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This government isn’t fit for purpose

Looking back on my writing for 2020 and what has motivated it the most common ingredient has been a sense of frustration that I’m not having the impact I once did. By that I mean my readership has dropped a little. I want more people to know the truth. Perhaps I have become too repetitive and people are bored by it. Or as my son suggests, l’m a bit too lengthy.

That’s not my fault of course, it’s the government’s. They have been so consistently horrific in yet another year of awfulness that one feels compelled to regularly convey it to the AIMN readers.

Governance is an amalgam of many things; of leadership, of managerial expertise, of economics and culture, and another element is crisis management. In fact, politics controls everything we do. Or at least government regulates what we can and cannot do. We aren’t truly free.

It is astonishing just how much control government has over us. Think about it. From how fast we can drive a car to how well we are cared for when ill or old. There are thousands of rules. How well it exercises these regulators indicates how well it is governing.

In a moment of meditation last week I began to think about how the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments have fared when their governance is put through the wringer of political performance. How well have they served us. Well, the answer is empathetically, poorly!

When you think deeply about the government’s performance during its time in office, it has been deplorable. Most of its ministers wouldn’t get a job in a major private company, or heads of departments in our public service based on current performance. How would you rate them on telling the truth, transparency and openness for example?

If we are to reverse this mediocracy, we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should be transparent and tell the truth.

What I’m trying to reason in my own mind is why a government without any of the aforementioned skills, with so many policies that are anathema to the common good of the country keeps getting elected by the people no matter how narrow the margin.

I’m not trying to put together some sort of study here. On the contrary, all my comments are just random thoughts that might fit into any of the aforementioned categories.

It is my contention that lying, misinformation, lying by omission, subliminally implied suggestions, straightforward propaganda, deliberate scare campaigning and corruption is nakedly practiced by this government.

Any form of untruthful communication has become the norm with Coalition politicians and the media conversing with the public through lies. So normal and long applied has this form of conversation become that we are now unquestioning of it.

When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed. It is not only lying by omission… it is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.

Why else would the people of Australia keep on electing a government that fails so often? Just look at their record.

Robodebt and lost lives. Sports Rorts, Aged Care, lost lives. Climate change and lost lives. Energy prices. Handling of fires and lost lives. Angus Taylor’s scandals, the behaviour of Coalition MPs and how they conduct themselves with women. Great Barrier Reef Foundation, land deals, corruption, money for Murdoch, contracts without tender, refusal of FOI applications, Barnaby Joyce’s water deals, and the failure of the NBN.

These aren’t just small errors of judgement; these are large scale mistakes, bad management or straight out corruption that have cost billions of dollars and hundreds of lives and the Coalition government is responsible. Yet they remain popular. How is it so?

It is fair to say they performed well with the coronavirus but always with an eye on the economy ahead of people’s health.

The electorate, however, seems unmoved. Why is it so?

Sooner or later we need to wake up to just how badly our politicians are governing our country. It has been going on for almost nine years. It is a disgrace and has to be stopped. The government must be challenged over its incompetence.

Is it that Australians believe, like some Americans believe, that everything that comes from the leader’s mouth is the honest to goodness truth when the facts dictate, they speak lies.

Have the same group caught the anti-socialist virus? Do they dislike the leaders Labor promotes? There is some truth in that but then the conservative leaders don’t stack up so well either. Is it a choice suggesting that it’s better to stick with the devil you know than the one you don’t?

At the last election not even the government thought it could win. but win they did. Labor couldn’t be accused of not putting forward progressive (perhaps too many) ideas and sound policies. They had an ambitious set of reforms. What they lacked was a popular leader and positive salesmanship but instead all the big-ticket items were complicated and difficult to sell.

They will, one day, have to be fixed or they will sink the economy: Franking credits, negative gearing, top-bracket tax, climate change.

We have a government supported by Australia’s biggest and most biased media outlet. So much so that more than 500,000 people have signed Kevin Rudd’s record-breaking petition to get a Royal Commission into the bias and power of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in Australia. With the help of Turnbull’s recent outburst on QandA at least a Senate inquiry has been secured. They might even talk about that $40 million Murdoch asked for… and got.

The Coalition has had a long-term problem with women. Last week the ABC Four Corners programme revealed some very bad behaviour by Ministers Alan Tudge and Christian Porter. Another example of these damaging affairs has been the behaviour of hillbilly Barnaby Joyce.

