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The Rule Book

By Kyran O’Dwyer

If you are to believe the pollsters, politicians are not trusted. Various ‘ratings’ put the level of trust in the ‘profession’ at somewhere between 12 and 20%. Having never met anyone who trusted a politician, comment escapes me. It is of interest the occupation of ‘pollster’ is also distrusted. Yet we seem obsessed with their frequent offerings, and quote them as if they can be trusted. Trust in the media is also subject to wide variation, more often dependent on the outlet, rather than the offerings of their scribes. That ‘the outrageous’ is circulated more widely than ‘the considered’ is, at the very least, cause for concern.

Over decades, professions such as doctors, scientists, teachers, firefighters, police, paramedics, have consistently been considered trustworthy, by more than 70% of us. Over the same decades, their opinions and knowledge have been ignored and/or derided. Their credibility is no match for the incessant howls of the politicians, whom we don’t trust, ever amplified by partisan scribes, in increasingly irrelevant forum. Go figure!

An even greater irony is that the politicians, whom we don’t trust, set the terms and conditions of the ‘rules’ we are meant to abide by, whilst ignoring the rules themselves. They live in a rarefied space. Beyond question, beyond reproach, beyond accountability.

We have now had over four years of non-government. Without fear or favour, our IPA ‘government’ has continued its backward trajectory to ‘the good ol’ days’ of the fifties.

My bad. ‘Without fear or favour’ should read ‘Using fear to disguise favour’. Otherwise, all good.

The list of transgressions perpetrated against the Australian people by this non-government is long. To add insult to this obvious injury, we have our political masters, and their business masters, telling us that these transgressions are not only necessary, but are in our best interests.

Like salt to a very open wound, the only reassurance offered is the platitude “Trust us”.

We do, after all, get to pick the best of the least worst every few years.

If you wish to ponder our current IPA ‘government’s’ achievements, it won’t take long.

Pick a minister, any minister at all, and tell me they are competent (in the ministerial sense).

One. Just one.

I ask only because I can’t think of one. The list of ministers who openly profess their ignorance of their own portfolios simply beggars belief.

Even worse, we have ministers who openly profess their disdain, their contempt, for their own portfolios. Whether it be education, health, the economy, Indigenous affairs, the NBN, NDIS, the environment, foreign affairs, defence, welfare, whatever. Never before has ‘ministerial responsibility’ been confined to nothing more than stating that they cannot do their job. Any expectation that they do their job is an unreasonable and/or unrealistic impost. Apparently.

As to policy, how can such a thing exist in this paralysing vacuum?

Ideology, devoid of reason or substance, will never amount to policy. Notwithstanding that caveat, pick a ‘policy’, any ‘policy’ at all, and tell me they have a plan. Even their co-masters, big business, are screaming for something. Anything.

No ministers. No policies. No judgement. No idea.

None of the foregoing would come as a surprise to anyone living in this vacuum. Whether you are ‘politically aware’ or not, there is no escaping the facts. Jobs are few, and the conditions of employment have gone backwards. Growth is all but non-existent, other than the bank accounts of the privileged. Debt is very real and very personal to most Australians, but of no concern to our ‘government’. Access to health and education is increasingly reliant on the content of your wallet, rather than the extent of your need.

The list of this ‘government’s’ wanton incompetence is well documented.

We have had bad governments before. Whether this is, or isn’t, the worst of all time is irrelevant. What this government underscores is the absence of accountability or any right of redress. How can we, the people, remedy a situation that is detrimental to us, when there are no safeguards, other than the next election?

What this ‘government’ has writ large is that it has no regard for ‘due process’. It has achieved next to nothing through parliament, yet has increased the ‘executive powers’ of, arguably, the most miserable bunch of miscreants yet to occupy the lavish, hallowed halls of parliament, with all of its attendant privilege.

The very existence of this ‘government’ is sufficient evidence that we need change. Not just changing the status quo, but ensuring that we, the people, are never again held hostage by our ‘masters’.

This Peter Dutton thing is an example of what is so horribly (horrifically?) wrong at the moment. A minister so ignorant of his own portfolio, that his frequent lies about those in his care do not warrant repeating, even if only to discredit them. Putting aside discussion of his intellect, character, integrity, compassion, is not an easy task. They are, after all, attributes you would normally like to see in a member of parliament. But, putting them aside for a minute, consider his history.

