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Tag Archives: The Liberal Party

18C And Malcolm’s Return To The Left!

Early this week, we had Peter Dutton making his run for the leader’s job with his very effective slap-down of those business leaders who dared to express an opinion on marriage equality. Go for it, Peter, I say. I mean, what right to business leaders have to giving the government advice on something like same sex marriage. We should only listen to business leaders on things like whether climate change exists and only if they tell us that it’s a load of claptrap and scientists are far too insular to know which way the wind is blowing and hence they can’t advise us on climate, let alone whether. I mean, weather, or rather, whether or not we should be trying to increase our use of renewables.

No, no, no, business leaders should just quit their business and become a politician if they want to express an opinion. Or start a religion. If you’re a religious leader or head of the ACL it’s ok to have an opinion on marriage equality. But not if you’re a business man like Alan Joyce. I mean, what business is it of an openly gay business leader whether or not we have marriage equality. No, best leave that to white, heterosexual men who go to church. Like Peter. No, best that men like Mr Joyce do as our future PM suggested and stick to their knitting. Which shouldn’t offend Mr Joyce because clearly it wasn’t meant in a homophobic way and Mr Dutton was clearly referring to all business leaders and the Qantas leader shouldn’t feel singled out just because he was the one mentioned by name!

But just when I thought it was safe to go back to the Liberal Party, what do we have? That lefty, socialist Malcolm Turnbull ruining things again?

We’ve already seen how he takes good Australian money and stops the millionaires here getting their fair share, by sending it to the Cayman Islands. And we’ve seen how, like all left-wing socialists, Malcolm is trying to redistribute wealth via tax cuts to the wealthy.Yeah, we all know how that’s going to end, don’t we?

Thanks to the trickle down effect, those tax cuts’ll end up in the hands of the unemployed and homeless because the businesses will start paying their workers more and the extra taxes will lead to an increase in the money going on welfare because that’s what people like Malcolm do – don’t you remember that picture of him putting five bucks in some homeless guy’s cup – and next thing you know, we’ll be some sort of Maoist state like China… well, maybe not China, it’s looking even more capitalist than Rupert Murdoch these days. Cuba?

Whatever, it wasn’t Comrade Turnbull’s position on wealth distribution that made me see red tonight. No, I don’t mean that I’m angry. I meant in the sense that I can see his left-wing, commo’ views are being forced upon us, whether we’re in favour or not!

For years, we’ve been concerned about how 18C has stopped me putting those races back in their place (and you’ll notice that just because of that 18C thing I didn’t call them “inferior” or “subhuman” or “unionists”) just because it “offends” or “humiliates” them when I place a cross on their front lawn. God, it’s got so we god-fearing Christians can’t even put up a cross in someone else’s front yard. Last night I was stopped before we’d even set it alight… Bloody police state!

And brave culture warriors like Andrew Bolt (who isn’t a business leader and therefore has a right to an opinion) and Cory Bernardi have long complained about how 18C is preventing them from saying those things which they’d like to say, but when they do, not only do they have the Left telling them that if they don’t like our values why don’t they go back where they came from, they also risk joining all the other people who’ve been jailed or fined after violating 18C. I’d give you some examples but none spring to mind…

But Turnbull has bowed to the left and after refusing for so long to amend 18C because it’s too restrictive has decided to strengthen it!

Well, that’s what he said:

 

“We are strengthening the race hate laws. These are stronger laws, more effective laws, because they are clearer laws!”

 

See, he’s just shown how much of a lefty he really is. He’s strengthening it by replacing “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” with “harass”.

Whereas once you used to have to insult, offend or humiliate, now it’s enough to simply harass. And one of the definitions of “harass” is to “make repeated small-scale attacks on”. So now you don’t even have to offend them, it’s enough to make attacks, and small-scale ones at that.

Bring on the challenge, Peter! Quick, before that socialist, Scott Morrison, brings down his Robin Hood Budget where he uses populist measures like tax cuts to low-income earners between $100-200k! This may be you’re only chance before those communists running our companies try to impose gay marriage on us all.

Oh, please don’t think that I meant the Chinese there when I said “communists running our companies”. I don’t want anybody to call me racist!

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.

Now is the Time for All Good Men and Women to Come to the Aid of the Party

By Allan Patience

This article has been re-blogged from ‘Pearls and Irritations’ with the author’s permission.

Richard Di Natale has called on the Greens to get ready for government. Well and good. The direction in which he is prodding his party is a rare glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak Australian political landscape.

Whether in a coalition (likely with Labor), or in its own right (unlikely), what sort of public policy agenda would a Greens government pursue? It is time for it to come up with a broad and innovative policy agenda; otherwise a completely new political party will have to be created.

The other major parties, Labor and Liberal, have become ossified under the thumb of ideologically blinkered, self-perpetuating elites, the consequence of what Robert Michels once called the “iron law of oligarchy.” The Nationals are mostly irrelevant to mainstream policy debates, but they too suffer from the same organisational malaise as the ALP and the Liberals.

For over three decades now Labor and the Coalition parties have been in obsessive thrall to a neoliberal mindset, utterly insensitive to the havoc that neoliberalism has been wreaking on our economy. However, what they are clearly incapable of comprehending today is that the whole neoliberal (or “economic rationalist”) project is about to come crashing down.

Some of the catastrophes that neoliberalism has unleashed on us in Australia include: stagnating economic growth rates; sharply increasing socio-economic inequalities that are undermining capitalism itself (though, as with most subtleties, this irony escapes most neoliberals); the running-down of vital public services and the devaluing of public goods (for example, hospitals, schools, public transport); the appalling expansion of what were once termed “repressive state apparatuses” (increased powers for police and border protection authorities, state-sanctioned human rights abuses on Manus Island and Nauru, draconian meta-data gathering laws, the use of legally prescribed secrecy by governments to hide what they are really up to); and a society in which a range of social pathologies (family violence, depression, narcissism, drugs, begging, violent crime) are becoming thesine qua non of everyday life.

The licence that big private sector corporations have been granted by successive neoliberal regimes has not resulted in better services, cheaper credit, or widely shared prosperity across the community. As Milton once observed, licence is not the same thing as liberty. Markets are now being crowded out by start-up ingénues and fraudsters while being bullied by big local and overseas corporations intent on feathering their own profitability nests and with little interest in the needs or rights of their employees and consumers.

For example, the billion dollar profits that the big four banks are presently announcing (even as they increase their lending rates) point to the abject failure of the principles of deregulation and privatisation – that neoliberals have boasted endlessly will free up a shackled market, to benefit everybody. In the case of the banks, the only beneficiaries have been their obscenely overpaid executives and a narrow grouping of major shareholders. And, remember, many of those shareholders are offshore corporations.

Consider, too, the myriad private providers of electricity that have exploded on to the scene since the privatisation of energy generation. Neoliberals promised that privatising the delivery of electricity would bring vigorous competition into a previously lazy and cosseted industry, driving down the price of electricity in household budgets. But, as every household knows only too well, this simply isn’t happening. In fact there are now far too may competitors in the market devising all sorts of byzantine schemes to woo customers, while investing in costly advertising and hustling campaigns to cajole bemused and confused customers into signing up with one or other of them. The result has been a shocking escalation in the costs of a fundamental public good – affordable electricity. The privatisation of electricity has been one of the most spectacular of neoliberalism’s disasters.

These are only two examples of many failures by neoliberalism to progress our economy and enhance people’s lives.

So what sort of agenda should the Greens espouse?

