Tag Archives: Accountability

Team Australia – a sporting analysis


2022 has been a tough year. Let us take a look at Scott Morrison’s Team Australia – a major player in 2022 – where they are at, what they have produced recently, and take a look at what we can expect if they are returned at the looming Federal Election.

I want to take a look at the players first, and leave the evaluation of the coach to last. Obviously he has a huge impact on the players, and as a playing coach, there are questions about his ability to coach, and also his ability to play. Has he been trying to do too much?

Barnaby Joyce – re-elevated to vice-captain last year. A real ‘smokey’ from the bush. Appears to lack much in the way of natural ability, but is a great advocate for team spirit. Many struggle to understand why he is even in the team.

He struggles with self-discipline, and has been rumoured to be battling internal demons. Incoherent on most occasions, but he does bring a certain rawness to post-match press conferences. Yet to prove himself as a player of any quality whatsoever. Will probably stay, and play in the back pocket. A leader of sorts – of a small group of players who are known as a rebellious rump for the team. Needs to work on his fitness.

Josh Frydenberg – a flashy forward type, he started the season strongly, very confident, much hype about him being a ‘leader in waiting’. Has a tendency to ‘mouth off’ early, and often, in games, and to rue his words later. Has had a couple of real shockers during this season, especially when he came up against credible opposition.

Dan Andrews seems to spook him, causing some unnecessary own-goals. Recently Monique Ryan has also shown Josh to be suspect under pressure. Josh follows the game plan to the letter; which can cause a lack of creativity. Could lose his place in the squad if no improvement.

Peter Dutton – the enforcer of the team. A towering, cadaverous type. Learnt most of his moves in the Queensland Police Force, so no stranger to questionable tactics. Is known to absolutely detest communists, and others who disagree with his simple game-plan. Does not share the ball at all.

Rumoured to still harbour leadership aspirations, after an unsuccessful tilt back in 2018. Also known as a very keen sledger. Has stated that if offered a leadership role, he would be prepared to soften his stance on team membership, and his open hostility to opponents. Still able to unsettle the opposition. Dutton will continue to project menace.

Greg Hunt – small, rover type, light and quick on his feet. Quick to pile in on opponents, if someone else starts it. Involved in an unseemly mass attack on Dan Andrews, when he was down, earlier in the pandemic.

Known to go where he is sent, no real commitment to a particular position. Swapped his style of play in climate arena, when told to. Apparently an expert in mitigation, prior to being elevated to the Firsts. Retiring, promise unfulfilled. Real questions about his commitment to the game-plan.

Angus Taylor – a likely looking type, but given to unforced errors. Known to be extremely selfish around goals, and to play for his position, rather than the team. Came in as an early round pick, with a decorated early career, but he has consistently misfired in the big league.

Some think that he had it too easy, too early, and that he will improve when he acclimatises to the level of the competition. He seems to lack basic judgement, however. Does not read the ball well, and the fans have given up on him. Certainly sells his own version of the state of play.

Alan Tudge – an unassuming half-back flanker type, he has shown a real desire for the contest, but an unsettling level of aggression towards opponents. This can spill over to members of the crowd, and his outbursts of uncontrolled aggression have him in the umpires’ sights. He causes damage wherever he goes, and the coach must be careful where he plays him. Known to have serious off-field issues, but has a supporter in the coach. His position in the team appears to be safe. Would need to improve however.

Scott Morrison – Captain-Coach, centre half-forward. Looks more like a rugby player, but certainly an adaptable type. Many consider him to be an all-rounder, someone in the mould of a Ted Whitten, or a Ron Barassi. Unlike those legends of the game, however, he seems to have risen to leadership with not much to show us in the way of skills, strategy, or tactical nous. He has, however, been a tremendous survivor.

Traded out by several other teams previously, he landed with Team Australia, just as it began to disintegrate. He was a member of the leadership group under Captains Abbott and Turnbull, and was lucky to be ‘last man standing’ when the dust settled. He led the team into 2019, and won the flag, against all expectations.

Morrison is religious, and attributes his last win to a miracle. Most rational judges reckon it was lucky, and that the other team failed to show up on Grand Final day. Whatever the reason, Morrison’s team won, and he has been hailed as a genius ever since.

Anyway, he plays all over the ground, showing no particular level of skill, but a determination to dominate every aspect of every game. He is intensely tribal, and you know that he brings full commitment to winning.

He is known for his powers of evasion, and his slipperiness in a tackle. He seems to be able to change tactics at a moment’s notice, and to change the game plan to suit the mood of the day. He has been accused of debasing the game, and lowering standards. He refuses to name women in his best team, which dilutes the standard of player available.

At the moment he is unchallenged, however, because the team remains ‘in the mix’. He seems to be able to hang on, even when he personally puts in a shocker. He and his team have been accused of flouting the rules openly, but he has managed to evade being brought to account.

In today’s winner-take-all environment, he is leading a team of poorly performed players, almost single handedly, to what looks like another grand final. The press is very much in support of his leadership, and the commentary on all other teams is appallingly shallow.

One prominent ‘critic’ recently opined that “his wife is lovely”, which many in the press gallery found confusing, and wondered what the game had come to.

The coach has promised much recently, but his assurances and refusal to answer questions has many supporters looking for change. He is prone to using messianic language when discussing his, and the team’s approach, and seems unable to countenance defeat. Some see this as an inability to face facts.

The coach will presumably see an end to his career if the grand final does not go his way. Many expect the team will have to go into a re-build, as the personnel look tired, jaded, and in great need of credible leadership.

Does the Morrison government deserve another term?


So their term has crawled to a shouty close. Remember a few short years ago when Australian democracy was seen as having developed a uniquely Australian flavour. The respective leaders of the major parties were respectful toward each other, with the notable exception of Mark Latham and his unseemly hand-shake.

