“It’s spin, pure and simple” said March Australia volunteer Loz Lawrey. “This is a public relations exercise designed to belittle and demonise welfare recipients, portraying the most struggling and disadvantaged in our community as lazy cheats stealing hard-earned tax dollars. You’ll notice the author didn’t consult any welfare recipients for their view on things. Instead he publishes the opinion of a small business owner who owns an investment property. The man works in public relations. What would he know about welfare delivery?”
Mr. Lawrey said that Work For The Dole programs are a poor substitute for job creation.
“Of course business people love the idea of using workers on slave labour rates. But it’s sheer lunacy to suggest that making people work for less than the cost of living will lead to any sport of future job prospects, prosperity or economic growth. Let’s face it, it’s not getting them back into real work on a living wage, it’s a form of punishment. I’m no expert, I’m just a concerned Australian but even I can see that the Abbott government is selling out its own citizens and trying to create a much bigger underclass of working poor than we already have in this country. They want a two-tiered economy.”
Mr. Lawrey pointed out that the facts and figures in the article were presented in a way that exaggerated the impact of social security on the economy.
“A certain percentage of our national expenditure has always gone to caring for those who need help. In the 2014 – 15 budget it’s listed as 35.1%. In 2002 it was as high as 42%. What’s the problem?” he said. “Scott Morrison and the Murdoch media are over-egging the omelette and it smells very similar to that so-called budget emergency – there one minute, gone the next. Portraying welfare as an impending economic disaster is another misrepresentation intended to soften the electorate up for more harsh spending cuts. This is yet another attempt to distract Australians for this government’s record of economic policy failure.”
Mr Lawrey said that the Abbott government’s rhetoric around welfare was dismissive and judgmental. “When Scott Morrison uses terms like ‘a tougher welfare cop on the beat’ he implies that all people receiving assistance are cheats who rort the system. People on welfare are being scapegoated. Welfare is not a dirty word, as the minister implies, and we need to face the fact that there will never be full employment. We will always have sick, disabled and elderly people in our society who need help and support. To deny them that would make us a mean, self-centred nation. Is that really who we are?”
March Australia is holding the National Welfare March in several locations over the weekend of 11-12 July.
David Tyler reviews another exciting week in the jolly Kingdom of Abbottralia.
“Full steam astern!” shouts Captain Hook-or-by-Crook Abbott on the poop deck, ducking volleys of brickbats, derision and sheer disbelief from home and abroad, manfully commanding the start of another week of good government and doing whatever craven acts it takes to follow the almighty IPA’s wish-list, amen, annihilate all opponents and preserve his arse — a commodity he must remind us, that is not for sale. Monday sees him suddenly reversing course to avoid a leaked green-paper proposal for wealthy parents to pay fees for their children’s public schooling bobbing up like a turd in the surf at Bondi.
‘Not policy, now or ever”, Abbott lies, trusting someone will pick it up and run with it. It’s a win-win. The fuss will distract the nation from the legality of Australia’s offshore detention being challenged in the High Court or PWC’s report that a third of Australia is effectively in recession. So much to evade, deny, silence or lie about, he sighs, so little time. But at least he can do Bill slowly. The Royal Commission into destroying Shorten forever promises to be worth every penny, he winks as he is told the Information Commissioner Professor John McMillan has given up after being forced by government cuts to pay all costs, even work from his own home. The Abbott Government’s war on transparency is all going to plan.
A hell’s kitchen of housing prices continue to bubble but nothing to see here, says Abbott and Hockey rubbishing the RBA’s view. Who cares, as long as decent, Liberal voters owning property in Sydney and Melbourne make a fortune? Does it matter where investment comes from? Some foreign buyers, it seems, are all cashed up with the proceeds of crime or are buying under shonky schemes to hide their identity. Yet the matter is well in hand, as the government’s new fee for overseas buyers is guaranteed to ease the pressure. Sort things out. Guaranteed. Enough with the negative.
Listen to Billson if you want proof that economic management is in our DNA:
Tax breaks for some small businesses are restoring our nation’s flagging prosperity. Why, just the other day, a small business in my electorate bought a new coffee machine. A new coffee machine, Madam Speaker! By taking advantage of the new tax write-offs. LNP turd polishers instruct MPs to stud their talk with homespun folksy anecdotes about having a go in the new millennium of the Hockey economic miracle of pandering to where the votes are rather than where investment or even an economic plan is needed.
Minister for Positive (Delusional) Thinking Bruce Bilgewater gurgles joyfully, winsomely to the house, possessed by a permanent raptus; a true believer whose evangelism embodies all that is wrong with the Abbott’s “open for business” slogan. No-one ever tells this polyester-wool blend Pollyanna to shut up on a point of order. Everyone is struck dumb in awe of the holy simpleton. Not so dumb, however, is the rest of the world which is taking less kindly to our wool-pulling in climate change and our entry into the people-smuggling trade.
World leaders are increasingly short with Hunt’s walnut shell and pea solution to global warming, while it looks as if none of the coal in the Galilee Basin is worth mining let alone ruining a world heritage reef over. Scrapping the carbon tax continues to shred our credibility. The notion that Australia is too small to make any difference to the world is challenged by the view that only if the world can get nations such as Australia to reduce emissions will measures to counteract climate change have a chance of success.
We are keeping the world guessing over whethe our PM will even attend the Paris climate talks or send ministers with a cut lunch. And our new emissions target is still a secret. Abbott will only repeat his empty rhetoric that any new target for Australia will
“… safeguard economic growth while taking action on climate change.”
Kill Bill, our PM’s real contribution to statecraft, runs dead midweek in a late night call, we are told, to chateau Shorten. The PM, no, Australia needs the opposition leader to agree to change the law on Thursday to make offshore detention legal. Shorten chortles at the thought of Manus and Nauru suddenly expelling their main income source but agrees with his shifty counterpart that bipartisan support is needed if you really want to make a go of trashing human rights.
Cabinet leaks continue. Abbott continues to tank in all reliable opinion polls and it is increasingly harder for Julie Bishop to disguise her looks of withering scorn; her utter contempt for her PM, a £10 pound pom who never renounced his British citizenship still blocking her glittering career path to the top at any cost.