Their first priority must be to counter-attack in neoliberalism’s war on public goods and services. Reimposing regulatory constraints on a private sector that is out of control is an impossible task. That horse has well and truly bolted. However, neoliberals love to extol the virtue of competition in the economy. So why not give them some real competition?

This is where Greens should enter the policy debates. They should can mount a political campaign explaining that there is no competing mechanism in the neoliberal quiver to challenge the social destructiveness and economic vandalising that neoliberalism’s privatising and deregulating have unleashed. They need to explain that the only achievement of neoliberal policies has been to oversee capital roaring up the system, not trickling down.

This should be the prelude for advocating a policy of strategically targeted public competition into the so-called “free market.”

The first item on the post-neoliberal policy agenda should be the setting up of a publicly owned bank, to provide genuine competition in the banking industry. Of course the neoliberal beneficiaries of the current banking order will scream like stuck pigs about the unfairness of a publicly owned competitor in their midst, insisting that only they be allowed to compete on that most sacred of neoliberal cows – the fabled level playing field.

Anyway, why must a publicly owned bank be seen as unfairly tilting the economic arena? Its establishment would simply provide more competition to bring the banking field back to an even keel, while returning profits to the community either though cheaper, more consumer-respectful services, and/or profits being invested in public goods (for example, better schools, railways, medical services).

Another strategic area in the contemporary economy is legal services. Thousands of Australians are locked out of the justice system because of prohibitive fees charged by the big law companies that as greedy as the banks. A publicly owned law firm providing cheap and friendly (dare one say compassionate) legal advice would help address the unjust over-representation of social minorities and the poor who are routinely and unjustly the majority victims of the pointy end of the country’s legal system. When did you last hear of a senior partner in a law firm, or a distinguished surgeon, or a bank CEO going to jail?

Other strategic areas in the Australian economy in urgent need of tough public competition include the real estate industry (agents’ costs and fees are a significant factor in pushing up already escalating house prices), medical (including psychiatric) and dental clinics, a publicly owned pharmaceutical corporation (once a dream of the Whitlam government), childcare centres, a government airline, and a comprehensive news and entertainment media agency (an expanded and properly resourced ABC and SBS).

A cautiously progressive introduction of public competition into strategic sectors of the economy would certainly contribute to improving the barrenness of our contemporary public policy environment. As each new public competition agency is settled in, further competition could be contemplated – for example a publicly owned supermarket chain.

And once people realise that this kind of state intervention doesn’t cause the sky to fall in, then even the nationalisation of certain crucial industries could be considered – an obvious example is urban rail networks and road tollways.

Indeed with the institutionalisation of a healthy culture of public competition in the post-neoliberal economy, further private competition could even be encouraged. But any new private enterprises will have to operate on a truly level playing field. Regulators will require them to demonstrate that their services are consumer-respectful and that the efficiencies they promise are genuine, not bogus as so many are right now.

If the Greens are unable to mount a public policy program for the coming post-neoliberal era, then a new political party will be necessary. That will be the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party.

Allan Patience is a political scientist at the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne.

 

The Strange Case Of The Liberal Party!

Perhaps my brain is wired differently, but I tend to notice contradictions in things.

Of course it’s pretty easy to notice the contradiction in Peter Dutton’s compassion for those living in refugee camps while he has absolutely no sympathy for those we’re holding in detention for offshore processing.

However, my brain doesn’t stop with that simple contradiction. It goes on and wants to know why when the Liberals are so bullish on people “showing initiative” and “having a go” and “doing something to help themselves” that the very refugees who’ve done that are the ones that we’re meant to despise because they paid people smugglers to bring them here. And paying people smugglers is absolutely immoral … Unless you’re paying them to tow people back.

As for the offshore processing, well, it’s hardly the sort of efficiency that the Liberals profess to love so much. I mean, if the public service took this long to process anything, it’d be privatised in a flash.

But then I also see strange inconsistencies in so many of the Liberal Party’s positions:

If “high” rates of income tax are a disincentive to people working, won’t reducing penalty rates also have the same effect?

Why did Joe Hockey think it was outrageous that someone as well off as he is only have to pay $38 for his son’s medical bills, but be similarly outraged that he was entitled to claim an allowance for renting his wife’s place while staying in Canberra?

Why do they seem to think that unions taking money for ensuring that projects are completed on time shows how dodgy and corrupt the unions are, but the employers paying the money have no case to answer?

Why do they complain about 18C and how it hampers free speech, but turn around run an ad campaign that accuses the CFMEU of being racist? Or why does George Brandis, after telling us of our right to be a bigot, complain that people showed an incredible amount of “bigotry” when talking about Abbott’s religious views. (Which given Abbott’s recent speech, one could argue are another great example of inconsistency!)

Why do they believe that Labor taking money from unions makes them beholden to the union movement when in government, but the money the Liberals receive from various groups has absolutely no effect on their decision-making?

Why do they always argue Labor members accused of something dodgy should stand down and leave Parliament, but any Liberal member should be subject to procedural fairness?

Why, when Labor gives out funds without any obvious process is it “pork-barrelling” or “rewarding their mates”, was it ok for the Arts Minister to have a special fund to reward “excellence”?

Why was the removal of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister an outrageous betrayal of democracy, but the removal of Tony Abbott just something that needed to be done?

And, finally, why, when they’re such supporters of small government and so positive about the private sector, are any of them in Parliament on the public payroll and not out helping to build the economy?

 

Small government and deregulation could be the death of us

In 1977, at a meeting in Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black delivered his message to an audience of powerful oilmen:  carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

He warned Exxon scientists and managers that independent researchers estimated a doubling of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius, and as much as 10 degrees Celsius at the poles. Rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert.

“Some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed.”

“Present thinking,” he wrote in 1978, “holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

Exxon responded swiftly. Within months the company launched its own extraordinary research into carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its impact on the earth. Exxon’s ambitious program included both empirical CO2 sampling and rigorous climate modeling. It assembled a brain trust that would spend more than a decade deepening the company’s understanding of an environmental problem that posed an existential threat to the oil business.

One manager at Exxon Research, Harold N. Weinberg, shared his “grandiose thoughts” about Exxon’s potential role in climate research in a March 1978 internal company memorandum that read: “This may be the kind of opportunity that we are looking for to have Exxon technology, management and leadership resources put into the context of a project aimed at benefitting mankind.”

His sentiment was echoed by Henry Shaw, the scientist leading the company’s nascent carbon dioxide research effort.

“Exxon must develop a credible scientific team that can critically evaluate the information generated on the subject and be able to carry bad news, if any, to the corporation,” Shaw wrote to his boss Edward E. David, the president of Exxon Research and Engineering in 1978. “This team must be recognized for its excellence in the scientific community, the government, and internally by Exxon management.”

Then, toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial. It put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed. It lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect a vast edifice of misinformation that stands to this day.

This shameful history has been extensively researched and written about at InsideClimate News which details the deliberate misinformation campaign despite their full knowledge of the damage they were doing.

This type of behaviour is not isolated.

Pharmaceutical company Amgen is a significant sponsor of Tony Abbott’s pollie pedal ride. Amgen promoted the use of the drug Aranesp to treat anemia in cancer patients who were not undergoing chemotherapy, even though the drug’s approval was only for patients receiving chemotherapy.  A subsequent study sponsored by Amgen showed that use of Aranesp by those nonchemotherapy cancer patients had actually increased the risk of death.  In 2012 they were convicted of “pursuing profits at the risk of patient safety,” and forced to pay $762 million in criminal penalties and settlements of whistle-blower lawsuits.

