

“The main stream media will only ever print or say whatever is in its best interests. Then it might say something interesting and truthful”

3 Do you think it’s fair that we should be able to see the electronic diaries of the politicians we elect? After all if they were having meetings with people of ill repute you would want to know about it. Mark Dreyfus the opposition shadow attorney-general requested access of the diary of Senator Brandis. George took offence and refused. It went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in December. Justice Jayne Jagot found no practical reason for refusing the FOI request. Now we learn that he intends to take the matter to the Federal Court.

A case of nothing to hide nothing to fear.

4 The internal dissent within the Liberal Party is really getting out of hand. Read this from Penrith councillor and party member Marcus Cornish.

“It currently shows little difference with the aims and objectives of the Labor Party, that being the removal of religion and replacing it with government founded [sic] tolerance of everything, climate control, over control of our everyday life and the erasing of our heritage and way of life through wanting to change our flag and changing our head of state to a corruptible President,”

A problem for the modern-day party is that its younger members have been so indoctrinated with neo conservatism that they have little understanding of ‘small L’ principals.

The internal turmoil is so rife that its pre selection is a disaster. A war between factions involving the extreme right wanting to take over the party and old-fashioned Liberals trying to hold onto Menzies values.

Turnbull said the party was “not run by factions”.

“Well, you may dispute that, but I have to tell you, from experience, we are not run by factions, nor are we run by big business, or by deals in back rooms,” Turnbull persisted, and the audience laughed in unity.

Isn’t it obvious? His words are coming back to bite him.

Or conversely you have to wonder just how coincidental it is that the story appears as Turnbull is meeting with Obama and pre selections are taking place.

Personally I support factions. They give your party diversity. It’s single thought philosophy that is dangerous to party unity and good policy making.

Anyway the story is a fabrication, completely made up with the help of an Abbott I suspect.

5 Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump. My eyes moisten.

Only in America.

My thought for the day.

‘Free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics. Like truth for example.’

The Future of Work. Part one. The Australian Motor Industry.

I think we would all agree that work is a good thing. I have practiced it all of my life. To a substantial degree it formed a large part of who I became. I was diligent and loyal to whoever employed me. I always demanded a rewarding salary commensurate with what I thought my abilities were. I was unfairly sacked once and immediately formed my own company. I employed others and I demanded of my staff the same principles I had shown as an employee.

For the final 25 years of my working life I experienced the ups and downs of running a small business. Balancing the needs of my business while at the same time harmonising the needs of those I employed was a constant juggling act.

Sacking someone is an unpleasant experience. When I was first required to do so I was filled with trepidation. I sought advice from a friend. ‘There is no best way. However you do it, ‘do it with dignity’ he said.

Later this year many thousands of men and women in the Australian Motor car Industry will lose their jobs. All will be faced with the heartbreak of it. The indignity of not having a job will hit some to the point of suicide. There will be no dignity in their dismissals. How will they find work? How will they feed their children, pay the mortgage. It is a frightening prospect for many.

Ford is due to close its operation this year. General Motors and Toyota in 2017. However, given that new models take on average six years from start to finish and there are no new models on the drawing boards their closures are likely to be brought forward. Already designers and engineers are being laid off.

It is estimated that when all the plants close 12,500 people will join the dole queues. It may prove to be just the tip of the iceberg. When those who supply the components close it will add another 33,000 people.

A school of thought came up with a six-to-one multiplier effect, subsequently endorsed by the 2008 Brack’s report on the car industry. Senator Nick Xenophon ​calculated, using this method that there will be between 150,000 and 200,000 people out of an automotive-related job.

And if as The Department of Industry suggests 930,000 people are employed in manufacturing. So if 200,000 automotive workers lose their jobs that will represent more than 21 per cent of the entire manufacturing workforce.

A loss of jobs of this magnitude will have a disastrous effect on our economy. Not only on the unemployment levels but welfare payments and manufacturing levels. The trade deficit will rise because we will have to import 150,000 vehicles we will no longer produce. 3.8 billion the money car manufactures had intended to invest in new models will also be lost. In addition $1.5 billion will be lost in income tax receipts from workers in just one year. And remember that Toyota did export 90,000 vehicles to the Middle East.

According to Ian Porter (a manufacturing analyst and a former business editor of The Age) soon after the next election, assuming Turnbull runs the full term, 200,000 people will hit the dole queue.

When those people lose their spending power and start drawing on the public purse, there will be a recession all right. It’s just a question of how deep, and for how long’

He may or may not be correct about a recession. And of course given the ABS has, given the complexity of its methodology, a great deal of difficulty with its forecasts we may never know the real unemployment figures.

