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Trust Federal Parliament? Sure can

While Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten close ranks in assuring us that the dealings of federal politicians are all above board and squeaky clean, the reality is glaringly different and their refusal to realise that reform is needed taints them both with the suspicion that they rather like the current situation of factional groups being installed by industry lobbyists to control our treasury.

In 1992 the former secretary to the Office of Governor-General, Sir David Smith, wrote: There is much that is wrong with the way this nation is governed and administered: never before have we had so many Royal Commissions and other inquiries; never before have we had so many office-holders and other figures in, or facing the prospect of prison; never before have the electors registered their dissatisfaction with the political process by returning so many independent and minor party candidates to Parliament.

This quote from 22 years ago could have been written today.

In the Mackay Report of July 2001, social researcher Hugh Mackay stated: Australia’s contempt for federal politics and its leaders has plumbed new depths. If it (the Mackay Report) was a family newspaper, we would scarcely be able to print the things Australian’s are saying about their politicians … In the 22 year history of the Mackay Report political attitudes have never been quite as negative as this.

Thirteen years on and, if anything, the situation is worse.

On 16 June 2013 in The Australian newspaper Tony Fitzgerald QC (who chaired the 1987 Queensland Royal Commission) wrote an article The Body Politic is Rotten. He stated: “There are about 800 politicians in Australia’s parliaments. According to their assessments of each other, that quite small group includes role models for lying, cheating, deceiving, “rorting”, bullying, rumour-mongering, back-stabbing, slander, “leaking”, “dog-whistling”, nepotism and corruption.”

He states in effect, that the dominance of the major parties by little known and unimpressive faction leaders who have effective control of Australia’s democracy and destiny… might be tolerable if the major parties acted with integrity but they do not. Their constant battles for power are venal, vicious and vulgar.

The 2010-13 Federal Parliament saw the major parties virtually eliminate any real form of democratic debate substituting little but character assassination of opponents. It was a three-year election campaign of personal abuse and fear mongering. It was debased even further with aggressive bullying by the media and special interests at unprecedented levels.

The same period saw both state and federal governments pandering to special interests allowing massive increases in the promotion of gambling and alcohol. Pandering to the development and mining industries and the seemingly endless privatisation of public assets often creating private monopolies, continued irrespective of public opinion.

Over the last 30 years politicians’ staff has increased dramatically. At federal level there are now some 17 hundred personal staff to ministers and members. The states probably account for over two thousand more. Add to this the direct political infiltration of federal-state public services and quangos with hundreds more jobs for the boys and girls, there is now a well-established political class.

This has provided the political parties with a career path for members. In many cases it often produces skilled, partisan, “whatever it takes” warriors with a richly rewarded life through local state and federal governments to a well-funded retirement. Unfortunately while this career path, as Tony Fitzgerald states, does include principled well-motivated people … it also attracts professional politicians with little or no general life experience and unscrupulous opportunists, unburdened by ethics, who obsessively pursue power, money or both.

The taxpayer cost of federal elections has increased from $38 million in 1984 to $161 million in 2010. Of the latter $53 million was public funding to parties and candidates. Currently, in spite of massive increases, public funding is less than 20 per cent of about $350 million total election spending. We are now effectively the second best democracy money can buy.

In an article in the Saturday Paper, Rob Oakeshott writes:

“Australia needs a royal commission into political donations.

It is not people in different clothing, of different cultures, with different languages, or of different religions that anyone need fear. If you look back on our political history, we have been divided by silly suspicions before. The “fear and smear” of others has been tried on South Sea Islanders, Chinese, Aboriginal Australians, and now women of Islam. History shows the current debate is not new. It merely picks away at that same old xenophobic scab our culture carries.

No, the greatest threat to Australia’s future is not among its people. The people, when allowed to know each other, seem to get on fine.

The real threat is within government itself. It is the increasing corruption of our public decision-making by influence gained through record levels of private donations. The only colour Australia needs to fear is the colour of money in its democracy. Chequebook decision-making is the silent killer of necessary reform.”

After the revelations from the NSW ICAC, Mike Baird had an opportunity to lead reform. Instead, with his proposed new legislation, as has been pointed out by Anne Twomey, professor of law at the University of Sydney, in effect the government wants taxpayers to give political parties millions more to campaign at election time without curtailing their ability to raise money from private interests.

Rather than action that places the public interest first, we have a poorly thought-out proposal arguably designed more with politics and self-interest in mind than good policy.

Political parties as they have developed over the last century seem like two mafia families seeking control of the public purse for distribution to themselves, supporters, the special interests who fund them and for buying votes at the next election. Political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution. They are effectively unregulated private organisations but they now control government treasuries.

By centralising power as Tony Fitzgerald puts it: The public interest is subordinated to the pursuit of power, party objectives and personal ambitions, sometimes including the corrupt acquisition of financial benefit. Branch stacking has become endemic and as Fitzgerald says “The parties gift electorates to family connections, malleable party hacks and mediocre apparatchiks”.

The former Howard government minister Jackie Kelly, who has resigned from the party in protest, cited “the corrosive control that self-interested lobbyists have over the NSW Liberal Party and how yet again reform will stall after the next election” in a letter to the state director.

Kelly told Guardian Australia disenchantment with the factional control of the NSW state executive and the stalled reform process had caused many party members in western Sydney to “down tools”. In one Sydney north shore branch, 80 out of 200 members have not renewed their party membership in the past 12 months.

Critics such as Kelly and long time campaigner John Ruddick say the Icac revelations were a natural outcome of concentrating power in the hands of a few factional powerbrokers and lobbyists.

The two-party system stifles ideas, debate and decision-making within the parties. The faction system often ensures minority views triumph within both party rooms. In the case of the government, the minority view will then be taken into parliament and become an even greater minority law. Voting within parties is often based on what faction members belong to, who wants to become or stay a minister or who wants to be party leader. What the electors think is at best a secondary consideration. Party members almost always follow the party line and are often voting against what they really believe or what their electorates would want.

As things stand Australian democracy consists of voting in a rigged system every few years to elect others to make decisions for us. The voters mostly know little or nothing about most candidates after the “faceless men” and “branch stackers” have had their way. We are rarely permitted to have any say on policies. Cabinet ministers, premiers and prime ministers come and go without reference to us. We go to war and sign treaties without even our parliament having a say let alone the public. When the major parties agree, as they do when funding themselves, and their mutual friends, we have no say whatsoever. It is a pretty minimalist democracy and a long way from Abraham Lincoln’s Government of the people, BY the people, for the people.

As Ted Mack says, we seem to have achieved “Government of the people, by the powerbrokers, for the mates”.


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  1. mark delmege

    I kinda liked Borgen – the Danish TV series. It took me a while to realise the characters were very real – far too real actually. They were a small band of like-minded selfish and shallow manipulators and their party only existed to serve them.

  2. Kaye Lee

    “The lunch at the upmarket Sydney eatery Rockpool in early December 2010 was as expensive as it was exclusive. Little did the seven diners know that the link that had drawn them to lunch that day would fracture friendships and destroy careers.

    A $30,000 donation to the Liberal Party by a little-known water infrastructure company with only 10 staff and one contract had secured the presence at Rockpool of Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell, the odds-on favourite to win the next NSW election that was only months away.

    Also at the private lunch on December 3 were Liberal Party state treasurer Arthur Sinodinos, the Liberal’s chief fund-raiser Paul Nicolaou, controversial businessman Nick Di Girolamo, his friend rugby league legend Benny Elias, restaurateur Sal Navarra and businessman Tony Karam.

    Mr Navarra, Mr Karam and other AWH shareholders are now suing Mr Di Girolamo and Senator Sinodinos and other AWH directors in the Federal Court for misleading and deceptive conduct”

  3. stephentardrew

    Great article again Kaye you hit the nail right on the head. It is truly disturbing to see how poorly democracy has fared in capitalist, bought-off, corptocracy land. Rule by “stuff the people for the wealthy” is the new mantra. I am sure Lincoln would be appalled. The thing is lobbyists can completely avoid the media by playing an inside game. The perfect invisible hand of corruption through apparently legitimate channels with little or no transparency. Everything that is anathema to representative democracy. This is cross party and provides a legitimate avenue of attack by progressive upon both left and right.

