You may have noticed that the word socialist and its related terms are tossed around a lot as political insults. Typically, the right-wing does this to place their opponents in a political phylum for ease of dismissal. They make no attempt to engage with the actual arguments of their opponents. The mere application of a label is supposed to make them go away. Such a tactic is, of course, a red herring. A shiny thing designed to distract from the actual issue.
The reality is that politicians do not actually hate socialism. In reality, they hate socialism for the wrong people. Socialism itself is not the problem, it is the recipients.
There is never any talk of cutting politicians’ pensions or pay. There is never talk of ending corporate subsidies in an allegedly capitalist system. The idea of ‘how will we pay for this?’ is only ever applied to social programmes such as medicare (and its counterpart in the US Medicare4All) but never to corporate subsidies or the military or any other corporate or rich priority. For those sectors of society, the treasury is their plaything. But when it comes to social programmes for the peasants (even if that term is never used) suddenly politicians evolve into deficit hawks. This hypocrisy must stop.
If politicians had the strength to do what is right, we could make this world a far better place. Instead, we are subjected to lying, mealy mouthed excuses. endless arguments about ridiculous trivialities, and empty egotistical posturing.
We are led by politicians who are more scared of losing an election than of wrongly sending us to war or of the consequences of ignoring climate change.
You aren’t a “strong leader” Scott. You are an empty blowhard on the make who doesn’t have the ability or the courage to solve anything.
Roy Morgan’s survey of trust in Australia’s professions rates bank managers at 33 per cent. This is pretty poor compared to public trust in nurses, who, at the top of the scale, enjoy a well-deserved 94 per cent. But federal MPs score half that, a mere 16.
The banks abused the people’s trust and took Australians’ money. The political parties abused the people’s trust and took their democracy. Yet the political leaders managed to spend the week damning the banks without any evident self-reflection.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has demanded Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm pay her compensation and apologise within seven days or face defamation action over six separate statements he has made about her personal life.
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.
“This is very unhealthy for our democracy. It’s not right, it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t smell right. This is very, very unusual and concerning conduct,” Mr Shorten said.
Mr Joyce – who is fighting a byelection after being booted from Parliament for holding dual citizenship – said on Tuesday night that “all I’m thinking about now is the things I’m going to do on my own farm” with the money.
When handed the novelty oversized cheque, he exclaimed: “Hooley dooley! Rightio.”
What do PM Malcolm Turnbull, Premier Mike Baird, and NZ’s PM John Key have in common? They were all investment bankers – for Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch respectively. Like Costello, and Hockey with Medibank Private, Baird and Key have both been able to sweet talk their constituents into selling off billions of…
The inability of politicians to put the principle of marriage equality ahead of their own political interest is one of the key reasons Australia is lagging behind
The subject matter of this post is in the main the work of Dr Dale Kerwin of the School of Education, Mt Gravatt Campus, Griffith University. I received an email from a friend asking me to share its contents. I thought it worthy of the wide audience THE AIMN attracts.
When Joe Hockey decided that the Age of Entitlement was over he was of course not referring to politicians. In his May 2014 budget he set about cutting the entitlements of those least able to afford it. There needed to be more cash for those more entitled and privileged. He set about attacking those out of work, family payments and pensioners.
Some of the budget cuts were so harsh that even the Business Council of Australia, the lobby group for the biggest of big businesses, was moved to protest: “We are very concerned about the risk that savings are falling too heavily on some families and young people trying to find work,” said its chief executive, Jennifer Westacott.
The deputy prime minister and leader of the National Party, Warren Truss, said this about age pensioners in a post-budget speech to Brisbane’s Conservative Club: “Increasingly the lifestyle – and the savings for superannuation – are being seen as the opportunity to enjoy a few cruises and the luxuries of life for a few years until it runs out and then people wish to fall back on the aged pension.”
The (former) Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, told a press conference: “The days of easy welfare for young people is over. We want a fair system, but we don’t think it’s fair that young people can just sit on the couch at home and pick up a welfare cheque.”
With regards to aged pensions Dr Kerwin makes this point:
“I absolutely agree, if a pension isn’t an entitlement, neither is theirs. They keep telling us that paying us an aged pension isn’t sustainable.Paying politicians all the perks they get is even less sustainable! The politicians themselves, in Canberra, brought it up, that the Age of Entitlements is over”.