Having said that, Morgan Research who use a different methodology to measure unemployment say that it is 9.7% as opposed to the ABS 5.8 The number of people in the workforce now totals 13,007,000 (up 106,000 since December 2014), and 11,751,000 Australians are employed (up 252,000 since December 2014). Meanwhile, the number of people who are under-employed has risen by 188,000 in the last 12 months, to a record 1,434,000 (11 per cent of the workforce).

What is being done to counter these job losses and the destruction they will cause to the fabric of society?

Some of course will be absorbed into other areas but talking up the slack will not be easy. Other than a call from the Prime Minister to innovate more and be confident in the future, in practicable terms it seems little is being done.

The problem of course doesn’t end with job losses in the Manufacturing Sector. Have you thought about what 3D Printing, robotics and as yet undiscovered advancements in science and technology will do to the job markets of the future?

Authors Note. Statistical figures for this piece acquired from an article by Ian Porter.

The Future of Work. Part two. Jobs in the Technological Future.

Another thought.

‘Science has made in my lifetime the most staggering achievements and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society. The only area that I can think of where science is questioned is the religious fever of climate change doubters and unconventional religious  belief.’

 

 

Day to Day Politics. The ‘C’ word. The ‘F’ word but never a nice one.

Sunday January 10 2016

1 Three days back from my short break and I’m still catching up on all the news. I’m reflecting on Jamie Briggs and Peter Dutton and wondering why we tolerate men of their ilk.

The fact is that Dutton’s highly offensive text to Samantha Maiden is no different to Jamie Briggs deplorable behaviour. Now it is the nature of politics to be combative but these two don’t seem to have a modicum of human decency. It’s not only them. Others in their party seem to have a tendency for elitism, superiority and sexism.

Turnbull is starting the year popular with the punters but underlying it is internal tension, disunity and ministerial incompetence. Adding to the Brough, Briggs, Dutton controversies you might also add the name Sinodinos. Arthurs name might figure prominently in the imminent release of a NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption report bound to mention the cabinet secretary.

The PM has to very shortly re arrange his ministry. If Dutton (and perhaps Sinodinos) survive it will only reinforce the ‘’poor judgement’’ impression people have of him. And it also underlines the problem conservatives seem to have in their treatment of women. It will take some leadership though.

Liberal Member for Murray Dr Sharman Stone said.

‘The interesting activities of the past number of weeks demonstrate that some of our male colleagues still don’t get it in terms of treating all women with respect,’

If you thought Turnbull and Abbott had little in common think again. They both disappear when controversy raises its head.

Turnbull has issued a press release condemning the publication of the photograph of the women in question and whoever leaked it. And in the first instance Briggs, in distributing the staffer’s photo, is guilty of invading her privacy.

Later in a live interview he ruled out an inquiry and by inference any condemnation of Dutton’s action.

An investigation into who leaked would be relatively simple. Why doesn’t Turnbull do it?

Sorry but it’s not good enough. Dutton’s offence merited the same response as Briggs. Not punishing him simply illustrates the hold the right of his party have over him.

The PM in excusing the bad behaviour of men in his party has perpetuated the sexism of it.

 These things usually just fade away leaving a residue of public disenchantment but Labor is determined not to let the Government of the hook. Labor’s Gary Gray has written to the Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd wanting the full facts of the matter.

It has not been a great start to the New Year for men. Independent Libertarian senator David Leyonhjelm has labelled someone a “c—” on Twitter

Not much in it you say. After all Chrissy Pyne used the same word in Parliament last year.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale suggested the PM should lead a cultural change within the LNP by ridding it of its ‘rampant ‘sexism. Sacking Dutton would be a good start. The Prime Minister is guilty of, after all his grandiose words in the defence of women, of practicing powder puff politics. It’s make up without any foundation.

And then our next deputy PM Barnaby Joyce jumped into the debate saying he hoped Australian politics doesn’t become “sterile”. What does he think it is now? It is bereft of charm, wit, decency, ideas and sincerity. In other words sterile. It means “unable to produce”

They just don’t get it. Why do they think they are so superior to other workplaces that they should be treated differently? That they can rort the system and behave as they want while at the same time calling each other honourable.

Why do they think bombastic stupidity and moronic I’ll disciplined gutter morality triumphs intelligence, transparency and representing their constituents in a manner that reflects representative democracy.

Amazing what they get away with while the consciousness of the world around us is suspended.

2 Alan Austin in his latest piece for Independent Australia asks.

Over the last 31 months, since May 2013, 23 state or federal parliamentarians have been forced to resign from their party or the executive (government or parliamentary) following allegations of misconduct. How many were Labor Party MPs?