    By allowing the factions to elect Shorten Labor once again spits in the face of ordinary members. The number of labor bloggers who say get over it and support the party just to get rid of Abbott is disturbing. My corruption is better than your corruption. The labor right is business friendly soft neo-conservatism which is anathema to progressive ideas of justice, equity and utility. Get it through you heads Labor capitalism is not democracy. Define your democratic obligations first, set out your social justice objectives, before embracing a model for the market economy. What has happened is that the market economy has been put first by left and right while democratic rights and ethical obligations are seen as compromises not social goods to be adhered to regardless.

    I am sick to death of Labor apologists. More of the same is absolutely no solution to the current madness of Abbott and Co or to attacking the malaise of the public. Progressives have to hit politicians at all levels to return to the real values of democracy and equal representation.

  4. Kaye Lee


    I fear personal ambition has replaced public service at all levels.

    They will not stand in the way of corporate greed because they may employ advertising that would threaten the chances of re-election. Rather than helping address the ills in our society, they want “small government” and “personal responsibility” and “market forces”.

    They say we shouldn’t compel food and drink manufacturers to tell us how bad their product is for us. We shouldn’t interfere with people’s gambling addictions. At the same time they tell us that we may not take action by campaigning for boycotts or divestment of shares from companies with poor environmental records. Financial advisers shouldn’t have to work in the best interests of their clients. Appeals against mining approvals on environmental grounds will not be allowed.

    Who the hell do these people think they are. They are selling our humanity, our integrity, our planet, and every asset we own, to further their own careers. I have lost respect for the process and the vast majority of self-serving asswipes who haven’t the courage to do what is right as long as they get everything for free and a secure future irrespective of performance or achievement.

  5. corvus boreus

    I think we should start shifting full focus onto all aspects of the integrity of the conduct of our supposed representatives.
    Apply absolute universality of standard, and start with the indisputable.
    For starters, are they sober in the chambers? They have the temptations of an open bar, and lurking courtiers looking to open gates to persuassion. Easily tested, and if not, why not?
    A doped and drunk dickhead driving dangerously defines the indefensible, and the same applies in the nations decision making processes.

  6. diannaart

    Indeed corvus boreus, we do not permit pilots to fly unless they are sober, same needs to apply to those who would steer our nation.

  7. Matters Not

    At one level, the ‘contest’ is between the (2) major parties and these days it’s ‘total war’. For most in the LNP, nothing is out of bounds. Nothing is too low. The ALP chooses to go down the same path but isn’t nearly as successful in the political sense.

    At a deeper and more significant level, the contest is ‘within’ the major parties, particularly when they are in power. Then the ‘treasure’, broadly defined, is there for the taking. And they do. Often with impunity.

  8. corvus boreus

    They require mandatory testing of those who dig the mines, drive the trains and fight the wars.
    They talk of it as a requirement in order to sit around playing x-box and eating cheezels.
    Why not also require clear-headedness of the ‘they’ who approve the works, pass the laws, sign the cheques and declare the wars(or humanitarian airstrikes).

  9. Galley Boy

    Absolutely first class article Kaye Lee, Realising our Australian political system functions as a most un-Australian paradigm is a bit like discovering the sun-bronzed Oz fable has a skin blemish that is actually a metastatic cancerous growth. This has taken quite a few years of ‘ right – left or us and them divisive education’ to become part of the political weft.It is only now, in the computer age, that it has become possible for a nation to look, recognise and discuss what is before our very eyes.

    stephentardrew is right, now what we need is a first class therapeutic solution. I

  10. Matters Not

    corvus boreus:

    are they sober in the chambers

    Possibly not. It depends on the time of day and what is on their agenda. But usually it matters not because for a backbencher, their one and only role after dark is to turn up when the bells ring and vote as the leaders of the party predetermined.

    Being drunk or sober is largely irrelevant.

  11. corvus boreus

    Yes, Matters Not,
    That is so, if you accept that that is all they do, and all they ever will or should do, and that this, too, matters not.
    Otherwise it is an unacceptable dereliction of their designated duties, and the exposure of them committing/defending such actions becomes added leverage to the campaign for a broader clean-up of their overall conduct, including independent investigation of corruption in politics with a view to possible prosecutions and wider reform.
    There is also the ethical principle of them actually earning their generous ‘entitlements’ through at least pretending to take their jobs seriously.
    Maybe being drunk is largely irrelevant, but not, I think, entirely.
    P.S I suspect ethanol is not the only demon in the house 😉

  12. Kaye Lee

    Ban all political parties. If they can ban bikie gangs then we can them who are committing far greater crimes that affect all humanity. Ban political donations. Ban political advertising. Ban political leaflets. Have the AEC produce a booklet of candidates for each electorate which gives a brief biography and policy statement on certain issues. All candidates should disclose financial interests that could suggest a conflict of interest.

    Candidates can be given free air time on the National Broadcaster at advertised times in the lead up to an election. A public meeting where questions are posed to all candidates at a local meeting place could take place.

    I’d even go further where there were essential criteria for the job and KPIs to assess performance and determine salary. They should not receive special superannuation or retirement packages but invest as all other Australians do.

    Citizen-initiated referenda should be allowed if a certain number of signatures can be obtained. That would help to keep the bastards honest.

    And the situation where MPs can be elected with a miniscule percentage of the vote should be changed. Somehow we need proportional representation. Preference harvesting has become an art form leading to the election of people to the Senate who patently should not be there.

    The single member electorate system does not represent the will of the people. For example, the 2012 election in Queensland produced the bizarre result that the state government won 88 per cent of seats with 49.7 per cent of the vote. The other 50.3 per cent of voters were rewarded with 12 per cent of the seats.

    This system also largely eliminates minorities unless their vote is concentrated in particular electorates. That is why such parties as the Australian Democrats and Greens get almost no lower house seats with often twice the vote of the National Party, while the latter generally receives around ten members and three or four ministers and Deputy Prime Minister.

  13. Matters Not

    stephentardrew, from your link:

    Tonight’s #Qanda showed that at least two MPs had not actually read or understood the national security legislation they supported.”

    … But this won’t happen because shows like Q&A elevate the art of banal conversations to an artform by expecting all guests to have opinions on issues over which they have no clue. That’s “democracy in action”.

    This ‘failure’ to read or understand the implications of legislation is widespread. I’ll go as far to say that you can only guarantee that the Minister and his/her Shadow will really understand the proposed legislation (the courts ultimately decide), because sometimes only they were briefed by Parliamentary Counsel. Yes there are times that proposed legislation goes through various committees but that’s usually to little or no effect.

    My local State member is on a Parliamentary Committee but when I correspond with her re proposed or legislated changes it soon becomes clear she is totally lost. She resorts to forwarding my queries to the relevant Minister who then passes them off to a staffer who gives me the official line.

    Lack of ‘expertise’ and the inability to acquire same is a real weakness in our democracy.

  14. Matters Not

    Kaye Lee at 12:04 pm

    While I share your sentiments, as you would realise there are difficulties with some of your ‘solutions’. Yes you could ban all political parties but with that ban would go a large measure of stability. I know it’s been said that Party ‘platforms’ are like railway ‘platforms. (They are there to get ‘in’ on not remain on.) But to informed watchers, the election of a particular political party provides an indication of the direction the government is likely to go. Yes, Abbott did say “no cuts to etc” but to ‘informed’ watchers, the direction he is going should come as no surprise.

    The absence of political parties has the potential to weaken the resolve of individual members. Currently, to some extent, a local member can resist local pressure by truthfully claiming that it’s ‘party policy’.

    Having said that all political parties should allow many more ‘conscience’ votes.

  15. Kaye Lee

    I take your point about political parties. I guess I am just having a dummy spit.

    Plan B

    Rather than the executive being formed by the party that won most seats, it should be representative of the total vote. If 30% vote Labor then Labor forms 30% of the executive. If the Greens get 12% of the vote then they form 12% of the executive.

    Rather than having one official head of state, we send whichever of the executive is most appropriate to represent us at a forum.

    It is interesting that even the government’s own website recognises this problem.

