Is Peter Dutton ‘Quite Right’?

Why is it important to ask the question?

Peter Dutton is arguably the second most powerful person in Australia, after his boss, Scott Morrison. That means that we should be very mindful of his character, and his morals, his prejudices and his quirks, even his intelligence, because he, in his enormous portfolio, wields tremendous power, which can make or break lives.

The job was handed to him by Malcolm Turnbull, in one of his less savvy moments. Turnbull increased the department’s oversight, and hence Dutton’s responsibilities, to include national security, border control and law enforcement agencies of the government. This was at a time when there was speculation that Dutton needed to be distracted, due to raging ambition for the top job, and Turnbull’s apparent inability to control the right wing of his party. This gave Dutton access to almost unlimited power.

Wikipedia’s description is enough: The Department of Home Affairs is the Australian Government interior ministry with responsibilities for national security, law enforcement, emergency management, border control, immigration, refugees, citizenship, and multicultural affairs. Considering that Dutton’s performance at Immigration had been sub-optimal, and getting worse, it was like a gift for bad performance.

Remember this is the person once voted the worst Health Minister in history, worse than Tony Abbott even. His record at Immigration was equally appalling, and Home Affairs is now a champion in not meeting statutory targets, and as for budgeting, and staff morale, it ranks lowest of all Commonwealth departments. I sometimes think that, by keeping this person in the Ministry, Turnbull handed his eventual executioner the knife.

We need to trust him. But for many reasons we cannot. These are some of them:

He boycotted The Apology

He publicly refused to attend the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, delivered by Kevin Rudd, in 2008. The apology was directed to the Stolen Generations, for the actions and policies of successive governments, which “inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians”.

He was the only Opposition front bencher to boycott the Apology, and in Kevin Rudd’s words, “Dutton was an MP for 7 years and was 38 when he boycotted the apology to first Australians. A grown man, experienced politician who knew what he was doing – sending a dog-whistle to racist sentiment. A question of character.For this reason alone, he should never be Prime Minister, in what can only be seen as a slap in the face for those affected.”

In 2010 he stood by his decision, deeming the apology irrelevant. In 2017, a full six years later, he said he had misunderstood the importance of the occasion, and regretted not being there. This stands as one of the two occasions I can recall, where he has expressed doubts about either his words, or his actions.

Is it time to re-assess him?

He has said many unacceptable things along the journey; the list is too long, and too tedious to reproduce here. But the theme is one of unrelieved hard-right intolerance. He does not even try and moderate his image.

He claims not to have been misunderstood, nor has he been mis-quoted. He takes pride in being direct, and in generally refusing to apologise, no matter what he has said. He proudly carries the banner for the far-right in the Morrison Government, and many believe that, should Morrison falter, Dutton stands ready to pounce.

Unlike Morrison there is not a shady history of him being removed from past jobs, no history of behind the scenes politicking. He was a policeman, then he was an MP. His public life is our only real source material, but he has been very open about his opinions, and he has delivered an unvarnished version of himself.

The only time he has attempted a ‘make-over’ was when he challenged for the Prime Ministership. He toyed with the idea of re-packaging himself for the public, and he was photographed smiling. Upon losing he appeared destined for the scrap heap, but Morrison probably believes that the old adage “Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer” is good policy. Anyway, he stayed in the ministry, in his super-sized ministry.

In 2016, while Immigration Minister, he stated that Malcolm Fraser had made a mistake by letting in Lebanese-Muslim migrants in the 1970s. His reasoning is, as usual for Mr Dutton, shallow, misleading and discriminatory, both racially and religiously.

He believes that, no matter how long these people are in Australia, they, and their descendants, are more likely to commit criminal offences. While mathematically totally impossible to prove, or to disprove, when queried on his statement, he responded that the figures supported him, and that he would not be intimidated into re-considering his stance.

This is directly accusing immigrants, who arrived fifty years ago, of being stained with some sort of invisible criminal gene, which has managed to survive the many, many thousands of genetic permutations which have occurred since then. If it quacks like a racist duck, it probably is one. On a personal note, I am directly descended from Irish ‘criminal’ stock. Imagine if one of my relatives had married a third or fourth generation Lebanese. Would a ‘multiplier effect’ kick in? Surely the very basis of Australia is that Australians are all equal, no matter where your family came from, and no matter which version of God you believe in.