To recall that he was voted ‘the worst ever’ minister of health may seem unkind. To recall that his competition for such ignominy included Tony Abbott, may seem harsh. That the title wasn’t wrested from him by Sussan Ley, who was fired, is nothing more than an un-subtle underscore of the enormity of his incompetence.

That he has no understanding of, let alone respect for, ‘due process’ is well documented. The Melbourne Border Farce exercise in August, 2015, was an eerie forecast of what to expect. An exercise in overreach, cancelled before it started. The ABF commissioner, Roman Quaedvlieg, survived that debacle, only to fall when his ‘judgement’ was called into question. That Quaedvlieg was the arbiter of judgement on so many others is, at the very least, galling.

The ABF has gone on to score numerous own goals. Accounting anomalies, in the billions of dollars. Blatant disregard for international law and treaties. Corruption, resulting in incarceration of its dishonest employees, including Fabio Pezzullo. A four year dispute with its honest employees over pay and conditions. These are but a few of their transgressions.

All under Dutton’s lifeless gaze.

Now add Michael Pezzullo to this toxic mess/mix. The architect of the ‘super department’ has been peddling this for a while.

That this ‘super department’ has been contemplated, and discarded, by various governments since 2001 is a matter of fact.

That the stars aligned for Pezzullo under the lifeless gaze of Dutton is cause for concern. Great concern. That much of this ‘super department’ will be created without parliamentary oversight is terrifying. As for judicial oversight, or legal recourse, Dutton doesn’t do that. He prefers to settle claims out of court, to avoid scrutiny. There are over 20 cases so far settled in this manner, the most spectacular being a $70 mill ‘STFU’ settlement, with a $20 mill ‘Please’ for the lawyers.

Nearly 40% of his arbitrary decisions are overturned in the AAT.

His response? Remove appeal provisions from his decisions. A minister of questionable attribute has gone from ignoring due process, to enshrining his right to ignore due process.

Gillian Triggs, back in 2015, delivered a speech, warning of the dangers of removing oversight from the actions of Dutton and his ilk. It is a strong argument for a far greater application of the doctrine of the Separation of Powers.

The speech has been honed and refined, most recently redelivered in the Michael Kirby Oration.

Justin Gleeson has similar reservations and offers similar arguments for greater, not lesser, scrutiny of Dutton and his ilk.

In the period between those speeches, from 2015 to now, Peter Dutton has exemplified all that is wrong. Not just with this ‘government’, but with a system that is so fundamentally and fatally flawed, that its only celebration is Peter Dutton.

Why would you trust Dutton and Pezzullo to oversee a department with such incredible power, devoid of scrutiny or oversight?

Well, you see, it’s not so much about what we, the people, need. Let alone want. Our ‘leader’ is a great believer in insurance. Not so much like the FAI debacle, where it was more a case of ensuring his bank account got bigger. More like ensuring his political future. Clearly, donating a couple of million to his employers was never going to be enough.

Dutton? Really?

This is the argument for increasing ministerial power and removing oversight?

It’s apparently not popular to argue for more regulation, more scrutiny, more oversight. It’s certainly not popular to argue for those with knowledge to formulate such regulation, such scrutiny, such oversight.

An argument that Ms Triggs and Mr Gleeson have prosecuted well. Certainly, beyond any reasonable doubt.

There are only two words necessary to reinforce their clarion call: Peter Dutton.

We need a new Rule Book.



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  1. pierre wilkinson

    To be honest, you are not being fair to this government. They do have a policy, several in fact. Blame Labor. See, they are all good at that. Blow your own trumpet. Another one. Claim to have good policies. Tell all who will listen that they are achieving their goals. Be confident that they are a good team with strong leadership. Follow the IPA agenda. Blame Labor. Ignore all criticism. Create many Inquiries into proving what they want to believe by stacking the committees with their own people. Did I mention Blame Labor?
    See, be fair. They are doing an excellent job and they will tell us so.

  2. pierre wilkinson

    For more understanding of Herr Dutton, the resurrected corpse of Australian politics, see the history of Nazi Germany in its’ fledgling state.

  3. kerri

    When I read that Australia is soon to have our own space centre my first thought was Well Dutton will like that! It gives him another option for refugees.

  4. Kaye Lee

    According to Buzzfeed, Dutton’s great great grandfather was Queensland lands minister in the latter 1800s. Whilst we are not responsible for the sins of our ancestors, the newspaper articles about him make for inevitable comparison – they described him as a “squatter of the squatters” and “an out and out Tory in the guise of a Liberal — a wolf in the guise of a lamb…”….

