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Tag Archives: Scott Morrison

Open letter to Scott Morrison and Christian Porter

By Tracie Aylmer

The first time it happened I was 16-years-old, in 1988 in Sydney. Thinking back, I was groomed by the perpetrator to accept him touching me, with intent to kiss me. If I had known he was going to touch me without the grooming he did to me, I wouldn’t have accepted for him to have touched me in the first place.

I was very vulnerable and had a really hard time at both school and home. I guess he saw me as an open target.

After the event I felt so ashamed. As he had called my place asking when I was going to return to his shop, I told my sister what he had done. I remember her telling him I was never going to go back, and to never call my place again.

There are so many more times. So many sexual assaults. Quite a few lost me my job. All of them had me in tears. I lost confidence. Each time, I had to start my life over again. I crumbled, not knowing how to restart my life (yet again).

I have studied, finding law easy. It didn’t get me a long-term job as by then I was considered too old.

The scars have held me back. I know that now.

I’m studying again – two full-time TAFE qualifications at the same time. I thought that time had healed the pain I’ve gone through in my life. I thought I was strong enough to turn the corner and strive for the incredible person that I am.

The past few weeks have brought it all crashing down on me again. The pain is front and centre again.

Mr Morrison, the fact that, without evidence, you believe Mr Porter is horrifying and disgusting. You believe your boys club without any question yet refuse to believe the mountains of evidence and proof of pain of the victims. You are the problem with this society, as you are not taking these rapes seriously.

You are not showing yourself to have any standard whatsoever. You blatantly lie, and we can all see it. You triggered me beyond anything these past few days, and I hold you in complete and utter contempt for doing so.

I do not need for you to behave without accountability over something as serious as rape and sexual assault. You did wrong, and I hope you lose your job emphatically over this fiasco.

Mr Porter, do you really think the country believes you? A recent investigation revealed your “history of sexism and inappropriate behaviour.” Do you think now that your boys club will now protect you?

Poor you thinks that mental health care is needed (let’s get the violins out). I really don’t care if you’re having mental health care sessions. Women who have been the victims of sexual assault or abuse face or have had a life-time of mental health care sessions. Do you or your government care about them?

You have triggered the whole country over your alleged behaviour and your response to it.

Resign! You are worthless now. You have destroyed the office of the Attorney General by your alleged behaviour. No one will believe or trust the legal system again. And neither will they believe or trust the Morrison government or its Ministers. Congratulations on the part you played in that.

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Another nail in Australia’s coffin – the silence will be deafening

Another nail in Australia’s coffin – Facebook bans sharing news in Australia and Google backs big business – guess who wins? PS: But… we can still write, post and share our own.

Does that sound like a tweet or what! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears. Flying blind – The silence will be deafening on FB.

Game, set and match? This is not freedom of choice. This is political censorship by default and design. The Australian media news landscape embroiled, further compromised, falling off the edge of the continental shelf and the Australian public alienated from its own local news and rest of the world, like have we all just been sent to Coventry?

This was the LNP Think Tank’s intention and a golden opportunity to fulfil their primary goal – Can you and I, can we not see this!

This guy (Josh) and his buddy (Scomo), and the whole frigging LNP camp of degenerates really need to fuck off to the casino big time. We have them now to blame for ‘all of us’ becoming news blind in Australia on Facebook and Social Media. Going against their declared political principles of free trade, freedom of information, news and free speech for a bigger prize. This is a huge setback for Australians.

This is exactly what Frydenberg and Morrison want, to silence and deafen FB or more to the point Australians who use FB to share their news, thoughts, views and opinions. By doing so they get to control the flow of news, media and opinion. The public broadcasters, ABC and SBS were never going to be free to enter these deals and you would be grossly naive if you thought smaller independent news outlets would ever gain traction on this legislation with the corporate giants – That’s not how Monopoly is played. Google have taken a different path but can you see them entering into the plethora of smaller agreements and will our government under this legislation or policy direction give a damn!

 

Image from dailymail.co.uk

 

So Frydenberg and Morrison get to spread their shit here on FB and everywhere else for free, what hypocrites. The News giants like Murdoch and News Corps get to rake in the money and spread the pain for their shit everywhere – and laughing. There will be no informed democracy and elections in this game. The Liberals are doing this, not for equity, fairness or justice, but given all the run offs and stacked consequences, as planned; giving them massive control over news, media information available, not available, accessibility on public and social platforms. Will this be good for the economy even?

The chosen ones, yes.

I don’t condone FB’s decision, but Morrison and Frydenberg knew very well this was the likely path, and why indeed should FB as a business pay for users, other people’s decisions on what they share – What kind of fucked up business model is that? What next? Will the Liberals have ‘us’ pay for shared advertising too? Actually, we already are, out of the public purse.

Would you charge me if I offered you a lift to the supermarket to get your groceries? The government (the Liberals) are raving bonkers.

Australia totally screwed on this one, folks! This is political censorship, where only the sharks profit at the expense of freedom of choice, information and information sharing, one of the founding principles of the internet, and ironically democracy, fair dinkum. Yes, the Liberals, Nationals, News Corps, big business elites et al are pushing our noses in it and our heads in the sand – make no mistake. I can’t breathe!

End game – Erosion of political and electoral public intelligence and information, control of the airwaves, right wing power grab and supremacy, come next election. Not even Trump could manage this (Foxy News versus Washington Post), but here by any other means, with a swoop of the pen, Morrison, Frydenberg and the Liberals (image source: ‘elbows kissing’ courtesy of the Australian, how ironic) are banking on that ignorance turning in their favour, like it did for 74 million Americans! Another nail in the coffin for Australian democracy, freedom of information, voice and ears.

Eyes to the right where we can expect the procreation of more lies, hypocrisy, false (manufactured) news and proliferation of extreme right wing and fundamentalist opinion, especially from Murdoch, News Corps, Government, corporate mining elites and big business; and sadly, Facebook and Google are deserting the public camp for consumerism in their own separate ways. Did I mention tongues and fiery pulpit of the very holy Morrison-Frydenberg spirit – Holy cow!

They say no man is an island, Australia is and has just become even more isolated from the rest of the world, thanks to the LNP and our government – Regulation be damned (on this one).

But maybe we are all just about to become more creative – We can write, post and share our own news and opinion pieces with complementary piccies. Isn’t that what these social platforms and truly independent media are for?

This is democracy. Let’s get to it!

 

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Sexual Assault in Canberra

Who knew what? In many cases of sexual assault in politics, events take place behind bolted doors, the perpetrator and victim bound by ties of power, seediness and suppression. The victim is left with an odious and onerous task: to report the event. The risks can be considerable. Careers can be ruined. Retaliation from the political tribe can be remorseless.

Parliaments present a paradox. Encrusted with surveillance, crawling with security, safety would surely be guaranteed for all who work within their walls. But the environment of power, ambition and conspiracy lends itself to hierarchies, asymmetries, and inequalities. Politicians find themselves with access to budgets, forums and staffers. There are receptions and meetings to attend, liquor to consume in abundance, deceptions to cultivate. The risk of wandering hands is ever present.

The staffers, in turn, are mindful of their careers, insecure about their futures to the point of neuroses. They are expected to be unconditionally loyal to politician and party. Nikki Savva, herself a former staffer turned scribe, remembers the time: “The hours were long, the demands never-ending, the stress phenomenal and the fear of stuffing up overwhelming.” The staffer is permanently vulnerable and precariously positioned. Reasons for terminating employment are broad and susceptible to abuse. The parliamentarian can, for instance, do so for having “lost trust or confidence in the employee.” When politicians become arbiters of trust, the condition of the absurd has been affirmed.

Maria Maley, an academic from the Australian National University, busies herself with the sordid business of researching political staff. Over the Australian summer, she interviewed eight former political staffers about their time spent in the offices of ministers and electorate offices at both state and federal level. Her findings were not earth shattering. Staffers were bullied, subject to sexual harassment by colleagues and bosses. “It is hard to know how common this is,” Maley suggests, “as the world they inhabit is secretive.” She is being unnecessarily coy.

On March 23, 2019, Brittany Higgins, a Liberal Party staffer, was allegedly raped in the offices of Australia’s Defence Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds. Having initially contacted police, she felt a deep reluctance to press matters further. An election was about to be called. A month ago, Higgins resigned her political job and recommenced the complaints process with the police.

Both the Defence Minister and then chief of staff Fiona Brown were told by Higgins about the incident. Both expressed shock and promised to support the staffer if she decided to take the matter up with the police. In a manner excised of empathy, Reynolds had decided at the time that it was appropriate to hold a meeting with Higgins at the same venue the attack is claimed to have taken place.

The political machine is coming into full play to stifle. Apologies have come from the Defence Minister and the Prime Minister. “At the time, I truly believed that I and my chief of staff were doing everything we could to support that young woman who I had responsibility for,” explained Senator Reynolds to her colleagues in the chamber. Her intention and aim at the time had been “to empower Brittany and let herself determine the course of her own situation, not by me, not by my staff, not by the government as a whole, but by Brittany.” A true philosophe, is the minister.

