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Tag Archives: Scott Morrison

Seldom has a government looked more ridiculous. More compromised. Incompetent. Less trustworthy.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever, wrote George Orwell, foreseeing, our Border Protection policy, in the news this week as Australian War Memorial Director, Brendan Nelson proposes the creation of a type of shrine or monument to paramilitary thugs; the weaponising of compassion to enable us to deny our own innate humanity.

Similarly highlighted this week is the tender loving care our government lavishes on loan sharks, insurance touts, embezzlers and other predators in “the financial advice industry” at the expense of “ordinary hardworking Australians”. Yet nothing shows our open, transparent, democratic, government so clearly as its suppression of criticism; dissent.

Group hugs must surely break out all round at Sunday’s news, that the Coalition has pressured the UN to excise from its expert report on irrigation, a critique of the government’s $13 billion failure to restore our Murray-Darling river system.

The “Australia chapter” is now cut from the UN report “Does Improved Irrigation Technology Save Water?” published online by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Down the memory hole it goes; extinguished.

Water allocations to irrigators will in fact increase an extra 605 GL under innovative “on-farm efficiency: schemes but nothing may distract us from the government’s carefully orchestrated inquisition into usury and other money-lending malfeasance this week in Melbourne, an antipodean Malleus Maleficarum, which can turn grown men to water.

Banks Behaving Badly-or Business as Usual, a spell-binding, live-streaming, morality play, stars Royal Commissioner, The Honourable Kenneth Madison Hayne, QC, AO, as Grand Inquisitor, brilliantly assisted by Ms Rowena (shock and) Orr, QC.

The show, so much better than anything Labor had planned, government ministers keep telling us, continues its blockbuster run, as a hand-picked cast of spivs, charlatans and rogues and other financial advisers show open contempt for corporate cop, ASIC, and expose Coalition nobbling. Yet mystery shrouds this week’s show. Where are the big guns?

Conspicuous by their absence, possibly in witness protection, as secure as if in Monash fox-holes, are any CEOs.

Schadenfreude seizes the nation. Outrage. The drama has our full attention. True. Bonkers Brendan Nelson does his best to distract with his proposal to honour Border Force; to extend The Australian War Memorial to commemorate those brave souls who served in the war on compassion; our nation’s glorious battle with innocents; those compelled by cruel fate to seek asylum by any means. Some troops, he says, even jumped into the water to save people from drowning.

By Monday, the plot of Banks Behaving Badly includes dead people, knowingly being charged for financial advice; The CBA pockets $118 million for advice it doesn’t provide; NAB bribes people – its innovative “Introducer Program” -pays commissions to unqualified “spotters” – no financial expertise necessary- for home loan referrals, a subplot which includes forged payslips to settle loans, and envelopes stuffed with cash. The Introducer nets NAB $24 billion in loans.

(Former banking lobbyist, Scott Morrison’s tough new fines are capped at less than 1 per cent of that. Offenders will be brought to account, thunders former Goldman Sachs banker Turnbull. NAB is laughing all the way to the bank.)

Fee for no service turns out to be a nice little earner also. AMP’s head of financial advice, Anthony Regan, says he’s lost count of how many rip-offs; how many thousands of customers are charged fees for services they don’t receive. Lives are destroyed by bad advice; or when advisers’ financial ineptitude is compounded by avarice and duplicity.

It’s bad timing, however, for government by and for the banks, a Coalition which has to sell the electorate the last $35 billion of its $80 billion tax cut package, a gift of $13.2  billion in savings to our big four banks over the next ten years.

Even worse, its big business pals are no help. In the parallel universe where senate enquiries are held, Business Council of Australia’s CEO, Jennifer Westacott is asked, this week, by The Greens’ Lee Rhiannon.

“Can you give us an example of another country where tax cuts have resulted in wage rises?” 

Westacott wimps out. She’ll “take that question on notice”, despite the claim’s being a central plank of the BCA and the government’s campaign for the past two years. But let’s be fair. There’s too much business bashing around these days, as Westacott often wails. Above all, even the BCA can’t provide evidence that doesn’t exist.

Examples abound, however, from Canada or from The UK where, despite ten years’ company tax cuts, real wages continue to decline. The National Bank conducts one of Australia’s largest business surveys only to report that a mere 8 per cent of businesses would give workers a significant wage rise if they received a company tax cut.

One-in-five say they don’t need a tax cut to secure their company’s future. But who needs research in an age of neoliberal faith? The Coalition takes heart in the recent dismissal of The White House Chaplain, Jesuit Patrick Conroy who has held the job for seven years.  No reason has been given for Father Conroy’s sacking. Nor is it needed. In a Trumpian universe, it’s heresy to frown upon trickle-down or laugh at the Laffer Curve or even just express dissent.

Best explanation, reports The New York Times, is that the priest is being punished for his prayer last November, at the opening of a debate on the Republican tax bill. Conroy asked God to make sure that the members’ efforts “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Amen. Fairness is the last thing our government needs in its agile, innovative business-friendly zeitgeist but former Xenophon team member, now the more prosaic Centre Alliance, Sterling Griff, (a name that conjures confidence) is quick to remind listeners of government trumpet ABC Radio National that some top BCA companies pay no tax.

Australia’s effective company tax rate is 12% already. He warns his audience, moreover, where cuts will come from.

“It’s hard to see how a reduction in corporate tax is not going to lead to a reduction in public services like health and education.”

“The economic case for these company tax cuts never stacked up. The benefits were largely to foreign shareholders, with a huge long-term revenue cost to the budget,” says The Australia Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist when the Coalition withdraws the tax cut legislation it fails to get through the senate last month.

“It’s a tactical retreat” explains former HealthGuard and HBF Insurance companies’ general manager, Mathias Cormann.

Desperate to stop the rot, Malcolm Turnbull mounts a type of apology for his government’s howling down the very idea of a Royal Commission into banks, an opposition it kept up for two whole years. His government would have been “better off politically” to have called the Royal Commission, “several years ago”, he calls in from Berlin, Monday.

Not that he’s accepting any responsibility (Westminster or otherwise) for any malfeasance that his government has effectively enabled by its two years of spirited opposition, evasion and delay,

“The responsibility for wrongdoing lies with the people who did the wrongs. Let’s be clear about that,” he says, hopefully.

It is too little, too late and will do nothing to appease his critics who rue his dreadful political judgement; nor those who ask why his government protects wealthy banks and big businesses, while hounding and gouging the poor.

ASIC’s official boast is that it’s “Australia’s integrated corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator”. The Coalition hypes the regulator’s powers. Two years ago, Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed that,

“ASIC has the powers of a royal commission and, in fact, it has greater powers than a royal commission.”

But just in case, penalties will now be increased; jail time provided for some offences, a hollow response that overlooks the core problem. ASIC has neither the will nor the resources to act. It’s launched but one criminal case in ten years.

As this week’s testimony shows, ASIC’s the financial sector’s family pet, lying doggo or sitting up and begging to play fetch or rolling over to have its tummy tickled. Of course there’s a weasel-word for it. In ASIC- speak it “negotiated” rather than prosecuted misconduct cases which is why it’s brought only criminal prosecution in ten years.

Does Hayne’s royal command performance have more power? While a royal commission can refer suspected offences to the Director of Public Prosecutions who can then prosecute, in practice, criminal prosecutions rarely result from recommendations of either a royal commission or a parliamentary inquiry.

Key to the commission’s power are its terms of reference. Here is a huge weakness. Its terms of reference dictate that it is not required to look at anything the commissioner believes “has been, is being, or will be, sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation or a criminal or civil proceeding”.

In other words, it will ignore the findings of at least 38 other inquiries held into banking and financial services since 2010. Sensational, shocking as it may be, the misconduct Hayne has revealed, so far, is but the latest scandalous chapter in a long series of instalments, all of which have also exposed ASIC as a Clayton’s corporate regulator; a paper tiger.

When The CBA ruined many clients with bad financial advice a 2014 Senate inquiry criticised ASIC for being “too slow to act, lack[ing] transparency and … too trusting of the big end of town”. The verdict still applies today.

