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A Week is a Long Time in Politics

If ever a week in politics supported a headline it was the week that Gough Whitlam died. In the main the death of this undeniably charismatic, but gifted man was met with sadness by both supporter and foe alike.

gough

The exceptions who didn’t were Bolt and Jones. Yes, the two who write and comment outrageously on the basis of payment for controversy didn’t but eventually they will pass on as Gough did.

They will be quickly forgotten but he will go down in the annals of Australian history as a decent, sanguine, passionate and sagacious Prime Minister who made an enormous contribution to Australian society.

Something they could never aspire to do.

Yes the week was filled with controversy that only a government devoid of any semblance of leadership could muster.

barnaby joyce

In Parliament the Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce (the probable deputy PM if Abbott wins the next election) got the details of how many Australians have received drought assistance completely and utterly wrong.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon called him out but as you would guess, Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer. It wasn’t until early evening he skulked back into the chamber and quietly corrected his answer. It’s hard to explain what Barnaby said. If you can decipher it you deserve a medal.

“…you actually get the money until the department decides that you are not allowed to get the money, and at this point in time. So you keep on getting the money, you keep on getting the money, until such time as, on the application being assessed, they decide you are not eligible for it. But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved, you actually get the money straight away.”

Anyway, on Tuesday of this week he got a whiff of his own ineptitude and tried to change the official Hansard record.

com bank

Then the Government for a Royal Commission into anything Labor did refused to hold one into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as part of its response to a landmark Senate inquiry. This is one of the worst scandals in Australian corporate history. It has ruined the lives of thousands of people but the government’s approach seems to be to let financial planners proceed as if nothing has happened.

During all this the boss of the corporate regulator, ASIC said.

‘’Australia is too soft on corporate criminals and increased civil penalties including more jail terms are needed.’’

“Australia is a paradise for white-collar crime.” He said.

On Royal Commissions that are politically motivated John Howard had this to say.

“I’m uneasy about the idea of having royal commissions or inquiries into essentially a political decision…”
“I don’t think you should ever begin to go down the American path of using the law for narrow targeted political purposes.”

Abbott obviously believes in the total obliteration of one’s opposition and will even provide cabinet papers if he has too.

tell tony

In senate estimates we heard from treasury officials that the Prime Ministers Paid Parental Leave Scheme has ground to a halt. According to senior insiders, it is in serious trouble and loathed by virtually every minister in cabinet.

Our Prime Minister once again showing that he is incapable of governance for the common good.

turnbull

In the midst of all this we had talk of Malcolm Turnbull replacing Hockey as treasurer.
“It’d be a game changer,” one minister summarised. No one disagreed with the soundness of the idea. True, he would bring competence and authority to the Treasury portfolio. He has the ability to articulate a message clearly and forcefully.

But the mere suggestion that this might happen is a reflection of the total incompetency of this Abbott led bunch of out of touch morons.

freya newman

We were greeted with another headline that the whistle-blower Freya Newman had had her sentence deferred until November. Did she break the law? She did, but in so doing revealed yet another instance of the Prime Minister’s use of his office for personal gain further defining his personal lack of integrity. As if it could degenerate any further.

The curriculum taught in our schools never seems to go away when conservatives are in power.

barry spurr

For its review the coalition appointed its usual array of religious zealots and those of indigenous indifference, all sympathetic to the government’s point of view. But this time one of the appointees, Professor Barry Spurr, further advanced his expertise in all things conservative with some emails that could only be describes as indecent. He said they were part of a ‘linguistic game’. Ah the games people play.

Perhaps the PM might consider some people of independent mind for future inquiries instead of the usual hacks.

But there’s more. It was a long week.

indexscott morrison

It seemed that Scott Morrison wanted to be the minister for everything. When interviewed on AM he denied that other ministers were resentful of him trying to take over part of their portfolios. But members of the press gallery confirmed it.

When asked in question time how his portfolio crossed over with Foreign Affairs, Defense, Agriculture, Health, Defense, Attorney-Generals and Prime Minister and Cabinet it wasn’t only the Labor side of the chamber laughing at him.