These examples of deliberate duplicity, similar to that of the tobacco industry, shows why deregulation and small government are a bad idea. Governments are the only organisations that can protect us against the harm caused by those who put greed in front of the welfare of the planet and its inhabitants.

The Coalition seems to think that, if business is given a free rein, all will be well, but this is patently not the case.

In his haste to claim some sort of an achievement for the Abbott government, Andrew Robb was willing to sign away the right for us to make laws in our best interests. Instead, he agreed to protections for business profits despite the repeated examples of industries deliberately lying about the harm they are causing.

Can we really expect businesses to be ethical when their sole purpose is to make profit for their shareholders?

Why is it that every policy proposed by the Coalition is to protect and promote the very people who have been proven liars?

Why are we giving the fossil fuel industry subsidies when they, themselves, knew 40 years ago that their business was unsustainable?

Why are we reducing taxes for companies that not only do everything they can to avoid paying tax, but also falsify research knowing the potential damage they are causing?

Could it be because our government is more interested in investors’ profits than the wellbeing of its citizens?

On August 18th, the Australian Financial Review published a list of Malcolm Turnbull’s investments; they include the SPDR S&P 500 Fund, whose 3rd largest holding is Exxon Mobil, who have also been significant donors to the right wing Institute of Public Affairs who have effectively been paid to continue the misinformation about climate change.

Understand Australia, if you vote for the Liberal Party you are voting for people who not only facilitate this behaviour, they personally profit from it. It’s time to stand up and say enough is enough!

 

I’m not sure that I’m really suited to the democratic process

In 1971, Malcom Turnbull was in fourth form at Sydney Grammar. Writing for the school newsletter, he said the Liberal Party was full of “men averse to change of any sort – men whose interests lie solely in the system as it is”.

He said the Liberal approach was “hardly the material needed for a progressive government, which is what Australia as a nation needs above all else”, as he called for higher taxes on the rich. “Twenty years have seen many changes in Australia and the world, but few in the Liberal Party.”

Turnbull was particularly critical of the Liberal’s foreign investment policy which he claimed enticed foreign companies to exploit and own large chunks of Australia’s mineral wealth. More taxes and tariffs would have solved that, he said.

He labelled the twenty year reign of Menzies as “an exceptionally long period in office” producing, “with a few exceptions, nothing original.”

The headmaster of Grammar said of Malcolm, “When he bossed people around he did it in an abrasive way people didn’t like. He makes it clear that he thinks people are perfect fools and haven’t got a brain in their head – that’s not how to make friends and influence people.”

A few years later, while describing then-PM Gough Whitlam as an arrogant egomaniac in an article for the Sydney University student newspaper Honi Soit, Malcolm lauded the Labor Party as a “wealth of opinion and class…diverse and less likely than the conservatives to blindly rally behind one great leader”.

Menzies’ Liberals, on the other hand, had “warmed the treasury benches” for 23 years with “the steak-fed bottoms of the sons of Toorak and the champions of Double Bay”.

Malcolm was so busy writing that he rarely went to class, paying a friend $30 a week (plus carbon paper) to take notes for him.

In the mid-1970s, Turnbull, then 21, told radio broadcaster David Dale he wanted to be Prime Minister by the time he was 40.

“For which party?” asked Dale.

“It doesn’t matter,” responded Malcolm.

Turnbull, in a 1978 article titled “The Vicious World of Student Politics” for The Bulletin magazine, attacked a young conservative Sydney University Student Representative Council member named Tony Abbott, saying:

“The leading light of the right-wingers in NSW is twenty-year-old Tony Abbott. He has written a number of articles on AUS [The Australian Union of Students] in the Australian [newspaper] and his press coverage has accordingly given him a stature his rather boisterous and immature rhetoric doesn’t really deserve… While he can win support from students because of the shocking state of affairs in AUS, he cannot take the next step because of his conservative moral views.”

In 1991 the Good Weekend did a profile on Malcolm. In researching the article, they “encountered fear among business people” for what they say are his threats to sue them if they speak about him. Packer once quipped to a friend that Turnbull frightened even him. (He told the same person he would never stand between Turnbull and a bag of money.)

When asked about his future, Turnbull said he had given away any political ambitions: “I’m not sure that I’m really suited to the democratic process.”

We shall see.

Tony And I Have Been Grieving But I Feel Better Now . . . Stockholm Syndrome Only Lasts So Long!

“What are you going to do now Abbott’s gone?” asked a friend.

“What do you mean?” I responded.

“Well you’ll have to actually think of things to write. I mean, it won’t just be a matter of writing down what Turnbull says, will it? I mean, this guy can actually mount an argument.”

I have to admit after that conversation, I have been sitting alone in a room and drinking rather than writing. Unlike Mr Abbott who bravely faced the media just a mere fourteen hours after losing the leadership. Apparently, he’d already demonstrated his determination not to waste the taxapayers money by driving to see the Governor General, preferring to show his skills with technology by faxing his resignation.

Ah, the fax. Like coal, it’ll still be around for quite a while yet.

Anyway, unlike Mr Abbott, I was unable to face people quite so soon. I was worried that I wouldn’t be as generous and I’d resort to sniping. Have a read of his speech. He tells us that he won’t resort to sniping and backstabbing unlike all those treacherous bastards who jumped of Team Australia to join Team Turnbull.

But yesterday, Abbott announced that he was staying in Parliament, just in case his absence from the aforementioned place since his unceremonious dumping led people to think he was going to sulk.

Quite the contrary, he’ll be staying. And eventually rejoining the broad church of the Liberal faithful. And unfaithful.

Of course, when I read Mr Bolt’s column today, I realised that I, too, had to not allow those who destroyed Abbott, to destroy me. Apparently, Julie Bishop failed to alert Mr Abbott that there were moves afoot to depose him. And she would have known, because, being Foreign Minister, she would have had time to read it in last week’s newspapers.

But Abbott was caught completely by surprise. He had no idea that anyone was unhappy with him. Obviously, like many politicians, he takes no notice of polls. And as Prime Minister, Abbott showed that he takes no notice of any criticism, so the fact that his internal critics had decided that a man who was resting on his laurels and just repeating what he had achieved was going to have trouble articulating a second term agenda. In fact, his main appeal to his party when the spill was announced was to say that they weren’t the Labor Party.

Which the more astute members of the Party had already worked out. Actually, even some of the Nationals had worked that one out, although Barnaby Joyce seems a bit confused when he supports the occasional Labor policy while complaining that he can’t fully support them because they’re not the Liberal Party…

Tony negative?

Nope, nope, nope.

But when I started writing the other day, I was concerned that I was just kicking a man when he was down.

And to criticise Turnbull seemed unfair.

After all, I have criticised Turnbull in past for lacking the ticker to stand up for what he believes, so now he’d actually challenged it seemed unfair to call him the “Peter Costello of the Abbott Government”. Not just because it was unfair to Peter Costello, but because he’d actually timed his run perfectly.

Now he’d grabbed the prize, I thought, we can look forward to a jump in the price of shares in renewable energy companies. Not to mention a boost to the economy from all the gay people planning their weddings.

And the Liberals let the leader pick their ministers. None of that faction nonsense that the Labor Party have. We can look forward to a front bench chosen on merit, even if that does involve allowing the odd woman to sit where they can have access to the microphone.

So when Malcolm said that he wasn’t actually going to change any policies, and that the problem was just the sales pitch, I knew that I was back.

Yep, Tony may be gone, but while the lead singer’s changed we still have an orchestra who don’t even know what tune they’re meant to be playing, let alone what time it’s in.