In the meantime, by popular demand, – and the instigation of The Nationals helped by The Greens and with the late support of Labor, the show must go on.  And on. Talk abounds of an extended season. Yet can it fix anything?

Crusty Justice Hayne’s superbly orchestrated production is in danger of being upstaged by its own lurid revelations of the graft, fraud, usury, collusion, extortion, embezzlement, cheating, lying and bare-faced robbery integral to our banking system; as a series of wretched pin-striped small fry from the big four take turns to spill their guts.

Equally distracting are the sideshows. A stampede to steal the glory includes the two-bob populist Pauline Hanson, even though it was her hapless former colleague, Rod Culleton, a bankrupted WA farmer who campaigned for a royal commission. Perhaps she’s getting confused with her repeated calls for a Royal Commission into Islam.

Also confused is Hanson’s new pal, Tony Abbott who channels the Queen of Hearts. “Off with their heads”.

Tin-pot general of the monkey pod rebels, Abbott is pumped. He’s led his peacock peloton and mobile media squad coal revival cycle tour through the Latrobe Valley of death-by-coal-fire, his latest sortie in his “no sniping or undermining” war of revenge by attrition on Turnbull. He’s just back from the $100 million Monash Centre he had built in France.

He goes off like a frog in a sock. “Sack ASIC”, he shrieks, despite his own role as ASIC’s chief nobbler.

Abbott’s government snatched $120 million, a cut of 200 workers, from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, a pillaging which left the watchdog unable to do very much at all effectively, let alone chase up the banks. Instead, the corporate regulator would get banks to self-report. What could possibly go wrong?

At the same time, in July 2014, Mattias Cormann attempted to weaken Labor’s Future of Financial Advice legislation (FOFA) which sought to ensure that advisers acted in their customers’ best interests, amendments put up by the banks but lost only when two cross-benchers voted them down.

ASIC hit the panic button. It complained that all advisers would be caught on the hop. It would do nothing, it said until July 1 2015 – two whole years after the new law was supposed to apply.

This, the corporate regulator supported Cormann, giving advisers two extra years in which to charge commissions and evade their duty to put the clients first. This week has seen how AMP flouted the FOFA law with impunity.

“Through AMP’s dealings with ASIC regarding the extent and nature of its fee-for-no-service conduct, AMP adopted an attitude toward the regulator that was not forthright or honest, and demonstrated a deliberate attempt to mislead,” Ms Orr sums up Friday.

AMP and its advice businesses misled the regulator 20 times from 2015 to 2017 about the nature and extent of its fees-for-no-service practice.”

The Coalition is responsible. It can’t pretend now that it merely got the timing wrong. Surely. But that’s just what it does.

Time to chuck a U-turn. Not far from Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, in the Reichstag’s shadow, Monday, Turnbull grabs the Coalition handbrake; burns rubber in a tyre-shredding U-turn. The government’s been driving the wrong way up a one-way street for two years but a quick U turn will fix it. Memo: Get updated talking points to Kelly O’Dwyer.

Facing overwhelming evidence that its concerted opposition to a Royal Commission into the banks was palpably not in the public interest, a willful misreading, if not contemptuous defiance, of public opinion in defence of the top end of town, the PM and his minions hastily abandon their epic, sandbagged, campaign to defend their banking mates.

Seldom has a government looked more ridiculous. Or more compromised. More incompetent. Less trustworthy.

Tragically, Terry McMaster, of Dover Financial, a pillar of the financial advice industry, oxymoron of the week, is taken ill, mid-sentence – but quickly recovers sufficient self-possession to sit bolt upright in his ambulance stretcher like some grandee being ferried up above the masses upon a palanquin. He’s excused from further participation in Hayne’s show.

But not before he’s been able to defend hiring advisers who were under investigation and later sanctioned for serious breaches. At least, he makes some incoherent response. Perhaps he’s just choking.

McMaster’s also questioned on Dover contracts which purport to give client protection yet which, in fact, attempt to indemnify Dover advisers from accusations of bad conduct. Doubtless ASIC plans to catch up with him on that, too.

Dover is the only big financial advisory group to decline to assist the Royal Commission. It has not supplied adequate documentation. Yet McMaster has dramatically collapsed in the attempt. His clients will wish him a speedy recovery.

You can’t fault the performances. The Royal Commission into crony capitalism is an orchestrated confession of wrongdoing; a lavish smorgasbord of malfeasance even if the grubby money-grubbers of the “wealth industry” themselves, are cynical, untrustworthy, grossly overpaid, self-interested spivs who’d sell their own grandmothers.

The formidable Rowena Orr, QC, continues to impress as she leads a brilliant supporting cast in homage to the English theatrical tradition of personifying justice as a Judge, a trend since Respublica, the mid-15th Century, morality play which has the body politic under insidious, deceptive attack from Avarice, Indolence, Oppression and Adulation.

By Monday, however, our political masters are back on song, a Hallelujah chorus of shock, surprise and outrage, the necessary ritual disclaimer and distancing which will enable them to snatch the whip hand back from Hayne.

“I have to say I have been surprised. I have to admit some of the revelations in recent times, I have been surprised.”

Mathias Cormann tells Sky News, Australia’s Fox News of government spin, while Matt Canavan, Minister for Coal, is “shocked“. Kelly O’Dwyer is “appalled” in a in a duet with Barrie Cassidy on Insiders. At the Self-Managed Super Fund expo in Melbourne on Friday, (no irony in the venue?) the assistant treasurer is back on stage and on song.

“The royal commission has highlighted in the most profound way, some of the devastating personal consequences that have resulted from corporate misconduct in the financial services sector,” she says.

“The government did get the timing wrong.”

That’s it, then. Just dud timing. Could happen to any government bank protection racket. As Helen Razer notes in Crikey, not one MP is surprised, or shocked, or appalled, or devastated enough to call out a scandal when they see one.

As Bob Katter fears, Karen Middleton reports, the real problem remains. Banks will continue to transfer loans between them, unilaterally dictate and then change the terms, downgrade property values and then foreclose without negotiation, seize and offload the properties at fire-sale prices, leaving borrowers still owing them the difference.

And it’s all perfectly legal.

Routed by the sheer force of numbers, rubbery figures, lies, impersonation and other evidence of illegality elicited from bankers so far, by beak of the week, Justice Hayne and his crack team of silks so far, Monday, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull beats a retreat on his quixotic Coalition forces’ foolhardy ideological charge against Labor and The Greens’ impregnable position; that there be a Royal Commission into Banking. It’s also a retreat from credibility and legitimacy.

News of the PM’s surrender from Berlin where he commends John Howard’s Pacific Solution (2001); lecture Germany on how to deal with refugees as he fills in time before opening yet another monument to John Monash and to honour his government’s militarisation of history and fetishising of war.

Some may admire his chutzpah. Germany took in a million Syrian refugees. The nonsense that border control helps build a multicultural society is insulting; demeaning to any audience. But it’s all designed for domestic consumption.

Turnbull makes no apology for his government’s enabling of what clearly amounts to a banking oligarchy; helping our new robber barons hold the country to ransom, destroying careers, wrecking families and ruining the lives of thousands.

“It was a poor political decision“, is the best the former merchant banker can manage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bankers, Tankers, Anchors And The Liberal Party…

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years, is that being honest is usually you’re best option. Of course, like most people, I find myself in situations where I’ve… ah, shall we say, bent the truth. This leads me to another bit of sound advice. If you’re lying, you’re better off saying nothing after it’s clear that you’re lying. Or else, do a full mea culpa and admit that either a) you were mistaken, or b) you lied.

In politics, this is usually looked upon as a refreshing change. Unless, of course, you do it on a weekly basis, in which case it’s not a change at all.

So when it comes to the Liberal Party, I acknowledge that we have a different set of values and while I personally understand that there’s some need for a defence force, I believe that the $200 billion we’re spending on planes and submarines over the next ten years might be more productively spent elsewhere. But, like I said, different set of values. There’s a discussion to be had, when two people have differing priorities and sometimes a compromise can be reached.

