George Pell was an ambitious bully


It doesn’t matter whether you are a Catholic or not. George Pell is a success story. From humble beginnings to a Prince of the Church. You don’t have to be steeped in Roman theology to know that a cardinal is a person of great eminence and power.

But it is inescapable that Pell had a blind spot. He never liked children, and he did not seem to understand them. He clearly did not value them, nor did he see their innocence as fragile, or precious.

Pell’s attitudes were formed at school, and I have a special insight as to why he was so blind to children’s needs. I went to the same school, around a decade later than he did.

St Patrick’s College is in Ballarat, and it prides itself on a form of education closer to a gulag than a school. Pell himself personified many of the qualities that they valued.

Courage, resilience, toughness, a willingness to bear pain without showing it – these are their virtues. Add a rigorous education, with generous amounts of physical discipline thrown in, and you have the recipe for what Pell became – an intellectual bully, with a chip on his shoulder, and unlimited ambition.

Many of us have spent a lifetime undoing the harm that that form of education unleashed on us. Not Pell, though. He used it to get to the top of an international organisation.

We were schooled in mythology; the mythology of the downtrodden Irish, but no matter the odds, we would triumph through stubborn persistence and, a belief that we were on the right side of the religious divide. We were still taught Latin, and adherence to ‘the Faith’ was not optional.

Young people these days are blessed, in that they have not had to endure the prejudice that Irish Catholics underwent when I was young. We were even drilled in how to wear our school uniforms when we were in public. We had to present better than the Protestant students, because we were ‘the other’, and we were expected to be louts.

So we were in our own minds an oppressed community, but we would prevail because we were stronger, and better educated, and whenever we were presented with a level playing field, we would prevail. Society as battleground.

Pell was a ruckman in the First XVIII, and a feared and ruthless competitor. St Pat’s were perennial champions, and Pell was their captain and their enforcer.

In those days many Catholic families followed an informal policy of ‘giving’ a child to the church. This meant one, boy or girl, would be selected to become a member of the religious community.

This was an ancient tradition, and it saw boys choosing to become, if they were clever, priests. If not so bright, religious brothers. Girls were suitable candidates for nuns. The parents usually made the call; seldom did the child. This serves to remind us of the primacy of the Church in many Catholic homes.

When the horrors of the sexual abuse scandals broke, many of the victims were not believed by their parents. Many were sent back into the very classrooms they had escaped; sometimes they were abused by those they had complained to.

It does not matter that Pell escaped conviction for actual sexual predation. He was found to have facilitated the acts of others, by looking the other way. He knew about the abuse, but he was not that interested.

Presumably he believed that children who were raped would recover, as they would from a grazed knee in the playground. That can be the only reason he repeatedly moved-on those he knew, or even suspected, to be rapists. Send them to another parish, or diocese, and after a time spent offending in new pastures, move them on again.

How do you grow to be an adult and still not know that rape is wrong? How do you rise through the ranks of an organisation of educated individuals, and not know that not only is it against the law of every civilised nation, but that it is devastating to the victims?

How did this man, a Doctor of Philosophy, not understand that he was meant to regulate his staff, and to ensure the safety of their youthful charges?

Pell failed on every measure of a good life

Pell’s failures were not only moral. He failed in every aspect of his elevated career. He failed as a Christian, as a leader, as a priest, as an administrator, and as an adult.

He knew about children’s suffering, but he placed the reputation, and the finances of a corrupt organisation above those for whom we are all responsible. There can be no excuse, because he KNEW, and he did nothing.

The commission concluded that “by 1973, Cardinal Pell was not only conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy, but he also considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it.”

Why is he supported by so many prominent Australians?

John Howard and Tony Abbott have both been conscious supporters of Pell. Both have served as prime ministers, and their opinions carry weight. It appears that the further you are to the right of the political spectrum, the more likely you are to support Pell.

Although Pell was acquitted of sexual assault, he was not found innocent. The charges were set aside by the High Court of Australia, as being “unsafe”.

Both Howard and Abbott have degrees in Law. They presumably know that, notwithstanding the High Court’s ruling, the Royal Commission found that Pell, at the least, knew, but did nothing. The fact that he was not crippled with guilt, and self-loathing, speaks volumes about his character.

The fact that these two eminent Australians continue to support him, suggests men who care little for what is right, but who continue the endless culture wars.

That leaves us living in a curiously barren landscape, where we forget the words of their saviour, “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

About Page


Ask Bucko is conceived and written by Mark Buckley.

Born and educated in Melbourne, Australia, Mark now lives in regional Victoria.

askbucko.com attempts to present a balanced view of the world; one in which reason prevails over ignorance.

If you are after bigoted or ‘hairy-chested’ opinion, step away now. You will only be disappointed.

In the immortal words of Mark Twain, “when in doubt, tell the truth”.

Our very own Marie Antoinette moment


It is a sign of the times that, within the worst cost-of-living crisis in Australia for nearly a century, we are even contemplating the return of the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne.

We are in the grip of an inequality tsunami. Never have so many gone hungry. Never have so many been actually homeless. Never have the wage-earners of this country struggled so hard to make ends meet.

The last four years have seen arguably the worst bushfire season in recorded history, a severe drought, and now catastrophic floods down the entire east coast, from Queensland to Tasmania.

