Tony Shepherd has been paid $55,000 for 17 days work producing a report which recommended that the rules governing the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund be changed to allow the government to pretty much do what it likes with its five billion dollar slush fund.
That’s the same Tony Shepherd who was paid $85,000 for a few weeks work as head of the Commission of Audit that was the basis for Abbott’s 2014 budget from hell.
I told a friend the other day I was to be speaking here in Canberra today and she told me a joke. A man is doubled over at the front of Parliament House throwing up. A stranger comes up and puts an arm around the vomiting man. I know how you feel, the stranger says.
It’s not a bad joke. But it felt familiar. I went searching my book shelves, and finally found a variation of it in Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, set in communist Czechoslovakia in the dark years after the Prague Spring. In Kundera’s version the two men are standing in Wenceslas Square.
A Canberra public servant sacked for expressing her views on asylum seeker policy, has won her case for compensation after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia found she was unlawfully dismissed.
In September 2013, Michaela Banerji was fired from the Federal Department of Immigration after it was revealed she had been using the anonymous Twitter name @LaLegale to criticise the then-government, the minister and department policies — particularly over the handling of refugees.
In one tweet Ms Banerji wrote:
“Think of the deaths we are responsible for in Iraq! Think of the refugees we have created by our invasion of Iraq!”
If any statement has shown how much trouble the Liberal Party is in, it’s that one.
Peter Dutton? A statesman?
The Coalition works on the theory that “a rising tide lifts all boats”, which is all very well if you happen to own a boat. The majority of the population is either bailing hard to stay afloat, treading water or drowning.
In the last five years, the world’s economies have made a strong recovery. Investment has returned, GDP is growing, profits are up and jobs are being created.
The problem is that all this extra wealth is going to the people who already own boats.
In 2017, the top ten percent owned 50.3 per cent of all wealth in Australia. The top one per cent’s share was 22.9 per cent while the bottom 60 per cent’s share was 15.3 per cent.
Any war failing to yield peace is purposeless and, if purposeless, both wrong and stupid.
War is evil. Large-scale, state-sanctioned violence is justified only when all other means of achieving genuinely essential objectives have been exhausted or are otherwise unavailable. A nation should go to war only when it has to — and even then, ending the conflict as expeditiously as possible should be an imperative.
Mr. Fish / Truthdig
The Israeli army’s wanton slaughter of unarmed Palestinians trapped behind the security barriers in Gaza evokes little outrage and condemnation within the United States because we have been indoctrinated into dehumanizing Muslims. Islam is condemned as barbaric and equated with terrorism. The resistance struggle against foreign occupation, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Gaza, sees Muslims demonized as the enemy. Muslims are branded as irrational and inclined to violence and terrorism by their religious beliefs. We attack them not for what they do but because we see them as being different from us. We must eradicate them to save ourselves. And thus we perpetuate the very hatred and counterviolence, or terrorism, that we fear.
In March 2018, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) sent Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg their assessment of whether AGL’s plan would meet our future energy needs.
AEMO’s analysis shows that an additional 850 MWs of resource capability are required to ensure reliability in NSW following the closure of Liddell. If all three stages of the AGL plan are completed, the resource gap will be eliminated.
In its current state, Liddell is more likely to be the cause of a power emergency because of what AEMO describes as the potential for ageing coal generators to fail in the heat – during the 2016-17 summer heatwave, Liddell was missing 1,000MW of its capacity due to problems with boiler tube leaks.
When Joe Hockey delivered his first fiscal statement in December 2013, it painted a much bleaker picture than the PEFO produced by Treasury and Finance in August based on Labor’s policies.
This was in part due to the Coalition’s decisions, foregoing $7.4 billion in revenue from the carbon tax and unnecessarily gifting $8.8 billion to the RBA for example, and partly due to Hockey changing forecasts, assuming a sustained unemployment rate of 6.25 per cent over the forward estimates for example.
“We have inherited from the Labor Party budget deficits totalling $123 billion over the next four years, and unless we take immediate action, we’ll be in deficit for more than a decade,” Mr Hockey said.
Whatever action they have taken doesn’t seem to have worked because the deficits over the four years since the Coalition took government have added to $159.2 billion with another $20 billion to the end of February this year.
Hockey’s 2013 MYEFO also warned of ballooning debt suggesting that Labor’s profligate spending would see gross debt hit $460 billion by the end of 2016-17.
Under the Coalition’s supposed superior economic management, gross debt was actually $501 billion by the end of 2016-17.