Again, when speaking out against refugees in 2016 he stated that many of them would take Australian jobs, while languishing in unemployment queues, and using Medicare. It is hard to languish in a queue when you’re in a ‘stolen’ job. And what is wrong with using Medicare, if you are paying taxes, in that same ‘stolen’ job? The logic is as twisted as his mind appears to be. Does he mean these things, or is he using the classic dog-whistle to excite the right? And we should not forget his statement, that Melbournians are too afraid to go out to dinner, because we fear African gangs so much. These statements came directly from a Cabinet Minister, in charge of IMMIGRATION matters.

Surely his attitude is dangerous?

The question I ask is “Should he even be there? Is he suitable to sit in the Parliament? Does he meet minimum standards? Can he make the country better, for his being there? So I am not asking whether he would make an enjoyable dinner party guest, but rather does he suit the role of a leader, of a person with a vision? ALL Parliamentarians profess that they want to make a difference, but do his ideas and standards drag us back to an earlier, less caring time, when overt racism, homophobia and religious intolerance were proudly on show.

In a recent appearance on Sky TV he appeared to show where his thoughts really lie: – “I have always seen parliament as a disadvantage for sitting governments”. This was based on the theory that, for good government, you need to sometimes make tough decisions, which might be messy and unpopular, but really, you need to do what must be done. There speaks a despot in training. A dangerous despot.

Rita Hayworth via Graham Greene

Do not cull your books – you will regret it

I started to cull my books recently. As old age approaches I routinely decide that I need to gain more space, and to really get rid of what I will never get around to reading, sort of like “use it, or lose it”. I noticed once, in a list of ‘best-ever books’, Stendahl’s Scarlet and Black. Some time later I spied a copy in an op-shop for $2, and promptly bought it. It has been gathering dust ever since. No disrespect to M. Stendahl, but I will never read it. Not even if he could arrange for someone, maybe his great grandson, to pay me.

There are other books, and authors, with whom I have a warmer relationship. The finds can be illuminating, and as often as not the books you find can be a trap, because once you start to pull them out of their hiding places, you are apt to find old friends, and enemies, and then your state of mind is thrown into turmoil. Forgive the over-wrought writing, but we are discussing literature, we hope, and it probably sends your pulse racing. N’est ce pas?

How does Graham Greene connect with Rita Hayworth?

One such book pulled from a dark corner was ‘Travels with My Aunt”, by Graham Greene. Greene died in 1991, and his reputation has not faded, as much as receded into the background, with qualifications. Easily pigeon-holed as a ‘Catholic writer’ he is so much more. Anyway, I happened on this book again, and found myself drawn down an interesting rabbit hole. Bear with me as I re-trace my steps.

Reading about his fictional aunt reminded me of what might be called a meme now, maybe a theme then; that of the rogue maiden aunt, who is wild and free, against all expectations, and unashamedly so! We have one in our family, but that is another story!

The name Auntie Mame sprang to mind, and having a minute on my hands, I googled the term. Were the fictional aunts connected, had Greene lifted the character, was his tale an original book, or was it all based on a movie, written by someone else?

Discovering Rita Hayworth – You will love her

The first entry for Auntie Mame was a YouTube film clip. It was of Rita Hayworth dancing, and her dancing was, to my untrained mind, spectacular. But even more spectacular was the fact that Rita Hayworth could actually dance, at all. I’d heard of her, but she was of the distant past. Some had described her as the most beautiful of the Hollywood female stars, but I expected that the funny hair-do, and the wooden speech, would lose me.

That video was of her dancing with Fred Astaire. We’ve all heard of him, but he is very definitely last century. You know, the 1950’s called, and they want their tap shoes back. The song is called “The Shorty George”, and I defy anyone with a pulse not to be gobsmacked by their virtuosity, and the swinging charm, and sheer joy, of it all. See it here: You don’t see dancing like that, anywhere, anytime. She is one of six dancers to have danced with Fred Astaire, and also Gene Kelly. Gene Kelly was known as the most athletic of the male dancers in movies, but Rita Hayworth matches him, every step of the way. Watch this and breathe in. If I sound awed, I am.

By now I was wasting lots of time, so I decided to waste some more. I looked Rita Hayworth up in Wikipedia. Her biography is relatively straightforward, but with profound and disturbing facts, which are treated as incidental, and almost glossed over.