There is a meaningless debate as to whether floods are worse than bushfires. It does not matter; both devastate the land, and blight the lives of the humans who live anywhere near them. Of course the damage to the economy leaks out to the region, the state, and the whole country.

Although Australia is a land of weather extremes, it becomes clearer every day that something is indeed very wrong. Not only with our own weather and climate, but that of the entire planet.

Deadly floods in parts of Europe, and then drought with the following summer. Record temperatures in Britain and across Scandinavia. In North America, heatwaves and wildfires to the west, and ruinous floods and hurricanes to the east.

South America’s rainfall patterns are out of whack, Andean glaciers are melting, while the Amazon disappears, square mile by square mile. The continent is heating up, and millions are leaving for the United States.

In the Arctic Ocean winter ice is becoming a novelty. The Antarctic is calving icebergs bigger than buildings. Penguins in the south, and polar bears in the north are becoming the sacrificial victims of our negligence.

A pandemic which has so far killed millions, and continues to kill the unvaccinated, and the vulnerable. A special group in Australia, the elderly, are being covertly sacrificed to our hedonism and greed.

Africa is reeling from crop failures, drought and the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Very few are vaccinated, and millions are moving out of their homes, in search of a better life. Nigeria is in the grip of floods, and in the neighbouring Indian sub-continent both Pakistan and Bangladesh have been battered by great heat last year, and now flooding rains.

There is a war in Ukraine. The parallels with Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 are chilling, and the level of destruction and suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian civilians is almost mediaeval in its mindless cruelty.

Of course, with the invasion, Russia has destroyed the goal of transitioning away from fossil fuel, because winter is coming, and Europe depends on Russian gas for its heating needs.

This feeds into the developed countries’ apparent reluctance to do anything meaningful about reducing emissions. So the earth is caught in a pincer movement, between allowing millions of Ukrainians to die of the cold, or allow human civilisation to be cooked by climate change.

And what does Australia do at this time of existential threats? We party. We go to the races, and we waste millions of dollars on pretentious food and wine, while 3 million of our fellow citizens are having to skip meals, and sleep in cars.

One must admire such wilful blindness. Even as the middle class complain of the rise in interest rates, and business complains that one of these days workers MIGHT get a small pay rise, they are guzzling French Champagne, and eating canapes.

Never mind the 3 million Australians who are struggling for life, under the misapprehension that in Australia we do not allow our fellows to starve to death.

As Marie Antoinette was rumoured to have said, “let them eat cake”. We are just about in the same league, with our tone deaf response to inequality, and our clamour to not see the misery around us.

Our federal government continues to dally, trailing its coat on tax cuts for the rich. How many of them, from all the parties, will find that parliamentary business leaves them no choice but to be in the environs of Flemington at around the time the races kick off.

If caught out, they will apologise, and pay it back. No three months in jail for them, for defrauding their employer. Just apologise, and pay it back.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote his famous piece on the Kentucky Derby, and the beasts who debase themselves in and around the racetrack. Read it here https://sensitiveskinmagazine.com/hunter-s-thompson-the-kentucky-derby-is-decadent-and-depraved/ and weep.

A quick grab for power?


As we have been detained, reluctantly, at the late Queen’s bereavement party in the United Kingdom, the Heir Apparent has been staking out his own territory.

If you feel there has been an indecent rush to proclaim the new king, you are right. There are no pretenders to the throne; the lesser heirs have maintained an orderly procession, there are no ‘smokies’ hiding in the wings, neither in Scotland nor in France.

The various announcements and proclamations have continued apace since the Queen died. The scene setting and the execution of the ceremonies have gone without a hitch.

Considering it has been seventy years since any of these events were last performed, it becomes clear there had been significant planning, and almost certainly rehearsals. That is why it is probable that the Queen was party to the preparations, even as she soldiered on.

Why hurry?

So why the haste? At first glance the Queen was always a constitutional monarch. As such her powers were strictly limited, and if we are to be brutally honest, she was always restrained by those limits. Part of her impeccable reputation rests on her willingness to act within those limits.

She was tasked with receiving advice from her prime minister(s). This in itself would be crushingly difficult, considering the quality of advisors. Listening to David Cameron, or Boris Johnson, sounds like slow torture. Her greatest victories seem to have been in the area of protecting her own vast wealth from tax.

Her will is forever unavailable to be seen by the public, so the wash-up is that what was hers becomes the new king’s; what was his, in his role as Prince of Wales, now becomes the property of his son and heir, Prince William.

Continue, until you run out of heirs. Be assured that the family will continue to advocate on behalf of minimal taxes for them, and an ongoing lack of accountability to the state, which nurtures them.

Building on the legacy

So the inescapable conclusion is that Queen Elizabeth the Second was a ruler without practical political power, who was nevertheless able, through a lifetime of ‘service’ and exemplary behaviour, to develop a huge, and deeply personal following amongst her subjects.

She has no legislative triumphs, because she has no power to legislate. She has, through dint of many years of dedication, developed a network of people whose lives have been enriched, sometimes by virtue of something as transitory as their having attended a street walk fifty years ago, or by the purchase of a commemorative item, which serves as a marker of time passed.

She has been invaluable at opening anything, from a bridge in Scotland, to the London Olympics, but if you study her achievements they are precisely those of an enabler, one who graces political decisions, no matter how damaging they might be, because that is her role.