But Bronny Bishop ruled he didn’t have to answer.

And to add to the weeks worries the Government still cannot get its budget passed. To quote Lenore Taylor in the Guardian.

budget

The Abbott government’s “Operation Budget Repair” appears to have morphed into “Operation Let’s Salvage What The Hell We Can”.

Kevin Andrews said he would consider “any reasonable offer” from crossbench senators in a last-ditch bid to get at least some of his $10bn in stalled welfare changes through the Senate. On top of that there is the fuel excise, that Medicare co-payment and the dramatic changes to higher education. What a bloody nightmare. It’s a pity Abbott doesn’t have the negotiating skills of Gillard.

He and Joe have never been able to admit why the electorate so comprehensively rejected the budget? We all know that the savings fell heaviest on those least able to pay. Now they are saying they will reveal more in the mid-year budget update. This can only mean more unpopular cuts. Or a mini budget.

essential

The Essential Poll during the week found 72% felt the cost of living had become worse in the past 12 months and 48% believe that over the past two years their income has fallen behind their cost of living. That figure rises to 57% for those earning less than $1,000 a week.

It was the worst received budget in many decades. Spending cuts have to be fair, and be seen to be fair, but people also need to understand the overall plan, the purpose, dare we call it the program.

Later in the week when talking about Federal and state responsibilities Abbott said.

“It is in this great country of ours possible to have a better form of government”

I would have thought a good place to start would be to stop telling lies.

ret

Having appointed a group of climate deniers to report on the Renewable Energy Target and Tony Abbott wanting it removed altogether the government, in the face of public opinion, now finds itself in a dilemma. It wants to compromise on the 20% target saying electricity usage has already declined. Shorten should not fall for that nonsense. Add in their ridiculous Direct Action policy and you can see we have, in spite of their various university degrees, a bunch of dunderheads governing us. Perhaps I should have said dickheads.

To be honest I could go on for another couple of thousand words but I’m exhausted. I haven’t mentioned Bishops aspirations for leadership, the credit card negotiations with the banks on welfare payments and fact that his sisters have joined the chorus of condemnation for a privately owned aged-care facility on public parklands at Middle Head.

Then there’s the criticism of the proposed Medibank float that has been described as laughable. Oh, then of course reports that Chrissy Pyne was backing down on his university policy. He said he wasn’t but then I’m not that sure he would know himself.
Goodness I have left out the most serious issue of Ebola. The government’s response has been abysmal to say the least. Just another example of their ineffectiveness. The AMA was right to give Abbott a serve.

In an effort to sound amusing and to allay the fears of those who think I am being overly negative I will close with this.

indexCarbon tax celebration

“I promise this is true”, said Tony Burke: “Greg Hunt, is the man who some people refer to as the Environment Minister.

In Opposition he advocated for the protection of the Tasmania Tiger, extinct since 1936. In Government he’s turned his attention to the Antarctic Walrus – population: zero. Walruses live in the Northern Hemisphere”.

Oh wait, bugger I almost forgot. Were you also aware that Catherine King exposed how it would soon cost up to $2,207 for someone to have their liver metastasis diagnosed? Tony Abbott refused to say how many people will miss out on being diagnosed as a result of the hit to imaging and diagnostic services.

But the week did began with the Speaker announcing she would not continue with the policy of segregation which had been announced as Parliament rose a fortnight earlier.

Hopefully we can now go back to segregation being something kids learn about in the courtroom scenes of To Kill a Mockingbird not during their excursion to Canberra.

The final word for “A week is a Long Time in Politics” must go to Newspoll which had the Opposition six points up on the Government without so much as them striking a blow.

24 comments

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  1. M-R

    Every post like this one, logging the unspeakableness of TROWC, is valuable – if only for the purpose of bringing them all out again come 2016 …

  2. Terry2

    John

    I found the ease with which Joyce’s staff were able to influence the parliamentary staff to alter Hansard most disturbing – surely there should be an established protocol making such conduct a sackable offence.

  3. Sir ScotchMistery

    Or we can have a Royal Commission into Hansard corrections in 2 years time?