On the other hand, lying is a completely different matter. It’s one thing to say that: We told you that privatisation would make energy prices cheaper,  that was before we realised that private companies would put profit before everything – but now we’ve realised that, we’ve put a few safeguards in and any day now you’ll get all the benefits of privatisation. Besides you’ve got energy stocks in your super so you’re ridiculously high energy prices are actually helping you save for retirement.

That still fits under the definition of a difference of opinion. However, when the Liberals start to tell us that the Banking Royal Commission which they opposed has nothing to do with the new penalties that Scott just happened to announce at the same time that everyone is going: “Shock, horror. Banks exploiting their customers. Who would have thought such a thing!”

It’s very hard to believe the Liberals when they tell us:  We argued that there was no need for a commission, but we set one up anyway, and now that it’s finding all these examples of wrongdoing, it’s showing that it wasn’t necessary until we decided it was necessary, and, in spite of all that it’s discovering, it’s not having any effect on us, because all the new oversight and any new penalties are just things that we were going to do anyway.

Or to try and put the government’s position as simply as possible;

  1. There was no need for a Royal Commission because while there were some examples of dishonest or corrupt practices, there was plenty of checks and balances to ensure that these were these practices would be detected and dealt with.
  2. There was suddenly a need for a Royal Commission after some Nationals threatened to break ranks. It became even more pressing and one was announced shortly after the banks suggested that it would be ok by them if we had one.
  3. The Royal Commission starts to discover that the culture in some parts of the banks is even worse than its critics suggested, which doesn’t lead to any action from the Liberals because – according to Scott Morrison – all the new penalties were planned and not in response to anything happening at the Commission. Like the announcement of the Commission itself, the timing was just coincidence.
  4. For the Liberals the Royal Commission will be their equivalent of Schrodinger’s Cat – the thought experiment in Quantum Physics, where a cat in a sealed box can be thought of as both alive and dead. The Royal Commission wasn’t necessary when Labor and The Greens called for one, but became necessary once the Liberals decided that it was, meaning that the Commission is now both necessary and unnecessary. It remains necessary because the Liberals set it up, but it remains simultaneously unnecessary not only because Labor suggested it, but also because nothing it discovers will lead to any admission from the government that their actions have been influenced by it.

Like I said, liars need some consistency, or their story falls apart. On a real level, it would have been refreshing to have heard the Turnbull Terriers tell us that Labor and/or The Greens had raised a convincing enough argument for them to change their minds. But no, instead we have ministers once again trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Ah well, at least now I’ll find it easier to explain quantum physics without having animal rights people ask me why the poor cat was sealed in the box.

The Schrodinger Royal Commission! Mm, it has a certain ring to it…

 

Shorten’s New Class War!

Yep, I was mightily confused when I saw the headline today:

“SHORTEN’S NEW CLASS WAR!” it blared.

And I really wished that the sub-editor was around so I could ask him when the old class war ended. Surely you can’t have a new war when you haven’t called off the old one.

Of course, the Liberals were a lot more restrained. Scott Morrison accused Labor of “stealing” from retirees…

Before I go on, I guess that should make sure you all understand what’s actually being proposed by Labor.

Ok, companies pay tax. No, really. Some of them actually do. Anyway, the theory goes that if the dividends from any shares you own have already paid tax, then you get a tax credit so that you’re not taxed on this income twiced. I won’t go into all the detail about fully franked and partially franked shares, because it’s enough for you to grasp what’s being proposed by Labor if you grasp the concept that the franking is simply a way of stopping the money being taxed both as income made by the company in which you own shares, and by you personally, as income tax.

While some rabid socialists may tell you that any income earned by companies should be confiscated and distributed to the Society for the Promotion of Non-Trotskyist Communist Thought In Schools, the average person in the street would see that taxing the same income twice is a little unfair.

Whatever your feelings on this concept, however, Labor aren’t proposing to get rid of franking. Under John Howard, people who were earning an income below the tax-free threshold, could convert their franking credits and receive a cash refund from the government. While this is similar in concept, there’s an important difference, and the best way to understand it is to look at how negative gearing works.

You buy a property (or shares) with the idea of producing an income. However, in most cases, when you borrow money to buy a property, the interest you pay on your loan will be more than the income you receive from your investment. Because you are making a loss, you can claim this loss against the rest of your income. Why this is a good investment plan for some people is that they can claim the loss against a high income, but as time goes on, the difference in interest in rental income and interest becomes smaller and eventually the property is positively geared. Not only that, but there’s a capital gain which doesn’t get taxed until one sells.

The important thing to realise with negative gearing is that there’s not much point in doing it if you’re not on a high rate of tax. And, there’s no point in doing it, if you’re paying no tax, because the government doesn’t give you a cash refund for the money you’ve lost. In that case, if you don’t pay tax and you’ve negative geared properties or shares, it’s just bad luck. In other words, it’s completely different to the franking cash refund for people who own shares and pay next to no tax.

Now, some would argue that this is a bit of an anomaly and why should people in similar situations be treated differently. They are not being taxed twice as the Liberals want us to believe. They’re being taxed once. They just don’t have the sort of income to offset the franking credit, like someone with an investment property.

So who would own shares and not be getting a big enough income. Ok, Nanna might miss out on twenty bucks a year from her hundred Telstra shares, but if you add a couple of thousand dollars to the aged pension with the billions you save from the cash back scheme, she should be no worse off. It’s the people with the self-managed super schemes who’ll be most likely to be hit, and given that these people are arranging their affairs to minimise their tax, then who could have a problem with ensuring that they haven’t taken advantage of the system to pay almost none at all?

Well, obviously the Liberal Party could. See, according to them, this is stealing from retirees. I was waiting for an interviewer to ask Scottie if he was going to report the Labor Party to the police and have them charged with theft.

Yep, Mr Morrison was in Michaelia Cash-like form. He was complaining that Labor already planned to tax everybody and that they were the party of high tax and they couldn’t get their spending under control and just when we’ve got the Budget back into… well, anyway, just when we’ve got the Budget back into a position where we can give away $25 billion to multinationals and add $200 billion to Defence, why we can even give an extra couple of billion to schools… Just when we’ve done all the hard work, Labor will come along and tax all these people and so they can spend on things that aren’t Defence related.

I hadn’t seen a performance like his since Barnaby told us about the $100 lamb roasts and we were being asked to say good-bye to Whyalla. It was almost like when Labor proposed asking people to keep a log book to prove that their leased cars were actually being used for work.

That, we were warned, would mean the end of the auto industry in Australia. How fortunate that the Liberals got in, and we had to wait an extra year or so.

What’s The Difference Between Barnaby Joyce And A Lump Of Coal?

The answer, of course, is that one is a prop and shouldn’t have been taken into the Parliament, while the other can be burned to provide heat – apart from that it’s useless…

Still confused?

Well, so am I! We have a Treasurer who took a lump of coal into Parliament. Just so you know, it’s against the rules to use props in Parliament. Ok, some of you are thinking, everybody knows that, but clearly Scott Morrison didn’t. I mean he wouldn’t deliberately ignore the rules, would he? That’s not a very good example to set our country.

Still, I guess when you’re dealing with those boring old number things as Treasurer day after day, you might need the odd creative outlet. Joe’s was dancing after the Budget, but unfortunately, not in the dark. Costello’s was creating fiction; he used to tell people that he’d be a great PM and one day soon, he’d challenge John Howard. Scott must have spied a lump of coal and been hit with an idea. Once inspired, you do tend to take liberties. That’s what artists are like, they sometimes feel that the rules don’t apply to them because they have a message to get out to the world.

I can picture it now, Mr Morrison and his lump of coal in his office. He calls in his staff. “I have this great idea,” he tells them.

“What is it?” they ask, fearful that it will involve incredible amounts of work “fixing the Budget”, or at the very least coming up with reasons why Labor owing $287 billion was the end of civilisation, but raising the debt ceiling above half a trillion isn’t worth talking about.