Yet none of this cramps Abbott’s style in a week which sees him flanked by 12 national flags, avidly eying off some openly displayed colour-coded maps of pure evil secret intelligence on camera.
There is an image of the Middle East projected on a screen behind him which experts recognise as a year old souvenir from The Washington Post news broadcast. Labor give him a flogging with a limp lettuce leaf in parliament about going public with those maps but Abbott has by then enjoyed exploiting his unique photo-opportunity.
Eager, almost priapic, to protect Australia and to keep us all safe from death cults other than Catholicism, Abbott tells the nation that ISIS is coming for each and every one of us. His jihad on the ABC is helped immensely by the appearance of Zaky Mallah on Q&A. “Heads must roll,” he says. Say what you will about his taste in imagery, our PM wastes no time on over thinking his strategy.
Witness his crafty hand pass of the privatising state school political football:
“I think it’s good that some of the states and territories at least are thinking creatively about how they can responsibly fund their operations.”
Abbott winks as he puts away his dog whistle.
By the week’s end, the PM has backed away from a whole raft of measures, including his love for the ABC. Ever the stand-up comedian, Abbott was happy to waste parliament’s time with his ironic public vote of thanks to the ABC for shafting Shorten in The Killing Season but a day later he was calling the national broadcaster to account for “betraying Australia” and getting Malcolm to send the boys around for a please explain.
“Whose side are they on?”
The question will play out well on talkback. Tony Abbott morphs into Oskar Matzerath, the hero of Gunther Grass’ Tin Drum, who chooses to remain a child forever, as he gives a blast on his whistle and beats his anti-terror drum.
It is business as usual. PM Flip-Flop suddenly drops his mission to give Immigration Minister Dutton the power to banish undesirables in favour of something constitutional after all. Dutton would no longer revoke citizenship all by himself but an existing law would be amended.
It is a big back down that goes unacknowledged. But the tough on terror dog whistle has done its job.
A 1948 law that automatically cancels the citizenship – subject to judicial review – of dual nationals who fight with foreign militaries against Australia was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday, making Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s lack of opposition to anything on national security appear even feebler, but sparing him a political wedgie.
Abbott fails to wedge an infuriatingly bipartisan Bill Shorten as soft on bad terror legislation. Even worse, ultimately for both parties, although neither can see it, Shorten unctuously supports Abbott in the hasty last-minute change to the law to fix the human rights smart-arses appealing to the High Court on the legality of Australia’s concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Islands.
The bigger loophole is in allowing access to education to the hoi polloi. Here, the coalition’s strategy is a work in progress. The PM’s high speed flip-flop on fees causes a bit of a pile up in the conga line of suck holes of his ministry. Pyne and Turnbull even break step for a moment to dissent but their leader masterfully out-manoeuvres them.
Abbott, manfully shrugging off possible light bruising, quickly gets in first telling the House that it is not policy. The day’s morning news flash is a non-starter by question time. The PM leaves us guessing why it had been run up the flagpole in the first place.
“If the states and territories want to charge wealthy parents fees for public schools, that is a matter for them…Charging wealthy parents for their children to attend public schools is not this Government’s policy. It is not now, it won’t ever be.”
By question time Monday afternoon, mnister for social media, wealthy parent Christopher Pyne is all a twitter with his opposition to the idea, causing wonderment if not utter disbelief amongst those of the commentariat not under threat of decapitation.
Those permitted to keep their heads were encouraged to avoid all controversy and to stick to publishing lists of the coalition’s record achievements, photographs of Bruce Billson beaming and photographs linking Bill Shorten with colourful union identities and would-be foreign mercenaries.
Some voters are old enough to recall governments refining proposals after discussion, debate and due consultation. Last week, the Abbott Government set a world record in responsive government. No-one can recall a government ever floating and sinking its own proposal on the same day. It is as unprecedented as paying people smugglers bound for New Zealand to turn back to Indonesia.
Clearly, creative problem solving is all the go, whether it be our PAYG border protection racket or keeping ordinary people in ignorance by privatising state schooling. A little fancy footwork is only to be expected when it comes to keeping the nation safe from bad ideas.
The fee for public school reversal, the last minute dash to change the law to make our offshore prisons legal are like beacons of what Mathias Cormann made it his mid-week mission to tell us is the “orderly and methodical“ approach to government favoured by the Coalition. It was all just a means to “a mature and sensible discussion” about how best to steal our children’s birthright and ensure that inequality of opportunity is entrenched in education.
Abbott’s sights remained firmly set on the main chance of his continuing in politics by “hook or by crook” in a full week of the skulduggery and thuggery that was our good government before parliament rose, perhaps for the last time.
Kill Bill was going gangbusters. Even little Katie Carnell was out smearing Shorten with the CFMEU’s criminality on Monday’s The Drum. Citizen-stripping got the tough on terror message out coverage and Monday’s Q&A gave him a perfect opportunity to have another bash at the ABC and the silencing of all objective reporting and – God forbid! – dissent.
The Abbott government’s insistence on secrecy regarding boats carrying asylum seekers has been justified as “not wanting to act as a news service for people smugglers.” We can’t tell them our tactics even though the size of our army and details of its weapons, the number and capability of naval ships and air force planes are widely publicised and reports and photos of towbacks and orange life rafts are all over the Indonesian press.
One wonders why they would not want to publicise intercepts as surely this would act as a deterrent both to the people smugglers and their clients. The excuse wears thinner when one remembers them posing in front of billboards and giving a daily commentary whilst in opposition. How come defence didn’t tell them to stop divulging information?
Is it so we can keep up the pretence that the boats have stopped? Is it so we don’t get busted breaking maritime laws? Is it so Indonesia doesn’t get cross with us for making it their problem?
And why this secrecy should extend to offshore detention camps is even more mystifying. Not only are we notallowed to know, the government doesn’t want to know. The few people who have authority to oversee the well-being of these innocent people who are seeking our help have been ridiculed, threatened, silenced, sacked, deported or ignored.