We believed in the fair go, we frowned on favouritism, we all had a sort of grudging regard for our leaders, but we held them to account. We definitely had no time for politicians who were in it for the money, or the post-political career. We thought they were on Australia’s side.

Well, cast aside any sense of false pride, because as the fish rots from the head, so has our form of democracy. We now have a leader who is regularly described as a noted liar. He engages in daily behaviour toward his opponent which would have him sacked from any other workplace in the country for bullying.

Our Deputy Prime Minister is a man that even his own party does not respect. He represents nothing that I can identify, beyond advancing his own pay packet. He is apparently afraid of his own backbenchers. The Nationals as a group are reviled everywhere outside their own party room.

The country is standing on the abyss as climate change moves into top gear. Our Minister for Reducing Emissions went to the Glasgow Climate Summit with the intention of spruiking for the fossil fuel industry, and the Prime Minister, representing Australia on the world stage, described our contribution to reducing emissions as being “uniquely Australian”.

To anyone with half a brain that meant using the old “the dog ate my homework” excuse, and they then came home and released a brochure which only met their own target by 85%. The other 15% was hoping for the best.

Most Australians do not read at all, because almost a half of them cannot read. That is because successive governments have so robbed the public education system that only those who attend private, heavily subsidised schools can read. Of course what they read is heavily monocultural. So if you wonder why all the private school educated boys and girls these days behave like entitled twits, that is why.

Our ex-Education Minister, Alan Tudge had a bee in his bonnet about children questioning the Anzac Day myth. Imagine putting a person in charge of education, in this country, who believes that history should be taught with an optimistic slant. Cue the Turkish Government: They imprison anyone mentioning the Armenian genocide (1915-16). Or Japan, which denies the use of Korean women as sex slaves during the Second War.

Many of those private schools are so-called Christian Schools, because our political class is unrepresentative of the population at large, and many of them profess fundamentalist religious beliefs, which are directly at odds with the values of our country.

I speak here of the prosperity gospel, which, allied to the idiotic neo-liberal policies of the IPA, sees the vulnerable as an unholy burden, sees pensioners as free-loaders, and the disabled and the aged as not worth their time, nor effort.

We do not like ‘bible bashers’, or wowsers. We are uncomfortable with people who wear their religiosity like a magic cloak, and I am personally distressed at the prospect of Scott Morrison laying his hands on me, or any one of my fellow citizens, in his inane search for godly connection.

How did we come to a position where the only item on the National Agenda is a Religious Freedom Bill? The only people in Australia with an agenda against the right to practise your own personal religion is the Coalition.

Alan Tudge is a family values politician. He is the ex-Minister because his ex-mistress has accused him of emotional and physical abuse. Which brings us to the thorny question of women.

Morrison and his Ministry have constantly sidelined women, and even his female ministers are not safe from Scott. Scott interrupts them, he counsels them, he ‘supports’ them, he volunteers them (Gladys for Warringah), and he uses his wife as some form of validating tool.

Remember his response to Brittany Higgins’ alleged rape. He consulted his wife, who told him to behave like a father. We would prefer he acted like a competent, fully formed adult, who has been elected leader of a vibrant nation of men, and women.

Of course he has also, aided and abetted by Peter Dutton, vilified China, the Chinese political system, and Chinese culture. Seemingly unaware of China’s history, or its size and power, he seems to be rattling his tiny sabre, and hitching our wagon to the USA.

Recently we discovered that over the last four years the Coalition Government has spent three times as much on Liberal electorates, when compared to Labor-held seats. This proves that we should move house if we want some of our taxes to come back to us, or maybe just vote them out.

Which brings us to accountability. No bill has been seen. Morrison blames Labor because he cannot get his own pathetic version of an integrity commission past his own backbenchers. Ask yourself why he won’t legislate a National Integrity Commission. Ask yourself why he vilifies the NSW ICAC every second day. You know the old saying – if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.

This year has seen the worst floods we have ever experienced. Morrison essentially went into hiding as the devastation became clear, and he now claims that ‘his’ defence force was winching people off their rooves in Lismore. Sadly, another lie.

The people of Lismore are only now beginning to re-build, after months of neglect and minimal help. Just another in a long line of failures. You know them: Bushfires, pandemic, vaccines, JobKeeper, RAT’s, the environment, the climate, the culture wars, the throwing of children back into poverty, even watching his ceaseless attacks on the opposition.

The verdict is that, for me, the current Coalition Government is the single worst government in living memory, possibly in our history of representative government.

From the top to the bottom they shred convention, they outsource our governing functions to multinationals, they have starved our elderly in Aged Care, they keep the unemployed poverty stricken, they are fanning the flames of conflict with China, they have destroyed our social fabric, and they run kangaroo courts. They have devalued our Australian identity, by flouting international standards of behaviour, and by trying to be the Trumpian nightmare of the Pacific. There’s not a lot to like.

A government which could not lie straight in bed


When we look at the individual Morrison Government members we see very few who distinguish themselves from their peers. What we see is a collection of odd, socially awkward people, thrown together by a strange ideology which really sets them apart from our society. Birds of a feather really do flock together.

For convenience sake we can call it the anti-social cabal. They all seem to share certain ‘core beliefs’, which can be condensed into a single word – greed. Greedy for advancement, for money, for power, for success. They trust that the majority of our people share that basic belief, and they are callously indifferent to the inequity that is inevitably unleashed by unfettered venality. It invites us all to get in while the getting is good. Morrison has even given it a catchy theme – “You’ll get a go, if you have a go.”

They remind me of a man who has been on an alcohol and drug fuelled bender and wakes up in an opium den. The years of Liberal National Party domination of Australian politics has been like a gigantic bender, where decency, fairness and even care has been really, visibly absent.

We are all watching as the nine year ‘party’ ends. So when we speak of distinguishing themselves from the rest, has anyone called time on the excesses, the disrespect toward the Australian people, and the trashing of our international reputation?