    The Queensland Figaro in 1884: “Charles Boydell Dutton is a man of sublime parts. If he isn’t an idiot himself, he must fancy that the average elector is a born fool, or he would not attempt to gull him with such transparent rot as that with which he dosed the people at the Ipswich Show banquet.”

    The Queensland Figaro in 1887 : “Dutton couldn’t get his back up about the Press, if the Press hadn’t first made that back smart with the lash of its telling criticism. He knew he had “no case” so he “abused the other side”. He is a fool for his pains. He has made his Press opponents laugh at his helpless rage, and he has made those pressmen who excused and shielded him turn angry at his base ingratitude.”

    Unfortunately, Murdoch now has the total monopoly on Queensland press so Peter will never be held to the same account as his ancestor. Queenslanders are sadly misinformed nowadays (not all I hasten to add).

  5. Roswell

    Good work, Kyran.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I enjoy reading articles submitted by The AIMN’s readers.

  6. Christian Marx

    The thugs at the IPA should have criminal charges filed against.
    them. The damage they have done to Australia is off the scale.
    The IPA are Fascist terrorists.

  7. diannaart

    Dutton; nature plus nurture?

  8. Robert Bell

    If you want to know how it all works read “Game of Mates” by Paul Frijters and Cameron Murray. It about the way politicians, senior bureaucrats and rich Australians make money by ‘helping’ their ‘mates’.

  9. helvityni

    Change has to come from Australian people; these Duttons and Hansons don’t get there on their steam: they are voted in. Hanson is getting stronger in Queensland, and I would not be surprised if the other Queenslander, ex-cop Dutton, will end up as our next PM…

  10. diannaart

    Aaaaah, Queensland, corrupt one day, fascist the next…

    Who to vote for in the “sunshine” state?

  11. nurses1968

    According to some in Labor the new redistribution in Dickson will give Dutton about a further 1%. Add that to a strong PHON vote and it seems the future LNP PM will get back

  12. Ricado29

    I think it’s a bit early to be forecasting Dutton’s success. He will be subjected to a campaign which, I am happy to say, I am helping to fund, in a small way. As for the PHON mob, you would have to wonder about the intellects of those who vote for them, given the extraordinary incompetence they have demonstrated.

  13. jamesss

    The flames of the Pit is awaiting their delivery.

  14. corvus boreus

    The inevitability of Duttons succession is one of those factoids the Murdoch press likes to trumpet in an effort to implement it, but in reality (by the polls, at least) he is not a particularly well-liked figure, even amongst coalition voters.
    Although Duttons repeatedly demonstrated incompetence and vindictive dishonesty will not necessarily seriously harm his chances, I think the fact that he is not only completely lacking in personal charisma, but is actually viscerally repulsive on so many levels, will probably help scuttle his leadership ambitions..

  15. nurses1968

    I hope Dutton gets rolled but he held on last time when Getup and the Unions threw massive resources against him.
    On reading some articles it seems the voters of Dickson dug in against the outsiders onslaught.It was reported “GetUp raises nearly $200,000 in crowdfunding to campaign against Peter Dutton”
    Getup in 2016 ““In total, our people had 40,218 phone conversations – not just calls, but conversations – with voters in marginal seats, lasting anywhere from five to 30 minutes. Total calling time was the 17,471 volunteer hours. That’s almost two years of donated time from our members.”
    That was in marginal seats I must point out not just Duttons.
    This time around he has the added benefit of a redistribution and One Nation preferences to count on and currently they ate polling at 18.1% in QLD.
    corvus boreus
    ” I think the fact that he is not only completely lacking in personal charisma, but is actually viscerally repulsive on so many levels,”
    I don’t think there has been much change in constable Plods personality since he was elected in 2001. I think it is in his dna as Kaye Lee pointed out earlier

  16. Kyran

    Whilst Dutton is, in my opinion, a grotesque symptom of the political malaise, he is no more than that, a symptom. The disease itself is our system which allows incompetents such as him not only to remain in office, but to increasingly remove their actions from scrutiny.
    Back in July, Tony Fitzgerald penned a piece;
    “Most Australians want practical checks on the abuse of power, especially the powers of the executive and legislative branches which determine the nation’s laws and control its purse strings.
    There is broad public support for an anti-corruption body, an independent parliamentary ethics and privileges commissioner with investigative powers and a multi-party parliamentary committee with power to impose penalties for breach.
    However, up until now the dominant parties have been united in their opposition to effective supervision of political behaviour and their parliamentary dominance enables them to prevent reform and, even if an anti-corruption commission is established, to limit its effectiveness. That has already happened in the states.”

