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The Morrison Government: Scandal-ridden to the core

1 The forthcoming election is up for grabs. On the one hand the conservative parties are convinced that they can win based on what they believe to be the excellent job they have done with the pandemic. That is despite the states doing most of the work.

On the other hand, Labor has its policies and a bottomless basket full of conservative corruption and other activities to choose for an attack on the government’s legitimacy. If I were going into an election, I would much rather be in Labor leader Albanese’s shoes than the Prime Minister’s.

Let me remind you of a few of those activities.

Sports rorts, Robodebt, Federal ICAC, aged care deaths, land sales and now a follow up to sports rorts in bushfire rorts. Add to that list their opposition to an increase to Newstart, political donations and rental assistance and failing to follow up on the Uluru Statement.

They have been a do-nothing government of little accountability and endless corruption.

And might I add big business’s failure to return the JobKeeper money; the taxpayer’s money the government gave to companies to save jobs. And there was the Treasurer on Insiders last Sunday joyfully defending their right to pocket the taxpayer’s funds.

Belatedly the Prime Minister says it’s the politics of envy when you ask companies to give back job keeper money, which begs the question of Robodebt. What was it when the government pursued its false debt? Anyway, the Auditor General will investigate JobKeeper after it (was illegally used) to pay dividends and bonuses.

In a comment on my previous post for The AIMN the astute Kaye Lee noted that:

“He can ignore the debt and deficit and all other policy because…. pandemic.

But I don’t think he will be able to ignore, or deal with, climate change and energy policy. With the election of Biden, world scrutiny and demand for action is ramping up. They can’t con the international community with “meet and beat in a canter” crap. There is every chance that the EU and other countries who are making significant cuts to emissions will impose “carbon border adjustment charges”. Scotty is in trouble here.”

And how true that is.

Of course, every government has its share of scandals. Nothing new in that but this Coalition government has critically changed how we are governed. Acts of corruption, malfeasance, wrongdoing and impropriety are now weekly occurrences, not just unlucky slip-ups.

They are now so commonplace as to be an embarrassment. And worse is that most are ongoing open wounds in our democracy.

2 By the way, its Happy Birthday to Medicare. 37 on 1 February. Not perfect but nonetheless it has served us well. If the conditions were right, the conservatives would be rid of it in a flash.

3 I was reading the Michael West weekly email newsletter yesterday. One of his authors (Lyndsay Connors) points out that:

“Since Scott Morrison became prime minister in 2018, the Coalition has poured an extra $4.6 billion over a decade into Catholic and independent schools.

“Productivity Commission figures released this week show government funding for non-government schools continues to grow faster than for public schools. Judging by statements the new federal Education Minister Alan Tudge made to Parliament, inequality will deepen.”

4 The new QandA timeslot will hopefully bring a broader audience to the panel discussion show. Last night’s panel – apart from Alexander Downer who appears to be remote from ordinary people – was excellent.

5 Now we have Bushfire Rorts. How long is it going to last? Have you ever applied for a grant? It is almost as if they don’t want you to get it.

6 One would have to think that Craig Kelly has something on the Prime Minister. If not, how does he get away with all the crap he serves up.

The Hughes group against Kelly hopes to field an independent in the seat to challenge him in the next election.

7 The government is serving up a very meagre policy agenda for 2021, as reported in The Guardian:

“The Morrison government has nominated waste policy, climate adaptation and reform of national conservation laws as its environmental priorities for 2021, prompting criticism that it is not focused enough on improving the plight of the country’s declining wildlife and threatened species.”

Note: Not a mention of the 38 recommendations made by the former competition watchdog head, Graeme Samuel, in a review of the EPBC Act released last week.

8 Albanese has his party no more than a point behind the Coalition, according to this week’s Newspoll 50/50 poll, at level pegging. The Guardian’s latest Essential Poll has Labor ahead 47 to 44, with the rest undecided.

