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Tag Archives: QandA

Duncan versus Malcolm

How might Malcolm Turnbull’s life have turned out if he was sexually abused as a child, which caused him to suffer post-traumatic stress, making it difficult for him to get a good education and find a good job, leading him to part-time work on the minimum wage, failed relationships, living with his mother in a housing commission house and alleged drug-use. That’s Duncan Storrar’s life story who, in the space of four days, has managed to expose the callousness of neoliberal ‘trickle-down economics’ (through the callousness of Kelly Toaster-O’Dwyer and Innes you-don’t-pay-tax-and-therefore-you-are-the-scum-of-the-earth Willox), has been called a national hero, has had over $40,000 raised for him through community crowd-funding and is now being attacked by the Right through the depiction of his troubled past by his son, all because he wanted to take his daughters to the movies on the weekend.

I can’t say how Turnbull’s life would have ended up had he walked in Duncan’s shoes. Maybe down-and-out Turnbull, who grew up in Vaucluse, might have managed to overcome the challenges Duncan has experienced, and would have still gone on to become a billionaire Point-Piper PM who allegedly invented the internet. But either way, we can learn a lot from the fate of Duncan versus the fate of Malcolm Turnbull. We can learn that if you’re poor, and you do something the community looks down on, such as take drugs, you’re written off as an evil untouchable. But if you’re rich, and you do something the community looks down on, such as the being the Director of a company putting your money in Panama to evade-tax, you’re still a hero. Of course there is a class war, and Turnbull is using all the resources available to him to smash the under-resourced Duncan to smithereens. The Right paints Duncan as a failure because he doesn’t pay any tax, yet when Turnbull and his rich company executive mates evade millions of dollars of tax using off-shore bank accounts and countless other tax-evasion ‘strategies’, he’s seen as smart and is admired for his cunning.

There is a very simple reason for this inconsistency. The rich are untouchable and revered, a higher-class of being who we should all aspire to be like and never ever criticise if we don’t want to miss out on the trickling-down of their God-like wealth. The poor, the vulnerable and the sick, of which Duncan is all three, are, unfortunately, not given such latitude in the judgement stakes, and are belittled, spat on, written-off and by many, hated and blamed just for being poor. Australians like to think of themselves as a fair nation, and it pains me to say it, but the case of Duncan and the case of Malcolm this week shows that we are anything but.

I personally found one of the most interesting parts of the Duncan story the fact that he voted Liberal in the last election. How many Duncans were responsible for the Abbott government? Hundreds of thousands, if not millions. Trying to work out why people vote against their best interests is a question for another day. It’s always been the case that the Liberals would never win an election without the Duncans of the world helping them along. There are comparatively few people in Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth – the mansions take up a lot of space, but usually only have a few people living in them. This is the electorate, by the way, who benefit most from negative gearing, making an average net-rental loss of $20,248. Duncan earns $16 an hour as a part-time truck driver. The description of part-time isn’t really accurate – apparently he takes work when he can get it. I wonder how often he’s managed to earn $20,248 in a year, if ever. What was it about the Liberal’s election campaign which made him think – yes, they have my interests at heart, they will make my life better? It sounds like he’s learned the hard way that he was wrong about this and that really, Kelly O’Dwyer and Innes Willox and Malcolm Turnbull and anyone who works in the Liberal government and helps fund the Liberal Party don’t just care little for him, but actually resent his very existence. How many other Duncans got a slap-in-the-face from the Abbott government, and in turn, the Turnbull government, and vow never again to make the same mistake? Willox helpfully pointed out to Duncan that every budget has winners and losers. I wonder if the Duncans have noticed when it comes to Liberal budgets, like a perverse Hunger Games, the odds are never in their favour. To put it bluntly, under a Liberal government, the working class always lose.

Duncan has been quoted as saying ‘The only thing that will help my children out of the poverty circle is education’. I hope he’s checked out the education policies of Labor compared to Liberal, to show which party promises to increase funding for education, and which is slashing and burning his daughter’s future. Duncan might not be a perfect father, he might not be revered as the working-class hero the community thought he was. But Duncan has struggled, understandably, through his life and just wants a better go for his children. I think lots of Australians can relate to that.

Just smile and the world will be a better place

Last night, thanks to our national broadcaster, we got to see the leaders of the two major political parties in action. Turnbull faced questions from a smiling, compliant Leigh Sales. They both smiled and giggled and apologised to each other a lot. Shorten faced a very large audience of the Australian public and the interruptions of Tony Jones, who really needs to learn that people would rather hear from his guests than him. Shorten performed very well, answering all questions calmly and honestly.

The contrast could not have been starker.