Morrison did not do much better. On the morning of February 16, he showed striking emotional immaturity in employing an advertising gimmick. He had, he told journalists, spoken to his wife the previous day. “She said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’ Jenny has a way of clarifying things.” Evidently, things were rather cloudy for the prime minister prior to Monday.

 

Image from pedestrian.tv

 

The tenor of these apologies is tactical. Assault can be managed. Assault can be contained within a bureaucratic compass. And there was the issue of privacy, a weapon often used against the victim to muzzle matters and preserve the status quo. We kept quiet to help her and observe protocol.

Reviews into the complaints processes of Parliament House and the Liberal Party have been promised by Morrison. Much of this is due to ascertaining, or not, as the case often is, the scope of responsibility and prospects for reform. Reviews should be fiercely independent but the Morrison government is taking few risks, despite having conceded to the opposition that a third, independent inquiry should also be initiated. In one line of inquiry, the Liberal Party will be investigating itself, with West Australian MP and former vice-chancellor of the University of Notre Dame Celia Hammond steering matters.

With a former, overly remunerated university vice-chancellor managing the show, putative efficacy is all but guaranteed to fail. Hammond’s conservative Catholicism is also well known, and her views on sex Victorian in reservation.

Complaints regarding staff safety are currently made through the Department of Finance. There is no standalone body to perform that task. Various female members of parliament not affiliated with the major parties have decided that this be redressed. One is Rebekha Sharkie of the Centre Alliance. “I don’t think sitting within the Department of Finance with a minister still in government of the day is really going to provide that level of confidence.” As for Labor, Anthony Albanese has voiced support for “an arm’s length, independent body that is able to investigate and provide support to anyone in this building who has an issue with their safety.”

The looming question remains: Who knew what and when? Morrison is adamant that blissful ignorance reigned till the story broke, going so far as to publicly rebuke Reynolds for having not told him about the allegations. When asked in parliament by the opposition leader Albanese as to whether it was acceptable that the Defence Minister had kept the matter quiet for two years, Morrison was sharply insistent. “It’s not and it shouldn’t happen again.”

The whole matter is smelly enough to be drawing out the sceptics. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull found it “inconceivable that [the matter] wasn’t well known to at least key members of the prime minister’s staff.” Higgins also has an account that rather holes the narrative, claiming that one of Morrison’s senior advisers had called her some months ago to see how she was coping. At least another member of the prime minister’s staff was also charged with handling her complaint. A pattern, distressing and invidious, is rapidly emerging.

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When will Conservatives ever treat women with a modicum of decency, even dignity?

And to think that Morrison knew all about it. Well, to be more precise, both the Liberal and National parties knew of this rape before the 2019 election. In fact, right in the middle of the campaign.

Had it been disclosed at the time, it might have made the difference between winning and losing for Labor.

Shades of John Howard and children overboard again, but more important, however, this time is just who decided to do a hush job. You might recall his very Christian reaction when he became Prime Minister, but when a young woman was allegedly raped, he decided to cover up.

According to the victim, staffer Brittany Higgins, her rape took place in Defence Minister Lynda Reynolds’s office on 19 April after a Friday night drinking session.

The election was held on 18 May.

The damage that such an act would have done to the conservatives – both Liberal and National – during an election campaign would be immeasurable. So what did they decide to do?

Well, on the surface, at least it looks as though they decided to double up on her pain.

The poor girl involved says she didn’t make a formal complaint because she wanted to hang onto her job and not do any harm to the reputation of the Liberal Party. What reputation one might ask?

A follow-up meeting was held inside the same office; the offence is alleged to have taken place a decision the Government concedes is “regretted.”

What moronic individual made such an inhumane decision knowing that it would almost certainly do further harm. Was it intended to?

The issue of the toxic treatment of women inside Parliament House and men’s behaviour within the Liberal and National parties yet again raises its ugly head. Remember Barnaby Joyce and the affair that led to his marriage’s breakup. Remember the Attorney-General Christian Porter kissing in a Canberra pub.

Back to Brittany Higgins, it was reported that:

“… a man working for then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds took a 24-year-old female media staffer into Parliament House after a Friday night drinking session in March 2019 and allegedly raped her inside the defence industry minister’s office.”

On the Ministers, couch to be exact.

She should hang a sign on her door. “No defence here.”

Her story follows many other women known and unknown who have experienced similar situations.

The junior staffer was very new to her job – just four weeks, in fact – before this horrendous experience occurred. She then had to endure the decision between making a formal complaint or keeping her career.

After it was made perfectly clear that she might lose her job, she was shunted into Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s office before Ms Higgins resigned.

A statement from a member of the Prime Minister’s Office said the reports about the incident were “deeply distressing.”

“At all times, guidance was sought from Ms Higgins as to how she wished to proceed, and to support and respect her decisions.

Throughout the entire process the overriding concern for Government was to support Ms Higgins’ welfare in whatever way possible.”

It sounds like they were falling over backwards to help her make the right moves to their advantage.

 

Brittany Higgins and Scott Morrison (Image from huffingtonpost.com.au – Photos from Channel 10 and Getty Images)

 

But after all this time, even after being denied access to video footage of the two’s movements, Ms Higgins has decided to ask the AFP to investigate. The why of that is another question. Given their record of investigating this Government, I wouldn’t say I like her chances.

Come Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister in a solemn mood to fit the occasion, fronts the media with apologises for everything under the sun. He had discussed the matter with his wife overnight and now looks at it from the point of view of what if it were his children.

 

 

His first defence was that he never knew, no one had told him anything. I found this to be wholly implausible, and secondly, that it was all a disgrace and he would move Heaven and earth to right everything. But as I said initially, I contend that the Prime Minister knew about it and wanted it covered up.

Of course, “not knowing anything” gave him the excuse to repair matters. Had he known, would not he have the obvious question; “Why didn’t you do something then?”

Samantha Maiden gets its right when she reports that:

“If history is any guide, he the Scott Morrison’s response to Brittany Higgins’ shocking account of sexual assault at Parliament House in Canberra will be open and shut.

He will urge her to take the matter to the police – which she did at the time – and perhaps suggest that is the beginning and the end of the matter?

But is it?

Or, do political parties owe the people that work for them – in this case a 24-year-old young woman – a more significant duty of care if they are sexually assaulted at work?”

If I might add to that, I think that Morrison gets away with his teary act too often and the “I wasn’t told” defence is just a poor excuse.

But time never diminishes the crime. What is needed is for men to grow up and be the men they are supposed to be. These events are just another addition to the many incidents of mistreating women.

My thought for the day

History is just an ongoing commentary on the incompetence of men.

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The Day John Lennon Was Shot I Had A Cold Sore So It Was A Bad Day For Both Of Us!

I remember clearly that the day John Lennon was shot was a pretty bad day for a lot of people. Personally I had a cold sore so it wasn’t flash for me either…

Ok, I know a lot of people will think that I’m drawing an equivalence between the two but I don’t think you should draw that inference. And a number of you probably think I’m making reference to Scott Morrison’s remarks about January 26th not being flash for the convicts that arrived…

Although, now that I think about it, why would arriving in Australia after a long sea voyage be a day that wasn’t good for the convicts? I mean, I’m not saying that life was great for the convicts; I’m just suggesting that it may have been nice for them to actually survive the voyage and disembark but I wasn’t there so I’m only speculating and one shouldn’t speculate about such things unless one is the PM, which I was shocked to discover is short for Prime Minister and not Posing Model!

And speaking of not being flash, I must say that I was particularly shocked that Margaret Court is about to be given a Companion of Australia which is a higher honour than the one she has.

I’m not one of those left-wing people that think she should be excluded because of her views. After all, if we start excluding people from Australia Day honours just because their views are homophobic, racist, fascist, unscientific or ignorant, we’ll end up with a very small honours list indeed.

No, what surprised me was the number of people saying that she was being given it for her tennis! Given that she hasn’t won a grand slam event this century and that she already had a court named after her and the second highest gong, what tennis has she played to deserve an upgrade? I mean I’d not expecting Phar Lap to be named “Horse of the Year” or Bradman to be awarded the Alan Border medal any time soon, so I have to conclude that it’s her work spreading the word of Robert Copeland. (For those unfamiliar with the man, I’ve added a video at the end.) She apparently ordered a series of tapes from the Robert Copeland Ministries and that she wore them out which is a rather silly thing to do because that wouldn’t meet many dress codes. She then ordered a second set and this time she “listened to them until she was established in righteousness.”

So there, she’s established in righteousness, so take that people. When you call her self-righteous, she actually agrees.

Last year we had Bettina Arndt for her services to men and this year we have Court for her service game because what says “Australia” more than the capacity to hit a ball and if that’s not deserving of our highest honour, then what is?

Still, that controversy about changing the date just won’t go away… particularly when various media personalities and politicians start complaining about those suggesting a date change well before anyone has even mentioned it. I had an idea for a compromise this morning, so hear me out before you reject it out of hand.

Keep the date the same, but change the name. Yes, I have suggested calling it Rum Rebellion Day before because that actually occurred on January 26th and who couldn’t celebrate the overthrow of the ruling elite? Others have suggested it be called Invasion Day but that’s just likely to cause division.