9 The abuse of Albanese of the last few weeks has led me to this: Having supported Labor for all of my 80 years l am now of the view that my party isn’t much interested in winning government.

10 Total political donations for 2020:

“… are $168m, way down on the $434m in the previous year 2018/19. The Liberal Party edged out Labor as the top recipient. Total donations for Liberal Party are $57m, Labor $55m, Nationals $12.4m, Clive Palmer $10.2m, Greens $7.2m and One Nation $5.8m.”

My thought for the day

I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have a hate on their lips, and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile.

PS: Might I remind my friends that it is they who we are fighting, not ourselves?

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22 comments

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  1. Baby Jewels

    I’m heartbroken that the Labor party has made so little of the major corruption going on in the Liberal Party. They have the best ammunition to win the election, have had for the past three, and tossed it aside. And when they do, they do it as a kind of stab at them, rather that treat it as the deeply serious war on democracy that it is. FFS Labor!

  2. MCurnow

    Great article John and sums up where we are at. I think Albo does see himself as the next PM despite the last result, I think he will be. It’s taken a long time to come to this belief but that’s where I am now. These are very different days and we all know too much. Can’t wait for the election to be called when they get into full swing on this corrupt government.

  3. wam

    That a good read this morning, lord and a clever thought
    For most of my life I have been slapped down for my bleeding heart views in support of labor. The slappers were invariable devout bible xstians, believers in a merciful all powerful god who ‘helps those who help themselves’. They were balkan sobranie, pinot noir and portfolio gamblers who believed Aborigines deserved no handouts because they were gamblers, winfield red, drank yellow label port making them untrustworthy. These conservative men and women could easily rationalise that ‘white collar’ crime has an element of shame that mitigated sentences. They also were comfortable in having ancestors who stole food and were transported but gaoling the current poor for stealing food no mitigation deserved. Their children now rule in canberra firmly wrapped in the belief that they know what is right for them is right for Australia.
    Albo’s upbringing has put him into labor but his xristianity holds him down and his other cheek is turned so much it is spinning. I heard him at the church with his colleagues, I read burke’s clever 5\5 and I get the leigh report amongst others and there are frustrations at the level of rorting by the government.
    However, I shudder at the list of ‘shallow cabinet’ a long list paying themselves hundreds of thousands for ‘que'(a la manuel from barcelona) and realise I am trying do a hummingbird but albo et al, rather than take a risk, are prepared to wait in the forest till the LNP make a mistake the media cannot ignore, close enough to the election for voters to remember. So, lord, whom we are fighting is a moot point. Me it is labor’s reticence to shirtfront the individuals who have the ball but are ^@^@^ hopeless. Unless they do something we will not see a labor government and be left with memories of gough, bob, keating and gillard

  4. Kaye Lee

    The Liberals don’t even pretend to campaign on policy. In the official review of their last campaign, they stated that:

    The strongest single message of the 2019 campaign across all voters was Bill Shorten was “the Bill Australia can’t afford.”

    Their most successful video, viewed over 1.1 million times, was just clips of Bill Shorten looking awkward, goofy and strange

    They don’t try to win a contest of ideas. They just resort to nasty schoolboy derision.

  5. New England Cocky

    BUYING AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

    ”Total political donations for 2020:

    “… are $168m, way down on the $434m in the previous year 2018/19. The Liberal Party edged out Labor as the top recipient. Total donations for Liberal Party are $57m, Labor $55m, Nationals $12.4m, Clive Palmer $10.2m, Greens $7.2m and One Nation $5.8m.”

    Instead we need a federal ICAC, political donations publicly recorded 24/7 within 24 hours of donation and showing the name, all corporate associations and limited to $1,000 per natural person per rolling year with a complete ban on any corporate ”donations” AKA Bribes.

  6. Kaye Lee

    And let’s not forget Angus Taylor – using a forged document to attack Clover Moore, advocating for grasslands his brother killed to be taken off the endangered list, organising to pay kazillions for non-existent floodwater to a company in the Caymans with which he was associated etc etc.

