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Tag Archives: Sussan Ley

Junkyard Dutton ducks for cover under Gina’s nuclear umbrella, but he’s still up shit creek

Junkyard Dutton slinks away from Dunkley in a blue funk, after his humiliating rout as the brains behind the Advance-Liberal (Ad Lib) coalition’s “Rapists, paedophiles and murderers”, fear n’ smear campaign.

No-one can count a club of billionaires’ dark money, but a Qantas Chairman’s Lounge of plutocrats, masquerading as a grassroots outfit “Advance” report $5.2 million in donations and $4.5million on election expenditure up to July 2025. We will never know the true cost of those posters, that social media, the trucks, letterboxing, hype and lies out of a grab bag of the worst of US Republican politics.

We do know the Ad Lib coalition threw buckets of money over its shitshow, dumpster-fire-trainwreck of a campaign, giving voters a real choice between an incoherent, under-prepared, over-scripted Ad Liberal stumblebum who struggled to read a script about crime, cost of living – and Jodie Belyea, an articulate and sincere, woman who dedicates her life to empowering other women in her community.

Dutton’s fingerprints are all over the old fashioned, wholesome, Howard-era hysteria, saturation hate-bombing. So his team’s all OK with posters on trucks depicting China’s president, Xi Jinping, casting a vote for Labor in a desperate frenzy of Labor-bashing? Atop the dung-heap is the lurid lie that Labor has released hordes of sex-crazed detainees at large. Also adorning the ordure is Laura Norder;s cousin Tuff, as in Tough on crime. Then there’s the cost of living and a ute tax.

Howard’s acolyte, Tony Abbott is one of Advance’s advisers. Quelle surprise. Gina Rinehart is a backer, but the outfit likes to keep its profile low by using virtual offices, publishing fake addresses and no phone number. The AEC is waving a bit of limp lettuce, in hot pursuit of Advance’s for ts lies on trucks about Chinese control of Labor.

Dutton does a runner. He’s out of circulation for days. The Incredible Sulk, wants to distance himself as far as possible from the scene of the hate crime. He makes no attempt to reflect on his party’s drubbing in a litmus test byelection. Instead, he flings a dead Schrödinger’s cat on the table. His nuclear energy bid is both simultaneously alive, as a culture war strategy and dead as a dodo as a practical solution.

Dutton is a dead man walking. Former Victorian Liberal strategist and walking, talking, oxymoron and avid recycler, Tony Barry, calls Dutton’s nuclear bid, “the longest suicide note in Australian political history” a phrase he’s pinched from the UK when Labour’s 1983 election pledge was to be more socialist.

Instead, Moses Dutton has come down from Mt Dickson with two stone tables, his face radiant with radioactivity. Plus the hot flush he always gets from being near his sweetie, Gina Rinehart. He decrees that nuclear energy will be the focus of energy, environment and climate. Tony Barry’s a director of political consultancy Redbridge group. He cites research to show that Dutton and his Ad Lib coalition are flogging a dead horse.

“Just 35 per cent of people support the idea of using nuclear to provide for Australia’s energy needs. Only coal was less popular. Where there is support, it is among only those who already vote Liberal or who are older than 65.”

If team Dutton had any sense, it would try to win back the under-35-year-old voters who are deserting the coalition in droves. Any sense? Make that any say in the matter.

As we are tipped willy-nilly out of capitalism into a techno-feudal era, as Yanis Varoufakis calls our new servitude to digital overlords, Amazon, Google, and Meta; as we barter personal data for access to the cloud, our aspiring political Czar, “Kamikaze” Dutton, reminds us, that in a Land Downunder we are still at the mercy of our bunyip aristocracy of corporate uber-capitalists, fat cats and “extractavists”. And Alexander Downer.

Of course, it can pay to ingratiate yourself with the powerful. Donate the odd spare kidney as did personal chopper pilot, Nicholas Ross for his boss, Kerry Francis Bull(y)more Packer. Dutton would love Packer’s negotiating style.

In 1984, Kerry got his prodigal son, James, to contact NSW cabinet ministers.

“The old man told me to ring… This is the message: if we don’t win the casino, you guys are fucked.” Oddly, despite James’ best telephone manner, the Packers didn’t win any casino licence in 1994.

At least Ross had a choice. We hope. Most of us, however, are ambivalent, at best, towards the price-gouging, wage thieving, monopolist, duopolist and oligopolist corporate barons, and billionaire baronesses who run our mines, banks, energy, aged care, insurance rackets, shopping centres and make our cardboard boxes and coffins. But real-estate multi-millionaire, Peter Dutton is sure he’s one of them.

In a stunning getaway in a $5,000 business-class flight, Dutton says he pays for himself, (if we don’t note his free, exclusive Qantas Chairman’s club membership, a perk enjoyed also by Albo and other Labor luminaries), Peter Craig Dutton, steals away from Canberra.

He chem-trail-blazes in a haze of kerosene vapour, toxic oxides and ultra-fine particulate matter, down to the fabled Shangri-Lah the long-lost Liberal seat of Dunkley, that “Religiosity Morrison” says is on the cusp of turning right again. It’s a delusion. The outer suburban ute-belt, is not listening to Team Dutton’s cost-of-living crisis mantra. Nor do they fear freed asylum-seeker rapists. Nor are they overwhelmed when he cuts and runs into hiding for three days, leaving boofhead Nathan Conroy to make paternity jokes while Sussan Ley goes haywire and gives a cheerleader speech that may well end her career.

