The trailblazer

By Mark Baker Journalist Jan Mayman pioneered reporting of Indigenous deaths in custody Jan…

Fomenting fear and loathing

By Ad astra What appalling scenes we’ve witnessed recently in Melbourne: its streets…

Our Man in Washington: Morrison’s Tour of Deception

It was startling and even shocking. Away from the thrust and cut…

The National Party has no environmental credibility whatsoever

The National Party has no environmental credibility whatsoever, so why do they…

What Strategic Game is AUKUS playing in Asia?

By Darrell Egan In the 2004 movie Alexander which depicts Alexander The Great's…

Examining Matt Canavan's clean energy China cop-out

By Darrell Egan Australian Minerals and Resources Minister Matt Canavan has been conjuring…

Nutzis Invade Shrine To Demand That Victoria Stop…

For years we've been subject to people with megaphones complaining that they're…

Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women (part 3)

By Tess Lawrence Women live with Mandemic virus Scott Morrison’s coercive control of women In…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: Tony Abbott

Honour The Sabbath, But Clearly In A Clearly Optional Way OR Why Tony Is The Only True Conservative Left!

Recently I’ve speculated on how the Christian Right have found clear evidence about the Bible’s opposition to gay marriage based on highly ambiguous readings of obscure verses here and there, but not one of them has come out and condemned the reduction of penalty rates on Sundays. I suppose one could argue that they see it as a sin anyway and whether one is paid double time or not is hardly the issue. However, I would expect that someone like Neil who graced us with his presence in the comments, or Lyle Shelton would have been jumping up and down and complaining about the abolition of penalty rates leading to more sin…

Yes, the wages of sin is death… But you do get to pick your own hours and the working conditions are pretty good!

I don’t know why I chose to start talking about penalty rates. I’m really much more interested in the coming leadership challenge which leaves us with a Liberal Party 100% behind Scott Morrison… Or Peter Dutton, if they decide that he’s the only one who’s still friendly enough with the Tony to convince him to take the effing job in London before they have to revoke his citizenship under the recent changes allowing us to cancel it when dual citizens commit crimes such as sedition… Sedition can loosely be defined as trying to bring down the government, and they could even get a jury to convict Abbott on that.

Ok, ok, I know that Abbott isn’t really a dual citizen and that he revoked his British citizenship some time ago, but he won’t tell us when because it’s a deeply personal thing and therefore an operational matter. Of course, when I say that I know, I’m using the words “I know” in the same way that Donald Trump knows that nobody understands the world like him and he knows that climate change is part of a conspiracy between Hillary and the Chinese to destroy Trump Tower!

Anyway…

Tony decided to warn his colleagues that they were in danger of losing the next election because they weren’t conservative enough. The Tone decided to do this – not in the Party room where he was concerned that his mates may be asleep or not paying attention – but via the media. In the everyday world where most of us live this would be the normal way of doing things. If you had a problem with your boss, you wouldn’t blurt it out at a staff meeting. No, you’d publish it on social media in the hope that someone would bring it to his attention and he’d go, “Yes, that person had a point, I’ll change my ways!”

Peta Credlin rushed to Tony’s defence. He wasn’t being disloyal. He was just frustrated. She quickly added that she was no longer working for Tony and her reflections were just to help us all understand that it was his pent-up frustration and that she wasn’t speaking on his behalf. No, she was just presuming that he was frustrated, and she was just trying to explain what he gets like when he’s frustrated by not having his own way. No, she may no longer be his Chief of Staff, but she knows where he’s coming from!

Tony, we’ll all have you know, is simply trying to keep the Liberal Party together. And we all know that the best way to keep a party together is to criticise it in public…

Yes, Labor has disunity; the Liberals have “a broad church”.

And part of this broad church, in the Gospel according to St Tony, tells us that we should just get rid of all the nonsense that we pretended to believe in when we were trying to get elected. You know, like all that nonsense he pretended to believe in when he was studying to be a priest before he realised that he’d never be Pope.

I mean, don’t you all understand the threat of One Nation?

No, not the One Nation which encourages songs like “We’re all in this together” or multicuturalism. No, the One Nation that wants to exclude most people in our nation from anything approaching rights and thinks that penalty rates should just be abolished altogether and women get pregnant for the money!

You know, One Nation…

Remember, Tony did his bit by meeting with Pauline where they had a jolly good laugh about how he raised the funds to have her put in jail.

You know, One Nation…

Who’ve hired James Ashby. Remember him? He left the Liberals to go and work for Peter Slipper. That worked out badly and he had to leave because he alleged that Slipper was sexually harassing him, but his case sort of fell down when his reaction to a text about being spanked was to reply that he might like it. (This is not a joke. Unless Winston Smith has started to work for the government it’s easily searchable!) Now James is working for Pauline and Tony is saying that we need to be less consistent to what we believe and more like PHON!

You know, One Nation…

Whom Abbott seems to believe may take votes off the Liberals and are a threat.

You know, One Nation…

The Party that the Liberals decided to preference above their Coalition partners in WA. Of course, helping them get elected doesn’t mean that we support them and agree with them. We’re just doing it because we’d trade preferences with the devil himself if he it helped us get elected. I mean, at least we have sunk so low as to work with The Greens!

Yes, it’s a worry that people may start to agree with One Nation whose candidates have done such wonderful things as suggesting that a termite repellent can be used to treat skin cancer (or could, were it not for the fact that silly regulations have stopped it’s import, just because a few people have needed hospitalisation because they have large holes in their face) and the idea that gay people are using “Nazi mind control” to change our thinking. I can see more votes leaking to One Nation than the Labor Party or The Greens. God, doesn’t Donald Trump show how dangerous the left can be?

When I suggest that the Liberals will call a spill this week, it seems highly unlikely at the time of writing. However, in a world where Abbott was elected as PM and Turnbull is praising the virtues of coal and Bill Shorten looks the most sincere of the three*, then it’s a risky call to bet against me unless you’re getting good odds. Do I think, Malcolm will be PM by the end of the week? Probably… But I am prepared to suggest that the person who suggested that Turnbull would go on to be one of our longest-serving and most successful Prime Ministers must be wishing that they’d decided to write a column about the achievements of Lachlan Macquarie instead!

*I only said, of the three, AND I do know we could have a long discussion about it, but the idea that it’s even debatable is EXACTLY my point!

Abbott & Turnbull – It’s on like Donkey Kong!

I can imagine Abbott reading the latest dismal polling figures for Turnbull and dancing around reminiscent of his 2013 election victory screaming “The Leadership will change! The Leadership will change!” After today’s revelation; is it now on like Donkey Kong?

Reports emerged this morning that Tony Abbott tells UK Tories he believes he can be PM again. The article describes Abbott is aiming to channel a Rudd like comeback, with Senior Liberals stating he ‘has a good chance, as he is popular amongst the Liberal Membership.’

An interesting revelation though is if Abbott is successful, it appears Julie Bishop will be gone, with Abbott describing Bishop in ‘unflattering terms‘ to his colleagues abroad. The sniping already seems to have begun. In traditional form, Abbott may as well start with sniping about a woman, before he warms up to sniping openly about Turnbull. He does need to get back into practice.

If Abbott pulls this off, who will be his Deputy? Andrews? Perhaps. His loyalty to Abbott would make him a favourable candidate.

Will Barnaby be pushed to move over to make room for Christensen as leader of the Nats? In all fairness, it has been Christensen twisting Turnbull’s arm to get him to bow down to the conservatives and nationalists on key policy.

Will Peta Credlin return as Abbott’s adviser?

People may laugh at the thought of an Abbott return and laugh harder at an Abbott/Credlin return. However, Credlin is a highly intelligent woman and an exceptional strategist. As Howard channelled Hanson’s policies to appease the Nationalists in the 90’s; don’t take it for granted Abbott would fail.

If Abbott follows Howard’s lead and channels the same type of Hanson rhetoric and policies, in the unique Abbottesque-style conservatives and nationalists love; it will be an entire new ball game for Labor, as Abbott will be in his element.

Abbott has the capacity to take over this space and make Hanson sound like an unnecessary annoying blip. Sunrise will be paying to keep her OFF the show.

The other day I was watching Andrew Bolt’s thoughts on the Presidential debate and another video popped up after that. I watched it with interest. The topic: “Could Malcolm Turnbull be turning into a conservative?” In the video, Bolt noted that Turnbull may be reinventing himself as a ‘more media friendly Tony Abbott.’

The video goes on to discuss changes in Turnbull such as his stance on Daesh and his decision to take less Muslim refugees. Attacking Labor with some ‘rare passion’ on border security and an attack on Kevin Rudd, were duly noted by Bolt.