We are surprised at the depth of feeling that her death has released, and the intense feelings of attachment to the Queen, are being translated into renewed support, perhaps even fervour, for the institution of the British Monarchy.

The grab for power and legitimacy seems to have been hatched long ago. Both Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles must have been acutely aware that the very notion of a hereditary monarchy is completely incompatible with a modern democratic state, and so the moment to declare the continuation of the royal line would naturally be when the nation is consumed with emotion.

That would explain the unseemly haste with which Charles has had himself proclaimed King. The use of ceremony, of gorgeous costumes, the seamless call-up of notables and rarely seen archaic practices, including the use of the ancient language appropriate to mediaeval successions has us all shocked and awed by the mysterious power of the crown.

The new King will, no matter how powerful the assembled courtiers and the nominal military decorations worn so devilishly, equate to virtually no power. The Queen mastered the skill of quieting her own inner voice, and King Charles has already promised to follow her lead.

So forget about the time for reflection, the possibility of making the monarchy more democrat friendly. You have been awe-bombed by a family which relies 100% on our ability to quiet our inner voices, which naturally know the absurdity of a ruling family placed above the populace.

If we ask why do they continue to ‘serve’ we note their lack of political weight, their potential capture by those lucky enough, or devious enough to hold prime ministerial power.

The only ‘sweetener’ in this for a British sovereign seems to lie in the need to satisfy the personal mission of service, and the vast wealth and prestige attached to the office. In a month or so, as the novelty of a new king wears off, he will probably tail off in his relentless efforts to legitimise the existence of a hereditary monarchy, and simply continue the family tradition of opening things.

If the cap fits?


I’d probably lay off the dunces’ caps, but couldn’t agree more. Anyway, by the time the next election rolls along, the LNP will be even more unelectable than they are today, so a broken promise, for good reasons, sound eminently sensible.

The Bug Online

So, the question on everyone’s lips – everyone’s chapped lips – is this: should those dunce caps shown hovering above be lowered firmly and stuck on permanently on our beloved Prime Minister and his Treasurer?

In this ranter’s opinion, BRING ‘EM DOWN! GLUE THEM ON!

It’s now 78 days since the election – a good two-and-a-half-months since Labor took over and found out just how woeful the books were under Morrison and his ministry of morons – and the two men above are steadfastly refusing to axe those disgraceful third-stage personal income tax cuts that largely favour the well-off.

Repeat: the cuts are about as un-Labor as any policy could possibly be.

Albanese and Chalmers might be less offensive if they moved and seconded that the Tree of Knowledge be turned into matchsticks and sold as a local party fundraiser.

The third-stage tax cuts have four-fifths of six-eighths of fuck…

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‘The three amigos’ finally bite the dust


Donald Trump

Donald Trump came into politics as an active player in 2016. He transformed every aspect of American life, and if that nation was headed toward disaster before, it is now there.

Trump’s chaotic and dishonest take on governance has infected the body politic, and the country is virtually ungovernable. Trump has not only allowed the rise of the next generation of nihilistic Republican leaders, he has legitimised stupidity, misogyny and religious extremism.

The country is now a legitimate candidate for third world status. It has a legislature which makes it nearly impossible to actually pass legislation. It has a Supreme Court, dutifully stacked by Trump with religious far-right conservatives, which is working towards throwing the country back toward becoming a theocracy. Gilead beckons.

They are now taking a literalist approach to its constitution, an outdated document which enshrines the views of an all-white, patriarchal cabal of slave owners and men of their time, with all their entrenched prejudices and unintended consequences being re-invigorated.

If this document continues to be read as if it was “sacred writ” then it can never be amended. Critics and those who question it are in peril of being named, and punished, as heretics; such is its power over the imaginations of the current Republicans.

The Supreme Court has recently reversed Roe v Wade, effectively criminalising abortion in many states. It has also further undermined American efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, which, owing to their status as a huge emitter, puts the planet’s health at risk of irremediable damage.

The court has plans to roll back many other measures meant to protect rights as diverse as same sex marriage, voting rights, equal opportunity. The list goes on, and may well prove to be the unravelling of American democracy.

So Trump, although out of power, and possibly facing criminal charges for his role in the January 6 uprising, continues to wreck his country’s future viability. He has divided the country with his deranged lies.

Scott Morrison

An unknown man who rose to power, almost unnoticed. A man who took the party of Menzies and made it his own. He almost captured Australia, and if he had not lost the 2022 election, the country was on track to rush down the American path.

He relished the company of Trump, and embodied many of the worst aspects of American populism. His entire political playbook was apparently lifted from the Republicans.

Although adjusted for Australian conditions, he believed in small government, low taxes for the rich, removal of regulations, punishment for those on welfare, disdain for the working poor, cronyism and jobs for ‘mates’. His stacking of the AAT must rival Trump’s work on the Supreme Court. He ignored women, and subsequently lost their votes

Morrison had no policies. He was a shallow religious zealot, with no creativity, no vision, and no care for Australia. He embodied the world-view of his religion, with all the vacuousness of its ‘prosperity gospel’. His disregard for the environment, and especially the climate crisis convinced many that he believed in the end of the world, so why bother? The apocalypse was nigh.

The overwhelming feeling in Australia has been one of relief. We had no antidote for his smirking insolence, his lazy contempt for accountability, and he is now known as a serial liar, and a man who used the government’s budget for his own political purposes.