Niki Savva is savage. “Not on any planet or in any universe could a barely average result qualify as success. Arguing otherwise shows no respect for people’s intelligence.”

But in Trump’s America a third of voters believe a loss is a win; his election was stolen.

Dutts barely touches down and, he’s up, up and away again -off in a puff of toxic volatile particles. Thank former Qantas elfin CEO, Alan Joyce, for boosting shareholder profits not only with his flight cancellation scams, but by curbing inessential spending, such as fair wages for workers and pilots, – and upgrading planes. Like the LNP, QANTAS’ fleet is dangerously old and decrepit if not obsolete.

Yet no expense is spared for members of the Chairman’s Club, a type of top secret, Alice’s Restaurant where you can get anything that you want. At Vanessa Hudson’s restaurant, you can get a free steak or the whole beast, at any time of the day or night. Must cost a fortune. And you may also get to your destination. Unless your flight is among the 15,000 cancelled, a one in four chance in the airline’s operations May to July 2022.

Instead of fronting a Senate inquiry, over its role in getting government to block a bid from Qatar Air to double its flights to big Australian cities, Joyce flees to Dublin. Under Dutton, the Opposition is on a road to nowhere. “The politics of fear and loathing did not work in Dunkley. They didn’t land in Goldstein in 2022 and they won’t at the next election,” says Zoe Daniel, Independent MP for Goldstein.

Dutts exits stage right. Jets clear across a third-degree sunburnt country leaving catastrophic fire danger ratings in Victoria. He can’t wait to bend the knee to Queen Gina and her court plus four hundred time-serving serfs, her adoring staff members, in a giant marquee on the banks of the ephemeral Swan.

Dutton’s top of the bill at his patron’s star-studded seventieth private birthday bash and lovefest. He swoons and fawns for forty-minutes, wolfs down the wagyu, necks a Bollinger, and then jets back to lecture Labor on the hustings about the cost of living.

Hypocrisy gone mad? It’s a nine hour round trip. Even then he’s missed a bit of caviar on his tie. Is he smitten? Very. Last November, at her bush doof, Pete was practically sitting in Gina’s ample lap. Gina makes it very clear that she’s looking for love and that in other places they thank their mining billionaires. Is Dutton more than Rinehart’s meat puppet?

Wild horses wouldn’t keep Gina’s toadies away. Arriving a day early, is Pauline Hanson, another pseudo-populist fraud, racist and xenophobe. The One Nation founder, who flew her team to the US to in 2019, to seek funds from the NRA, arrives Friday, to sign up star recruit and son of a gun, former WA Labor’s Ben Dawkins, who’s in a bit of a pickle over breaching a family violence restraining order. Many times over. But he’s just misunderstood. Pauline’s got soft a spot for the underdog. And she loves a bloke’s bloke.

“Maybe if he got some support, that I believe the Labor Party hasn’t given him, and that’s what people need to do their job,” she sighs endearingly mangling sense and syntax. Support groupie, Hanson will be 70 in May. Gina is bound to get a birthday party invitation. As will Ben.

“He’s been the lone member in this parliament, as I was in 1996, when I was just disendorsed from the Liberal Party, so I’ve been there, I’ve worn his shoes, you haven’t.”

Fully booted and spurred, Guy Sebastian nails Advance Australia Fair, over a troupe on horseback kitted out tastefully in iconic Driza Bones and Rossi, both companies bought by Rinehart last year. They wave Ozzie and Hancock flags to The Man from Snowy River theme while aspiring Liberal candidate for state Premier, and Perth’s Lord Mayor, Basil Zempiras is funny as hell on the microphone as the party’s MC.

Basil is still living down his anti-trans scandal but given Dutton’s sedulous aping of Morrison’s campaign strategy, transphobia along with homophobia, may soon enjoy a revival in the Liberals’ manifesto.

But it may be upstaged by Dutton’s embracing nuclear energy as Coalition one-stop-shop solution to climate, environment and energy this week. Is it a dead cat on the table after his Dunkley debacle?

Of course. Labor’s success in holding Dunkley and increasing its primary vote to 41 percent puts the wind up the Coalition. For Niki Savva, team Dutton’s failure is a masterclass in how not to contest a byelection, but the last thing this Opposition is going to do is to change direction. Even if it could. In a world first, Dutton hastily makes the Liberal front bench bigger than its back, a desperate trick doomed to failure.

In politics, as in life, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no-one. Or worse. Already, daggers are drawn and eyebrows raised over the over-promotion of neighbour Luke Howarth as Assistant Treasurer.

Howarth’s a gunner. He’s gonna give back the stage three tax cuts. The poor can keep theirs, he declares, thinking aloud. Angus “airmiles” Taylor is giving him a lot of side-eye.

On the backburner go Dutton and Ley’s released detainee rapist arrested antics. Off with the Phyllis Diller fright wig, Sussan. Expect more where they came from. More will be seen, moreover, of the take-no-prisoners-open war on democracy with Ad Lib’s Orwellian invasion fleet of Truth Trucks plus saturation hate-bombing posters, emails, FB messages, T-shirts and whopping lies about Labor on social media.

Dutton doubles down. It’s a term from blackjack which means to keep betting when you already in a hole. He’s got the email that the small, portable modular nuclear reactor is pure fiction. Now he’s going for the mother of all nuclear policies proposing an atomic plant on the site of the old clapped-out coal-fired generators, we are slowly phasing out. They’re already wired into the grid.

What could possibly go wrong. “Water”, says Anthony Albanese. Nuclear plants use lots of water.