    “The relationship between the Executive and the Parliament is the buckle which joins a system of government. It determines the character of national politics, the role of key public institutions, and the balance between government and the broader political system. In Australia, the reluctance of our founders to make explicit the relationship between Ministers and the Parliament has allowed disciplined political parties to thrive and has facilitated Executive dominance. Power has become skewed in the Executive’s favour, replacing the Parliament as the primary forum for decision making with the party room. The folly at the heart of the founders’ blueprint for the Australian system of government was the presumption that ‘responsible government’ would exist despite warnings of impending party consolidation. Today’s system of party, rather than parliamentary, government is the result of gaps left in the Commonwealth Constitution.

    This paper explores the implications of this folly for the Commonwealth Constitution. The argument of the paper follows the conventional wisdom: that the Executive dominates and controls the Parliament as a consequence of a disciplined two-party system.”

  16. mark delmege

    Things are worse than you ever imagined.

    Think of it like this

    Obama as the shift manager at a mafia run casino. Turkey’s Erdogan the UK’s Cameron and the Saudi’s Prince Bandar as Pit Bosses and dealers and our Abbott and Shorten as wannabee karaoke hosts.

    Shift managers need a licence and come and go but always do as they are told. Same same with the pit bosses and dealers – they oversee and handle the larger transactions and payouts…

    I’ve been following Sibel Edmonds for a few years. She has opened my eyes to certain events and operations in and around Afghanistan, Turkey Western China and related conflicts in the lead up to 9/11. The whole interview is worth a listen or you could jump in at around 17 minutes or even at 20. Or just download the whole show and play back on your TV instead of whatever other crap you might normally watch. I willl guarantee you will learn something.

  17. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    I think you may be offering remedies and surgeries prior to a complete, comprehensive diagnosis.
    The patient should be be thoroughly examined(tongue out, light shone in eyes, knee hit with a hammer, blood taken, buzzed with rays then out with the rubber gloves), and the irrefutable prognosis tabled, before they will even accept treatment.
    I say there should be a full clinical examination, then excision of the worst infections, cancers and necroses, before commencement of any reconstructive surgery.
    In non pseudo-medical jargonese, the irrefutable benefits of weeding out corruption currently seems a hard enough sell, what realistic chance does fundamental political reform have?

  18. Kaye Lee

    I know I am “pissing in the wind” cb but it has always been my nature to, when offering criticism, to think about solutions. If I keep making suggestions then some smart person might work out a better way.

  19. DragonboneTor

    There are disenchanted politicians at all levels. Let’s give them a say. The simplest way I can think of is to make parliamentary voting ananymous. After all secret ballots originated in Australia (that US politicians even referred to it as the Australian style of voting), and it is legally required of all of us in many other circumstances. (Union ballots come to mind – is a political party a union, so should their ballots be secret and are they behaving illegally when ballots are not secret?).

  20. Kaye Lee

    Ballots for leader are secret. When Tony Abbott won the leadership by one vote, someone cast an informal vote by writing on their ballot paper “No”.

    I agree their should be more conscience votes. Crossing the floor is political suicide. Excellent people like Judi Moylan will never progress in the Coalition.

  21. Matters Not

    From your post @1:16 pm

    It’s perfectly true that:

    Today’s system of party, rather than parliamentary, government is the result of gaps left in the Commonwealth Constitution.

    In Australia we don’t have a real separation of powers which is both a strength and a weakness. Obama, for example, is hamstrung by Congress in so many areas which is a pronounced weakness, but he does have the power to appoint Secretaries (Ministers) which allows him to place ‘expertise’ in relevant positions – a strength. In Australia as Glyn Davis points out, the political power brokers get to be Ministers who not only control the ‘executive’ but also the ‘legislature’. In Queensland, we have seen that power used to excess (recently and historically) and even ‘control’ the judiciary through the appointments’ process. There are no checks and balances.

    In Australia, there is this little known provision:

    A minister is not required to be a Senator or Member of the House of Representatives at the time of their appointment, but their office is forfeited if they do not become a member of either house within three months of their appointment.

    Perhaps things would be better if there was a real separation of powers along the lines of US model but I think at the core of the political problem is that the real power lies outside the Parliament.

    The Parliament is merely the rubber stamp that legitimates outside interests.

  22. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    I thoroughly appreciate the principle of having secondary goals and wider ideals(otherwise we just snatch at what we see).
    I would just say that Tony and cronies have repeatedly mass-sold cling-wrapped turds as a pedigreed pups by the stint of simple repetition(they called it ‘unity on message’).
    KIS(for the benefit of)S.
    There are many arguments(some valid[?]) that can be made against major reform to the (legitimate) foundations of our current political systems, but it is a much harder task to argue for the protection of those who knowingly flout our current laws.
    P.s. For simple message, I like the idea of distributing buttons, badges and bumper stickers, white, with “ICAC” in red capitals, to accesorise our public contacts.
    A simple, silent, public message and a great conversation starter(how do you feel about liars and thieves holding power over you?).

  23. Kaye Lee






  24. corvus boreus

    Seen at a glance or distance, not too many letters, curiosity may be piqued.
    “I.C.A.C. wotz that mean?”
    “It means kick the crooks out of government.”
    “You mean the (insert party prejudices)?”
    “No, I mean any dodgy, lying, bribe taking piece of crap in parliament who breaks the extremely loose rules they set for themselves”.
    Universality of standards, indisputable(except for the utterly amoral).

  25. stephengb2014

    We are actually able to correct this mess ourselves we have at our disposal the greatest tool invented since the telephone.
    the internet and all our wonderful comunicationsgadgets give us the power to hold each of our own elected representatives to account via this mediu .

    We can use facebook and twitter, we can send letters to him or her asking them to account for specific actions. E.G. if your representative goes overseas at tax payer expence ask them to tell you what they did and how that benefited the electorate that the MP represents.

    We can highlight allegations of corrtion or percieved corruption as soon as it becomes mentioned in the independent or main stream media. Keep asking our elected representatives to “please explain”

    But it must be done by as many as we can, as soon as we hear of the thing, we must at all times temain polite and respectfull in our enquiries to our MPs

    by the way – great article Kaye Lee

  26. donwreford

    As the general public awaken to what is going on within politics, or politicians, their will be a steady awakening of people to what is going on, will become enlightened as to how corrupt politicians are, and their motives for self seeking power and money.

  27. Kaye Lee


    I agree passing on information is crucial but we also have other tools at our disposal. We provide both the demand and the labour that make people rich. We have the vote which decides who represents us. We can command media attention when we march in numbers. We can lobby our superannuation funds to divest shares in unsustainable industries.

    All it takes is for enough people to say enough is enough. The 1% CANNOT survive without our support. It is true that our governments are rubber stamps for the people with the money and the power at the moment, but they can’t do it if we insist on stopping them.

    A federal ICAC would be a damn good start on the road but it needs the people to insist. The Greens are calling for it. Liberal and Labor must be forced into it by us.

  28. mars08

    The greatest deMOCKracy money can buy!

  29. Roswell

    Yes, I agree. It is a great article.

  30. Kaye Lee

    I am merely linking together the words of others in the hope of passing on information and making people think. Sitting here in my jammies I am not privy to the inner workings of the aggressive takeover bid that has seen our humanity, integrity, environment, and assets sold out from under us. But I can question what I am told. I can research. I can read the words of others and judge their truth by looking further for verification. And I can put together different articles to build a case. The praise should go to those who are trying to tell us. If I can be a conduit to spread their words to a few more people then it is worthwhile.

  31. mark delmege

    The WA ICAC equiv the CCC has been neutered by Barney’s* Liberals – understandable given how many associates of the previous ALP govt were shot down – but I’m sure it did help set a standard which has again been forgotten.
    * thats Barney Rubble (to you eastern staters) aka Colin Barnett

  32. Kaye Lee

    And then we have Queensland….

    “The new CCC may well be fearless, relentless and effective when dealing with those who oppose the government of the day. It is how diligently it questions Government corruption ‒ the most serious of all forms of corruption, since the Government holds the State’s treasure and levers of power ‒ that make the changes so perilous.

