When it results in a man who is bent on destroying all that we hold dear, becoming the one in charge of our fate.

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It was all a con

By Andrew Klein I remember that as a teenager we had to…


When is a miracle the ultimate disaster?

When it results in a man who is bent on destroying all that we hold dear, becoming the one in charge of our fate.

We once were the Lucky Country.

There have been hiccups on the way to now, where we can finally see the luck is all where the money is.

Increasingly, whenever we have had a conservative government, the assets got sold off and services were privatised or out-sourced, the idea being that we would get more efficient services.

About the only people who ever benefited were shareholders, particularly in global corporations.

Costs for services generally went up, standard of services generally went down, institutions like banks and insurance companies got away with appalling behaviour, with only the occasional slap on the wrist, and Ministers of the Crown behaved in ways that dis-entitled them to be called honourable.

When was the last time a Senator or MP resigned for misleading Parliament or committing any other misdemeanour that breached her/his obligations?

You are right! It was some time ago – and I am fairly sure he was a Labor senator.

Corruption crept in, to the extent that, with no national watch dog to keep the government honest, blatant rorts are being perpetrated, with government gleefully distributing funds to where they will buy most votes.

Findings from Royal Commissions are ignored, if it does not suit the government to take action, and Ministers are seldom sanctioned – or even criticised, for actions which clearly lack integrity.

The trail of corruption and poor policy which has followed Scott Morrison’s ultimate elevation to the prime seat of power has been documented – and ignored, because, it seems, self-interest dominates over any sense of purpose to benefit Australians.

Scott Morrison was in charge of Immigration when “Stop the Boats” was the government’s watch cry. Under his rulings, massive breaches of human rights have occurred, resulting in the deaths and ill-health of numerous innocent refugees, for want of taking effective steps to find proper sanctuary for them.

Treated like criminals, with no hope for a future, the trail of suicides and mental health breakdowns would weigh heavy on the conscience of many – but not our fearless leader.

Taking over from the useless Joe Hockey (isn’t it great how being a useless Treasurer enables you to become the Ambassador to the USA?), Scott was in charge of Treasury when Stuart Robert, whose history of incompetence includes an inability to work out how much of his home internet costs should be charged to the country, introduced the policy now known as RoboDebt.

Any experienced Centrelink Officer could have told him, that the process of determining the entitlement to payment for someone who was out of work, took account of all relevant issues, and if the recipient of a Centrelink payment provided all income details, no over-payments occurred.

Ah! you will say – but not every recipient was honest. And that is true. But their number pales into insignificance in comparison with the majority who reported accurately – and were still accused of owing money.

In any case, and more importantly, averaging annual income as reported to ATO, cannot begin to provide an accurate picture of the individual’s fortnightly income receipts, if the person has been in and out of work.

A basic understanding of arithmetic would be enough to realise that the algorithm which was developed was totally inappropriate for the purpose for which it was developed.

Issues arising from false demands, debt collectors being employed – the whole soul-destroying attack on vulnerable people – was played out in the media. To what effect?

The government held its ground until the lawyers got involved.

The PM now wants legislation to ensure that the ability to fight a class action is curtailed – chiefly, I suspect, because one has been brought against them – and they have hastily admitted that the system was illegal and they will – or say they will – refund all the monies that were paid.

I, for one, would like to see an oversight body being established to ensure that every cent – plus, preferably, interest – is properly refunded. But some of those people will have borrowed money, possibly at exorbitant interest rates, some of them will have endured problems from stress and it is possible that some are not able to benefit from the repayment of falsely claimed ‘debts’ because they have died!

What about compensation?

And now the crowning moment!

Our aspiring would-be leader, drapes his arm around his predecessor’s shoulder, says “You are my leader” – and promptly ensures he has the numbers to seize the position from him.

Now, unfortunately, Malcolm Turnbull, who should be credited with having a greater sense of what being honourable means than do many of his fellow politicians, misread Peter Dutton.