(a)     All 23. (b) Eleven, fewer than half. (c) Only six. (d) Three.

Can you answer? For a surprise answer click this link.

3 There you are I think I’m up to date with everything now. Well not quiet. I received an email from a reader who gave me a serve about what he saw as my bias toward the left of politics.

It got rather heated. He told me I was opinionated. I agreed which shook him a bit but I assured him that what I know was only surpassed by what I don’t. This had no effect on his abuse so I told him he needed a manager because he’d been handling himself too long. His comprehension deserted him and I haven’t heard from him since.

I tell you this because I don’t believe I have any ownership of righteousness. I try to place facts before my feelings but at times I lean on what I hope have been 75 years of objective life experience to evaluate issues.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

‘Often our opinions are based on our values rather than our understanding and the difficulty is separating the two’

 

Day to Day Politics. Happy New Year. ‘Now where were we?’

Friday January 8 2016

When all the play is finished and the scarcity of tan apparent, work approaching and the diminishing sounds of childish noises sets in, the realisation that things put aside are still with us hits with a regretful intensity. It’s a churning agitation, foggy, hangeroverish, even. Then as clear as a good chardonnay it all comes back. It’s a new year.

“Now, where were we?”

Slowly with agonising reality it all returns.

Yes, now I remember. Joe Hockey was appointed Ambassador to the USA, and he decided to take his Parliamentary Pension of $90,000 per annum together with his Ambassador’s salary of $360,000. Someone suggested he was double dipping. He is of course. Well you could hardly accuse him of skinny dipping.

There are a lot of pre-Christmas leftovers the velvet fog still has on his plate. Still many chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Of the many problems confronting Malcolm Turnbull and the one likely to give him the most torment is ‘what to do with Tony’. His options are, to say the least, are scant. He cannot dismiss him, nor can he silence him. As a former PM he is entitled to express a view even though a good team player would simply shut his mouth for the sake of the side.

He can’t give him a portfolio. Nor can he admonish his daft views without providing him with oxygen.

There are two courses left open. The first is just to ignore him and let him speak to the cohort he purports to influence. Secondly, Turnbull might just, as is his manner, counter with perceived reasoned superior intellect. Or just talk. He is good at talking.

Laura Tingle puts it this way:

‘The trouble is that, every time he (Abbott) sticks his head up, he only gives cause for voters to reflect on just what a miserable and destructive contribution that has been; to look on his prime ministership as an embarrassing aberration; and wish as 2015 draws to a close that the man would just go away.’

Turnbull in his short tenure may have changed very little in policy terms but Australia should be eternally grateful that he ended Abbott’s politics of fear. His wars on everything. How much harm the fear years have done to our country, politically and culturally is yet to be recorded by history. It’s easy to forget that the Paris Climate Talks were over two months ago. Australia was shown not be contributing much to the cause. Greg Hunt was trying to rival Abbott as the country’s best liar and Julie Bishop was spruiking the benefits of coal. What a ‘coalalition’ they are. She’s a darling, isn’t she? Always by the leader’s side. Whoever’s turn it is!

None of our team seemed to have any idea on the ‘now’ problem, being more content to put it on hold for a further five years. Turnbull of course has an enormous internal problem with people like Christianson, Bernardi, and others. Mind you, deflating Christianson might go a long way toward fixing it.

Ah, my wife reminded me that Hunt did win the booby prize for lying by omission.

Then, as I recall, I was having a quiet couple of stubbies with some mates while watching the cricket when the news came over that Mal Brough had resigned from the Ministry. Dave asks me why they call themselves honourable. I confess I am at a loss to explain.

Anyway, I conclude that they have gotten wind that the news will not be good, otherwise he could have resigned during the last sitting, and if the AFP decide to do something about what was a conspiracy to dismiss a government, the Liberal Party, and others, might just find themselves with a case of UTR. Better known as ‘Unfolding Treachery Revelation’.

Dave almost choked on his second with the news that Jamie Briggs had also resigned from the frontbench. They have a very Liberal way with women, he ventured.

The gravel gutted baritone voice of Ian Macfarlane insinuates itself into my ‘Where were we?’ meditation.

Whatever his decision it will be a minor embarrassment for the PM. I’m told he might quit and take up the offer of the lead in the new Truss-Joyce opera ‘Uncertain Movements’. Bronny Bishop has been offered the role of the Flying Dame and Abbott is set to play the Suppository of Wisdom. The only concern is that he keeps repeating his lines.