    As Tony Fitzgerald QC AO, in his submission to the Committee considering the changes to the CMC, said:

    ‘If the Bill is enacted in its present form, partisan appointments will follow and Liberal National Party politicians will not have to worry about their conduct while opposition politicians will be at constant risk.’,6433

  33. corvus boreus

    mark delmege,
    CCC; Crime and Corruption Commission?
    P.s., Troy Buswell is the probably the best known recent WA state (ex)pollie in the Pacific states; you get famous when you sniff chairs and snatch at tackle(as well as drunken ram-raiding of suburbia in a government car). Barney is not such a household name on the eastern seaboard.
    I guess sometimes it pays to hide behind a gimp.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Tasmania also seems to have the same concern…

    “Tasmania still relies on a sub-standard ethics commission when it requires a fully-fledged anti-corruption commission.

    Any such body must gain the respect of Tasmanians. That can only occur if their procedures are transparent, the officials are independent of government and their sole function is to act ‘in the public interest’. Only then might we start to restore some honour to the island state – a state culturally crippled by entrenched bullying and systemic corruption.

    The current Tasmanian Integrity Commission is a toothless watchdog.

    Established just three years ago, Tasmanian Integrity Commission was criticised for lacking sufficient investigative and enforcement powers. In addition the Public Interest Disclosure legislation in Tasmania is still grossly inadequate in the face of numerous examples of systemic bullying in the public sector.”

  35. Kaye Lee

    And Victoria….

    Key former advisers to the state government have rejected proposed changes to its anti-corruption commission, arguing they do not go far enough and Victoria would be left with a defective integrity regime ill-equipped to fight corruption.

    “Even if the legislation is amended as proposed, it will still fall far short of the ICAC model,” Mr Charles says in reference to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. “The IBAC will continue to be inadequately armed to expose corruption and severely constrained in its efforts.”

    Mr Charles and Mr Smith were members of a small team of experts that advised the Baillieu government in 2011 on the establishment of the original IBAC.

    They later joined a chorus of lawyers and integrity commentators bitterly disappointed by the Baillieu government’s failure to honour its much-vaunted promise to crack down on corruption.

    Read more:

  36. corvus boreus

    All the limbs of the seven legged spider that is our antipodean nation state will continue to be dysfunctional whilst the federal cephalo-thorax/abdomen(head,heart and guts) continues to be riddled with cancers and infections of a corrupting nature.
    Fix the health of the body, the function of the extremities should improve.

  37. Kaye Lee

    The Northern Territory…

    Calls for anti-corruption body in Northern Territory

    Explosive emails obtained by the ABC claim that in 2012 the Northern Territory’s then chief minister, Terry Mills, secretly held “a directorial role” in Foundation 51.

    Foundation 51 Pty Ltd is currently under investigation by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) after allegations were made in May this year about its links to senior members of the CLP and its involvement in the Blain by-election – Mr Mills’ former seat.

    Senior figures in the party, including current Chief Minister Adam Giles, have repeatedly denied any knowledge of the activities of Foundation 51 and their links to the NT Government.

  38. stephentardrew

    Kaye sometimes looking in from the outside none of this makes sense from a rational and humanitarian perspective and that may be the crux of the problem. Trying to shift the goal post while the football field is fluctuating around you with all sides pulling strings to gain some traction and advantage for themselves, in a devious irrational game of thrones, is just plain confusing. The advantage is not for you me or others who are gifted with a social conscience but for those who see themselves as wielders of power and control without any inkling as to the true nature of power and influence. While there is no sound rational frame of reference, which is supposed to be the constitution, interpretations are motivated by political expedience so how can we form a coherent framework. Maybe we are asking the wrong questions by hoping to repair what is already broken beyond recovery. I hope this is not the case however it is a legitimate point of view. The reason why I say this is because all of the ideas by contributors seem to be no more than temporary band-aids leaving large gaps for graft and corruption. In short I am mightily confused and when I am confused something is out of whack. The problem is identifying what and prescribing a solution. At the moment all I can do is keep listening until some viable alternative is suggested that really does offer a long term solution. I am not trying to be difficult I am simply sensing that no one, at the moment, really knows how to deal with this rather than operate within the current political paradigm.

    The first dilemma is to define a logical set of consistent axioms and rules that represent the facts and not the historical precedent that we continually attempt to band-aid. I suspect we need a whole lot more critical thinkers however this mad ideological irrationality that is infecting politics completely undermines such a project. If we start from democracy and social justice using rational and logical axioms geared to social equity and distributive utility things may change but trying to repair a dysfunctional mindset from within is just plain hopeless or, at the least, juggling the goal posts. I agree with many of the suggestions yet at heart it is what is in peoples hearts and minds that matters and while they are uncaring and retributive nothing much will change. Science and causality will, of course, provide a much more solid foundation but don’t hold your breath. As an ages gone by idealist lefty I find love, compassion, kindness and tolerance were great motivators to goodness. When we talked about our work mates, male or female, there was real affection and camaraderie. Are we too afraid to discuss love of our fellow beings in a heartfelt appeal to our emotions or are we to be driven by fear and competitive advantage.

    Just Asking.

    If I had the solution we would be on the way to a healthy democracy but I don’t.

  39. Kaye Lee

    Aside from the endemic corruption, the whole system results in atrocities like Jacqui Lambie. I would like to know what employer in private enterprise would give her a “package” worth $300,000 a year, guaranteed for 6 years, to wreak havoc. I truly resent paying for people like her and Tim Wilson who gets even more than that to champion the rights of bigots….oops we dropped that campaign…what will Tim do now. I wonder how Greg Innes is feeling after being dumped after years of productive advocacy for the disabled for an aging arrogant Young Liberal from the IPA who has no qualifications, no experience, and who didn’t even have to apply for the job. He and George Brandis obviously had a fun night at the 70th anniversary bash of the IPA.

  40. corvus boreus

    I am a little surprised, given your propensity for nuanced, multi-layered perspicacity, and your expressed understanding of the differing scales of time, that you pine for The(instantaneous and ubiquitous) Solution(42?).
    If we demand and enforce fundamental decency under the rules already in place, then tighten the rules to increase the level of expectation, an incremental progression towards the defined goal of decent, representative and progressive democracy may follow, particularly if coupled with an increase in electoral engagement and expectation.
    Ensure the foundation is level and stable before erecting the pillars.

  41. stephentardrew

    Corvus I agree but sometimes just tossing around doubts and confusions helps to hone alternatives. Your repost is a fine example of a point of view that counters such confusion. To my mind the more alternatives the better. Lateral thinking demands questions and doubt and doubt rather than surety helps hone alternative possibilities. I do agree with you repost however. Thank You.

  42. corvus boreus

    My fundamental dissonance with your previous post was with the last lines of the first paragraph, ‘no one(atm) seems to know how to deal with this rather than operate within the current political paradigm’.
    We must ground ourselves within the existing paradigm in order to effectively engage and alter the dominant mind-set.
    I believe the majority of our scared and misinformed countryfolk would reactively resist the thought of major change to the political system they have known their entire lives.
    I also believe, however, that a large slice of our populace could be easily sold the concept of their elected representatives acting with sobriety, and even honesty, if demanded without party prejudice.
    I love and embrace divergence, and have a tendency towards distracted dreaming, but I must forgo this indulgence during critical moments demanding task focused attention.
    Thus, with water-torture application, I drip(and drip); substance testing, corruption enquiry, minor reforms before major reforms.
    Discipline of message with a universality of standards(to capture a low common denominator[subsequently raised by increments]).

  43. Kaye Lee

    I refuse to give up my verandah dreaming. I have solved the world’s problems there many times over a champagne or five.

  44. Dissenter

    Federal Icac is greatly needed and the statutory requirement for an ICAC with teeth in every state.
    In addition Lobbying the profession on behalf of big business should be outlawed as should big business donations.

    There is also a NEW NASTY which has occurred in NSW for one state and others I think too where in NSW BAIRD as appeared in a CROSS PROMOTIONAL AD advertising a Murdoch newspaper the Daily Telegraph.

    If political party election funding was capped and only accepted from individual voters with some subsidy from government it might work.
    THere is another problem : The concept that once elected individual MPS must TOW THE PARTY LINE.
    How many times have we heard DISUNITY IS DEATH?