No, I’m proposing we simply call it “White Australia Day”, because after all isn’t it actually celebrating the arrival of white people?

Ok, I realise that there may be some echo of the White Australia Policy which would make it seem a little racist, but surely the people who currently insist on keeping the date where it is would have no problem with a little racism. As for the rest of us, at least we’d know that those honouring the day have no doubt what they’re doing!

But is you want an unedited one:

 

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Don’t expect leadership from Scott Morrison

“You are only as good as your Cabinet” are words that make you think. For those of my vintage, it suggests a group of people who respect leadership and intelligence with the same broad objectives. Bob Hawke’s first Cabinet was such a group. They were a progressive bunch with the will to take the country forward, and they did so with hard work and diligence.

The Ministry included such luminaries as Hawke, Lionel Bowen, John Button, Paul Keating, Barry Jones, Bill Haydon, Susan Ryan, Mick Young and Gareth Evans.

Of course, talent doesn’t always follow those with degrees. The current Ministry is probably the most educated of all time, whereas the Hawke Cabinets conversely contained a fair few without degrees, other than life experience.

Sure, they had a bit of flair with a touch of Hawke larrikinism. Keating left school at 14, Mick Young worked as a shearer and roustabout, and Peter Walsh was a wheat and sheep farmer.

I mention these fleetingly because I have written in-depth on this subject before. I really wanted to comment on a few LNP politician’s behaviours who don’t represent the parties they stand for and are not representative of any standard of decency expected of our parliamentarians.

Let’s go back to President Trump’s Twitter ban and begin with the response by the climate change fact-denying, bible-bashing absentee George Christensen who believes that free speech that allows for the individual’s right to lie without consequence is a good thing:

“On Sunday, Christensen proposed laws to ‘stop social media platforms from censoring any and all lawful content created by their users’.”

He was, of course, opposing Twitter’s suspension of President Trump. Trump has been very active lately firing out violence-inspiring words. Words like these:

“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”

Trump’s speech was riddled with imagery of warlike-violence and I wonder if Mr Christensen supports this example of ‘free speech.’

The New York Timesreported that:

“Several laws clearly make it a crime to incite a riot or otherwise try to get another person to engage in a violent crime against property or people.”

Again, I wonder what George thinks of that?

Acting Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack has been criticised in the media when his words compared the riots with the recent Black Lives Matter marches.

If hydroxychloroquine-deviates like Christensen and the clearly incompetent McCormack want to express their views in the guise of free speech, it does not mean it should be free from ethics like truth, but people often demand free speech to compensate for the freedom of thought they rarely use.

Christensen and McCormack are but two of one of many in the government with these traits.

I can but humbly conclude that if you agree with Trump’s right to free speech and it contains actions that promote violence, then you must in part at least own a bit of the story.

Scott Ludlum takes a dig:

 

 

Both Christensen and Craig Kelly have also agreed with the President that hydroxychloroquine is an effective coronavirus treatment.

The point here is that Morrison’s Cabinet members and those outside it appear to have carte blanche to say what they want on any subject. Matt Canavan regularly does on energy and climate change as does Kelly. No strong leader would allow it.

Chris Bowen gives the impression he doesn’t think highly of those guys.

 

 

Of course, it must be remembered that the two of them have power over the Government who with a one-seat majority are still vulnerable on the floor of the House. If one of them crossed the floor, their demise could mean life or death for the Government. They know it, as does Morrison.

McCormack said that he did not believe Christensen or Kelly should be criticised for having different opinions. Still, when those opinions aren’t substantiated with facts, they are just baseless crap.

“Facts are sometimes contentious and what you might think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue … That is part of living in a democratic country,” McCormack said.

The Acting Prime Minister also doubled down on remarks he made comparing the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests to last week’s riot on the Capitol, saying “any form of violence” should be condemned.

McCormack, the acting Prime Minister while Scott Morrison takes a break, was asked whether Donald Trump should be removed from office for inciting the riots:

“It is unfortunate that we have seen the events at the Capitol Hill that we’ve seen in recent days, similar to those race riots that we saw around the country last year,” Mr McCormack told the ABC’s RN program.

In yet another tweet, Josh Frydenberg couldn’t support the Deputy Prime Minister quickly enough.

Tony Windsor also tweeted:

 

 

What is it in the Acting Prime Minister’s innermost thinking that compares a Black Death in custody with a protest by some uninformed “fascists”?

Now let’s move onto the Prime Minister and see how the leader is shaping up at the beginning of 2021.

Thus far, he has refused categorically to tell his backbench to stop spreading misinformation.

However, he tweeted:

 

 

The Australian chimed in:

 

 

On leave, the Prime Minister is quoted as saying that he is hoping for a peaceful transfer of power in the United States.

He criticised the rioters for their “terribly distressing” acts of violence in storming the Capitol building but could not find few condemning words for the President. When he asked the crowd to disperse, Trump’s mixed messages were overlooked when the rioters read between the lines.

Morrison also refused any criticism of others on his backbench (and others) for supporting and promoting unfounded conspiracy theories over the US presidential election results.

Anthony Albanese was direct and blunt in his response, saying the actions of the people involved were those of insurrectionists. In contrast, Malcolm Turnbull said Morrison had been “a bit weak” and “a bit tepid” compared to other world leaders’ condemnation.

So it has to be said that the Prime Minister is carrying a large amount of luggage from one year to the next he is also adding a significant amount into 2021.

2020 was a challenging year, and many societal and economic changes will be thrust on us by COVID-19. The Government is hardly likely to merge the economy with society and bring about a fairer governance system.

Their record whilst in power has been nothing short of deplorable. There are no “Liberals” left to bring about change that in turn would apply equality of opportunity, transparency, and an open government style that governs for all.

No doubt exists in my mind that all the small ‘L’ liberals have gone and we are left with a rabble of conservative, very right-wing Trump-like species who only have feelings for themselves. What’s in it for me?

The LNP is like the GOP. Both have lost the traditional values of at least having a heart. One only has to look at the decline in both their values over the past decade. They have sold them out to the corporations and the extreme right-wing of their parties, in other words, to the highest bidder who gives not a dam for the collective good.

America has proven that it can with the right people overcome the moronic-powerful like Trump, and this year Australia may have the same opportunity with Morrison.

The question is; Does Labor have the right people to do it?

My thought for the day

Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of life and grow over time. They govern moral choices and demonstrate empathy toward others. It is far better for those with these qualities to lead rather than follow. It is incumbent on them.

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The Trumpists are thriving in Oz

“Facts sometimes are contentious, aren’t they? And what you may think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue. And that’s part of living in a democratic country.” (Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack, January 12, 2021).

A neat four years ago Antique Barbie and Trump flunky Kellyanne Conway set the tone for a post-truth Trumpworld when she defended the tangerine tyrant’s ludicrous claims of an outsized inauguration crowd by invoking the Orwellian notion of “alternative facts”(1).

Fast forward from Trump’s Year Zero to when the seditionists and rioters obeyed the command of the despotic, half-sucked mango seed by attempting to literally torch American democracy, aided and abetted from within by treasonous, mercenary GOP urgers and spivs. All the result of four years of accumulated alternative facts and “fake news” gaslighting.

Across the Trump years tens of millions of willing dupes, oiks, the useful idiotista, Qrackpots, slope-shouldered racists and stool samplers wallowed in a steady effluvium of post-truth ordure that megaphoned Trump’s self-aggrandising lies and whiney grievance mongering.

But, the introductory quote at the start of this rant is not from some Trump vassal pissing out of the tent, it is not an artefact from crazy-town nor is it from the toxic bile factory that trades as the Dirty Digger’s Fox News. It is Australia’s acting Prime Minister Mickey The Dip McCormack speaking mere days after an attempted coup that was fuelled by “contentious facts”.

Apart from its timing the context of the quote is two-fold. Firstly, Mickey has an intellect that would not challenge foliage. He’s as thick as a coal miner’s sandwich yet he’s apparently the best and brightest the National Party has to offer – i.e. the least worst option. Secondly, he was defending the Trumpist effluent of two of the most egregious examples of the far right dross that has infected our own politics – specifically the swivel-eyed, Pete Evans-level Covid quackery from failed furniture salesman Fatty Carbuncle and, by extension, the trumpetings of Gorgeous George the Manila back street trawler and blubbertigibbet.

The BMI of these two globular nongs is such that they affect weather patterns, but that is not particularly germaine other than that these self-proclaimed champions of free speech should not have any problem with the deployment of a gratuitous sledge, yeah? The hypocrisy and idiocies of their flatulent gibberings have, following Trump’s attempted democrocide, received wide exposure and deserved ridicule but the bigger picture is the refusal of their respective masters to either call them to heel or penalise their Trumpian fanboy distortion of pandemic science and their anti-democratic blatherings and what that says about the mindset of the Tory side of our politics. Trumpism is a dangerous psychosis but both Scooter Morrison and Mickey Mac have now acknowledged by default that it has a home in the L/NP.

As the Tories go about their routine tasks of shovelling public money and assets to themselves and their cronies their ideological slide to the loony right has developed a distinctly orange tinge.