“We have never had a president, at least in the modern era, whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals,” she writes in her chapter on the US. “[Donald] Trump has spoken harshly about the institutions and principles that make up the foundation of open government, in the process he has systematically degraded political discourse in the US, shown an astonishing disregard for facts, libelled his predecessor, threatened to lock up political rivals, bullied members of his own administration, referred to mainstream journalists as enemies of the American people, spread falsehoods about the integrity of the US electoral process, touted mindlessly nationalistic economic and trade policies and nurtured a paranoid bigotry toward the followers of one of the world’s foremost religious.”
We call on the Government of Ecuador to allow Julian Assange his right of freedom of speech.
If it was ever clear that the case of Julian Assange was never just a legal case, but a struggle for the protection of basic human rights, it is now.
Libertarians are more dangerous because they are insidiously campaigning to undermine the very fabric of our society. For them, governments should get out of the way. Let the free market reign. Low taxes. No rules. Every man for himself, or “individual liberty” as they like to put it.
This overwhelmingly privileged crowd are focused on what they can get out of society rather than what they can contribute.
One of the most refreshing comments made by newly appointed Senator Tim Storer was that he would judge each piece of legislation on its merits and would not be horse-trading.
That, of course, would require him taking the time to read the legislation and having the capacity to understand it, unlike Pauline Hanson who can be fooled into supporting anything if you throw her a bone.
In order to gain Pauline’s support for weakening media ownership laws, Turnbull agreed to have a review into the competitive neutrality of the ABC and SBS – yes, another one.
I think we do have very competitive tax systems and tax settings and that’s been proven.” Canavan LNP
“A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds.”
Sjursen says U.S. foreign policy “has been unmoored and drifting away from anything close to sober strategy for coming up on 17 years now. I think the post-9/11 wars have been an absolute tragedy, and probably the greatest foreign policy disaster since the Vietnam War. … I truly believe we are less safe because of American foreign policy and American militarism in the world since 9/11.”
The corporate elites, which have seized control of ruling institutions including the government and destroyed labor unions, are re-establishing the inhumane labor conditions that characterized the 19th and early 20th centuries. When workers at General Motors carried out a 44-day sit-down strike in 1936, many were living in shacks that lacked heating and indoor plumbing; they could be laid off for weeks without compensation, had no medical or retirement benefits and often were fired without explanation. When they turned 40 their employment could be terminated. The average wage was about $900 a year at a time when the government determined that a family of four needed a minimum of $1,600 to live above the poverty line.
The government has offered no evidence whatsoever that their proposed company tax cut will lead to more investment, more jobs and higher wages other than the assurance that it will happen “as surely as night follows day”.
In fact, actual evidence, as opposed to textbook theory and ideology, tells an entirely different story.
To see the Australian cricketer Cameron Bancroft looking as though he was fiddling with the crown jewels when he was actually tampering with the ball wasn’t just a bad look for Australian cricket, but also an inditement of just how much public and private morality has slipped in our country. Call it ethics if you want l, or boil it down to cheating or better still, call it plain old-fashioned lying. Like rust it has now permeated itself into all facets of society. Or maybe we have just inherited another of America’s worst traits.
For the last 10 years or so deceit or lying in politics has reached outrageous proportions. The contempt with which politicians treat us is so perfunctory that they believe we actually believe them. Now we are not talking about little white lies … we are talking about whoppers. You know the ones that leave you breathtakingly open-mouthed for there unconscionable audacity.
John Bolton helped lie our country into an illegal war of aggression that killed several hundred thousand Iraqis, wounded over a million, and displaced 4 million from their homes, helped deliver Baghdad into the hands of Iran, and helped create ISIL, which blew up Paris. In a just world, Bolton would be on trial at the Hague for war crimes. Instead, he has been promoted into a position to do to Iran what he did to Iraq.
Firstly, Dutton’s hand-picked choice to head his paramilitary Border Force, a colleague from his days as a Queensland copper, was finally sacked for using his position to get his girlfriend a job and for not disclosing the relationship. Roman Quaedvlieg is obviously held to a higher standard than Barnaby Joyce who just took a self-imposed temporary demotion for the same thing.
Then we hear that, after meeting with Bob Katter’s son-in-law, who happens to be one of the largest gun importers in the country, Dutton is considering forming an advisory board where the gun lobbyists decide on the suitability of legislation.
That’s like letting the aluminium smelters advise us on emissions reduction or the cotton farmers advise us on water management. Or letting the mining companies devise a mining tax that costs them nothing.