From a very early age she was sexually abused by her father, and the abuse appears to have continued until at least early adulthood. She seems to have, in some ways at least, overcome this horrendous start, however, and managed to build a very successful career, over a long time. She was the most successful female actor of her generation.

She was however, then married to a succession of exploitative men, some of whom were introduced to her by her father, and she never found happiness with any of them. She was battling dangerous demons, however, and the Wikipedia entry tells a tale of monumental rages, escalating alcohol abuse, and mental deterioration. It is almost a relief when Alzheimer’s Disease makes an appearance, because she shows a steady decline in her physical and mental health. In this way the movie industry can move on. She has a disease, and that explains her demise. No problem.

There is no speculation about the effects on her, and her mental health, from her early, and sustained abuse. It is quite shocking to read, because it assumes a level of acceptance, of another one of life’s hurdles, with no sensibility of, and no admiration for, her resilience. And of course, her father is not mentioned again; he was not sent to jail, he seems to have sailed on into obscurity, and her life was shortened, so that she died at age 68. Her daughter looked after her until her premature death. Thank God for small mercies.

Of course she has been dead for thirty years now, but it seems that history has treated her roughly, and without due care and consideration. Her tale, to me, smacks of courage, character and indomitable will. Who knew her story in full? Her videos still deliver much, of vitality, of an inner beauty, and of joy. Fred Astaire always said she was his favourite dance partner. Watch her here, again.

Travels with My Aunt is a great book. I must review it sometime.

Barnaby Joyce – a faulty work in progress

Barnaby has already attained high office

Many outstanding politicians are remembered for doing something special for their country, or perhaps for a lifetime of sustained effort for the country’s benefit. Barnaby Joyce was named “Australia’s best retail politician” by another politician – one Tony Abbott. Now that endorsement does muddy the waters somewhat, but a reference is a reference.

He has also ‘served’ as Deputy Prime Minister of the country, which in itself is an achievement. It also illustrates the point that our system elevates the leaders of political parties to positions that are sometimes way beyond their capabilities. Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce are two such examples, and it also points to the problem of having a junior coalition partner. The leader of the National Party automatically becomes Deputy PM if the coalition is in power. That is preposterous, but true.

Dodging a bullet

In February 2018 Malcolm Turnbull was scheduled to go to the U.S. and he flagged that Mr Joyce would be acting Prime Minister in his absence. Obviously that was an unacceptable choice, and Barnaby was sent on a week’s leave instead. He was undergoing much inner turmoil at the time, so it was probably for the best. We dodged a bullet there.

Look at the big picture

If we take a long hard look at Barnaby’s career one struggles to find the signature ‘big’ achievement. He does have a singular talent for making outlandish statements, which immediately gathers media attention, and he has made something of a reputation for speaking the ‘unvarnished truth’. This has been gradually whittled away, mainly due to his own efforts, where onlookers or listeners are often left questioning whether he is affected by drink, or perhaps having a psychotic break of sorts.

The radio interview with Patricia Karvelas springs to mind, listen here You could also see his his Facebook post late last year, where he told us “I just don’t want the government any more in my life, I am sick of the government being in my life.” He also told us “There’s a higher authority that’s beyond our comprehension – right up there in the sky. And unless we understand that that’s got to be respected, then we’re just fools. We’re going to get nailed.” So he has retained his Christian faith, if not his credibility.

Looking back on his career is interesting. As most of us acknowledge, that one, big moment where he achieved something cannot be found. He has a ‘blooper reel’ of legendary proportions, however. It could be argued that he has been forever oafish, but not particularly harmful. Jenna Price, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, thinks otherwise And if we look back, why are we paying him? What was his electorate thinking? Even excluding his shambolic private life, his contrary position on almost every aspect of Australian life, his appalling waste of public money, his relentless search for relevance, his stalking of his leader, his pronouncements, his seeming lack of accountability. He holds a parliamentary record, of sorts: Crossing the floor, or deserting his party.

Weighing it all up

He has been called the world’s worst ever Agricultural Minister. He has overseen the Watergate purchase, of illusory floodwaters, for close to double the asking price. He did say that his department made the decisions; he was absent, or distracted? He has been pilloried for moving the pesticides regulator from Canberra to his own electorate, at huge expense and no upside. He has apparently saved Australia from an environmental hazard, by threatening to euthanase Johnny Depp’s small dogs. He completed his term as Special Drought Envoy, where he managed to spend $675,000 and ‘produced’ a report, sent by text messages, which the Prime Minister was too busy to read.