Government departments have been instructed to dehumanise asylum seekers. This is a very deliberate strategy.
We mustn’t think of them as people just like us who have already endured horrors beyond our imagining. We mustn’t see the children behind razor wire. We mustn’t think of them learning to trade sexual favours for better treatment from those we employ to supposedly protect them. We mustn’t hear about the children in Adelaide who are doing well at school and have endeared themselves to their community. They must be whisked away in the dead of night. We mustn’t hear of babies separated from their families and children denied medication.
Because if we did, we might wonder what we have become.
When the human rights commission published the report on children in detention, Tony Abbott called it “a blatantly partisan politicised exercise” and that “the human rights commission should be ashamed of itself.” He said the government had lost confidence in Gillian Triggs in what he called “a political stitch-up”
When, in Senate estimates in February last year, shadow defence minister Stephen Conroy told the head of Operation Sovereign Borders, General Angus Campbell, that he was ”engaged in a political cover-up” all hell broke loose. Julie Bishop said it was an ”outrageous slur, indeed libel”. The fact that this is a civilian coastguard peacetime exercise seems to have escaped them.
Which brings me to my question for today.
If we agree that operations need to be kept secret when dealing with asylum seekers (which I don’t, but let’s move on), why does that not apply even more so to our “war on terror”?
Before any invitation had been issued or agreement signed, Tony Abbott was announcing to the Australian media exactly how many planes and personnel we were sending to the Middle East, where they would be stationed and when they were arriving. He released details of how many flights were flown, how many bombs dropped, how many targets hit with film to accompany the daily commentary.
On the domestic scene, when hundreds of police carried out pre-dawn raids on a few houses, they filmed the whole thing including homes and handcuffed kids who were later let go with no charge, then gave this footage to the television stations and newspapers despite the innocence of these people. A plastic sword was taken out in a clear plastic evidence bag for all to see.
And why was the Sydney siege on live TV? Isn’t that giving a platform to a terrorist in a far greater way than Q&A did by allowing a person of and with interest to ask a relevant question? Did I hear anyone saying Monis is attention seeking which he clearly was. He wanted to speak to Tony Abbott who did as Ciobo did. He wouldn’t even take the call which is when the hostages got really scared.
“It was then that I knew that there was not going to be any negotiation and we were just left there. No-one was coming for us.” But they were certainly filming you, and filming those who escaped showing exactly where they were leaving the building. This apparently infuriated Monis. Where is the inquiry into the role this uninterrupted news coverage played both in the outcome of the siege and in promoting Monis’ message?
What about the newspapers that published the photo of the child holding a severed head – isn’t this crossing a line in giving this man attention and also very damaging for the child who they had no hesitation in identifying.
And how about Tony Abbott reading out in Parliament details from a video that had been made by two young men threatening to stab the kidneys and necks of a white person.
A high-ranking counter-terrorism officer said they had no idea Mr Abbott would reveal so much detail about the video and that it could potentially prejudice the court case.
NSW Bar Association president Jane Needham, SC, said if the matter went to trial, the court might find it “impossible” to empanel a jury unaffected by the comments.
“That could even mean the men would not receive a fair trial because the jury has already made up its mind,” she told ABC Radio.
Every day we are told exactly what the government is doing. How many passports have been cancelled, how many are fighting overseas, how many are suspected of aiding and abetting them, up to the point of showing maps of where they live during a photo shoot at ASIO headquarters. Since when did intelligence and police headquarters become television sets and photographic studios?
The Murdoch papers are full of photos of terrorists and their actions. Abbott and his chorus line are daily telling us everything they can think of about national security and terrorism even to the point of making stuff up. Abbott feeds into the mystique by his refusal to temper his language despite being advised that he is adding to the problem. He likes the sound of “apocalyptic death cult” – bugger the consequences.
Tony Abbott’s hysteria over Zaky Mallah has made him a household name. His public condemnation of the ABC has led to death threats and ABC employees being put in real danger.
So back to my question.
Why are we giving a very public platform to terrorists and detailing in the media every move we are making to combat them? Perhaps our newly appointed (by Abbott) Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, could explain why talking about asylum seekers is forbidden but telling IS our every move is OK. Or newly appointed (by Abbott) head of the AFP, Andrew Colvin, in one of his many press conferences standing in front of flags with the PM, could explain why they have taken to filming covert operations to supply to the media and are happy to release the details of suspects, their families and addresses to the press before any charges are laid let alone trials concluded. Or newly appointed (by Abbott) head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, could discuss the advisability of engaging in photo shoots at intelligence headquarters with sensitive documents on display when the alert level is high.
They sit on park benches catching a few rays, and we walk straight past them. They lounge on benches in our shopping malls, and we walk straight past them. They fumble their cards a bit at the ATM, and we sigh with impatience, and then walk straight past them. We treat them as though they do not exist.
And who are these invisible ghosts who we consign to the back alleys of our visual and emotional landscapes? Who are these people that we avert our eyes from, and from whom we with-hold the warmth of human contact. They are our old, our elderly, our doddery, and our frail. Many of them are welfare recipients. They are our old people.
And they carry around, within them, this amazingly rich repository of human experience, and we walk straight past it. Once they were children, once they were lovers, once they were activists, once they were workers or employers, once they were vital contributors to the vibrancy of Australian life, once they were perfection and imperfection rolled into one.
Perhaps they fought in Vietnam, or fought against our fight in Vietnam. Perhaps they experienced free-love and opened their consciousness to the beauty of the Age of Aquarius, or perhaps they had reasons for not doing that. Perhaps they demonstrated against the madness of nuclear proliferation and mutual assured destruction, or the scourge of Apartheid, or perhaps they did other things.
They certainly talked and loved; they certainly drank far too much red wine, and said many wonderful and silly inane things; they certainly enjoyed the sheer joy of friendships; they certainly wanted to make the world a better place for their children; they certainly also cried and grieved, and learnt to live with loss, or not.
And so we ignore them, we walk straight past them, and we consign them to the soullessness of sterile blue-walled rooms in nursing homes, and the hardness of isolated park benches.