Many Christians struggled with his government’s cruel policies, towards whistleblowers, refugees, women, indigenous people, the aged and the disabled, even welfare recipients.

He trashed our international reputation wherever he went. An enduring image remains of Morrison standing alone at Glasgow for the COP26 meeting, studying his phone as the other world leaders stood in companionable groups.

His cabinet was filled with nonentities and toadies. Not one minister ever fought the good fight, over policy or principle. Many perfected the same teflon-coated approach to truth that Morrison practised so well.

It has been illuminating to see their shallow responses to a real government, with a real leader, with real policies. Not one has shown the capacity to provide a credible opposition, because lazy Morrison did all their ‘work’ for them.

The Albanese Government will spend years undoing the damage caused by the Morrison reign. Hopefully the Australian voter now knows how to spot a charlatan, and will take evasive action should another one pop up for election.

Boris Johnson

It is always amazing to read the press in countries which have reasonable defamation laws. Just this week we have seen Boris described as the “greased piglet”, the “Convict” and the “liar”.

He has shown himself as being as utterly shameless as his confederates in the ‘three amigos’. A self-interested liar, a chancer, a person who shamelessly hawked his government to wealthy donors.

His private life should have been a warning as to how he would perform in the ‘big chair’, but as the British have been heard to say, “I like Boris, he makes me laugh”. He doesn’t even know how many children he has fathered.

He had a set of rules for the plebs, and one for himself and his Conservative confreres. He took Britain back to the inequality of the 1960s, but not the glamour. Sadly this might be one reason why he failed so miserably during the Covid-19 pandemic. He ignored medical advice.

He made Great Britain into ‘little Britain’, by taking the country out of Europe. He fed the fantasy that Britain could return to past glories, while failing to realise that history has passed on, leaving plucky little countries like the U.K. alone, and searching for relevance.

His desperate use of the tactics of the discarded Morrison government’s refugee policy is the last gasp in a desperate search for a political solution to a moral question. Sending refugees to Rwanda sounds like an idea from a toddler, and a confused one at that.

Study the moral position of these three men. Populists, cynics, snobs, liars, opportunists, misogynists. In these most difficult of times, perhaps there is hope in the fact that the people are throwing out such obvious phonies, and voting for a bit of moral rectitude and honesty.

Imposing journalistic standards of truth-telling onto media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and his ilk, who seem to wallow in the strife they unleash on the societies which they pretend to uphold, would be a good start in improving the outlook for all of us. 

The three amigos have finally bitten the dust, and we can only hope that Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Poland and all the other nations still led by moral pygmies follow suit. We need good leaders to negotiate the next few difficult years in this planet’s existence.

Our children still not eating enough in God’s country


So, as we all party at the removal of our very own theocratic government, what has the last month ushered in?

Lots of lovely symbolic gestures, lots of baby steps to restoring Australia’s reputation as a great place to live, a great place to bring up children.

Over a hundred years ago, in 1915, British Army officers were impressed when they saw the Australian troops disembark. They were taller and heavier than their home-grown ‘brothers in arms’, and many were proficient with weapons and even horses. They looked healthy and confident, and many proved themselves in the dark days which followed.

How would our current crop of children look if they were unloaded on a British dock today?

Not that great, I reckon. If last year, before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began to affect the price of everything, the United Nations estimated that 16% of Australian children under the age of 15 lived with an adult who was food insecure in 2017. (The Conversation-July 9, 2021).

It is impossible these days to calculate how many more are struggling today. Prices go up daily, rents are ridiculous, MPs collect their indexed pay rises, and middle class families struggle to pay fresh food prices.

One would automatically assume that, no matter the good intentions of that caring adult mentioned above, children were going hungry. That is around one in every six children, going to bed hungry, or not sure if there will be any breakfast.

All such figures are revolting. There is no shortage of them. Governments have been papering the walls with such reports for decades, and stupid, populist politicians continue to pander to those in Australia who still think that poverty is the fault of the poor. How much suffering will assuage the righteous anger of the middle classes towards the unemployed, or even more disturbingly, those unable to work?

There is no way that reports which show children going hungry in Australia is ever, in any universe, or under any government, acceptable. We know how to fix this problem. Give the poor a pay-rise.

No-one in Australia knows how Morrison and Frydenberg stumbled on the solution, but stumble on it they did. In some totally random way those arch monetarists took a leaf out of Keynes’ playbook, and doubled welfare payments.

I strongly suspect they regretted the move, but it served the purpose of stimulating the economy, and if a few hundred thousand were benefitted, so be it. Something like the need to break eggs to make omelettes.

For the first time in years, people on welfare were able to have food on the table, AND to pay their bills. No impossible choices: They could eat, and maintain a shred of dignity.

For health reasons even many of the visible homeless were housed. Who would have guessed that, in the midst of an overwhelming pandemic, Australia would do something for its neediest? We accidentally became Finland, and then we woke up?

Of course the ‘honeymoon’ was destined to end. The neo-liberal gene asserted itself, and these measures were stopped. No transition, no stepping down of benefits. Lots of talk about things not being free forever, and the old “pay your own way” crap.

Disappointing, but not surprising. Frydenberg, who believes in ‘trickle-down economics’, decided to do a little experiment. If he gave billions of dollars to undeserving corporate hacks, would any of it trickle down to the poor and needy?