(That’s whether it’s 3/4 or 4/4, not whether it’s the 1950’s or 1960’s…)

So Tony, I know that you’re hurting. So was I. And apparently, you’re a “decent man” according to both Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Bolt – now there’s two men who can sing in tune. Not just in tune, they have harmony. 

Although when it comes to being a “decent man”, so’s my next door neighbour and I’m not sure I’d want him to run the country…

Mm, let Bazza do your brain surgery, he’s a much better bloke than that prick of a surgeon who thinks that, just because he’s got qualifications and skill, he’s better qualified that Bazza who’s a “decent man”.

Congratulations, Malcolm. I’m starting to think that you’re a man of enormous integrity who’s never let that stop you from doing what someone else requires.

Le clown est mort , Vive le Dr Faustus 

P.S. Pedantic Rant of The Day

WE HAVE NOT HAD FIVE CHANGES OF PRIME MINISTER OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS IN SPITE OF WHAT MOST OF THE MSM KEEP SAYING!!

Count them from 2010.

Rudd to Gillard

Gillard back to Rudd

Rudd to Abbott

Abbott to Turnbull.

As for five different PM’s that’s only true if you count Rudd twice, which suggests that he was a different PM the second time around, which I can accept more easily than the proposition that we’ve had five CHANGES of PM . . .

If I lived in Canning

By Vanessa Kairies

Western Australia is a beautiful state.

I have been to little pockets and it is on my bucket list to explore in the future. I have been fortunate enough to have met some wonderful friends that live there.

If you don’t know by now, I have a strong interest in art, music, politics and social issues. They are my passions.

I was asked to write about issues facing First Nations people by the The Australian Independent Media Network. I was honoured, after all, I am an artist first and foremost.

I took up the challenge and have found it to be a very cathartic endeavour.

My focus with this article is on the upcoming Canning bi-election in WA.

If this seat is lost, we can all kiss Tony Abbott’s backside goodbye. How fantastic that would be.

If I lived in Canning I would be asking myself: “What has the Liberal Party done that has been of benefit not only to my part of the world but for Australia as a whole?”

I couldn’t come up with anything.

I can tell you what they have done that has negatively impacted on my world and my ability to create art.

Without peace of mind, the creativity will not flow.

The Barnett Government in Western Australia and the Abbott Government have aided every Australian and foreign owned company to destroy the land and ancestral homes of people in every state of Australia without so much a blink of the eye.

This has forced many people to become homeless.

The WA Government has tried to move homeless people from sleeping on the street by hosing them down during winter to move them on.

A callous and cruel act, one that I can not forget.

WA Premier Colin Barnett has colluded with Tony Abbott to set up the Recognise campaign. This project is sponsored by mining companies. Its aim is to stamp the approval for four new uranium mines, two new coal mines, 40,000 gas fracking wells and development of oil refineries in WA.

Many more are underway, completed and proposed all over Australia.

The Labor Party are in on it too: they support Nuclear energy. Uranium is needed to do this.

The SA Labor premier Jay Weatherill wants to turn South Australia into a nuclear waste dump. I wouldn’t vote for them either, (now I know why the Greens were locked out of the referendum into the development of the Recognise campaign).

These plans to continue destroying our earth and Australia have to stop. We have the generations of our children and our grandchildren in our hands.

It is our responsibility to choose wisely, when we vote.

The Liberal Party has taken no action on climate change.Tony Abbott openly denied it existed. His ministers have insulted First Nations people and our International neighbours recently regarding this. I find this disgusting.

Both the Liberal and Labor parties are committed to the offshore processing of asylum seekers.

These are places where women and children are raped, people are bashed to death and die of preventable infections.

They are denied swift medical treatment, are tortured, humiliated and denied their basic human rights.

For the first time ever in our history we are on the UN’s watch list for the treatment of First Nations people and asylum seekers.

It is only a matter of time before international criminal proceedings begin and our current government are held accountable.

This sounds familiar, the political parties have treated First Nations people this way since the dawn of time. The behaviour is not new. It is time that changed.

Australia’s civil liberties have been stripped since this government came to power, with meta-data retention laws passed and the right to protest now under threat of being locked up by police.

They introduced new citizenship laws and introduced the Border Force Act.

They have tried to change that many acts in parliament, I have lost count, all designed to oppress the nation.

They have encouraged racism to flourish, with one of their ministers attending far-right winged rallies.

They then invented the war on terror.

All to promote fear among communities, with the intention of sending Australia to war.

It has worked.

They have increased our deficit, the economy is suffering. I read an article that we have a one in three chance of having a recession. It was from a reliable source. That scares me more than the chances of a terrorist attack on our soil.

Our unemployment rate and homeless rate is rising fast. With the introduction of 457 working visas and the China Free Trade agreement on the table, this will only get worse.

The ‘healthy’ welfare card has been rolled out in a few places with the plan to have it all over Australia.

This is a gross invasion of privacy.

Whenever you use it, people will be able to know your personal situation.

I am sick of seeing the unemployed treated like second-class citizens.This helps others to label people as dole bludgers.

The people that come up with these ideas and policies just don’t live in the real world.

They are determined to have the TPP passed through parliament without transparency. There are reports from the  United States that the TPP will increase the cost of our medicines, and it will only benefit the large pharmaceutical companies.

They have tried to pull apart Medicare and eradicate bulk-billing. The only people this will affect is the poor.

The plan to de-regulate universities, once again, not affecting the wealthy.

It is a collective responsibility of the nation as a whole to look after the vulnerable people in our country.

They have done nothing about taxation reform, with the lower income stream arguably having higher tax rates than the billionaires.

They have cut funding to the support for the elderly, mental health services, domestic violence organisations and First Nations support services to name a few, yet increased the budget for defence.

Apparently, the bad guys are really after us. Imagine how much more they will be, now that we have delared war on them? Why wave a red flag in front of a bull? I have written about that one too (see Tony’s war on terror).

The discrimination shown towards same sex-marriage, I mean, really? Are we living in the dark ages? How many other countries have now legalised this beautiful, joyful celebration? I can not support a party that plays politics with peoples’ lives.

Tony Abbott’s broken promises have now become the laughing stock of the nation. I mean how can you believe a word that he or anyone else in his party says?

They have failed to pass just about everything in parliament and they have all failed at their jobs. As the host of Big Brother would say: “It is time to go . . . the Liberal Party”.

Canning, it is up to you. But if I lived in Canning, I wouldn’t be voting for the Liberal Party candidate.

This article was first published on vanessakairies.wordpress.com.

 

Abbott in trouble again as Leadership speculation re-surfaces

As one pores over the plethora of MSM articles written by a number of political editors since the Bronwyn Bishop resignation, one gets the feeling that Tony Abbott might be facing another leadership spill motion before Christmas.

It would be fair to say that his performance since his ‘near death experience’ in February has been less than stellar, no doubt exacerbated by the experience itself and the realisation that he is being watched very closely.

The Bronwyn Bishop issue has been a public relations disaster for the government and Abbott in particular. It has highlighted once again deficiencies in his judgement and that since the February spill motion there has been no discernible improvement in his performance.

But overriding all of that is the consistent negative polling, a fact no Liberal party member is ignoring, one that clearly shows that both Abbott and his government are looking very shaky.

abbThe Liberal Party has a history of showing no mercy to leaders they view as poor performers or who consistently show they are unable to lead in the polls. Right now, we can be in no doubt that Abbott is currently viewed as a poor performer.

So the question arises as to how long the parliamentary team will give him to turn the corner. Thirty nine of them were prepared to tip him out in February.

