Groundhog Day – The Usual Suspects.


Scott Morrison has had two jobs this year. One was to govern the country, the second was to win an election. He has managed one, out of two. Like all marketing guys he has a short memory, and he believes that the election victory has washed away all his government’s sins, and there is a new day. He is emboldened, and somehow believes that the personnel he took into the election will perform better this time around, like a mythical Scomo.2.

But as we look out into the future, it is possible to discern the return of a similar band of know-nothings, the same old rabble, with nothing new to offer. They are merely re-heating the nasty stew they served up before the election.

Consider the personnel, and the noises they are making. Like zombies they are doing what they do, singing from the same old song-book, and re-fighting the same old battles.

Already we have Matt from Queensland wanting new power stations powered by coal, even if the taxpayers have to subsidise them.

Hilariously we have Barnaby from Armidale, wanting to enshrine Israel Folau’s right to condemn his fellow citizens to hell, for behaving within the law. Barnaby so lacks self-awareness that he fails to notice that he is indeed one of those on a fast train to hell. I won’t speculate on how many of the sins on Folau’s list that Barnaby qualifies for, but I can personally claim five or so.

Then there is Angus from Goulburn. He thinks electric cars are very bad, because everyone will need to install 3 phase power in their houses to charge them, rather than going to the petrol station. He is the energy minister, by the way. And let’s not talk about water buybacks, because he had absolutely nothing to do with it, it was arm’s length, all the way.

Tony from Manly is no longer with us, but he could easily become an ambassador, I guess. Maybe we could send him to Moscow, where he could threaten Mr Putin with an onion.

You get the picture. These are the leaders of the country, and their mates, all getting ready to bore our socks off for another three years. Enjoy!

That Was Awkward – For Labor


So Labor lost. It was not a landslide, but it certainly ruined the party. Of course there were many reasons for the result, but they are only interesting after the central fact is acknowledged: The Conservative Party won, and Labor lost. So we need to celebrate the win for democracy, and respect the decision of our fellow citizens.

It is worth speculating on the reasons for the loss. There was an excellent article in The Conversation during the week, which explained that most people, if given a choice between a small ‘win’ in the near future, and a larger ‘win’ at a time in the distant future, will mainly choose the smaller benefit because it is nearer, and surer. This is short-sighted, but if our fellow citizens are prone to short-sightedness, then perhaps the Labor Party should consider behavioural economics next time it produces a range of policies.

Another reason was that people care about survival this winter more than they care about existential threats to our future twenty years out. This is why climate change is not yet ready to outweigh jobs and electricity prices, until climate change is so advanced that it is ‘in our faces and inescapable’. It actually replicates the theory of the economic behaviourists, cited above.

The third reason as to why Labour lost is that Scott Morrison, sneered at as a ‘marketing man’, did exactly that. He marketed his message, and he cut through. People heard him. It was simple, sloganised, often misleading, but when is marketing not? The old time lawyers called it “mere puffery”, but it works.

Please consider the final reason: Bill Shorten. I kept searching for the spark which had taken him so far in political life. He was leader of the opposition for six years, he was trained in the law, worked as a barrister, led unions and unionists, so he must have it, that ability to lead, to inspire, that indefinable aura known as charisma, or why would anyone follow him?

As I said, I searched for it. Every time he spoke I strained to hear a natural sentence, spoken with commitment, convincing me of why Labor should form the next government. I was driven to form strange theories, the most bizarre being that he had studied Josh Frydenburg’s almost hypnotic ability to stay on message, without inflection or reflection. But Josh manages to at least utter sentences where there is sometimes emphasis, or a change of tone.

Bill Shorten is the worst public speaker I have ever heard, or seen. My family has voted Labor since Federation, so I willed him to be interesting, every day. I cannot hold it against him, because you have it, or you don’t. Every time he spoke I imagined him, sitting in a back room, making deals, laughing and confident, the consummate networker. But this secret gift, if he possesses it, never won anyone an election.