    Last Friday, ‘Fact Check’ did a piece on Australia possibly being in breach of its obligations under the UN declaration against corruption.
    “Mr Watson, the former counsel assisting the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, said: “Australia is a signatory to a United Nations declaration against corruption … We’re a signatory to a convention. By failing to put in place an appropriately funded, appropriately skilled agency, we’re in breach of that agreement as we speak.””

    Ironically, the Australian government doesn’t even have a working definition of corruption! Whilst the multitude of agencies that have jurisdictions, often competing or overlapping, ‘debatably’ get us over the line, it can’t help but be noticed that none of the agencies have any success in prosecuting a case.
    The amounts we are currently spending on defence, through suspect tendering processes, open ended expenditure clauses and absolutely no ministerial accountability is every bit as indecent as the amounts being cut from budgets such as health and education, equally devoid of ministerial accountability. So much of this is being achieved through ministerial direction.
    Whilst getting rid of Dutton and his ilk would be of some temporary relief, the disease will only be addressed if these people are subject to a new rule book, with adequate oversight and effective enforcement.
    Thank you for the opportunity AIMN and commenters. Take care

  17. corvus boreus

    Thank you very much for the article and subsequent contribution.
    Regarding the current ad-hoc, multi-agency approach to political corruption, I think there was a particularly telling passage in the ABC Fact check summary.

    “However, corruption involving Commonwealth parliamentarians can only be addressed through political mechanisms, such as elections or (in rare cases) a royal commission.
    Alleged criminal conduct, though, would still be investigated by law enforcement agencies.”

    So, against incidence of common corruption, “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain” (transparency International definition), the various agencies are all pretty much myopic, as well as gagged, tied and toothless.
    Actual criminality of conduct can be addressed, most specifically by the FAC (Fraud and Anti-Corruption ‘business area’) within the AFP (with whom, thankfully, our current PM is not sleeping).
    The senate select committee examining the theoretical validity of the possibility of maybe one day establishing a Federal Integrity Commission (or similar) is apparently due to release it’s findings this month.
    I strongly suspect that the committee’s overall recommendations will be continuance of the current convenient arrangements, which, judging by the evident lack of prosecution of any offenses, would appear to be working exceptionally well.


    the IPA are a criminal and terrorist organisation that seeks to undermine the sovereignty of the australian people in order to steal their common and collective assets.

  19. Kyran

    It’s interesting, corvus boreus, that we seem to hope for change to come from those who are entrenched in a system that is inherently corrupt, a system that guarantees their privilege and ensures their power. Regardless of their capacity.
    Tony Fitzgerald suggests that, as long as our politicians ‘allegiance’ is to their party over their constituents, change will never be effected.
    It seems to me that change is desperately needed. How it can be achieved when the current crop of politicians are fixated on their own existence, aided and abetted by a symbiotic media, escapes me.
    Unfortunately, we can’t even discuss the process for change until the ‘will’ for change is established. That ‘will’ won’t come from those who are beneficiaries of a system that is broken.
    There is always discussion about the apathy of the Australian people and how it is the stumbling block for any real change. I remain more optimistic. To quote Howard Zinn;
    “What is called “apathy” is, I believe, a feeling of helplessness on the part of the ordinary citizen, a feeling of impotence in the face of enormous power. It’s not that people are apathetic; they do care about what is going on, but don’t know what to do about it, so they do nothing, and appear to be indifferent.”
    We get lucky every so often. Someone comes along who can harness the aspirations of ‘ordinary’ people, who unite ‘ordinary’ people. Not by exaggerating what makes them different, but by defining what makes them the same.
    There don’t appear to be any such people on the political stage at the moment, but the likes of Triggs, Gleeson, McManus, Fitzgerald, Kearney, seem to be doing their bit at the moment to keep that fire burning.
    Thanks, again. Take care

  20. nurses1968

    I find it difficult pigeonhole those out in the electorate and define what is ‘lucky”

    We get lucky every so often. Someone comes along who can harness the aspirations of ‘ordinary’ people, who unite ‘ordinary’ people. Not by exaggerating what makes them different, but by defining what makes them the same.”
    On the Aussie political landscape the only one who could lay claim to “unite ‘ordinary’ people.” would be Pauline Hanson and her straggly lot
    No other group has been able to capture up to 20+% of the population, currently 18.1% in Queensland with such mass support from ‘ordinary’ people.”
    Now I hardly think that “lucky” or “harnessing aspirations”

  21. diannaart

    Rule by fear is not just in Queensland or Australia, it is global – arguably the most successful instrument of control used by government, business, media and even ridiculously powerful individuals.