But Opposition MPs has been competing to woo Gina Rinehart. It’s their Trump card. If we even pretend to go uranium, it creates a delay in which we can have business as usual. For the time being. It will kill us all in the end of, course, but it will extend the life and the worth of coal mining.

And Hancock Prospecting shares.

Powerful people seek powerful friends. Media giants, Kerry Stokes and the Murdoch mob are prepared to post a loss if their empires gain them access to government levers. Keith Pitt, on the other hand takes over the intercom on the chartered jet last November, to sing his sweetheart, Gina Rinehart’s praises.

“A mid-air bootlicking,” The AFR’s Mark Stefano calls it in disgust. Not once but three times on the long flight to Perth. Pitt’s craven sycophancy and his FIFO lickspittle routine would be par for the course in the US, but it’s unwelcome in Australia. Has the man no self-respect? Which is why Dutton’s indecent obsession with Gina Rinehart and his recent mad dash westward to her birthday bash will undo him.

A closer look is required.

The cunning stunt involved a dash to Melbourne, Thursday afternoon, followed by a return berth to Perth, notes Stefano.

“… the opposition leader transited for 12 hours from Canberra > Melbourne > Perth > Melbourne just so he could attend the birthday party of Australia’s richest person for … 40 minutes.”

When he needed to be on the job in Dunkley, Dutton was prepared to drop everything to be on the other side of the island continent swooning and spooning with Gina. Not that it’s easy at the top.

You must be discreet. “That red-headed weirdo”, as Trump called Richard Pratt, the multinational cardboard and paper giant whose family, The AFR estimates to be worth $24 billion, and Australia’s second richest man, speaks of his wealth as his “superpower”.

Only it didn’t protect him from Donald’s wrath when Prat blabbed about his former pal’s alarming stories. Secret tapes reveal Pratt explaining how US democracy is bought, “I paid about a million bucks to [Rudy to] come out as a celebrity guest [but] it didn’t happen so now, he calls me once a week,” Pratt says before proceeding to draw a Mob parallel.

“All these guys are like the mafia. Trump, Rupert, Rudy. You want to be a customer, not a competitor. And I am very aware of that.”

Unwisely, Pratt calls out Trump’s key tactic. “… he knows exactly what to say and what not to say so that he avoids jail … but gets so close to it … that it looks like to everyone that he’s breaking the law”.

To cultivate a close relationship with Donald Trump, Pratt invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership fees at Mar-a-Largo, Trump’s private resort. He tells us. Not so clear is why Pratt pays a monthly retainer to Tony “Suppository of all wisdom” Abbott, $8000, and Paul Keating $25,000.

What Pratt pays for, what he gets and how long he continues, is kept secret, much like the membership of the invitation-only, elite Qantas Chairman’s Club.

Or being a Freemason, which, not unlike the Liberal Party itself, is a closed shop to women and which both Matthew Guy and Peter Walsh inexplicably leave off their register of interests. They didn’t know they had to declare it. Of course.

(True, women can nominate but not in safe Liberal seats such as Cook where former McKinsey operative, and failed 2022 Bennelong candidate, Morrison-endorsed, Simon Kennedy who gets the nod.)

Why have a lobster with a mobster when you can have a crustacean with a freemason?

A code of silence helps keep the wheels of power tuning smoothly. As former CEO, Alan “Stonewall” Joyce puts it, “I’m not going to comment on Chairman’s Club membership … I’ve got privacy issues where we will not comment on who’s in, who’s been offered it, or why they’re there.”

But only for the ruling class. Qantas is perfectly free to trade your personal information for the reason it collected it Australian privacy law permits any organisation to use or disclose your personal information for the primary reason they collected it including for direct marketing activities.

Varoufakis would beam. We gift them our information. They don’t have to say why and how they use it. They make money out of it. Billions. And the case of glad-handed Pratt? Who is on his payroll and why?

You can bet it’s not altruism says the Centre for Public Integrity. Paul Keating, for example, is a long-time advocate of super funds being able to invest in Pratt’s line of business.

But when it comes to mining magnate, Hancock Prospecting heiress, Gina Rinehart – Queen of WA Inc, with Nicola Forrest, who split from Andrew Twiggy Forrest, to become our second richest woman with unparalleled power over a territory the late Robert Hughes described as “a colony with a body the size of Europe and the brain of an infant” – when Gina calls – you come running.

If you’re Peter Dutton or any other of his conga-line of sycophants. But especially if you’re Peter Dutton and after your Dunkley debacle, you are all boxed in like Tulloch. Expect the fake debate about nuclear power to distract us all from the Opposition’s incompetence. And the culture warriors are already to go.

But let’s not kid ourselves, Dutton’s desperate turn to Rinehart may give him the backer of the richest woman in the world. But neither the desperate lunge towards nuclear power nor his rich and powerful friend, nor promoting his rivals, will prevent his political career crashing and burning around him. He’s up shit creek as they say in Canberra.

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New Parliament promising but Team Dutton disappoints

On the opening of the forty-seventh parliament with thirty-five new members, a nineteen gun salute and one cool, new diverse, vibe, 26 July, a decimated Opposition – twenty-two fewer in the House of Reps – reverts to playing dirty pool.

In contrast, the extra virgin, Albanese government begins with a show of compromise. Can we deal with Greens and teals? Labor makes a big deal of agreeing to make its emissions reduction target of 43 percent by 2030 based on 2007 “a minimum”.