Malcolm seems to feel that the mere fact of his elevation to Prime Minister will be sufficient to solve all the challenges we face.

When asked about the economy he said that it wasn’t in bad shape. What that shows is that, as we all know, the last election campaign was run on a lie.

Regardless, we do have rising unemployment and an economy that must transition away from mining. Malcolm’s solution?

“It is absolutely critical that we provide strong economic leadership. And you know, above all, confidence. It’s not just the measures. The government has to provide the leadership, the sense that, you know, we know what we’re doing, that we have a vision, we have a clear direction and that builds up business confidence. So everything I can say to inspire confidence is going to help the economy. One of the things I can do as Prime Minister and my government can do is to provide the leadership and the confidence and you do that not by just talking in an airy-fairy way. You’ve got to actually lay out the facts. You’ve got to describe the situation as it stands.”

Waiting . . .

How silly have we been. We don’t need “measures”, we just need a smile and some soothing words and all will be well.

When asked if he would consider expanding the base and the rate of the GST, Malcolm replied

“Well we’re considering – tax reform is going to be a big part of our reform agenda going forward. That’s why we’ve brought the Tax Minister, the Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer, into the cabinet.”

Don’t ask me specific questions – look I’ve got a young female breast-feeding mum in Cabinet. What more do you want?

When asked if everything was on the table for tax reform, Malcolm said

“This is one of the – this is one of the Canberra games. One of the things I’m trying to do is to change the paradigm so that it’s a more rational one.”

Ummmm . . . does a more rational paradigm ever include answering a question?

When asked about industrial relations reform, Malcolm went into cha cha mode.

“I think the important thing is to seek to explore ways in which we can achieve more flexibility, higher levels of employment, higher levels of business activity and do so in a way that reassures Australians, Australian workers in particular, that this is not threatening their conditions. In other words – in other words, a – the challenge for us is not to wage war with unions or the workers that they – that they seek to represent, but really to explain what the challenges are and then lay out some reform options.”

Uh huh . . . and while you are seeking to explore some way to reassure us, is Workchoices coming back?

When asked about the greatest threat to global security the babbling got worse.

“Well, look, there are – you probably can’t really – you can’t really rank them ’cause they are very difficult. I mean, the – the – clearly the threat of terrorism, the, if you like, militant Islamist terrorist groups like Daesh in the Middle East and its various affiliates around the world, al-Qaeda, that is clearly a very – that’s clearly a big threat. I think at a – in terms of our region, what we need to ensure is that the rise of China, which is happening, it’s – nothing’s gonna stop that any time soon – is, if you like, conducted in a manner that does not disturb the security and the relative harmony of the region upon which China’s prosperity depends. Now – now that requires careful diplomacy, it requires balancing and it’s an issue, as you know, I’ve taken a very keen interest in.”

For someone who has taken a very keen interest he seems entirely bereft of anything substantive to say.

And the role of our defence forces?

“Well our Defence Force has – and this is not a revelation, Leigh. Our Defence Forces have to be able to play a role in a range of different potential conflict situations. But, you know, we’re not – we’re not seeking to, um, ah – I don’t want to – no-one – no-one, least of all the Australian Government, wants to exacerbate situations. We have – we have very good relations with all of our neighbours, including China, but there clearly are some tensions, you know, with the islands in the South China Sea in particular, with the reefs, I should say, and shoals in the South China Sea. And our own – my own view and the Government’s view is that the – you know, China would be – China would be better advised in its own interests, frankly, to – not to be pushing the envelope there and that is why there’s been resistance against that activity.”

By this time I was thinking let the poor man go home to bed, he isn’t making any sense.

And then we finally got to Direct Action, a policy that is completely the opposite of the Coalition’s free market principles.

“It has been very successful so far. It has reduced – it’s cut about 47 million tonnes of emissions at a price of less than $14 a tonne.”

At that stage I realised that Malcolm has actually nothing at all to offer except his smile.

 

Joe Hockey; wealthy complacency

Image by theaimn.com

Image by theaimn.com

If there was any stand-out from Joe Hockey’s performance on Q&A it would have been his ability to permeate the studio with an overwhelming odor of wealthy complacency, with weasel words thrown in for good measure.

It was with considerable smugness that Joe Hockey admitted that the GP co-payment, “. . .is a new tax – or a rabbit.”

We didn’t say we wouldn’t raise any taxes. That’s absurd because we went to the last election promising to introduce a levy for the paid parental leave scheme“, Mr Hockey said.