These are just some examples of how genuinely useless he has been, over a number of years. Think of an issue, and he will have taken the renegade position, and as likely as not, later he usually reverses his stance. It is plain that he sees himself as a born leader, and his recent tilt at the leadership of the National Party proves that he is completely lacking in self-awareness. He has recently launched a podcast, called Weatherboard and Iron, with Matt Canavan. Perhaps he sees a career in the media for himself.

On reflection one achievement does stand out. It has received bi-partisan support, it led to an improvement in parliamentary standards, and it has made us all sleep soundly at night. That would be the ‘bonking ban’. I will always thank Barnaby for being the catalyst for that change in our national landscape.

Barnaby goes off, again

February 24: In response to several days of media silence about Barnaby Joyce, he decided that enough was enough. The Australian people were being denied the spectacle of Barnaby going off, so Barnaby did what he does best, he ‘went off’. Watch it here

In further developments the people of Tamworth have been asked to recall him, as he is now seen as a danger to himself, and to the Coalition at large.

The Australian Labor Party are holding a prayer breakfast on Thursday morning, to thank God for Barnaby. No-one has ever made Joel Fitzgibbon look so good before.

A Ship of Tools

Judgement Day Feb 4, 2020

7.00am: Barnaby wants another go at being Deputy PM. He remembers the big pay packet. He is struggling, supporting two families. He remembers the look of sadness in their eyes, the last time they turfed him out (The Nationals, not either of his families. I didn’t mean them). He wants something better than weatherboard and iron.

The day also marks the opening of the Parliamentary Year, and the Parliament will pass a Motion of Condolence for those who have lost their lives in the recent bush-fires, and to honour those involved in fire-fighting efforts. The Nationals will have their moment in the idiot spotlight, no matter what.

7.22am: National Party members think about Barnaby leading them again. Many are in tears, some are too scared to cry. Many Liberals are numb, bereft, their eyes are tired, they are too drained to feel.

9.00am: The vote is held and the impossible happens. God has intervened, Barnaby remains in the wilderness. Mr Morrison leads a united party room prayer. He takes the opportunity to remind the troops that the world is watching them, so SAY NOTHING STUPID.

It appears that the team can hold the line. Craig Kelly is being detained in solitary, and Barnaby is consoling himself by cursing the heavens. Peter Dutton is lazily torturing asylum seekers, and dreaming of what might have been. The Prime Minister takes a private moment, sobbing like a baby. Bridget sits alone, wondering how it all went so horribly wrong. No point in moping – she might as well go out and shoot something. It seems to relax her.

1.10pm: I am sorry, Michael McCormack, the winner of this morning’s poll, has just told us that this summer’s bush-fires were not unprecedented, we have always had bush-fires, many just like this year’s. Can this signal the end of peace, as we know it?

Mr Morrison will now have to re-frame his arguments. No more can he ‘accept the science’, where he connects Climate Change with the fires (a tiny bit). It’s take a step, move back to the right. There is NO connection between the two. Thank God for this Government. There is no other like it, in all the world!

Judgement Day is now but a distant memory.

Barnaby is now full of goodwill. It is just that he doesn’t like the way Michael McCormack speaks. He is clearly (from Latin clarus; clear or loud) not a Latin scholar, as Barnaby so clearly is. “I have disdain when the term ‘learnings’ is used. Leaning is a verb, knowledge is a noun and ‘learnings’ is nonsense.” Barnaby went to the same school that Tony Abbott did, so you can see the quality of the ‘old boys’. Asked later if he had really studied Latin at school, he replied in Latin. He then was kind enough to tell the reporter, “you don’t have to speak Latin but English helps.” Those Jesuits really know how to teach a guy, don’t they.

What is next for the Nats?

Stay tuned for exciting developments in this unfolding yarn. I’m just going out to get a new piece of straw to chew on … Well, let’s recap. We have Llew O’Brien being the bomb-thrower on Judgement Day, by calling the spill motion, which caused the emotional turmoil within the group, indeed throughout the Government. Llew made the call because he wants Barnaby back in the big chair, mainly because he is more aggressive than Michael McCormack.