Well, no. His experiment was a failure. All the big corporates, and the private colleges, the fossil fuel parasites, all continued to rack up profits, and the children went back to going to bed hungry, or wondering if the electricity would be cut off tomorrow. If you happened to be black, and living in your ancestral lands, you might even have the spectre of being jailed, from the age of ten.

So when we have people of the calibre of Peter Dutton talking about protecting women and children from sexual violence, what about protecting them from something as immediate, and as dangerous-hunger and homelessness. The solution is obvious.

This country is drowning in its own callous narcissism and ignorance. It deludes itself, and has the effrontery to decry any criticism directed at it. From a nation which made its own democracy and institutions into something admirable, we have sunk down the ranks in everything worth measuring.

Inequality is everywhere you look. There is no difference in whether a Liberal or a Labor minister looks out upon the land, and spies hunger, homelessness, meaningless ‘gig economy’ jobs, tax rorts for the rich, public schools being robbed to pay the private colleges subsidies. The list is long, and time is of the essence.

I can live with the sceptre of Geelong Grammar getting another computer lab, or another perfectly manicured cricket oval, but I draw the line on starving my fellows, and their children in this, one of the wealthiest countries on earth.

Care of your vulnerable is conservatism as it should be. Preserve what you have, and improve it. Do not create whole classes of land developers and spivs, think tank ‘scholars’ and rentiers, who spend more on reducing their taxes than they actually pay, in taxes.

There is something rotten if both sides of politics don’t get equality, but something especially rank if the Labor Party ducks its core responsibilities. Pick them up, and the celebrations might resume.

Angus Taylor – running dead, or not as bright as we thought?


Angus Taylor was the previous Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, and he is arguably one of the best educated people in our parliament, with degrees in Economics, and Law, and a Master of Philosophy (Economics) from Oxford. Each of these degrees is necessarily reliant on the use of facts, and figures, real evidence, and mature reasoning.

There is nothing as disappointing as the failure of clever people, because it signals one of two possible reasons for the failure: An inability to handle really difficult tasks because they are ‘clever’ in a bookish way, but when the going gets hard, they squib it, and come up short.

The other reason is when they are captured by ideology, and/or ambition, and they tailor their contribution so that they fail in their allotted task. This is a form of intellectual self-sabotage, for personal gain.

Morrison’s cabinet was grossly under-resourced, staffed by drones valued for their loyalty to Morrison, rather than for their ability. However, individuals like Greg Hunt, and Angus Taylor stood out, at first glance, as genuinely talented, and yet they both failed in their allotted tasks. Sadly they failed our climate, which later generations will not forgive.

Greg Hunt co-wrote a thesis at Yale titled “A Tax to Make the Polluter Pay“. It was apparently brilliant, and it made a very strong case for a ‘carbon tax’. I could not get past the first page, but it had a catchy message: “it (a carbon tax) better ensures that the polluter bears full responsibility for the cost of his or her conduct”. It seems that as soon as cabinet preferment beckoned, he threw his thesis out with the bathwater.

Similarly, Angus Taylor’s abject failure on reducing emissions came after a stellar education, “the best part of two decades in management consulting”, and yet on reaching parliament he devoted three years to undermining and (pardon the pun) gaslighting Australians on our progress to carbon neutrality.

He even stated, at a rally against wind power in 2013, “I am not a climate sceptic. For 25 years, I have been concerned about how rising carbon dioxide emissions might have an impact on our climate. It remains a concern of mine today. I do not have a vendetta against renewables.”

His failure is so mysterious. Ben Potter from the Financial Review believes his opposition to wind power dates from when a wind farm was built next door to his family’s property in Cooma.

I can understand that may have annoyed the family, but this is a past Minister of the Crown with such an illogical and unreasoning hatred for a form of power generation that perhaps, instead of continuing to vandalise Australia’s response to climate heating, he should have engaged the services of a competent psychiatrist, or even a life coach.

The least he should have done was to step aside from his portfolio, and allow a competent person to step up and actually ‘do the job’. I know, we are talking about the former Coalition government, and there was not one competent person to put up.

Which brings us to his new job. He is now the Treasury spokesman. Considering his demonstrated difficulties with numbers, one wonders how competent he can be in such a position. The botched stitch-up on Clover Moore sends a message that he struggles with the basics, and he looks to be a poor match for Jim Chalmers.

On the matter of trust, in March 2022 Roy Morgan published the results on polling undertaken that placed Angus Taylor as the 7th least trusted politician in Australia, placing behind Dominic Perrottet (6th), Craig Kelly (5th), Pauline Hanson (4th), Barnaby Joyce (3rd), Peter Dutton (2nd) and Scott Morrison (1st).

He has struggled with public perceptions that he has put his own, and his family’s, interests before the public interest. We all know that Morrison has damaged the Liberal brand, possibly irrevocably. We know that Peter Dutton had a limited field from which to choose when allocating shadow portfolios.

That does not make Angus Taylor a hopeless choice, but it illustrates the lack of front bench talent, and the question to ask is, is Angus Taylor up to the task? Did he lack the ability to do his last job properly, or was he running dead, to sabotage the transition to renewables? That is the question we must ask ourselves.