It would only take another eleven or twelve to seal the deal. That spill motion in February did not have the support of the cabinet and no alternative leadership candidate was prepared to raise his/her hand.

We can surmise that opinions have changed since then.

With an election little more than twelve months away, time is not on their side. Many now will be taking a keener than normal interest in their own seats, particularly those who came into the parliament for the first time in 2013.

There will be no fat superannuation payout for them. They will be looking to the brains trust deep inside the bowels of the party machine and asking what can be done to win back dis-affected voters.

It may be that the only answer is to find a new leader.

shipsThe recent announcement concerning future shipbuilding contracts for the Defence Department might give us a clue. It was, on the face of it, a poorly thought through gesture toward the good people of Adelaide who hold the fate of Christopher Pyne’s political career in their hands.

The very thought that such a high profile government member could lose his seat must send a shudder through Liberal party corridors. They would quite rightly be wondering if he were to lose his seat, how many others would be in the same boat.

But the promise of new contracts being let to the Adelaide shipbuilding yards will only revive memories of the broken 2013 election promise to build submarines there. South Australians are not that naïve.

Self-preservation in any setting is a strong motivator and when the clock is ticking, watch out. Anyone who thinks this is pure speculation should watch this interview with political editor Peter Hartcher at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Hartcher confirms talk within the party about Abbott’s future as leader, about the possibility of an election later this year and that even without an alternative candidate, “they are contemplating getting rid of him anyway.”

One can only guess what might be the number of late night phone calls by leadership contenders assessing their chances.

 

Paul Sheehan And Any Evidence Will Do . . . Actually, Forget Evidence – An Opinion Is Enough!

This morning I made the mistake of reading the ramblings of Paul Sheehan. Now, because his lack of a coherent argument upset me so much, I thought I’d subject you to my ramblings on the subject of Paul Sheehan.

Ok, part of me thinks that he’d be better ignored. But another part of me worries that if we just ignore people writing in nationally distributed papers, the next thing you know, someone in the current government will read it and use it as evidence.

Because that’s one of the things that’s truly disturbing about much debate in the media these days. Opinion is mistaken for evidence. We seem to think that the truth is simply a matter of votes.

So Mr Sheehan’s column was spuriously titled:

“Baird has same problems as Abbott; an upper house dominated by electoral fluke”

Apparently, lower houses have clear mandates, but upper houses are elected by “flukes”. As he put it:

“On Saturday we saw, yet again, a clear mandate to govern being muddied by uncertainties in election for the upper house. The Legislative Assembly may be the oldest parliamentary body in Australia but it is also dominated by machine hacks and minor-party blackmailers. For years, the balance of power has been determined by electoral fluke, not representative politics.”

 

So the lower houses aren’t dominated by “machine hacks”? Mm, well that’s good to know. And he’s doesn’t seem to grasp the concept that one might actually choose a “minor-party blackmailer” (why the hyphen?) because one actually supports what they’re doing. How many Democrat voters felt betrayed when Meg Lees did a deal to allow the GST, for example? (The Democrats? Who were they?). And we could have a long discussion about how the distribution and deals that led to the Ricky Muirs and Steve Fieldings being elected with a toenail’s worth of votes, so it’s hardly the fault of the electoral system when it the decisions of the major parties on preferences which throw up these strange results.

However, it’s not just the frustration of mandates that trouble our Paul.

“The problem in NSW is replicated in federal politics, where the Senate is also dominated by the electoral fluke. This has exacerbated the end of the commodities boom. The boom will not be repeated when the commodities cycle turns because Australia now has a justified reputation for red tape, green tape, black tape, high costs and union extortion rackets.”

Ok, so it’s red tape, green tape, black tape, high costs and union extortion rackets that are exacerbating the end of the commodities boom. Gee, and I thought it was the lack of demand. But hey, we just get rid of all that red tape – you know, that red tape that led those deaths in the roofs during that “pink batts fiasco” – and all other safeguards and regulations then the end of the commodities boom won’t be half so bad.

Of course, Sheehan overlooks that much of his rainbow tape was put in place by governments who had a mandate. Although I suspect that in Sheehan’s world view only LNP governments have a mandate; left wing governments are another electoral fluke that only occur when we have the strange convergence of people voting for the Labor Party or Greens. (Yes, I am reluctant to call Labor “left wing”).

But Australia’s “justified reputation” means that when the commodity cycle turns then companies won’t mine here any more. They’ll mine the Cayman Islands. Or set up drilling for oil inside a Swiss bank, because, well, there’s less red tape.

However, the bit that made me splutter my toast was his use of Andrew Liveris. After establishing that Mr Liveris was a bright and successful man who graduated from the University of Queensland (and an Australian, what more could you ask?), Mr Sheehan went on to tell us that Liveris had been CEO and Chairman of Dow for a number of years and that Dow was spinning of its chlorine business, something that had always been one of its core products.

This, apparently, should send a “shiver down” our collective spine. Because chlorine is like commodities. “Highly cyclical. Capital intensive. Unpredictable. Volatile.”

So what does this mean for Australia? I mean why is Sheehan using a commercial decision by an individual to talk about Australia’s government policy?

“If only national economies could be transformed in the same way. Instead, our politicians must be preoccupied with competing interests rather than the national interest.”

Ah, those “competing interests”. If only politicians could say something like, “There is only ONE national interest and we will determine that in the Lower House and the circumstances under which it comes to Australia!”

He then goes on to talk about how the NSW upper house may stifle the “dynamism” of privatisation.

Ok, so somebody thinks Dow shouldn’t rely so heavily on chlorine as a product and this is more evidence that the upper houses stifle elected government’s. Ok, I can almost buy that if I squint and look at it from a certain angle. But it’s the next few paragraphs that make we wonder whether Sheehan thinks before he writes, or whether he writes down the most absurd thing he can think of in the hope of becoming Andrew Bolt.

After lamenting the tragedy of governments not be able to implement their mandates unfettered the “flukey” upper houses, he goes on to say:

In Queensland, seven weeks ago, voters elected an unknown leader, Annastacia Palaszczuk, with little management experience, no major policy beyond opposing privatisation, and no plan to rein in the state’s debt, which had exploded under Labor. Her government is already in trouble.

In Victoria, 17 weeks ago, voters elected a Labor government closely aligned with the corruption-riddled Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union. The new Premier, Daniel Andrews, then moved quickly to shut down the construction industry’s Construction Code Compliance Unit, loathed by the CFMEU.

He then complains that the polls suggest that Shorten could become PM without a coherent strategy just by constant sneering and making “racist insults” to the Japanese.

All of which seems rather strange given that his whole thrust has been about the denial of all that’s right and proper when elected governments are prevented from implementing their mandates. This is just wrong, according to Sheehan. Unless, for example, part of their mandate was a promise to CFMEU. (Actually, the CFMEU is the elected government in Victoria – the Liberals assured us that if we voted Labor then that was giving the green light for the CFMEU to run the state!)

Well, at least Queensland has no Upper House, so there’ll never be a threat to democracy there, eh Paul?

At least I’m not Jack the Ripper … or Tony Abbott!

The-next-liberal-gov1I noticed a certain pattern . . .

OK, I’m a little slow, I know that just about everyone else noticed it a long, long time ago. But it just became obvious to me, because . . . well, I’m not always paying attention. I used to pay attention, but Tony Abbott convinced that it was something like the carbon tax and wasn’t worth paying.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that the Liberal Party have this way of avoiding responsibility for anything they’ve done, or haven’t done with this simple catch phrase:

“At least we’re not the Labor Party!”