He did not realise the Machiavellian depths to which Dutton can sink, or that creating a mega department for Dutton to control was – in a nutshell – not a good idea.

If there is one department that regularly spends over-budget, lets contracts without due process, and generally wastes scarce resources with gay abandon, its name is Home Affairs. The auditors must wonder why they bother to audit it, as no action seems to be taken, ever, to rein in the excesses and follow the rules.

And, possibly because Scomo may suspect that Dutton sees the now PM as having stolen the job from him, Dutton is allowed to act like a spendthrift with our sparse resources.

We are now in an interesting, if potentially disastrous, stage in our history.

Since the GFC, the Coalition has been hitting Labor round the head, with totally ill-founded arguments about their financial policy to ensure our economy recovered as swiftly as possible.

Actually, the rest of the developed world recognised the skill with which Labor achieved the desired outcome, but our Coalition politicians seem incapable of seeing facts through their warped ideological vision.

I secretly wonder whether Scomo realises his lack of ability as a leader – and this is why – without fanfare or acknowledgement, he accepted a suggestion to establish the National Cabinet (NC).

This has been such an inspired idea that I am sure it cannot have come from him.

Getting the glory is, after all, the reason to wish to be PM!

He has taken care to be the front-man for announcing all policy decisions, ensuring he appears to be the initiator, while, in the case of the Robo-debt back-down – letting Robert do a very inadequate job of advising that the government recognised that the policy was illegal.

Please remember – as Treasurer – Morrison signed off on the policy, saying that their advice was that they had good grounds to introduce it. I assume they got nether mathematical nor legal opinion!

The NC is to be congratulated in steering government to enable the country to get through this phase of the COVID-19 crisis with so few deaths.

I say ‘this phase’ for a reason.

Before the NC was established, Morrison had dithered about initiating a lock-down, and the members of that Cabinet must have worked really hard, to ensure Morrison accepted a policy which went even further than Rudd’s, in dealing with the GFC.

I am also grateful that the NC is to continue, because we now have three major problems.

The first is the elephant in the room – climate change – and gas is not a saviour, it is a fossil fuel which enriches people like Andrew Liveris. (Conflict of interest? Surely not!)

The second is that we do not yet have a vaccine for COVID-19, so are likely to continue having to deal with periodic quarantining and restricting overseas visitors, affecting our economy.

And the third is, of course, enabling the economy to recover, in a situation of incredibly high un- and under-employment.

And I trust Scott Morrison’s ability to develop appropriate policies about as much as I trust Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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  1. Jack Cade

    Excellent article! Well done!

  2. Lantanaman

    Robo-debt, I believe there are only three possible explanations for how this evil device was released on innocent victims, Australian citizens, who the Government, this government, our government will tell us represent the true capital of this great land. Empty rhetoric is what I call it. This government cares not for its citizens, it cares for its own survival, the promotion of its own interests, to do this it has a symbiotic relationship with big business, a mutual scratch each other`s back for their mutual benefit. The master of slogans but light on performance, promotes a hail fellow well met persona, that he is one of us, what you see is what you get, he would have us believe. I trust the man he deposed not this nasty piece of work. The US has Trump, and well might we pity its citizens, we have this misfit, I hope they are sympathetic to ours.

