The boys from St Ignatious College
For almost a decade, Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce have been hugely instrumental in the destruction of bipartisan support for action on climate change (and a lot of other things). They have both now had their power stripped from them by their own parties for showing a stellar lack of judgement.
This presents an opportunity for a reset that should be grasped.
But will they?
The Coalition has spent all of its time attacking unions, attacking Labor, attacking individuals who question their policy, and fostering division by ‘othering’ various groups in our community. Five years in and they still are looking for others to blame. The rich have got richer but the vast majority of the population are feeling disappointed and uneasy, concerned about the future. It doesn’t need to be this way. The Coalition election strategy is, once again, to go for character assassination of the Labor leader – “Kill Bill” and “Unbelieva-Bill” and other such puerile nonsense It is up to the public to reject this inadequate attempt at deflection and to demand a genuine debate of important policy.
OUR PM IS THE HIGHEST PAID IN THE OECD & INCOMPETANT
Another example is the government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Labor government introduced a carbon price which was achieving the goal of reducing emissions. The Coalition chose Direct Action instead and, ever since, emissions have been rising.
We have always had the goal to provide affordable, reliable energy. The thing that has changed is the urgent need to minimise global warming. But somehow that imperative has been discarded.
Privatisation of the electricity sector has proven a disaster. The NSW government, against the advice of the ACCC but with the encouragement of the Federal government, sold off Bayswater and Liddell power stations and now the Coalition want to prosecute the company they sold them to if they don’t give it back. They want them to keep using coal rather than implement their plans to use gas and renewables.
Then there’s our asylum seeker and refugee policy. Supposedly, the draconian offshore detention was to save lives. Peter Dutton keeps telling us about the deaths at sea. But he refuses to talk about the deaths in custody or the sexual abuse or the mental health issues or the cruelty and illegality of indefinite detention of people whose only crime was to come by boat instead of plane to ask for our help.
Or we could talk about how we let the car industry die but are now going into the armaments industry. Apparently giving billions to foreign arms manufacturers is preferable to giving foreign aid which has been slashed to record lows.
government who seems to view Treasury as their private piggy bank to use as they see fit, a government that showers largesse on their supporters at our expense, a government who thinks we have no right to know what they are doing as they strip away our privacy rights in the name of national security.
The latest example is the gifting of almost half a billion dollars to ‘save the reef’ to a charity who, last year, spent (or promised to spend) $5.9 million on “science investments” whilst spending $1.44 million on “employee benefits” and another $1.7 million on various administrative expenses. They have six full-time employees and a further five part-time employees who have “roles relating to science, marketing, communications and accounting.”
This gift was made without any tender process or any consultation with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority who have 206 full-time equivalent employees.
For those of us who wonder what this government has actually achieved, the Liberal Party have provided a handy list of “key achievements”.
In March, the Business Council of Australia released a letter signed by 10 senior executives saying the tax plan was “urgent and vital” for keeping Australia competitive.
The irony is that five of the companies who were represented in the letter paid no tax in 2015-16. Legally.
Whilst a rate of 30% is at the higher end of the scale, the average rate of corporate tax in Australia is much lower at 17% and the effective rate (ie the average rate at which pre-tax profits are actually taxed) is lower again at 10.4%.
The real problem facing this country is not company profits – they are at record highs. The issues holding us back are wage stagnation and inadequate welfare. Households have dangerously high debt levels, energy prices continue to soar, and housing is unaffordable where the jobs are.
In a speech to the National Press Club, even Deloitte economist Chris Richardson, a man the government often quotes, said that fixing “unnecessarily cruel” dole payments is a more urgent priority than budget repair.
The BCA agrees, or at least they used to. In May 2013, Jennifer Westacott called for an urgent review of the Newstart payment, arguing the payments must be increased to avoid trapping jobseekers in entrenched disadvantage.
”Poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.” John Lord
In preparation for the election, the Coalition have reverted to their safe space of “class warfare” and “the politics of envy” where they try to convince us that making the rich richer is good for us all and any questioning of rising inequality is just jealousy from lazy people.
I looked for news about Michaelia Cash and the court case about the televised AWU raid but she appears to still be in the ministerial protection program.
It seems Liberal women, like their male colleagues, suffer from a sense of entitlement that precludes accountability.
Deregulation, self-regulation, red tape, green tape, nanny state, small government, privatisation, asset recycling, compliance costs, free market, one-stop shop – these are some of the phrases religiously chanted by big business, and echoed by conservative think tanks and governments, with a certainty that smacks of zealotry.
We are told that the private sector is more efficient so we outsource service provision to them. We sell off valuable assets and profitable government-owned enterprises. We remove regulatory oversight and streamline approval processes.
We sack public servants, urge wage restraint, remove penalty rates, freeze the superannuation guarantee and hobble collective bargaining.
We provide so many concessions for the owners of capital and assets that they end up paying little to no tax. We encourage exports whilst enduring shortages at home. We provide a guarantee for the banks to protect them from the financial turmoil afflicting the rest of the world. We have a whole government department dedicated to making sure the private sector does not face unfair competition from the public sector.