OK, they don’t always say it so many words. And sometimes they even use  things that aren’t the Labor Party on those rare occasions that it’s appropriate to compare themselves to a foreign dictatorship, rather than the Labor Party.

You know the sort of thing, It’s like when some stops you in the street and tells you that they’re not carrying a weapon but they’d like you to hand over your mobile phone and wallet anyway, because they can punch you really, really hard and hey, isn’t it better that they’re doing this in such a nice way, I mean at least they’re not an armed robber!

But I noticed this pattern with the Liberals the other day, when Tony Abbott said that a ratio of sixty percent debt to GDP would be a good result when compared to what the Labor Party would have done. Or rather, when he didn’t say it. Because he assured us all in Parliament that he never said it. Unfortunately, he was cut off before he could explain who it was, who looked so much like the PM that he managed to fool all those media people who filmed him and reported the story.

Still, I guess that the media are easily fooled, so I’m happy to believe that it wasn’t him. But even if it wasn’t, the point remains: “At least we haven’t/aren’t/didn’t/won’t . . . ” Strike out what’s not applicable and fill in the gaps. 

Yes, I know that they’ve been doing it even since Fraser was PM. Like I said, I’m a bit slow sometimes . . .

As Fraser and Howard argued at the time: “We know that unemployment and inflation are both twice what they were when Whitlam left office, but that’s because we’re fixing the Oil Shock that was a direct result of the ALP . . . Oh no wait, that’s nothing to do with what happened in Australia when it happened and everything to do with why things haven’t quite gone as we said they would, but trust us, at least we’re not Labor . . . ”

It worked for a few years in the seventies. Then along came Bob. He had a reputation as a fixer. Sort of like Christopher Pyne, except that other people said it about Bob, whereas the only person I’ve heard called Pyne a fixer is Christopher himself.

Of course, I think it should be mandatory for all journalists to stop the politicians speaking at some point and say that we all know the problem, so can you tell us the solution. If the politician says that electing us will solve the problem, we should have legislation that compels a third party to interrupt the journalist and tell the politician that simply changing government or sticking with the current government has failed to fix the following problems:

  1. Health
  2. Drugs
  3. Indigenous issues such as lower life expectancy and higher incarceration rates.
  4. The Cost of Living (arguable)
  5. Politicians raising money by giving access to people who donate to their party. (Except for Joe Hockey. Joe Hockey never did that.)
  6. Work/life balance.
  7. Other (I’m sure this list could grow longer than you’d have time to read if I kept going, so you can just add the one you think I’ve missed)

At this point, the person interrupting the journalist should be given the power to tell the politician that he or she is required to spell out in detail exactly how their coming to power will actually fix things, and until they do – without using slogans or simply asserting “We have a plan” . . . or simply saying that the other side is useless so you have no option but to elect us – they’ll be banned from all further media interviews.

Look, I know that it sounds a bit fascist, but as someone said to me the other day: “FASCISM RULES, OK!!!”

I didn’t argue.

Well, what can you say when somebody speaks in Capitals.

Particularly Canberra. When somebody speaks in that Capital, you have to listen. Because well, there’s not much else to do in Canberra, what with all the job cuts. It’s got so that not even the PM can stay there more than a couple of nights at a time, because even the Lodge is shut . . .

OK, this may not be the most informative post I’ve ever written. Nor the most interesting . . .

But at least I’m not Andrew Bolt.

 

Believe Me, I Know The Difference Between Satire And Reality!

A number of people commented on yesterday’s This is How Tony Got Elected expressing the idea that the pictures were from a satiric site “Why I’m Voting Liberal” and that I’d mistaken a satiric post for real actual Liberal voters.

Now I am aware that people have sometimes taken made-up quotes from my writing as genuine, even when they’ve clearly been satiric. Even when I’ve used clearly fictional names and characters like “Hoe Jockey”, “Tiny Habit”, “Arnie (I’m not sexist) Corperson”, “The Speaker: Dolores Umbridge” or “Christopher Pyne”. Even when their behaviour has been so outrageous, so unbelievable that surely, surely nobody could confuse them with the actual Liberal Party. (Although there have been a couple of times that the Libs have adopted my satire as their actual policy a few days later – makes me wonder whether all those jobs Abbott created for monitoring social media are actually just searching for new policy ideas.) 

Anyway, I always try to be careful not confuse what Liberals are actually doing and saying with attempts to make them look ridiculous through exaggeration. Admittedly, Abbott, Brandis, Pyne and others make this an almost impossible task sometimes. But, in this case, the photos weren’t taken from the site that wasn’t serious.  I went back and checked the site’s description. It asked for people under 30 to post reasons that they were voting Liberal. I copied its description to show to someone who assured me that the site wasn’t serious:

“Under 30?
Voting Liberal on September 7th?
Tell the country why!

We’re young people who care about our future and opportunities. We care about the economy. We care about what jobs there will be for us in the future. We care about good, sustainable and forward-thinking government. We want real change.

I’m Voting Liberal is a campaign for young Australians.

Get involved! Get together with your friends and send photos to:
imvotingliberal@gmail.com or message them to this page.”

And I found the other site – the satiric one. Yes, it is hard to tell what’s satire and what’s not these days. I mean, how do you caricature Andrew Bolt or Alan Jones? And yes, if that description hadn’t been written before the election, one might easily think that it, too, was purely a send-up of the Liberal’s Real Solutions document.

So yesterday I added the following P.S. to the article.

P.S. Just to clear up some confustion, this is a genuine site and not the parody site.

Update at 8pm. The site seems to have disappeared in the last couple of hours and that link no longer works.

 

If you’ve just clicked on the link. Yep, that’s right. It no longer exists.

Given that there seems to have been no updates to the pictures since the election, it does seem a strange coincidence that the day “This Is How Tony Got Elected” appears that within a few hours, the site disappears, leaving no evidence that these people once cared about “good, sustainable and forward-thinking government”.

Well, this is hardly shades of 1984. I mean, I don’t even know that there was a direct connection to the Liberal Party it may have just been created by a group of concerned young citizens determined to create a stronger economy led by someone who wears speedos and can do a pull-up.

Whatever, it’s gone, and if that’s because of what I wrote yesterday then I’ll need to be careful what I write in future.

I mean, imagine if I wrote about Tony Abbott, and he was gone the next day.

Labor supporters would never forgive me.

 

Thankfulness

Not only are many Australians ungrateful for the privileges and the way of life this country provides us, writes Daemon Singer in this guest post, but they also wish to deny others from enjoying the rewards of our country too. Although many of us are appalled at this, we keep electing governments that perpetuate the cruel policies towards asylum seekers. Where are our hearts? asks Daemon.

It doesn’t really matter how many times I come in to make comments, not only in Independent Media Australia but almost across the board amongst left-leaning blogs and information sharing sites, there is an ongoing process where we as a group do little apart from dump on Tony Abbott and his Liberal/National party mates; calling for their removal or whingeing about their destruction of our country. Yet few of us take the time to be thankful for what we do have even as we complain about what we don’t have.

I was driving through Moorooka the other day and the streets are filled with people from Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, who have successfully sought and been given refuge here in Australia. I sat with one of my clients over coffee discussing the situation in Moorooka and he feels locked out of his community because as the Muslims have been relocated to this fairly quiet Brisbane suburb, they have taken over the commerce and he feels quite confronted at times when he needs to buy something at one of those shops.

I wonder if ever in those places and situations, one of the former refugees, now Australian resident, ever stops to say ‘thank you’, and think where he or she  would be without what this country has done, both for him or her, and for his or her family.