Here are some proposals for the lifters, as Joe is font of calling the entitled. Proposals to make politicians shoulder their share of the weight now that the Age of Entitlement is over:
1. Scrap political pensions.
Politicians can purchase their own retirement plan, just as most other working Australians are expected to do.
2. Retired politicians (past, present & future) participate in Centrelink.
A Politician collects a substantial salary while in office but should receive no salary when they’re out of office. Terminated politicians under 70 can go get a job or apply for Centrelink unemployment benefits like ordinary Australians.
Terminated politicians under 70 can negotiate with Centrelink like the rest of the Australian people.
3. Funds already allocated to the Politicians’ retirement fund be returned immediately to Consolidated Revenue.
This money is to be used to pay down debt they created which they expect us and our grandchildren to repay for them.
4. Politicians will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Politicians pay will rise by the lower of, either the CPI or 3%.
5. Politicians lose their privileged health care system and participate in the same health care system as ordinary Australian people, i.e. politicians either pay for private cover from their own funds or accept ordinary Medicare.
6. Politicians must equally abide by all laws they impose on the Australian people.
7. All contracts with past and present Politicians men/women are void effective 31/12/14.
He further suggests that:
“The Australian people did not agree to provide perks to Politicians, that burden was thrust upon them. Politicians devised all these contracts to benefit themselves.
Serving in Parliament is an honour not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so our politicians should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work”.
If you are wondering why Dr Kirwin is circulating his email take a look at the following figures.
REMUNERATION FOR – SPECIFIED STATUTORY OFFICES
Date of Effect 1 July 2014
Specified Statutory Office
Base Salary (per annum)
Total Remuneration for office (per annum)
Chief of the Defense Force > $535,100 – $764,420
Commissioner of Taxation > $518,000 – $740,000
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Customs
and Border Protection Service > $483,840 – $691,200
Auditor-General for Australia > $469,150 – $670,210
Australian Statistician > $469,150 – $670,210
Salaries of retired Prime Minister and Politicians
Office Additional salary (%) Salary as of 1 July
Prime Minister 160 $507,338
Deputy Prime Minister 105 $400,016
Treasurer 87.5 $365,868
Leader of the Opposition 85.0 $360,990
House of Reps Speaker 75.0 $341,477
Leader of the House 75.0 $341,477
Minister in Cabinet 72.5 $336,599
Parliamentary secretary 25.0 $243,912
Other ministers 57.5 $307,329
Shadow minister 25.0 $243,912
Source: Remuneration Tribunal.
So if I press all the right buttons, the TOTAL annual wages for the 150 seats in the Parliament are:
Prime Minister $507,338
Deputy Prime Minister $400,016
Leader of the Opposition $360,990
House of Reps Speaker $341,477
Leader of the House $341,477
Minister in Cabinet $336,599
Parliamentary secretary $243,912
Other ministers* 307,329 x 71 = A$21,820,359
Shadow ministers* $243,912 x 71 = A$17,317,752
The TOTAL ANNUAL SALARIES (for 150 seats) = $41,694,311 – PER YEAR! And that’s just the Federal Politicians, no one else!
For the ‘lifetime’ payment example (below) I used the scenario that:
1. They are paid ‘lifetime’ salaries the same as their last working year and
2. After retiring, the ‘average’ pollie’s life expectancy is an additional 20 years (which is not unreasonable).
It’s worth remembering that this is EXCLUDING all their other perks!
SO, for a 20 years ‘lifetime’ payment (excluding wages paid while a Parliamentarian)
Prime Minister @ $507,338 = A$10,146,760
Deputy Prime Minister @ $400,016 = A$8,000,320
Treasurer @ $365,868 = A$7,317,360
Leader of the Opposition @ $360,990 = A$7,219,800
House of Reps Speaker @ $341,477 = A$6,829,540
Leader of the House @ $341,477 = A$6,829,540
Minister in Cabinet @ $336,599 = A$6,731,980
Parliamentary Secretary @ $243,912 = A$4,782,240
Other ministers** @ $307,329 = A$6,146,580 x 71 = A$436,407,180
Shadow ministers** @ $243,912 = A$4,878,240 x 71 = A$346,355,040
TOTAL ‘life time’ (20 year) payments, (excluding wages paid while in parliament) = A$833,886,220 – OVER $833 MILLION
Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Paul Keating, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, et al, add nauseum, are receiving $10 MILLION + EXTRA at taxpayer expense.