Only a blip of time separates us from our old people, and soon enough we will be them, and sitting alone in those parks, and left sitting un-visited in our nursing homes.
So let’s engage them, let’s talk with them, let’s share in the richness of their human experience before their fading away becomes irretrievably permanent.
Open your eyes, open your heart, and never again walk straight past them!
TPP could drive up costs and hit patients in the pocket. TPP could drive up costs and hit patients in the pocket. Photo: Glenn Hunt Few Australians would see America’s healthcare system as one we’d choose to emulate. But obligations we acquire via the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement could drive us inexorably towards the US model. And on Wednesday, the US Congress granted President Obama “fast track” negotiating authority – so the conclusion of the TPP is now in sight.
In the US, healthcare costs more, per person, than anywhere else in the world. In 2013 it accounted for more than 17 per cent of GDP, close to double Australia’s 9.0 per cent. And America spent a staggering $US5,149 more per person than Australia – more than twice our per capita expenditure.
Spending a lot doesn’t always deliver results. In the US, many health dollars are wasted on the administrative overheads that come with multiple for-profit insurance providers, or on unnecessary high tech diagnostics and treatments. They bolster the bottom lines of manufacturers, insurers, physicians and hospitals. And with virtually no constraints on prices, high out-of-pocket costs for patients are the norm.
Paying a lot of money doesn’t mean better access to care, either. Despite the tremendous expenditure, there are massive inequalities in access to health care services in the US. While the number of Americans without health insurance has significantly declined with the advent of ‘Obamacare’, as many as 31 million people remain underinsured.
In fact, the values driving US healthcare seem the very antithesis of those that underpin ours. Australians see universal access to health services as being fundamentally important, regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
The community’s resounding rejection of the Government’s plans to introduce co-payments for GP services shows how firmly Australians remain wedded to this principle.
So how could the TPP put these values at risk and drive us towards a higher cost, lower equity system?
President Obama makes no secret of the fact he sees the TPP as a means for America to ‘write the rules’ for global trade. But the TPP is about far more than trade in goods and services. Modern trade agreements encroach on many aspects of healthcare, from access to medicines, to the role of the private sector in health financing and provision, and the capacity of governments to protect public health.
The US has largely set the agenda for the TPP negotiations, tabling proposals often based on current US law. These are shaped by the lobbying of big business and closely reflect its interests.
As a result, the TPP may be viewed as a vehicle to export not only US policies, but also US values, transplanting them into other countries in ways that favour the interests of transnational corporations.
This can be seen most clearly in leaked drafts of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter. Through five years of negotiations – and despite the ongoing resistance of other TPP countries – the US has persistently sought to mould other countries’ intellectual property frameworks in the image of its own.
Patents for minor variations of existing medicines, extensions of patents beyond the 20-year norm, and requirements to link marketing approval to patent status are all elements of the US system that drives massive pharmaceutical expenditure. Unsurprisingly, the US has the highest per capita pharmaceutical spending in the OECD—more than double the OECD average, and almost twice that of Australia.
The US is also seeking 12 years of ‘data protection’ for biologic products in the TPP. Derived from living organisms, biologics include many expensive treatments for conditions like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. During this 12-year period, competing follow-on products couldn’t be approved by regulatory authorities. This means that the manufacturer enjoys a market monopoly that operates whether or not there is still a patent on the original product. Unlike a patent, this monopoly can’t be challenged in court.
Some analysts have argued that even in the US it would be folly to lock in such long monopoly periods for biologics. The 2016 White House budget proposal estimates that reducing data protection from 12 to 7 years, together with prohibiting additional periods of exclusivity for biologics due to minor re-formulations, would save $16 billion in federal spending alone over the next decade.
Adopting this 12-year period in Australia, or any period longer than our current five years, would mean forgoing hundreds of millions of dollars of annual savings to the PBS. Potential savings arising from competition from follow-on products in Europe have been estimated at up to 33.4 billion euros between 2007 and 2020. In the US, the Rand Corporation estimates that $US44.2 billion could be saved from 2014-24 if follow-on products can be made available quickly.
There are other ways the TPP could also see our health system emulating that of the US. Obligations to allow foreign investors to compete on an equal footing with publicly funded or provided services could result in a one way bridge to greater privatisation. Under proposed Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions litigious US corporations could sue over for example, policies designed to promote affordable access to healthcare or protect public health.
Now that Congress has granted “fast track” authority to President Obama, our politicians would do well to pause and reconsider the consequences of signing up to the TPP and its US driven agenda. At stake is the potential for the TPP to seriously derail our healthcare system. Once derailed, getting it back on a track that reflects the values and priorities of Australian voters, rather than transnational corporations, may not be possible.
Deborah Gleeson is a lecturer in the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University. Her research focuses on international trade agreements and their impact on health care and public health policy.
Dr Ruth Lopert is deputy director, Pharmaceutical Policy and Strategy at Management Sciences for Health in Arlington Virginia, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Policy, Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington DC. She was the Principal Medical Adviser at the Therapeutic Goods Administration from 2008-2011.
Karen Nettleton revealed she had been for nine months trying to get her five grandchildren, who were in danger of crucifixion, home from Syria but the Commonwealth Police, after four months, said they couldn’t help her. Peter Dutton, the first free-elected mandrill in a western parliamentary democracy, whooping and scratching himself and clinging with prehensile toes to a parking meter, said she couldn’t come to him either, it were better she contacted the Commonwealth Police. Julie Bishop, beaming, said the children’s crucifixion by DAESH was ‘not a serious foreign policy concern’, and until it was established their father was dead she would make no move to help them; and, if they were crucified in the meantime, ‘well, shit happens.’ Her adoring Malvolio, Peter Hartcher, mixed her a third martini and brushed with tremulous lips her thin green feline fingernails.
A Newspoll was suppressed. A ReachTEL poll on Saturday showed Shorten leading Abbott as preferred Prime Minister by 12.4 percent, or 1.8 million votes. Troy Bramston, lately labelled ‘the smirking tapeworm in the anus of the Labor Party’, said Abbott was ‘on the way back’ and would easily win an early election.