Bolt then goes on to point out how Turnbull has bowed to the pressure from conservatives on superannuation and same sex marriage.

Bolt even asks the viewer to ‘watch this transformation.’ I’ve pointed a similar thing out before. So it isn’t just because I’m a laborist cynical about the right; the same observations are coming from the most prominent conservative in the Australian media.

The reason for Turnbull’s transformation to conservatism? As Bolt rightly points out: “It is the conservatives who can kill his Prime Ministership.”

Are there already whispers around the halls of Canberra? Is this transformation Turnbull readying himself for a full on challenge? Have the monkey’s been released from their pod and are they ready to cause real havoc?

After a very strong theme from Bolt that Turnbull is a dud; could it be that Bolt is actually stirring Turnbull here? Pointing out to him via this medium that there is a challenge coming and to save his leadership he needs to walk the righteous path to conservatism and beg for mercy at the feet of the likes of Christensen? It is like Bolt is pointing and laughing at Turnbull and letting him know, that he knows his game is up (hahah I see you, you can’t fool me!)

Only those on the inside will know for sure and no doubt they will feed us snippets; but if this is finally starting, it is going to be glorious to watch.

For those who enjoy studies of organisational behaviour and leadership like myself, watching Turnbull’s increasingly obvious grapple with getting his surface acting under control as he continues to pretend to be an authentic leader, will be absolutely delicious once the pressure is really on!

In my last article, I suggested that Turnbull may be Australia’s first ever shape-shifting politician. With a challenge looming and now picked up by the media, it will be interesting to watch how rapid Turnbull’s shape shifting to fully fledged nationalist conservative will be. Is it time to start counting the number of flags at media stops yet? Perhaps.

Yep, it seems it is going to be on like Donkey Kong. Will Turnbull get barrelled? Or will he save the Princess and take the crown?

Originally published on Polyfeministix

The year that made me

As I listened to Attorney-General George Brandis today unconvincingly bellow (shout loud: argument weak, as the father of my children used to say) that Malcolm Turnbull will be remembered by history as one of our great prime ministers, I reflected that while it’s sadly apparent Brandis is a fool, what is most unsettling is that he apparently believes the rest of us to be even bigger fools.

Malcolm Turnbull will be remembered by history as one of the weakest men ever to hold the nation’s highest office: I’m damned if I can think of many who’ve been more ineffective, more blustering, more incompetent and more so obviously at a total loss as to what to do next. No amount of Brandis’s maniacal talking up is going to change that situation, as we saw with failed and sacked prime minister Tony Abbott, also marketed as great and in the process of leaving a powerful legacy, as his popularity hurtled off a cliff like Sidney Nolan’s upside down horse, his death cult followers clinging to the saddle, three-word slogan at the ready: Nothing to see! Nothing to see!

There’s a pattern here. Talked up one day, compost the next.

No one can make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, least of all the meta data-challenged Attorney-General who will himself be remembered largely for his technological ignorance, his ludicrously expensive bookshelves, and his elitist notion of what constitutes art.

Turnbull’s deplorable decision to carry on with predecessor Tony Abbott’s (the one who will be remembered for giving Prince Philip a knighthood, just one of a vast array of incomprehensible acts of wilfully destructive stupidity) ill-willed and non-binding plebiscite on marriage equality demonstrates yet again that the Prime Minister is haemorrhaging principles from every orifice, in a kind of spiritual Ebola that has afflicted him since he took office.

I am unable to think of one reason why the Australian public has a “right” to vote on the right of citizens to marry or not. This is not a question of protecting the Australian public’s rights: no member of the Australian public will suffer during the enactment of same-sex marriage. Marriage equality is a human rights issue, and it is an outstanding example of heterosexual arrogance to reframe it as an issue on which “the people” are entitled to have their say. Why are they entitled to have their say? Give me one good reason.

If “the people” are “entitled” to “have their say” in plebiscites on all matters regarded by politicians as “too important” for them to simply do their jobs, why bother having a parliament at all? We’ll use their salaries and perks to fund opinion polls instead, then all they’ll need to do is pass the legislation.

The High Court ruled that parliament already has the authority it needs to simply amend the Marriage Act to include same-sex marriage, without consulting anybody. Why are we paying the idle swine to hand the job back to us?

Trust me, said George Brandis when asked if his party would honour a *yes* vote, and that’s where I fell off my chair and rolled on the floor laughing my arse off.

It used to be that when Abbott said anything good about someone we knew they’d be in the dumpster fairly soon. It’s very hard to believe that Brandis is serious about Turnbull’s strength as a leader. I don’t think he is. He’s shouting loud because his argument is, like its subject, weak. His exaggerated praise of Turnbull is turning the corner into mockery. Brandis knows what’s coming.

Some of you may be familiar with the segment on ABC broadcaster Jonathan Green’s Sunday Extra, The Year that Made Me. A guest who has achieved chooses a year from her or his life which to them was highly formative. Malcolm Turnbull could do this gig. He could call it The Year that Made Me lose every principle I’d ever held, and left me a dusty, creaking husk of a man, and taught mean the true meaning of the phrase, laughing-stock.

Excoriate! Excoriate!

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

The Emperor’s New Truth

So there’s been another boat.

Never mind that Peter Dutton, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have been insisting for years that “the boats have stopped”, now, during a contested election that’s not all going the Coalition’s way, suddenly the people smugglers have started up again. Bit of a coincidence, that.

One might be tempted to suspect that perhaps the boats had not stopped at all. As all knowledge of such matters falls into the Coalition’s “on-water” black hole, there’s no way we would know. Reasonable people may entertain the glimmers of doubt about the information we’re being fed. But the Coalition’s latest announcement is not aimed at reasonable people.

On any reasonable metric, the Abbott/Turnbull Coalition government has been an abject failure since 2013. On the domestic issues, whichever your primary priority – economic success, reduction of the deficit, unemployment rate, government spend as share of GDP, real wages, broadband speed, and even general standard of living – every metric has declined since Abbott toppled the Gillard/Rudd government. If you turn your attention to the “moral” issues – those that have no immediate, material impact on the national economy – the Abbott / Turnbull government is similarly unimpressive. From environmental protection, to action on climate change, to refugees and immigration – both in how we “stop the boats”, and in how we treat those who have reached our shores – Australia’s performance over the past three years has dropped from substantial to dismal. So why would people still choose to vote for the Coalition, with this litany of failures behind them?

The reason, of course, is that voters do not vote on the basis of performance and record. They’re voting on the basis of promise and expectation. But the promises of the Coalition don’t fare much better than their record of successes. Delving deeply into the government’s budget and forecasts, it’s reasonably fair to say that their entire policy platform rests on a single “innovation” – a $50bn tax cut for businesses. In all other areas, they promise more of the same. More of the ineffective, expensive Direct Action plan – a plan which Liberal true believers still think is efficient, but which most of Australia has recognised as wasteful and well insufficient to the task. More attempts to implement the 2014 budget of cuts to health and education. More attempts to establish a co-payment by stealth, more attacks on Medicare, more invective directed towards those who haven’t been successful in acquiring one of the increasingly sparse jobs in our “exciting” economy. But thank goodness, no more of those juvenile “knights and dames”, so that’s okay.

For some, the pertinent measure of a good government is stability. For these voters, the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years were a debacle to be resolutely punished, and punished the Labor government was. It’s a good thing that the Abbott government is so committed to stability. Sorry, the Turnbull government. At least their policy platform is stable – it has barely changed since the 1950s, and the Coalition parties wouldn’t dream of proposing half-baked policy.

So if people aren’t voting on the basis of what the Government has done so far, and they’re not paying attention to what the Government is promising to do should it be returned, why then does Malcolm Turnbull stand a good chance of being reelected in his own right on July 3?

The reason is that voters are voting on the basis of a fiction. They’re playing a game of Fantasy Government in their heads and they’re voting for their imagined Good Government. Their vision of governance is informed by the established truths that attach to each of the major parties. For Coalition supporters, this might be the established truth that the Coalition is better at managing the economy and that Labor will put the country further into unsustainable debt. For Labor supporters, it might be that workers’ unions always act in the best interests of its members. Greens supporters cling to the belief that the party is above normal politics, and every action and position is taken on the basis of the best outcomes for the environment and social equality rather than grubby vote-grabbing. All of these established truths are at best open to debate, but to the true believer they are sacrosanct.