  4. Matters Not

    Terry2:

    the ease with which Joyce’s staff were able to influence the parliamentary staff to alter Hansard most disturbing

    Actually most people don’t appreciate that what is being ‘altered’ is the ‘proofs’ and it happens, to a limited extent, all the time.

    Here’s one explanation.

    Hansard is not a verbatim transcript; rather, it is a full report in the first person. The member’s words are used. However, obvious mistakes are corrected and redundancies and needless repetition are removed. Clarity is provided; ambiguity and elegant variation are avoided. Nothing is omitted from the transcript that adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates the arguments advanced, and nor are words altered unless they are incorrectly used.

    http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/webcms/webcms.nsf/content/hansard

    In the case of Joyce however, the limits were well and truly stretched.

  5. Wayne Turner

    WORST (LYING) IDIOT’S EVER – These Libs and the public that voted for them (especially those that still support them,that aren’t the greedy selfish crazies from the big end of town.)

  6. Kaye Lee

    If they didn’t leave out repetition in Hansard can you imagine how long Tonty Abbott’s transcripts would be? They probably already have his “stop the boats, axe the tax” counting mantra saved as a macro.

  7. Kerri

    Excellent article John Lord!!! A good summary of a bad week!
    One point on which I will disagree. They will be quickly forgotten. NO!
    They must never be forgotten! They must be remembered as examples of the lowest points in Austrlian Journalistic (and I use that term very loosley) endeavour. I hope for a future where children will fear the Andrew Bolt under the bed or the Alan Jones in the closet (or public toilet in London) and parents will warn of bogeymen like these two.
    And Greg Hunt??? Seriously he has mental issues. I don’t say that lightly. My degree included child Psychology and if you read the Age Good Weekend article on Hunt his mother had mental illness and her behaviour has impacted on him quite profoundly.
    Incidentally he is my local member and I have had concerns about him since long before I read the Good Weekend article.

  8. Sri Juanita Hardy (@Pikiran2ku)

    “The exceptions who didn’t were Bolt and Jones”. You forgot to add that jerk who “governs” W.A., the one who, in spite of massive mining royalties, is leading it deeper and deeper into debt. He gave Gough a thorough bollocking – from a petty, incompetetent scumbag who isn’t fit to lick Whitlam’s shoes.

  9. Michael

    “…you actually get the money until the department decides that you are not allowed to get the money, and at this point in time. So you keep on getting the money, you keep on getting the money, until such time as, on the application being assessed, they decide you are not eligible for it. But it is not the case that you apply for the money and then you have to wait for your application to be approved, you actually get the money straight away.”

    That sounds like something Sir Humphrey Appleby would say on an episode of “Yes Minister”.

  10. John Lord

    Ah yes Michael. It did sound familiar.

  11. Anniebee

    John Lord ….. as always a brilliantly written article, with much information. Thank you.

    ==============

    Was always under the impression that anything reported into Hansard, could NOT be tampered with. However, that apparently is not so — it is ‘proofed’ to begin with, before becoming a ‘finalised’ and binding transcript.

    This has been aptly clarified by ‘Matters Not’ in the post October 28, 2014 at 10:51 am

    ……………….

    Labor called the LNP out on Joyce’s attempt to ‘ alter minor details’ …….

    ……….>>> ” Mr Joyce has since told Parliament the change was requested by his staff and they have been counselled.”

    Counselled my foot !! ,,,,, the matter would have been dropped instantly – never to be spoken of again. …… who could believe anything any of them ever say ?

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/27/barnaby-joyce-admits-his-staff-changed-hansard-records :

    A longer and detailed explanation of the actual situation.

  12. Anniebee

    Another lie to consider :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-22/red-cross-ebola-funding-peter-dutton-misleading-fact-check/5826522

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, The VERDICT

    The Australian Red Cross has not received specific funding from the Federal Government to support its Ebola program in West Africa.

    The Federal Government has provided $2.5 million to four Australian NGOs: Caritas, Plan International, Save the Children and World Vision.