I question his strategic nous however, as very soon after Barnaby lost the vote for leader, Llew left the party, which means that when they have another leadership ballot, which seems inevitable, he WON’T have a vote, because he has resigned from the party. A bit of an own goal, really.

Matt Canavan is a true coal warrior. His brother runs an energy company, so he is never lonely. He is also the person who, when questioned about his possible Italian citizenship in 2017, did a Warnie, and blamed his mum. I know, it sounds like a television skit, but this is all true. Anyway, he resigned from Cabinet so that he could support Barnaby. He had also failed to list one of his houses in his register of interests, so maybe he was just giving himself a bit more time in which to fill in paperwork. He used to be Barnaby’s Chief of Staff, which must have made for a fun office. I wonder if they burned briquettes during winter.

Anyway, in the great tradition of the bush, he and Barnaby are now producing a podcast, called Weatherboard and Iron, which presumably describes their humble little houses. Or is it meant to show empathy with owners, or even renters, of such houses, or just because it is a catchy name which shows their humble roots? And now that they are on a backbencher’s wage, every cent helps.

Michael McCormack appeared on Insiders last week. He could not explain why a rural grants program delivered 90% of the cash to urban seats, and only 10% to the bush. He was the minister in charge of the grant program. Maybe that is why Barnaby and Matt think they could do better. I think that a week is a long time in politics, but in the case of the Nats, it is an eternity.

Stay tuned for more fascinating insights into how our system of parliamentary democracy works.

Scott Morrison Should Resign and Call an Early Election

Looking for a renewed mandate has been done before

It has become clear that this Government is illegitimate. The stench of corruption is overwhelming, and any decent Prime Minister should acknowledge that fact. In order to re-establish his relationship with the people of Australia, Morrison should resign, and call a general election.

It has been done before, and it can actually re-invigorate the political environment. In 1963 the then Liberal Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, called an early election for the House of Representatives because the government were struggling to govern with their narrow 2-seat majority in the chamber. The government succeeded in gaining an extra 10 seats. There was no discernible sense that the Prime Minister of the time was corrupt.

What is so wrong now?

The situation is vastly different now, in that there is almost a complete lack of trust in this Government. The personnel, from the very top, are so far outside the expectations of rational and honest voters that many of us feel we deserve some sort of refund, if not of our time then of our taxes.

How should the election be conducted?

If Morrison was able to conduct the election campaign as convention dictates, he would serve as a caretaker, and he would not spend millions of taxpayers’ funds on advertising his party’s policies; he would not bribe seemingly every coalition seat with unnecessary and cynical ‘grants’, and he might even stop lying about his climate policies. He should stop claiming illusory climate and emissions achievements, to appease his backbench rump. And additionally, he should allow the people to pre-select their own candidates, rather than intervene. This might lead to the omission of knuckle-draggers like Craig Kelly from the parliament. This would be a win for everyone.

If no election, what could change?

Further immediate improvements to consider include answering legitimate questions from the press, being open and transparent enough to release suppressed reports on ministers, and to promise not to protect those in his party room who have lost the trust of the Australian people. Imagine if he had actual standards which included not handing power to racists, to homophobes, or to those who have put personal advancement above the country’s interests. We know who they are, but he merely closes ranks when questioned. Sometimes he “rejects the premise of the question”.

Imagine if he apologised for the statement “A fair go for those who have a go”, which is one of the most divisive phrases ever uttered in Australian history. And imagine if his Government stopped torturing the poor. He could ‘man up’, swallow the fact that he has been wrong all along, and acknowledge that Newstart is degradingly low, and that the majority of Australians support it being substantially raised.

That would not only make moral sense, but it would serve as an immediate economic stimulus. And perhaps apologise for ‘robodebt‘, which we know was unlawful and unenforceable for years. Why don’t we rise up in revolt when it is suggested that between 800 and 2000 deaths have occurred because of that program. Who will take the responsibility for that?

Wow, death caused by a Government’s deliberate cruelty. That is to leave out the unimaginable monstrosity of our treatment of asylum seekers. Two names are enough. Scott Morrison, and Peter Dutton. A weeping sore for decent Australians.

As for other current issues, as an added latest twist of the knife, they want everyone who receives Newstart to have a cashless card, so that they have very limited access to cash. So firstly they assume everyone on Newstart is buying grog, cigarettes and maybe even porn with their $290 a week; after rent of course! Good luck with that. And secondly the idiots in charge of this have not even researched whether the card can be used in all parts of the country.