    If MPs are elected on the basis of the high order capacity, skill and master and experience WHY MUST THEY BE GAGGED. It is essential that each MP works very hard indeed to master the detail of all issues and the detail of legislation. THEY MUST HAVE TO HAVE INFORMED and formed opinion. Unless they are FREE to express their INFORMED AND FORMED OWN OPINION even when it may not be the official party line they ARE NOT DOING THEIR JOB and REPRESENTING THE VOTERS who elected them.

  45. Matters Not

    Dissenter, I am hopeful that what your post is ‘useful’ but I really don’t know because I can’t (and won’t) read an ‘up and down’ post like that. A random mixture of ‘capitals and smalls’. Please.

    Do you understand how annoying such posts are for most readers?

  46. Andrew

    I wanted to read this article but couldn’t get past the uncritical favourable ill-considered quoting of Sir John Kerr’s Official Secretary, David Smith, the one and same bloke who read out the proclamation sacking Gough, complaining that some Australians had lost faith in the political system. Kerr, who Smith defended to his dying day, while occasionally boasting of his intimate involvement in the Dismissal, nearly broke our democratic arrangements permanently. Most countries would not have endured what they did. Those writing about current affairs ought read more history and spend less time Google-hunting for quotes/grabs that support their latest rant.

    I assume the article is an oblique demand for a federal ICAC, not necessarily a bad idea, depending on its implementation. The Greens party is pushing for it, perhaps bravely given their scandalous involvement in what is probably the most notable example of money politics and corruption in recent years, when they accepted a then-secret donation of $1.6 million from a multi-millionaire with property development interests whose proposals they later backed in public and within the then Tasmanian government. So outraged were some in the Greens about this scandal, that one of their Senators, Lee Rhiannon, ghost-wrote articles in Crikey condemning the party’s leadership for taking the loot. It remains the largest single donation to any Australian political party and could well be one of the first matters probed by a federal anti-corruption agency.

  47. Rob031

    I agree with Matters Not. The use of caps is not a good look and makes you look like people who are idiots on other comment threads. I suggest another way of expressing emphasis. Use *this is what I wish to emphasise* using asterisks (say) or enclose your emphasis in bold Html tags – as in [b]emphasise[/b] where you use Less-than and greater-then characters rather than ‘[‘ and ‘]’ as in this example as I cannot use such characters to make this point directly. Check out the link below: – just look at the very beginning of the article and forget the ‘p’ and ‘/p’ tags.

  48. corvus boreus

    Given your seeming outrage at the Greens’ alleged perfidy regarding a political donation(details please), it is strange that you give such less than half-arsed, qualified support(or incomplete dismissal) of the motion of a thorough federal corruption investigation(“not necessarily a bad idea”?). You acknowledge that corruption does occur, but you just don’t give a shit about it?
    Although disagreeing with much of your post, I did actually read it to it’s conclusion, rather than assuming your intent.
    I generally think it is a good idea to read a piece of writing before commenting on it.

  49. Dissenter

    Thanks to the TWO kind commentators who have advised me so wisely.
    I ask where is the content of your comment?
    As there is no content apart from your advice I can only presume that your comment is bullying and perhaps that might be one of the reasons why there are so few commentators on this ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT SITE.

  50. Kaye Lee


    At the risk of being criticised for googling….details of Green donation from 2011…

    “Many people were surprised to read in this weekend’s Fairfax papers that the Australian Greens accepted a $1.6 million personal donation for their federal election effort from Graeme Wood, founder of travel firm Wotif.

    Almost none Mr Wood’s $1.6 million was spent in NSW. The only part of this money that made it to this state was a relatively small nation-wide media buy on SBS TV. The rest was used to purchase TV advertisements in other state and territories, mostly Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

    The Greens NSW election campaign did not have any involvement in accepting this money or determining how it would be spent.

    Greens policy, at both the state and federal levels, calls for a ban on political donations from corporations and other organisations, a relatively small limit on donations from individuals and a tight cap on the amount of money that can be spent on election campaigns.

    While the Australian Greens decided that it will not decline larger donations until the law is changed and applies equally to all parties, the NSW party operates within self-imposed limits that are more restrictive than the state and federal laws. We do this to promote urgently needed change.

    Although it may from time to time disadvantage us, the Greens NSW do not accept campaign donations from corporations or other organisations. Donations from individuals who are not members of the Greens are capped at $10,000. Any large donations the Australian Greens accepts is in the main spent in other states.”

    And David Smith served as secretary to Sir Paul Hasluck, Sir John Kerr, Sir Zelman Cowen, Sir Ninian Stephen and Bill Hayden. I very much doubt the dismissal was his decision.

  51. Andrew

    Nothing wrong with a bit of Googling but also good to read history to put everything in context.

    On Sir David Smith, we can learn from (via google) reporting on his pompous memoirs:

    Smith has pointed out he was an official secretary, not a constitutional lawyer. He told the Herald in 1990, however, that he was intimately involved in Kerr’s decision to sack Whitlam, and its execution. The two men sat up late at night in the governor-general’s study, looking at possible solutions to the deadlock. Smith said: “I offered Sir John a view of the options open to him, and the consequences.”

    Smith outlines in his book his role in the dismissal and seeks to dispel what he claims are the myths surrounding it. He attacks what he calls the Whitlam “industry devoted to polishing his image and turning him into a legend in his own lifetime”…

    Smith’s book repeats a suggestion he made on last year’s anniversary of November 11, “that, instead of continuing to strut the national stage as the wronged legendary hero of Australian politics, it’s time he said sorry to his party for being such a failure as leader, it’s time he said sorry to the Australian people for being such a failure as prime minister, and it’s time that he told the truth about the events of 1975”.

    On the Greens party accepting the biggest-ever political donation from a near-billionaire with property development interests and Lee Rhiannon’s reaction:

    Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and her media adviser ghost-wrote a controversial article attacking her own party for accepting a $1.68 million donation from internet entrepreneur Graeme Wood…

    The article in question — ostensibly written by Norman Thompson, director of Rhiannon’s Democracy4Sale project — was published in The Power Index and Crikey in February. It was submitted as a response to a piece by Paul Barry in which he accused Rhiannon, a fierce opponent of big political donations, of hypocrisy.

    Thompson’s article raised the ire of some in the party for arguing “it appears the Greens are in the same league as the old parties”.

  52. Dissenter

    Ps Kaye Lee, Without your verandah dreaming and the high expectation standards WE have EVERY RIGHT TO EXPECT there would be no improvement or guideline for improvement SET on government or political parties.
    We have the right to verandah dream and also the RIGHT TO EXPECT BETTER than the RUBBISH, poor management and stupidity which we are now suffering under the LNP so called government.
    THEY ARE IN FACT the anti -government. THEY DESPISE the people they govern and WORK only for their corporate DONORS and the MINERALS COUNCIL. Their ONLY OBJECT is to USE every OPPORTUNITY to DEFRAUD the nation in ORDER TO FEED THE GREED of their donors.
    IS THIS not the epitome of CORRUPTION?

  53. corvus boreus

    Bar libelous accusations, threats and abuse, posters can really submit as they see fit.
    ThEy cAn cApItAlIsE thEIr vOwEls.
    Theqre caxn beq ranqdomx uxsage ofq thex letterqs “q” and “x”(thexy sqcore highxly qin scqraxbbleqx).
    YOUx cqOUld ExvEnq cOmqbInxE bOxth.
    It just might get a little hard to read.

  54. Kaye Lee

    Everyone should verandah dream. It is up to every individual to set personal standards. None of us will ever achieve perfection. All of us will make mistakes. But sitting on the verandah contemplating the cosmos can help us see a bigger picture than any individual problems that may await us inside. The world can and should be a better place. We need a compassion revolution, one person at a time. We need integrity to be our most valued possession. We all need to lift our game and drag our politicians and corporations with us.

    This is my budget reply to Joe Hockey…

  55. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    I googled the (Wotif)1.6 m donation myself to refresh memory and update details.
    The whole thing may be a little iffy. My inate suspicion of the politician sparks the spidey senses, balanced against the fact that the Greens are the only party that seems to make any proposals to increase political transparency and accountability.
    Either way, it warrants mention and possible investigation when the whole parcel of perfidious pricks(actual and honorary) finally get off their collective derrieres and agree to instigate a proper inquiry into their own dealings.
    Did I mention I am in favour of a federal ICAC?