It’s no flaw to have a floor and even if we won’t match it with a ratchet mechanism our target will rise over coming years vows Chris Bowen. Bowen is the federal government’s Climate Change and Energy Minister and must know he’s a marked man. Peter Dutton, promises to pick on Bowen because you go for the “weak links”.

Yet to be seen, however, in Labor’s newly “Dutton-proofed” draft legislation – which will now – as the UN framework mandates – spell out that future emissions targets can only increase – is any pledge to phase out gas and coal exports.

Nor is there a ban on new gas and coal. But while the law is set to come before the lower house, Wednesday, it will not be before the Senate until September. With the clock at one minute to midnight on The Doomsday Clock, there’s more room than time for improvement.

Reform could begin with repairing a democratic process long hijacked by lobbyists, especially the monstrous fossil fuel lobby guzzling $12 billion in federal government subsidies, $8 billion of which is a fuel tax credit scheme, entrenching the use of petrol, diesel and natural gas.

It costs a billion in subsidies just to fuel the rigs to get the stuff out of the ground.

It won’t be easy for Labor, given its business friendly election promises and the links already forged which brought it $75 million between 2012-20 from mining or banking and finance for example, or media, alcohol and gambling but anything less than independence and integrity will be political suicide.

What’s certain, however, is that after nine years’ failure, the Coalition needs to get out of the road. Australia’s action on climate is ranked as dead last in the world by the UN.

Alas, for Dutton’s mob, (corporate receipts ($125 million 2012-20) it’s deja vu all over again. Back to the future. Bugger the concept of an opposition offering an alternative vision. It’s learned nothing and whatever he believes, $coMo’s political road-kill. There’ll be no resurrection. So what does it do?

Dutton reprises Abbott’s wrecking-ball, hyper partisan politics. At least opposition for its own sake is a game it knows. Team Dutton has no concept of collaboration and even less idea of what it means to be out of power.

For four years, $coMo & Co sought power for its own sake while servicing corporate sponsors, within a carbon captured state. Responsible or democratic federal government was just window dressing at best. At worst its gas-led recovery was nothing less than open surrender to Santos.

But let’s be fair, why bother trying to be taken seriously, when you already get more than enough attention for self-parody? Much to our Murdoch controlled media’s delight, “Boofhead” Dutton, another useful, disposable idiot, will head an insane clown posse out to attack Labor on everything, foot and mouth, climate, environment.

Disorganised? It can’t even get its act together on whether we should close our borders to Indonesian foot and mouth disease. But who needs coherence when you’ve got sound and light?

Dutton calls for “the border with Indonesia” to be closed, unlike Big Dave Littleproud who sides with totally objective industry leaders, who – Deidre Chambers what a coincidence – want no such restriction, while the Nationals leader calls for more science.

It’s a remarkable pivot given that only last August, Dave wrote to the CSIRO protesting at its inclusion of fake meat in its digital tuckerbox suggesting science should be a little less scientific or perhaps not so mean to meat, “provide balanced support to Australian industries”.

Agriculture minister, “Murray Grey” Watt has the Opposition’s number. Muzza tells RN Breakfast that the opposition’s calls to close the border are damaging our nation’s agricultural reputation. But, as The Monthly’s Rachel Withers asks, “when has the national interest ever stopped the Coalition from trying to score a political point?”

Dutton is struggling to keep his team on message. But what has the serial dud ever succeeded at? He’s The Peter Principle personified.

Media signs are promising. Team Spud may better its predecessor’s record for SNAFU-driven negative advertising. In the hotly contested teamwork event, Karen Andrews pushes her former PM under a bus when he uses her to create a refugee boat arrival election stunt. Not only is Sussan Ley busted for suppressing a major report on the environment, she doesn’t give a fig.

The Fourth State of the Environment (SOE) Report from the CSIRO is a comprehensive assessment of the state of our environment put out every five years by the Australian Government.

It has to be. Independent and evidence-based, the review is mandated by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It’s not something you throw in your school bag and don’t show your parents.

But what to do? It’s an indictment. The report shows the adverse effects of climate change on the health and well-being of Australians. Climate change is exacerbating pressures on every Australian ecosystem. Australia now has more foreign plant species than native.

Australia’s environment is terminally ill. Pressures of climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining have deteriorated over the past five years. Our natural world holds the key to human wellbeing and survival, scientists warn.

The Morrison government acts with typical maturity, responsibility and openness. It sits on the report for six months lest it jigger its re-election prospects. The SOE would have just been quietly buried had $coMo & Co been returned to office.

Two years ago the federal government was told it had failed in its duty to protect the environment in its delivery of Australia’s national conservation laws in a scathing review by the national auditor general. It ignored that, too.

Former Minister for no responsibility to future generations for climate change or the Environment, Sussan Ley is unavailable for comment, last Tuesday, the day of the SOE’s final release. Or since. But Ms Ley is planning a national listening tour to discover why women didn’t vote for the Coalition.

The Coalition blames voters for the Morrison government’s rout -(just not listening, says Deputy leader Su$san Ley- especially women) – only to be upstaged by reports that boat whisperer, ScoMo, architect of his party’s near-death experience whistled up a Sri Lankan boat, or two, right on polling day, 21 May, to stop the votes-for Labor.

Karen Middleton gets the scoop for The Saturday Paper. A Sri Lankan contact says that the departure of two asylum seeker boats bound for Australia “was being facilitated” by Sri Lankan authorities. They are scheduled to arrive in Australian waters “around the 21st of May 2022, election date”, he says. It’s designed to be “an election stunt”.