    Mr Dutton has repeatedly said the Government is providing $18 million to organisations like the Red Cross to fight Ebola.

    Mr Dutton’s claim is misleading.

    ==========

    Julie Bishop stated on October 2nd, that a further $10 million would be added ‘ to fight Ebola ‘ …. to the Governments’ alleged contribution of $8 million.

    Dutton presumably jumped on the $18 million bit, and lied about where it was going ……..

    ,,,,,,,, Someone has their wires crossed. I don’t think its me, as I found another link to a more detailed explanation of the situation, but cannot now find that in my computer ‘history’, and unfortunately have not the time to search further at the moment.

    The articles say much, however. If either of them have outright lied – what cynicism depths does that sink them to ?

    _____________

  13. stephen jones

    Bravo again mr lord

  14. Allan Richardson

    A friend of mine was a Hansard editor for years. You can just imagine the stories he dined out on.

  15. corvus boreus

    Special hand up(digit extended with intent) to Barnaby Joyce, bleary-eyed boozer, rip-snorting rorter(weddings, study trips with the missus), and outspoken apologist(terrorist sympathiser?) for the murder of a law enforcement official(Mr Glenn Turner, husband and father) by a violent extremist.
    Mr Joyce, for your ‘contributions’ in the fields of personal honesty and common decency, may you be ‘blessed’ with scleroses in your liver and cancer in your colon, and expire in a miasma of necrotic putrescence. You already show many of the signs and symptoms of Human Variant Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.

  16. lawrencewinder

    Bloody hell. That’s a summary of ONE week! We’ve had a bit more than 52 weeks …all hideously similar and there’s approximately another 104 to go.
    I even had a State Liarbril candidate agree with me t’other night that this was the most incompetent Federal Government ever.
    I think “It’s Time” for another Double Dissolution, for this corrupt, inept and compromised rabble do not govern for the nation but for business only. They have lost all legitimacy and can claim no mandate for what they are doing.

  17. stephengb2014

    Over the preceding 10 months I have read many AIMN articles and the comments that follow. This is indeed one of the best

    May I observe that there are many many people who call for a DD myself included; so not withstanding the Whitlam dismissal; what is the resistance by the Labor Party in trying to force a DD, or a submission to the GG that this government be called to account for the unbelievable amount of deception and lies to both the electorate and to parliament?

  18. Kaye Lee

    corvus boreus,

    Wishing necrotic putrescence on someone is rather harsh…how about the fleas of a thousand camels infesting his armpits? Or better still…how about we voters vote these idiots into obsolete insignificance? I know most politicians then take high paying jobs as consultants but somehow I can’t see that happening for this lot. Would YOU employ them to advise you?

  19. Matters Not

    Re Barnaby Joyce. In all probability he will be our next Deputy Prime Minister, given that Truss will retire before the next election and Joyce will assume the mantle of the Nat’s leader and therefore entitled to be the one just below Abbott.

    Joyce is very popular in rural areas, as was Joh. Both consistently win/won awards in the ‘gurning’ contests which continue to be popular in such areas.

    Actually, ‘gurning’ competitions are quite socialistic in intent, because they are based on the notion that when the ‘fair’ is underway, anyone can win a prize. They even provide a ‘collar’.

    While people are aware of the concept of the ‘village idiot’, the ‘gurning’ champion is less recognised today by urban dwellers.. Which is a pity because Barnaby excels in both.

  20. John Lord

    Thank you Stephen but I think there are better writers at THE AIMN

  21. stephentardrew

    Great article as usual John:

    The deep implicit irrationality of this mob goes beyond the bounds of simple policy differences it comes form a completely primitive and irrational view of reality as a whole. While science and technology move along exponentially we are being dragged back into the stone age. Both major parties are failing to produce a meta-theoretical policy framework that is bound together by logic, rationality, science and importantly futurology. They are captured by emotional appeals to the primitive subconscious urgings of their psyches. The LNP are beyond any rational analysis because they so easily turn away from logic and evidentiary proof. It is near impossible to have a rational conversation with the irrational. Bronwy Bishop is a prime example as for that clot Barnaby Joice he is an embarrassment to the human race. I could go on and on.