    Our ‘democratic’ system now supports a supply of “Duttons” – OK Dutton as PM does conjure images of jackboots and spiffy uniforms, but there’s more where he came from.

    The two major parties are hopelessly entangled in this web of instant communication, dissemination of lies and distorted statics to properly govern FOR the people.

    Short of outright revolution resulting in loss of life and resources, we must learn not to fear and embrace what opportunities we do have. We can vote small parties and individuals – all it takes is determination and the patience that change of government ideology does not happen overnight.

    Or we can continue repeating the same exercise every 3 or 4 years and expect something to change for the better. Do I need quote Einstein on how well that works?

    In a profoundly depressing catalogue of human rights abuses around the world, a new and disturbing element is the erosion of freedoms in democratic countries, following widespread introduction of anti-terrorism legislation. Governments throughout western Europe have also exploited public concerns about uncontrolled migration to justify tough measures against asylum-seekers and refugees, claims the report.

    On the eve of the report’s launch, Amnesty’s UK director, Kate Allen, told the New Statesman: “The 21st century has proved a disaster for human rights, with fear increasingly used as a weapon of oppression or control. This is evident not only in regimes such as Russia and China but in democracies such as the US, Australia and Britain.”

  22. Kyran

    Isn’t that the point, nurses1968? Hanson’s mob have no policies, only the Abbott dogma of ‘No, No, No’. They masquerade as proponents of change, yet offer nothing more than a return to the past, not only clothed in ignorance, but bathing in fear and insecurity.
    Speculating on a motive for the voting intention of 20% of the population is one of those conversations that can go on forever. In the absence of any policy, are they voting for her, and her ilk, or using their vote to say ‘a pox on both your houses?
    If you look at the seat of Dickson, the 2016 result was interesting. Dutton went in with a 6.7% lead (after preferences), and came out with a 1.6% lead, the swing correlating with the increase to Labor.
    The demise of the PUP first preference vote of 9.8% appears to correlate with the swing to Greens and Independents.
    If the redistribution goes ahead on a basis favourable to Dutton, his margin is, theoretically, increased from 1.6 to 2.9%.

    Ricado29’s observation about Getup and the role it played is also interesting. Whether it will it be a greater or lesser swing than 5.1% at the next election is anybody’s guess. In any event, you would imagine that those likely to be influenced by a Getup campaign would be more inclined to swing towards a progressive party or candidate, rather than a conservative replacement.
    Constituents in Dickson do protest outside Dutton’s office, and he does appear to be ‘on the nose’ in his own seat. Whether Hanson’s influence will dissipate after the Queensland election remains to be seen. A 10% vote, whilst large, can be considered as a ‘protest’ vote (in the context of PUP). In the event it goes to 20%, at some point it would be reasonable to assume the voters will ask what she stands for (the past?), rather than against (the future?).
    Like Dutton, I see her as no more than a grotesque example of the symptom. Until there is sufficient interest in the disease, we’re on a road to nowhere.
    In any event, it will be interesting. I remain optimistic, as long as there are forum’s such as this. To paraphrase diannaart, a ruler rules, reliant only on the fears, insecurities and ignorance of their ‘subjects’. A leader leads, by dispelling fear, insecurity and ignorance amongst their equals.
    Forums such as this present a blank canvass, where someone can be encouraged to dream things that never were, and ask ‘Why Not?’ Mr Carli recently invoked the spirit of John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
    And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. For all of the trials and tribulations presented by this seemingly unending parade of self-absorbed nincompoops, those dreams have never been more important.
    How do we make them reality? Start talking more about the disease, not the symptom, IMO.
    Thanks, again. Take care

  23. helvityni

    You are onto something, Kyran, there has to be more dreaming, more imagining, and as you say the Duttons and Muttons are more a sign of a disease…maybe you and Carli are trying to tell us there’s a rainbow out there when you come out of this tunnel, at the moment I certainly don’t see much light.. at all…not even an end to the tunnel…..

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