The fact that it is an election year further stirs my reverie. Turnbull will have to start, instead of engaging in the talkfest he has thus far, being specific, show some substance, and be honest about where the country is at. Otherwise he will be remembered only in that he rid the country of a terrible, in fact obnoxious decease known as ‘Abbottitus Syndrome’. A mental illness that renders its victims brain dead.

But of course Turnbull has a bad case of lingering hypocrisy that won’t go away. It’s like a bad summer flue you can’t shake.

The former champion for the environment surely has, by virtue of his high polling, has enough fuel in the tank to be able to stand up to the moronic non-believers of his party.

He at some stage will have to confront the sceptics and tell them they are entitled to their view. It is a broad church after all (who said that?) but he cannot allow them to dictate policy in the face of the science and world opinion. He will also have to admit that his party’s policy is delusional.

Well of course if he doesn’t come up with some ideas of his own he will only be remembered as the man who according the former PM reinvented the internet after being told to destroy it, then said he could produce a new one at half the cost in half the time. It turned out that the reverse was true. If you don’t understand what I have said, Google it. If it takes a long time to get an answer, then wait. That’s what everyone else does.

Bloody hell it just occurred to me that there’s a budget in May. And I remember there was this MYEFO thing just before Christmas. It still contained things not yet passed by the senate in the 2014 budget. There was a lot of cutting in health. Unfairly of course. Oh, and a huge increase in debt. Billions in fact.

Shit these holidays are good but when you come back to normal all the crap is still there. Now if my memory serves me correctly the media didn’t make much of a fuss about our economic decline.

At least this time it wasn’t Labor’s fault. The fact that there is a revenue problem seems not to be able to escape the tight lips of a Treasurer without any expertise in economics. But he can talk. By God he can. He should be arrested for talking under the influence of money. One wonders how much longer Australia can go on in complete denial of a declining economy. And it’s been doing so for more than a decade.

The one thing, and I mean the one thing the Coalition and Labor have in common is a love of our money.

They certainly don’t love big business money because it seems there is no compunction on large companies to pay tax if they don’t want to. Perhaps that’s what Tony meant when he said Australia was open for business. “Some don’t make a profit” I hear you say. Almost four in 10 large companies paid no tax in 2013-14. It puts a new meaning to the conservative mantra of the urgent necessity to lower the tax rate for business. If 400 major firms are profitless then how on earth do they survive? If they are manipulating the rules then the rules need to be changed.

“Scott Morrison is pretty tough when it comes to taking on the weak over family payments and pensions, but he’s pretty weak when it comes to taking on the tough operators at the top end of town,” said shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh.

And how strange it is that they want to reduce the penalty rates of the low-paid workers of many of these companies who don’t pay tax, while at the same the CEOs enjoy million dollar pay packets. However, a budget he must produce. One that will, or must be overlayed with the promise of tax reform. Talk about pulling bunnies out of a hat!

As all this returning to my consciousness and a migraine was in its infancy it occurred to me just how flippant the Coalition is with our money. An example was Abbott handing over one and a half billion dollars to Victoria for a road plan that the Commonwealth Auditor General said had no value.

Then they cut all manner of things in the MYEFO update to fund the immigration program but can find 150 million to fund a plebiscite on equality of marriage simply to get an answer to something already known.

And here am I drinking pensioner’s piss. (That’s cask wine for those who can’t afford the bottled variety).

So the New Year has hit me with the reminder that it’s an election year. All the ugly insensitivity of the Abbott years are behind me.

For a minute I thought it was all an aberration. It was the only enjoyable minute I had all day.

“Where were we?” is a question now surpassed by the reality of others like “what’s the state of play?” What should Shorten do? But the biggest question is “how will the people judge the performance of the Coalition during its term of office?”

Well there’s still a bit of water to flow under the bridge if the PM doesn’t decide to go to the polls early. How will he juggle the need for a fairly austere budget with the promise of tax reform? Where will the money come from for election promises? Of course there are many questions.

My prediction is this: The Australian people, because they are sick and tired of ‘revolving door leadership’ will stick with Turnbull for that simple reason. Credibility, even if only perceived, will be a major factor and he has more than Shorten.

Life is not about ‘what is’ but ‘what we perceive it to be’.

For this reason, they will forgive the Coalition for the Abbott years and even disregard the abysmal performance of the government. They will even ignore the fact that they will voting for a far right government led by a leftish leader. And a leader not completely in control of his party.

Remember he said: “I respect the intelligence of the Australian people”. He said he would end three-word slogans and instead advocate and explain policies he believed in.

So far he has done no such thing. There was the promise of a different politic. Talk about honesty, reason and transparency. After Abbott the public loved it. So did his colleagues because he told them the policies would stay the same.