“I’m going to take this lump of coal to Parliament,” Scott tells them.

The staff nod approvingly, figuring that if they can perfect their nodding, they may get a safe seat where they can stand behind the PM and nod approvingly, but Scottie doesn’t notice. He’s on fire… (no, not literally!)

“And I’m going to say ‘This is coal,’ and I’m going to tell the Opposition not to be afraid of it! Brilliant, eh?”

His staff keep nodding as though there’s more, so Scott improvises.

“Um… then I’m going to suggest that the Opposition are suffering from coalophobia.”

When told that there’s no such word, Scott says that he’ll be remembered for creating it, like that guy who invented the word “selfie”.

“I’ll admit that I’m making up the word and tell them that it’s this ideological malady that stops them from allowing coal to create jobs and growth. And it’s an illness and they need help… Brilliant, eh?”

The staff nod more approvingly because nobody wants to upset the Treasurer when he seems in a good mood. Lately he’s been so down, thinking of how Cory has left and that’s one less vote for him when the spill happens. Not even the idea of some families losing Family Tax Benefits has caused him to smile. Even when told that some asylum seekers are being forcibly removed from Manus and sent back to possible torture and death, his spirits barely lifted.

So the staff say nothing.

And Scott appears in Parliament with that ugly lump and hands him the coal when the Speaker tells him to put the prop away. (Someone assured me that a lip-reader confirmed to them that when Joyce was given the coal he stroked it, saying, “My precious, my precious,” over and over.)

Of course, it may not have happened quite like that. Scott may have just wandered in to Parliament and put his hand in his pocket and discovered that he had a piece of coal that he’d forgotten to take out, and when one of the Labor MPs recoiled in horror, he may have quite genuinely thought it necessary to calm their fears.

Whatever, I found Morrison’s performance with the lump of coal more disturbing than Richard Denniss’ great article: How Christmas Prawns Explain Australia’s Power Blackouts

Jobs And Grr… Sorry, I meant to say Jobs and Gr…

Sorry, that was meant to be “growth” in the title but for some reason “growth” just stopped, and I think we all know the reason why it’s so hard to have any sort of gr…

Gro…

G-G-r-r-o…

Oh dear, it just won’t appear.

Anyway, I think we know the reason. It’s because of you.

Well, you all complained. You all ridiculed them about “Jobs And Growth”, so it’s your fault that the last quarter didn’t have any growth. It ran away because it didn’t like have to appear after “jobs” all the time. It couldn’t put up with the humiliation any more.

After all, it can’t be Scott Morrison’s fault that we don’t have “jobs and growth”. Couldn’t be. Ok, ok, maybe it’s not totally your fault. Actually when I think about it, like everything else, it’s Labor’s fault for blocking those company tax cuts. Now, I know Tony said that they were going to be a “no excuses” government, but this isn’t an excuse, it’s a reason. Besides, Tony’s not the Prime Minister any more…

Well, not at the time of writing, anyway, but if that changes before I hit publish then the rumours about him not launching a challenge until Malcolm’s approval rating goes so low that installing Ivan Milat as leader would give the Liberals a boost were wrong.

So, after giving the matter consideration, I think that we can safely say that the lack of growth can be put down to Labor’s decision to block the company tax cuts because reducing the government revenue from profitable companies would encourage all those unprofitable companies who pay little or no tax and the economy would get a boost somehow. I mean, remember the boost cutting the mining tax gave to the miners! Look at how cutting the carbon tax has the economy growing in a way not seen since the GFC!

And speaking of the carbon tax, thank goodness the Minister for Saving And Wrecking The Environment, Mr Frydenberg was able to clear up the confusion about an emissions scheme. Apparently when he said:”We know that there’s been a large number of bodies that have recommended an emissions intensity scheme, which is effectively a baseline and credit scheme, we’ll look at that,” he meant that they’ll view it, shake their heads, before announcing that they can’t consider it because not only is it the most cheap and effective way of reducing emissions but they can’t consider it because it was never on the table, unlike so many of the things that were on the table earlier in the year like the GST or the states having their own income tax. By “look at it”, many of those institutions peddling fake news like the ABC and Fairfax tried to imply that “look at” means the same thing as “consider”, in much the same way that they tried to imply that when Abbott said that he and Labor were identical on Gonski that it meant that they would both implement it, when Abbott merely meant that they had the same election policy. Really! Next they’ll be trying to ask us to believe that the jobs from the “jobs and gr…” slogan were meant to be jobs for people already living in Australia, which is the sort of xenophonic, racist nonsense that Labor and their union mates try to push…

Of course, if One Nation say exactly the same thing we should listen to them because they received nearly five percent of the vote in some states and you can’t ignore with people scoring that many votes in a democracy. In fact, you’re even allowed to disagree with them… but only after acknowledging that they have a point and maybe it is time that we replaced the High Court with the judges from “Masterchef”.

Anyway, it’s good to know that young Josh has come out and explained that on Monday he was misquoting himself when he talked about an energy intensity scheme and as our fearless leader, Malcolm Turnbull pointed out, there was nothing about an emissions intensity scheme in the review and that Josh Frydenberg was clearly being confused with someone who speaks on behalf of the Liberal Party when only Cory Bernardi is authorised to announce policy without checking with anybody on planet Earth.

The profound nastiness of the Turnbull government

It was inevitable that any opposition by the ALP or Greens to Abbott’s reeking legacy, the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality, would provide the Turnbull government with the ammunition to claim (with confected indignation) that both parties are creating an obstacle that thwarts an opportunity for same-sex marriage.

There are bound to be those who accept this warped inversion, however they are likely to be the same groups and individuals that reject marriage equality anyway.

What this situation reveals yet again is the profound nastiness of the LNP. This nastiness (there really isn’t a better word for it, their attitude towards their fellow humans is as base as that) has been evidenced in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s decision to deprive the unemployed and pensioners in order to fix his budget, and the vengeful exercise of raw power as illustrated by Peter Dutton’s ongoing implacability over asylum seekers and refugees. It’s reflected in the image that heads this post: even the dead are perceived as new sources of revenue for the LNP.

I don’t need to go on, the evidence of their nastiness is everywhere we look, and it multiplies as we sleep.

Nastiness is the Turnbull government’s default position. From the apparent banality of nastiness all manner of evils flourish, and if you ever doubted that it is being enacted daily, for you to witness, in our parliament.

Though the Northern Territory can’t be ever be taken as typical, the carnage wrought on the CLP this weekend gives me small hope. Citizens can become sickened by nastiness, and they can wreak havoc on the party of nasty when they’ve had enough.

There is not one rational reason to deny marriage equality. We are a secular state: religious arguments ought not to influence our decisions. The unholy alliance of religion and nastiness currently hold sway.

It’s my hope that the ALP hold out against a plebiscite. No Liberal MP has any obligation to honour a yes result. Those who touchingly believe a plebiscite = marriage equality need to disabuse themselves of that belief, because it does not. We could well go through the torturous process and still have necessary amendments to the Marriage Act blocked by MPs who are not bound to accept a ‘yes’ vote.

At the heart of the demand for a plebiscite is nastiness, and a poisonous hatred for anyone who doesn’t fit a narrow definition of ‘normal’. The influence of pure nastiness has been overlooked in our arguments yet it is a powerful driver of irrational behaviour and you’d have to go a long way to find behaviour more irrational than that of Turnbull’s government in just about any area you can name.

There are rumours again that Abbott is preparing himself to challenge Turnbull’s leadership. Not only are they nasty to citizens, they are exceptionally nasty to one another. I would take great pleasure in watching the LNP continue to cannibalise itself. I doubt it would affect our governance to any great degree: they aren’t doing much of that anyway.

It’s my hope that the fate of the NT CLP is the Turnbull government’s future. Barely enough seats left to form a party? I’d go for that.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

Dutton’s message: torture works

Yesterday I had a Twitter conversation about Kathryn Bigelow’s movie, Zero Dark Thirty, which was shown on SBS last night.

Many angry critics have described the film as CIA propaganda advocating torture, and accused Bigelow of making an immoral argument that torture works. That wasn’t my reading as I argue here.