Tony Abbott’s original argument was that this addition to upper class welfare, and ‘signature policy’, was the insistence that the PPL was not a tax; it was a levy. However, and currently in vogue and up until Hockey’s appearance on Q&A, all was but a mere levy and not a tax. The consequences of Hockey’s statement, is that according to himself, both he and Prime Minister Abbott made deliberately misleading statements, and on numerous occasions.

That is, “We did say we wouldn’t raise any taxes. . .”, (because) the PPL levy is in fact a tax.

It seems that the words ‘tax’ and ‘levy’ are bandied about by the Liberal Party, changed at whim and to which ever circumstances suit. Those who voted Liberal on the premise that Abbott would get rid of Labor’s “great big new tax” must be bitterly disappointed as we now have an even bigger, great big new tax . . . or series of them.

However, should we care to address the practicalities of this issue, there is a world of difference between a PPL with a proposal that this be paid by “a 1.5% levy on the biggest companies” and a $7 GP co-payment taxed on GP visits, pathology and X-rays, and which would further distort access to medical treatment for those on the lowest incomes. This is akin to stating that the economic impact of the cost of two beers to an old age pensioner has an equivalent impact as on a business entity, and an extraordinarily wealthy one at that. Abbott and Hockey’s insistence that they be ‘right’ – and all of the time, often leaves logic in its wake.

In Abbott and Hockey-world, business being business and poor people being poor people, it will of course be business who will be compensated for the PPL tax/levy by receiving an equivalent tax cut of 1.5%. Might there be any equivalent breaks for those having to fork out for Hockey’s other tax – the GP co-payment? No of course not. Hockey’s proposition that the PPL tax/levy is therefore equivalent to the GP co-payment therefore falls so flat as to not only be just an illusion, but could be counted as a blatant attempt at deception.

On the debt levy, will the the richest 3%’s contribution/levy likewise put unreasonable pressure on anyone’s ability to feed, clothe and house themselves? Doubtful, unto too ridiculous to contemplate. The Liberals have gone to great lengths to ensure the wealthiest that this is a very temporary tax hike. And what would it matter anyway? . . . this cigar and Moët et Chandon tax will be easily be absorbed through multifarious untaxed lurks – “superannuation concessions, dividend imputation, negative gearing and family trusts”. Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have now successfully reinforced the image that to themselves and most of the front bench, that the obscenely wealthy remain as they always have been, The Untouchables.

You can be assured that these changes (with the exception of the debt tax) are not just for a couple of years, but forever. Along with this decimation lurks in the background cuts to science, Aboriginal health and education, with extreme pressure on the states to privatise almost everything. And all the while the reaction from both Abbott and Hockey is smirking disregard. Abbott “Dismisses concerns”, the headlines read and this is apart from the lewd wink aimed at a pensioner forced into working on a sex-line as the only thing available to her. Any empathy? Any sympathy?

However, most perplexing was the ‘carrot’ offered by Hockey in the form of medical research. That is, suffer now and one day if we splash enough cash at the problem so that ‘we’, and where all other countries have failed, will by some act of divine providence cure the world of all of it’s ailments.

Today (17th December, 2013), Treasurer Joe Hockey cut:

• $100 million in funding for Westmead Hospital
• $10 million from the Children’s Medical Research Institute and $12 million from the Millennium Institute – one of the largest medical research institutes in Australia working on cancer and leukaemia research, heart disease, eye and brain disease and heart and respiratory disorders.
• $15.1 million from the life-saving Cancer Care Coordinators program. Despite knowing that Australians in regional areas have a lower life expectancy and find it more difficult to access life-saving treatment the Government has decided to cut this funding.
• $6 million for Medical Resonance Imaging service at Mt Druitt, the cutting of the $10 million life-saving Queensland Cancer Package, $15 million from the Flinders Neo-Natal Unit, the $10 million Western Australia cancer team, and the $50 million stroke package.
• $3.5 million from the Biala Health Service, the only free sexual-health clinic in Brisbane.
• The Coalition will scrap the $100 million committed for the redevelopment of the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

It seems that the Abbott Government taketh with one hand to return ‘who knows what’ at some unspecified time in the future. Why would anyone cut funding from medical research into things such as cancer and childhood leukaemia, only to siphon it off to be paid to ‘who knows who’ at some non-specific time in the future? The cynic in me asks the question, who is set to gain from this? Which multi-national benefactor might it be? I believe that there are certain hints and clues provided by certain photos of Tony Abbott and his ‘sponsor’.

The Liberal Party’s own website provides that the projected $20 billion will not be achieved until around 2024-2025. “To establish the Fund, approximately $1 billion in uncommitted funds from the existing Health and Hospitals Fund will be transferred into the Fund at its inception”, which is supposed to be 2015-2016. But wait a moment; hasn’t the Abbott Government already cut an (estimated) half billion dollars from existing medical research and services? Hockey’s gushing at the government’s beneficence and commitment to human-kind suddenly loses it’s rosy bloom.