As to the Coalition attempting to put together an alternative government, I would question whether Peter Dutton as alternative prime minister, and Angus Taylor as the alternative treasurer, really cuts it. I wouldn’t vote for them in a fit.

Is Dutton Labor’s secret weapon?


Peter Dutton has finally become the leader of something. It is a disorganised rabble, but I am sure he is thrilled. Opposition Leader, and he is already talking about swooping in and fixing Labor’s “inevitable mess” in 2025. This is truly delusional, and uncoupled from reality.

It is as if the last nine years never happened. Labor has been in government for a couple of weeks, and they better fix whatever has gone wrong, and quickly. Memo to the Libs: Be ashamed at where a once great party has ended up, with life-long Liberals voting “anything but Liberals”.

They will pile on to the “burn Morrison at the stake” moment, but Morrison led a party of men, and women, who had abrogated their sacred duty to serve the people of Australia.

Instead they indulged in class politics, climate vandalism, social regression, barely concealed racism, transphobic vilification, anti-intellectualism, and conspicuous corruption. The environment is reeling, the word “green” had become a term of abuse, the disabled and the poor have been routinely pursued through the courts.

The tragedy for Australia is that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is led by a person who has built his entire reputation on just such a public persona.

Everything Morrison, Joyce, Dutton and Frydenberg did for the last period of government has been either shoddy, dishonest, socially regressive, elitist and or reactionary. I cannot think of one (positive) achievement they could boast of. There are plenty of negatives, but as they say, the vibe has changed.

They tortured the refugees until it became politically embarrassing to keep them locked up, and they were secretly released, with no supports in place.

The Biloela family have finally been repatriated home, and we can blame Morrison, Dutton and Alex Hawke in equal parts for their misery. All duck-shovers and gas lighters. Memo: the reason everyone loathed your time in office was because of such tactics.

Peter Dutton has had a variable time this year. His win in a defamation case, against Shane Bazzi, an unemployed refugee advocate, was set aside by appeal. Bazzi had called Dutton a “rape apologist”.

Mr Bazzi was responding to a statement Mr Dutton had made in 2019. His tweet linked to a Guardian article where Dutton made the claim that rape victims on Nauru were fabricating their claims.

Mr Bazzi used Twitter to make his comment. I suspect that many Twitter readers agreed with his comment, but that is not a defence. It depends on what you feel the word “apologist” means.

And then there is the flawed Australian Defamation Law, where the judge decides what the reader probably imputed from your statement. So you are not judged on what you said, but on what someone else decided you meant to say.

Even Christian Porter wanted to change that aspect of the law, before commencing on his own doomed legal adventures. What can you expect from a government which refused to cease the incarceration of children as young as ten, and which allowed a whistleblower’s lawyer to be tried secretly, because he acted on behalf of the man who blew the whistle on Australia’s security services, for acting unlawfully.

Although it is clear no-one in the coalition has ever heard of Franz Kafka, it should be government policy to only employ people who have read “The Trial.”

“Some people are trying it on,” he said. “Let’s be serious about this. There are people who have claimed that they’ve been raped and came to Australia to seek an abortion because they couldn’t get an abortion on Nauru.

They arrived in Australia and then decided they were not going to have an abortion. They have the baby here and the moment they step off the plane their lawyers lodge papers in the federal court, which injuncts us from sending them back.”

The same day the tweet was posted, Mr Dutton had said he was unaware of the “she said, he said” details of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations.

Ms Higgins was claiming she had been raped. Her alleged assailant was not claiming to have been raped, and so there was no moral equivalence.

Those words are ‘police-speak’; formulaic, dismissive and designed to cast equal weight onto the male-female narrative scales. So you would have to be pre-literate to miss the misogynistic framing of that disclaimer. His language speaks to a generation of men who are not interested in fairness, or change.

Peter Dutton was a Minister in Scott Morrison’s Government. Shane Bazzi is unemployed, and his defamation defence was crowd funded. He advocates for refugees. In an ironic sense, Shane Bazzi’s family has itself been ‘defamed’ by Dutton, as he is descended from the Lebanese migrants who arrived in the 1970s. Dutton has pronounced them as irretrievably criminal, and he has the computations to ‘prove’ it.

The problem with Dutton’s public pronouncements is that so many of them are just wrong, or without evidence, or just another way of drawing attention to himself. Many of them are offensive, and many set up ‘straw men’ for the public to fear and loathe.

Paedophiles and pacifists are two groups he targets, and the Chinese Communists are an old standby. “Lefties and greenies’, possibly transgender folk, it is not too hard to fall foul of this man.

He voted against same sex marriage, and he did walk out of the Stolen Generations apology, so he has many unpopular and reactionary opinions, publicly stated, which he will need to reverse, if he is to reinvent himself.

Some can be interpreted as ‘dog whistling’, such as when he demonises refugees, or Muslims, even African gangs. On a more absurd note, he did want to assist white South African farmers in fleeing their own country, because of perceived racial prejudice against them. You cannot make that stuff up.

Dutton, now that he is the leader, will presumably want to project a friendlier face, but his appearances so far suggest that he is incapable, or merely unwilling, to work for Australia, rather than fighting to tear down a Labor government, which has had exactly zero time to settle in.

I think he will find inner Sydney and Melbourne harder to convince of his bona fides. He didn’t exactly cover himself in glory when his first thought, upon taking over Defence, was to cancel funding for “woke morning teas”, where defence force members dress in rainbow colours to signal the department is welcoming towards LGBT members, and possible recruits.