Julia Banks did, and she has written about the experience. In her words “the Liberal Party has reached the point of no return for its self-described “broad church”. The moderate voice has been drowned out and the party is firmly a Christian, conservative, right-wing party.”

That is true. But what shocks us is the “Carry on and keep lying, and the party might never end.” The LNP’s collection of greedy hedonists is now drawing the wagons into a circle, and lying about every issue we find important, and using our money to broadcast their lies. Their terrified leader refuses to call the election, which means their so-called “public announcements” are being paid for out of consolidated revenue, rather than their own LNP funds.

Has any of us been spared those ads concerning Net Zero by 2050? Lies and more lies. The terms “clean hydrogen” and “carbon capture and storage” are lies. Morrison rather outperformed himself this week, when he managed to outrage those of us who care about global heating, with his stupid and embarrassing promise to send 70,000 tonnes of coal to Poland, for eventual use in Ukraine. Wow, we can’t send drinking water to Tonga, and we are going to send 70,000 tons of coal to Poland? I hope it arrives before winter.

When the Secretary-General of the United Nations called Australia out, by name, as a “hold-out” against climate action, Paul Fletcher dismissed the comments as being made by the “chattering classes”. This government is intent on reducing trust, not only in Australian democracy, but in the institutions we trust.

It is not just that they lie daily, but they actually persist in the belief that Australians are terminally stupid. Simon Birmingham, the inoffensive looking one, is regularly wheeled out for public appearances, because if they use any of their other leaders, there is an unseemly rush to turn the TV off. ‘Good ol Birmo’ seems to enrage us less than the others do.

Anyway, during The Insiders show this week, which actually had three Murdoch proxies (two as guests, the other the host) banging on about how the Labor Party’s “mean girls” had not actually murdered Kimberley Kitching, but had somehow ’caused’ her death. Perhaps Katie Allen, who is a real doctor, might be able to explain to anyone who cares to know, that heart attacks usually happen due to a range of underlying cardiac conditions.

The list of women, and men, Morrison has bullied personally, or has back-grounded against, is long. That is why it is so infuriating when he gets on his high horse about Albanese ‘hiding’ from scrutiny. Julia Banks, Bridget Archer, Christine Holgate, the entire NSW Liberal Party, Gladys Berejiklian, Brittany Higgins have all been in his sights at some time.

But it is the ‘jobs for the boys’ that is so tiresome. Stuart Robert should not be in Cabinet. Every area he is appointed to suffers. Richard Colbeck has failed our elderly in Aged Care for as long as Covid has lasted. Sussan Ley has presided over green-lighting coal mines, the continuing destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, and land clearing that is leading to the demise of the koala. That is some collection of failures. Thank God she won her case against those pesky children who dared to believe a Minister in an Australian government had a duty of care to them.

Matthias Cormann is now Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Wow. His friend Mr Morrison ‘loaned’ him a VIP jet so he could travel the world and lobby for the job. He already had one. It even included free holidays, did it not? Courtesy of Helloworld. In March 2021, 29 Australian and global humanitarian and environmental organisations wrote to the OECD, citing “grave concerns” and asking that Cormann be disqualified due to his record of “thwarting effective climate action”. Wikipedia

Morrison has a unique campaigning method. Death by boring repetition, and a boundless lack of shame. Only today he was upset that Lismore residents are not more grateful for Government assistance.

He also broke old ground today, informing us that if we vote for Labor, we will get Labor. That is something of a compliment to the Australian Electoral Commission, and a huge relief. He sees no warning in the South Australian election debacle. So, call the election. We know you now.

Australia’s lost decade on everything, including climate


Scott Morrison has had a tough few years. First there was The Great Bush-fire Debacle. He went on holiday in Hawaii. Nothing wrong with that, you might say. Except that he tried to hide the fact that he was away. When he was sprung, he made all sorts of excuses, but in his own special way he made a statement that we will always remember: “Mate, I don’t hold a hose.” That was exceptional in many ways. It showed his narrow, superficial mind, with all its smugness, and complete lack of self-awareness. During a catastrophic bushfire, everybody holds a hose.


The country then discovered that, just before the election, and possibly even after the election was called, he had been using our money to try and buy coalition seats, and also lots of marginal seats they wanted to win. Scott Morrison was caught in the headlights of the sports rorts affair, and in an act of utterly callous self preservation, he threw his Sports Minister, Briget McKenzie, under the proverbial bus. Considering his narrow win in the 2019 election, how many seats were retained, or won, because of the calculated misuse of taxpayers’ funds?


The global pandemic struck next. He talked a lot about following the scientific advice, but his resistance to lockdowns, and his reluctance to provide financial support proved very unpopular. Like a dog after a bone, he sniffed the electoral wind, calculated he was on a losing trajectory, and promptly changed direction. He then pinched Boris Johnson’s JobKeeper idea, at Labor’s suggestion.


None of us knew then that the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, would do such a lousy job on the program’s design. Ripped off by thousands of companies, many of which paid bonuses to their already overpaid executives. Some even used those taxpayers’ funds to pay dividends to shareholders. That is some form of middle class welfare! Frydenberg now says it would be unfair to ask for the money back. There is only one word necessary to explain this Government’s moral bankruptcy – Robodebt.


Robodebt, where the might of the Federal Government was turned against often helpless, certainly powerless, welfare recipients. Ten year old debts, calculated using a dodgy averaging algorithm, and subsequently found to have been unlawful. The Government denied wrong-doing, as Evangelical far-right governments always do.


In June 2021, Justice Bernard Murphy approved a settlement worth at least A$1.8 billion, payable to those who had been harassed and vilified by their government, calling it “a shameful chapter” and “massive failure in public administration” of Australia’s social security scheme. Wikipedia.


The Ministers who have had their hands on the program include Christian Porter, Scott Morrison, Alan Tudge, Stuart Robert, Marise Payne. There are very few geniuses in that little group. And so far, not a word of apology.