The problem is though that he confronts a terrible quandary. In the public’s mind the policies do have to change otherwise they will be entitled to call him just another unscrupulous fake seeking power for power’s sake.

Facing a 10% deficit in the polls, an enormously grateful electorate relieved at Abbott’s demise and an immensely popular leader the answer for Labor is not Bill Shorten, but enlightened soundly conceived policies that will convince the public that they are worth voting for.

Well that’s where it’s at.

Day to Day Politics will resume tomorrow in the ‘Your Say’ section of THE AIMN. Happy 2016

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.

‘If you have a point of view, feel free to express it. However, do so with civility. Then your point of view is laced with a degree of dignity’.

PS Still a lot to catch up on.

 

 

‘Day to Day Politics’ with John Lord

Monday November 30

1 The answer to Alan Austin’s quiz was . . . One. Of the last 17 state or federal MPs sin-binned, 15 are Liberal Party members, one is a National and one is Labor.

Read more here.

2 Why did we need a Wind Farm Commissioner? The answer is because Senate cross bench senators Jacqui Lambie, Bob Day, David Leyonhjelm and John Madigan don’t like them. And of course that old wind bag himself, Alan Jones isn’t too fond of them either. So it’s about appeasement. Nothing to do with science and the numerous reports over the years that can’t identify any problems.

The Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer whose job, according to Mr Hunt’s letter, will be to receive complaints and pass them along to the relevant state authorities? Not a bad part-time job at $200,000 PA.

For Greg Hunt though, I suppose it is an inexpensive measure which creates the impression that he has made a concession, while simultaneously relieving him of the personal hardship of listening to any more whining from cross bench senators and Alan about wind farms.

When will the bullshit ever end? Still I suppose he will have fun reading all the conspiracy theories at our expense.

3 President Obama has yet again said, ‘enough is enough’ after another gun shooting in Colorado killed three people. The problem is that the American people simply cannot comprehend life without guns, in the way we cannot comprehend life with them.

4 So the Government is saying that it will achieve its emission target at very little cost but that the opposition’s policy will send the country broke.

At the risk of repeating myself ‘’We pay a high price for the upkeep of our personal health but at the same time think the cost of the upkeep of the planet should be next to nothing’’

Turnbull may be a very popular Prime Minister but at the same time he must also be the most hypocritical. He simply doesn’t have the guts of his own conviction.

5 Talking about hypocrisy. It’s only a few short weeks ago that any change to the immoral superannuation tax concessions to the rich and privileged was being described as trouser snatching. Meaning the opposition was wanting to steal your wallet from your back pocket. Now current indications seem to signify that the privileged will lose at least part of the concession.

6 Josh Frydenberg has broken ranks with his leader and accused Muslim Dr Ibrahim of trying to “cover up” his first statement after the Paris attacks and not doing enough to counter extremist Islam. Whether he has a case or not he is just another lose cannon Turnbull has to keep under control.

7 The BludgerTrack poll aggregate this week records a correction after what was probably an Ipsos-driven overshoot last week, with a milder result from Newspoll drawing the Coalition two-party lead back 0.7%, and moving the seat projection two points in favor of Labor, with gains in New South Wales and Victoria. However, Newspoll’s leadership ratings have added further distance between Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten on both net approval and preferred prime minister, although Shorten’s own net approval rating comes in slightly higher than last week’s.

53.7-46.3 to the Coalition

8 The Standing Orders for Question Time normally prevent the Opposition from asking questions about actions MPs took prior to becoming a Minister..

Malcolm Turnbull gave Mal Brough the precise portfolio of Special Minister of State, which puts him in charge of the policy area that forms the basis of the allegations made against him. This puts Minister Brough in a special position of accountability.

He is the Minister in charge of parliamentary standards and integrity. A search warrant and an investigation by the AFP and a clear confession on 60 minutes suggest his guilt. However neither he nor Malcolm Turnbull can see why anyone would think there’s a problem. Christopher Pyne even shut down his own speech rather than offer a defence. Enough said.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

‘There is nothing like the certainty of a closed mind’.

 

Day to Day in Politics with John Lord

Sunday 22 November

1. Martin Flanagan in a piece for The Melbourne Age said this when making a comparison between commentary by Andrew Bolt, Waleed Aly, and The Australian’s Chris Kenny following the Paris bombings:

“Journalism is an impure art, but I maintain that some journalists are a lot better than others”.

Their inability to grasp the effectiveness of Aly’s rebuttal of IS was staggering. Their own journalistic offerings were parched of any understanding, lacking the wisdom of Aly.

“If the centre of this society is to hold, moderate Muslims have to stand up and, when they do, we have to stand with them”.