  56. Kaye Lee

    Having a federal ICAC would be cheaper than setting up endless royal commissions. They would have the resources in place. Aside from our current enquiries, a few examples….

    In 1984 there was the Costigan Royal Commission revealing extensive criminal activities, tax fraud and the notorious “bottom-of-the-harbour schemes”. Cost 13.9 million dollars.

    1987 saw the Fitzgerald Inquiry in Queensland initiated, leading to the Premier being deposed, three former ministers and the Police Commissioner going to gaol – cost 90 million dollars.

    In 1991 we had WA Inc revealing enormous corruption in politics and business in that state. Both Liberal and Labor Premiers went to gaol. Cost 30.5 million dollars.

    In 1994 NSW had the Wood Royal Commission into the Police. This resulted in resignations and dismissals of the Police Commissioner and some 92 officers. Cost 70 million dollars.

  57. Kaye Lee

    In 2001, the Howard government established the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry headed by Terence Cole QC.

    Commissioner Cole’s final report was tabled in parliament in March 2003, and found evidence of – among other things – widespread inappropriate payments, disregard of safety regulations, threatening conduct, under-payment of workers and tax evasion.

    total cost $58.61 million.

    The commission spent more than $21 million on legal and audit costs, around $8 million on information technology, over $4 million on rent and $3 million on travel expenses.

  58. Dissenter

    A federal ICAC is the only solution. Royal Commissions have to be requested by government.
    A government is not likely to request an investigation into their own conduct which is what is required.
    There must be an entity which investigates conduct and misconduct by government and mps and political parties of all persuasions.
    Until that entity is in place democracy and the nation are open to corruption at a very high level and unfortunately for Australia we are seeing examples of this corruption every day.
    But how can we monitor it, expose it and prosecute it if there is no body to do so?
    @ corvus bore us.
    I thank you for your gobbleygook dissertation.

  59. stephentardrew

    Good article by Micheal West re: Corporate Taxation

    “We are talking tens of billions of dollars in Australian earnings being funnelled offshore to avoid the 30 per cent corporate tax rate. Multinationals are the worst offenders. With this kind of coin at stake, the Coalition and Labor can look forward to vibrant party donations in the coming months – as well as the heavy-duty lobbying that has already begun.”

  60. Kyran

    As always, fascinating discourse. I recall in the late 80’s being involved in making submissions for a new Act being proposed, the Privacy Act. At that time, I was perplexed by one of the exemptions from the Act – political parties. In the ensuing years, as my cynicism increased, I learnt that, when reviewing any proposed legislation, you should start at two primary areas – the exemptions to the proposed Act’s and the complaints mechanism. I continue to be amazed at the number of times political parties are exempted from the Act’s proposed for us “mere folk” at both state and federal level. I have read various articles over the years with regard to amendments to the AEC, again at both state and federal level. One pattern that is evident is that both main parties have continuously supported amendments that will increase the difficulty for independents to access “the big house(s)”.
    Since the last discussion on Federal ICAC, we have had new legislation rocketed through to protect us from terrorism by curtailing or extinguishing our rights. I mention this because I believe the need for a Bill of Rights is now as imperative as a Federal ICAC.
    As for banning political parties, I don’t think this goes far enough. We are a nation of some 24mil people and the incredible impost on society by having states never ceases to befuddle me. Get rid of the states, redesign electorates at a federal level and ban the parties as anything other than social groups. Then your amendments will perform much better and politicians will be compelled to do their jobs – represent their constituents.

  61. Matters Not

    Is it better to have Royal Commissions or an ICAC? It depends on where you’re coming from. While an ICAC would be cheaper, at a greater arm’s length from government over time, have a more developed infrastructure and the like, the difficulty lies in that it is ‘independent’. If it is functioning properly, then it’s ‘out of control’ re the government of the day.

    On the other hand Royal Commissions tend to do the bidding of the current government. It’s the government of the day which sets the Terms of Reference, selects the Commissioner(s), determines the time frame, allocates the budget and so on. In short, Royal Commissions are much more controllable than an ICAC. Take the recent Royal Commission into the ‘roof insulation’ scheme. It was the eighth such inquiry and reached roughly the same conclusions as its predecessors. An ICAC wouldn’t have wasted its time and money on such nonsense, but a Royal Commission was set up nevertheless’

    From a government’s point of view, Royal Commissions are good and ICACs are bad. In terms of the public good, the opposite is the case.

  62. stephentardrew

    Kaye I am a veranda sitter from long ago and have had many insights while contemplating trees, birds, flowers, lizards, spiders, cockatoos and the scribbly lizards that send out snake signals. Not so much bush turkeys. Refreshes the old cranium. Not a stickler for spelling and punctuation because have learned much from those who may not be great writers but have excellent insights and ideas. I learned relativity theory form a fellow labourer while pouring molten metal at Chrysler foundry. The janitor had a fount of wisdom concerning literature and used to give me advice and lend me books all the time. Little Welsh shop steward with nicotine stained fingers was a chess master. We had some good players amongst workers but this guy was something else. Obnoxious plant manager used to stop and talk to him all the time on the job because he was awesomely smart. True blue Labor man.

    Have had my own difficulties so do understand others limitations. The spelling and punctuation police can discourage those who have really useful things to say or have good hearts but poor literacy and numeracy skills. Tolerance can be the great equalizer. Video says it all. Mind you caps certainly send my head into a spin.

  63. Dissenter

    P.S Kaye Lee: Thanks for the photo of Shorten and Abbott at top of page.
    It tells me everything I need to know about whether Shorten is LABOR or LNP.
    It is clearer and clearer.
    It must be recent because Abbotts botox is evident.

    So this is HOW LABOR is being manipulated and why the OPPOSITION WE should be having is diluted and luke warm, why there are TEAM AUSTRALIA moments and why LABOR MANAGEMENT has mismanaged the last TWO ELECTIONS.

    Labor right is a faction of the LNP- a sleeper cell and all good LABOR members and voters have been deceived into thinking that they were part of OUR LABOR PARTY.
    It is time that SHORTEN was removed because the extremity of the corruption WITHIN LABOR is CLEAR.
    To all Labor members and voters like myself it is time to take action.
    Now we know why Labor opposed a FEDERAL ICAC.
    They must be ICACING THEMSELVES about what is being perpetrated by SHORTEN.
    COSY UP TO ABBOTT SHORTEN has to be gone.

  64. stephentardrew

    Corvus astounded at the level of your caps clarity.

  65. corvus boreus

    ThAxnkq yOUx.

  66. stephentardrew

    Matters Not I love capitalism. Always give the fox the opportunity to guard the hen house. Brilliant strategy. One day some regulator might just say this is the way you will do it and no more whining. In your dreams sunshine.

  67. nurses1968

    Rob031. Matters Not, I wholeheartedly agree about the BLOODY CAPLOCKS.
    It is not only a form of shouting but that the author knows better than the reader and must highlight particular words because the reader does not have the comprehension skills to read the sentence without help . They might miss the meaning of, or importance of certain words, the poor silly fools.
    I never read those posts although they are in abundance on Independent Australia.
    please turn OFF the caplocks , so AIMN stays the quality site it is and doesn’t degenerate into another Independent Australia , with the caplocks, the abuse and the tirades from those that frequent the site

  68. Dissenter

    PS Kaye Lee, I wholeheartedly agree that there must be provision for Welfare as a very decent proportion of the Federal Budget.
    The terminology Lifters and Leaners and the NASTINESS of the underpinning mentallity left me feeling murderous.
    Hockey has a family trust and 4 investment properties of his own to negative gear and his wife being a very high income earner too courtesy of the Newman government most particularly most likely has the same.

    These are tax avoidance schemes in reality even though at the present time they are legal.

    THe real leaners in our society are the corporations who profit shift and the very wealthy who utilise every opportunity not to pay tax.
    The lowest income earners and welfare recipients have no alternative but to spend every cent they earn to live. They do not have the luxury of tax offset schemes even when they pay tax.