To someone with an interest in politics and attention to the actual facts and statistics, it can be eye-gouging to watch voters in critical electorates responding to voting intention questionnaires with platitudes about Labor’s debt and the Coalition’s savings. On this site and others, the usual suspects may be relied upon to always populate the comments section with their opinion on any political topic of the day, and their opinions are always the same and undented by being shown proven, empirical evidence that what they’re claiming just isn’t true.

It is well known that people seek out and pay credence to evidence and opinion that matches or reinforces their own beliefs. Confirmation Bias is a phenomenon recognised sufficiently to warrant its own term in psychological textbooks. However, it doesn’t work alone. Recent research shows that attempting to debunk a political rumour – or an entrenched belief – may have the contrary outcome of making them stronger. Possibly, this is due to the believer discounting the efforts of the debunker because of perceived bias. Once Fairfax media acquires a reputation as a left-wing outlet, nothing printed in one of its mastheads is likely to change the minds of a conservative voter and may instead reinforce perverse beliefs in the face of published evidence.

So it seems that propaganda exists in two phases. The first phase is the implantation of an idea. Think about it in terms of “brain ownership”: once you’ve acquired someone’s loyalty, it’s extremely hard to dislodge. Political strategists know this. There is strength in the approach of lying with impunity, in order to seed a belief in the understanding that it will become a new truth. Tony Abbott’s government was a master at this technique, but really it’s been a modus operandi for conservative politics for decades.

Once seeded, repetition is the fertiliser that helps it to flower. Repetition of an idea plays directly into confirmation bias, and every repetition makes it harder for a contrary idea to cut through.

Finally, once the idea has been seeded and watered and has taken root in the desired electorate, it is important to discredit all potential sources of contrary information with allegations of bias. This explains why Gillian Triggs has been represented as such a threat. Her empirical report into offshore processing camps had to be discredited, and the best way to do that is to taint the figurehead with allegations of bias. The Coalition succeeded in creating this impression, and from that point on any reference to her report simply reinforces the Coalition’s position of the necessity and tolerability of those camps.

This is why a boat has suddenly appeared on our borders for the first time in years. Logically, both things cannot be true: either the boats have stopped, or the people smugglers are still “trying our resolve” and sending the boats. But voters don’t think about it in this manner. The Coalition is having its cake and eating it too. For those who wish to believe the Coalition’s policies have been successful and should continue, the Boats have Stopped. For another part of the electorate, fear of the incoming hordes is the stronger motivator, and the news of a new boat reinforces that fear. Both things do not have to be true; one of these things simply needs to be accepted as true for the Coalition’s stance to be justified.

So how can a propaganda-driven New Truth be combatted by those with facts and data on their side?

First, it is important to be – and to be perceived to be – impartial. Opponents of the inconvenient facts will attempt to discredit them as biased. If possible, it is best to lead people to discover the facts on their own, rather than simply telling. Contrary to normal argumentative rhetoric, it may be most effective to find out first what sources of information would be regarded as acceptably impartial before presenting any facts at all.

A single instance of leading a horse to water may not be enough to make them drink. The second component of re-education is repetition. You can never allow a statement of New Truth to pass unchallenged. Much of the time this is a recipe for frustration: New Truth will regularly be spouted in the media and there is no immediate way to respond to this. But on a one-to-one basis, in daily communication with your friends, family and workmates, a response is possible – and indeed, the only ethical choice.

Whether you’re interested in the virtue of truthfulness and data rather than lies and misinformation, or you’re concerned for the future governance of the country, or if you just want to prevent the next generation being implanted with New Truth before they’re old enough to make up their own minds with the evidence, we must respond. We must do so carefully, without reference to the information resources we ourselves find so convincing. But respond we must. Otherwise the New Truth will live on to poison the next election – it’s probably too late for this one.

Day to Day Politics: Is the IPA getting its way?

Sunday March 13 2016

The Insidious Invasion of the IPA into Australian Politics, or Public Apathy and 75 Ideas to Make You Shudder.

The Institute of Public Affairs is a free market right-wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and is closely aligned to the Liberal Party.

In April 2013 it held its 70th Birthday Bash with Rupert Murdoch as its keynote speaker. Andrew Bolt was the Master of Ceremonies. Special guests included Gina Rinehart, Cardinal George Pell and many other conservative luminaries. A special address by then opposition leader Tony Abbott was a highlight.

The IPA put forward 75 proposals for a future Abbott government to consider. They were accompanied by an article titled: ‘Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia’ and attributed to John Roskam, Chris Berg and James Paterson.

Here is a short extract.

“If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal Party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigor when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.”

In his speech Abbott acknowledged the Institute’s input into LNP policy and took the opportunity to commit to a whole raft of big promises to radically change the culture and political landscape of Australia.

“I want to assure you,” he said, “that the Coalition will indeed repeal the carbon tax, abolish the department of climate change, and abolish the Clean Energy Fund. We will repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, at least in its current form. We will abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies. We will deliver $1 billion in red-tape savings every year. We will develop northern Australia. We will repeal the mining tax. We will create a one-stop shop for environmental approvals. We will privatise Medibank Private. We will trim the public service and we will stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN.”

True to his word he made a decent hole in the list. He stopped subsidies to the car industry, eliminated (partly) Family Tax Benefits, destroyed the ABC’s Australia network, abandoned poker machine reform, and negotiated free trade deals with Japan, South Korea, China and India. Albeit without much detail. The NBN is now nothing like what was originally intended or needed.

An observation.

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

It doesn’t end there. He might not have abolished the Human Rights Commission, but has cut $1.65 million from its budget. It refused to renew the position of its disability commissioner and without due process appointed one of the IPAs own in Tim Wilson as a commissioner. (Since departed) Attorney-General George Brandis has flagged an intention to “further reform” the HRC.

The Australian National Preventive Health Agency also went and the food, alcohol and tobacco companies fell over with gratitude.

The IPA, not content with its list of 75 has added a further 25 items for the government’s consideration. They may not get them all, but the big fish is the institute’s desire to have all media ownership laws eliminated, for example, along with the relevant regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, and requirements put in place that radio and TV broadcasts be “balanced”.

The then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull sought to change the media rules with the likely outcome: more concentration in Australia’s media, already the most concentrated and least diverse in the developed world. More influence for the IPA and Rupert Murdoch.

It makes you wonder just who is governing. The government or the IPA. Or, it at the very least, brings into question the influence lobby groups have over governments. Particularly extreme right think tanks like the IPA who seem only to exist for the benefit of big business, the rich and the privileged.

In a lifetime of following politics in this country I have never known the electorate to be in such a political malaise. A non-caring, non-knowing apathy seems to have gripped the nation. The polls tell us that a large portion of the population supports a government that is performing incompetently with a leader equally doing so.

John Howard said that people these days care little for ideology. He is correct. The undecided 10% that once decided elections has expanded to 20%. People just want good policy that represents the common good.

People need to remember that the isms, be it Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism, Conservatism, Liberalism or Communism are only economic THEORIES! They are nothing more than words written on paper. They are not active and they do nothing. Each theory is neither good nor bad. Each theory is ultimately what the people make of them. Democracy is nothing more than a theory. Our constitution is nothing more or nothing less than what we make of it.

The US Constitution and Bill of Rights have no authority. They are nothing more than what the American people make of them. When, because of our apathy we choose to ignore and neglect our government it is easily influenced by self-interest groups like the IPA- to serve their own purposes and there is nothing that says that those who come to manage the government must be ethical, moral, or responsible to the people. When good people neglect their government they are then governed by lesser people. We then end up with the government we deserve.

In an article I wrote just prior to Abbott’s election I said this:

’I am in fact absolutely frightened, no petrified by the prospect that he might win and the devastation he might create with his inane personality, his reliance on lobbyists and right-wing think tanks to form policy. Also on his Catholicism and the mediocre minds of his shadow cabinet cohort’.

The rest of course is history and now we are confronted with a government led by a leader who is not his own man with all Abbott’s IPA inspired policies. A government that has lurched so far to the right that it is in dander of falling from a flat earth mindset.

The 75 IPA Ideas to send a shiver down your spine.

I had intended to comment on some of the individual proposals but on reflection thought it best to allow the reader to draw his or her own conclusions and comment if they so desire. The best advice I can give is to be seated while reading. A shot of whiskey might also help.

This of course is not to say that some don’t have merit.