The main cause of the current dysfunction is Tony Abbott

How did it come to this? It is impossible to look at the decline of Australian democracy without looking at Tony Abbott. John Howard was mean and tricky, Kevin Rudd was a boring control freak, Julia Gillard was an effective legislator, but hopeless at presenting herself as a likeable achiever. And of course she encountered good old Aussie misogyny. Which brings us back to Abbott.

Serial liar, seemingly out to get the poor, hopelessly stuck in a misogynistic 1950s, elitist and yet so sloppy with language, so annoying and in the end so vengeful that we all knew he would take Australia down with him, if necessary, in his pursuit of Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull came to power as our saviour. Finally an adult in the room, urbane, sophisticated, he would treat us as adults. No more slogans, he would conduct a dialogue with us. But he turned out to have no convictions. He was over-turned, or actually complicit, on the issues of climate change, obstructing gay marriage, gutting the NBN, tax cuts for the rich (including himself), and even slogans – Jobs and Growth is notorious for its sheer meaninglessness, and he used it a lot. He also became very focused on National Security, and he was the fool who handed the keys of the ‘Interior Ministry’ to the most dangerous man in Australia, Peter Dutton.

Back to the re-set button

It is clear that the country needs to re-set, because this Government is NOT delivering on anything tangible, and there is a very strong argument that says it arrived in power by fraudulent means. It lied to every voter, and it bribed its way to a razor – slim majority.

The purpose of governments can be seen as being comparable with the underlying mission of families: To improve lives.

Governments are not elected to further their own interests, either politically, or materially. They are tasked with looking after the interests of their citizens, by advancing them along the road of progress.

So go on, Scott. Call an early election. See if God wants to reward you again, after all the shenanigans. I bet you don’t. But you should.

Lift your Game, Men of Australia.

Family Violence is a matter of Attitudes

Recently I heard Phil Cleary speaking on the radio, which reminded me of an interview of his I heard nearly five years ago. What he said during that interview was so right I thought I should, if I was unable to expand on it, fully endorse it. His target was the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which happened in Melbourne, in 2015. As many will know his sister, Vicki Cleary, was murdered by her ex-partner. As he has said, it is important to name the victims, as they deserve to be known by their names, and not only as an ex-partner of a murderous thug. That was not his only message, however.

We can argue the point as to whether the term “family violence” does justice to this subject, and we can argue that the Royal Commission made useful changes, but really, one woman a week? This is not a social ill, this is mass – murder. Male violence toward others, usually against women and children, and to a lesser extent, against other, usually younger, males, is destroying our way of life.

Phil’s argument then was that we were focusing on the wrong causes, which were seen to be predominantly substance abuse, and mental illness. He argued then, and I agree, that they are just excuses. They are lousy excuses. Excuses for bad behaviour, which feed into all the other excuses which weak men use to minimise their culpability.

What do the courts say?

“She looked at another man”, “she went out to work”, “she had a night out with the girls”, “she decided that I was not her ideal partner”, “she wanted a car for herself”. All of these excuses have been run during criminal trials in Victoria, where the person making the ‘excuse’ has actually murdered the person who was exercising her human right to ‘act on her own volition’. And do not for a moment believe that he did not have ‘adequate representation’ in that court.

Drinking too much alcohol does not compel a man to beat his partner. Smoking bongs does not turn a man into a cruel abuser. And the great excuse of our age, methamphetamine, does not pre-dispose a man to abuse his loved ones. It is ACTUALLY his attitude towards women, and children, which drives such behaviour. It begins with a lack of equality, which leads to disrespect. Out of disrespect comes abuse, and violence, and possibly, death.

What can be done about family violence?

Look around you. Bad attitudes to women and children abound. When did it become acceptable to call women by degrading names? Women make up half the population. They are our mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts. They are also our friends and colleagues, and as Phil constantly reminds us, they have names and personalities, and aspirations. The latest woman to be murdered by her partner in Australia was a fully rounded human being, but the facts suggest that another woman has died during the writing of this article.

Why do we let it continue?