There’s the usual Canberra flap. The PM’s Office puts the hard word on Home Affairs to go from “caretaker to scaremaker”, in Phil Coorey’s phrase on ABC Insiders.

Karen Andrews defends the heroic resistance of her then Home Affairs staff who refuse to do a press drop to journos. Yet a blizzard of spam text messages tell voters of an “illegal boat” from Sri Lanka being intercepted by Border Force as it tries to enter Australia 21 May.

“Keep our borders secure by voting Liberal today,” the text message ends. There’s a link to a Liberal-endorsed website, vote.liberal.org.au.

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrews defends her role in the Morrison government’s decision to publicise the turnback of a people smuggling vessel on election day.

Andrews tells Today that the former PM got her to issue the statement. Ouch. No chance of another curry in a hurry chez ScoMo and family. She rejects any suggestion of her department being pressured.

One press gallery journo joins the dots. Did Morrison engineer the departure of the boat to fit the Coalition fear campaign that boats would start again under Labor?

Bruce Haigh has little doubt. “In my belief, the Australian government has been involved outside of normal channels with various agencies in Sri Lanka to prevent the boats coming to Australia,” Former Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Haigh tells Karen Middleton of The Saturday Paper.

“Within that relationship, there was the capacity to also send boats.”

It’s a revelation that eclipses Scotty’s “We don’t trust in governments … or the UN”, sermon and love-in with fellow evangelical, homophobe, Margaret Court at Perth’s Victory Life Centre, pentecostal church. Morrison’s all-God’s-children-got-to-chill theme in his fifty-minute harangue, however, is alarming. “Be anxious for nothing” is his Biblical text.

For the true believer, God has overcome fear Morrison believes. But it sounds very close to “I just don’t care” as he explained his composure to Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet.

Founder, Marg’s a big fan of Scott; not just because of a $500,000 plus a $50,000 “cash-flow boost” her Centre got from JobKeeper in 2020.

Most of this went into a bank account, $37,000 in the red in 2019. Like Lazarus, the balance was brought back from the dead; a $258,000 surplus by June 30, 2020.

Money can’t buy you love, however, and Liberals have colourful pork’n rort spreadsheets to prove it. It’s pretty clear Morrison’s desperate bid to cede the party’s inner-city heartland to woke greenies and teals and put transphobia first in a ploy to win big in the outer suburbs was a dumb idea. Just as cynically courting the far right undid him. Just as it undid Howard, whose calculated shift to the right ultimately cost him his own seat of Bennelong.

Today’s Liberals can always rely on right wing nutjobs to rally around in a crisis. Like flies around an outback dunny. As PM Albanese’s dusting off the mining lobby’s “clean coal” bullshit disgusts the teals, the Greens and many in his own party, the LNP’s lunatic right dives into the dustbin of history to recycle garbage.

“There is a real risk that the wrong lessons will be learnt by the Liberal Party about the reasons for the federal election loss, and the path back to government.”

Amanda Stoker, self-proclaimed “misunderstood conservative”, a dry, white former Queensland LNP Senator, veteran Coalition content creator and now team coach, wags her finger from a new pulpit, scolding players for “caving to leftist positions” in her post-election rout analysis- in a bold new column in The Australian Financial Review.

Don’t adjust your set, the fault lies with reality. Let other, misguided, souls see the Coalition’s defeat as part of its alienation of women, or its being a front for the fossil fuel industry, or a judgement on its catastrophic ineptitude on climate, energy, economy, environment and pandemic, Stoker’s urging a return to the same – only harder right.

Our former assistant Minister for Women-who-want-to-be-crumb-maidens already fixed the Coalition’s women problem. In her own low-rent attack on Julia Banks’ book in July 2021, the veteran attention-seeker accuses Banks of seeking a “cheap headline”, adding the Liberal Party line on its endemic, sexist bullying:

“I certainly haven’t seen in my personal experience the matters of which she complains.” In 2018, she calls Banks’ allegations “pathetic” and “bizarre”.

“Solidarity” Stoker is “the voice for Morrison’s quiet Australians”, Janet Albrechtsen (paywalled) purrs in Liberal Party Pravda The Australian, another money-losing Murdoch publication, $60 million in the red in 2021. With that type of backing, Stoker’s a shoo-in for the next LNP casual vacancy in the senate, which is only ever a parachute away.

Oxymorons pave the race to the bottom. Not only does the voice of Morrison’s quiet Australia belong to one of our loudest Tories, the headline-seeking lunatic right complains bitterly that it is silenced. Cancelled.

“Captain’s pick” for Warringah, unsuccessful Liberal candidate, the transphobic Katherine Deves, had Scott Morrison swear he wouldn’t let Deves be “silenced” as the party split in two over her candidacy.

Matt Canavan nails defeat down to his party’s failure to heed quiet Australians, such as Senator Hollie Hughes. The self-effacing Hughes, shadow assistant minister for Climate Change Denial takes us back at least to 2014, with a reheated fossil fuel lobby leftover as she declares “climate change is not an Australian problem.”

Not our problem? Australia should try that line on Pasifika Leaders who fear Labor’s climate policy of an inadequate emission target of 43% by 2020, paired with plans for new gas and coal. Hughes knows Australia is directly responsible for just over 1% of global emissions (1.13%). Yet, when added to emissions from fossil fuel exports this rises to 3-4%.

We have a big problem. We are the world’s largest gas exporter and second largest coal exporter. Although only 0.33% of the globe’s population, we rank with the world’s top culprits. Our average carbon footprint of 16 tonnes per capita, is over three times the global average.