But don’t worry, there is some good news contained in Joe Hockey’s attempt at a budget: there will be more roads – well, in the cities at least.

A Lou Reed Song For Christopher Pyne

No doubt many of you will be aware of Pyne’s QandA attack on Lou Reed on the night of Lou’s death and his refusal to name his “favourite” Reed song, saying that nobody played Lou Reed in the places he went (?). He went on to attack the ABC. So just for you, Christopher.…

Read more

That Was Then; This Is Now!

Libs

Then

‘Thursday, 11 April 2013

Tony Abbott is abandoning his promise to ‘stop the boats’, refusing to say if a Coalition Government would be able to fulfil their commitment.

Mr Abbott has previously said he would stop the boats within months. Yesterday he ran away from that commitment, saying he would only be able to ‘make a difference’ in the first term, should the Coalition be elected to government.

He refused to say when, or if, he would stop the boats.

When asked by Howard Sattler on 6PR on Wednesday, Mr Abbott would not confirm the length of time a Coalition Government would take to ‘stop the boats’.

SATTLER: Is it going to take three years to stop the boats?

ABBOTT: Well, we will have a term of parliament in which to make a very substantial difference and then we will, as is right and proper in a democracy be judged on our performance.’

And now

‘But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attacked Mr Rudd’s plan as an ”election fix” that won’t work and vowed to never use another country to solve Australia’s domestic problems.

”The only solution to Australian problems is found here in Australia,” Mr Abbott said.

”I will never subcontract out to other countries the solution of problems in this country.”

The Opposition Leader said Mr Rudd’s PNG plan should be considered a failure unless every new asylum seeker arrival was sent to Manus Island and the rate of boat arrivals stopped ”from today”.’

Of course, someone has wondered what the Pacific Solution was, if not “subcontracting out to other countries”, but I guess we’ll be asked that and we’ll hear a perfectly reasonable argument as to why sending them to Manus wasn’t sending OUR problems elsewhere. Just as I’m sure Abbott will be able to explain why he said this

“Jesus didn’t say yes to everyone,” Mr Abbott said on ABC television’s Q&A program, according to the Herald Sun. “Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.”

Still, it was on Q&A, so it was obviously a long, long time ago!

 

Oh please, shoot me now!

Anybody who watched – sorry, laboured through the ABC’s QandA last night could not have helped to notice that, despite the multitude of tweets begging for a question to Christopher Pyne on the Ashbygate affair … it was definitely off limits. The ABC, in their wisdom, preferred to direct the discussion about a Labor Government who is apparently out of touch with the electorate (and quickly gave the floor to Amanda Vanstone), or the lack of public transport in Western Sydney. It was about as gripping as an episode of Basil Brush.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer to tune in to watch Pyne face a few curved balls. I guess we know the ABC’s agenda: Go lightly on the Opposition. Somewhere up the hierarchy someone is pulling a few strings.

Last night the public might have thought it was given its first real chance to pursue this important electoral issue. We’ve sat by and watch our media do nothing, say nothing. And last night they shut the door on their viewers.

The media has an agenda. Today on news.com another side of the agenda was on pathetic display. We read:

Mr Abbott is expected to have a wealth of material to draw upon from over summer since parliament last met last November.

Ms Gillard’s leadership has been dogged over the past week by speculation about a Kevin Rudd return, more poor opinion polls, the mismanaged Cabinet reshuffle and the charging of suspended Labor MP Craig Thomson a day after announcing the election date.

So in less than 24 hours I’ve learned that the media wants to kill the real stories and replace it with opinion, speculation, and outright lies.

I want to dissect the second sentence of the above quote and ask the writer some questions:

  • I’d like to know a bit more about the leadership speculation about a Kevin Rudd return. To my knowledge the only speculation has been generated by our mainstream media in search of another unsubstantiated story, yet one that will tarnish the Government. Can you thus substantiate that claim?
  • How much poorer are the opinion polls for Labor compared to their showing over the past 12 months? And have you bothered to look at the latest Morgan Poll which shows Labor only one point behind the LNP?
  • How was it a mismanaged Cabinet reshuffle? Is that a fact or is that just your opinion? Can you tell me how it should have been conducted?
  • Yes, Craig Thomson is a suspended Labor MP but he is now an Independent MP. Why not state that? Oh that’s right, it would be less harmful to Julia Gillard to do so.

If this is the best our media can perform, then please, shoot me now. I don’t want them deciding who runs this country.

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