1 Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change

3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund

4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act

5 Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council

6 Repeal the renewable energy target

7 Return income taxing powers to the states

8 Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission

9 Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

10 Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol

11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities

12 Repeal the National Curriculum

13 Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums

14 Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

15 Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’

16 Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law

17 End local content requirements for Australian television stations

18 Eliminate family tax benefits

19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

22 Introduce voluntary voting

23 End mandatory disclosures on political donations

24 End media blackout in final days of election campaigns

25 End public funding to political parties

26 Remove anti-dumping laws

27 Eliminate media ownership restrictions

28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board

29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency

30 Cease subsidising the car industry

31 Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction

32 Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games

33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books

34 End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws

35 Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP

36 Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit

37 Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

38 Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food

39 Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities

40 Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools

41 Repeal the alcopops tax

42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

  1. a) Lower personal income tax for residents
  2. b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
  3. c) Encourage the construction of dams

43 Repeal the mining tax

44 Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states

45 Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold

46 Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent

47 Cease funding the Australia Network

48 Privatise Australia Post

49 Privatise Medibank

50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function

51 Privatise SBS

52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784

53 Repeal the Fair Work Act

54 Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them

55 Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors

56 Abolish the Baby Bonus

57 Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant

58 Allow the Northern Territory to become a state

59 Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16

60 Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade

61 Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States

62 End all public subsidies to sport and the arts

63 Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport

64 End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering

65 Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification

66 Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship

67 Means test tertiary student loans

68 Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement

69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built

70 End all government funded Nanny State advertising

71 Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling

72 Privatise the CSIRO

73 Defund Harmony Day

74 Close the Office for Youth

75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

‘The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.’

 

Day to Day Politics: Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

1 Tuesday’s Newspoll sees both Labor and the Coalition on 50/50 confirming that the poll a fortnight ago wasn’t a rogue one. There is no doubt the polls are tightening.

The Morgan Poll remains virtually unchanged with the Coalition on 53% and Labor on 47%

Essential is also unchanged from last week at 50/50.

This leaves the risk averse Malcolm Turnbull with a dilemma. Does he go to an election in July or wait until August/September?

If he chooses July it has to be following a budget where he said he will reveal his Tax Reform Policy. A policy that must be so diluted by now that there will be little to present. It will also be a budget, if savings are the objective that hits social services, health and education hard. Other areas won’t give them the required savings for budget repair.

Whichever way you look at it he cannot deliver an election year budget full of goodies. Having said that, any budget delivered immediately before an election campaign wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

If he elects to wait then he risks a further deterioration in the polls. Now if it were me I would, given I have nothing to lose, take it up to the right-wing of the Party. Shirtfront them. Even a little headbutting wouldn’t go astray.

Tell them that if they want to win it’s my way or the bush. Grow some balls and be your own man, Malcolm.

The honeymoon, however, does appear to be well and truly over with Turnbull’s performance rating slumping to 44% – a fall of 16 points since November. He does, however, remain preferred PM with 55% to Bill Shorten 21%

2 Whilst I understand the ABC’s desire to have a diversity of views on its panel, for the life of me, given his past, I cannot understand how having Alan Jones opining about the Catholic Church, boys, and morality, was appropriate.

3 A Royal Commission into the banks and the financial advice industry is long overdue. Conservative governments are loathe to investigate the big end of town for ideological reasons. Last night’s Four Corners program should ensure one is implemented. It also highlights the need for a national ICAC.

4 Nancy Reagan has passed away. I don’t carry fond memories of her. The one I do recall was her simplistic naïve answer to America’s drug problem: ‘Just say no’.

5 I have read many political books in my lifetime both biographical and scholarly. My favourite in terms of insight into how government works has always been Don Watson’s masterly study of Paul Keating; ‘Recollections of a Bleeding Heart’. Yesterday I began reading the book of the moment – Nikki Savva’s ‘Road to Ruin’. It gives promise of an insight into all that is wrong with the way we are governed.

6 The IPA gains a voice in the Senate with the selection of 28-year-old James Paterson to the top of the Liberal Victorian ticket. Paterson has strong libertarian views on issues like free speech. Together with the right, the IPA have had a victory.

7 In the words of former Opposition Leader Dr John Hewson, speaking about Tony Abbott:

‘I suffered from his disloyalty because he was a constant channel from my office to John Howard’.

‘He did go down in history as probably the most effective leader of the opposition in the sense that he made negativity an art form, but from the point of view of good government and reform processes and so on, it was a pretty disastrous period’.

My thought for the day.

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

PS. I’m 80 pages in to ‘Road to Ruin’. My conclusion: If all is true and I have no doubt it is, Tony Abbott is guilty of not seeking help for the lady in question.

 

Day to Day Politics: ‘Shambolic’ – I cannot think of a better word.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

1 One would have thought that after Tony Abbott was disposed of, the good government that we were promised so often might have actually occurred. It hasn’t. Malcolm Turnbull, with fine words, promised a new beginning and the public believed him. Words like reason, transparency, rational debate and policy explanation.

Two events over the past days in part explain that we have had a dysfunctional government for two and a half years. Not just dysfunctional, but incompetent. A first blush overview of Niki Savva’s book reveals a Prime Minister totally under the influence of a control freak with an intimidating disposition. Someone with an obsessive personality that borders on the pathological.

However, nothing demonstrates the absurdity of this government more than George Brandis’s announcement of a plebiscite on Marriage Equality before Christmas. When I first heard it I immediately assumed, I think as Brandis did, a July election, because the AEO had said that they needed 6 months to organise it. It would be impossible to have one if the election were to be in August/September and the voters would be upset, let alone the cost, if they had to go back to the polls a second time.

Why not have the Plebiscite at the same time as the election and save $160 million. Then, as the afternoon wore on and Turnbull’s office began retracting, it became manifestly clear that chaos was the order of the day.

Has Brandis put his foot in it? I think he has. I don’t think they have a policy on Marriage Equality other than to delay and delay.

Everything about this government points to a shambolic cabinet who haven’t the faintest idea what they are doing. Credlin controlled Abbott, the far right controls Turnbull. Turnbull has no authority and no guts for decision-making.

All he can offer is that the government was committed to holding the plebiscite ‘as soon after the election as can be done’.

Only a government in disarray could make an announcement before lunch and take it off the table prior to dinner. What a shambles.

An observation.

‘The secret of change is to focus all your energy on not fighting the old but on building the new’.

2 The revelations in Savva’s book ‘Road to Ruin’ are truly astonishing and deserve the country’s attention. Abbott often said that if our democracy was under threat it was because of the people who occupy government from time to time. He meant Labor of course, but he might have been looking in a mirror when he said it.

In the recipe of good leadership one of the vital ingredients is delegation. Having the confidence in one’s underlings to make decisions. The control Credlin imposed on the PMs Office leaves one’s head spinning. From foreign affairs to office decorations. Stuff that you wouldn’t experience in the biggest companies’ boardrooms. Even a quick scan of the accusations in her book make for astonishing reading.

It may not have been an affair in the conventional sense we understand, but it was a most unusual political one to say the least. One that could always be viewed with scandalous observation.

Tony Abbott’s response was to say: ‘The best response to this book is in the objective record of the Abbott government’.

An empty, highly debatable response at that. The problems of the Abbott Government didn’t start in Government but in Opposition where blind negativity was the order of the day replacing policy development. That’s where the dysfunctionality begun. He thought that just gaining office would put everything right.

The disclosure that it was Joe Hockey, now our Ambassador to the US, who broke a valuable marble table fills me with disgust. As does the instruction to Bishop not to apologise over the cost of a chopper.

Everyone with meagre political observational skills noted that Margie was only ever trotted out in crisis situations.

An observation.

In the recipe of good leadership there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. It, however, ranks far below getting things done for the common good’.

3 Eight Coalition and 8 retiring Labor MPs are set to qualify for Parliamentary Pensions and most will be paid a minimum of $118,125.00 – or 75 per cent of a current MP’s base salary for superannuation purposes of $157,500.00.

Why don’t the sheeple protest?

4 Meanwhile in the US. ‘Only in the US,’ Donald Trump, in scenes reminiscent of a Hitler rally, asked, no demanded, that thousands of people at a rally swear an oath of allegiance. And they did. It was a scene that people of my vintage thought we might never experience again.

‘I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J Trump for president.’

5 After last week’s embarrassing debacle over Negative Gearing you might have thought that The Australian might leave the chill of those waters behind for a while. But no, yesterday’s headline read: ‘Labor’s crackdown on negative gearing ‘a threat to small business’.

6 Peter Costello has warned against changes to Negative Gearing, Superannuation, and Capital Gains Tax. In fact he has urged Scott Morrison to maintain the generously immoral superannuation and tax arrangements of his tenure for the rich and privileged.

On the evidence thus far the Government never had a reform policy in the first place. They just needed something to talk about. Something they are good at.