When Josh Freudenberg and Call Me Dave Sharma, two prominent Jewish Tory MPs, one an ostensible Prime Minister-in-waiting, the other an ex-Ambassador to Israel, jump aboard the anti-Twitter “free speech” ruse that propagates Nazi rhetoric and promotes Proud Boys’ fascist merch then something is deeply, deeply awry.

Scooter himself, interrupting his holidaying lifestyle to spend a few days attending to photo ops, has pointedly refused to criticise Trump in any way. Perhaps that’s down to Trump’s bestowal upon him of the Legion of Merit – the Right does so appreciate shiny baubles, ostentatious trophies and grandiose titles. The absurdity of a cowardly draft dodger gifting a militarty honour to a bloke whose first instinct is to flee from a crisis is lost on Scooter of course. Coming from Trump that medal merely symbolises Morrison’s membership of the cult of the citrus clunge.

From birtherism to The Big Lie (“the election was rigged”) Trump has long signalled his character. His betrayal of America is not new despite which Scooter has gone beyond the protocols of relationships between national leaders. His embrace of Trumpism was always enthusiastic, unquestioning and compliant with Trump’s grotesque adulteration of accepted norms and institutions. As one example Scooter, champion of the economy-first neo-lib mindset, jeopardised Australia’s economic interests on the altar of Trumpism by leading with his chin at the orange one’s urging to openly and loudly insult China.

Two deluded non-entities shouting at clouds from the backbench should be an amusing sideshow, after all the Tory goat rodeo had Abbott and Joyce in the two top jobs for a time. But Carbuncle and Gorgeous G are symptoms not abberations. With one notable exception(2), and Morrison’s dissembling weasel words aside, no Tory MP has condemned the radical right insurrection in the US last week.

Across the board the self-proclaimed champions of free speech hypocritically loathe any free speech that is not their own. They always have. Scrutiny, questioning, dissent, alternative views, truth…they don’t like it. Parliament, journalists, unions, the ABC, judges, scientists, academics, environmentalists, whistleblowers, safe schools, you and me…we’re all existing or potential targets for their mendacity.

RWNJ opinion is now the news. The Tories all watched Trump, they all liked what they saw. All the little lies are useful and the Big Lie almost worked.

What most citizens of Oz are not watching is our own Trumpist, post-truth creep to far right shitfuckery and that suits the Tories just fine.


(1) “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” George Orwell. 1984.

(2) Matt Keane, NSW Minister For The Environment

 

Image from 98five.com

 

Image from time.com (Photographer: Marco Bello/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

 

This article was originally published on Grumpy Geezer.

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Now is not the time for subsidy cuts, says ACTU

The timing of cuts to government welfare subsidy programs such as JobSeeker and JobKeeper still lacks an appropriate nature at the start of 2021 as the Australian economy still lags in times of a recession, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said in its New Year’s message.

Addressing the nation’s workforce, and speaking specifically to the plight of the unemployed, under-employed and those labouring in insecure jobs, Scott Connolly, the ACTU’s assistant secretary, said that while unemployment rates remain high, the Morrison government going ahead with its cuts to subsidy packages takes much-needed money out of the hands of those who can best boost the nation’s flagging economy.

Initially lauded for introducing subsidies to help the suddenly-unemployed when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, the government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison and federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has proceeded to slash JobSeeker recipients’ coronavirus subsidy from its original $550 per fortnight to complement the old NewStart base rate of $559.00 per fortnight, to $250 per fortnight as of 25 September to $150 per fortnight effective their first full fortnightly reporting interval in 2021.

Connolly cites that living on an average of $51.20 per day after the most recent cut leaves JobSeeker recipients struggling even further to spend money on life’s necessities of rent, bills, and groceries, let alone anything beyond them.

“After a year spent battling bushfires and surviving a pandemic, the last thing Australians should have to worry about now is how they will pay their bills or put food on the table,” Connolly said on Friday.

The JobKeeper subsidy is also meeting the government’s machete chops, to the tune of $100 per fortnight, taking it to $1000 per fortnight for workers that had performed part- or full-time positions, or $650 per fortnight for those working under 20 hours per week.

And Connolly stresses that the cuts add up, especially for those who had been used to the struggles of their normal everyday lives.

“For many Australians, the JobKeeper coronavirus supplement meant that for the first time, they were able to eat three meals a day, or purchase much-needed medications,” Connolly said.

“To take that away from them now as this difficult year draws to a close is both callous and heartbreaking,” he added.

As reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last month in its November figures, the national unemployment rate continues to hover at 6.8 per cent – which represents an improvement of 0.2 per cent from October as workers who were put aside by their employers at the start of the pandemic returned to their duties represented a portion of those responsible for the improved numbers.

However, as the union movement and the Australian workforce continue to struggle with the impact of the current state of unemployed and under-employed as well as those embroiled in a spate of insecure jobs, Connolly also cites the recent resurgence of positive COVID-19 cases in New South Wales and Victoria as another factor as to why Morrison and Frydenberg would have been justified to delay the current round of cuts.

In fact, Connolly and the ACTU claim that the failure to even consider this action revealed a lack of proper initiative on the part of the government.

“With COVID-19 resurging in NSW and the national economic crisis far from over, cutting economic support to millions of struggling Australians is also an extremely irresponsible act,” Connolly said.

Bill Shorten, the former leader of the Labor party now serving Anthony Albanese’s shadow government as its minister for government services, concurs that the timing is poor to go ahead with the scheduled cuts.

“The government should reconsider it,” Shorten told Nine’s Today program on December 29.

“We are not out of the woods yet with this pandemic and the economic effects. They are reverberating around the economy, especially in regional towns and suburbs where there are a lot of casual workers who have bourne the biggest brunt.

“For the less well off, we shouldn’t be cutting their circumstances at this point in time,” Shorten added.

Youth unemployment remains another factor which the unions and government figures alike are grappling with, as the recent round of cuts will likely hit workers aged 16-to-24 years of age even worse.

According to the ABS in its November statistics on employment, youth unemployment currently sits at 15.6 per cent – and noting a 12-month increase of 4.1 per cent over the year before – and while that figure calculates to more than double of the national general rate of unemployment, fears abound of what impact that may have on the economy.

Especially when disabling demographics of people who are otherwise motivated to spend money to inspire a struggling economy.

“Cutting the rates of JobKeeper and JobSeeker is only going to worsen the impact of the coronavirus crisis on young workers and our community. We need jobs, not cuts,” Young Workers Centre manager Arian McVeigh said back in September, when the first cuts to JobSeeker and JobKeeper were on the eve of occurring.

 

Arian McVeigh, manager of the Young Workers Centre, who warned about the impact of JobSeeker and JobKeeper cuts back in September (Photo from abc.net.au)

 

Moreover, when the initial JobSeeker and JobKeeper cuts took effect, it was forecast to stifle the Australian economy by $31.2 billion according to a joint report from economics analysis firm Deloitte and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) – and while real figures to confirm the degree of impact have yet to be released, agreements range widely outside of government figures which confirm that consumers lack the confidence to spend money.

Advocates for the “Raise The Rate For Good” hashtag trending across social media would claim that a move to raising the old NewStart rate permanently – which has not occurred since 1994 – would help restore that confidence.

And while the ACTU has pushed for that payment to resemble the original JobSeeker amount, Labor ministers such as Shorten and Linda Burney, the ALP’s shadow minister for families and social services, have vowed to attack the issue when Parliament sits for the first time in 2021 next month before the current rate of JobSeeker and JobKeeper subsidies are set to expire at the end of March.

“Around two million Australians will be impacted by the government’s scheduled cut to the coronavirus supplement next March,” Burney said last month when announcing a similar bill to the upper house.

“Returning unemployment support to the old base rate places millions of Australians at risk of hardship and jeopardises local jobs,” added Burney.

 

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Aged care’s pandemic reply still a mess, unions say

The Morrison government has failed to respond specifically to the findings of the recent Aged Care Royal Commission and the problem points and issues revealed from it – and the longer which that persists, especially on the findings specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, the longer the crisis over the aged care sector will go on, members of Australia’s union movement said on Tuesday.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) asserted that the government – specifically aimed at Prime Minister Scott Morrison and indicted by association, Greg Hunt, the government’s health minister, and Richard Colbeck, the government’s minister for aged care – will not address shortages and shortcomings in providing responses to staffing levels, training or transparency within the aged care system.

“This Government needs to take responsibility for the years of understaffing and low wages in aged care. There have been 685 preventable deaths caused by COVID-19,” said Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s president.

“In the midst of a crisis in aged care which has been exacerbated by a pandemic, aged care workers need more funding, and they need that funding to be tied to outcomes for staff and residents so it cuts through the bloated for-profit system.

“Yesterday, the Morrison Government opposed legislation to require aged care providers to publicly report on how they spend their revenue. Accountability for government funding is long overdue,”

O’Neil and the ACTU were responding specifically to an announcement on Monday from Hunt regarding a $132.2 million investment package which, in representing the government’s official response to the findings of the Aged Care Royal Commission as it pertains to the needs brought on by the pandemic, included a detailed breakdown of spendings on top of a $245 million funding in August.