  7. Ray Tinkler

    If Labor fail at this election to win it and bring some vestige of honour and honesty back into Australian politics, I’ll just say rather blasphemously, it will take more than God to save the Australia we once thought we had.

  8. Neil Hogan

    Last year was a hard gig for any opposition leader anywhere in the world to break through on politics, but this year will more than likely be an election year in Australia & with the vaccine roll out about to begin giving people some peace of mind about Covid-19, now is the time for the leader of the opposition & the party in general to start firing all the ammunition they have been saving for an election campaign, so I don’t think I wouldn’t write Albo or the party off just yet!!

  9. Florence Howarth

    I wonder how much truth is a great general knows how to pick their battles. I think from now on we will see the battle begin, in plenty of time for the next election. Great to win battles but it is the war we want to win.

    Warning, there is a trend for some, especially our elder brethren to feel sorry for Scotty boy. They say he is doing his best, we shouldn’t pick on him. Sad but true.

  10. David Stakes

    The not wanting to win could be true, wanting to walk into Government on a LNP major stuff up, wont happen. Rupert will cover that up very effectively. Labor are spooked at putting forward any major reforms because of the Murdoch press who just run the LNP dirt campaign. LNP just have to grumble see that its all true its in the papers.

  11. Phil Pryor

    We have a brainlessly contrived consumer excess society controlled by bent and profiteering corporations, a bench of conservatives without morals, ethics, brains, experience, decency. all led by an excruciatingly dishonest, lying, lazy Hawaii harlot of a dud, supported by a huge turd from USA crapland, Merde-Dog the mindless fuhrer of fantasy and fraud, so what could possibly go wrucking fong? This government, the worst and most corrupt since 1901, includes out and out unwiped arseholes in Joyce, Taylor, Mc Waggawanker, the Manila Masturbator, Canavan the fascist coalite, Kelly the loudmouthed moronic idiot, , with support from a redhaired old whoring scrubber, Alan Jucking-Fones, media unterfuhrers Stokes and Costello, S Robber the incompetent dud, oh…what a cast! There is better material on the grass of our dog park.

  12. Terence Mills

    The washup of the 2019 election in the Reps. was :

    Liberals ……….44
    LNP……………..23
    Nationals……..10
    Labor…………..68
    Others………… 6

    Total …………151

    A majority in the House of Representatives is 76 seats, so with 77 seats the Coalition Government have a majority of one vote once it has appointed a Speaker.

    In my view there is a strong probability that the Nationals will drop votes – nobody knows what the stand for and their leadership is wobbly.

    There could well be several additional Independents or in Queensland after the lies told about Labor’s death taxes, there could be a chance for Katter to pick up an additional couple of seats in Nth Queensland.

    So far Labor haven’t really offered anything that grips the electorate and they will have to be very careful about complex notions of tax e.g. franking credits – people don’t understand these.

    Apart from gaining some seats, the best hope for Labor seems to be the Nationals falling apart – question is, if Joyce and Canavan can snatch the leadership will this help or hinder the Nats. ?

  13. guest

    There are many things about this current Coalition government which could be examined very closely if only a more public airing of the issues could made. At present the virus and China seem to dominate discussion or debate.

    Morrison’s revelations about his new zero carbon emissions offer by 2050 is causing some discussion, surprisingly among the Nationals who are airing their unease. There are threats of crossing the floor and refusing to sign up – unless there is some guarantee that agriculture, mining and manufacturing – thinking mainly about rural activities in these matters – will not be harmed.

    It is surprising that this new policy has come about at all. Morrison has only recently received a gong from Trump for his good works, and now there comes this sudden revelation which seems to have caught the Nationals part of the Coalition by surprise. Morrison has been listening to Joe Biden and the idea of more climate action. One would have thought there might have some discussion between the two sides – and there might have been but the Liberals steamrolled the Nationals.