Of course after the horrors of the pandemic, there was great optimism about the arrival of the vaccines. Produced in record time, they did not appear in Australia, for several months. Outbreaks in Sydney, and then Melbourne, took hold. Hundreds of deaths followed, and Scott Morrison then made another of his astounding pronouncements: “It is not a race.” He repeated it, ad nauseum, many times over.


But it was a race, and Morrison and his hapless Health Minister, Greg Hunt, tried hard to cover up their sheer incompetence. But even Blind Freddie knows you don’t just buy one vaccine, when there is a worldwide shortage. And you don’t announce at a late night press conference, that the only vaccine you have on hand, is suspect. Morrison actually destroyed the AstraZeneca vaccine’s credibility, because he panicked. Lately he has been trumpeting how well he handled the vaccine rollout. Really.


Morrison is now on his way to attend the Glasgow climate summit, on our behalf, representing us on a world stage. He will smugly claim that he has an agreement in his back pocket, of net zero by 2050. The only problem is that up to a quarter of the Nationals do not agree, and he cannot legislate the target, because he will lose the vote in Parliament. So he is going with nothing in his pocket, except an unenforceable promise, redeemable in 29 years, by which time the whole Parliament will probably be retired, or dead.


He and the Coalition have been sabotaging our response to climate change since 2009. Morrison expects us to believe that he has done a complete U-turn, in a month, and to now put our faith in him. Sorry, not a believer, Scott. Up to a quarter of the junior Coalition partners, the National Party, does not agree, and have had to be bribed to stay silent. He has not lead anyone, anywhere. He was dictated to by the likes of Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan, the former Sports Minister Briget Mckenzie (she who went under the bus), and George Christensen.

We must also remember the sterling efforts of the Minister for Meaningless Climate Statements, Angus Taylor. Angus delivered his sales pitch with passionate fervour, but as we all know, Carbon Capture and Storage does not work, and most of us think bribing the Nationals is actually worse than a carbon tax, because it is using our tax money to support the coal and gas industries. We want to reduce our emissions, not increase them, Angus. Angus is going to Glasgow also, but he is going to spruik for the fossil fuel industry. They might as well take Tony Abbott along with them.


So the sum total of the Government’s achievements on climate change is essentially in the eye of the Prime Minister – Government by press announcements, which are believed in by no-one, and which are as flimsy as feathers. You have to admire Morrison’s sublime disconnect from reality, and his faith in his own ability to gaslight world leaders, like he tries to gaslight us. Welcome back, Scotty from Marketing, and you, Angus. Top job on all your efforts. How embarrassing. People around the world might think he represents how we think and feel about the planet’s health.

How can we trust Morrison’s word, or his motives, on anything?


Scott Morrison has now been Prime Minister for over three years. That means he has spent more time in the job than Turnbull, Whitlam, Rudd, or Abbott did. In those three years he has built a reputation as a man whose word cannot be trusted, and as a man who has given both his Ministers, and his back-benchers, a free pass, no matter what they are caught out doing, or saying. All they need to do is to vote with the Government.

Some say a one seat majority can do that to a Government, but the scandals and the behavioural issues during Morrison’s ascendancy have plumbed new depths. Morrison himself has been implicated in many of them, but even when his hands have been demonstrably ‘clean’, the behaviour he walks past has only served to highlight his elastic ethics, and a seemingly wilful blindness regarding community expectations.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be amusing to track the disappointment of those who confuse the crude hucksterism of the Hillsong Church with Christianity. Practising Christians need to stop bleating about his disavowal of Christian principles, and wake up to the fact that the so-called “new churches” are just another dodgy import from the U.S., like the gym equipment advertised on afternoon television.

Many of us have expected this most overtly ‘Christian’ of our leaders, to call Enough!, as new rorts supersede older rorts, as racist dog-whistling continues apace, and Ministers asking for ‘favours’ from other Ministers continues to undermine the very character of our democracy.

Mr Taylor, for example, has had little luck lowering carbon emissions, possibly because he is so busy asking for favours from his colleagues. Sometimes he receives favours even when he has not asked for them, as in the case of the water buyback scheme. It is a most accommodating Ministry.

The changing landscape of newspapers in particular, and the broader media generally, has shaken up the quality of reporting, and the idea of holding power to account, has been almost universally degraded. In the case of the Murdoch media, standards are so low that one might as well watch a game show, as expect objectivity.

Consider the rabid response to the ABC’s Four Corners episode this week. A report, using sourced opinion from Fox News insiders, criticised what is known throughout the thinking universe, as Fox News’ correct calling of Arizona for Biden, and then the shameful sacking of a loyal employee for doing his job, demonstrates their passion for objective news. You cannot then publish over forty articles attacking the show, and to then deny a campaign of vilification.

Years after the bushfires of 2019-2020 the bushfire relief is still being parcelled out, mainly to coalition seats. Some of the victims of the bushfires are still waiting to have their land cleared, but bad luck if you live in a Labor seat. Car parks, sport grounds, buying land, or water, from donors, stacking the AAT with drones, keeping Christian Porter in the Ministry, accepting George Christensen’s and Andrew Laming’s support-they all speak of incompetence and a lack of moral fibre.

After the utter shambles of Robodebt, the Morrison Government has the hide to start it up again. This time they are sending out debt notices to people who were overpaid during the pandemic last year. Many of the debts are very small, but when you try living on less than $300 per week, repaying debt with the threat of legal action is not only dispiriting, it is cruel.

It also exposes the awful double standards of this rabble of a Government. Firstly they pursue the poor for unproven debts. Their next step is to be found to have acted illegally, and ordered to repay all the debts recovered. As a kind of grace note, they then terrorise the same demographic (the poor), to repay any over-payments, caused by their own indifferent drafting, and hopeless messaging, regarding those pandemic payments.