I joined a process sometime back called ‘couch surfing’, where one provides a bed for somebody traveling around the world or around the country and in the recent couch surfing situation I found myself talking to a pair of American guys aged in their early 20s. One of them was finding being 23 and adrift from home and family somewhat of a challenge and we spoke at length about what one experiences as one goes through life and how much one learns not only from friends and teachers but also from one’s family.

Last week I reveived a long email from him, thanking me for taking the time to sit and talk as a mature man to a young man in the way his father never had. The only real advice I gave him was ‘trust yourself and forgive yourself’.

He is now launching off onto the next phase of his journey (to Asia) and getting that letter of thanks has made me feel quite special, simply because it is so rare for somebody to sit down and make a concerted effort to thank somebody for a direct impact on their lives. I wonder how much of that lesson we can all learn from?

Certainly, Tony Abbott is doing Australia no favours and one has to consider that he actually has no idea that what he is doing is negative to the long-term future of our country. We describe ourselves as a ‘sunburnt country’ and our national anthem proudly states we have room to spare. However, Galaxy polling tells us that people in the 64 to 78 age range think asylum seekers should be treated more brutally than they already are on Manus and Nauru. In both of which situations we are expecting a former protectorate to again do as it is told on the back of a bunch of aid money.

As a country we have much to be thankful for and it’s my view that we spend precious little time being thankful for it. Personally, I am thankful that we have a choice in religion – I choose not to follow one and no one comes running after me to question my dedication to that religion. That is certainly not the case in many of the countries where people originate who are seeking refuge on our shores.

Further, I am thankful that I have not only the skills but the ability to follow my own path in terms of employment. No one in Australia is going to hold up their hand and say ‘sorry, you can’t have this job you’re the wrong religion’. That is not always the case in the countries from which asylum seekers originate. I am pleased that were I to have children; boys or girls or both, I could send them to the school of my choice, knowing that they would get something resembling a decent education irrespective of the government of the day. I further enjoy that my children would be safe on their way home from school on the bus and wouldn’t have to put up with some nutter getting on the bus and shooting them in the face because they represented all girls being educated. And this happens in many of the countries from which asylum seekers originate.

It doesn’t matter how many times we complain about the government of the day not living up to expectations. When we go to the polls we should understand that really there is no difference between the Liberal National party and Labor in terms of their appalling treatment of refugees and if you ask them why this treatment is necessary, they will say it is being done to protect our borders from these people. For the life of me I can see nothing that they bring to this country that I require protecting from.

But one thing I am  most thankful for of all things is that every three years I get to be part of a process in choosing will represent me the next time. I hope in my heart that Labor will understand that most Australians actually don’t want people treated like this in our name. We understand Tony Abbott does that because he doesn’t really understand very much at all, but it is a sad indictment on us as a country that we have now put in place four separate governments who decided that the best thing for Australia would be to have people killed in Manus Island in our name for no other reason than they are asking us to abide by our signature on a treaty that has been there since the 1960s.

That is the greatest gift that we all own and when we go to the polls next time at a Federal level we need to make a decision whether to go for Labor or Liberal or do what Indi did and find ourselves a representative who listens to us, as voters, individually, and isn’t going to be bent to the will of the party, rather than the will of the people they represent. Our single capacity for choice in terms of who represents us on the world stage is the greatest thing our forefathers ever did for us and for which we should be eternally thankful.

 

Last chance to save the future

WE ARE ALL currently transfixed by the second coming of Kevin Rudd. The action is frenetic. Can he stop the boats? Will he vanquish the faceless men? Might he deliver us from Abbott and his unscrupulous band of ruffians, after all? asks Douglas Evans.

We continue with Douglas’s guest post.

No-one’s talking about global warming. Apparently forgotten, the climate kettle continues to simmer and as the temperature rises the clock keeps ticking ominously.

In the run-up to the 2013 Federal election that will determine government for most of what remains of the Climate Commission Report, ‘critical decade‘, it’s timely to remind ourselves just what our political parties plan to do about the most overwhelming issue of our era and one that will profoundly affect us all.

What does climate change science say is necessary to save our future?

The only useful measure of the climate change policies of political parties is their likely climatic effectiveness. Do they offer a reasonable chance of stabilizing global temperatures at or about two degrees of warming? WILL THEY WORK? In its recent report, The Critical Decade, the Australian government’s Climate Commission very clearly described the emissions reduction task we face globally in the first half of this century consistent with this goal. The report shows that if we implement serious carbon emissions reductions policies soon and achieve a global emissions peak by about 2020, we can realistically meet the 1 trillion ton emissions budget by 2050.  However, in a scenario without serious carbon reduction policies in place, we’re looking at a potentially catastrophic warming of 4°C or more by 2100.

The Commission estimated that humanity can emit not more than 1 trillion tonnes of CO₂ between 2000 and 2050 to have a 75% probability of avoiding the danger limit. Currently, we are 25% of the way through the budgetary timeline, but we have burned through nearly 33% of the budget. We’re running out of wriggle room and need to act immediately. The longer we wait to take serious emissions reductions steps, the steeper the global carbon emissions cuts will have to be. If we wait too long, we will reach a point where the necessary annual emissions cuts are simply beyond our political and technological capabilities.  If global greenhouse gas emissions were stabilized by 2020 and thereafter reduced to zero by 2040 (a task that requires a stringent maximum rate of reduction of 9% per annum) there is a reasonable certainty that temperatures can be stabilized around two degrees of warming.

Is  ALP policy consistent with this goal?

The ALP’s climate change policies aim at a 5% reduction in pollution levels relative to 2000 levels by 2020 and an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas pollution levels relative to 2000 levels by 2050. While emissions 80% below 2000 levels by 2050 are not zero emissions by 2040, this might seem a reasonable approximation of what the science says is required apart from three important facts:

  1. Up to two-thirds of these emissions ‘reductions’ are intended to be purchased ‘offshore’ as ‘offsets’ to continued growth in Australian domestic emissions which are not expected to stabilize under these policies until 2035! Quite apart from the often discussed difficulties of validating such measures the science requires that the whole world needs to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions if the threshold of two degrees of warming is not to be exceeded. To claim the purchase of offshore offsets as emissions reduction for Australian industry is little more than an accountancy trick intended to deceive.

  2. The ALP policy is based on a notion of ‘clean energy’ that assumes widespread continued gas and ‘clean coal’ combustion. It is based on:

  • The almost certainly erroneous assumption that the use of gas as a power source for electricity generation is less greenhouse gas intensive than coal.
  • The certainly erroneous assumption that greenhouse gases generated by the combustion of fossil fuels in power plants can be economically captured and stored at sufficient scale, within a useful time frame.
  1. The claimed intentions of ALP climate policy are entirely swamped by support for the massive expansion of Australian fossil fuel exports which if they came to pass would see Australia double Saudi Arabia’s contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas by 2020 or soon thereafter. Under Labor’s fossil fuel export policies greenhouse gas emissions from Australia coal and gas exports will dwarf domestic emissions by a factor of three- or four-to-one.

A more thorough discussion of the ALP climate change and energy policies can be found here.

It is not unreasonable to describe ALP climate and energy policy as the most cost-effective path to runaway global warming by 2100.

Are the Direct Action Policies of the Coalition consistent with this goal?

As with the ALP this Coalition ‘policy’ embodies a (totally inadequate) commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 20% relative to 2000 levels by 2020. It comprises:

  • An “Emissions Reduction Fund” of $3 billion to fund projects that would reduce carbon emissions, based on a tender process.
  • Support for projects such as “soil carbon technologies and abatement”.
  • A commitment to raise a 15,000 strong ‘Green Army’ of volunteers to clean up the environment. One of the tasks envisaged for this ‘Green Army is plantation tree planting as a means of carbon storage.