Government figures project an increase in coal production of 4%, a 12% increase in gas production and a 32% increase in oil production up to 2030itters of carbon emissions with an average carbon footprint.

And we’re increasing it. Yet the line Dutton’s opposition will push is the lie that any energy source other than fossil fuels will lead to huge price rises. It’s old mining company propaganda but it’s run on Sky News by Stoker among others.

Stoker, aka Draymilla Burt, in Shaun Miccallef’s Mad as Hell puts a lot of spin into her political shtick, a caricature of gob-smacking sophistry, hot-button-bigotry and lies. The religious right loves her. Parachuted into the senate, only to crash and burn in a term, Stoker can’t wait to lecture the Liberals on how they can win next time.

Stoker’s seen her patron, Scott Morrison, another of the Lord’s anointed, whose persona also taps pathological exhibitionism, egotism and unwitting self-parody, not only fudge an election but gut his own party. So? It’s just that he didn’t go far enough right.

Shunning safe inner-city seats to woo a mythical, horde from outer suburbia; a HiLux ute muster of King Gee Liberal tradies, Morrison’s blunder is a gift to the teals. It also unseats the odd dud. Josh Frydenberg is snapped up by Goldman Sachs, the giant vampire squid of what we call the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, a world recession to everyone else.

Goldman Sachs was fined $5bn for its role in the 2008 financial crisis in a settlement holding the bank accountable for its ‘serious misconduct’ in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages.

It’s a neat fit for a former feckless treasurer whose idols are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. So he accidentally gave away fifty billion of JobKeeper to the likes of Gerry Harvey? They could repay it if they wanted to.

Scotty partners Margaret (hard, clay, grass or carpet) Court. Doubles can be tricky because, as Maggie says herself, “Tennis is full of lesbians.” But not only does Morrison find a fellow homophobe, the spotlight enables our greatest failure to imply he’s a winner because God loves him. Its politics and governments that are fallible.

It’s practically a badge of honour to stuff up as PM;

“We trust in Him. We don‘t trust in governments. We don’t trust in United Nations, thank goodness. We don‘t trust in all of these things as fine as they might be and as important as the role that they play. Believe me, I’ve worked in it. But as someone who’s been in it, if you are putting your faith in those things, like I put my faith in the Lord, you are making a mistake. They are fallible.”

Sadly, many tradies hate ScoMo for his ineptitude, cynical pragmatism and repudiation of duty of care. Especially aged care, climate and environment. Many follow their parents’ political preferences leftward. But let’s not confuse a popular cause with a populist cause.

Both Morrison and Stoker are like Trump who turned anti-abortion only when he saw votes in it. Stoker’s truckling to Dutton who returns from Washington pumped with Republican culture war tactics to follow his war on woke classrooms.

Pete’s head is on the one-eyed god in the lounge room. ABC TV. We could be at war with China or Russia any minute, he rants. Imagine if we locked in a 47% by 2020 emission target! His plan is to attack Labor’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas with his own mob’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas.

What could possibly go wrong?

“The greatest challenge facing the defeated federal Liberal Party is not whether to move to the right or the left, nor whether to court voters in the outer suburbs or try to win back its once blue-ribbon seats. It is how to stay relevant and it’s a challenge the party seems barely to recognise,” writes Judith Brett.

The major challenge for Labor is not what the emissions reduction target should be so much as stopping new coal and gas and how soon it can kick big coal and the oil and gas industry out of the temple before its true believers lose their faith entirely.

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Sussan Ley updates the nation on Medicare

As any regular reader of my work is aware, I have been very vocal about the various changes to Medicare proposed by the LNP government. A list of past articles is provided at the end of this article should you have missed out. I also appeared on the ABC News supporting the RACGP in their “You’ve Been Targeted” campaign.

Earlier this week I wondered what was happening. Minister Ley had promised to consult with doctors before making any changes. I’d suggested Ley not forget about the most important demographic: the patients. I Googled and didn’t find much. I checked Ley’s Twitter feed and found the odd tweet about consulting with doctors.

https://twitter.com/MalBrough_MP/status/563504992078688257

Meeting with doctors and

more doctors.

Where are the meetings with PATIENTS? This one, maybe?

Possibly, but they look suspiciously like more medicos to me. I was becoming a little depressed. Yesterday Ley finally held a press conference. The full transcript is available: Update on nationwide Medicare policy consultation.

Craig Laundy: It’s great to have the Health Minister, the Honorable Sussan Ley and my good friend the Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie here in Reid for an afternoon of consulting with local GPs so without further ado Sussan welcome.

Not one word about PATIENTS! More doctors! Yes, doctors are voters, just like you or I. Yes, doctors pay the Medicare levy just like you or I. Yes, doctors have a vital voice in any changes to Medicare. You and I have a far greater voice and we must not let Ley forget that.

I’ve just come from breakfast this morning on the Central Coast. There were 40 doctors and lots of different views in the room and the same for last night and I’m on my way to another part of the country to do something similar.

Still no mention of PATIENTS. *sigh*

…accept that unless you’re in a vulnerable category maybe those services don’t come absolutely for free and that where there is an ability to pay that you value the high quality service that you receive that you do indeed pay something. When I look at the number of bulk-billed consultations across the country 76 per cent of all episodes of care are bulk-billed to non-concessional patients.

No, Ley, any bulk-billed service to a non-concessional patient is certainly not for “absolutely free” as most non-concessional patients are working and paying the Medicare Levy! Or are the children of people paying the Medicare Levy. That’s not “free”, we pay an insurance premium. I’ve heard it said there are medical practices that bulk-bill 100% of their consultations. I’ve yet to actually attend one, but I have no doubt there are some. There are also practices that bulk-bill only those holding a Health Care Card.