Treasurer Frydenberg is seen by some as a future Prime Minister. This must be seen as a distinct possibility, because John Howard, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison have all succeeded to the job, and we all know the level of their capabilities. So it is clear that ability is not a pre-requisite for success. It makes Bill Hayden’s comments on drover’s dogs winning elections somehow relevant.

Frydenberg managed to waste $25 billion of taxpayers’ money on JobKeeper last year. He overlooked inserting a claw-back provision, which is a standard measure by which the ATO claws back money over-paid to corporations.

Close to $9 billion was paid to firms whose turnover not only failed to decline as forecast, but actually increased. So the young, inexperienced Treasurer of Australia has lost $25 billion of our money, and doesn’t have a way of getting it back. His leader, Scott Morrison, thinks asking for its return would be to engage in the politics of envy.

Do you trust him to open up the country, safely?

So, would you put him in charge of opening up the country, in the midst of the Delta variant, which is now running rampant through Sydney? Firstly he wanted the country opened up, then he wanted to follow medical advice and close it down; then he wanted to ‘hurry up’ the medical advice, then he wanted to lock down, then he wanted the states to accept full responsibility for everything, then he wanted to give us hope as we waited for the dawn. Lately he has been cherry-picking medical experts, searching for the opinion du jour, which might suit his latest shift.

The vaccination of all Australians was not a race, then it was still not a race, but it was more important to finish well than to start well. Amidst all the tap-dancing around the truth, and the weird word choices he makes, ask yourself why he chose AstraZeneca as opposed to Pfizer. And if he is so concerned about costs, why pay PWC $11 million to not deliver them? Did the Government have a claw-back provision if it was unable, or unwilling, to provide vaccines on time?

I have seen some estimates of the relative costs of the two, with AstraZeneca costing around $6 a dose, while Pfizer can command $22 a dose. Could it be that our leader chose the cheap one, with the attendant problems with vaccinating the country? The problems are immense. No talk of reaching milestones will remove the necessity of vaccinating special needs groups, and workers in crucial industries.

Groups like the aged and the disabled need vaccination, but their carers and nurses do, too. Aboriginal communities need to be vaccinated, because many have underlying health issues. Children are noticeably being infected by this variant, so can he include them when calculating vaccination rates?

Considering his Government’s almost total lack of competence, I would not put him in charge of getting the morning tea. I certainly trust Daniel Andrews way more than I do the twits in Canberra.

Australia’s own ‘coming of age’ story-watching Scott grow up?


We in Australia have had a ringside seat as the American Republic tied itself in knots through Donald Trump’s presidency. Now we are going through our own spectacle, watching Scott Morrison’s ‘coming of age’. I know, who wants to? Not me, and not you. Coming of age is best done in the privacy of your own home, and yet, here we are.

The current Prime Minister has turned our democratic process into a sort of soap opera. Cue the child actor. He arrived as Prime Minister, an unknown, and very quickly he became the story. He has a muddy background, with a sketchy work history, with tales of being sacked, resignations, and missing reports into his conduct. Nothing damning, because it seems to have left no trail. He is also extremely evasive, and a great believer in the ephemeral nature of knowledge. If the question remains unanswered for a day, was the question ever asked?

His preselection to parliament was highly questionable. In the first round he was thrashed, by a margin of 82 to 8. However, the victor, Michael Towke, was then attacked, in a concerted campaign, by The Daily Telegraph. Read the report here https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/nasty-saga-you-nearly-missed-20091025-hem5.html

So Morrison was able, with help from News Corp Australia’s Daily Telegraph, and senior Liberal Party figures, to overturn the local branch’s vote, and was actually preselected, without a vote. He subsequently won the seat. Michael Towke sued for defamation, and News Corp settled the matter.

But not before Michael Towke’s career was finished, in politics at least. Remember, Michael Towke was a fellow Liberal. Some have pointed out that he was also Lebanese, and that the party big-wigs did not believe he would be successful in the coming election. A hard argument to run, when he won the preselection battle by ten votes to one.

Scott Morrison’s next steps are better known. He served as a shadow minister, under both Turnbull and Abbott, and the only hint of real controversy was when fifty asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. At the time Morrison publicly questioned the decision of the Gillard Government to pay for the relatives of the victims to travel to funerals in Sydney. When cautioned by senior Liberal colleagues, he showed signs of his adolescent nature, apologising for the timing of his comments, rather than the substance.

This allows us to travel forward in time, to more recent examples of his seeming incompleteness as an adult. When confronted about his holiday in Hawaii, while Australia burned, he dithered, he stayed put, he told us he did it for the kids, he used the “I needed a break” line, and when he returned he gave us the immortal line, “I don’t hold a hose, mate”.

He blundered through the bushfire affected areas, forcing physical handshakes upon the unwilling, in an early sign that he doesn’t understand the concept of consent. He described his use of defence force assets as if they were his to offer, or not.

Think of the picture that is emerging. He gives us stuff, and he presumes to tell us he does it because he cares, notwithstanding that it is ours to begin with. The ‘sports rorts’ affair is aired, and found to be a stinking mess. The only casualty of the affair was his Sports Minister, a woman, and a National. Most of his Cabinet colleagues had been complicit, in accepting what were essentially ill-gotten gains. Not one objected. It was like an illicit night-time feast, in the boarders’ dormitory.

His defence that it was “within the guidelines”, the failure to address the questions, the rejection of the possibility of dishonesty, brings us back to the question, “if a question is ignored, did anyone ask the question?” And, as he was early in his career, he was again found out by an audit office. So he reduced funding to the Auditor General.

It appears that we are dealing with a tragically under-developed personality; a struggling adolescent in a rugby forward’s body. And now that Donald Trump has been consigned to history, Australians are watching Scott Morrison’s ‘development’ into an adult, almost in real-time.

