Tag Archives: Morrison Government

A template for ruining a country – pull out the Trump playbook

There is something endearing about Australians, in that we always find a way to claim that we do things differently here. Of course we don’t, we import most of our ideas, and we engage in self-congratulation way too much. We are indeed “a lucky country, run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck.”

Consider the case of Trumpism. ” We’re not like them”, “aren’t the Americans mad” “wow, we were lucky there” are just examples of good old Aussie self-delusion. The Morrison Government would never come right out and announce the deconstruction of Australian society, because it is innately secretive, gradualist and cunning. But it does share Trump’s goals. Remove all constraints, dismantle the Public Service, reward the rich and the big end of town, and trash the poor.

Our leader is not only a brash narcissistic fool, with a short attention span, and a plan provided to him by his backers. He is more cautious than that. His changes have all been done by stealth, but Morrison is following the Trump playbook of deconstruction, without the innate intelligence, or even an eye to his legacy, to consider the consequences.

Cutting Red Tape

That is just another way of saying let’s throw away the rule-book. Here are some examples:

Environmental controls – hand-pass them to the states. It is too hard for this Government. Even Richard Nixon was forced to establish the EPA, back in the 1970s, because private industry, unregulated, began defiling America’s water and air quality in a reckless pursuit of super-profits. The people knew, because their lives were affected. The damage could be seen from space.

Appoint a succession of ministers who do not understand the gravity of lost bio-diversity, of dwindling natural resources, and who think that they will be comfortably retired, and working for an oil company, when the shit hits the fan.

Climate change – kick the can down the road, destroy Australia’s international reputation, and its climate. Enrich your mates in the fossil fuels industry, and ensure your retirement, post politics. Ignore the majority of Australians, and for the gullible, continue to lie and distort reality. Always question the science. And always deny that our bushfires, our floods, and our denuded forests and gutted Great Barrier Reef are related to climate change. The people may object though, when they notice there are no insects, or birds, or koalas, left.

Aged Care – The Australian Government is responsible for Aged Care. So sell it off. Underfund it, allow minimal regulation, appoint a minister who, amidst the recent pandemic, could not answer basic questions regarding care, quarantine, or staffing. Treat the elderly as if they are an afterthought, and if all else fails, use weasel words to try and shift the blame. And then do nothing to fix it, even after the pretence of a Royal Commission, where the two chairs could not agree. What an excellent reason to do nothing.

An example of the level of regulation: “Two brothers banned from the poultry industry for a total of 17 years after starving more than a million chickens were involved in the acquisition of two aged care homes in Melbourne, despite being bankrupt at the time and having no experience.” https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/bankrupt-chicken-farmers-banned-for-cruelty-running-aged-care-homes-20210211-p571lm.html

Post Covid recovery – The hopes for a “Green Recovery” were soon dashed, even though the Government knew that most Australians were in favour, and the opportunities abounded, for a super-charged economy. The reason for this decision? The Government has a coterie of friends from the Oil and Gas industries, and it is instructive and depressing to look at their backgrounds.

Notwithstanding Australians’ love for renewables, Morrison and Taylor have proceeded down this cul-de-sac, because of their own fear of the far right rump of the Coalition, and I suspect, their hopes for a very nice retirement, working for the fossil fuels lobby. In understanding centre-right populists it is always best to look at narrow self-interest first, because frankly, many of them do not have another agenda.

Robodebt, (aka torturing the poor) – was a shameful episode in Australia’s history, where a government, knowingly, proceeded to harass and harm the most vulnerable Australians, illegally. They continued the harassment after finding out that the process was illegal. Services Australia, whose motto is “We deliver government payments and services” is a privatised organisation which presumably ‘looks after’ Centrelink work.

It has been recently ‘run’ by Stuart Robert, but Robodebt has many fathers. Alan Tudge and Paul Fletcher have been named in the class action against the scheme. I cannot work out why “services” is shown on the internet in italics. Perhaps it indicates a special type of service; could it be one which is illegal, and causes harm to citizens?

The people most affected were the unemployed. These people are now ‘served’ by Job Centres, who appear not to find work for anyone, and so they are forced to live on a pittance, and still go for lots of non-existent jobs. The Government has instructed that the smallest infraction will incur the harsh penalty of actually being starved. Their welfare payments are cut off, with no sustenance provided.