    To denigrate hardworking Australians, the elderly or unfortunate disabled or ill as leaners is MORE THAN OFFENSIVE.
    It REFLECTS an ugliness of mind and SELFISH self righteousness and self gratification and congratulatory elitism.
    This is why the most wealthy in Australia DO NOT DONATE TO CHARITY EVEN THOUGH IT IS A TAX DEDUCTION.( only 8% of the most wealthy do donate!)
    THey are the nasty people WHO THRIVE ON THE PAIN AND SUFFERING OF OTHERS for their self gratification.
    THey believe it is better TO KICK PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE DOWN than to HELP them up again,
    They support the shockjocks on stations like 2GB, because they peddle the hate that is and has DIVIDED australia and will continue to do so until THEIR ADVERSE actions and PERVERSE mentality is exposed for what it is.

  69. Dissenter

    @ nurses, the author of this article who has more credibility than you ever had whoever you are used caps for an entire comment above.
    your comment is nothing but bullying from someone who must be so sad and small.
    what is the point of a comment which does nothing but denigrate and apart from the denigration has no intellectual content?

  70. DanDark

    Okay round 3, get back in your corners,, taking bets, Dissenter vs the rest….and the winner is……………..
    Watch this space folks 🙂

  71. corvus boreus

    There is always an element of acrimony in any political discussion upon the dictatorship of Capital.

  72. mars08

    Think of it as FREEDOM of expression…

  73. DanDark

    Wow Mars has jumped into the ring with a RIPPER of a reply 🙂
    But there will be no ” shirt fronting” only ” button holes” are accepted now Corvus 🙂

  74. corvus boreus

    The plan is to shirt-front, button-hole, ear-bash, brow-beat, king-hit, stiff-arm, shirt-lift, turkey-slap, pile-drive then deliver a wedgie with a wet willie on the side. After which there will be robust conversation over drinks and nibbles.
    The noble art of diplomacy.

  75. DanDark

    Lol ding ding, I think you won this bout Corvus….nothing that a bottle of champers and caviar on a Salada biscuit can’t fix in all that Noble diplomacy….

  76. corvus boreus

    Caviar on a cracker, Putin on a ritz.

  77. DanDark

    Lol that was the bloody word, but be be damned I couldn’t think of the other biscuit, the ritz that’s it…lol Putin on a ritz, ready for Tones to eat 🙂

  78. nurses1968

    I visit AIMN regularly and have so for a year or two with occasional comments but more to be informed.
    Cap locks make me skip articles
    I leave it to wikipedia
    “With the advent of the Bulletin board system, or BBS, and later the Internet, typing messages in all caps became closely identified with “shouting” or attention-seeking behavior, and is considered very rude. As a result, netiquette generally discourages the use of all caps when posting messages online”
    This “caplocking” has been pointed out on many times by various posters , but has just been ignored and those posters disrespected with the continuation of what is widely accepted as yelling or abuse

  79. mars08


    …Thanks for the photo of Shorten and Abbott at top of page.
    It tells me everything I need to know about whether Shorten is LABOR or LNP…

    The photo tells me that Shorten has succeeded in making himself irrelevant. Surely the ALP has dozens of senior people who could fill Shorten’s shoes just as timidly and uninspiringly as he does…

  80. stephentardrew

    From low profile to no profile.

    Shit where did he go.

    Not over here, not over there I can’t see him anywhere.

    Oh there he is over with Count Dracula.

  81. DanDark

    nurse1968,,,, it’s your choice and others to skip past people who use caps to…. in your words” to yell and shout”
    It’s Dissenters choice to use Caps and if he chooses to do so that’s his choice, he is not abusing anyone, and he has as much right as you and others to make a comment anyway he chooses……

  82. Dissenter

    mars08 or a lot better than he has been doing.
    He has two right feet apparently and that makes him unbalanced and unable to lead Labor forward without falling.
    Labor right and LNP right.
    ANYONE else from Labor who does not wish to share such cosy chats with ABBOTT and the LNP can lead Labor better because so far LABOR is lost.
    How can Labor OPPOSE with efficiency and a winning chance if it is all CONSPIRED WITH LNP in advance and LABOR VALUES AND LABOR MEMBERS AND VOTERS are worth less than the value of this relationship with the LNP.
    All they have to do is pass the ONE LEFT and ONE RIGHT FOOT test to be LABOR. Then LABOR CAN MOVE FORWARD.
    I suspect SHORTENS job is to continue to MAKE LABOR FAIL so that the LNP have another three years after this term.

  83. Kaye Lee

    The photo is of Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott at the Launch of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month at Parliament House in Canberra in March.

    As for the caps debate, within certain boundaries of respect and decency, people are free to express themselves as they please. On the other hand, if one wants to contribute to a discussion, it seems sensible to do so in a way that invites readers to consider what you write. This argument is kind of like focusing on national security rather than the budget.

    Speaking of which, the war message is changing. We started with “It’s different this time. Iraq asked us to send troops” to

    “We’ve not been asked and we’ve not offered to, so I do not envisage that being part of our arrangements with Iraq,’ Bishop told reporters overnight in Baghdad.

    ‘We will only provide assistance at the invitation of and with the consent of the Iraqi government.’

    Mr Abbott said he wanted the same indemnity from prosecution under Iraqi law for 200 Australian special operations troops as American troops already had in Iraq.

    They were sent a month ago to the United Arab Emirates at the request of the United States.

  84. stephentardrew

    Oh dear Kaye the fibs never stop do they.

    Grandstanding war hero falls on sword.

    Two bombs in forty sorties is probably statistically significant isn’t it?

    It’s a bugger when wars won’t cooperate.

  85. Dissenter

    Thanks Kaye Lee for providing the provenance of the image. it is very important for Labor stalwarts to be made aware.

  86. Kaye Lee

    Mr Abbott said the fact that the legitimate government of Iraq had invited Australia to assist in defeating an insurgent force, made Australia’s participation in the air and ground war legal.

    Read more:

    Ummmm…..wrong again Tony. The US told you to go and you did without having any agreement let alone invitation from Iraq. This guy just makes it up as he goes along.

  87. DanDark

    “This guy just makes it up as he goes along.”
    Spot on Kaye Lee, he has this disorder his whole life, ” I am going to shirt front Putin,you bet you are, you bet I am” perfect example of Tones make it up as he goes along….

  88. mars08


    …It’s a bugger when wars won’t cooperate.

    Fear not. Everything is under control. You can bet that the LNP spin-doctors (and their Newscorp boosters) will make sure it’s all glorious.

    Those of us in the “reality-based community” are just being difficult!

    Check this out… from the New York Times in 2004…

    The author, Ron Suskind (a former Wall Street Journal reporter), writes about a meeting he had with a a “senior advisor” to George W. Bush. This advisor was more-than-likely Karl Rove. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the right-wing crazies believe that “reality” is exclusively their property, to be shaped as they wish.


    “In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend – but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

    “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”

  89. donwreford

    Is corruption the more cost effective than having the costs of those who are investigating corruption?

  90. Kaye Lee

    If you want to read about Graeme Woods this is interesting. He’s a bit of an ecowarrior who is determined to spend his fortune fighting for the environment.

    Apparently the locals like what he is doing

    No scandal that I can see so far. The $1.6 million funded an advertising campaign that helped the Greens get the balance of power in the Senate because he supported a carbon price. “near-billionaire with property development interests” seems somewhat misleading to me. Can you point out personal gain?

  91. Andrew

    A picture tells a thousand words unless, of course, it doesn’t say anything at all…

    Frankly, the use of a picture taken at an Ovarian cancer charity event (without a caption explaining the context) is rather deeply sleazy and misleading. It’s sort of thing we complain about when indulged in by the tabloid press.×2-940×627.jpg

    Christine Milne & Tony Abbott have been photographed together, as the link above demonstrates. It shows nothing.

    The $1.6 million donation scandal demonstrates the Greens party has just as much to fear as any other set of politicians from a federal ICAC, which, if implemented properly, could be useful in holding wrongdoers to account. It’s been my observation that those who preach loudest about corruption, be they televangelists or Greens senators, are often the ones with the most to hide.