7 I think I will stop here. I’m becoming very depressed of late about the way in which we are governed. The disrespect that we are treated with. The incompetence. Government for self; abounds. There is a stench about it that is contributing to the way I feel.

I wrote last week that this mob has degrees from the world’s finest learning institutions dripping from the walls of their parliamentary offices but all the learning seems unsuitable for good governance. The problem is that that conservative ideology and practical common sense just don’t mix.

I’m not sure that I want to read ‘Road to Ruin’ but I probably will. What seems to give the book integrity and is compelling about Niki Savva’s writing, is the number of sources who have gone on the record.

My thought for the day.

‘A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Forces that drove Tony Abbott to stay in parliament

Thursday 28 January 2016

I don’t normally read The Australian newspaper because it’s behind a firewall and it’s owned by Murdoch. But mainly because of its bias and poor journalism. Here is an example. My comments are in italics.

Greg Sheridan THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 26, 2016

Tony Abbott agonised over whether to stay in parliament or to leave. He got a lot of conflicting advice. The case for leaving was substantial.

No politician in modern Australia, at least since Malcolm Fraser in 1975, has been subjected to such sustained, vitriolic and personalised abuse as Abbott.

When you look at the abuse handed out by Tony Abbott. Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and others to Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her tenure you have to wonder at the objectivity of such a statement. There was hardly a day in the Parliament in which Abbott didn’t label her a liar. Even members of his own party, at times shook their heads in shame at the sexism. Anyone with any sense of perspective would find this statement just so totality biased as to be deliberately misleading.

Reference 1

Reference 2

Reference 3

Reference 4

If he left politics, this would subside. The former prime minister is a strong and resilient person, but this kind of abuse takes its toll not only on the person ­directly affected but also on their family. It is also the case that the sooner he left, the sooner it was likely his record of substantial, perhaps historic, achievement would be reassessed.

Could you please repeat that? I’m really struggling.

No other prime minister could have stopped the boats.

The catalyst in stopping the boats was Kevin Rudd’s deal with Papua New Guinea. And we know the boats didn’t completely stop. He was paying people smugglers to turn them back.

The Abbott prime ministership prevented Australia from being engulfed in a tidal wave of uncontrolled, illegal immigration, as Europe has seen.

He was a Prime Minister who demonised those legally seeking asylum. A Prime Minister who tossed the subject around like a political football extracting from it every ounce of political mileage, never once seeking a regional solution .And look at his legacy of allowing innocent people to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives without recourse to the law.

Then there were the free-trade agreements, the abolition of the carbon and mining taxes, the attempt to address the growing budget contradiction.

The abolition of the Carbon Tax is looked on by the rest of the world as a dreadful decision. One that left our nation in the embarrassing position of taking a laughable policy to the Paris talks. A policy that will have to be seriously reconsidered in the near future if we are to seriously address the climate issue.

Addressing the budget contradiction. So his answer was to almost double the debt. A strange way of addressing a problem he described as a debt crisis of monumental proportion.

All of this will be reassessed and revalued more quickly if ­Abbott is outside parliament. Moreover, while he stays in politics almost everything he says will be misinterpreted by a lazy media through a leadership prism.

Yes they might, in the same way The Australian hounded Julia Gillard. You can speculate as much as you want as to the motives of him staying. May I suggest though, that a good place to start might be his historical political behaviour? It makes for good profiling.

In some measure, the same problem afflicts Malcolm Turnbull. Everything he says is freighted by foolish commentators as somehow containing some secret anti-Abbott significance.

Lenore Taylor got it right when she said:

‘The public liked Turnbull because he seemed different to Abbott, but his colleagues voted for him because they were eventually persuaded he would be – in essence – pretty much the same’.

Then there were the purely personal considerations. First, the miserable prospect of sitting mute as a backbencher in Canberra. Also, political life affects family life. It is extraordinarily difficult to be an attentive husband and father with weeks away in Canberra, and more weeks away interstate and overseas in the constant travel of political leadership.

It is something they have lived with all their married life. He is after all a career politician who has had little experience outside it. His wife seemed to accept her position. Except for one daughter they have all moved on. If sitting on the backbench was indeed a miserable prospect then why do it. What other motive could he possibly have?

Abbott had been prime minister for two years, party leader for six and before that a minister for a decade. It’s a long record of service. No one could reasonably ask him for more.

Who is? The fact is that he lost his job because his party felt he wasn’t up to it.

And, if he had the slightest interest in making money he would make much more outside of parliament than in. His parliamentary pension as a former prime minister would be substantially more than his salary as a backbencher.

On top of that he would be free to earn money in the private sector. He has enough close supporters in business to guarantee a board appointment or two. He could give lucrative speeches on the US conservative speakers’ circuit. He could write newspaper columns, the odd book, perhaps do some TV. There is always a consultancy or two on offer.

I seem to recall that he took time off from his job as an MP (with pay) to write a book. And isn’t he now making a few quid on the speaker’s circuit now. This gets worse the more I read.

But Abbott has never been motivated by money. He always wanted to give his family a decent life, but had no interest in trying to pile up money.

This is downright dishonest.

Reference 1

Reference 2

We know that this feeling is universal, because it’s exactly how Tony Abbott felt, after losing 40 per cent of his income in 2007 when the Howard government lost power and he went back to a basic backbench salary.

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he said at the time.

“You don’t just lose power … you certainly lose income as well, and if you are reliant on your parliamentary salary for your daily living, obviously it makes a big difference.”

Mr Abbott was notoriously knocked-around by his change of circumstance, which obliged him to take out a $700,000 mortgage on his northern beaches home, and fostered a period of gloom and introspection in which he remained mired for more than a year.

When Kevin Rudd announced a salary freeze for all politicians in early 2008 – a decision greeted with bipartisan loathing around the corridors – Mr Abbott remarked that it was “all very well for politicians who have other sources of income or who have very high income from their spouses”.

Mr Abbott’s spouse, of course, works in the child care sector, which is notoriously under … oh, stop me if I’m repeating myself.

He was not the only one to complain; quite a few former Howard ministers felt the sting of their reduced circumstances, and discreet approaches were even made to the new Labor Government to fiddle things so that shadow ministers might be paid more.

It never happened, of course. Governments are bastards like that, don’t you find?

The arguments for staying essentially boiled down to duty. His supporters had invested so much hope in him.

If he left, it was as if conservatives would be admitting that none of their number could ever serve in the highest office. It would be a great victory for the Left if their lynch mobs had chased him out of town. As a nation we are not blessed with a super abundance of politicians of the first rank. We can’t afford to lightly throw them away.

If Abbott stayed in politics, he would signal an intent to advocate the broad political values that have motivated him all his life. And, in the long run, he helps the government a great deal by staying.

By staying, indeed he would advocate the political values he aspires to. The problem is that they are not the same as the leaders. Therein lays the problem. The Coalition now has what the public wanted. A less feral leader but he is controlled by Abbott’s men.

You might also countenance the thought that he has little experience at doing anything else.

Turnbull went through a dark night of the soul when he lost the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2009. He initially decided to leave politics and resign at the next federal election, but then changed his mind. As the next few years rolled by, his presence was actually a very big plus for the then Abbott opposition.

Correct. He often had to step in and demonstrate that there were some in the party that could be reasonable when Abbot continuously showed his ugly side.

It showed voters of a ‘small l’ liberal persuasion that they had a place in the Liberal Party. It helped stop the party from leaking votes to the centre.

How gratuitously silly is that statement. Robert Menzies would turn in his grave at the thought that any of today’s Liberal members even understood the term.

The Liberal Party has no serious competitor on the right of politics at the moment and therefore no imminent prospect of leaking votes to the Right.

But the centre right is always in danger of fracturing, just as it has in most Western nations, just as we see so many effluxions of right-wing populism in Queensland.

A coalition that can accommodate a Tony Abbott as well as a Malcolm Turnbull is inherently much stronger, and seems much broader than either factional Labor or sectarian Green politics, no matter that each man might find such coexistence disagreeable at times.

He is and will be in the run up to the election a thorn in Turnbull’s side. And an intentional thorn at that. It is naïve in the extreme to think otherwise.

Turnbull and Abbott are both grown-ups, both volunteers. We pay them to give us good government. We expect them to manage things between them well.

We pay for good Government and expect it from day one. Tony Abbott said that we would get it 12 months after the ball had been bounced. Even then it didn’t happen. We are still waiting for Turnbull to stop talking about it and start delivering. By the time the election comes around the electorate will be entitled to ask whether the Coalition can ever deliver on it.