Peter Dutton has recently floated the idea of taxpayers bearing the cost of politicians’ defamation cases, seeing it as a ‘workplace entitlement’. We must remember he is the minister who gave a half billion dollars to Paladin, a company with a shed on a beach for an office. Dutton has got a long row to hoe, if anyone is ever going to like him, let alone vote for him. His wife said recently, “He is not a monster.” Let’s go with that thought.

Time for a re-build


John Curtin is best remembered as a war-time Prime Minister. He is routinely described as Australia’s greatest prime minister. His policy work, alongside that of his Treasurer, Ben Chifley, was crucial in establishing a welfare state, on Australian lines, designed for Australian conditions.

Curtin was influenced by the economic theories of Keynes, and he had long wanted to transform life for Australians. He had seen the real and lasting damage caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and took the opportunity offered by wartime conditions to transform the nation.

In 1942 he imposed uniform taxation on the states, which changed the financial relationship between the two levels of government forever. It also allowed him to increase the revenue.

The removal of the states’ individual rights to levy their own income taxes was to be compensated, by the Commonwealth ‘picking up’ their liability for social programs. This was the ‘great bargain’ he made.

With a uniform income tax he was then in a position to expand his vision of a socially activist Commonwealth Government. The states, especially New South Wales and Victoria, had been adding elements of a social safety net since the beginning of the century.

He and Chifley, the treasurer at the time, between them, completed it. Early examples were the Widow’s Pension Act, and the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act.

By the end of that same year (1942) he had set up a Department of Postwar Reconstruction, which laid the groundwork for establishing a Commonwealth Housing Commission, the postwar Rural Reconstruction Commission, the Secondary Industries Commission and the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Many of these programs were designed to assist in re-building Australia, after the war ended.

In 1944 he set up the Department of Immigration which was to be responsible for organising postwar immigration to Australia. These changes were the basis for the enormous growth of the Australian economy in the postwar years.

John Curtin was a believer and a doer. He was lucky to be succeeded as prime mininster by Chifley, who carried on their joint project.

Their aim was nothing less than the dynamic re-construction of Australia, post-war. Curtin and Chifley both maintained that the key principle of a successful re-construction was full employment.

Robert Menzies was of a similar mind. He defeated Chifley in the election of 1949, and won seven elections in a row, on a platform which included full employment.

In 1961, he was lucky to be re-elected, because the unemployment rate had ‘blown out’ to 2.1%. He won that election by just one seat.

The welfare state in Australia is under constant threat, by both sides of parliament. This is counter to the wishes of a great proportion of the population, and it is driven by a political class who, especially in recent times, look after only themselves.

They rely on the apathy of the people, who do not inspect governments closely, and who are disengaged from the political process. Politics and society are of no interest to most voters – a sad fact of life.

The “teal wave” of the 2022 election has shown a new, invigorated voting bloc, and it will play merry hell with political orthodoxy. Educated women have decided that they are not “soccer mums” or “doctors’ wives” any longer, if they ever were. They have asserted their right to be heard, and I suspect politics will be changed forever.

The Liberal Party has been infiltrated by many IPA-type neoliberals, whose political mantra can be simplified to a “survival of the fittest” trope. The Labor Party, although not yet as badly infested with IPA ideas, is slightly less crass, paying lip service to an egalitarian ethic, while rubber-stamping much neo-liberal legislation. It leaves voters stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Watch as Anthony Albanese moves, probably slowly, to incorporate many more woman and family friendly policies. Now is the time, when the blokes of the Liberal Party are bereft of numbers, and importantly, their macho confidence.

Where to from here?

In the Age of Coronavirus, food insecurity, the Ukraine War and the seemingly inevitable devastation even limited climate warming will cause, we need the utmost in inclusive government, and a government released from the ideological shackles of the neo-liberal movement.

Scott Morrison was a man tied to his party, by his own strange, anti-science ideologies, and his limitless ambition. He could have formed a National Government in order to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, but in his blinkered and political way he excluded the Opposition.

So we never had any sort of national anything. Instead we had premiers of states saving their people, while the Federal Liberals worked to pry the gates open. We had economics before people, and look at where that has landed us.

Instead of subsidising fossil fuel companies, and handing out money to billionaires, and private schools which don’t need it, try employing people. Try luring car manufacturers back to Australia, and electrify everything, including the cars we make.

Stop picking fights with China. Anyone with an elementary education is aware that China has had a short, but vexed relationship with the West. The Opium Wars, invasions, the unequal treaties imposed by Western nations, the theft of Hong Kong; all these are like burrs under China’s saddle, and pesky states like Australia would do better than try to rile them, in pursuit of political gain. Morrison sucking up to Trump was the reason behind our current difficulties.

Stop throwing cash at multinational consultancies, and pay aged care staff and health care workers enough to live on. Stop our brightest and best scientists from leaving our barbarian land, and embrace the arts and the universities again. Build lots of housing. It is not clever to strangle supply, because all you do is drive up demand, and prices.

That is probably enough to begin with. But if you look around you, people look happier, and it has been less than a week since we delivered ourselves from Morrison’s rule.

Let us give Albanese the opportunity to be a real leader. He could really lean into the task of re-building the country, from the ground up, after the laying waste of the economy, and our society, caused by the pandemic, and the LNP vandals.