2. “We don’t comment on operational matters”, our PM said with insincerity planted all over his face.

3. Trade Minister Andrew Robb has branded his government’s decision to block the foreign sale of the sprawling 101,411-square-kilometre S. Kidman & Co cattle stations as “political” and backed greater foreign investment in Australian agriculture. Dissent in the camp of Turnbull. He is right, of course. This is a politically based decision.

4. My Coalition broken promise reminder:

A. They imposed a $900 tax on new homes connecting to the NBN breaking an election promise on new taxes.

B. They dumped Abbott’s signature paid parental leave policy.

C.  They broke a promise to lead a “strong, stable, accountable” government.

D. They broke an election promise to “make no changes to the GST” by extending it to purchases made online and will probably make its increase a policy for the next election.

E. They broke an election promise to improve transparency by restricting the transparency of overseas travel expenses after media reports on Christopher Pyne’s lavish trip to Europe with his wife. Make that expenses in general.

4. Kevin Rudd is reported to have advised Malcolm Turnbull on the Paris Climate talks. That’s a good thing. Obama regarded Rudd as one of the world’s best authorities on the subject.

5. According to the UN World Health Authority 30,000 children die every day from preventable causes.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

“When the PM champions innovation is he doing so only for capitalism’s sake?”

 

Day to Day with John Lord: the GST

Wednesday 4 November

1 Debate on an increase or expansion to the GST continues.

An observation:

The GST burdens those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life—food, clothing, rent, heating, power etc”.

They talk about compensation for pensioners if an increase to the GST goes ahead. For example, when they recently changed the method of calculating periodic rises resulting in the average pensioner losing $3000 dollars over the next few years. Seriously, pensioners would be just catching up, not compensated. You don’t have to have a university degree to see that pensioners will be hurt with a GST rise.

2 It was only a matter of time before the permanent and in-disposable Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop effectively endorsed same-sex marriage. She falls in behind every leader.

Or as one Facebook user said.

The brazen bare-faced hypocrisy of this self-aggrandizing old piece of mutton dressed up as lamb is just breath taking … does she seriously think we really don’t notice her blatant bullshit?

… really???

vote3 Fairfax is reporting that Tony Abbott was intending a double dissolution election early in 2016 before he was replaced. It’s probably correct because another budget might have seen any hope he had of winning completely hit for six.

4 But if the PM announces an election date he will have to produce a budget in May shaped around an election in September/October next year. A difficult task given the state of the economy. There won’t be room for any good news. However there is still the issue of the present to attend to. Those on the extremities of his party, the nutter fringes, still have their eyes wide open looking for signs of the Malcolm who wanted to do something about climate change.

Republican Malcolm with the wider world view. The one who doesn’t fit the narrow minded Liberal/National heartland of the Joyce’s, Bernardy’s and the Abbott Christian fundamentalists. Since taking over as leader he has been more talk than action, mostly atmospherics, but one has to concede that he has made progress including dumping the hardline university deregulation package (although Labor says it is only parked); scrapping the lid-doffing folly of knights and dames; proposing federal money for mass urban transit rather than for roads exclusively; inviting a genuine tax debate, including an increase to the GST in exchange for other employment-creating cuts; supporting a debate about an expanded ground-to-ground nuclear industry; preparing a more extensive and centrally influential innovation statement; and generally fostering an atmosphere of sensible argument. His approach so far has been to try to please everyone, put everything on the table.

The problem with that is that you can leave a lot to clean up afterwards. That’s when the rubber gloves hit the hot water and there’s a fight about who wants to dry. Or the dish washer can’t cope with an over full load. So far he has eliminated from the menu the university reforms, and compromised on proposed welfare cuts and of course the knights and dames were always disposable napkins. There’s a lot to serve up to an electorate starved of good policy from Government that has made a meal of governance for over two years.

 MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

 “What is the difference between the purpose of life and the reason for it?”

 Read some views here.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 3 October

1 An observation:

“The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved”.

2 Tony Abbott is the worst liar to ever have led our nation. His current round of radio interviews serves only to reinforce the public’s view of his lack of character, judgment and leadership.

3 Turnbull’s accession as Prime Minister seems to have cut the supply of crap to the shock jocks and other associated feral right wing commentators. It would be a shame if they went out of business altogether.

Turnbull’s focus on rhetoric at this early point is a sign only of a government acting carefully and slowly, as it should. It is no reason to be cynical. And his words are the right words, mostly; they give some reason for hope that Australian politics might be reinvented. I hope my side of politics is up to the challenge.

4 The news that Malcolm Turnbull plans to ditch Abbott’s harsh tone toward Muslims is to be welcomed. Abbott with disguised propaganda baited them at every opportunity.