“This investment directly addresses issues raised by the Aged Care Royal Commission and will improve and support the health and wellbeing of aged care residents most significantly impacted by COVID-19,” said Hunt upon announcing the new package of investment.

“For our aged care sector, the revised plan allows flexibility to manage individual situations in each state and territory [and] also builds on and consolidates the critical and successful work already undertaken by the Commonwealth government,” said Hunt.

Colbeck said that the current updated plan attached to the new investment was created upon conjunction with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s Aged Care Advisory Group (ACAG), thereby meeting one of the Royal Commission’s aims.

“While we hope there won’t be further COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care facilities or in home care, if it does happen, key learnings will inform the future work of the ACAG and be shared with the aged care sector,” said Colbeck.

Previously, Annie Butler, the national secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), said that her union had welcomed the six basic conclusions from the Aged Care Royal Commission’s findings, but still fears that maximum protections for older Australians living in nursing homes and aged care facilities will not be met.

“Nursing homes desperately need additional nurses and care staff to provide safe, effective care outcomes for residents, not just to enable more visitors,” Butler said in October, shortly after the Royal Commission’s findings were released.

“While that is critical for the wellbeing of residents, more staff are urgently needed just to meet basic needs for residents in far too many nursing homes.

“Our members have been on the frontline during the pandemic and have witnessed how it has stretched staff and resources even further, again demonstrating the importance of having sufficient staffing levels and skills mix, to cope with intensified demands and workloads,” added Butler.

O’Neil suggested that the government utilise a quota-based system which possesses a variety of skill sets to suit the needs of a maligned aged care sector, whose shortcomings in a privatised status continue to be greatly exposed during the pandemic.

“The crisis in aged care won’t be turned around by one announcement, this government shows no commitment to the long-term change which it has been told again and again is necessary,” said O’Neil.

“We need minimum staffing levels with a mandated mix of skills on every shift in every workplace. This announcement takes us no closer to this goal.

“Mandated training requirements are urgently needed to ensure that workers and residents are safe. This announcement will do nothing to improve training,” O’Neil added.

Butler suggested that any additional funding, regardless of when it would become available, be used in a targeted budget approach in intended areas rather than a government-based value-for-money tactic would be of better use to the sector.

“We welcome the recommendation for immediate additional funding, but reiterate the need for greater transparency for any additional government funding, because aged care providers must be held accountable – and actually use the money for its intended purpose of employing additional nurses and carers for the depleted sector,” she said.

Ultimately, O’Neil languishes at the likes of Hunt and Colbeck failing to adhere to finding common ground between the Aged Care Royal Commission’s findings and the needs of the aged care sector itself.

“We have been willing to work with the Morrison government on this issue. So it is deeply regrettable that they continue to ignore the expertise of the workers in the sector,” said O’Neil.

 

 

 

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Blunder from Down Under

According to Richard Denniss, the chief economist and former executive director of The Australia Institute, government spending is the key prop of the Australian economy.

Denniss’ stark observation comes on the day (02/09/2020) Australia slips to its lowest ebb since the Great Depression, and the day after the Federal Government throttled the Job Seeker and Job Keeper programmes.

This calculated shift to calamitous austerity comes at a time when the cost of money is at an all-time nadir. So low that at the start of the week Governor Philip Lowe of the Reserve Bank of Australia said, “fiscal and monetary support will be required for some time given the outlook for the economy and the prospect of high unemployment.”

So why is Australia plunging into a rapidly emptying summer swimming pool? The answer can be found in the mutterings of the far right extremists now in charge of the National and Liberal parties, and our national destiny

There is no stopping this wrecking crew. Thus far TheUsual Suspects – Craig Kelly MP, Josh Frydenberg MP and Senator Richard Colbeck are blaming Victorian Premier Dan Andrews for the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. And calling for the use of a dangerous, ineffective drug to treat the disease, while denying responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of men and women languishing in a privatised aged care system.

But all this is as nothing when compared with the embarrassment of the Blunder from Down Under, the onion eating serial misogynist, and climate denying failed Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

I do not intend to quote this English-born ex politician, but provide this link to one of many news reports documenting the ravings of this benighted twerp. For the record, when asked his opinion of Abbott’s appointment to a Tory sinecure in the Old Dart, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “well done Boris! Good hire”.

With this vapid observation dutifully reported by Sky News we are hearing the death rattle of neo-conservatism.

There is no Plan B. No Snap Back. No stratagem for life after the pandemic. Nor is there a chance for an upswing in trade with China. Instead, science is ridiculed. Conspiracy theories rule the popular imagination while our future wealth and security – superannuation — is being dismantled.

Bush fires, a pandemic and the Liberal National Coalition are making 2020 one of the worst years in the nation’s history. The cruel irony is this did not have to happen. We are where we are because we made it so at the ballot box. We chose Rex Patrick, Richard Colbeck, Jacquie Lambie, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Bob Katter, Pauline Hanson; the list is long. We claimed to be sick of politicians yet chose to believe Clive Palmer’s lies.

We read The Australian, The Herald Sun, and The Daily Telegraph. We laughed at the cartoons of Bill and Johannes Leak, and called friends and family members with alternative views, left wing radicals. And we stood by and allowed our female political leaders to be characterised as barren.

Our ally the United States of America now normalises armed militias patrolling the streets of once great cities. We watch black men and women, strangled, bludgeoned, gassed and shot in the back, and yet we do not ask ourselves, ‘could this happen here?’ But this is life for many Aboriginal Australians.

On May 19 2019, I described the day after the election. Reading back I think I managed to capture the menace of the time:

“Dark morning air is crisp across southern Australia, warm and dry north of the Tropic of Capricorn. A short, late autumn day beckons. Communities recently described by their Federal electorate names; Corangamite, Dunkley, Hughes, Fraser, Deakin, Gilmore, Higgins, Dickson and many more, awaken to more familiar urban, regional and rural denominations. And though the election is over the outcome is unclear, at least in this electorate, or that Senate position. But certain certainties remain.

A young shivering tradie walks to his ute, fires up the motor and switches on talk-back radio.

A grumpy grey nomad passes driving duties to his wife. Their 4×4 and trailer swing northeast toward Kynuna. The couple is heading to Birdsville in the Maranoa electorate and a campsite near the Goyder Lagoon.

In the Grayndler electorate a young Balmain woman, trim in well-tailored sweat gear, promises to meet her friends in the Piccolo Bar for a skim latte. The pilates class is over. She is curious about an overheard, heated conversation. The Adani coal mine might actually go ahead.

Dry hoar frost crackles beneath the boots of a vintner surveying vines outside Wellington in the Federal seat of Calare in the central west of NSW. He waves toward a convoy of trucks laden with hay for drought-parched station owners and goodies for their children and wives. For an instant, he wonders if the trucks might stop at the Nanima Aboriginal Reserve where his great aunt once lived.

And so to Beamish Street Campsie in the electorate of Watson named in honour of John Christian Watson, an Australian prime minister in the early 20th Century. Few of Campsie’s citizens know Chris Watson led the world’s first “labour party” government, and believed to be the first social democratic government.

In Macleay Street Potts Point a poster of a smiling Kerryn Phelps, Federal Member for Wentworth, gazes at a batch of empty shop fronts across the road from the El Alamein Fountain.

Journalists wrote hundreds of thousands of words about this day in the life of the people of a nation, who for the past three years wrestled with notions of entitlement, a fair go, and the difference between leaners and lifters. As the morning stretches toward noon, citizens begin to ponder this new day within their respective bubbles, a word favoured by the Federal Member for Cook, Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The grey nomad urges more speed to get to the campsite on the shores of the Goyder Lagoon in time to set up before the fast approaching sunset.

“You’re thinking about catching that big Murray Cod,” his wife says.

“Hope so. If there’s any left,” he replies, adding,”there’s plenty of water flowing into Lake Eyre. She’ll be right.”

“Yeah I know,” she says, “and we’ll have these memories to savour when we go into care”…

A red light begins to flash on the dashboard.”

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

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The traits of right-wing extremism

By Kathryn

There is so much hatred and violence in an ever-increasingly right-wing world mismanaged by totally corrupt, self-serving, profit-obsessed sociopaths like Donald Trump (USA), aided and abetted by the likes of Scott Morrison (Australia) and Johnson (UK); all of whom love to ramp up hate-speech, encourage turmoil and public disobedience (when it benefits them) and remain silent – even acquiescent – when their fascist police force start brutalising black people, or when minorities are victimised at the hands of right-wing white supremacists!

This is the type of thing happens – inevitably – following the rising amount of hate speech, intolerance, division and victimisation of vulnerable people and minorities under ultra conservative, right-wing extremism.

Right-wing extremists are, truly, the most dangerous and hateful of all forms of political leaders. Add the fact that so many of them are bible-thumping hypocrites into the bargain and it makes them even more offensive!

It doesn’t take much before the worst of them quickly degenerate into power-obsessive fascism, pushing through terrifying policies that whittle away the democratic freedoms of others to protest, to voice their condemnation of the stone cold neo-liberalism that thrives during their tyrannical mismanagement, the escalating nepotism, the increasing lies and staggering waste and misuse of taxpayer funds, the never-ending expenditure on war and weapons of war at the expense of the poor, the disadvantaged and their never-ending attacks and defundment of State education and health care.