He also has a habit of looking away when people approach him closely. He might be shy, or reserved, but he does not publicly engage with others. The recent death of Bob Hawke reminded us all of why human warmth is so valued. I have never met Bill Shorten, and he may be the most engaging of companions in private, but for the life of me I do not understand why Labor entrusted him with leadership, when he was so ill-equipped to connect with the Australian people.

Anthony Albanese has it. Perhaps he can re-invigorate us all, and stop that feeling of Nooooo, not again.

Who Do You Want To Wake Up With?


Changing governments changes the country. But it doesn’t necessarily change peoples’ lives, most of the time. This time it will.

Years ago we were all of the belief that Tony Abbott was unelectable. He was supposedly too crazy for the mainstream. He was too right-wing. He let us see what he really thought, and it was scary stuff! Knowing how he thought would be enough – we would recoil. Wrong! He unleashed the crazy people, and we have been stuck with them ever since.

Continue reading “Who Do You Want To Wake Up With?”

Homelessness – A Disgrace


When I was growing up there was almost no homelessness. If you were homeless then you were probably an ageing male who drank too much, and you had been caught between shelters, or in some cases, you chose sleeping rough over the sometimes stifling rules in those shelters.

Things are very different today. At the 2016 census 116,000 were sleeping rough on census night, and that figure continues to grow. It was probably an understatement, as couch-surfers and temporary house-guests were not officially counted as homeless.

There are a number of reasons why the numbers are going up – women and children fleeing family violence, young people unemployed and unable to afford rent, debt, disability, the scourge of methamphetamine use are all contributing to the rise in numbers. In many cases support services are required, the most expensive of which is crisis housing, in hotels, motels, caravan parks etc.

There is a solution however. And governments of all shades are ignoring it. Build public, low-cost housing, and most of the problem will go away. Public housing provision, by state and federal governments, both Labor and Liberal, has fallen to its lowest level in 40 years. However the issue of cost always rears its head at these moments.

So the release of a report by McKell Institute today concluded the primary benefit of Labor’s Housing Affordability policy, while costing $6.6 billion, could save $10.8 billion over ten years. Some of the benefits would be improved health and employment outcomes, and a greater sense of safety, independence and social connectedness. “However, the economic co-benefit of the investment is sizeable.”PwC
The Institute cites new modelling by PwC that moving each person from crisis accommodation will save $11,935 per year, per person, through reduced use of government services including health services, welfare, police and prisons. So, not only beneficial, but saves money.

In a country of such wealth it is an absolute disgrace that children are living in cars and under bridges, while we provide million dollar facilities to already wealthy sporting clubs, and waste more money on refurbishing Christmas Island for imaginary patients who never turned up.

So what is the hold-up? Winter is coming! It is about time our governments actually did their one job, which is to provide necessary services, using our money, which they hold in trust. You know, our taxes.

A Fair Go For Those Who Have A Go


For Scott Morrison to even utter these words is remarkable, because he has essentially cast aside the cloak of hypocrisy, and admitted that our home-grown brand of Conservatives are entirely without compassion, and that if you are a ‘loser’ in the game of life you deserve what you get, because the ‘fair go’ is reserved for those ‘having a go’.

This is a belief system called ‘prosperity theology’. If you have ever had the surreal experience of watching a televangelist performing, this will be a part of his spiel. Simply, it espouses the theory that wealth is a blessing from God, and that poverty, or a lack of wealth, well, that is a sign of God’s displeasure. Of course it is! Why else are the common people poor, if not for a lack of moral fibre?

So do not expect fairness, or compassion from our mis-named Liberals. They have long ago cast aside Robert Menzies’ care for the ‘forgotten people’. Here you see, in all its nakedness, contempt for those who are not necessarily winning, and perhaps never will. And for those among us who do care, and consider a safety net central to our idea of a society; we are on the wrong side of the divide.