The practice I go to has a policy of bulk-billing walk-ins (see first available doctor) between 7 am and 6 pm. Appointments are not bulk-billed, nor are consultations after 6 pm or on weekends or public holidays. I think there are many practices with similar policies. How often am I a walk-in? Not too often. I work full-time and also have medical conditions which I prefer to have overseen by a regular doctor. Consequently most of my consultations are either by appointment or outside of the bulk-bill hours, even if I am walking in with a child that needs a stitch in a toe – no appointment, but 8 pm at night. $90 payment, $49 rebate. My co-payment is already $41, thank you very much. The average patient contribution for out-of-hospital services for patients who pay is $51 (including specialists visits).

My GP visit

I wanted to see proof of this 76%. I thought the annual report might be a good place to start, but as Medicare has been absorbed into the Department of Human Services, there doesn’t seem to be much Medicare detail in that report. The Department of Human Services ended the 2013-14 year with an operating SURPLUS.

In 2013–14 the department administered an estimated $159.2 billion in payments or around 38 per cent of government outlays. Financial performance targets were met, for the most part, and the department reported an operating surplus of $132.6 million after adjustment for unfunded depreciation and the revaluation of assets. This compares with a deficit of $7.7 million in 2012–13.

Source: Department of Human Services Annual Report

That doesn’t tell me anything about bulk-billing though, interesting as the information may be. Further research found bulk-billing statistics. Click the image to go to the full table. According to the Medicare statistics, 77.2% of consultations were bulk-billed for the 2013-14 year, but there are vast differences across services. GP visits are bulk-billed 82.2% of the time, whereas specialists a mere 29.2%. No clear differentiation is given in the report between concessional and non-concessional patients, so are we to assume only 1.2% of consultations were for concessional patients?

Clearly doctors in Canberra don’t believe in bulk-billing politicians.

I am struggling to believe the rate is this high. If you want to delve into the full statistics yourself, the spreadsheet available is very useful.

Why is the rate of bulk-billing so high? Based on my own personal experience and that of friends, family and co-workers, my guess would have been less than 50%. The history of Medicare may have something to do with it. I found this interesting snippet. Read very carefully.

Levels of bulk billing for unreferred GP attendances have been declining in recent years after reaching a high of 79.7 per cent in1996-97. By the December quarter 2002 bulk billing for unreferred GP attendances had declined to 68.8 per cent, but by June 2004 this had improved to 70.2 percent.

Source: APH

The decline in bulk-billing had been viewed as a negative! Incentives of $7.50 to encourage doctors to bulk-bill were introduced in 2004.

From 1 May a $7.50 incentive paid to GPs for bulk-billed GP consultations with concession card holders and children under 16 in non-metropolitan areas (RRMAs 3-7) and Tasmania introduced. This incentive replaces the earlier $5 incentive in these areas.

As of 1 September eligibility for the $7.50 incentive payment to GPs extended to eligible urban areas and large regional centres.

Clearly bulk-billing was encouraged in more ways than one.

Between 1992 and 2003 the Scheduled Fee rose 26%. The CPI rose 31%. Doctors were taking a pay cut.

Interestingly, during the 2004 election campaign, the Coalition proposed to increase the rebate to 100% of the scheduled fee. Different captain at the same helm eleven (eleventy?) years later wants to cut the rebate.

Proposals for changes to Medicare were announced by the Coalition during the 2004 election campaign. These include from 1 January 2005 increasing the Medicare rebate for all GP services to 100 per cent of the Schedule fee…

Source: APH Library Archive

When did the big clinics emerge? Edelsten opened the first after Medicare came into being in 1984. We now have very professional corporate medical businesses, minus the chandeliers and gawdy trimmings.

Reading through the history, it is clear Medicare has been tweaked many times over the years. The practice of medicine has evolved. We no longer visit our local family doctor in the front room of his residence as in days gone by. The economies of scale from multi-disciplinary and multi-doctor practices would, I think, be necessary in circumstances where fee increases were running well behind CPI increases AND bulk-billing was being encouraged.

The HICAPS system has been a great innovation. The doctor gets paid at the time of service and the patient receives the rebate overnight in their bank account. As noted in the past, I’ve actually received the rebate credit before the payment debit hit my bank account. For patients this saves considerable time. In the last twelve months I’ve only visited one medical provider (and we know I’ve visited a few) that had not yet moved to HICAPS. Gone are the days of lining up in a Medicare office to claim medical bills.

The medical profession was initially resistant to Medicare. The medical profession today is a very different beast to the medical profession of forty years ago. Many practitioners are not as politically right wing as their predecessors. Free university education saw many from different backgrounds obtain degrees.

Forty years is a long time. You may be reading this on a smartphone. Medicare was launched three years before Telstra launched the first mass mobile network in Australia.The phone cost $5,200. Technology, medicine, society: all have changed.

How much revenue does the Medicare Levy raise? That seems to be the greatest secret, as despite considerable research, I can’t find the answer. The spreadsheet I referred to above analyses the costs of Medicare to the nth degree, sliced and diced to within an inch of the core and tells me the benefits paid were $19.1 billion. Not a revenue number in sight. Nor, for that matter the infrastructure, staff and other costs (such as HICAPS).

Was Medicare ever intended to be completely self-funding?