Of course, many of the people who are affected by these draconian laws are children, so they cannot yet vote. Some of the people responsible for that debacle are ‘looking at’ ways of gutting the NDIS, which has been described as possibly Australia’s greatest legislative achievement for the last fifty years.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – In Trump’s America the Government leaked like a sieve. Most of Trump’s mis-steps and acts of bastardry were actually leaked to the media, and we are finding the same process is occurring here. So there are still consciences to be found, even within this Government.

In a recent example the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Government was legislating for the denial of “funding to Australians with acquired brain injuries and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder as well as reducing avenue of appeal for participants as part of secret plans to save costs.” https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/leaked-laws-reveal-plan-to-kick-australians-off-the-22-billion-ndis-20210325-p57dym.html

What could the reasoning be behind this plan? Are we blaming the kids for their fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and how will they live? Will we put people with an acquired brain injury on the side of the road and leave them there?

Where do these people come from, these people who do not want to help Australians who have been cruelly disabled? Is it not a part of Australia’s mission statement that we look after everyone? By saying that, we are not saying that everyone’s life will improve, but that on any sensible evaluation, the lives of most Australians will be improved. Because that could be the only legitimate reason to seek Government.

I cannot think of another valid reason to seek power, and there has never been an Australian politician who admitted that he, or she, was in it for the money and power. They invariably claim that their purpose is “to serve”. I see no evidence of a culture of caring for the people, and if forced to give a Google review, one star for turning up to work.

Although, to be fair, David Coleman hasn’t turned up for work since December 2019. In December 2019, it was announced that Coleman would be taking indefinite leave for personal reasons, with Alan Tudge taking over his portfolio as acting minister. He formally remained as a minister until a December 2020 reshuffle, in which he was instead appointed Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Wikipedia. So, no star for David. One year on a ministerial salary. Could he possibly resign, and allow someone else to actually ‘work’?

He is still active on Facebook, though. Perhaps he is taking a cue from the Prime Minister, who has taken to making official announcements on Facebook. That way neither of them has to answer a question concerning what it is that they actually do.

Morrison fails at every step

If there was ever a time for a government to take the bit between its teeth and achieve great things, this is the time. Covid-19 has essentially changed the game forever. Governments world-wide, especially those with the resources to re-build, have been given an historic opportunity to produce a better world. Australia’s Government stands at a threshold – is it up to the challenge, or does it even see the need for change?

The Morrison Government completely dropped the ball on the bushfires disaster, and the so-called ‘recovery’. Survivors are still living in tents, and the Government just repeats the same old promises; billions of dollars, never spent. They are followed by the same old excuses. This has been going on for over a year now.

Some call it “Government by Announcement”. Mr Morrison has earned a new nick-name – Scotty from Marketing. The vaccine rollout is his latest failure, currently falling further behind schedule. The Prime Minister is gas-lighting the country almost daily, denying previous announcements, including timelines, and managing expectations downward. He thinks the daily news cycle provides him with cover, but the electorate is perhaps waking up to him.

His Ministry is shrinking by the day, as is his parliamentary majority. One of his ministers, David Coleman, has not appeared in parliament since December 2019. Mr Coleman has been on personal leave since then, but it has not stopped Mr Morrison re-appointing him to the Ministry, again. In the re-shuffle of December 2020 he was named Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. That could be taken as showing the Prime Minister’s disregard for that portfolio, if he is using it as a parking spot for a reluctant Minister. Is he afraid of a by-election? Is that a legal tactic for holding onto power? Why is the Opposition providing a ‘pair’ for a Minister who doesn’t go to work?

His Attorney-General, Christian Porter, has been accused of an historical rape, and on March 15, 2021 Mr Porter announced he would take immediate leave to “look after his mental health”, following the accusations. He then announced that he is taking defamation action against the ABC, and the reporter who aired the accusations. He is said to be due to return to work, although the accusations and the pending defamation case present a unique set of conflict of interest problems for the Government.

Another Minister, the Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds, is on medical leave because she has been accused of mis-handling an accusation of rape, of one of her own staff. She is not certain to return to her duties, as she is seen as vulnerable to the political pressure which will presumably be applied on her return. She has also had to make a defamation payment to the young woman, Brittany Higgins, for publicly referring to her as a “lying cow”.