Abbott is no Kevin Rudd. He is not motivated by revenge or any delusion of return to the prime ministership. His decision to stay in parliament is the latest episode in a lifetime of doing what he thinks is right.

After reading this last paragraph I am thinking I will give Tony the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it isn’t him who is deluded. It’s Bill Sheridan.

My thought for the day

‘Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity’.

 

Dear America, please don’t make Donald Trump your president

So Donald Trump wants to be president.

Well I would implore all Americans to think long and hard before casting a vote in his favour. Do you really, really want him in the White House?

I love America. One of the great things about America is that it embraces religious freedom. Take that away and not only will you diminish as the ‘land of the free’ but it just might not have the results that Trump hopes for. However, I’m not here to talk about that. There’s something else I want to warn you about.

I’ll start off with what a commenter on one of the articles on this site wrote:

I remember the first couple of weeks of Trump’s campaigning.

There were those who said that it was funny. They insisted the buffoon was in it just for publicity, he’d be gone in a month. The man was so ridiculous that common sense would prevail and people would dismiss him.

Rather than burn out, Trump has dragged the Republican candidates to [a] dangerous group … he has normalised ideas that should be abhorrent … he is desensitising the mass media. His comments draw much less outrage than they should.

Letting Trump spew his relentless, loathsome rubbish has not caused people to turn away in disgust. Rather, it has placed him as a front runner to be the next US president.

As a nation [Australia] we took a laid-back attitude . . . And how did that turn out? Well, as usual, the politicians resorted to pandering to the lowest denominators … fear and ignorance.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

The underlying message there is that we in Australia know exactly how it turns out. We’ve had a glimpse of what life under a Trump-like disaster can be like.

And that’s how it was under our recently dethroned prime minister, Tony Abbott. In two short but destructive years Tony Abbott completely turned on its head the character and soul of our nation. In two frightening years under this manipulating dangerous man we saw the rise of patriot groups, supported by rogue politicians … encouraging racists to whip up fear and hatred with a passion never before seen in this country. And that, simply, is what changed us.

Dangerous, powerful men – supported by an obliging media – can easily change any nation. If they can change an easy going, laid back nation like Australia one can only shudder what they might do to a nation that has been on edge since the terrible events of 9/11.

You’ve been lucky not having a leader anything like Abbott: One that has made us frightened of shadows; of having us fear anyone with a long beard, a tanned skin, or a different religion. Of making us afraid that these people, at best, will take our jobs and security. At worst, slit our throats.

He turned us into a nation of nervous, frightened, angry vigilantes. Vigilantes who have set fire to homes belonging to people who speak Arabic; who threatened to kill people just because their skin was dark; who wanted people expelled from this country simply because they spoke a different language; who assaulted people in the streets because they wore a scarf around their head. No questions asked. Anyone who looked ‘different’ was a threat to our national security and had to be dealt with. Attacks on these people have become more daring, more devastating, and more frequent as each week passes.

It hasn’t helped us or ‘saved’ us one little bit, because to put it simply, the threat wasn’t there in the first place. If anything, payback might be on the horizon. Or worse still, blowback.

Tony Abbott was removed from office a few months ago but the seeds of hate he planted are now growing uncontrollably wild and unchecked.

It is as if overnight we were no longer a tolerant and welcoming nation. Fear mongering prime ministers (or presidents) don’t succeed in such nations. Their political survival hinges on maintaining their political capital: fear. And then more fear.

Yes, there are troubles in the world which must be addressed, but are they being addressed by turning people against their neighbours, their work colleagues or people sharing the same bus? Are the troubles of the world being addressed when a young Muslim lady is bashed in a busy street in your city by stirred-up punks? Punks who, only a couple of years ago, would not have batted an eye lid at the same lady.

What good is it when the public discourse is one of hatred and violence? When talk around the local bar, the restaurant table, the coffee break at work or at family get-togethers is filled with nonsense at how people from other lands or other religions are obsessed with destroying us and our country. Yes, it’s nonsense, but people are frightened into believing it to be true.

Abbott frightened us and feasted on it. Trump will do the same to you.

And like Australia you have the same gutter-dwelling media who will keep boiling the pot of racism and bigotry for their own selfish needs.

Having said all that, I must say though that we’ve been lucky to date in that only kicks, punches and threats have been flowing. Blood has not been spilled. And that’s probably because of the one big difference we have with you. We don’t carry guns.

 

Should the media act more responsibly?

By Dave Chadwick

The public’s hunger for every image and piece of information about terrorist acts and mass murders does not always need to be sated. I question the effort of the media to feed this hunger with endless detailed national coverage when an attack occurs. Do they not realise that this is the exact reaction the awful perpetrators are hoping for, or are they so greedy for ratings they do not care? Would a more restrained approach make society even a few percentage points safer?

The valued concept of a free and impartial media to act as the ‘Fourth Estate,’ and hold all three branches of government accountable to their representatives has a long history in democratic theory. The importance of a balanced and independent analysis of national and international affairs is put into stark definition by the blatantly deceptive and obfuscating practices that modern politicians employ. Although its Fourth Estate role is a powerful argument against government interference (which doesn’t seem to bother our current government), it is not a licence for the media to publish and post whatever pleases them. It also charges them with the responsibility of publishing in the public interest.

I’m not an historian or expert in media law, but it seems to me that the media has misinterpreted the idea of public interest. Public interest here does not necessarily mean what the public is interested in – but what is in the public’s interest to know.

What is in the Public Interest?

I could write a whole article about media outlets’ preoccupation with selling us news stories that are really not in our interest, such as what happened on last night’s episode of the Bachelor (which by the way, I really don’t care), instead of giving us a better understanding of ongoing developments in Ukraine or the South China Sea, but I won’t. I am not really arguing against this (doesn’t mean I like it though), as I realise they have to make a commercial decision about what consumers want and some publications are marketed to a particular type of consumer.

My concern is when the media (and with the advent of online technology, all social media users have the potential to become lay-journalists) publish and share information that is actually against the public interest. Whether through greed or naïveté, media users are unthinking accomplices to the aims of terrorist groups and psychopaths with the incredibly detailed coverage they reward them with. If social media users were more discriminating with what they shared and media outlets were more restrained with their coverage, the payoff these groups and individuals get from their atrocities would be reduced, potentially reducing the likelihood of further atrocities. That sounds like something that would definitely be in the public interest to me.

Only recently, a clearly unwell man acted out his rage in a heinous double murder in Virginia and even went to the trouble of videoing it and posting it to social media. The logical inference of such action is that he wanted to share his actions with the world. How did the media and the rest of the world react? Exactly the way he wanted. Television and print media published articles about every aspect of the attack and his life, while the online community was retweeting and sharing his gruesome posts. News articles even provided screenshots and links to his social media page. I actually saw an article in The Herald Sun that published his final social media posts after describing him as a man who wanted his actions and words to go viral. Nice of them to fulfil his dying wishes. To other unwell, lonely, desperate people, what is the message? The more despicable your actions are, the more attention you will receive.

Now I don’t want to imply any less personal responsibility of the perpetrators of disgusting acts like these, but I do wonder what useful function does the saturation media coverage and vapid online sharing of these types of event serve. Would most attacks still take place? Probably, but would all of them? I’m less sure.

When the first of ISIS’s execution videos was released, like most of us I was saddened for the victim and his loved ones. I was also horrified and angered at those who would perpetuate such an atrocity and deliberately seek to use it as a political strategy. These feelings of impotent rage returned each time I saw it on TV news bulletins and heard the audio on radio or saw people sharing the video on social media. That happened an awful lot. It was difficult to avoid for a few days. If the terrorists wanted to bring their message to people around the world, they succeeded. However they only succeeded because they were allowed to.

The public execution was a propaganda strategy that held no tactical value. If no one watched the videos would there be any reason to make them? I would contend not. So why are people in the west so helpful in actually facilitating and encouraging it? I know Tony Abbott liked to see national security headlines on every paper as often as possible, but was it actually in the public interest? It was no surprise to see a string of similar videos released in the following weeks.

What if …

What if a law was passed making it illegal to broadcast or forward any vision or audio these crimes? Or even without legislation, if the media guidelines changed to dramatically reduce the frequency and detail with which they did cover them. Obviously the exception would be for the files to be passed on to DFAT or the AFP so they could take appropriate actions. A short factual, unsensationalised (I know it’s technically not a word, but its meaning is obvious) report detailing the important facts of the story is all that needs to be made public. The public’s fascination with every aspect of this does not have to be fed, just like six-year old’s love of ice cream doesn’t have to be fed. Is there any other reason people really need to see the video? I would argue it is hardly in the public interest and would suggest it is actually against it.