    I digressed a little there, the three explanations for how Robo-debt actually became a reality, how it managed to elude the brains trust as being a flawed ill considered action plan. The errors are as wide as this country, primary school stuff absolutely. The people responsible and I use the term responsible advisedly, responsible only to the extent that they were indeed responsible for this evil and they should therefore lose their job, they should be sacked, don t expect them to fall on their sword that would require a sense of honour of which this government is grossly deficient. #1 possibility the architects were intellectually challenged, but I mean seriously challenged. #2 that they were dishonest, they realised that the scheme was not kosher, that it would leak like a sieve if people decided to take issue with the fraudulent debt notices. Did they not think that with the huge numbers of people sent debt notices that a certain number would take issue, they would not roll over, they would make trouble? If so that was a foolish gamble. Maybe they thought that welfare recipients were a sub class who deserved to pay back money they didn t really deserve, hell if we didn t have to pay so much out on welfare imagine how great our economy would be. Slogan alert, "If you have a go, you will get a go". Sorry I feel soiled repeating that glib piece of rubbish. So if they thought they could pull off the biggest scam in this country s history they are seriously un-bright, dim. Make no mistake this is/was a scam that makes all other scams that visit our land pale into insignificance, not wishing to diminish the hurt, the pain, the suffering that foreign scammers inflict on innocent victims here or anywhere. That a respected nation`s government could plumb the depths of criminality as to steal from its least advantaged citizens, correction disadvantaged citizens. I feel inadequate describing my disgust with this government and its former iterations. #3 that the schemers were brain dead and therefore incapable of understanding the basics of why it would never fly. i suppose that it enjoyed a measure of success, early on. After all people get a threatening letter from the government, one of the largest departments, advising they have a debt which needs to be paid. We are all familiar with the MO, there was mention of debt collectors if payment was not forthcoming. How is that for making disadvantaged people feel included? One big happy family, I think not.
    So now this rotten lot are to get their comeuppance, in my book they can not be punished enough. This is going to be schadenfreude on steroids for me.
    My plea, please, please voters of Australia, toss every one of these tossers to the scrap heap where they belong.

  3. Jack Cade

    I always wondered what a shithouse rat was. What distinguished it from an ordinary rat. Morrison v Dutton showed me the difference.
    Dutton challenged Turnbull.
    Dutton is an ordinary rat. Vile as he is, I don’t think he would have put his arm around Turnbull as Judas Morrison did.

  4. New England Cocky

    Another comprehensive example of why the Liarbral Nazional$ misgovernment is unfit to EVER sit on the Treasury benches of the Australian Parliament. Thank you.

    IMHO, Australians have been indoctrinated with cultural cringe by entities kow-towing to formerly English, then American interests, and it has been most comfortable for the Australian public to simply agree to this media barrage. The present situation sees Australian endeavours undervalued simply because they are Australian; remember Little Johnnie Howard’s $1 BILLION R&D gift to 10 American corporations for funding Australian R&D?

    Did Hoyts Theatres management have a vested interest in extolling Hollywood movies rather than supporting the growth of an Australian film industry at home, so that our many talented actors were required to work overseas as star performers generating profits for foreign investors?

    The laziness and unwillingness of Australian banks to fund venture capital and the management class preference for comfortable jobs creaming the top off small operations simply because it was easier than building Australian international corporations has a too long history that has caught up with the present generation and left them with nothing.

    Robodebt was another example of Liarbrals helping a mate rip off the Australian government to the detriment of Australin taxpayers. Will the proponents of this matter be held accountable for the financial losses?

  5. John Lord

    When it is proclaimed so by Scot Morrison.

  6. andy56

    The whole system is foocked. Lets go to the fundamentals of our system as is. Lowe said , before Covid 19, that he was aiming for 4.5% unemployed. Think about that, structurally the system is rigged so that 4.5% of people are officially excluded from “work”. Look at the government response. Newslave is paid to those people. “We are going to make them so destitute even destitute wages will look good” Then they employ an army of people at great cost to maintain the impoverishment of the 4.5%. ( kind of like $50m for two refugees to cambodia, would have been cheaper to hand then a couple of mill each). I can cite many many more examples where the protestant ideology of fake jealousy is enforced .
    Banking is one of those great enabling ideas humanity has had but in the last 50yrs we have managed to twist it around. Its now “THE” industry, no longer an enabler but the bouncer on the gates at the most exclusive joint. It feeds on stranded assets such as housing speculation. Its the new master/ serf relationship. Tied up for 30yrs for basic housing. No wonder we are all stressed. We are forced to eat shit just to keep the master happy. Democracy is just a hollow mantra for serfdom.
    At time when demand is spiraling down, its easy to see the stuff ups we have been banging on about for years. But those who chose to ignore the warnings are now brothers in arms at jobkeeper and jobseeker.
    Think about that. DEMAND Its dead. No money to spend equals no demand.