The top ten challenges identified by the 18-35 year old age bracket were as follows:
Climate change / destruction of nature (48.8%)
Large scale conflict / wars (38.9%)
Inequality (income, discrimination) (30.8%)
Religious conflicts (23.9%)
Government accountability and transparency / corruption (22.7%)
Food and water security (18.2%)
Lack of education (15.9%)
Safety / security / well being (14.1%)
Lack of economic opportunity and unemployment (12.1%)
So how is our government faring in addressing the things that are of most concern to the young people of the world?
Now let me add that there is nothing wrong with opinions (we all have them) so long as there is a diversity of them. But the fact is we don’t have a diversity and we would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by a media who controls a large percentage of news in our major cities. We can also add self-interest groups and lobbyists.
The less-informed voters unfortunately greatly outnumber the more politically aware and therefore are the obvious victims of mainstream media deception where everything is reduced to simplistic slogans.
Unlike Andrew Bolt who has to write for an average age of 13 to suit the demographic of the publication he writes for, I as do the other writers for The AIMN, seem to attract people of a higher level of thinking with a greater sensitivity for the things that matter.
So with all that said I hope I have explained that the origin of my writing stems from a long-held interest in social justice and inequality: of those who are deprived of a decent education, as I was, the environment and an urgent desire to repair and improve the standard of governance our politicians deliver.
None of the things I believe in can be changed without a change in government. The AIMN is a blog that can influence that possibility. John Lord
Old Dog Thought: It ought to be said that money and the power of distribution of opinion differentiates John Lord from Andrew Bolt more so than their audience. news Corp provides Andrew Bolt with a bigger net
The Most Essential Read for understanding the Aussie Mob by Mike Dawson
“So here we are, with our parliament in stalemate, wavering at the crossroads. One of the two paths leads out of the jungle. The other is a dead end. That’s where all the screeching is coming from. The kings of the jungle don’t want us to leave. They like it here.
The rest of us need to decide. Because the jungle is not going to civilise itself.”
“It’s a parasite, the ancient pathogen of rent-seeking. No need for invention or contribution. Just identify something lots of people depend on. Housing, utilities, jobs, transportation, health, education, credit. Then give your support to politicians who will help you extract a premium for nothing.
We carry this sickness in our body politic. When it flares up, it turns back the clock on the lives of ordinary people, as it is doing today. And it invites us, through spurious mythologies of origin and identity, to forget about the “fair go” and compete in a race that’s stacked against us.
Yes, Australia is still a benign place to live compared to much of the world. But the point is that’s changing. We’re slipping fast, down in the economic expectations of the IMF, down the OECD rankings for health, education and social security, and down the international indices of wellbeing.”
Democracy was designed to work for the masses. We don’t live in a democracy anymore, writes Mike Dowson.
Business & Consumerism
The apparent growth of our economy hides deeper problems. Australia isn’t ready for another global crash, writes Mike Dowson.
I know the government is desperate to find jobs for regional Queenslanders since it is obvious coal mines can’t find private funding. I know the government sees national security as one of its strong suits. But this is getting ridiculous.
The government would not make a decision on ending discrimination in marriage laws. They made us do it and have since formed a committee to fight for the rights of wedding retailers to turn customers away. One wonders how many of them actually want less business.
The government will not make a decision on Aboriginal recognition. They made our Indigenous People go through a lengthy and extensive consultation process to make recommendations and then threw them out without a second glance. They slashed over $500 million from Indigenous funding and then wondered why we aren’t closing the gap.
The central purpose of government in a democracy is to be the role model for, and protector of, equality and freedom and our associated human rights. Government leaders must set an ethical standard for the people to emulate.
In this regard, you are failing badly. The behaviour exhibited daily by our politicians would not be tolerated in any school, any workplace, any organisation.
If you want to help us address bullying, clean up your own act and set an example of how you would like our children to behave.
Anti- Multiculturalism drives Sinophobic Politics but Donations had Tony Abbott cosy up to Mr Huang yet call for the sacking of Sam Dastyari;
The debate about Chinese influence in Australia is an important one about our sovereignty and national interest. But it is also a test of our maturity as a multicultural society. Passing it will require a lot less panic, and a lot more sobriety.
Gun ownership in the United States, largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression. It does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.
via Guns and Liberty
Since John Howard came to prominence, and in the time since, especially under Abbott, the practice of politics now repulses people. We have been so let down by leadership that you would be hard-pressed to find 10% of the population who “trust” our politicians.