Image from nbcnews.com

Hitler and Mussolini are examples of what can happen when right-wing extremism goes horribly wrong – doesn’t take much before it slides into fascism! Right now, we have this form of right-wing terrorism in Brazil under the fascist jackboot of Jair Bolsonaro. The fact that Trump has an increasingly similar style of megalomaniacal, narcissistic sociopathy cannot be ignored!

 

 

The contemptuous arrogance, the despicable declarations of “fake news”, the stubborn refusal to take any responsibility for their appalling recklessness, the increasing incidences of self-serving rorting of taxpayer-funds and blatant corruption that goes on and on without consequence, their total lack of foresight and zero integrity, the absolute determination to rule at any cost no matter how low they have to stoop to maintain their power – all of this is the common thread that seems to bind right-wing extremists around the world.

The only thing useless, non-achieving right-wing parasites are adept at is playing the relentless blame game of anyone and everyone for their own catastrophic ineptitude. Trump goes on and on and on blaming Obama (who was the best President the USA ever had); the lying, conniving LNP (in Australia) never stop blaming everyone but themselves – particularly the Labor government who have not been in government for over seven years; Boris Johnson and the smug Tories never seem to tire of pointing a finger at left-wing or environmentally-aware politicians in the UK (and around the world). The fact that these ruthless, ultra-conservative despots also have a tendency to take over and influence the media is a red flag warning as to their total disregard for our democracy and their contempt for our right to impartiality of the media! In Australia, we have the LNP forming a notorious – and totally undemocratic – alliance with Rupert Murdoch and his IPA (the Institute of Public Affairs). The IPA are a group of self-serving, unelected, multi-millionaire corporate predators who have undue, enormous influence and control over conservative politicians in the LNP in order to promote and encourage policies that will enrich and empower themselves at the expense of ordinary Australians.

The horrendous and unspeakable evil alliance the LNP have formed with the malevolent, non-Australian media overlord, Rupert Murdoch, has done so much damage to our democracy, freedom of the press and factual, fair reporting of our media – it is an unfolding tragedy. Ever since the disreputable John Howard changed the rules that once prohibited a single entity owning a huge majority of our media, Murdoch’s influence – and, by association – the influence of the LNP/IPA Alliance, has infiltrated, influenced and manipulated more than 70% of Australia’s media making it one of the most biased and contaminated forms of media in the free world.

Murdoch is now widely regarded throughout Australia as the totally biased Propaganda Minister to the LNP, doing everything they can to character-assassinate, denigrate and ridicule any opposition to the LNP/Murdoch/IPA Alliance of mutually benefiting multi-millionaire corporate predators. It is right-wing degeneracy at its worst!

Tragically, the above-named ‘traits’ are the modus operandi; what we now know to be the standard procedure of malevolent, self-obsessed, right-wing megalomaniacs who, once seizing power (through fair means and foul), hang on to it with bloodstained fingers, using their political power to openly favour their billionaire corporate donors over everyone else to ensure that they push through cruel, capitalistic policies that will vastly enhance their own personal wealth and power (and the wealth and power of their obscenely wealthy and powerful cronies).

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Aussie Politics in 2022

As one speculates on the deteriorating trajectory of the Australian economy under the stranglehold of COVID-19, it’s not hard to see the gradual demise of the Morrison government as we limp toward 2022, despite the perception that they have managed the whole health crisis reasonably well.

With an election not due until mid-2022, something Labor can count as a blessing, the Coalition will be hard pressed to explain to an impatient electorate as to why things are taking so long to improve.

By 2022, the economy will still be very fragile, with unemployment likely to remain high, perhaps as much as 8% without JobKeeper and a new improved JobSeeker. Combine that with outstanding bond issues close to, or in excess of, $1 trillion dollars and a government ideologically committed to reducing this fake debt and its deficit spending, a prolonged period of low wage growth and rising inflation will persist.

By that time, however, the patience of the Australian voter will have run out. No longer will they believe the rhetoric, the mantras or the likely dire predictions of the Murdoch media that an incoming Labor government would be worse.

It will become apparent to those middle-class swinging voters who view themselves as little capitalists, that a marked decline in living standards has occurred for which the Conservatives have failed to adequately respond to, or appear to be able to remedy.

It’s a scenario similar to 1983 when we saw the Hawke Labor government elected following a period of high unemployment and economic mismanagement under the Fraser government….the one where John Howard was Treasurer.

Labor went on to lead the country for the next 13 years. They introduced several major economic reforms that fundamentally changed and elevated the Australian economy to a point, somewhat ironically, where conditions in a growing world economy enabled the very same, Lazarus performing John Howard to subsequently govern and to be seen to be so successful.

Ironic because, if a conservative Government had remained in power during that time, they would never have had the vision necessary to enact those reforms themselves.

By 2022, with much of the world still struggling under the weight of post-Covid mismanagement and conservative governments under increasing pressure to perform better, time will have run out for Scotty from Marketing, assuming of course, that he is still there.

That does not assume either, that Anthony Albanese will still be there. Bright minds with more charismatic appeal and a flair for theatre are already waiting in the wings establishing their credentials. Just as Labor’s Bill Hayden was convinced to stand aside in 1983, so too might Albanese. If events become such that a quick leadership change may be seen as a pragmatic, if not irresistible opportunity, it could happen.

The Morrison Government, however, will be on a hiding to nothing. They have only ever looked good when the economy was on auto-pilot. Their lack of vision has always been their undoing. Once events transpire to challenge their capacity to be innovative and creative, they collapse in a clumsy heap of confusion and dysfunction.

There will be a lot of challenges for the Coalition over the next 18 months; challenges they will struggle with, ideologically. History tells us that it won’t end well.

Over time, history has a habit of repeating itself politically and such a time, for Australian politics, is less than two years from now. So let the games begin.

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Hungry miles

The other day a relative said she felt uneasy and that the present situation seems unreal. She described a sense of foreboding despite warm weather and clear, blue skies.

She is correct. We are experiencing an inexorable transformation. It is quieter. We are adjusting to isolation to save our lives, and by so doing witnessing a transformation on how we carry out our daily tasks.

Each night we watch this phenomena unfold across the world.

July 20 1969 is the last time I recall a similar occurrence, when humanity stopped and watched men walk on the moon. But in this new century, a virus is calling a halt and by so doing changing everything … at least for some.

There is no such change for neo-conservatives. The spawn of Friedrich August von Hayek, Ayn Rand and others, as typified by Donald Trump and Scott Morrison, truly believe business as usual once the pandemic subsides. But nothing could be further from the truth.

As I walk around the block for daily exercise I notice abandoned taxi cabs — parked nose to tail, on quiet inner city streets where I live. And there are tradie vans, valuable work equipment stashed on their roofs, similarly abandoned. Each vehicle is a rusting, dust-covered talisman of a crashing economy.

And yet Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg persist with the notion of Snap Back. In my opinion this is as dangerous an illusion as Donald Trump promoting the virtues of Hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19.

A democracy beset by deflation cannot and will not return to normal with the snap of a finger. Those abandoned taxis will not pull away from the kerbside and convey passengers to mythical cross-town destinations.

So why persist with the illusion that Australia and the world will return to the way things once were? The answer is stark. Neo-conservatives consider the pandemic an economic rather than a health and social crisis.

When people are ill En masse, as is the case now, they cannot go about their daily lives. Thus our only option is to do as we are doing, namely stop everything, stem the spread of the illness and remove the threat of the virus infecting the citizenry. Developing a vaccine is a hallowed grail, but until this is achieved, it is the role of government to sustain the populace no matter the cost. To not do so is to flirt with social chaos.

As far as I am concerned neo-conservative delusions can take a long walk off a short pier and yet this twaddle peddled by John Roskam of the tax-exempt Institute of Public Affairs, makes yet another neo-conservative demand. You can guarantee this asinine rubbish will become a rallying cry of The Australian newspaper and its addled cousin Sky After Dark. Both enterprises by the way, are haemorrhaging cash, courtesy of a crash in advertising revenue.

If Roskam’s demands are heeded, particularly cutting tax, an accelerated economic collapse is inevitable. Yet this ideologue of the right wing of the Liberal Party ignores stark facts. For example, the dissipation of daily revenue for states and territories due to a shortfall in train and bus fares could endanger a slew of public amenities such as schools and hospitals. So it is fair to demand Roskam’s bankers, the coal industry et al, to pay their fair share. If Roskam or Gina Reinhardt acquires Covid 19, chances are they, like England’s Boris Johnson, will be treated by publicly trained nurses and allied health staff.

Roskam goes on to say, it “isn’t only an agenda for (tax) reform. It’s an agenda to provide what Australia needs most at the moment, which is hope for a more prosperous future”.

There are two problems with his opinion; income is collapsing at an alarming rate vis a vis those abandoned taxis, and hope for a prosperous future is for now, illusory.