    Many of our problems are engineering problems that require the input of scientific expertise and the capacity for lateral thinking. Sadly party politics militates against innovation and creativity because many of the representatives have no idea how to turn their claims to justice and equity into practical solutions because they cannot move past habituated thought patterns of the past. What we are going to need in the future are pliable brains that can evaluate the facts, seek out a broad rang of alternatives, and use a process of intelligent selection to sort out the best proposals. While industry turns science to profit we need a core body of scientists and logicians who can think creatively, and act expeditiously, free from the binding constraints of profitability, with the goal of social justice and material equity. Instead of some glorious NBN we need a system that recognizes redundancy and plans for accelerated obsolescence so that systems are constructed to be pliable and mailable to reduce rigidity and inflexibility.

    The complexities of genetic engineering, horizontal gene transfer, artificial intelligence, self-replicating machines with self-evolving algorithms and so on will require moderate levels of generalist technical knowhow underscored by ethics committees supported by moral philosophers.

    Point is the run of the mill politician are not up to the task so where to now? These are issues we are going to have to confront in the future if we are to prevent the insane and irrational debacle that is winding back progress as I write.

    Politicians in the future are going to have to meet some minimum level of rational logical thinking, scientific literacy and emotional intelligence. Nowhere else can uneducated ignorance gain such influence, power and control without meeting some rational standard of moral and intellectual rigor.

    What a can of worm that is going to be however our future may depends upon it. Economic rationalism is a complete and utter failure yet, sadly, both major parties remain attached to this purveyor of injustice and inequity.

    Time for a paradigm change.

  22. stephentardrew

    John:

    I enjoy your writing.

    For me it is often the integrity of the person that shines through so the writing style is secondary and pretty well subjective. Comparisons are sometimes odious.

    Even for those who write poorly you can often feel the sense of integrity and goodness speaking out. And those contributors often give equal value.

  23. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well done John for putting into words many of the observations that anybody, with a brain, is making about the MIS-governance of Australia by these Abbott-led “dunderheads”.

    Gutless Abbott is the greatest fraud, but his respective ministers are real doozies too, such as Hokey Pokey Hockey’s “Operation Budget Repair”; Greg Hunt’s presence in the photo of the LNP Neanderthals’ jubilation at the death of effective action against Climate Change; Andrews’ squeamishness now that his $10bn welfare changes has stalled through the Senate; Dutton’s gormless answer to how Australia can share the world response to Ebola; and others such as Pyne’s unfair higher education policies.

    It is important, although reading them, and discussing the unfairness and stupidity inherent in them makes my blood boil. This is because when the LNP is defeated, the defeat will taste even sweeter, be longer lasting and importantly, the progressive forces of Australian politics will have galvanised and formed working alliances for progressive social and economic reforms.

    Vale Gough Whitlam! A great legacy to us all.

  24. johnward154

    Democracy, freedom, community and relationships are not handed to you on a plate. These are things you must fight to retain every day. Legislation can be written. Constitutions can be enshrined and carved in stone, they are only words, but there is no guarantee they will be with you tomorrow.
    These intangibles, can easily be eroded by neglect, unless cherished. They can be taken away, unless defended. And they will become dulled, if not valued and continually improved each and every day. We must cherish, protect, and improve them each day in order to preserve them.
    Neglect them and they become meaningless.
    We have a duty of care to democracy, to ensure that the people have well informed with factually based options on which to make their decisions.
    Truth is at the core of Democracy.
    Some participants in our recent election have chosen to divide inflame and misinform, thereby failing in their duty of care towards democracy through acts or omissions that could reasonably be seen likely to damage the very fabric of our democratic institutions.
    A fog of lies and confusion turned many away from a dreary mess of slogans and exhortations. To such an extent, that 1 million voters did not care to register a formal vote, and 2 million did not vote at all. Democracy is dying of neglect
    It must no longer be acceptable that political offerings can avoid scrutiny, be deceptive or misleading, or be distorted half truths and exaggerations or scandalous rumours that we have experienced recently.

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