The abatement effect of the $3 billion Emissions reduction fund is unquantifiable but it is not unreasonable to compare it to the $5.5 billion ‘Contracts for Closure Fund’ that formed part of the ALP Clean Energy Futures legislation. This was intended to purchase reduction in greenhouse gas intensive, fossil fuel-fired, power generation capacity. It failed totally and had to be abandoned by the Gillard government.

The CSIRO’s review into soil carbon storage casts doubt over this assumption concluding that despite the theoretical potential of storage of carbon in agricultural soils research is currently inadequate to quantify this. Writing in Nature Climate Change, a group of seven Australian and UK climate researchers including Climate Commissioner Prof. Will Steffen, have gone further. They concluded that considering carbon storage on land as a means to ‘offset’ CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels is ‘scientifically flawed’. They conclude that:

‘Avoiding emissions from land carbon stocks and refilling depleted stocks reduces atmospheric CO2 concentration, but the maximum amount of this reduction is equivalent to only a small fraction of potential fossil fuel emissions.’ 

The Guardian reports research showing that for the DAP’s proposed tree planting to achieve the pledged return of an annual 85 million tonnes of CO2 captured, even using the most optimistic assumptions about growth and yield, would require a planted area more than twice the size of Melbourne. Under ‘real world’ conditions the area would be somewhat larger again increasing both the anticipated cost and management complexity of this massive undertaking.

The only likely explanation as to why the Coalition would propose such a useless climate change policy  (incredible as it seems) is that from the point of view of the opposition the policy is a non-answer to a non-existent problem. They recognize the POLITICAL necessity for a climate change policy but actually don’t believe it is happening!

As blogger Alex White points out:

“In addition to saying “climate change is crap“, in a more considered interview with the ABC’s Four Corners, Tony Abbott said:

‘I have pointed out in the past that there was that high year a few years ago and the warming, if you believe various measuring organisations, hasn’t increased … the point is not the science, the point is how should government respond, and we have a credible response.’

The most honest assessment of the Coalition’s climate policy, ironically, comes from Malcolm Turnbull. In 2009, then-backbencher Turnbull, recently defeated by Abbott in a leadership ballot wrote in an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald that the policy was ‘bullshit’:

‘…the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left wing conspiracy to de-industrialise the world.

The Liberal Party is currently led by people whose conviction on climate change is that it is ‘crap’ and you don’t need to do anything about it. Any policy that is announced will simply be a con, an environmental fig leaf to cover a determination to do nothing. After all, as Nick Minchin observed, in his view the majority of the Party Room do not believe in human caused global warming at all.’

A more thorough discussion of the Coalition’s climate change policy can be found here.

It is not unreasonable to describe the Direct Action Policy of the Liberal-National Coalition as a deliberate attempt to deceive Australian voters on the most important topic of our times.

Are the Climate Change and Energy Policies of the Australian Greens consistent with this goal?

The short answer is, despite a couple of possible omissions, yes they are! The Climate Change and Energy policies of the Australian Greens can be found here but I will raise a couple of points. On two pages the Greens set out fifteen principles and seventeen Aims in respect of climate change and energy policy. They are comprehensive and in line with the task the scientists say we are confronted with.

Some key points of difference with the policies of the ‘old’ parties include:

  • An emissions reduction target of ‘Net zero or net negative Australian greenhouse gas emissions within a generation’. Compare this with 80% below 2000 emissions levels by 2050.
  • ‘Binding national emission targets for each year through to 2050 supported by a detailed strategy to reduce emissions from the energy, transport, industry, waste, agriculture, and land management sectors.’ Compare this with the total absence of any recognition of the importance of structuring the rate and methods of emissions reduction from the other two parties.
  • ‘100% stationary electricity in Australia from renewable sources as soon as possible by increasing the renewable energy target (RET) and in addition measures such as feed-in tariffs and regulations to support a range of prospective new renewable energy technologies.’ The Coalition does not mention emissions reduction from stationary power generation. They hope we will believe that their $3 billion Emissions Reduction Fund will achieve something. The ALP bases their policy around the continued presence of fossil fuel-fired power plants and hopes we will believe that they can somehow deliver ‘clean’ energy.
  • ‘No new coal-fired power stations or coal mines, and no expansions to any existing power stations or mines’. Contrast this with whole-hearted support for the expansion of the sector from both the ‘old’ parties.
  • ‘The adoption of the precautionary principle in relation to carbon capture and storage (geosequestration) by opposing public funding, and ensuring that companies are financially responsible for the risks of CO2 leakage’. Contrast this with the completely unwarranted faith of the ALP in these technologies and the silence of the Coalition on this matter.

As with all the policies of the Greens, these ‘Principles’ and ‘Aims’ are brief and unlike the policies of the other two parties describe where we must go. They do not embody assumptions of what existing ‘stakeholders’ and their representatives may be prepared to accept. That is correctly deferred to the negotiation process that leads to legislation. They do not attempt to set out how we should get there. That is also correctly deferred to the negotiation process leading to legislation.

A more thorough discussion of these policies can be found here.

It is not unreasonable to describe the Greens’ Climate Change and Energy policies as the only policies by an Australian political party that rationally respond to the severity and interlocked complexity of the climate crisis we confront. This is the only policy response currently on offer to Australian voters that truly gives hope that this problem might be overcome.

The Climate Institute, somewhat ironically funded by a philanthropic fund bankrolled by Rupert Murdoch’s niece, Eve Kantor and her husband Mark Wootton, rated the seriously inadequate Labor Clean Energy package as two and a half stars out of a possible five. There seems something wrong with a methodology that gives a bare pass mark to climate policies that guarantee runaway climate change but nevertheless that is what it finds. Using the same methodology it rates the Liberal Party’s Direct Action Plan one lonely star out of a possible five. Using the same methodology it rates the Greens policies as five out of a possible five. You can download the Climate Institute’s comparative analysis if you want to look further into the issues.  The rank ordering could not be clearer. The Greens followed by Labor followed by the dismal deceptive, disingenuous Coalition effort.

Now, as I have written elsewhere. It seems to me that we either use the limited power of our vote to push for an increased tightening of climate policies or we are complicit in wrecking our future. I can’t find any other way to put it. No point blaming Gina Rinehart and Andrew Bolt et al if we are not prepared to do anything ourselves. How bad must things get before those who see the problem begin to demand effective action from our elected leaders? Now the 7 September election presents all Australians with a chance to demand better from our elected leaders. For the time being, whatever our political persuasion, we must all be single-issue voters.

The voting options that I see are these:

  1. If you are a Coalition voter and seriously concerned about climate change you face a difficult choice. This article reveals their fraudulent, deliberate attempt to mislead voters. You either swallow your concerns about your future and that of your children and grandchildren, voting again as you have always done. Or you look around for the most effective policy. You won’t be happy when you find where it is.
  2. If you are a Labor voter and seriously concerned about climate change your choice is fairly simple I would say. If you accept the assessments I have made, you wish to continue to support the Labor Party but wish to send them a message that they need to lift their game, you should vote Green with Labor second. You can comfortably do this in the knowledge that in all House of Representatives seats, with one possible exception, your vote will end up supporting Labor. The message will have been sent and noted.
  3. If you are a Green voter concerned about climate change, you vote for your party in the knowledge that they are advocating for the strongest policies.

So now it’s up to all of us to do our little bit to save the future for our kids. Remember, this is the critical decade and by the time you get another vote the chance may well have vanished forever.

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