5 Rosie Batty takes on Malcolm Turnbull over detention centers: “They must be shut down” she says. Of course she is right but he won’t act.

obama

6 I have never seen President Obama so angry. If ten people were killed in Australia, it would consume national attention for weeks. In America, the news cycle is likely to move on within days because fatal shootings have become almost routine. And that, in turn, is due to a complete failure by the political classes to change gun laws, even in the face of frequent tragedies and overwhelming evidence that gun restrictions work. The US might be the most technologically advanced country in the world but they are morally bankrupt.

Sunday 4 October

1 The most damaging indictment of Abbott’s post Prime Ministership comments so far is that he still believes his 2014 Budget was a fair one. He may have pledged there would be “no sniping” in his final prime ministerial conference. But he didn’t say anything about self-serving interviews, did he?

2 If Tony Abbott could justify having a Royal Commission into Unions for no other reason than political vindictiveness then surely Malcolm Turnbull should commence one into the Financial Planning of banks. How many lives have they destroyed as a result of bank corruption it makes Unions almost saintly?

3 Malcolm Turnbull’s managed to call a terrorist act by a 15 year off boy for what it was without vilifying Muslims and creating racist I’ll feeling. What a stark contrast to the manner in which Tony Abbott would have reacted.

4 Economic summits, Green papers, white papers, dunny papers, meetings, conferences, inquiries, advice, lobbyists, vested interests, ideology, budgets etc etc etc. Come on, Malcolm, it’s time for some action.

jeb5 Jeb Bush responds to Oregon mass shooting by saying “stuff happens“.

“Look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not always the right thing to do”.

Bad stuff happened in the Bush family. That’s for sure.

6 It looks like only two refugees will now be settled in Cambodia at a cost of $55 million. Your taxes at work.

Monday 4 October

1 Dick Smith says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be “ratting on typical Australians who pay their tax” if the Coalition goes through with plans to shield large private companies from having to disclose how much tax they pay. Their excuse is that disclosing their tax affairs would place them at risk of kidnapping and ransom attempts. What bull.

2 A phone hook up with Muslim leaders the PM and other concerned parties following the shooting by a 15 year… old boy has impressed the Muslim community. A bit different to Tony’s approach.

3 Switching from Insiders to The Bolt Report on Sunday was an experience. Mind you, I only lasted five minutes. It has transformed into the anti-Muslim anti-Turnbull hour. I think he realises Turnbull’s natural inclination toward thoughtful intellectualism and reason will be unsuited to his particular audience.

4 An observation:

“We expect democracy but we don’t demand it”.

5 State governments are being encouraged by Morrison and Coreman to open up the delivery of health and education services to the private sector. Private enterprise might do a lot of things better than government but it should never be let near health and education. When profit becomes the sole motivator the system fails everyone. They adhere to the privatisation of everything.

Tuesday 6 October

1 Andrew Bolt is reported to have said. “I have never understood why Rosie Battie is an oracle on violence against Women”. Invites a rhetorical question doesn’t it? Anyone dare me.

2 Water has been discovered on Mars. The bigger question however, given the way the affairs of life are conducted is – is there any intelligence on earth?

3 Isn’t it a pity that Peter Dutton couldn’t pursue the perpetrators of violence against asylum seekers on Nauru with the same vigor he shows for whistle blowers.

And now we are told that the Nauru government says 600 refugee claims to be processed in a week. Really, how is that possible? Does that mean that they will become permanent residents of Nauru? They won’t be settled in Australia. Where else could they go? What an immoral cop-out by an immoral Government. A life sentence on an island that has no future.

4 Tony Abbott didn’t lose the leadership of the Liberal Party because he was a failure or because he was “a woman hater” or a “crash-through insensitive bully with no people skills” or “too loyal” or “a homophobe”.

The real reason was because he listened to people like, Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny, Tom Switzer, Gerard Henderson, Paul Sheehan, News Corp editor Col Allan, The Australian editor-in-chief Steve Lewis, Michael Smith and Maurice Newman. Whoops, I nearly left out Rubert and the IPA?

Then he wondered why middle Australia could only conclude that he was the weirdo they always suspected he was. That’s why Abbott failed, and you don’t have to be a leftie – not even a little bit – to think so.

5 Morgan Polling has the LNP a mile in front of Labor at 56/44.

Wednesday 7 October

1 Hate to be cynical but the US has never signed a Trade Agreement that hasn’t in the first instance advantaged them. All the countries involved have said that they are winners which of course by definition is impossible. It is said that the agreement captures 40% of world GDP but no one mentions that 25% of that belongs to the US. Looking forward to the fine print. And because no independent assessment has been made how do we know the truth of its supposed benefits? As the saying goes; Look for the devil in the detail.