This revisiting of the film and the arguments surrounding it made it obvious to me that the message “torture works” is precisely the message the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison before him, and several former Prime Ministers including Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have sent to the world since the indefinite detention, off-shore and previously in the hell holes of Woomera and Baxter, of waterborne asylum seekers began.

They are not even particularly subtle about conveying this message: forcing women, children and men to live in circumstances in which they are tortured will deter others from attempting to seek asylum in Australia. It’s that stark.

To dissuade attacks from rusted on ALP supporters: Paul Keating built Woomera. I went there. It was one of Dante’s circles of hell. So please don’t come at me with the usual defence of your political party’s position on asylum seekers. There’s a bee’s dick of difference between the major parties.

Every time politicians insist that bringing refugees from Manus and Nauru to Australia will “start the drownings at sea again”, he or she is arguing, to the world, that “torture works.”

Frank Brennan, John Menadue, Tim Costello and Robert Manne have here proposed a solution to the current ghastly impasse. Their proposal retains the turn-back policy:

We believe there is no reason why the Turnbull government cannot do now what the Howard government previously did – maintain close intelligence co-operation with Indonesian authorities, and maintain the turn-back policy, while emptying the offshore processing centres and restoring the chance of a future to those we sent to Nauru or Manus Island three years ago or more by settling them either in Australia or, if any are willing, in other developed countries. Like Howard, Turnbull could maintain the offshore processing centres in case of an emergency.

Boats are to be turned back to their point of departure, usually Indonesia or in the case of Sri Lankan refugees, southern India where they continue to live as stateless people with few, if any rights.

The proposition put by Brennan et al would at least thwart the message that torture works, to which our politicians seem alarmingly attached. It’s by no means an ideal solution, but it could be our next step in addressing a situation that in its current manifestation is hideously wrong in every possible way.

Critiquing their proposition is a post in itself, and I won’t do that here.

As I argue Bigelow’s film demonstrated, the proposition that torture works is in itself a terrifying premise for debate. Who are we, that we would engage in such a debate in the first place?

It isn’t about whether or not torture works. It’s about torture even being considered, and then implemented as an option. You might argue that no politician foresaw or planned the circumstances that have evolved on Manus and Nauru, and you’d likely be correct. So we have come to torture by accident, rather than by design. Having arrived at that point, even accidentally, we are culpable and every day we reinforce the message that torture works, we add to our burden of culpability. What was initially accidental, thoughtless, ignorant, uncaring, politically self-seeking becomes, in the maintaining of it, deliberate.

Which puts us in the company of the CIA and its propaganda, does it not? Not to mention Donald Trump.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

Labor’s Scurrilous Lie On Medicare!

Ok, we all know that if Labor is elected that our borders will be weaker, the deficit will blow out, the tax cuts for companies won’t go through, it’ll rain all day except in drought areas and the chooks will stop laying. Not only that, we won’t have the stability that we now have because Labor changed Prime Minister twice in six years and the Liberal have only done it once in three years.

However, it’s the Labor Party who are running a scare campaign on Medicare. The Liberals have no plan to privatise it. Didn’t Malcolm say “never ever” and while some people are reminded of John Howard’s “never ever” on the GST or Tony Abbott’s “ironclad guarantee” on the Medicare safety net before the 2004 election, that’s rather unfair on Mr Turbull. He’s not the sort of man to say one thing one moment, and another the next. He said that he supports same sex marriage and the Republic and action on climate change, and he still supports all those things. Ok, he may not do anything about them but that’s because he’s been busy with the job of being PM. It’s a big job which involves working very, very hard to ensure that Labor isn’t elected because they’ve promised action on all the things that Turnbull supports, and if that happened there’d be nothing left for Turnbull to do if he ever actually gets into power instead of just being the figurehead.

Some people have unkindly suggested that the Brexit vote should be good for Labor because it should show the people the consequences of not thinking before you vote and just blindly taking your lead from the Murdoch papers. Only after the vote to leave the EU, the argument goes, did Rupert’s papers start to explain what the consequences of leaving would be. Surely it should be a wakeup call to the people of Australia. However, this overlooks the fact that most people who read Andrew Bolt will hardly be aware that the vote took place, let alone the fact that many of the “Leave” voters are rather unhappy now that they’re discovering that it may have consequences that they hadn’t considered. Not only that, but the leaders of the “Leave” campaign, such as UKIP’s Nigel Farrage now saying that they never promised that there’d be oodles of extra cash for spending on Health… Somebody else painted that “promise” on the side of buses.

But let me be quite clear here. Labor’s suggestion that just because the Liberals have a Medicare Privatisation unit set up is no reason to think that Medicare would ever be privatised. If you’ve still got doubts I suggest that you read this article from “The Guardian” written last year:

There now, what could be clearer than that. They don’t want to privatise anything. They just think it would be better if the whole thing were opened up to competition from the private sector. I mean, look how long you spend waiting to speak to someone at Centrelink, whereas when you ring any private company, your call is answered by the next available operator.

No, there’s no doubt at all. The Government has given us their assurance and they know that if they lied to us, there’d be consequences. Why just remember how people over-reacted when Tony Abbott’s “No cuts” statements were misinterpreted as meaning that they wouldn’t cut spending. People got very cross and they had to change Prime Ministers. If Turnbull was lying, why the Liberals would just have to change leaders again to appease people. And Malcolm certainly doesn’t want that. As he keeps saying, “It’s a very exciting time to be Australian now that I’m PM and anybody who isn’t saying how lucky they are is just an ungrateful whinger!”

So vote Liberal this Saturday. You know that Medicare is safe and will “never ever” be privatised and that the plan to let Telstra manage the data has been shelved and was never a real plan like the one where they support jobs and growth. You know the one; if we create enough jobs at $4 an hour then there’ll be a really big growth in the bank balances of the people employing them.

Day to Day Politics: The TRUTH about Negative Gearing.

Saturday 5 March

If ever an Australian politician scored an own goal it had to be Scott Morrison this week. Of course he was ably aided and abetted by The Australian Newspaper. The official newsletter of the conservative parties.

From the time Labor introduced its policy on Negative Gearing, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have sought to conduct a scare campaign on the issue. Morrison could have had a calm, sensible debate as he indicated he wanted to do when such matters arose but political expediency trumped good governance and hypocrisy won the day.

Frankly, Morrison, a co-founder of Christian Church Hillsong, is telling so many lies about Negative Gearing that as a Treasurer he makes Joe Hockey almost sound saintly. Turnbull, a Catholic, is doing the same.

It doesn’t seem to matter that a central tenet of the Gospel is ‘truth’.

So The Australian on Thursday publishes a report by BIS Shrapnel that Morrison says paints Labor’s policy in bad light.

The report has nothing to do with Labor’s proposition but Morrison arrives like a lone star cowboy in Question Time with two Colt 45 pistols rapidly exhausting both barrels before reloading. He does have a quick tongue.

The Australian withdraws the article from its online site. It often has to. It has no credibility and the BIS won’t disclose who commissioned the report.

Morrison rejects all the wrongs, inconsistencies and outright lies and both he and Turnbull in Question Time robustly, in spite of the reports lack of credibility, continue to say that if adopted, Labor’s policy would cause significant damage to the housing market and to our economy. Yet another Clayton’s crisis.

Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley says the report and its underlying assumptions:

‘did not pass the giggle test’ and were ‘manifestly ridiculous’.

He added:

‘Voters should be asking themselves whether a responsible government would rely on this sort of nonsense in a public policy debate. ‘ Late on Thursday the Prime Minister was still defending the report describing it as ‘thorough analyses’.

Other comments came from Board of Taxation chairman Michael Andrews who told a tax conference in Melbourne that the debate about tax was highly politicised, and regrettable:

‘The Australian Financial Review said that the Government has abandoned plans to make changes to negative gearing. The issue has proved to be divisive and it would be politically risky to proceed with the changes. The Government is now likely to focus on the changes to negative gearing proposed by the Australian Labor Party.’