And still, even as companies continue to announce record profits, it’s not enough – they want more.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
All up, the trip cost us $19,619.87.
According to the new “Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority”, any claim for expenses must be “for the dominant purpose of parliamentary business”, it must represent “value for money”, and parliamentarians must be “prepared to publicly justify their use of public resources in conducting their parliamentary business.”
‘Parliamentary business’ includes activities that fall within four streams:
parliamentary duties: covers activities of the Parliamentarian that relate directly to the parliamentarian’s role as a member of Parliament
electorate duties: activities of the Parliamentarian that support or serve their constituents
party political duties: activities of the Parliamentarian that are connected with both their political party and their membership of the Parliament
official duties: activities that relate to the Parliamentarian’s role as an office holder or Minister.
It was only seven months ago that Greg Hunt, Michael Sukkar and Alan Tudge, under threat of contempt of court charges, made an unconditional apology to Victoria’s Supreme Court for comments critical of terrorism sentencing.
In comments that were published in The Australian newspaper,
Chief Justice Warren said the court was “gravely concerned” there was a prima facie case that the ministers and The Australian had committed contempt. “But for the apologies and retractions we would have referred the groups, namely the ministers and The Australian … for prosecution for contempt of Court.”
So how come Peter Dutton is not facing similar censure for saying there was a “problem with some of the judges and magistrates that Daniel Andrews has appointed” who were wrongly allowing bail and imposing “very soft sentences” in the name of political correctness.
And this is not the first time he has made such comments.
With rapidly evaporating respect Mr Turnbull, that’s crap. The rest of the world is moving to fibre whilst you have made us a communications backwater, ranking 50th in the world behind places like Thailand, Estonia, Bulgaria and Kenya. With rapidly evaporating respect Mr Turnbull, that’s crap – » The Australian Independent Media Network
“Whoever wants to make their own private or religious arrangements about living together can do so, provided they do not conflict with Australian law. But for the law to specifically endorse verdicts of religious groups is to give them a power and legal standing that seems at odds with not just our notion of one law for all, but with our Constitution’s insistence on a separation of church and state.”
But now we see the anti-marriage equality campaigners asking for just that – they want special laws to accommodate their religious beliefs.
Wages are not keeping up with inflation, well over 700,000 people are unemployed, part-time, casual and contract work are on the rise and almost 3 million people live below the internationally accepted poverty line.
In 2016-17, corporate profit surged 21.2 percent while average wages rose only 1.8%. In the year to September 2017, trend employment increased by 335,500 persons while the labour force increased by 333,300 persons resulting in 716,600 still unemployed.
Why is it that every time the Coalition are caught out it is a witch hunt?
The head of the misnamed Coalition backbench environment committee, Craig Kelly, has been all over the media with ever more strident calls to stop all subsidies to renewable energy. His argument, which has been adopted by that jellyfish Frydenberg, is that, if renewables are cheaper then they don’t need subsidies. On June 25, Mr Kelly…
“Tony Abbott is the genuine article. The conviction politician who will use his muscle to cajole, bully, smash his way through. Abbott’s ability to yell from the rooftops what he believes in is his strength.”Genuine? Conviction? Strength? Surely you jest.Abbott is a politician who changes his mind depending on how the wind blows as Peter van Onselen reminded us in his article “Tony Abbott’s convictions are ever changing”.
In an article in today’s Australian, Janet Albrechtsen waxes lyrical about departing boss of the Minerals Council, Brendan Pearson, who she claims was “shoved out of his job as boss of the Minerals Council of Australia by those who prefer feel-good corporate bromides and green myths over energy facts and figures.”These purveyors of “green myths” were, among others, BHP and Rio Tinto who said they had lost confidence in Mr Pearson due to his unstinting advocacy for coal, something Ms Albrechtsen, on the other hand, considers a virtue, Source: Why are we letting the fossil fuel industry make the rules on climate change action? – » The Australian Independent Media Network
There are, and always will be, things we should be concerned about, things we should be working to improve, but they get lost in the political misinformation deliberately fed to us by a government that lacks any integrity, a government who chooses to confect crises and then boast about saving us from dangers that either…
The great Debt and Deficit Disaster that we faced going into the 2013 election has miraculously disappeared (even though the debt has more than doubled) and been replaced by good debt and bad debt. Apparently, when the Labor government invested in stimulating the economy, keeping people in work through the global financial crisis, that was bad debt, but borrowing $400 billion to spend on war machines is good debt.
I sure hope Leigh Sales takes Barnaby up on his offer to come back and identify these huge onshore reserves that no-one else knows about.And if I was a state premier, I would be having a very serious conversation with the Federal government about how telling lies for political purposes is not helping the nation.
In an article titled Inside the terrifying mind of Tony Abbott, Bernard Keane quotes a study from 2015 which looks into the psychological basis for climate change denial and why one particular demographic — older white males — tends to dominate the ranks of climate denialists. The study identified that “denial is driven partly by…
Fifty years ago, the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner challenged social norms by exposing the discrimination faced by inter-racial couples. In those days, it was considered ‘unnatural’ for whites to marry blacks. Some people may still feel this way but the wider community has thankfully and rightly moved on from such ignorant prejudice. It…