    How much is money is sucked out of the economy because of high mortgages, this would be a telling calculation for sure. $25,000 (2018) per person at 4% = $250b (please sombody give me the real figure )
    How much money is sucked out by super contributions every year ( $130b)
    You can see where i am going with this, the TWO biggest factors to demand in our economy are the two biggest pillars of our economy.

    You want to fix the economy, get house prices to drop dramatically, support those that lose a bit and watch the money flow.
    Those that spend all their money are in the lower financial orders. Give them more to spend.
    This is BASIC CAPITALISM that so many economists/governments cant see.
    Wage rises are dead. We jumped that bridge when we sold out our manufacturiung sector and went for big mines instead. So the only other way is to reduce DEBT. Private debt that is. Its as good as a wage rise.
    How is investing in a massive gas industry anything but a stab in the dark? Gas is uneconomical for many of us as is. Have they not heard of climate change? Clearly Cavanan doesnt even think its our problem, its china’s fault. yet we are going to do more of what we have done in the past because clearly it worked, it enabled us top get to this position…………………………WTF?
    Clearly renewables are doing too good a job, they dont need assistance yet the fossil fuel people are doing it tough. Who amongst us lives in alice’s wonderland?
    Scott from marketing, do your foocking job

  7. Jaquix

    Good article though I would not use Morrison’s self-invented “nickname” ever. Though if you shorten it to Scum, that is quite appropriate.
    Im looking forward to seeing the Robodebt class action continue right to the end – in the courtroom, in which case the court will call Morrison, Porter and Stuart Robert (and others) who were the main architects of robodebt. They can be cross examined and must tell the truth, or be charged with perjury. That will be hard for Morrison, a compulsive liar. The court may well order costs, interest and compensation/damages to be paid.
    Morrison hoped that releasing the news of paying back 350,000 people (in advance of the court case) late on Friday, “putting out the trash” would mean it wouldnt get much oxygen. On the contrary, its getting plenty of well deserved attention None of it is good for the government, which is a good thing. And they cant stop the class action, even better!
    The expanded National Cabinet setup can wait to be picked apart. More power being devolved to Morrison. The NC has worked well with all Premiers (except Gladys ) being exceptional. Four Labor Premiers and 3 LNP is a decent mix. Imagine if the numbers go the other way. Might not work so well then.

  8. Max Gross

    Both Libs and Labs agree that 5% jobless rate is “acceptable”, indeed necessary to maintain low interest rates, therefore an integral part of the neo-liberal dog-eat-dog economic system we are subject to and that both major parties adhere to. In other words the unemployed are in effect “essential workers” and should be compensated accordingly. Put it this way, if you have a job it’s because someone else doesn’t.

  9. Socrates.

    History repeats from last century, at least. What happens to societies run by self absorbed psychotic narcissists?

  10. Bronte ALLAN

    Well said, Rosemary! We could NEVER expect anything better from his COALition so-called “liberal” (?) party! This lying mob of obscenely overpaid (compare Trumpets salary with slomo’s!), flat earth, climate change denying, “friend”(?) of ALL big business, media magnates–especially mudrakes lot–, mining magnates, pastoralists etc etc, & right wing bloody conservatives, ALL of who are just in it for the money, “fame” & “glory” (?) of being in parliament. BASTARDS, the lot of them!

  11. crypt0

    Strangely enough, despite all of the above, Morriscum’s popularity rating reaches new highs at 65% … Thank the Lieberal voters for about 50% … but there is a further 15% to explain!
    Perhaps they take the following at face value …
    “From my faith I derive the values of loving kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way “… and on and on it goes. (From the author of Robodebt, Stop the Boats , Keep Newstarve atr $40 /day et al)
    Who believes this utter crap? Presumably about 65% of ‘strayan voters.
    I am waiting for the major church leaders to call this arch hypocrite out, but all I hear is … crickets …

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