It just takes character, and a commitment to Australia’s real needs. That is why we call it the Commonwealth of Australia. Could this be his moment? We will see.

Morrison reaped what he had sown


Writing this a couple of days after the most important election in Australian history, Australians did finally find their voices, and in no uncertain manner told the neo-liberal jackals who had come storming into public life that they were finished.

Why the most important election? Because Morrison was on a path to Trumpian glory. Surrounded by white evangelicals and emboldened by the sound of acquiescence from his front benchers, he was on a path to immortality. He had no reason to listen, he suffered no self-doubt.

His disdain for conventional behaviour, his seeming inability to act respectfully toward anyone he encountered, his feigned religious conviction all pointed to something deeply wrong about this man, and his government.

He was trashing our institutions daily. He had devalued the truth. He had signed an infernal bargain with his party-room members, whereby even the most hard headed had handed over their autonomy to him. They had sold their souls in the hope that he would lead them to the promised election victory.

I can find no sadness, no sympathy for this man, who has had the grandfather of hidings handed to him. He has been publicly humiliated, and there are no tears for his loss. Morrison is seen as being devoid of feeling, as being so devious and calculating that any instinct for sharing a moment of kindness with him is impossible.

But beyond the human failings, he was on the track to autocracy. He bullied those around him. Julia Banks described him as “menacing, controlling wallpaper”, and it is clear to see in his body language. Images of him leaning forward, fists clenched, jaw jutting conveyed something more than tension.

Cast your minds back to the election campaign. His jeering references to Anthony Albanese’s upbringing, his newly lost weight, his likeability, his new glasses, were all deemed fair game by Morrison.

His dismissal of Albanese as “weak, not up to the job, inexperienced” were classic signs of a bully, which would have had him sacked from any other workplace in Australia. There was an unmistakeable hint of Morrison projecting menace toward a smaller man, but not necessarily a weaker one.

Perhaps it is the missing piece of the puzzle as to why he has been moved on from so many positions in the past. His plan to take over our country was hatched back in 2000. As State Director of the Liberal Party from 2000 – 2004 Morrison put in place the building blocks for his eventual takeover of the Liberals, and he has in the process weakened the party until it is an empty, hollowed-out IPA shell.

Ask yourself why Rupert Murdoch is such a supporter. Ask why John Howard is the talisman of the modern party. Lastly, where would the Petro Georgios and the Ian Macphees of yesteryear fit within this ruin?

Why Katherine Deves? Because he saw it as the wedge which would empower all the narrow-minded bigots he was trawling for, to speak out in support of his grubby tactic. The only problem was that apart from the crazy anti-everythings no-one was interested.

How did all the other captain’s picks perform? Made by Captain Morrison and his wild-eyed offsider Alex Hawke, they performed as expected – they lost. Morrison’s behaviour in the New South Wales pre-selections was a handy reminder of what we could expect if he won this election.

Morrison’s reputation as a master campaigner and strategist has been blown apart. The best thing is that we woke up in time. The worst is that the entire Liberal Party hierarchy was blind to the totality of the takeover.

The women of the party deserted, because enough of them recognise toxic masculinity when they see it. . They read the body language, and they remembered the talking over of Liberal women, the refusal to engage with them, on any meaningful level. Possibly the pivotal moment was when he put on the ‘big baby performance’, when he wasn’t sure if rape was wrong, and he had to check with Jen first.

Women will not be ignored, nor made to feel powerless. His statement that “SHE CAN GO” about Christine Holgate was a message that, no matter how successful a woman is, he remained in charge. It was a dog-whistle to every inadequate man in the country that, when the rubber hits the road, men are still in charge. Wrong.

The patriarch and his fellows have been thrown out of the temple. What irony that Tudge and Sukkar might be the last men standing in the suburban Melbourne landscape. Porter gone, Tudge disgraced, Dutton their last remaining hope.

The climate is descending into hell territory. We need a timely intervention, and along comes Albanese, who will be goaded along by a newly invigorated Green Party. Labor kept the seat of Hunter, because the coal industry has read the writing on the wall, and it says “renew now”.

Did no-one ever explain how governments work? How did Morrison spend four years in the highest office in the land, and not know that he and his party, as the government, had sole responsibility for introducing legislation to the parliament? Why did he persist in excusing his failure to deliver a National Integrity Commission as being Labor’s fault? Labor was not the government. Not for nine years.

Many of us felt that there was no escape from the megalomaniac in the Lodge. The opinion polls were sowing doubt, his teflon coating made every day a bright, new day. His promises of billions of dollars, daily, had sapped our ability to resist. His insane energy and imperviousness to shame, had us all bluffed.

People have been dying in record numbers from the pandemic, and yet all Morrison and his group of zombie ministers could talk about was the economy. Memo to the Liberal Party: Put people first.

He and Dutton promised all sorts of lethal weapons for war, while demanding Albanese justify paying aged care workers a living wage. He was also criticised for promising to feed the aged adequately, and asked by the feral media how Labor would pay for it. So it was as if we were living in a parallel universe, where white was black, and vice versa.

So it is with a huge sigh of relief that I laud the Australian sense of right, their internal ability to finally wake up to a charlatan, and hopefully a return to decent, caring government. I couldn’t be more proud of the Australian way, today.

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