I realise this idea may draw some unflattering Orwellian comparisons from civil libertarians. But is this really a slippery slope to the government-controlled media of 1984 (I’m not talking about an actual year that is the title of a book for those to young to have realised)? I don’t think so. You can use a slippery slope argument to predict pretty much anything, but that doesn’t mean your prediction is correct (as Eric Abetz and Corey Bernadi have shown). Increased government regulation of the media and individuals’ online activities may ring some alarm bells, although I believe there are similar laws about child pornography and although it is a significantly different issue, I haven’t heard any complaints about such laws.

The other argument people may raise is that such a law would make people even more beholden to the media and would prevent independent verification of the reporting of these types of events. It is true to an extent, but seeing the video or reading a mass murderer’s life story (as reported in the media) doesn’t solve that anyway. I would agree the potential for media agencies to shape national dialogue with their reporting of an event is already unsettling, but social media provides a counterpoint to this already. I can’t see this change adding much to this situation as there is still much that can be reported and shared. The videos of 9/11 and the moon landing have not stopped the conspiracy theorists on either subject because some people will believe what they want to believe no matter what evidence is- that is why there are still anti-vaccers and climate change deniers in the world.

Is that the answer?

I do like the concept of an independent, uncensored media, free from government and shareholder interference, but Australia seemed to give that up some time ago. The reality is that a lot of news reporting and commentary is filtered by existing beliefs and assumptions of the commentators, even this one (astonishing I know). I have outlined how I believe current media practices around the reporting of terrorist attacks and mass murders, as well as the unthinking actions of social media users, may play a part helping the perpetrators achieve their goals. Political attacks mean very little when their message is contained, after all. I know it wouldn’t stop such actions, but would it make them less attractive to desperate individuals? I think so. As much as governments are often wary of over regulating the media for fear of public backlash, I think it would at least be worth thinking about and discussing?

What do you think?

This article was originally published as Real Agents of the Fourth Estate or just greedy Real Estate Agents on Quietblog.

Just in time for Christmas . . .

By Richard O’Brien

With Christmas just around the corner, Commonwealth Toys ® has announced a new range of action figurines – the Political Leaders series.

Poor sales figures earlier in the year lead to the manufacturer issuing a recall of the Tony Abbott action figurine – which most children found disappointing no matter what outfit it was dressed it in.

Its replacement, the Malcolm Turnbull figurine, has resulted in much better sales. The Turnbull model’s primary feature is a 300 watt torch located in its posterior. While tests by No Choice Magazine found there was a significant risk of the torch dazzling children and temporarily blinding them to everything else that was going on, they also indicated that this effect was likely to fade with time.

Despite costing 15% more than other figurines in the range, all Turnbull models with principles have sold out. Instead all purchases of the Turnbull model now come with a free Warren Truss figurine – which doesn’t really do anything but helps complete the set.

Redesigned after the manufacturer discovered it was a choking hazard, the Bill Shorten figurine has proved less popular with children this year, despite now being made up of parts that are almost impossible for most children to swallow. The new design also incorporates greater joint articulation, allowing the figurine to fold more easily – making it compatible with the offshore detention series of accessories. Spine sold separately.

Made from recycled plastic, the Richard Di Natale figurine comes mounted on its own moral high ground. Popular with younger children the figurine has had considerably more success competing with the Shorten model than the Turnbull model – despite offering little in the way of new features and accessories.

Sales of the Clive Palmer figurine have continued to decline steadily – despite coming with a range of accessories including a model of the Titanic, a dinosaur park and the now defunct Gold Coast United Football Club – it is expected to be discontinued sometime next year.

 

Is the Bible the same as the Koran?

By Bob Rafto

The Paris terrorist attacks were horrific and like any other terrorist attack they leave a trail of grief for the victims’ families to which I send my sincere condolences.

Like everyone else, I did feel revulsion but was further repulsed by the Muslin haters with Tony Abbott in the forefront sowing seeds of division against Muslims and refugees.

One thing that stuck in my craw was Abbott saying they are coming to get us: us being the infidels, the unbelievers. This led to a train of thought that since I was already aware of beheadings and stonings and other murderous teachings appear both in the Bible and the Koran, what I didn’t know was whether death to the unbeliever appeared in the Bible.

Google didn’t disappoint:

Kill All Unbelievers

“And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God …” (Deuteronomy 13: 5).

“If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers …” (Deuteronomy 13: 6).

“Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people” (Deuteronomy 13:8-9).

“Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword” (Deuteronomy 13:15).

So there it was, another similarity which led to my conclusion that the Koran is the same as the Bible and that the Koran was a plagiarization of the Bible but I needed confirmation and I duly asked Google whether the Bible and the Koran was the same.

The first entry was Pope Francis To Followers: “Koran And Holy Bible Are The Same“. I couldn’t get luckier than that, as this excerpt shows:

During his hour-long speech, a smiling Pope Francis was quoted telling the Vatican’s guests that the Koran, and the spiritual teachings contained therein, are just as valid as the Holy Bible.

“Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths. This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is respect each other’s beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by. We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God”.

the lord commandeth1 copy Of course there is debate whether plagiarism is involved and some stories diverge in the Koran, but the murderous teachings are the same.

Perhaps it comes down to branding something like Pepsi and Coke as the same drink but with a different name, though both in existence to purely make a profit. Muslim and Christians are all but capitalists in their own right too, by tithing followers in exchange for a product called ‘Solace from God’ and the more followers the greater the profit. (One only has to look at the Vatican where Cardinal Pell found a very lazy 3 billion dollars that wasn’t accounted for).

And so it goes: America (for example – and the best one) starts wars and we become hostile when the folk who have had American bombs rained on them turn around and inflict carnage in our cities, and since the Iraq war we are seeing the second coming of exodus but for these refugees there is no promised land, the borders are closed and refugee haters, Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Shorten, Abbott and Turnbull have ensured our borders are closed but the government will determine who comes here and under what circumstances … and as long as they are Christian.

 

Why do we have a Coalition government?

The obvious answer as to why we have a Coalition government at the moment is that the majority of people voted that way at the last election. But why?

Many people were sick of the white-anting and disunity from a party which removed two sitting Prime Ministers. I am wondering how they feel now that the Liberals have done exactly the same thing. Should this government be labelled ‘illegitimate’ with calls for an immediate election? Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Andrew Nikolic, Cory Bernardi, Tony Abbott and others are unlikely to accept a smooth transition any time soon.

Others were convinced that the warnings about climate change were ‘alarmist’ and that scientists were only doing it to get funding. Or that they were part of some UN new world order with Zionist banks ready to send us all into subsistence slavery under Agenda 21. I am wondering how they feel as every year more heat records tumble and extreme weather events cost us billions.

Many voted Coalition so they would fix the ‘debt and deficit disaster’. Labor was spending like drunken sailors! How are they feeling as government spending continues to rise, the debt continues to grow by about $50 billion a year, and we experience the biggest deficits on record?

There were those who felt we were being invaded by a horde of potential terrorists coming by boat. We have stopped the boats arriving and in so doing, been condemned by a world coping with an enormous tide of displaced people due, in part, to our aggression in the Middle East and likely to continue as we withdraw foreign aid and replace it with military expenditure. Are they happy that to stop the boats we are prepared to torture children?

Those that were angry that “Bob Brown’s bitch” was making deals with the Greens must have been somewhat disappointed when one of Joe Hockey’s first actions was to make a deal with the Greens to eliminate the debt ceiling. I am wondering how they feel as Victorian Liberals look set to preference Greens ahead of ALP.

Some people were concerned that the Labor government was spending tens of billions on a national broadband network that would just be used to play video games and download movies. Malcolm could get us a system that would cover all our needs for much cheaper and get it finished by 2016. Or not. All this talk of digital disruption and innovation must be making them wonder what’s going on, not to mention cost blowouts of $15 billion due to Malcolm’s multi technology mix which, it turns out, will take a lot longer than anticipated to provide a system that will be outdated before it is finished.

Others were cynical about Kevin Rudd’s ‘dishonest negative scare campaign’ regarding cuts to health, education, the ABC, family tax benefits and the schoolkids bonus not to mention the raising of the GST. But we know that was all lies, right? Or maybe not.

Many were very concerned that Labor’s changes to the fringe benefits tax which required people to only claim business usage for their cars when they actually used them for business would destroy the car industry and lead to job losses. Thankfully the Coalition got rid of that quick smart and saved all those jobs . . . oh, wait.