Should an elected PM serve 4 years and then decide to retire, each year (of the 4 years) will have cost taxpayers an EXTRA Two and a half million bucks a year! A$2,536,690 to be precise.
A 2 year retirement payment cut-off will SAVE our Oz bottom line A$792,201,909 *** NEARLY $800 MILLION.
There are 150 seats in House, minus the 8 above = 142 seats, divided equally for example = 71 each for both shadow and elected ministers.
This example excludes all wages paid while a parliamentarian AND all perks on top of that – travel, hotels, Secretarial staff, speech writers, restaurants, offices, chauffeured limos, security, etc. etc.
150 seats, 20-year payment of A$833,886,220 less annual salary x 2 years of A$83,388,622. [$41,694,311 x 2]
“Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks”. (Doug Larson. English middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, 1902-1981).
So it seems that Joe Hockey now infamous budget was very clear. The age of entitlement is over but it doesn’t apply to politicians. They are to remain forever entitled or until electorate demands that it not be so.
ACTION: Push for a MAX 2 year post retirement payment (give ‘em time to get a real job).
Dr. Dale Kerwin
School of Education
Contact details available on request.
Recent discussions have caused me to think about what I consider to be the job of an elected Member of Parliament.
I should preface my remarks by saying I have never been a member of a political party. I was a union member when a government employee. Perhaps those things are relevant, perhaps not.
Wikipedia describes politics as the practice and theory of influencing other people, hierarchical control over a human community, the distribution of power and resources within a given community.
It goes on to describe the variety of methods employed in politics, which include promoting one’s own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries.
Perhaps that is the real definition of politics – influence, control and power.
Googling “politician job description” led me to a job site which talked about why you might choose politics as a career.
Many high-ranking politicians also find lucrative consultancy roles once they’ve left the world of politics.
Plenty of perks in this job; good pay, varied days, plenty of career prospects and a long summer break.
Many politicians have been actively involved from a young age so it’s never too early to start.
Routes into politics include:
Working as a political researcher
Working as a politician’s assistant
Working as a trade union activist
Politicians are an eclectic bunch and this career attracts folk from every walk of life. However, to survive the choppy waters of politics you’ll need:
Bags of determination
Plenty of self-belief
A passion for current affairs (if you don’t watch the news this isn’t the career for you)
The ability to stay calm under pressure
Top-notch communication skills
and you’ll also need to be a confident public speaker so there’s no time to be a wallflower.
By this time I was getting a rather sour taste in my mouth for “politics” and decided to move on to Parliament.
On a government page called “About the House of Representatives” it said:
Each Member represents an electoral division.
I think that is important. Every person sitting in that chamber was elected by the people whose area they represent presumably because of the belief that they can best represent their interests. Whether they be local, national, or global interests, the majority of the electorate chose that person to represent their vote.
The House’s central function and the one which takes up most of its time is the consideration and passing of new laws and amendments or changes to existing laws. Any Member can introduce a proposed law (bill).
Any member, of either house, may introduce a bill. I know that to get anything passed it has to be passed by a majority in both houses but members are elected to represent their constituents, not their parties, and they should always vote in their electorate’s best interests. Sharman Stone’s vociferous support for SPC Ardmona was an admirable example of someone fighting for her constituents rather than parroting the party line. Every vote should be a conscience vote rather than a direction of how to vote from a factional leader.
Represents the people—Members may present petitions from citizens and raise citizens’ concerns and grievances in debate. Members also raise issues of concern with Ministers and government departments.
Watching Question Time gives a very poor representation of what Parliament is about but a very good one of what politics is all about. Sharman Stone dismissively described it on Q&A as “a stage for the men to perform their theatrics”. Committees are much more interesting and you even sometimes find things out there as opposed to someone trying to make the nightly news with a one-liner. Televising them rather than QT would be a much better way of informing the public of both sides of a debate.
My personal view is that every elected Member of Parliament should spend their term in office listening, learning, questioning, and then, on the basis of the expert advice available to them, proposing solutions to the problems facing our nation and voting to steer us in the right direction.
But unfortunately, our Members of Parliament see themselves as politicians rather than public servants and are more concerned with their career path than the path of our country. It’s all about the next election.