The objectives of the original Medibank were summarised by R. B. Scotton (1977) as universal in coverage, equitable in distribution of costs, and administratively simple to manage.

That statement doesn’t really specify self-funding. As it turns out, the original funding bills weren’t passed and the funding came from general revenue. The levy came later.

“Equitable in distribution of costs” doesn’t mean the same thing as self-funding. In any case, what was appropriate forty years ago may not be appropriate today – and that could be either way. How do we assess “equitable”? These are social questions, not medical questions, yet I see Ley focussing on the medical profession and not the people.

To be continued . . .

Previous Medicare related articles by the author:

This is a slightly edited version of the article originally published on Love versus Goliath

Lucy Who?

One could be forgiven for not knowing who Lucy Wicks is – even her electorate had never heard of her before she was parachuted into the seat of Robertson in a captain’s pick by Tony Abbott, bypassing the pre-selection process, much to the chagrin of the local Liberal Party membership:

“NSW State Executive of the Liberal Party have endorsed Lucy Wicks as the Candidate for Robertson. No preselection was held and the executive of the Robertson Federal Electorate Conference was not notified, only told that this was under consideration today. Nominations for Robertson have been open for 5 months, Lucy Wicks being a member of that State Executive that delayed nominations”.

The comments from local Liberals were scathing, as the above link testifies. A poster with the aptly-named persona of Back Room Deals summed up the sentiment thus:

“Lucy Wicks lives in Warringah, Tony Abbott’s electorate . . . hmm. Wicks nominated on Thursday and was rushed through NRC. Then the vote went to State Executive on Friday. The problem is that our leadership has shown no integrity in this issue. To fix the problem in Dobell, a problem of their own making, they take away the democratic rights of Robertson branch members. We will not stand for these tactics, there are 10 branches in Robertson . . . 10 branches with hundreds of unpaid foot soldiers who will walk away, let Head Office pay for the lot come the Election”.

Lucy then called in the big guns, hosting a morning tea at which Bronwyn Bishop spoke. This was the reaction from someone who attended that function:

“Lucy Wicks was totally uninspiring and seemed like an impressionable kid that didn’t have a brain between her ears. The helpers there all seemed like young Liberals that were nice, but really, did nothing to add any degree of credibility at all. Dressed like they came off a refugee boat. Doesn’t some-one give them a dress code at all? As for Bronwyn, she was the main star and Lucy apart from telling us she worked in a factory in the Central Coast really had nothing to say. And it showed. Bronwyn did all the talking and Lucy shut up which is just as well I think”.

Even though there was a 0.1 per cent swing against the Liberal Party, there was an even larger swing against the Labor sitting member, Deborah O’Neill, who in my mind was a hard-working MP who ably represented her constituents. 21.8 per cent of the vote went to the minor parties and Independents. Hardly a resounding victory for the Coalition.

So it was with interest that I watched Lucy ask her first question in Parliament:

“My question is to the Assistant Minister for Education. I remind the minister that childcare groups and parents in my electorate of Robertson have told me of the burden that the previous government childcare rules and regulations placed on costs for centres and parents. Will the minister tell the House how the Government plans to fix the red-tape mess and reduce costs?”

Up bounced Christopher Pyne’s sidekick, Sussan Ley, who seems to have learned her oratory skills from her Minister, to tell us that axing the carbon tax and cutting red tape would fix all the woes of the childcare system. Her proof of this was a couple of anecdotal stories about turning the lights off for an hour and eating individual cupcakes.

Perhaps Ms Ley is unaware of what her colleague in the NSW State Parliament is doing:

Community preschools across the state could be sent broke under changes to state-government funding for three-year-olds as daily fees nearly double for parents of the younger children.

The sector is warning many community centres will be forced to close under a new model that slashes funds for the age group in a bid to get more four- and five-year-olds into classes before they start kindergarten.

In what has been slammed as a further blow to the chronically underfunded sector in NSW, the Community Child Care Co-Operative claims one in three centres could be forced out of business if parents switch their children from preschool to cheaper long day care.

The report, by UNSW professor Deborah Brennan, said the state government would need to “substantially increase” investment in early education to meet its commitments as community preschools had been underfunded for “decades” compared to those in other states.

Ms Ley also failed to mention that the Coalition have cut $300 million from the Early Years Quality Fund:

A $300 million funding boost aimed at improving the wages of 30,000 childcare workers looks increasingly likely to be axed as the federal government continues to sit on the Labor-approved initiative.

The money was to be spent in 1100 childcare centres to bolster the meagre $19-an-hour wages of certificate III childcare workers by $3 an hour and early-childhood teachers by $6 an hour. The starting wage for a university-educated early childhood teacher is $42,000 a year.

The government wrote to childcare centres who had accepted the funding soon after winning office, revoking the conditional funding offers and advising it was reviewing the $300 million Early Years Quality Fund (EYQF).

Ms Ley did not specify what “red tape” would be removed, and when Graeme Perrett asked “What—you’re going to have free-range kids in the childcare centres!”, he was promptly ejected by our fearless arbiter, Bronwyn Bishop.

The National Quality Standard for Education and Care Services can be found in Schedule One which appears at the end of the Regulations.

Having glanced through them, I am not sure which of these guidelines could be dumped, and how that would improve the quality of the service. But then again, quality of education isn’t a goal of this government.

So it is with a great deal of trepidation that I reiterate the question asked by Lucy Who and could we please have some detail to your answer rather than “axe the tax and cut red tape” slogans.

“Will the minister tell the House how the government plans to fix the red-tape mess and reduce costs?”

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