It is not even necessary to argue the case for women. They are human, they are half the story, and they make humanity whole. Thinking that women are lesser creatures is the problem. It is a problem so profoundly stupid that it is difficult to believe that anyone would subscribe to the mindset. And yet we have, on average, one woman dying every week in Australia, at the hands of an intimate partner, or ex-partner. That makes a joke of the idea that we live in the land of the ‘fair go’, especially if you are female. See the truly disturbing statistics here,

How does it impact Australia?

This is not a trivial matter; it is not an aberration of class attitudes, or of rogue men, or cultural norms from immigrants. A 2011 report stated that “Intimate partner violence is a leading contributor to illness, disability and premature death for women aged 18-44.”

That is disgraceful, and entirely preventable. We, men and women, need to speak up, to actually intervene when we see unacceptable behaviour toward women, to not turn away. If he does it in public I can promise you he is worse in private.

Attitudes to children as possessions to be fought over, and sometimes to be murdered, in pursuit of a victory over an ex-partner is a tragic off-shoot of this lack of respect. They are not possessions, nor are they bargaining chips. They are yours and my future, and they deserve your protection and guidance.

Family violence is always wrong. It is always used to bully and intimidate. it is not legitimate to ‘discipline’ another person, and if you think it is, you are living in the wrong place, at the wrong time. This community needs to set itself a standard for civility, and respect. Similarly to the way we have made racism socially unacceptable, we need men to re-discover the wonder of family, of community, with no victims. And we need to consider that they are capable of change.

This article was originally published on August 20, 2015. I have recently re-visited it, and updated it. Mark Buckley February 16, 2020.

Morrison finds dodgy organisation on the nose

London: The Morrison government will slash funding to the Commonwealth Secretariat in retaliation to a cronyism scandal that has sparked an international feud over the behaviour of its Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

Reported by Bevan Shields in The Sydney Morning Herald, in what must rank as one of the greatest travesties of modern times, the Morrison Government has found an example of cronyism and ‘jobs for mates’ that it just cannot live with.

Baroness Scotland is struggling to obtain a second term because of alleged cronyism, after an audit savaged her decision to waive usual tender rules, and give work worth nearly $500,000 to a firm run by a friend and colleague from the House of Lords.

The facts of this case bear an uncanny resemblance to the Bridget and Her Friends playbook, and the Morrison Government is outraged. It is withholding funds to the organisation “unless flaws in how it operates and hands out lucrative contracts are fixed.”

Sports Rorts and other Assorted Reports

Contrast our Government’s confected moral outrage over this tawdry affair, with its shameless handling of the Sports Rorts affair, discussed here Not only did Morrison and his cabinet escape scrutiny over that matter, while sacrificing Bridget McKenzie for the equivalent of a parking infringement, but Morrison has also cast doubt on either the Auditor General’s impartiality, or on his competence.

He then appointed the head of the Australian Public Service, a man who had previously worked in Morrison’s office, to prepare another, competing report, just for him. This report is secret, although the Auditor’s report is public. Morrison has told us that his own report could find NO evidence of political bias when the sports grants were handed over. The reason for keeping the secret report secret is that it is a secret.

Further information has emerged of a huge, $150 million handout to hand-picked electorates on the eve of the last election, which is seemingly even more dishonest than the Sports Rorts Affair. What appeared at first as a series of small ‘gifts’ to those electorates has become a flood of taxpayers’ funds, directly torn from Consolidated Revenue, and funnelled into seats which were under electoral pressure, or targeted by the Government. This is not a conspiracy theory. This actually happened, and our money is currently being spent on these facilities, which are effectively gifts to hand-picked electorates. I know, I am repeating myself, because I find the sheer effrontery of the two programs to be so astounding, and wrong.

I must admit that I am surprised that Morrison has not jumped on a plane and gone to meet the Baroness, because they have a lot in common. She could become the next President of the Liberal Party, or even be head-hunted to lead the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The only problem seems to be that she thinks too small. She has only mishandled $500,000, rather than $100 million, but there is room for growth.

Last Minute Developments

In late, breaking news, Boris Johnson has signed up to Morrison’s crusade for honesty in Government, and will withdraw funds as well, from that terrible organisation in London which cannot be trusted.

Mr Gaetjens, the author of the secret report, has defended his report. In a bow to common decency(?) all public servants are now to be coached in integrity. Meanwhile the Integrity Commission is still stalled in Never Never Land.

This Government is now leading the world in ethical behaviour. Go figure.

About Page

Ask Bucko is conceived and written by Mark Buckley.

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