One thing that we can always be certain of is that the Coalition will be better economic managers. It’s in their DNA. Except every single economic measure has gone backwards under their stewardship.

They promised to expose the corruption of the evil unions and the rorting of politicians’ entitlements through the revelations by their heroic whistleblowers, Kathy Jackson and James Ashby. Just don’t mention the 10 NSW Liberal MPs who have been exposed by ICAC or the fraudulent misappropriation of millions by their Victorian state director or Bronnie’s helicopter rides.

The Liberal Party promised to be a transparent accountable government, unless it is an operational or onwater matter, or commercial in confidence, or anything to do with our offshore gulags and the sexual, physical and psychological abuse suffered by the people who came to us seeking help. And don’t dare ask about how much tax big corporations and rich people pay. That’s none of your business.

Thank goodness we now have a very popular Prime Minister, but what use is that when the urbane, sophisticated Malcolm Turnbull leads the same party that thought Tony Abbott would be a good idea?

The policies haven’t changed and the personnel who brought you those lies still occupy the government benches.

Despite Malcolm’s ‘new paradigm’, I am still left wondering why exactly we chose a Coalition government.

 

First rule of war: Know thy enemy

(An update to this article was added on 18 November.)

Following the attacks in Paris on the weekend, there is little doubt that we – along with most of the rest of the Western world – are at war with ISIL. And at the risk of stating the obvious, the key to winning any war is knowing who the enemy is and correspondingly, who our allies are.

But understanding who’s an enemy and who’s an ally in this conflict seems to be something that many are struggling with. This is understandable – to some extent at least – as many still think of war as something that is fought between nations. But as I wrote last weekend, this is not a war which is defined by physical boundaries. You can’t point at a specific nationality – or even a specific religion – and say everyone of that nationality or religion is the enemy.

Jumping on the enemy bandwagon…

Unfortunately that hasn’t stopped some from using the tragedy of war to try and garner support for their own particular message of hatred and/or bigotry. Here’s some homegrown examples:

  • Tony Abbott – has been out and about, using this tragedy to push his stop-the-boats mantra, warning that terrorists are hiding in the ‘flood of refugees‘; and
  • Pauline Hanson – who has also grasped the opportunity to push her own particularly brand of bigotry, calling for a “Royal Commission into Islam” and demanding that Australia immediately cease all migration from “Muslim” countries.

The sad and tragic irony of this is that the likes of Abbott and Hanson have – albeit unwittingly – become voices for ISIL, pushing the very message that ISIL want them to push.

Pushing hatred and bigotry is exactly what ISIS want

Commentator Waleed Aly’s message on The Project yesterday evening made this very clear:

https://youtu.be/XXUZjyZVj6s

In Aly’s words:

“ISIL’s leaders would be ecstatic to hear that since the atrocity in Paris, Muslims have reportedly been threatened and attacked in America, England and here in Australia. Because this evil organisation has it in their heads that if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, then Muslims…will have nowhere to turn but to ISIL…

We all need to come together, because it’s exactly what ISIL doesn’t want.”

But instead of coming together, many are being taken in by fear mongering – and as a result confusion reigns about who’s an enemy and who’s an ally.

Being French doesn’t make you a terrorist. Nor does being a refugee.

Just look at the response to the fact that a Syrian refugee passport was found next to one of the terrorists last weekend. Suddenly more than a dozen US states have said they will bar Syrian refugees and many countries in Europe are talking about putting up fences and barbed wire to protect their borders – as though this will somehow keep them safe.

The fact that at least five of the terrorists were French nationals and their leader was Belgian is just completely ignored in discussions around how to prevent terrorism – instead the focus is on refugees. Nobody is suggesting that we close our borders to all French and Belgian citizens – even though they were the bulk of last weekend’s terrorist cell – because we recognise that this would be absurd. Being Belgian or French doesn’t make you a terrorist. Nor does being a Syrian refugee.

Fighting the real enemy

The bottom line is that the very best way to fight ISIL at home is to fight racism, to fight bigotry, to welcome refugees, to support Muslims in their fight against extremism – because this is the exact opposite of what our enemy wants us to do.

If we don’t do this – if we allow the likes of Abbott and Hanson to divert our attention to their petty biases and bigotries – then instead of fighting the real enemy, we will be fighting our allies and doing ISIL’s work for them. And the outcome of this could be catastrophic.

In the words of Sun Tzu:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will lose every battle.” (The Art of War)

UPDATE on 18 November 2016

Since I first wrote this article, authorities have confirmed that the Syrian passport found near the body of one of the terrorists was a fake, and that the terrorist attack was ‘homegrown’. It had absolutely nothing to do with any refugee from Syria or elsewhere. This suggests what many have suspected – that the terrorist may have been carrying a Syrian passport for the purpose of turning Westerners against refugees.

Unfortunately, the terrorists’ ploy appears to be working, as state after state in the US – undeterred by facts – confirms that it will no longer take refugees from Syria. Since I wrote this article yesterday, the number has more than doubled to 26 states. Further, conservative Republican candidates like Donald Trump are falling over themselves to support ISIS through their fear-based rhetoric – with Trump calling for the US to shut mosques and using the Paris Tragedy as an argument to support US gun laws.

This post was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

 

Turnbull v Abbott: PM in an age of terror

Image from the abc.net.au

Image from the abc.net.au

Insofar as personality is a signifier of leadership ability (and like it or not, it is probably the most important characteristic as far as the voting public is concerned) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was visited by the good fairy in his cradle while ex PM Tony Abbott was imbued with a Dickensian gloom by the bad one, who apparently took a set against him and threw in more than a dash of dark pugility as well.

Turnbull is a happy man who will likely smother us into an uneasy, baffled silence with his unrelenting affability and charm. Abbott is one of the more miserable public figures I can recall, who seems to feel it’s his duty to hector, lecture and create division amongst us, till we are choked by a miasma of exhausted despair.

However, Turnbull’s intelligence, good nature and charm works well for him internationally: sophisticated, urbane, accomplished, personable and wealthy, people take to him (if they don’t have to put up with him all the time, as do we) and likely open to him in ways it is impossible to open to Abbott, who never quite seems to get past the influences of the seminary, and his belief that he’s been chosen to bring us Truth.

If there is one thing we don’t need as we gird ourselves to deal with terrorist attacks at home and abroad, it’s a leader who believes he is the bearer of existential truths, and who sees the world in black and white with no inclination at all to investigate the grey zone.

Abbott has all the characteristics of the religious zealot, and since the Paris attacks has found various platforms from which to peddle his hatred of other religious zealots because their zealotry threatens his. This will get us nowhere, or rather, it will see us in a whole lot of serious domestic turmoil as tribe turns against tribe, ignorant prejudices fuelled by Abbott and his nemesis Pauline Hanson, whom he landed in jail because she threatened his claim to the title of Australia’s Leading Incitor of Fear.

Turnbull, on the other hand, will appear as a voice of reason, though he lost it somewhat when he first heard about the Paris attacks, stating that though the killers claimed to have acted in the name of God, they were actually perpetrating the work of the devil. Such rhetoric is entirely unnecessary. There’s nothing in the least supernatural about terrorism: it’s perpetrated by humans upon humans. The ability to terrorise is one of our more undesirable characteristics.

The PM’s relentless charm and good will is likely just what we need at this time to keep us steady: he is unlikely to threaten anyone with a damn good shirt fronting, and while he’ll be criticised mercilessly as a pussy by those who would see us engage in world war three, at least he won’t be whipping up ill will and fear. For this relief, much thanks.

I am of the opinion that it is the intention of Daesh to turn us against one another, and have those of us they don’t slaughter permanently weakened by fear, mistrust and hatred. Abbott’s trajectory, and that of those who support him, will lead us to precisely the same place: severely weakened by fear, mistrust and hatred, bitterly divided against one another. Daesh could not find more suitable allies than Abbott, Hanson, the usual shock jocks, religious fundamentalists and those who in some way, material and egotistical, profit from war.

Turnbull’s biggest challenge will be to control those within his own party who thrive on fear and repression. They are supported by many media voices, and their platforms are assured.

There is little that can be done to control Daesh at the moment. The only certainty is that for communities to turn against one another will be to give Daesh what they desire. I am not in the least enamoured of Turnbull or his style, but I can’t help thinking he is a marginally better leader in these times, in terms of the terrorist threat, than his ousted predecessor.

As far as domestic issues are concerned, the image below says everything. Polish it up all you want, it’s still what it is.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

abbott-v-turnbull