    What the Nationals are on about is not very clear, but seems to involve the idea that the Nationals will pay the costs of carbon reductions over and above costs to city cousins. They are right to complain because Morrison has not explained things very well and Angus Taylor is not much help in these matters.

    And the term “technologies” does not help either. What does it mean exactly? Even the steel people are asking how we can make steel without coal? Even Anthony Albanese was asking the same question.

    Hydrogen is mentioned at some point. Does Morrison realise that steel can be made with hydrogen used in the process rather than coal?

    And if he does understand this is he telling the coal industry? And has he set a date or has he just left it all to market forces? All very vague. It could all come as shock to the unwary.

    As Paul Kelly says today in the The Weekend Australian: “The 2050 net-zero goal is the norm with banks and lenders, most superannuation funds, the major business lobbies including the Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, most big companies, the ACTU, most NGOs, all state governments and the National Farmers Federation, and is the focus of a new Biden-driven global diplomacy.”

    Why has it taken Morrison so long? Is he just being a copy-cat?

  14. Michael Taylor

    I certainly think Labor wants to win. I just don’t think they know how to go about it.

    I saw bad signs in my final years as a public servant, when Julia was PM and the idiotic Abbott was leader of the opposition.

    Abbott was being relentless in demanding the govt deliver a surplus, and the cry was also taken up by the Murdoch media (of course).

    From that moment Julia and Swanny focused on one thing, and one thing only: the surplus. Services were cut, as well as staff – lots of staff (mainly from Centrelink) – and we just couldn’t deliver.

  15. Henry Rodrigues

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again and again, and I pray that someone at Labor HQ is listening and reading. Labor cannot win by being ‘nice’ guys. The media will distort everything and every policy they put out. The crinkled old bastard and Stokes and arsewipe Costello will do everything, no matter how unethical to undermine Labor’s message. The alternative is differentiation from the coalition, and attacking them everywhere, in parliament, in the streets, at every public forum. There is much dirt and corruption that clings to these crooks, so how hard can it be to talk about that constantly, loudly, continuously ? Make it the central conversation, everywhere and all the time. Then voters will at least have a choice, more of the same or trust a Labor government to clean up the place.

    Take off the gloves, Labor, and get stuck into the bastards.

  16. Kaye Lee

    Henry,

    Promising a federal ICAC with real power would be a good start.

  17. wam

    You may have missed the mandate, kaye. Scummo, thought he would not win so he campaigned on his record and that was more of the same and anything else we can think off. consume less spot on turnbull gifted his wife’s gang of 4, $110m each. If they left it sitting in a term account for the last 2.5 years they have made a cool $5m minimum each which could easily be in a tax haven. There is no following up for such a paltry sum, or indeed for anything this government does and obviously no hurry, by the company, to allocate any funds to the reef

  18. Kronomex

    Kaye Lee,

    There will NEVER be anything that even vaguely resembles an ICAC as long as the LNP is in power. They are scared faecesless (no such word, but who cares) of their dirty dealings and corruption. Labor, I think, would implement it but even they would be leery. The Greens and a few of the independents might be able swing Labor to the idea if they felt so inclined. As it stands we can only dream.

  19. king1394

    “The Liberal Party edged out Labor as the top recipient. Total donations for Liberal Party are $57m, Labor $55m, Nationals $12.4m, Clive Palmer $10.2m, Greens $7.2m and One Nation $5.8m.” It depends how you read these figures. To me it was:
    $55 million for Labor plus $7 million for the Greens, totaling $62 million for left leaning parties.
    $57 million for Liberals, plus $12 million for Nationals, plus $10 million for Palmer, plus $6 million for One Nation which totals
    $85 million for right leaning parties
    The disparity is therefore $85 million to $62 million which is much more revealing

  20. B Sullivan

    Australia’s electoral system does not deliver a fair democratic representation of voters in parliament.

    Government is determined by the over represented regional and Queensland seats. The evidence for this is recorded in the AEC’s published federal election results but is never questioned or discussed by the media.