In other words a scare campaign.

Besides the ridiculous assertion that house prices are going to go through the roof under Labor’s plan. Morrison also contends that:

‘Two thirds of those who use negative gearing have a taxable income of $80,000 or less. Seventy per cent own just one property, and 70 per cent have a net rental loss of less than $10,000.’

ABC Fact Check investigated this claim and found that those with taxable incomes above $80,000 have a proportionately larger share of the net rental losses.

Now the point of all this follows on from my Day to Day Politics yesterday when I posed this question: What resources does the average punter have to access the truth? If we have the time we can do some research? Look up the facts presented by fact checkers. Pay for FOI documents. Who has time for all that?

This scare campaign being waged by Turnbull and Morrison in light of what the PM said about fair, reasoned, transparent and open debate illustrates my point.

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

Now I’m not wanting to confuse the issue here because I thought I had my general principle of the ‘Pub Test’ sort of philosophically in order. Then a Facebook friend by the name of Phil Rudkin sent me this to ponder:

‘Unfortunately we are all subject to what is known as ‘confirmation bias’. That is, we believe what will confirm our beliefs and disregard that which runs contrary to our beliefs. This is a human failing found in us all. So, a lie that matches what we believe will be used to reinforce that belief. I am very aware of the potential for confirmation bias in myself and always try to seek evidence to support things that I hear from sources as unreliable as politicians but know that I will often fail. Confirmation bias is often confused with common sense and so will cause the pub test to fail.’

Now you don’t have to take my word for it but I found a piece headed.

Morrison painting a false picture of negative gearing.’

It’s by Rob Burgess. It passed my pub test (revisited) because it cut through the bullshit and presented a clear view of just where and why Turnbull and Gunna Morrison don’t have a leg to stand on. They are telling confirmation bias lies.

My thought for the day.

‘Never confuse what you want with what you need’

One house is enough.

PS. With degrees from the finest learning institutions in the world dripping from the walls of their Ministerial offices, after two and a half years the Abbott/Turnbull government still needs more time to formulate a tax plan.

That’s a fact. You can check it.

 

Day to Day Politics: The Abbott/Turnbull Government – give credit where credit’s due

Friday 26 February 2016

1 Its only fair, regardless of one’s political ideology to give credit where credit’s due. The Abbott/Turnbull government has done something truly remarkable. At the last election it accused the Labor party of being the worst financial managers in the country’s history. The budget was in crisis. Something had to be done to arrest it. Spending was out of control. We were an economic cot case and if nothing was done we would end up like Greece.

Two and a half years later after doubling the debt amid a debate about the need for major tax reform they have managed to find 30 billion dollars to spend on defence. What makes it even more remarkable is that they have not been able to get the senate to pass legislation for cost savings in the past two budgets.

So credit where credits due. That’s almost the equivalent of Jesus walking on water.

But not to finish there.The Magician is now, according to the AFR signalled his willingness to arrange a funding deal with the states to relieve pressure on their health and education budgets.

Remember Abbott took $80 billion away from them.

Treasurer Scott Morrison maintains at the same time that the states should deal with funding shortfalls on their own. Turnbull would like to resolve the issue and repair the Federal Government’s relationship with the state governments before the May 2016 Budget.

Wow, I wonder what miracle they will perform when we get the ’real’ bill for Direct Action on climate change.

And there are also going to cut your taxes. The miracles will never cease.

2 It seems that the Prime Minister has decided to walk away from his much promised Tax Reforms. Reforms that might have achieved some budget repair. And not because they may have brought some equitable redistribution of the wealth of the country. Some fairness. No simply because tax reform might have hurt the pockets of those who vote for him.

It seems he has also decided to walk away from the transparent, truthful, and reasoned and policy explanation politics he also promised.

In deciding to take the path of Abbottism politics he has turned his back on all those who had hoped for a new era in politics.

Seeing him in parliament this week mounting a scare campaign against Labor’s proposed changes to Negative Gearing disclosed him for the fraud he is and people are entitled to ask why they changed from a blatant liar as leader to a hypocrite of titanic comparison.

3 Cory Bernardi said that Bill Shorten had had a Mark Latham moment when he said Cory was a homophobe. By saying that was Cory elevating himself to the position of a Prime Minister?

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews summed him up rather well:

I’m sick of Liberal politicians telling our kids that there’s something wrong with them – when there isn’t’.

‘I don’t think these extreme Liberals are actually offended by the structure of the program, or the teachers who lead it. I just think they’re offended by the kids who need it’.

‘The Liberals now plan to “investigate” (meaning: ultimately shut down) the Safe Schools Coalition, a program that looks after teenagers who are getting bullied at school’.

There is nothing worse than a Clayton’s leader. Grow some balls, Malcolm. Stand up to the ferals in your party. Saying it is a broad church doesn’t gel anymore.

4 When on earth are we going to get the report on parliamentary expenses? It was promised earl in the New Year.

5 Is it just me or are there others who are finding the ABC’s political reporting rather bland? Almost like they are frightened of putting their foot in it.

6 This almost went under the radar but according to The West Australian, retiring Senator Bill Heffernan told Parliament on Wednesday that the child abuse royal commission should be extended to investigate sex abuse in judiciary ranks, producing an alleged list of pedophiles he says includes senior judges and lawyers, as well as a former prime minister.

He says Australia needs a federal judicial commission and he will seek senior legal advice on the matter.

My thought for the day.

‘The young celebrate their youth and the old get their satisfaction by dreaming of the way things once were’.

Day to Day Politics: The table’s a mess. Clean it up, Malcolm.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

1 Malcolm Turnbull came to power promising much-needed tax reform. He placed everything on the banquet table. The GST pie. The outrageously immoral tax concessions on Superannuation to the wealthy and privileged. Negative gearing and capital gains tax. He has promised tax cuts to business and taxpayers in general. On top of these he has floated various recipes of other culinary tastelessness totality out of flavour with the public.

So badly received has the menu been that each day the chef needs to come up with another one.

Take Monday in Question Time.

‘Increasing capital gains tax is no part of our thinking whatsoever.’

He said so while launching into a stinging attack on Labor’s policy. A policy to limit tax deductions on investment properties to new homes and to halve the capital gains tax discount on assets held for more than a year from 50 per cent to 25 per cent.

What a bloody mess the table is in. The following day we find out that there was an error in the printing of the menu. The Government is planning to halve the capital gains tax discount for Superannuation funds.

This has totality thrown a new ingredient into the mix and is at odds with his statement in Question Time. Yesterday I said his right hand didn’t know what his left was doing. Frankly I don’t think he knows the difference between a Carp and a Flounder. Well he may know what flounder means.

Adding far too much pepper to the recipe, the Prime Minister’s office said he was only focusing on tax options proposed by Labor, which concentrate on property. In other words his defence is that he was misunderstood. What absolute crap.

Changes to superannuation tax concessions and tax deductions for work-related expenses are among the few tax reform options that are still available to the Government.

Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics said:

‘We’re now in a world where some of the bigger options in tax reform have been ruled out’.

They have some serious washing up to do. After the clean up when there is nothing left but a blank canvas of white tablecloth the Government will find that real Tax Reform is still whirling around in the dish washer. It’s all starting to remind me of that wonderful song from Les Mis. Empty Chairs and Empty tables.

Probably the only real way to get tax reform ‘for the common good’ in this country is to take it out of the domain of politicians and place it in the hands of an independent body similar to the Productivity Commission.

An observation.

I think the possibility of young people being able to afford a new home is far more important than anyone making a profit from negatively gearing one.

2 Mathias Cormann was out and about doing his inevitable repair job. You have to admire his tenacity. That’s if you can understand what he is saying. The Government has some exceptional talkers but for waffling speed Mathias takes the cake.

‘It’s a matter of public record that we have been looking right across the whole of the tax system to assess opportunities for improvements’.

He said this so quickly that I thought the blender was over taxed while mixing up company tax reductions with pay no tax deductions.