All have one thing in common. They all like to lecture us on how we should behave. Barnaby was doing it again on QandA last Monday night.

On that subject let’s look at the incident where the Prime Minister interrupted the Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston.

She was asked if the political culture for women had improved. Before she could say “Hiawatha” the Prime Minister jumped in to answer the question.

And it happened in the middle of the accusations of sexual misconduct by Porter and Tudge.

From a cultural point of view the Senate’s decision not to allow the Aboriginal flag to be flown alongside the Australian flag had the “know your place” sarcasm about it. So literally male, white and middle-aged. It tells our First Nation People all they need to know. A voice for our First Nations People seems further away.

Anyhow, let’s move on. A short time ago I wrote these words: “The worse they govern the more popular they become.” The recent post-budget Newspoll confirms it to be so.

Not joking. This is absolutely true. Nothing seems to put a dent in the government’s popularity or that of Morrison’s. Years of deplorable governance has made no difference.

Here is another example: Porter is also charged with putting together an Integrity Commission that will do them no harm, such is the list of scandals they are involved in. Really, you wouldn’t trust him to shuffle a pack of cards. Porter’s plan will help cover up corruption, not expose it,” wrote Geoffrey Watson in The SMH.

Another of course is the handling of our aged care sector and the failure of Morrison to respond to the many reports. The deaths of many can be directly blamed on this inaction together with the suicides from Robodebt. Possibly the worst example of maladministration in Australian political history.

The government has agreed to a $1.2 billion pay-out to nearly half a million Australians affected by the controversial Robodebt scheme. A record for class actions and a disgrace of governance.

The election of Joe Biden with a major pro-climate policy will place a lot of pressure on Morrison to improve his government’s climate policy and abandon the use of controversial Kyoto ‘carryover credits’ or risk damage to Australia’s reputation worldwide. He seems to laugh it off.

I think without doubt l have proven my point. We cannot allow this government and this Prime Minister to take us any further into this world of self-indulgence where nothing matters but the state of the economy. I will therefore continue to reveal the failings of this most incompetent mob of thoughtless managers.

Repetition be buggered.

My thought for the day

Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability.

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15 comments

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  1. Consume Less

    Well said John Lord. The ‘ The worse they govern the more popular they get ‘ scenario is perplexing to say the least. So what is it with the Australian voter, fear of change and doesn’t see through the hypocrisy and lies ?!?

  2. Jacqueline Ann Rogers

    Completely agree and I agree whole-heartedly with almost all your articles. PLease dont cut them down.

    What I find so difficult to understand is that with all the legal angles in today’s world why cant we stop the outright corruption seen. Of course Morrison isnt going to do anything to lose his majority hold on Government and also his control over GG and Police but surely some sort of citizen’s complaint can be made;it is tx-payers money and time being wasted. Cormann’s jet is simply pushing our faces in the mud – saying, look what I can approve!

  3. wam

    What a great read in the middle, lord. ‘The worse they become’ is obvious to watchers of parliament and the ABC but if you believe they lie about scummo and represent the left who have been disastrous for aust then the lnp lies are closer to the truth on every other media outlet as well as on parts of the ABC. Little billy and Albo are waiters serving their time till a leader who does something arrives and stimulates support strong enough to overcome the fear of ‘left? Hands up who thinks biden is left wing????
    Why mention ‘truth’? Although you do give your truth and your son’s truth opinions. Which do you believe is the truth?
    The two terrible examples of scummo’s poor leadership is, as you say his treatment of rushton which, in view of his parallel with tudge and porter, highlighted his adherence to his xristian belief that women must defer to men. Just like the white supremists in America, europe who believe that whites are better than blacks, god’s churches support the bible boys belief that men rule. Here we have a diminishing prejudice against non-Aboriginal blacks. Hopefully it will brush of into Aborigines.
    Fear is the key and scummo’s mob has control of fear so he drags it out at times of stress and the society salutes??

  4. Jo.

    Re:

    government regulates what we can and cannot do. We aren’t truly free

    Dear oh dear. If only the government got out of the way and let us choose what side of the road we drove on. Surely government should aid maximum individual choice? And let us choose whether we stopped at red lights today (or not). Then there’s the speed limit. Note the use of the limit word. A sure sign that one’s freedom is less than it might be. Not to mention the need to be licensed to bear arms. Why – I can’t even possess a machine gun let alone practice open carry in my local mall.