    10% of Australia voters are lucky if they have their political will represented by even one MP in federal parliament, while 5% of Australian voters who live in like-minded concentrated regional electorates can expect their political will to be represented by ten times as many MPs. More Australians voted for the Greens than those who voted for the Liberal Nationals but the the Lib/Nats won 23 seats in the last election while the Greens only won one. Why is this lack of fair democratic representation not a dominating issue in political discussion?

    The two major parties lack sufficient support to win a majority of seats to form government in their own right. They have to rely on coalitions and compulsory preferential voting which forces a great many voters to be represented by MPs who are more likely to oppose than support their political will. A voluntary preferential voting system could be achieved just by adding a box on the ballot paper that says “No other preference”.

    As it is, Australia is incapable of pursuing policies that are opposed by a detrimentally self interested minority known as the Nationals and the Liberal National Party of Queensland, because Australia’s electoral system just happens to be biased in their favour. That’s why there has been no government action to adequately address the environmental degradation caused by the industries that regional seats insist upon supporting. Nor a Federal ICAC to investigate pork barreling of public funds to support unsustainable industries in these seats.

    It is also why so many Labor MPs drag their feet when it comes to pursuing policies like Climate Change action. Although the majority of Australians may support it, the minority that opposes it determine who will form government. Government in Australia is won by pandering to a small minority with a hugely disproportionate electoral clout.

    If Australia was a true democracy there would be at least 15 Greens MPs, only 7 or 8 National MPs, 12 or 13 Liberal National MPs and still with Labor MPs outnumbering Liberal MPs by a considerable margin in the current federal parliament. Think about how that would have affected government policy.

    Maybe instead of slagging off nations like China for not having democratic elections Australia should concentrate on establishing fair proportional democratic representation in Canberra. What is the point of democracy if the votes of some people are permitted to count more than the votes of others?

  21. totaram

    Michael Taylor: Thanks for confirming (from the inside) what others could see from the outside: That Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard focussed only on delivering a surplus towards the end of Labor’s last term.

    Why did they do this? I cannot look into Wayne Swan’s mind, but I can make a good guess: because he actually BELIEVED there was a debt and deficit problem. He believed this because he had not understood the basics of the macroeconomy even after successfully steering us through the GFC with a fiscal stimulus. As I have repeatedly mentioned, he does not even accept the sectoral balance identity, which is pure accounting.

    Now that the “debt” is three times as much, anyone can see there was no problem. Not only that, now that the RBA is buying up that “debt” by “printing” money in hundreds of billions anyone should be able to see how illusory this “debt” is. Here is Alan Kohler (not silly me) from the New Daily:

    “It means a large part of what Australian governments have been spending to offset the pandemic is being supplied by the RBA money-creation computers, even while they all pay lip service to fiscal and monetary conservatism and bow at the altar of Milton Friedman.

    That $260 billion, or whatever it ends up being, is very unlikely to be paid back. Why pay yourself back?

    In fact, the RBA should buy all of the $800 billion Government debt, rising to $1 trillion this year, and cancel it. Just write it off.

    Nothing would happen. That’s because, as Dr Lowe said on Tuesday: “The economy is expected to operate with considerable spare capacity for some time to come.”

    No mention of MMT, but that is it, in a nutshell.

    Labor does not need to announce a switch to MMT understanding. That would be open to scaremongering by the MSM.
    As long as they do understand it, they can craft their election pitch more sensibly. They don’t need to specify how they will “pay for” their policies with schemes like the franking credits refund, which were open to misunderstanding and scare campaigns. Simply say they will borrow as required, and justify it by saying that is what this government has been doing since 2013. With such low interest rates, that would be no problem. With the RBA buying up the debt, even less of a problem!

    However, with (neoliberal/mainstream) economists like John Quiggin(“who will pay for it?”), Andrew Leigh, and Richard Holden(“loony MMT”) to advise them, I don’t see much hope.

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