When Brittany Higgins’ rape was reported, he needed to go home and report in, and seek coaching on his next step. How adolescent, that he has to ask, but secondly, that he tells us. The good advice seems to have only partially worked, because he released the advisors in his office to undermine her story, even as he fumbled the ‘will he, or won’t he, meet her?’ question. That question remains unanswered. What could the hold-up be?

His response to the Christian Porter allegations is even more flawed. He does not know what the allegations are, and he definitely does not want to know. He believes Porter, although Porter himself does not know what he is accused of, either. He backs Porter retaining his Attorney General portfolio, until he does not, and then he reduces his workload.

The vaccine rollout was a planned logistics exercise. He had the resources of an entire Commonwealth Government, which includes the Defence Force, the Health Department, the goodwill of the people, and every GP in the country on-side.

He cannot own a date, it seems. Do not mention targets, or dates, or actual vaccines. He has done the classic adolescent’s trick of “look, over there, a monster is eating my homework”. First it was the Europeans withholding supplies, then it was GPs not being prepared, then it was vaccine hesitancy, and then we went back to “Promise? What promise? I never made any promises. I reject the premise of your question. I have already answered that, so I won’t again.”

He has since moved on to getting the state premiers to put their heads on the block. Surely they will fall for it. He cannot take responsibility, he is never wrong, “you must have mis-heard”, “there was never a specific date”.

As we watch Master Scott become an adult, remember his non-apology to Christine Holgate. His words may have wounded her, they were blunt, but she resigned. He will not apologise. This from a leader of a country, who cannot bring himself to say “sorry”, because he is forever stuck in childhood.

And we have to endure this travesty. He speaks for the Government, because, believe it or not, he is the best they have got.

The defining characteristic of a coming of age story is that there is psychological and moral growth on the part of the hero, or heroine, from youth to adulthood. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

Medals for our suffering journo’s-now!


The late, great comedian John Clarke always said that the best actors he had ever heard, were sports commentators. The reason, he explained, was that they were able to convey the impression, with the utmost conviction, that the outcome of a football match was crucial, almost a matter of life or death. And then, suddenly, the game was over, and life resumed.

Spare a thought for our mainstream political journalists then, who deserve a collective medal, as they struggle on, from day to day, covering absolute nonentities, who are almost universally tribal, colourless, elitist, unoriginal and indescribably dull. They speak, as if in unison, from prepared notes, about ‘talking points’, and they will swear, on a stack of bibles, that black is actually, after looking at all the facts, and taking into account a multiplicity of factors, white.

Trying to write something new and fresh about politics in Australia, and about our politicians, is like trying to make boiled cabbage exciting. To try and do it every day is beyond heroic, it actually verges on masochistic.

Although the country heaved a huge sigh of relief when Tony Abbott was finally ejected from power, I am beginning to miss him. Looking at the other clowns on display is just depressing. They lack his mad smile, his earnest and innocent fustiness, his anti-social beliefs stated so disarmingly. They instead display a cagey quality which makes their utterances generally lacking in – interest.

Craig Kelly tried out for the part, but he just lacks commitment. His misunderstanding of the facts, his tortuous use of English is just not in Abbott’s class. He could no more eat an onion without a hint of self-consciousness, than he could order an electric vehicle. And his climate change denialism, although monumentally stupid, never hits the rhetorical heights that Abbott did. Remember climate change being described as crap, and a cult. And he never talks about suppositories.

Pauline Hanson was another wannabe, but recently she seems to have removed herself from the public gaze. Perhaps it is disenchantment with her hand-picked minions, or is it an attack of self-awareness, of shame, licking at her confidence? Nothing is so debilitating as discovering that no-one likes you anymore.

Michaelia Cash might become mildly interesting, but on reflection anyone who models her hair on Maggie Thatcher’s ‘do’ is struggling. She wants to present like her, but maybe she needs a couple of seasons more, of classic neoliberal orthodoxy. I suspect she needs to lose some more of whatever humanity remains, and toughen up.

The Party Boys, Tudge and Porter, looked promising for a moment, but who can tell. Bob Hawke had their spirit on the dance floor, but he also had ideas, and charisma, and heart. The Party Boys just seem to parrot their leader, and to hide behind his avuncular protection. They would be more newsworthy if they were to shout, from the top of a roof-top bar, “Take me, or leave me, suckers. This is me!” That won’t happen. They have gone into ‘weasel in a burrow saving his arse’ mode.

They have shown some mongrel, I will admit. Tudge promising to hunt down, and even jail, those targeted by Robodebt, was sort of interesting, but his recent begging for mercy after his affair was made public brought him back to the pack, as he was shown to be just another religious, family -values hack. Hypocrisy is interesting, but there is a lot of it around.

Porter is the Attorney General, as well as Minister for Industrial Relations, and Leader of the House. His outing as something of a loose cannon when he has been ‘on the town’ suggests he might need to lose a couple of the big jobs he is signed up for. Big jobs require a big effort.

Currently he is ‘looking’ at an Integrity Bill, which I suspect none of his colleagues want, which would explain the go-slow tactics he has employed. Usually a man who likes to party should provide some interest, but the public are not that interested in arcane matters such as holding secret trials, destroying legal careers, not reporting to Parliament on time. He is no Lionel Murphy, although he does love a drink, we hear. He also wants to look at his legal options regarding the Four Corners revelations, but he seems to have backed off a bit. He recently ‘looked at’ Defamation Law.

That leaves us with Mr Charisma himself. Scotty from Marketing could talk the leg off a piano, he is adept at saying, “Look, over there”, or “Labor did the same thing”, or “nothing to see here”. Sometimes he even tries to save us from boredom, by claiming that he has “already answered that question”. Which is decent of him. My favourite is “I reject the premise of your question”, which is gaining some currency. That grand old vaudevillian Michael McCormack used a variant of the phrase a couple of days ago.