Thankfully Australia is led by a National Cabinet comprising three Labor premiers and two Labor chief ministers. As long as this arrangement remains in place, we will probably be spared the worst excesses of those IPA’s spruikers Scottie from Marketing and Peter Dutton, whose culpability over the Ruby Princess debacle verges on the criminal.

Those abandoned taxis I mentioned earlier, line inner city streets which, three quarters of a century ago became known in Sydney as The Hungry Mile.

If we remain calm and ignore the lunatic demands of the far right, we just might avoid the formation of hundreds of hungry miles snaking across the roads and highways of the United States.

So no more calls about tax reform please, Mr Roskam. Instead demand a fair wage for our public health workers, our teachers, our internet technicians, our police officers and the underpaid workers in local grocery stores, who are keeping us fed, healthy and connected.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

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Fear and loathing in the Tory Party

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” (Hanlon’s razor).

As we enter year 7 of the biggest fustercluck in our political history the ongoing, mind-numbing incompetence of this “government” may lead some to overlook the malignant mendacity and grift that is archetypical of our Tory kakocracy. Hanlon’s razor may be valid in many contexts including the ballot box behaviour of about half of the voting public but it does not apply to the malicious L/NP nightmare itself.

The primary, defining characteristic of a Tory is avarice. Many of them even reimage their deity to accommodate their greed and selfishness. The party once shaped by an old-fashioned protestant work ethic is now captive to hypocritical religious nutters of creationists and exit-through-the-gift-shop Mammonites.

Hand in glove with their covetous, bespoke piety is their fear and paranoia. Fear of the unknown, fear that science challenges their ooga-booga superstitions and biases, fear that change will threaten the inherent privileges of the status quo, fear that equality jeoparises their rightful place at the top of the pile. Their paranoia is that for them to win others must lose. Where rational people see opportunity in change and equality they see only danger.

They fear anyone with alternative opinions, they fear those with facts and figures. They fear dissent, they fear Labor, the Greens, greenies, unions, GetUp, Extinction Rebellion, knitting nannas, Lock The Gate, school kids, Greta Thunberg, the ABC, the CSIRO, the BoM, NASA, social media, moderates, lefties and anyone not like them. They fear you and me.

Their fear manifests itself in their attacks on scrutiny, their autocracy, their bullying, their constant lying and misrepresentations, their abuse of trusted institutions and conventions, and their protection rackets for their fellow-travelling carpet baggers, corporate grifters and thieves. But above all, what they fear is being found out.

What they want is “quiet Australians” – the uninterested, unquestioning, complacent sheep who’ll keep them in power. Unfortunately for them the signs of a ruined environment and its consequences are becoming too obvious for all but the morons to ignore. This is THE issue that will remove these malicious, corrupt cretins from power. Unfortunately for us, until that happens, irrevokable damage will be caused to the planet and to democracy. It’s up to the noisy Australians to make sure the Tory’s worst fears are realised and that collectively they all shit their pants one last time.

This article was originally published on The Grumpy Geezer.

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Just not cricket, Mr Morrison.

“Going to be a great summer of cricket, and for our firefighters and fire-impacted communities, I’m sure our boys will give them something to cheer about,” Morrison tweets Wednesday, at the Gabba, prompting former Wentworth MP and AMA President, Kerryn Phelps, to reply that it must be the empathy consultant’s day off.

Reading between the lines, the PM is overwhelmed by nostalgia for a simpler, quieter, Boys’ Own Australia where flannelled fools at the wicket and muddied oafs at the goals” commanded a man’s full attention and respect.

Australia’s Dear Leader is looking forward to kicking back at the end of a big year of getting in touch with his inner totalitarian; denouncing Labor at every turn in a perpetual campaign of hyper-partisan hysteria, union-bashing, evading scrutiny if not accountability and reforming his Party Room. Discussion and debate are all but eliminated.

Now MPs meet to view a PM’s PowerPoint of his latest talking points and vacuous slogans in silence. No smartarse remarks. Apart from his own. Morrison continues to put his foot in his mouth whenever he goes off script.

Something for the burnt-out to cheer about? It’s a shocker. Any self-respecting empathy consultant would run sobbing from the room, in search of another job. A gig with the Duke of York’s media team holds more appeal.

Opportunity beckons. Bond University and RMIT are cutting ties with Pitch@Palace, the disgraced Duke’s business mentoring charity, which once held a business pitching contest every October at Government House in Perth. The UK’s The Daily Telegraph reports that Andrew is no longer leading Pitch which will continue sans royal support.

Ironically, Bond could not recall $50 million stashed overseas when he appeared in Sydney’s Federal Court in 1994. Later, he served three and half years in prison, for stealing $1200 million from Bell Resources’ shareholders. It is the biggest fraud in Australia’s history, maintains Paul Barry. But Bond University still bears his name.

Shocking memory problems also now plague Prince Andrew, former host of Pitch@Palace, who claims he has no recollection of having ever met Virginia Roberts, a seventeen year old, whom convicted paedophile and financial hustler, the late Jeffrey Epstein, is alleged to have procured for his royal highness. His account is hotly contested.

Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, tells the BBC’s Emily Maitlis the Duke had sex with her three times. The interview will screen 2 December. Giuffre claims Epstein trafficked her to powerful people and then used her as blackmail.

In New York court documents, prosecutors allege Epstein “enticed and recruited, and caused to be enticed and recruited, minor girls to visit” his homes “to engage in sex acts with him, after which he would give the victims hundreds of dollars in cash”. They say that “to maintain and increase his supply of victims, Epstein also paid certain of his victims to recruit additional girls to be similarly abused by him.”

The Duke insists, in an interview with The BBC’s Emily Maitlis, he was at home after a family party, a right royal pizza with the lot at Pizza Express in Woking? He can remember the day, date and year. It’s a lot to swallow. Never met Ms Roberts, no. Sex? No. He’d know “… if you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody.”

Naturally, The Duchess of York, a title she may keep as long she does not remarry, Sarah Ferguson, rushes to Instagram to defend her ex-husband. Andrew’s “a giant of a principled man” but after his gigantic train-wreck BBC interview, he may need a little professional help. As could our cricketers – with a very different type of pitch.

With “our boys”, Morrison instantly dismisses women’s cricket as anything uplifting. Australia is number one in the world in women’s cricket but you’d never know it from his utterly thoughtless and insensitive comment.

Does he not know, moreover, that our boys’ ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, last year, has brought the men’s game into grave disrepute? Cricket Australia (CA) itself is in trouble.

Last year, an independent review found that players live in a “gilded bubble — disconnected, for much of each year, from families, friends and the grounding influence of community”.

CA’s review findings are resonant with meaning for all walks of corporate life and contemporary politics.

Cricketers, today’s gladiators, see themselves as being part of a “machine that is fine-tuned for the sole purpose of winning”, reviewers tut-tut, deploring CA’s win-at-all-costs culture. Imagine. “The reputation of the game of cricket as played by men has been tainted.” Moreover, CA has an “arrogant, controlling and commercialised” culture which reacts to adversity by bullying or ostracising. In brief, it acts like any other corporate enterprise.

Above all, however, CA lacks accountability to its stakeholders, the public. Its independent report is redacted despite all promise of transparency from CA chairman, David Peever. Nor will it publish minutes of its meetings.

It’s not just cricket. CA’s reviewers could be talking about the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Coalition government or its backers, the banks, especially Westpac, which is also in the news, this week, over twenty-three million breaches of money-laundering laws. Happily, after an emergency meeting, CEO, Brian Hartzer, gets to keep his job.

As do the board of directors and the “senior executive team”. The show must go on. And on. The best the PM can manage is to tell 3AW’s Neil Mitchell and ABC Radio’s AM that it’s not up to the government.

“It’s not for the government to say who should be in those jobs or not, but they should be taking this very seriously, reflecting on it very deeply, and taking the appropriate decisions for the protection of people’s interests in Australia. These are some very disturbing, very disturbing transactions involving despicable behaviour.”

Work experience boy, Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg is asked on ABC Insiders what would he do. Do? “Hard Discussions,” is all he can manage. No-one now seriously believes he has the will or the authority to take a bank to task.

Yet it’s a serious breach and it exposes major flaws in the system. Banks are exploiting loopholes. Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws have been broken by Westpac, alleges AUSTRAC – on 23 million occasions. This includes failing to adequately monitor the accounts of a convicted child sex offender who was regularly sending money to the Philippines. Morrison says it shows the system is working.

Westpac more generally failed to “carry out appropriate due diligence on customers sending money to the Philippines and South East Asia for known child exploitation risks,” the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre – Australia’s financial intelligence unit and its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator, AUSTRAC alleges.

Westpac is unlikely to be alone, writes regulatory expert Nathan Lynch. The story behind the story is industrial scale tax avoidance, the concealing of enormous cross-border payments. Yet it’s not up to the government?

Morrison’s hands-free policy with a bank is in complete contrast to his government’s Ensuring Integrity (EI) bill which seeks even greater state regulation of unions and a further curtailing of workers’ rights to organise.

If passed into law, the provisions of the EI Bill would directly interfere with the rights to freedom of association and independent functioning of trade unions guaranteed by, among other international instruments, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, writes Anthony Forsyth, Law Professor in the Graduate School of Business and Law at RMIT University.