Abbott said he was against gay marriage, though the USA, the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand were for it now, and he ‘in no way regretted’ abolishing it in the ACT in 2013. Pyne and Turnbull said it should be enacted urgently, lest they have to go to election, in bisexual suburbs, defending their leader’s medieval view that it was ‘an abomination, incurring a billion years in Hell.’ Cory Bernardi said ‘the wedlock of sodomites would lead to bestiality’, as it had already, he alleged, in New Zealand.
Sophie Mirabella, a voluptuous Mediterranean beauty who had been thought by some to have ‘assisted’ in the redrafting of her demented longtime lover’s will to favour herself and impoverish his children, was reselected for Indi, an electorate where she was famed for this legendary deed — reminiscent, David Stratton said, of ‘both All About Eve and Double Indemnity’. She swore she was ‘humbled’ and ‘repentant’, adjectives not wholly convincing to Tony Windsor, who had called her a ‘cruel, vengeful, dominating bitch’ in his respected memoir, and promised she would, this time round, ‘see at least one constituent per year in my next term of office.’ Many cabinet ministers who had defrauded the taxpayer to fly to her big fat mafia wedding were ‘overjoyed’ to see her back.
The Calabrian mafia was found to have assisted some Liberals into federal parliament, ‘out of the goodness of our hearts, comprende,’ their Griffith spokesman Salvador Corleone swore, ‘with no thought of any reward or, how you say, kickback.’ He denied that one of these was Steve Ciobo, ‘a man of extreme probity, so extreme we have had to come around and talk to him quietly about it.’ Ciobo denied being Italian, locked the door and crawled under the bed.
Zaki Mallah continued to walk free, buy coffee, greet admirers. Though a manifest danger to the nation and its womanhood, George ‘Soft Cock On Terrorism’ Brandis did not arrest him, nor admonish those Channel Nine executives who gave him, last week, a platform on its website, and the Commonwealth trembled in its shoes. In a tremendous punitive response, the charismatic Alan Tudge refused to go on Q&A, and the chronic blithering Murdoch yes-person Nick Cater, and horror filled the corridors. They thought for a moment of substituting Bob Ellis, but wiser heads prevailed.
Tudge had appeared in front of a sign saying ‘ditch the witch’ and claimed not to have known it was there, though dozens of similar signs were in his line of vision on a hill in Canberra observed by the nation on fourteen channels. Asked if Alan Jones’s proposal that Gillard be towed out to sea and thrown overboard in a sugarbag was a perhaps unacceptably sexist act of treason and terrorism, he said there was ‘no comparison’; Mallah had proposed to gang-bang two lady journalists; murdering a detested female Prime Minister was, in comparison, ‘an entirely acceptable suggestion by a respected community leader whom no-one could misunderstand.’
One of Tony Abbott’s first acts as Prime Minister was to buy (have taxpayers buy) bombproof luxury cars for himself. Considering Julia Gillard rode around in a Holden, this move by Abbott was not a reaction to anything that had happened or was happening, this was done in full knowledge of what was to come – what Abbott was about to create.
All the bitterness, hatred, divisiveness, violence, anger, racial and gender targeting that has spread across this country since 2013 are not an unfortunate byproduct of Abbott’s policies, they are not a flaw in the design – they are his objective.
Australia has no real problems, such as that faced by other countries – current drought aside – we have no civil wars, no border disputes, no wars over access to resources, no invaders, no annual tornado or monsoon season – until 2013 we were a peaceful and prosperous nation. The damage created by Abbott’s austerity and divisive policies is self-inflicted, and not the result of outside influences such as a Global Financial Crisis, the consequences are deliberate. Abbott’s policies are designed to cause as much damage and hardship as possible.
Abbott’s was spoiling for a war from the minute his government was elected – Indonesia, Russia, China, he acted like a the big man, strutting across the world stage, not realising how inadequate a statesman he was, he threatened to shirtfront foreign leaders. Abbott wanted war, and when he couldn’t goad any other country in giving him that, he found ISIS.
The scary brown man over there who want to kill us all, ISIS, a convenient threat to keep the population scared, because no one really understands what is going on over there. Coupled with a OMG! Debt And Deficit Disaster (remember that?), Abbott was softening the country up to accept the need for harsh cruel budgets and a removal of as many rights as he could get away with. ISIS is coming for you and they are bringing their Sharia with them.
Debt and Deficit fear-mongering was useful for a while, it helped soften us up for austerity. Austerity achieves several things for this government. An insecure future keeps the population scared, very scared, and desperate. Consumer confidence is crushed, driving down spending, pushing the unemployment even higher, resulting in people working harder for much lower wages – and lower wages are the desired aims of right-wing governments throughout history. The other outcome of austerity is a massive transfer of assets from the taxpayer, the working and middle classes to the greedy hands of the upper parasitic classes as assets are privatised.
And now, with the population scared, broke and fearful of an uncertain future, Tony Abbott will promise to save us from a problem he created.
Creeping sharia? Oh hell no, I’m more terrorified / terrorised by the creepy fascist in the Prime Minister’s job goose-stepping his smirky way to a full on North Korean style totalitarian dictatorship.
LOOK OVER THERE AND HATE: it’s a Muslim jihadi boat person, a lesbian leaner on welfare, gay person who wants to marry the one they love, a halal Islamic terrorist sympathiser, a leftie lynch mob at the ABC, war on ice users, dob in a tax dodger (low-income only please, the 1% are our friends), windmills, a woman with an opinion that we don’t want to hear – LOOK AT THEM AND HATE THEM. But for love of all that is sacred, don’t look at Abbott and his budget and his policies, and his class warfare, and his all out assault on the workers, the poor, the vulnerable, the pensioners. LOOK OVER THERE.
Tony Abbott is empowered by this division, the thrives on the hate he sows in others, and insecure Australians willingly join in. How else do we know who we are unless we know who we are not.
Ours or theirs? Are you for Us or Them? Conform to Team Australia or lose your citizenship – dissent is not allowed, questions are not allowed, truth is not allowed.