This Government seems to be prone to disastrous incompetence, dishonesty, failure to meet obligations, and outstanding secrecy. Recently it was discovered that the Prime Minister’s Office met its Freedom of Information deadlines in 7.5% of requests. I’m not sure if the PM counts well, but that meant they missed the deadline 92.5% of the time.

That fact is interesting, and indeed damning enough, but it suffers from ‘boiled cabbage syndrome’. It shows what we all know, day in and day out. They are dishonest, chronically breaking the law, with seemingly no consequences. So you can see why journalists deserve those medals.

John Howard destroyed Aged Care in Australia


There is a definite turning point in the quality and the humanity of Australia’s care for the elderly. The Aged Care Bill 1997 (Cth). was introduced as part of the new Howard Government’s 1996 Budget measures. It was to prove a huge gamble, which still wreaks havoc in the Aged Care sector. And it created a distinctly new group of players in our economy. It showed a government naively putting its faith in the market.

It started with John Howard

It was a curiously shallow and unsophisticated Bill, which did not even bother to hide its malicious intent. Each of the recommendations was ‘loaded’ against the elderly, and the Opposition of the time was ineffective in their efforts to mitigate the harm of the Bill, even if they had wanted to. It was led by Kim Beazley, and he was powerless at the best of times, let alone when he faced Howard’s massive majority.

The private (for profit) sector has six big players, who do what ‘for profits’ do; they maximise profits, usually at the expense of their customers – tick. They feed on their smaller competitors – tick. They amass market power – tick. They become too big to fail – tick. They refuse even basic accountability, although they are massively subsidised by taxpayers – tick. That subsidy currently sits at over 70% of revenue.

The worst part is that the governments of the day, (and both sides have been at fault) continue to believe that corporates are better at delivering value for money. This belief endures, even though successive Governments have watched as their performance declined, while their revenues increased. So there is no recognisable corporate ‘efficiency’ being exercised; there are only tax avoidance measures, increased fees and reduced costs, which apparently can include starving their residents. And they continue to sting the Government.

What did the Act change?

The proposed changes in the 1997 Act were to consolidate funding arrangements for the then separate nursing home and hostel sectors, and provide for a single residential care system to
determine the level of Australian Government subsidy for each resident.

They outlined a greater reliance on resident contributions to the cost of care, including through a system of accommodation bonds, and residential care benefits subject to income testing. They also proposed a relaxation of previous regulatory requirements, such as tight financial acquittal requirements, and their replacement by a ‘lighter-touch’ accreditation approach. https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-12/background-paper-8.pdf

This grab-bag of ‘nothing regulation’ was the jackpot. It satisfied the neo-liberals, by making the system essentially ‘user-pays’; it consolidated the two areas of accommodations into one bite-sized chunk for the private equity groups, waiting on the sidelines; and best of all it really did use the term “lighter touch accreditation approach”, which just really means no oversight. (You have to love the euphemism team who drafted this Bill. Fun fact: euphemism: a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.)

What did the Royal Commission find?

There are so many issues which affect the Aged Care system that we needed another Royal Commission. That is because although we have had several in the last twenty plus years, no government has felt constrained to follow their recommendations, and so we are stuck with the ideologically driven mismatch of profit-takers and neglected frail clients.

The latest, which produced the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was tabled on 31 October 2019. It stated that:

“the aged care system fails to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.”

Commissioners Richard Tracey AM, RFD, QC and Lynelle Briggs’s AO investigation into Australia’s aged care system led them to describe the aged care system as “a shocking tale of neglect”.

“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”

We wonder why the sector refuses to countenance proper, honest auditing of their work, or their costs. We must wonder anew as to why the stewards of our taxpayer dollars do not insist. It is our parents’, and our grandparents’, lives at stake here.

According to Professor Joe Ibrahim, Head of Monash University’s Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, residential aged care facilities (RACFs) are currently not required to disclose how many staff they have, nor how they spend government funding.

It is hard to understand how a responsible Government can sit idly by and allow itself to be rorted so spectacularly. Matthias Cormann, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenburg have all been robbed blind, even as they were apparently ‘on duty’, protecting the revenue. Perhaps their attention wandered, as they had to keep watch on the unemployed, who are always plotting some form of chicanery.

How much are we paying for the system?

Australian Government expenditure for aged care throughout 2018–19 totalled
$19.9 billion, an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year.

In 2018–19, over 1.3 million people received some form of aged care. The great
majority received home-based care and support, and relatively few lived in
residential care:
• 840,984 people received home support through the CHSP
• 133,439 people received care through a home care package
• 65,523 people received residential respite care, of whom 34,984 (approximately
53 per cent) were later admitted to permanent care
• 242,612 people received permanent residential aged care.

The sector, notwithstanding its perceived inadequacies, is expected to continue to grow its revenue by an annual rate of 5.4%. Its profit is expected to grow by an annual rate of 4.4%. When asked about the finding that up to 50% of Aged Care residents were malnourished, Sean Rooney responded that the daily allowance for food per resident was $6, however that was at wholesale prices, and there were possibly supplements added, for some residents, and really that aged residents should not be compared to prisoners because they needed less calories. He leads the peak body, Leading Aged Services Australia.

The sector appears to be hugely profitable, and to pay very little tax. Although how would we know? They keep their operating costs secret, so we know their revenue, but we do not know their operating costs, so their profit remains a mystery. According to the ATO, the total combined income of all for-profit aged care providers was just over $5 billion in 2015–16, with a total profit of $529.3 million and after tax profit of $402 million.

Companies can use various accounting methods to avoid paying tax. One method is when a company links (staples) two or more businesses (securities) they own together, each security is treated separately for tax purposes to reduce the amount of tax the company has to pay. Aged care companies are known to use this method as well as other tax avoiding practices.