3 The latest Morgan Poll, which uses both face-to-face and SMS interviews, has found that support for the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis is steady at 52.5 per cent. In contrast, the latest Newspoll suggests that support for the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party is tied at 50 per cent apiece. However, the Newspoll is now conducted by Galaxy Research, which uses a combination of automated “robo-polling” and online surveys rather than telephone surveys.

4 Some politicians unfortunately have physical characteriistics that arouse a judgement of nastiness. Former policeman Peter Dutten is one. He reminds me of the copper you would hate to have you cornered up a dark alley on a pitch black night. His sour facial expression gives rise to a judgement of someone with not an empathetic bone in his body. A nasty bastard as Australians are apt to say.

It makes the accusation that he deliberately leaked details of an investigation by Queensland Police into baby Asha believable.

He is not the only one of this ilk in the Government.

An observation.

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

5 Malcolm Turnbull came to office grandiosely promising a new era of politics. An era of politeness, of transparency, of openness – a contest and exploration of ideas. He removed Abbott pledging to transform the Liberal Party. Instead they transformed him.

My thought for the day.

‘I think we can often become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see other ways of doing things’.

  

Day to Day Politics: When action is needed we get waffle

Thursday 18 February 2016

1 Gunna Morrison was at the Press Club yesterday spruicking about what the Government is gunna do with the economy. It was highly anticipated that he might make a policy announcement on negative gearing but surprised no one when he didn’t. They need more time to talk and plan. A blueprint perhaps.

They came into government two and a half years ago on the back of a concentrated campaign of the need for action. Remember, there was a budget emergency. Unprecedented in its depth. The country was in a situation as bad as that of Greece. The sky was about to fall in. Day after day Hockey and Abbott told us that we were in dire straits.

Yet two and a half years after being in government, knowing all too well that aspects of the economy needed attention, they decide to formulate a plan. But it is a plan remarkably short in detail. If the strategy, or the answer is in savings it didn’t make sense that he had saved 80 billion but allocated 70 in new spending. What he didn’t say was that without the spending we may very well have had a recession.

The only thing we got today was journalists shaking their heads at his answers to their questions.

Where is the much vented real structural tax reform that Turnbull has been talking about? The sort a treasurer of the ilk of Keating might deliver.

Like Hockey and Costello before him all Morrison did today was give himself a big pat on the back.

He’s going to fund tax cuts from savings on future spending. The look on Peter Martin’s face was priceless.

I told you he could waffle. ‘Assembly of God’ men can.

The punters really need to ask themselves what this government been doing for two and a half years.

2 Quoting Peter Reith:

The pity was that the Abbott government did little to address the longer term reform issues. Now people like Andrew Bolt expect Turnbull to rearrange Australia virtually overnight.’

It seems Turnbull had always had a long-term plan to displace Abbott but not one for the country. You might recall when he took over the leadership he gave a pungent appraisal of the Government’s performance. He said the country faced challenges that required a more developed conversation.

‘We need a style of leadership that explains those challenges … and sets out the course of action we believe we should take and makes a case for it. We need advocacy, not slogans.’

So the question is: Where and what are they?

3 Essential Poll Tuesday has the Coalition on 51% and Labor 49%.

4 Steven Ciobo is the MP who once implied that Prime Minister Julia Gillard should have her throat cut. He was back on Q&A on Monday night. A huge supporter of Malcolm Turnbull I think he was hoping that his Government’s efforts in silencing the program last year wouldn’t be mentioned.

Tony Jones wasn’t going to let it pass. Ciobo wouldn’t take the bait. Talking about free speech:

‘I’m attracted to the classic liberal freedoms as a starting point but it doesn’t apply carte blanche’, he began.

Jones: ‘Didn’t apply to Zaky Mallah, for example.’

Ciobo waved the interjection away, as he did sniping from other members of the panel. ‘I am attracted to the principle but there does need to be limits on it. I think that’s a reasonable position.’

I was left wondering how a Turnbull government might have handled the matter just a few months back. It might have been an interesting avenue to pursue but Jones, perhaps wisely, didn’t pursue the matter.

An observation:

‘Until you are a victim of free speech you will truly never understand what free speech means.’

5 The request by the Australian Christian Lobby that existing laws pertaining to anti-discrimination be suspended, held over, over ridden or shelved for the duration of a plebiscite on equality in marriage would only serve to make a mockery of why they were legislated in the first place.

6 Every time you think the Republican Party has reached the zenith of its stupidity if finds another way to look ludicrous. By intending to vote against a new justice nominee put forward by President Obama (his constitutional right) it is doing enormous damage to the prospects of re-election of its incumbent senators.

On top of that we have Donald Trump suggesting that there are unusual circumstances behind the death of a Supreme Court justice.

Only in America!

7 It seems that New Zealand is set to again offer to take our refugees. On the surface you might say that the offer is compassionate and a way out for the Government.

It won’t be accepted for two reasons. Firstly we need to keep men, women and children incarcerated for life, no matter the human cost, so as to send others wanting to escape their hopelessness a message. Secondly giving them safe passage to a country more humane than us might encourage others to come. And we wouldn’t want them to become NZ citizens with rights to visit us.

My thought for the day

‘Everyone has a choice. You can either whinge about the issues you have or do something about them.’

 

Day to Day Politics: Just Talking Heads.

Saturday 6 February 2016.

The Coalition regrets having to announce that good government has been further delayed. At least until after the next election. Circumstances beyond my control.

Authorised by Malcolm Turnbull. Canberra.

I wrote this in jest just a few short days ago. But sadly for the Australian people it is a fact. During his tenure as PM Tony Abbott promised on many occasions to give us good government. Malcolm Turnbull, his replacement, it seems is also incapable of delivering. So with just a few months until the election it seems that for the term of this Coalition Government, good governance will have taken a vacation. It will have been on hold for three years. It was just an illusion.

But who is Malcolm Turnbull. He is a Republican leading a party of Royalists. A Prime Minister of Australia in which all state Premiers (except WA)and Opposition Leaders are republicans makes it more absurd. He is, despite his current utterings, a believer in doing something about Climate Change but the leader of a party that has many influential climate deniers in its ranks who think more about capitalist greed than the future of our children.

He is a committed believer in marriage equality leading a coalition of homophobes. He also leads a government intent on imposing its own religious values on a society rapidly backing away from religiosity.

Malcolm Turnbull is in effect an enormous contradiction.

He came to the job promising much. After Abbott’s calamitous period marked by ‘wars’ on everything he seemed like a breath of fresh air. He told the public everything they wanted to hear. No more slogans. Transparency, optimism and fairness would be the order of the day, he would respect the people. Things would be different. The public loved his enthusiasm.

However, after six months of heavily overdosing on syrupy over saccharised sweet talk he still remains in the concept of old politics. He gave promise to a new paradigm but other than style the prototype is still the same.

Lenore Taylor got it right when she said:

“He promised to “respect the intelligence of the Australian people”, to end the three-word slogans and instead advocate and explain policies he believed in.”

“But Malcolm Turnbull’s great dilemma was obvious as soon as he became prime minister. The public liked him for promising to be different, but many of his colleagues only voted for him because he told them he’d be pretty much the same.”

“If he can’t begin to resolve this dilemma quickly, Turnbull’s perceived authenticity – the view that he is a man true to his convictions, a different kind of politician – could quickly turn into a perception that he is an opportunistic fake, just more of the same.”

And it has. After 6 months of repetitious talk about coloured papers, taxation reform, proposals plebiscites and lectures about there’s never been a better time to be, well you name it, he has been a most indecisive leader.

The lack of any policy difference between him and Abbott is startling. The reason for this is probably contained in Lenore Taylor’s words:

” … his colleagues only voted for him because he told them he’d be pretty much the same.” As Abbott.

He has shown little desire to be his own man. Unlike most incoming leaders there has been no inclination to put his stamp on the party, instead allowing members free rein to run with their own ideas. Abbott, Andrews, Barnardi and others seem to be determining policy.

People are now questioning what they got. He has done an about-face on policies he once championed. He seems to be a leader captive to the extremists of his party?