Just look at Tony Abbott’s citizenship stripping plans for OMG! RUN TERRORISTS!, or is it aimed at terrorists smypthisers who we can’t get a conviction in a proper court with trained judges? No wait, it is for people who damage commonwealth property. If you look at who politicians want these laws aimed at you realise just how quickly we got creeping fascism:
– terrorist – terrorist sympathiser – hate preacher – damager of commonwealth property – graffiti artist – Australian born questioner on QANDA – whistleblower
Laws, we were told, were aimed at terrorists – the worst of the worst – the net has expanded. Now Abbott wants them to be used against people who ask questions of power. Tell the truth and lose your citizenship.
What does that teach us – questions and truth-telling are the enemy of this government. Conform, straighten up and march right or Leave.
But wait … what happened to the Zombie Apocalypse?
There are no zombies, that is the point – like witches, reds under the beds, terrorists, all an illusion created by governments to get you to hate and fear The Other.
One major theme in popular literature is that we are about to face destruction from some terrible, awesome enemy. And at the last-minute we are saved by a superhero or a super weapon, or in recent years high school kids going to the hills to chase away the Russians, things like that. That’s one theme that runs through constantly. And there’s a sub-theme. It turns out this enemy, this horrible enemy that’s about to destroy us, is somebody we’re crushing. … I suspect that what you’re bringing up is part of that. I think it’s, much of it is kind of just a recognition, at some level of the psyche, that if you’ve got your boot on somebody’s neck, there’s something wrong. And that the people you’re oppressing may rise up and defend themselves, and then you’re in trouble. And another is strange properties the country has always had of fear of invented dangers.
When you don’t have any real enemies, you have to fake it ’til you make it.
Tony Abbott’s obsession with ISIS – they’re coming for your freedoms, don’t you know, so give them up to Tony, he’ll keep them safe until the scare is over. But the word “terrorist” is meaningless, it is so vague, it is designed to keep you scared and obedient, because you can’t quite pin down who it is or what they want.
This has always been a successful tactic of those in power to keep the population oppressing themselves.
The European witch-hunts from the Middle ages to the Modern ages – 800 years of hunting witches for political reasons – the churches kept power, the governments kept the population scared and downtrodden, silent and docile, there was a massive transfer of power and property. Targets were mainly women (widows who had inherited property), but it could be anyone – children, men, even animals.
When the fear of witches subsided we found a new enemy – Jews and Romany – and the 1930s Europe saw The Other hunted and slaughtered in their millions.
The hating and hunting didn’t stop there, the 1950s saw communists hunts. Lives destroyed because people believed that capitalism wasn’t the answer to everything.
When the Cold War against the Commies was over we ran of Big Bad enemies, we returned to the Crusades – a war on Islam, and why not, it worked a thousand years ago for the Freemasons and Catholic Church, who were the 1% of the Middle Ages.
Abbott promises to keep us safe, from a danger he created, like we are children who need to be wrapped in cotton wool – and the Media have fallen all over themselves to portray Abbott as our great protector. But only if we are willing to allowed ourselves to be conned.
There’s three days left until the end of the new financial year, and the good news is, New Matilda will survive it.
We’ve navigated our way through a recent financial purple patch, brought on by lower consumer confidence (thanks for that Tony and Joe!) and our world famous capacity to attract legal threats and law suits. But let’s face it, if you’re a media organisation and you’re not pissing off the rich and powerful, then the chances are what you’re actually practicing is called ‘public relations’.
So that’s the good news. We also have some bad news. News Corporation is also going to survive into the new financial year. It seems the well-worn business model of crazy, far-right agenda journalism isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Worst luck.
But I digress… we got through this last financial year courtesy of a growing revenue base. New Matilda still operates at a loss, and the parent company At Large Media picks up the slack through other contracted work (and on that front, if you know someone or some thing who needs help with public relations, speech and script writing, media and/or political advice, or corporate video/documentary work, have we got a company for you!).
Our growth in revenue in 2014-15 came from an increased readership and subscription base. Long story short, we got a little bit help from a lot of readers and supporters, and we got a LOT of help from a little band of hard-core New Matilda loyalists. They know who they are… as do we (and we’ll never, ever forget them).
All up, a bright end to a challenging financial year.
Speaking of which, there’s three days of it left. And that means you only have just over 72 hours to take advantage of our most inspired subscription drive yet – subscribe to New Matilda within the next three days at the $180 level or above, and you get to pick an Aboriginal business or mainstream not-for-profit to donate NM advertising too.
It’s the subscription that keeps on giving… to you, to us, and to an Aboriginal business or mainstream not-for-profit close to your heart.
We’ve started rolling out the sponsored advertising this weekend, and it will keep coming over the next few weeks. Watch the spaces to the right and if you’re able, click on the ads, check out the organisations who need your help, and support them if you’re able.
In other good news, we’ve also re-instated Paypal as a payment method for a New Matilda subscription or donation. We don’t yet have the capacity to allow for the much loved ‘$15 a month’ pay-as-you-go subscription, but it’s only a few weeks away.
In closing, we’d like to thank our readers for their much-valued support and we promise you plenty of hard-hitting independent journalism for the next financial year.
And if you haven’t yet subscribed to NM – and helped strike a blow for independent media – below is the Top 10 Reasons You Should Subscribe To New Matilda Today.
1. We’re not News Corporation.
2. We’re putting the subscription prices up slightly in the new financial year once the new website is complete (although our concession rate remains the same).
3. We’re still not News Corporation.
4. After June 30, you’ll only be able to give away New Matilda advertising to organisations you love if you subscribe at the rates higher than $180. That means just three days left to subscribe at the $180 level and squeeze us for some free advertising.
5. News Corporation doesn’t like us, and often attacks us. Last month it was Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt, prior to that Sharri Markson and The Australian, including a thoroughly awesome front page Saturday lead which alleged we were part of a plot to bring down the Prime Minister… which is of course true, we were. Although we prefer to call it ‘journalism’… they should try it sometime – it’s a lot of fun.
6. Barry Spurr. Frances Abbott. Etc.
7. Every subscription to New Matilda is a kick in the balls to Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation.