2 It seems Tony offered Malcolm the US Ambassadorship earlier this year. So he knew he was in danger only a year into his term.

3 The Prime Minister says it is inevitable that Sunday penalty rates will have to be cut. Why? The tourist sector has grown by 13%. Someone’s doing something right.

4 To those who have interpreted my support of the change in Government as pro Turnbull let me say this: My personal political philosophy is and has always been centred on the common good. I am particularly adhered to the following: “each according to her/his ability, to each according to her/his need”. Only the Left can deliver on that.

5 A billion dollars on armored combat vehicles. I thought we had a spending problem. Oh, I see; it’s just on things like education and health.

6 Tuesday’s weekly Essential Poll has the LNP 52% and Labor 48%.

Thursday 8 October

1 Malcolm Turnbull has always been a user of public transport. It is hoped that this form of mass transport might get a higher priority by his government than the silly conservative ideology that only supports roads.

2 Tony Abbott confident his time as PM will be ‘well appreciated’ as time goes by. We might need a search party though.

3 Liberal MPs believe the party’s federal director Brian Loughnane is set to resign in the wake of the recent leadership spill. Mr Loughnane is married to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin. Given her performance I suppose his position also had to become untenable. A Nutt job is set to replace him.

4 America spends more on defence than the rest of the world combined and is the largest manufacturer and supplier of arms. At the same time it is expected to act as the world’s policeman. How is it possible?

5 Clean energy investment has risen by 8 per cent in the US, 12 per cent in Japan, and 35 per cent in China last year alone. In Australia, however, under the Abbott Government’s overtly pro-fossil fuel/anti-renewables stance, it went backwards by 35 per cent.

Investment in large-scale renewable projects fell by a staggering 88 per cent. Two million jobs were created in the renewable sector globally while Australia’s clean energy sector contracted over the same period, shedding 2300 full-time positions.

An observation:

“In terms of the environment. I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today”.

6 on the same subject. Rival banks are under pressure to match the ANZs tough new lending policy on coal.

An observation:

“We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet”.

7 I read this morning that gay marriage would deliver a boost to the national economy worth at least $500 million a year in additional weddings alone, a major bank has calculated. Perhaps Conservatives should treat it as an economic issue. Then they might pass it.

Friday 9 October

1 Three weeks into a change of leader and the angst has gone out of Australian politics. My anxiety level has decreased. The shock jocks have so far lost their absurdity and a quieter discourse has developed. The Labor Party is even announcing policy.

2 Bill Shorten unveils an ambitious well-thought out plan to turbo-charge major public works infrastructure projects. These will include such contested developments as the $11 billion Melbourne Metro urban rail project – to which federal Labor had already committed – and Sydney’s Airport to Badgerys Creek line.

The full list:

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail Light Rail on the Gold Coast The planning work on the Ipswich Motorway, from Darra to Rocklea Fast-tracking the Pacific and Bruce Highway packages Airport Rail for Badgerys Creek, connecting the Western and South lines The Melbourne Metro Upgrading Tasmania’s Midland Highway Investing in public transport in Perth, such as the Metronet plan The Gawler Line electrification.

3 Hillary Clinton now opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership. Something she was instrumental in setting up. It’s the drugs component that concerns her. It concerns me also and it’s about bloody time the Government let us in on what’s in this contentious deal.

4 Turnbull is still in trouble on the Climate front. Hunt and Abbott wanted to get rid of the Climate Change Authority altogether but now it seems it may get a reprieve. Only problem is that they are stacking the board with members sympathetic to the Coalition. The authority’s former chair, Bernie Fraser resigned last month and had described the government’s post-2020 carbon reduction efforts – a pledge to cut 2005-level carbon emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 – as putting the country “at or near the bottom” of comparable countries.

An observation:

“Personally, I find the most objectionable feature of conservative attitude is its propensity to reject well-substantiated new knowledge, science in other words, because it dislikes some of the consequences which follow from it”.

5 The Smorgon family has topped the 2015 “BRW Rich Families List”, with estimated wealth of $A2.74bn. The combined fortunes of the 50 families on the 2015 list is $A41.18bn, compared with $A40.1bn in 2014. Many families on the list are expanding into the property development sector, after making their fortunes in other industries.

There are families and then there are families.

6 Could it be that Asylum Seekers on Nauru will end up in the Philippines?

7 Murdoch suggests US President Barack Obama is not a ‘real black person’. That’s not bad coming from someone you would hardly describe as really human.

the week that was

And this is the week that was.

Scroll Up