    Worse, the (terrible) government makes it compulsory to send poor innocent children to school Compulsory attendance is an impingement on the rights of children to be ignorant and remain forever so. Then there’s immunization. Voting. One won’t go on.

    Perhaps if we made some attempt to define the concept of freedom? Does it include notions of freedom from? What about freedom to? Does government provide freedoms that enable us? Does government limit the freedom of some to enhance the common good? Has government a conflict of interest when it comes to … whatever?

  5. Josephus

    Please don’t despair Mr Lord. People surely read and note your measured analyses, being aware that representative democracy cannot deliver wisdom and fairness as long as the media and major political parties enjoy barely checked power . If however that power were used pro bono publico we would endure benevolent dictatorship, favoured for example by Voltaire and others of his generation who hoped that Frederick II of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia might prove to be ‘enlightened’ rulers. Not so. Then the thinker Saint Simon in the earlyish 19th c, who argued for government by scientists and other educated people who might supplant cronyism and rule by clowns. That idea isn’t without its flaws either…intelligence and wisdom are not interchangeable. Later still, many the ‘experts’ expounded nonsensical and harmful racial/racist theories.

    An ageing bikey told me that Vegemite is owned by an unnamed, wicked Moslem outfit; climate change and Corvid are conspiracies. When asked for evidence he did not understand what evidence is, as opposed to opinion.

    What to do? ‘Il faut cultiver notre jardin’, ( we must dig our garden) wrote Voltaire in his despairing morality tale ‘Candide’.

    Stupidity will kill us all. Yet, continue to write, Mr Lord. Howling into the wind perhaps, but do it.

    I am off now to do some repotting. Goodbye.

  6. Yes Minister

    We live in hope. I am thankful that at least a precious few are awake.

  7. Regional Elder

    John,
    It is reassuring to read your critiques given the general relaxed and comfortable stance among the wider Australian population towards our recent national governments.
    I too am astounded at the Prime Marketing mogul Morrison’s popularity, or should be say the ‘acceptance’ of him by so many Australians, when the government he leads, had made so many major stuff ups.

    However, perhaps the wheel is turning.
    I note the acerbic article by conservative academic and commentator Peter Van Onselen on the appalling robo-debt scheme and its consequences on thousands of vulnerable Australians, in which he notes that Morrison was in up to his eyeballs from its genesis, when he was Social Services Minister, then as Treasurer, and now too, having clawed his way to the top job in 2018.

    Robodebt was a Morrison fiasco at every stage (Peter Van Onselen, The Australian, 21.11.20)

  8. Diane Larsen

    I think apathy and a lack of education regarding our political system followed by so much bs opinion pieces by loudmouth Conservative toadies play a part in time poor constituents grasp of what is really happening in this country much to the detriment of good government by second rate politicians who don’t give a toss about the well being of the people supposedly under their care. Keep writing Mr Lord many of us cherish your voice

  9. wam

    My son hit me with a right cross, lord,
    Hands up who thinks Albo is left wing. Jo he has become so cynical that he thinks we should shut up shop and let the lnp and its supporters go for it
    Regional elder
    It is indeed a surprise that onselling who, from 2010-17, was an editor of sorts for rupert’s australian during the paper’s worst ravages of gillard and labor.

    Wouldn’t it be great if albo took a leaf from the rabbott?
    If Labor could get the media moving on scummo himself from NZ days and throw in the stories of his current crooks, I am sure they could embarrass the shit out of cash the harridan and cash to reef foundation, friendly land owners, porky sports club and the dodging of responsibility for robodebts, the lies of indue. Plus the myriad of little turds that you, lord, and many here have seen dropping from these arsehole lnp pollies
    Come on labor listen to the coach don’t think DO!!!!!

    keep fit lord the place is better for you.

  10. New England Cocky

    As we told Tony Windsor (INDEPENDENT) three (3) days before the 2000 Federal election in New England, ”The Australian voters are just waiting for the opportunity to vote them off the Treasury benches and into political irrelevance”.

    JL, maintain the rage because modern life has shortened the memory span of too many Australian voters.