8. People – lefties in particular – rail about the appalling behavior of the mainstream media. The solution is obvious – subscribe to and support independent media (like us!)
9. The more subscribers and donations we get, the more resources we can employ to exposing the ridiculousness that is the daily bile spewing forth from News Corporation.
10. You’re helping support ethical, independent journalism and providing a vehicle for a platform whose sole aim is to hold power to account, and keep the bastards honest.
Subscribe today. Feel warm and fuzzy tomorrow. Help your favourite Aboriginal business or mainstream not-for-profit tomorrow.
Looking at the work of the Abbott Government is like perusing a drawing byM.C. Escher.
At first glance, it looks like a normal construction, but when you look more closely, it defies logic and credulity — it couldn’t possibly work. It doesn’t make sense.
For example, at every turn, Abbott’s mob proudly puff up their chests to declare that “we stopped the boats”. You can understand why they do — it is their only “achievement” so far.
Yet the boats haven’t stopped. They are still coming. Either going even further afield to seek refuge – such as to New Zealand – or we are turning boats around and sending them back on the same dangerous sea voyage they have just completed. The truth is, we haven’t stopped the boats — we have just stopped them from coming here.
And so this isn’t stopping the drownings at sea. It may stop some of the drownings in our seas, but it won’t stop refugees drowning. But anyway, is it better for people to face death from persecution in their homelands than drowning at sea trying to escape it? Apparently it is for us. Our humanity extends to our territorial waters. Maybe not even there.
Out of sight out of mind.
Are we so arrogant as to suggest that our nation’s domestic immigration policies – however cruel and harsh – will stop the multitudes trying to flee persecution in intolerable situations? From situations we and our allies’ own imperial adventures have largely created?
Are we so vain as to think we can stop so-called people smugglers plying their trade? There are over50 million displaced people in the world. They will continue to flee death, disease and doom whatever flimsy barriers an insular and bigoted Australia creates.
And speaking of “people smugglers”, are they really so rotten? We loved them in Schindler’s List? Although they were white. Is it only smuggling brown people away from persecution that is “evil”?
PM Tony Abbott likens anti people smuggling campaign to war
But anyway, I hear we were at war with them? Yet it’s a pretty strange sort of war when we find out our Government is paying these “evil traffickers in misery” to turn their boats around. These payments have been confirmed by the UN, though the Abbott Government won’t confirm or deny because of “operational matters”, blah, blah, blah. That’s right, we are at war with people smugglers and the bullets we are firing at them are tightly wrapped bundles of hundreds.
So, if “people smugglers” are evil, doesn’t that make our Government evil for paying them? And more than just being evil, are they criminals as well? Don’t these payments make the Abbott gang complicit in the people smuggling trade? Have they broken Australia’s own people smuggling laws? And if word gets out that the Australian Government has started paying people smugglers, as it surely has, won’t that encourage these apparently vile “human traffickers”? I mean, they will be getting paid as well as keeping their stock in trade — won’t that result in more boats coming our way?
And even though the truth is clear, the Abbott mob won’t admit a thing. In fact, secrecy seems to be the order of the day when it comes to immigration. We know there are horrible things going on – tales of assault, rape, murder and child abuse have leaked out, much to the chagrin of the immigration mafia – but everything is an “operational matter“. Dark things are being done in our name under a sinister dark cloud. Out of sight out of mind for most dull, cud-chewing Australians (and they are the nice ones).
Of course, secrecy is a tool of trade for Prime Minister Abbott. But is he really our prime minister? Youcan’t be a dual citizen to be an MP in Federal Parliament. We know Abbott was born in London and took his Australian citizenship when he was 22 – ironically, in order to accept a Rhodes Scholarship back to England – but there is no evidence at all he ever renounced his British citizenship. In fact, it looks more likely than not that he never did. But we can’t tell for sure, because he won’t provide proof of his renunciation. And we can’t do a thing about it, except within 40 days of an election in the Court of Disputed Returns.
Perversely, at the same time these questions are being asked and not answered, Abbott is bringing in laws to strip citizenship from dual citizens who may have actually been born in Australia.
Meanwhile, the same man says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten “has questions to answer” about his job before he entered politics in front of a $90 million kangaroo court despite not a shred of real evidence against him being produced, just a lot of supposition and smear. Then a media fixated in raking over past Labor indiscretions find Shorten out in a single insignificant lie and the media pressure on him becomes immense. Yet the Prime Mendacious never stops lying – about matters of significant concern to all Australians – and the media dote on him like a cherished, favourite son.
It doesn’t make sense, but there it is.
And despite all the secrecy about its own affairs, the Abbott Grubberment are apparently champions of free speech. We must have the freedom to be bigots. It is apparently a cornerstone of our Federation that we be able to vilify, mock and abuse minorities and other races. Dog whistling is too subtle, apparently — folks need to be able to loud-hail their ignorance and hatred.
However, if one of these minorities comes onto our public broadcaster as a free citizen and expresses views not to the liking of the Abbott crew, then not only will this minority be vilified, but the public broadcaster will have ministers and backbenchers alike lining up to deride and castigate it. They will be vaguely implicated in treason. “Whose side are they on,” the Prize Monster will mumble in his stumbling punch drunk way. And the smarmy, supercilious, millionaire merchant banker and former opposition leader, now an utterly emasculated communications minister, will call immediate Government inquiries into this non-incident. The ABC’s charter says it is independent, but when the Liberals are in power, it needs to act like a state broadcaster. What sort of nation has its public broadcaster act as the public relations arm of the government? That’s right, a totalitarian one.
Freedom of speech, it seems, is only a right for the far right.
Yes, they like freedom — or at least talking about freedom. We are going back to Iraq to fight a war that has nothing to do with us (except that we helped start it, years ago, based on a lie) to protect our “freedom”. The same freedoms we have given away by having all our metadata trawled through by intelligence officers — the same spies that have been given immunity from prosecution for any crime, including murder, they may commit in the prosecution of their duties.
All done to keep us safe, they say. But are we safe? It sure doesn’t feel any safer than when the previous government was in power — a time in which no-one committed any terrorist acts against us. It certainly isn’t keeping safe the hundreds of soldiers traipsing back into a chaotic head severing bloodbath in the Middle-East.