Granted, all this could take your mind off the odd bushfire – including the monster in NSW which, at its peak, had a front stretching 6000 kilometres- or from Sydney to Perth. And back. But Morrison is making a grotesquely tone-deaf proposal with “… our boys will give them something to cheer about.” Does he lack all compassion?

Can Morrison, or any member of his government or PMO seriously believe, that those suffering bushfire’s devastation, the six hundred and twenty-three traumatised by losing their homes; all their earthly goods, or livelihoods, or the six households grieving the loss of a family member will be diverted by a game of cricket?

Because nothing fixes broken people in anguish, & blackened communities & animals in pain like random blokes doing something meaningless on an oval somewhere. “Fire trucks anyone?” “Nah, just some cricket thanks” tweets independent researcher and writer, Ronni Salt.

At least the Pentecostalist PM hasn’t repeated his promise to burn for Australians every single day. Yet.

Our “Prime Minister for standards” as Australia’s Prime Buck-Passer proclaimed himself last January, may be a sandwich short of a picnic when it comes to personality, policy or people-skills but you have to hand it to him, he certainly has the gift of the gaffe. Plus a tin ear. Tone deaf. It will prove his undoing.

Cook’s circumnavigation of Australia? You heard it first from The Gaffer. All Asians look the same? Morrison’s cheery “Ni Hao” to a Korean woman in Strathfield, the little Korea of Sydney’s inner-west. Understandable. He’s got China on his mind, after his mid-year monster diplomatic gaffe when he declared it “a developed country”.

Some gaffes suggest a malignant narcissism. In 2014, something more than a compassion bypass was evident in Morrison’s hostile response to allegations that underage asylum seekers on Nauru had been forced to have sex in front of a guard, and that women were being told to strip in exchange for showers of longer than two minutes.

Morrison announces an inquiry into the allegations but adds that the review will also look into whether the allegations had been concocted. In the meantime, he will remove ten Save The Children staff from Nauru?

“Making false claims, and worse allegedly coaching self-harm and using children in protests is unacceptable.”

They are “employed to do a job, not to be political activists”, Morrison makes his own false claims in a written statement, repeated verbatim at his press conference. Political activists? It’s a damaging and false slur.

Later the Immigration Department, he heads is forced to admit that there is no cause for the staff members to stood down. “No reason to cause doubt to be cast.” The review results in full compensation being paid.

No censure or penalty is imposed on Immigration Minister Morrison, who goes on to become Treasurer.

As Treasurer, Morrison is questioned by Barrie Cassidy on ABC Insiders. Typically, Morrison denies all responsibility for his error of judgement, his fabrication of a damaging slur. He is as intractable as a mule. Morrie the mule.

“I drew no conclusions on the material that had been presented to me at the time.”

Cassidy tries to hold him to account.“Well, yes, you did.”

“No, I didn’t, Barrie.” He tells Cassidy to go back and check the transcript. Cassidy: “I have.” Shrugging aside all ministerial responsibility, denying any personal accountability, Morrison resorts to the Nuremberg defence:

“I did the job that I had to do in that situation, just as I am doing the job now as treasurer …”

Under pressure, this week, Morrison retreats into climate science denialism, a tactic which John Hewson hazards in The Sydney Morning Herald is “doubling down”, a phrase which originates in blackjack. If you are confident of winning after being dealt only two cards, you can double your bet but may take only one extra card.

High risk can yield high reward in blackjack. Figuratively, the phrase means to “to engage in risky behaviour, especially when one is already in a dangerous situation.”

Doubling down is now applied to any fit of intransigence. Hacks abuse it trying to explain the equally bizarre behaviour of Morrison’s mentor Trump who is now totally consumed by his own impeachment. Gone is all pretence of a Presidential role. He emerges from his obsessive monitoring of coverage only to whinge to his aides.

Or he doubles down; repeats his allegation that it was “Ukraine not Russia”, a political interference conspiracy theory which nobody is buying. Even Republicans have trouble with it. In desperation, in a phone call to Fox, Trump admits he demanded a quid pro quo from Ukraine, tantamount to a public confession that as US President he resorted to extorting another nation to support his own political witch-hunt of Joe Biden’s son.

Doubling down can be admirably bold or woefully foolhardy. Morrison’s resort to a palpable lie about Australia’s contributions to greenhouse gases shows a contempt for his audience’s intelligence that will be his undoing.

“To suggest that with just 1.3 per cent of global emissions that Australia doing something differently — more or less — would have changed the fire outcome this season, I don’t think that stands up to any credible scientific evidence at all,” he tells ABC radio the following day.

It’s a nonsense response you might expect from a Craig Kelly, not a Prime Minister, deeply flawed in its logic and at odds with the evidence. Imagine if all the “little polluters” continued burning coal – worse, expanding their coal mining as Australia proposes. Or just be honest with the facts, Morrison.

As AIM writer, Kaye Lee, explains, “in 2016, we were the fifteenth biggest emitter in the world. If we don’t have to worry about our measly contribution, then neither do 180 other countries including the UK, Turkey, Italy, Poland and France, all of whom have smaller emissions than us, and I am not talking per capita.”

As for the evidence, RMIT’s fact check, for example, estimates that Australia’s domestic emissions plus the emissions embedded in its exports added to 1,712 million tonnes in 2016. This represents roughly 3.6 per cent of total global emissions for that year, the latest reliable figures for global emissions.

It’s inspiring stuff. Or contagious. Government by bullying, extortion, deception and denial. Only an Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government could send 6600 menacing debt letters to wrong addresses. When no-one responds, it uses income averaging to raise dodgy debts. Some are referred on to debt collectors.

Professor Terry Carney’s research finds when Centrelink asks for payment of alleged debts or evidence to disprove them, “most vulnerable alleged debtors will simply throw up their hands, assume Centrelink knows that there really is a debt, and seek to pay it off as quickly as possible”.

This week, the centrepiece of its three ring circus surplus-mania, the Robodebt extortion of over a million Australians – of money we mostly didn’t owe – is put on hold pending a class action from Gordon Legal, championed by Labor which is officially launched Wednesday, while Morrison is making his cricket pitch.

“There are a lot of our fellow Australians – single mums, pensioners, people who’ve been unemployed, people on Austudy, students – who’ve been forced to pay up under a regime which, in my opinion, is not validly based in law,” argues shadow Government Services Minister, Bill Shorten, who confirms that a separate class action will continue to argue that the government is “unjustly enriching itself at the expense of social security recipients”.

Government services ought to include “shakedown, outwrestling and exaction. Seven hundred thousand cases may now be opened to review should this single class action succeed.

Also still proceeding, is Deanna Amato’s imminent federal court case, which is due to be heard on 2 December, reports Victoria Legal Aid. The test case will continue to seek a declaration that the debt raised against Ms Amato is unlawful, despite the government’s announcement that it’s giving up granny-bashing and standover tactics in an unparalleled pause in its war on the poor.

It will, it promises solemnly, no longer rely solely on income-averaging to determine debts. No sense that it abused its duty of care in proceeding with an inherently flawed, cruel and unjust scheme which reverses the onus of proof on to the pensioner to disprove the alleged debt. No sense that it will compensate those whom it terrorised.

Some see the abandonment of Robodebt as likely to put paid to any surplus. The truth is that its net benefit never amounted to much any way. Crikey reports this week, debt-collectors have done very well out of Robodebt.

Over $2 billion worth of so-called debt has been outsourced. Yet it’s cost government $534 million – almost as much as the $658 million that has been collected. The model is deeply flawed as Paul Bongiorno observes

“This model of outsourcing government services, which so often sees taxpayer funds being funnelled to some of the government’s biggest friends and supporters, is increasingly problematic. It is operating in the National Disability Insurance Scheme and in the aged-care sector – where, as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has shown, millions of dollars of public money is going to the private providers’ profits.”

But this time, Morrison The Congestion-buster, can’t blame his office, which is whittled down to a skeletal staff of fifty mandarins -(where one in five is a former coal industry shill) – as he did, last month, when all thirteen pages of the day’s talking points were emailed to the press gallery.

A conversation scripted to reassure us about a prince’s judgement has the opposite effect. A chance to connect the royal family with the modern world reveals that it is marooned, remote and criminally out of touch.

Similarly, Morrisons tin-eared tweet about cricket reveals a PM who is in another world, a malignant narcissist who is pathologically incapable of feeling for others, a would-be tribal leader who has no moral compass; whose energies are invested solely in maintaining power at any cost and increasingly in the politics of division.

As the economy tanks and households find it harder to make ends meet, after six years in power, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has only more coercion to offer the average Australian. And cricket.

Above all, the Robodebt debacle shows a government which has no scruple in waging war on the poor. It has, moreover, connived at diverting funds from schools and hospitals to boost the profits of private providers.

As Christmas, a festival of giving approaches, a cruel and tricky government prepares to further punish workers with a law that is certain to reduce their power to negotiate a living wage.

Yet there is hope for some. The million – plus pensioners who have been caught up in Robodebt may take heart in the fact that the government has been forced to abandon the scheme, at least for now.

Just don’t expect any real reform from the banks under a Morrison government.

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