  92. mars08

    Clearly Christine Milne is sharing a joke with dearest leader! They’re both havig a good old chuckle over it. Ah… and let’s not forget all the unquestioning support the Greens have given the Coalition over the past year!!!!

    BTW… to say that “The $1.6 million donation scandal demonstrates the Greens party has just as much to fear as any other set of politicians from a federal ICAC…” without explaining why… and then suggesting that Greens senators have “the most to hide” is rather deeply sleazy and misleading.

  93. corvus boreus

    To invite/demand an overall investigation arouses more suspicion in you than denying the invitation/demand?

  94. Kaye Lee

    The picture wasn’t meant to say anything. I wanted a shot of the two of them together and that was the best one from google images. I didn’t mean to imply they were at a secret “blue ribbon” negotiation and that I had popped out of the aspidistra and snapped them.

    The point of having a photo of them together is because both major parties are resisting the call for a federal ICAC whereas the Greens are not. I have seen no evidence to suggest they have anything to hide. The donation was legal and accounted for and I know of no evidence of benefit accruing to the donor. You said “proposals they later backed in public and within the then Tasmanian government”. I would be interested to hear more.

    You have looked at the photo….you have read the first paragraph. Have you read the rest of the article and comments?

    (“Sleazy” was a tad harsh I thought. They aren’t photoshopped to the best of my knowledge, unlike the front pages of the Murdoch rags.)

  95. mars08

    “…those who preach loudest about corruption…”

    Yeh… those sneaky, back-stabbing, crafty, unscrupulous fiends!!

    But we can see right through their tricks, right?

  96. stephentardrew


    Being reminded of Bush winning his second election under such insane circumstances and literal incompetence is a scary reminder of what the media can do to swing the election of someone who should now be sitting in front of a war crimes tribunal. Guilty until and all that.. The Suskind article scares the hell out of me in that fools can be so ignorant yet convinced of their own invulnerability while people will not confront them. It is one of the most disturbing demonstrations of the failure of so called democracy where incompetence can hide within a conformist fawning inner circle and misinformed and misinforming media.

    It is a sober warning and I take your point very seriously, as we all should. It was done once with Bush and Howard and is happening again. An extremely sober warning.

  97. mars08

    Conceit, aggression and hubris… without conscience or accountability. That’s a very bad combination.

  98. Kaye Lee

    Particularly when you aren’t very bright.

    “I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace.” –Washington, D.C. June 18, 2002

    “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” –speaking underneath a “Mission Accomplished” banner aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

    “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories … And we’ll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven’t found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they’re wrong, we found them.” –Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003

    Ok…if you say so. You probably did better than a plastic sword.

  99. mars08

    For what it’s worth… the marketing people at the Pentagon have given a brand name to this latest Middle East adventure.
    Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you…. “Operation Inherent Resolve.” ta-daaaah….

    Rumour has it that the Australian contribution will be called “Insipid Response”. But I really can’t comment on such sensitive operational matters!

  100. stephentardrew

    Damn Mars8 how come you are proxy to such secret information.

  101. DanDark

    Stephen, Mars could tell you but then he would have to kill you 🙂 it’s top secret shhhhhh

  102. corvus boreus

    Operation Patriotic Tumescence.

  103. jusme

    Great piece. The people have the power, every 3 years (until they change that too).
    I see what you (and Oakeshott, Kelly, Fitzgerald, Mack et al) see so do my bit by putting the 2 majors last. They’re beyond hope imo. I still worry though, that even if we all did that, thanks to the preference system, if one of them would end up winning anyway :(.

  104. mars08

    Operation Zealous Budgie?

  105. corvus boreus

    Problems With Kaye Lees’ Choice of Photo.
    *It is sleazy and misleading. This is possibly due to the subject matter, but when I look at it, I, too, get an impression of slimy lies.
    *It lacks context without caption. In those suits(with the cute ribbons[the new white carnation?]),in that setting, close and lightly touching, one engaging in earnest eye-contact, the other giggling demurely, it looks like a man-date, where the two discover a shared love of force projection and machivellian maneuvers, and an automatic comfortable acceptance of their assigned relationship roles. Please indicate, via caption, that this was not a romantic encounter, but a political publicity stunt(at a charitable fundraiser).
    *It is tabloid. Not up to the standard of photo-shopping the pair of them in stained jocks and nazi caps, wearing rat faces and swinging on a wrecking-ball wowing down kittens, but still titillating to those assumptively inclined(see point 2). There are invisible speech bubbles(my dialogue; Bill;”You’ve been working those glutes”. Tony;”Your hand feels like a jellyfish”). Please remove the invisible speech bubbles and any other alterations you may have made to this photo, and, to be fair to both the gentlemen, airbrush any blemishes the cares of the days may have given them from their countenances.
    I would also accept the substitution of a photo of a pair of exceptionally honest looking bonabos engaged in mutual grooming.
    If Kaye Lee agrees to make these alterations, I will agree to keep looking at the pictures and glancing at the first lines of writing in her articles.

  106. Kaye Lee

    Operation Inherent Resolve……who makes this stuff up? Since the world was taken over by marketing people it really has gotten silly.

  107. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I refuse to be demoralised by the current domestic (and international) abuses of our political systems. If I’m demoralised, I don’t act.

    Then, the political manipulators, lobbyists, greedy self-interested political sycophants, greedy corporate interests and every other ‘nasty’ interest group that has succeeded thus far in undermining our democracy, get to sail on only to do more damage at a faster rate.

    It is my considered viewpoint that our combined discussion and passion is on the increase. Our awareness of the political mechanisms and how they can be abused is growing. Many of us are becoming more aware constituents and each of us know 10 people, who can also become more aware of how politics works.

    Don’t let the bastards in the LNP Neanderthals and their journo and Big Business mates think they have won. Tony “fossil fool” Abbott is a thing of the past.

    Broaden our horizons and demand a multi-party system similar to the Danes as identified in the first comment about Borgen.

    This is where the Greens and the upcoming progressive parties are so important. They have the passion, the vision and the initiative. Listen and learn.

    This will make positive policy negotiations from diverse community and political vantages necessary and better for our democracy.

    Finally, make Shorten smarten up or get over, so Plibersek, Burke or dare I say it, Catherine King can take the reins.

  108. donwreford

    Australia, now sending two hundred advisers to Iraq, is the meaning here that the Iraq’s are stupid enough as to be not effective in military strategy? considering Iraq, fighter pilots are to teach Isis, instructing, how to fly these planes, is now seen as a grave threat to stability, the knowledge that atomic bombs may not be accounted for, such as when Russia, changed from its previous political status, to capitalism, that accounting of where all these bombs are? have never been certain as to whether these bombs exist? and other sources of atomic bombs may be outside the jurisdiction of the present ruling class, the combined use of these two factors, such as the unthinkable, of a terrorist fighter jet laden with say three bombs, destination, London, New York, and Israel, would be upsetting to us all, in particular, us, who like to keep up with current affairs, this would become a major incident, that would no doubt be regarded as the end of the world we now know, or could be what may change, the present system of militaristic resolve of our problems by force and violence.
    Creating, the next age, or the possibility, for mankind, of the Golden Age?

  109. oldfart

    I think the Indi movement should be put in place for all electorates before the next election. Lets give the two major parties the heave ho and have real representation, rather than what some bozo in a corporate or union office thinks is good for us as a nation.

  110. Anne Byam

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith ……..

    I completely agree with your thoughts and suggestions.

    The 2PP system is outmoded, out of touch – and has resulted ( recently anyhow ) ……. in an opposition that is also on the same side – or so it appears. Which simply means we have more or less one party – and we all know how that works out —- the incumbent Government becomes a dictatorship, with nothing to challenge it.

    Preferences CAN make a big difference, but even the Greens would still be polled on their preferences, and I think the way voters are thinking now-a-days …. ( let me put it this way )….. it would be a horrid job being an official counting votes at the next election, whenever that might be. I would think the preferences will be like a dog’s breakfast – all over the place.

    …………….. ref : ” demand a multi-party system similar to the Danes ” ……..

    A great idea, but most likely extremely difficult to do – as we still operate under the Westminster system. It also ( from the little I have researched ) appears that the Danish system is very complicated in structure.

    Good post Jennifer.

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