But is it keeping the Australian people safe? I would have thought that any nation whose boorish leader publicly calls terrorists a “death cult” over and over again, as well as repeatedly vilifying the religious group they subscribe to, and who sends troops into combat against them, would be rather aiding the “death cult’s” recruitment activities amongst disaffected Australian Muslim youth, and would serve to put the rest of the Australian population in the cross-hairs. Remember the Sydney siege? This isn’t keeping us safe, it is actively putting us into danger. And people who casually put innocent lives at risk to further their own ends can be called nothing other than psychopaths.
It’s all very confusing. Like an Escher lithograph, it leaves you confounded, unable to reconcile what you are observing.
These people will say anything, even if it completely contradicts something they may have said moments before. And if, by chance, our lame duck media ever pick them up on their obvious contradictions – which is vanishingly rare – they will deny it; or say they were taken out of context; or, sometimes, confoundedly, simply say they never said the words at all, even though they were filmed and taped, and there is no doubt.
Trying to wring the truth out of people with no morals or ethics is like trying to keep hold of a large, slippery, determined eel. But still, if we had an intrepid, fearless, impartial media, these obvious inconsistencies would soon leave the Abbott gang lining up at Centrelink. Sadly, however, we have anything but. Fairfax is too weak, the ABC is too cowed and the Murdoch mobsters? Well, Rupert Mordor’s mud-born orcs make up most of Australia’s media. Without them in the picture, there is every chance some rays of sanity might be able to shine through the oppressive, shadowy murk of secrecy, lies and head-shaking inconsistencies.
It’s a mess, to be sure. An unholy mess.
The good news is that this confusing cacophony of contradictions will soon be gone. No people, no matter how bovine, can be treated with this sort of callous disrespect and expect to be rewarded at the ballot box, even with the unswerving support of a weak, supplicant and biased media.
And then we will be left with a headache and the job of straightening everything out. But we will do that.
Then we must make sure we are never fooled like this again.
In the lead up to the last election, the vast majority of voters indicated the economy was the most important issue. There is no doubt the supposed debt crisis had an impact on the electorate when it cast its vote, even though the Coalition was embarrassingly wrong on the issue.
Asylum seekers was a clear but distant second, ahead of issues such as health, climate change and education. Defence barely rated a mention.
Abbott is doing everything in his power to avoid speaking about the economy and climate change. And for some unknown reason, the Labor Party seems happy to allow him to control the message. They seem more focused on not alienating Conservative voters than on representing the progressive vote. Whilst they are disappointing on so many levels, there are still many things the Labor Party should be highlighting as the Liberals roll out their “Don’t trust Bill” ad campaign.
In September 2013 Australia had a gross debt of $273 billion. As of June 26 this year, that has increased to almost$369 billion. That is an increase of over a billion per week.
In the last full year of the previous government, 2012-13, real government spending fell 3.2% to 24.1% of GDP.
According to the budget, in 2014-15 and 2015-16, government spending will be 25.9% of GDP, a huge 1.8 percentage points higher than the level in the last full year of the previous government.
The latest ABS figures show labour force underutilisation was 14.5 per cent in May 2015 (6% unemployment and 8.5% underemployment). 756,300 people are unemployed. Seasonally adjusted aggregate monthly hours worked was 1,631.8 million hours
In September 2013 the unemployment rate was 5.6%, 697,100 were unemployed, and the aggregate monthly hours worked was 1,641.5 million hours.
In other words, there are more unemployed people and those that are employed are working less.
No wonder Tony is avoiding discussing the economy.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is paid by the department of defence to prepare a defence budget brief. The document they produced last year was very informative.
They found that the cost of defence in 2014-15 is $80.3 million per day. This does not include funds appropriated to the Defence Housing Authority, those administered by Defence for military superannuation schemes and housing support services, nor the additional funds provided directly to the Defence Materiel Organisation.
Further they advise that
“The government’s ability [to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP] will depend on the electorate’s willingness to incur the resulting opportunity cost of forgone social services and higher taxes. On current estimates, each of Australia’s roughly 10 million workers will be contributing around $5,000 a year each to sustain the promised defence budget in 2023-24. Yet, according to opinion polls, support for higher defence spending has fallen from 60% in 2001 to less than 40% today. Absent a strategic crisis to shake off the complacency, sustained increases to defence spending will only be possible if the government makes a convincing case for doing so.”
Tony Abbott is playing up the danger we face here from Daesh and we are paying a huge price to maintain that fear.
Compare that to the real and present danger posed by climate change to health and people’s livelihoods and the amount of money that conservative voters considered unreasonable to spend in fighting it. Instead of collecting billions in revenue the government is spending billions of dollars on Direct Action. Every year more extreme weather events cost us billions in repair bills and emergency assistance. And still the spurious one-off saving of $550 is trotted out as Tony’s greatest contribution to the nation in general and women in particular (not to mention the big polluters).
Why is this comparison not being yelled from the roof tops by Labor. The Pope is even on side. China and the US are on side. Paris is coming up.
But oh no….we can never point to the massive waste and dubious benefit of billions spent on weapons of war. That might make us appear “weak”.
And speaking of weak, when will Labor come up with a better plan for asylum seekers. Why not admit that the current situation is untenable. People are being abused, refugees are not being helped, and it is costing us a fortune as well as damaging our international reputation.
I know we can’t take everyone but we have an obligation to help. Raise the humanitarian quota, have offices in regional transit countries who facilitate processing in a specified time frame (barring negative assessments), communicate regular updates to applicants about the progress of their application, provide a safe method of entry for refugees, and take more action to reduce the number of people who arrive by plane and overstay their visas.
Labor should also be comparing policies and histories on health, education, and workplace relations.
But all I hear is the sound of nodding heads.
UPDATE: I wrote this before reading Roswell’s transcript of Bill Shorten’s speech on Thursday. I was heartened by it and I hope Labor uses these six weeks wisely. Give me a reason to back you Bill. That speech was a good start.