Yesterday it finally dawned on him that the electorate have woken up.

All talk and no action’ rings the accusation. So he meekly fronts the cameras and tells us that all the talk and talk and talk about economic, and in particular taxation reform, will be revealed in the May budget with the door open, after more talking to other announcements before the election. The GST is being talked down. See what too much backbench talking can do.

It is all very mystifying because since day one they have said they had a plan. It seems like the original plan was to open a discussion to talk about creating one to replace the existing one. Now the plan has become a blueprint.

At least they will be able to skite to their tea party friends of the longest filibuster on record.

So we will have more talk about things that may or may not be included in tax reform. Around three months of it actually. I wonder if all the repetitive talk about what you may or may not do is sustainable without losing credibility. I mean they won government on budget crisis spin but after two and a half years need more time to talk about it. Perhaps they didn’t get their point across.

We will hear much more talk about what is on the table, what proposals will be talked about more than others. There will be talk about what will be ruled in or out together with discussion on the fairness of it all and how it will affect the future. They might even talk about delaying any decisions to give themselves more time to talk the issues through. Even a series of conferences titled ‘Talk Fests for Better Decision Making’

‘Gunna’ Morrison could give the keynote address.

My thought for the day.

‘The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow’.

 

Day to Day Politics: ‘Knighthoods going cheap. No good works needed’.

Monday 25 January 2016

1 Lynton Crosby’s Knighthood for assisting the Tories with a victory in the last British election was nothing more than political cronyism. To anoint him Australian of the Year in the UK is nothing short of ridiculous. To suggest people are worthy of top civil honours for assisting with political strategies to win elections says everything about why such awards should be discarded.

Reminds of what my wife said to me when I was honoured. Darling, once a knight always a knight but once a knight is enough’.

2 In Australia we have a saying, ‘Only in America’. It’s a phrase we say when something outrageously good or bad happens, as though such excesses can occur only in America. It might be violent racism, another Columbine, kids being slaughtered – any preventable, tragic loss of life that repeats time and again for which no remedy is forthcoming.  All of this is beyond the average Australian’s capacity to understand.

For example when the Republicans put forward a candidate like Donald Trump for the Presidency who says:

   I could ‘shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters’.

We are apt to say:

‘Only in America’.

3 Gunna Morrison was out again yesterday doing what he does best ‘Talking.’ Yes talking about what taxation reform proposals they are gunna put to the voters at the next election. Now given that won’t be until September I suggest you get ready for a talkfest. Now they might come up with some good proposals. Of course they have the budget in May to also put us on the right track towards a surplus but the Senate is yet to pass legalisation from the previous two. Surely carrying over revenue not yet raised must amount to fudging the books.

And the proposal to take more money from the taxpayer by virtue of a raise in the GST and then dropping the tax rate for business must be reverse Robin Hood economics.

But of course the voters should be asking what happened. Did good government ever start or was it just one of many lies.

4 Google at long last has decided to pay some tax.

‘The Guardian reported that Google’s attempt to counter criticism of its tax arrangements by agreeing to make a back payment of £130m in the UK unravelled after claims that the internet giant had effectively paid an annual rate of corporation tax of just 2.77% over the last decade. Most British businesses currently pay corporation tax on 20% of their profits. But even after the extra payment, the internet giant is said to have paid just £200m in tax since 2005, on estimated profits in the UK of £7.2bn.’

Chancellor, George Osborne, celebrated the move as a “really positive step”. His statement from the World Economic Forum in Davos was received coolly.

When Governments are unable to dictate the rate of tax businesses pay in their country, they cease to function.

5 History, long after I have passed will record the destructive influence former Prime Minister Tony Abbott had on the social structure and the democratic institutions of our nation. However, nowhere was he more devastatingly untruthful than when speaking about the science of climate change.

6 So appalled by his lying was Sophie Lewis, from the Australian Research Council’s centre for excellence in climate science that she has done dissected statements about climate records made by the former prime minister in 2013.

‘It drives me mental that these sorts of statements go unaddressed’

An observation about the NBN.

‘The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow’.

7 Mike Carlton said it.

Honestly. I think this Stan Grant speech will one day be viewed as a Martin Luther King moment.

You should watch it

My thought for the day

‘Never allow racism to disguise itself in the cloak of nationalism’.

 

Day to Day Politics. ‘How we pamper the rich and privileged’

Sunday 24 January

1 Have you ever thought about how richly (pardon the pun) pampered the privileged are in Australia? As a cohort they pay less GST tax than any other group. The government takes from the poor and middle class to help them pay for their kids private school education. They can negatively gear as many houses as they want. There are numerous tax concessions. And they, if they so choose, get a 15% tax discount if they put their money into super. Then there are Capital Gains offsets.

Negative gearing is costing the Federal Government about $3.7 billion a year in lost revenue, while the 50 per cent capital gains tax discount wipes off $4 billion.

In two years’ time the tax breaks on Superannuation will cost as much as the pension $50 billion a year.

And of course many of them with family businesses pay no tax at all.

But did you know that the taxpayers of Australia actually underwrite Private Health Insurance companies to the tune of $11billion annually.

‘I don’t think that I can recall a domestic policy that is so outrageous as the $11 b. annual cost to the taxpayer of the subsidy to private health insurance (PHI) companies’. John Menadue.

2 In the house one is expected to call a Minister by his title. Despite the criticism, I will continue to call the Treasure ‘Gunna.’ Gunna was out and about all this week. Firstly on Skye then Bloomberg TV and then the ABCs AM programme. On all three he talked about what the Government is gunna do. Nothing at all about what they were doing or indeed had done. Didn’t even define what it is their gunna do, just talked and talked. Even if that only took a sentence. I know he hasn’t been in the job long but someone has to take responsibility for their period in office.

Gunna makes no effort to inform the public as to why he is gunna do whatever he is proposing to do. There is no concerted effort to take the public into his confidence and explain just what the economic problems are and how he intends addressing them.

Howard was defeated in 2007 it is now 2016 and we are still waiting for a policy from the LNP.

3 Yet another leadership poll. You can expect an avalanche from now on. This one from Reach TELL shows 80.8 per cent of voters nominated Mr Turnbull as preferred PM and just 19.2 per cent nominated Mr Shorten, whereas on November 26, 71.3 per cent of respondents had nominated Mr Turnbull and 28.7 per cent chose Mr Shorten Read more:
4 I notice in The Australian that former Treasurer Peter Costello is going to tell Gunna Morission that cutting everything will fix the budget. That he would fix it like he did in 96. Doesn’t mention that he had the biggest fire sale in our history to do it. And a never to be repeated commodities boom.

5 The federal government says it will consider backing Kevin Rudd for the top United Nations job. He has the intellect and diplomatic experience and unlike at home, respect on the international scene.

6 An observation.

”Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability’

Change inevitably happens.  I clearly remember as a small child hearing reordered music for the first time on a wind up gramophone with replaceable needles. Sometime later 78 rpm records improved and the things on which we played then were grandiose pieces of furniture. Then along came 45rpm vinyl records, followed by 33 1/3 rpm LP and EP recordings with multiple tracks and then stereophonic sound.

Tape recorders appeared. The Walkman gave music mobility, with cassettes and tape recorders. They in turn were replaced with CDs which are now becoming redundant with the advent of USB sticks, tablets, ipods and mobile phones.My ipod is now a relic of the past DVDs will be obsolete in the next few years.

What will replace them is anyone’s guess but the certainty is, something will. At present you can stream almost the entire world catalogue of music on your mobile phone for a small monthly fee.

Change is determined by many factors, health, consumer demand, science and many other things. Change, as much as we resist it, is innate in us. It’s part of our DNA whether we like it or not.

7 Clive Palmer spent a lot of money for a seat in the House of Reps and one in the Senate. Power is a very costly thing. He is unlikely to repeat it. Highly inflated I should think.

8 Only in America.

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz says.

”I’m a Christian first, American second conservative third and Republican forth” Imagine the outcry had a Muslim or Jewish politician said that.

My thought for the day.

‘We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence’

 

 

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