  11. ajogrady

    Conservatives have engineered a society so debt ridden that the masses are exhausted from the stress and only have time to read headlines or listen to news grabs. They sre basically just trying to survive. The irony is the reason that they are in survival mode is because of their own unquestioning belief that governments do the right thing. They dont have the time or the energy to drill down to find faccts. A large part of the Australian voting public are so conditioned that they are like lambs to be slaughtered.

  12. Pete Petrass

    Rather than you readers becoming bored with your level of verbosity I tend to think perhaps they are just becoming sick of being slapped in the face every day. Day after day after day we read about the absolute corruption and incompetence from this government and it is getting more and more frustrating with the knowledge that there seems to be nothing anyone can do to stop them short of voting them out, which in itself is just wrong. No government should be able to protect itself from scrutiny and consequences. Like this mob and their “I reject the premise of your question”, or outright refusal to answer questions, or turning their backs on the opposition, or cancelling parliament, or “I call for this member to no longer be heard”, or cancelling/refusing to allow any debate on bills, or just outright lies and rejection of actual facts.
    We have had over 7 years of this crap now and perhaps some are just at the point where they have switched off.
    And I think we all know that even if we get a proper ICAC when Labor are back in government (which they have committed to) they probably won’t retrospectively go after the current government (which they absolutely should given the unprecedented levels of corruption) because they will be caught up in it too.

  13. Busbort

    I too find the columns repetitive, and I dip in, dip out, but does that make them not worth writing or reading? No, for sound reasons. Your discourse brings front & centre the paucity of talent, the abundance of liars, the cunning of grifters this government are & will forever be because they are wedded to one, worn out version of the past. They will pass & will be seen to be the parasites they are, the columns are vital to educate the future & the ideals they hold, alas, we all are aware of the esteem in which educators are held.

  14. Andrew J. Smith

    Change in the quality of our politics will only happen with better informed and more responsible voters concerned about society and not themselves; we get the politicians we deserve and Australians are happy to become nativist conservatives in the image of our mostly pale and male MPs with the governing LNP being ‘owned’.

    Our media laws and consolidated media presence have become a global disgrace made possible by LNP acquiescence in accepting free political and ideological advertising by NewsCorp, 9Fairfax, 7 etc. for power, in turn implementing radical right libertarian policies and complemented by increasing isolationism and/or unilateralism (within the Anglospehere). Especially important is ethical racism through highlighting indigenous who wish to be recognised, then post white Australia obsessions about (undefined) immigration, refugees and population growth; not being racist but all apparently requiring authoritarian action like, restrictions to save ‘Australians’.

    The latter is important when we see Brexit, Trump and Hanson/LNP (Labor are not innocent either) through media constantly dog whistling anything dissonant or different as John Howard dragged Australia back to the imagery and mores of WASP/Irish Catholic culture of the 1950s; matching our ageing demographics especially in regions still attached to legacy media, who have become the focus of the LNP and NewsCorp (via Sky on WIN), even being neglected by the NP does not seem to worry many regional voters either…..

    The same reason why the ‘great replacement’ theory promoted by white nationalists on the fringe and mainstream media, is prescient. White nationalists and/or GOP, LNP and lesser extent the UK Tories, know that now leveraging the ageing ‘white’ segment of voters dominating the above median age everywhere, they will be replaced by more diverse demographics; for now the latter are deemed to be a threat (to the status quo) by socio-political elites.

    Like elsewhere in the world, populations are ageing (now more old people vs. young people), especially voting citizens, who become more conservative with age and short term horizons have become compounded with a form of libertarianism or one upmanship where too many ‘quiet Australians’ avert their gaze from corruption, cronyism, missing moral compasses, racism, lack of political leadership, an uncompetitive retro Anglosphere trading block, climate science, global warming and fossil fuels becoming embedded; who cares about society and coming generations?

    Personally I blame the sentiments of Australians being manipulated into supporting negative policies, dog whistling etc. (negatives motivate voters, positives don’t; Lynton Crosby) and generational apsects of leadership. Australia was moving well into the ’90s thanks to economic and social reform of the ’80s, outward looking along with the Asian century but then all parties became nativist conservative through their leaders (especially post Tampa then Afghanistan and Iraq), Howard, Beazley, Brown and Hanson; all peas in the same pod.

  15. Stephen Tardrew

    Love your work John always read it if possible years of tireless effort. I think a certain amount of disillusionment and frustration sets in when people know they are stuck for four years with a bunch of malevolent antisocial greed mongers.

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