For his part Tony Abbott got slapped down after his “Immigration speech” by all and sundry: both friend and foe. Given his personal arrogance and hatred of Turnbull he will probably continue. Even his most ardent supporter Greg Sheridan got in on the act saying he was 100% wrong. I wonder where blind Freddy was? Perhaps Joyce and Abbott will form a tag team. Goodness, I’m seeing images of Barnaby in red speedos.
Abbott showed he had the gift for a bit of sarcasm by saying:
“… gratuitous criticism from ministers who are only in government because I led them there”, and that “you’d think a government that’s lost the past 27 Newspolls might be curious about how it could lift its game.”
We all have to ask ourselves this question. Why are they all doing this? It certainly isn’t for us?
Bill Shorten can now quietly claim the scalps of a Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister. But as last week,s Newspoll showed, it doesn’t seem to hurt the Coalition at all. Almost half the population think they are doing a fine job.
Interest fuels the financial world. The money sitting in your bank account accrues it, and the credit cards in your wallet charge it. If you ever want money quick, you’re going to being paying a decent amount of interest for having that money now rather than later.
But under Islamic law, interest is explicitly forbidden.
that the longer the stagnation and rot of a dysfunctional democracy went unaddressed, the more attractive fascism would become.
Zetkin warned, arises when capitalism enters a period of crisis and breakdown of the democratic institutions that once offered the possibility of reform and protection from an uninhibited assault by the capitalist class. The unchecked capitalist assault pushes the middle class, the bulwark of a capitalist democracy, into the working class and often poverty. It strips workers of all protection and depresses wages. The longer the economic and social stagnation persists, the more attractive fascism becomes. Zetkin would have warned us that Donald Trump is not the danger; the danger is the growing social and economic inequality that concentrates wealth in the hands of an oligarchic elite and degrades the lives of citizens.
Despite all of Barnaby’s failings and poor judgement calls, my real disgust lies with the other 20 Nationals in parliament who have implicitly condoned his behaviour using the Don Burke excuse. Barnaby’s ratings are so good that he can do whatever he pleases and they will still support him for the sake of their own incomes.
The “don’t tell us what to do” attitude is ludicrous. You are obviously so out of touch with what is appropriate, or you never cared, that you have lost all credibility.
You are enablers. And for that, you all deserve condemnation.
But perhaps some obligations should be beyond political calculations. Perhaps there are times to spend political capital on people other than colleagues, allies and donors. Perhaps there are times to spend it on those whose people were wronged enough to receive a formal apology a decade ago, who’ve since seen several policies that concern them effectively abandoned, and who in spite of that, when asked to give us their ideas share them from the heart. Perhaps, but apparently not this week.
Michaelia Cash must have been hoping that everyone would keep looking at Barnaby when she chose to stick her head up today to spruik her take on the latest labour force survey but, thankfully, some journalists have memories that stretch back further than last week.
Overall, according to the ABS, company profits rose by 20% to the year ended 30 September 2017, but the only wages that are going up are the excessive bonuses for CEOs.
The NAB monthly business survey for December said that “Strong business conditions are broad-based across all major industry groups with the exception of retail.”
The business conditions index was unchanged at a strong +13 index points, which is well above the long-run average of +5 index points.
So with business conditions and profits at very high levels, and supposed jobs growth of over 400,000, we should see wages going up.
Except they are not as the following graph shows.
IN 1998, RADICAL American Leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky made the telling observation that:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
Another name for this phenomenon is convergence politics.
In Australia there is convergence on the economy, with debates focusing on relatively minor differences; but where heated debate on the so-called culture wars fills the vacuum.
As Ted Mack pointed out in his 2013 Henry Parkes oration:
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.
But it’s not just a political class – it’s blatant nepotism.
Every decision the honourable members make will be based firstly on how best it serves his or her party. Rarely on how it serves the country and the people.
When the government announced that it would spend $400 billion over the next twenty years on defence materiel and that it would, in opposition to its supposed commitment to free trade, adopt a protectionist requirement for local content, foreign defence manufacturers flocked like bees to a honey pot.
Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein warned Friday that the Trump administration may be ushering in the darkest days in America since Joe McCarthy.
Bernstein blasted Donald Trump’s White House and Republicans like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) who helped release a GOP memo on Friday attacking the FBI and Justice Department investigation of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Bernstein called the memo a “disingenuous partisan document.”