Another practice is by ‘renting’ their aged care homes from themselves (one security rents to another) or by providing loans between securities and shareholders. Tax Avoidance by For Profit Aged Care Companies Australia Report 2018

The big players

Bupa, Australia’s largest for-profit aged care provider made over AU$ 663m in 2017. Over 70% (AU$ 468m) of this was from government funding.

Opal, the second largest for-profit company had a total income of AU$ 527.2m in 2015-16 (76% Government funding).

Allity had total income of $315.6 million, 67% of which came from government funding

Japara had a total revenue of AU$ 275.5m in 2018, 72% (AU$ 198.7m) of which came from government funding.

In FY2018, Estia had a total revenue of AU$ 266.8m, 74% (AU$197.3m) of which came from government funding.

In 2018, Regis had total revenues of AU$ 280.5m, 71% (AU$ 198.2m) of which came from government funding.

As a basic principle, companies that receive millions of government subsidies must be held to a higher standard of transparency and must be publicly accountable. The fiasco which is the Aged Care sector has been sold off to profiteers, and we get what you would expect. If you don’t pay attention, they exploit the system, and the aged suffer.

The system is way too important to leave in the hands of companies whose first allegiance is to their shareholders. We need to re-build a strong public sector, augmented by not for profits. Throw away the neo-liberal playbook. Sink some money into aged care, because the community wants it. Our politicians have probably got a cosy little retirement haven set up for themselves, and probably paid for by us. The rest of the community should not dread old age, because our government of the day is too miserable to provide for ALL of its citizens.

Buyer Beware – Politicians


When you buy a television you have an expectation that the thing will work, and that it will fulfil the purpose for which you bought it. In Australia we have a robust Consumer Law, which is quite exemplary, and quite differently from many of our human rights practices, it actually elicits praise internationally. There is one ‘product class’ excluded from its coverage, sadly – politicians, and all their works.

We do not have any laws which stop political parties from peddling untruths, such as the existence of death taxes in the most recent federal election. We do not have any laws which protect us from ignoramuses, or bigots. We are not in a position to ask for a type of warranty, a sort of guarantee that we are not being ‘sold a pup’.

This is surprising, if one thinks about the investment we make in each and every politician who crosses our path. There is the cost to our mental health when we discover that we have someone in the parliament who is not very clever, or honest, or as we have recently discovered, even eligible to be elected.

Then there is the actual financial cost to our taxpayer funds, where some expense claims are truly beyond belief. At this point I proffer the recent example of a senior parliamentarian, a minister, who used a governmental car, with a driver no less, to ferry his two pet dogs around Victoria. Others who, blaming their workload, are suddenly unable to perform their duties. One rather famously was forced, through loneliness, to spend more time overseas courting his intended, than he spent in Parliament. Others who have been charged with dishonesty offences, bankruptcy – the list goes on, and on.

These examples are mainly from the Victorian State Parliament. That is because I live in Victoria, and I am exposed to these clowns on a daily basis. I invite my readers to reflect on their own experience of their own state parliament; I’m sure you are able to dredge up many fun references to our elected dunderheads.

Will Fowles, however, caught my eye recently. He is the young man who became unhinged in his Canberra hotel, because his ‘medication’ was in his luggage, and his luggage was behind a closed door. So he did what any elected representative of the people would do – he kicked the door in, causing a furore which saw his fellow guests bundled out into the Canberra morning, which we all know, can be very cold.

His apology was at first instance less than fulsome, and it appeared to duck the issues raised by his behaviour. He offered to repay the cost of repairs, which is really the bare minimum, and he stated that he had paid his own way there. He was in Canberra for a celebration, unrelated to his Victorian duties. He did not address the reason why he had become violent and a threat to public safety.

He did however, admit to long-standing mental health and addiction issues, but again that does not explain why he felt that he could destroy property, because he was inconvenienced by a locked door. Was the medicine an anti-psychotic, or was he drunk at the time? Was he fit to travel? What drugs does he use?

Enter Daniel Andrews, the Premier of Victoria. He was pleased that Mr Fowles had apologised, he was impressed that the apology appeared genuine, and he was satisfied that Mr Fowles would pay for the damage. He went on to offer his full support (on full pay) while Mr Fowles sought treatment. He came across as a caring boss, albeit one who wouldn’t be liable for Mr Fowles’ costs.

Those costs will be substantial. Firstly Mr Fowles will be away from his place of work, and he will not be available to his constituents; he is unable to fulfil his duties, or to actually do anything other than to look after his mental health, and to seemingly address his addiction issues. His time away has been described as being ‘for several months’.

Probably due to politicians being chronically awful to other politicians, and a couple of attempted suicides among their ranks in recent years, they, as a class, have a new-found sensitivity toward their peers, whenever the term ‘mental health’ is mentioned. So they mostly swung behind the Premier’s offer of unlimited assistance to our young parliamentarian. I use the word ‘young’ to highlight not his age, but the amount of time he has been an Honourable Member – seven months.

By his own admission his mental health and addiction issues predated his election. This raises the issue of whether he had a duty to inform his prospective employer, the people of Victoria, through the agency of the Victorian branch of the ALP. It also raises the issue of whether, if he had been forthcoming with this information, would the good people of Burwood have voted for him? Were they offered a fair choice? Did his opponent suffer from a similar handicap? Were the electors ‘sold a pup’?

Employers routinely ask applicants whether they suffer from any condition which might impact on their ability to do a job. Often it is not a block to employment, as many good employers offer to make changes to the role, or perhaps the workplace, so that a good candidate can still take the position. Failure to answer truthfully is seen as legitimate grounds for dismissal.

Was Mr Fowles asked such a question? If he was not, why was he not asked? It seems to be the minimum of due diligence, and as it stands neither Mr Fowles, nor Mr Andrews, seems willing to cover the costs incurred.

We are stuck with him now, and he might continue in the role for years. So, too ill to work, after seven months in the job. He then takes sick leave, on full pay, for as long as needs.

He might even get a pension one day, if he can pull off a recovery.