Mr Morrison shows an almost inhuman ability to bounce back from setbacks. He is also currently battling a popular movement for gender equality, and an end to gendered violence and oppression. He is seen, at best, as a blunderer in the field of human interactions. When presented with the story of the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins, within a ministerial office, he spoke of consulting with his wife, in an apparent attempt to glean, from her, the appropriate response. Many saw it as inept and unfeeling; others as just another ‘marketing’ ploy, playing the ‘suburban dad’, who is told by his wife how to respond to traumatic events. Either way, it was pathetic.

He presides over a Government which suffers a steadily declining reputation for honesty and accountability, and the spin and aversion to scrutiny adds up. There are almost weekly findings of questionable dealings, and some of his Ministers have taken to blaming their departments rather than taking responsibility.

When Barnaby Joyce authorised payment for almost $13 million more than was advised, by an independent valuer, for water buyback, and involving another Minister’s family holdings, he responded with the immortal line that he couldn’t oversee every transaction. A current senator wants the bureaucrat responsible (?) to resign, or be sacked.

The Federal Government bought a parcel of land last year, from a prominent Liberal donor, for 10 times its market value. The land was purchased thirty years before it would be needed, and it is destined for the logistics precinct of Sydney’s proposed second Airport. The Government has replied to questions regarding the transaction, “There is no question of Ministerial involvement. It goes to the administrative actions of the department, more than two years ago.” Have they never heard of the Westminster system of Government?

There are plenty of other examples of such behaviour, but the prospect of a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is in the hands of the Attorney-General, who is otherwise very busy. He does have a defamation case to direct, and a kangaroo court against a whistle-blower, and his mental health to consider.

Scott Morrison is the person making the policy choices right now, with Josh Frydenberg as his willing side-kick. They will not choose a green re-imagining of our economy. They will ignore the expert scientific advice and they will not invest in a renewable energy revolution. Will they attempt to re-set Australia so that systemic inequality and perilous employment conditions become a thing of the past? Will they embark on a massive social building programme?

Don’t hold your breath. Do not expect such a re-think from the leaders of this Australian Government. They have already started cutting entitlements. They are signalling a lack of affordability. They are talking of throwing two million into poverty. They are oblivious, and they are personally sitting comfortably, fully employed, but not actually doing their job.

Morrison was, just last month, riding a wave of personal approval, precisely because he had done what we wanted, and expected. He turned up on most days, and he only took a short domestic holiday during the opening up in July last year.

During the pandemic he mostly followed medical advice, and he has spent money to keep the wheels on the economy turning. This is not a radical departure from economic orthodoxy. He has followed the Keynesian model, because he had no choice. Everybody was doing it, because everybody knows it is the only way through a crisis.

Notwithstanding his personal preferences, he has allowed the state premiers to call the shots on opening and/or closing down the states. He has had a shot at showing some empathy, but that always looks confected, coming from him.

He is failing the women of Australia now, and he is failing on the vaccine rollout. He is reverting to neo-liberal orthodoxy, and throwing the nascent economic recovery away. He is cutting the unemployed loose, and allowing the ‘big end of town’ to hang onto their ill-gotten gains from Jobkeeper. He is preparing for more tax cuts for the rich, and he is cutting workers’ entitlements.

He is also preparing for an election. That is when the chickens will come home to roost.

Some Coalition members want voter suppression here

Many of us in Australia are now mightily impressed with the state of our nation, especially when we compare it with our rich and powerful ally, the USA.

We have managed to somehow avoid the utter chaos and devastation, which they have endured now, for close to a year, during a once in a century pandemic. Our Government(s) made plenty of mistakes in handling the pandemic, but nothing on the scale of the criminal negligence President Trump and his Republican Party allies were guilty of.

But there are gathering signs that we have a particularly malicious set of parliamentarians, and their fellow travellers, who are keen to import some really bad American ideas.

The reason the American system has faltered recently is that the traditions and the myths of their origin story have been hi-jacked, and politicised, and the myths have won out, over common sense.

Some examples include the notion of personal liberty outweighing the public good, the flawed view that public health systems are socialist, the idea that education is not a human right, but something to be purchased.

Other caustic ideas include the notion that regulations on the private sector are always bad, that global warming is rubbish, that welfare paid is money wasted, that citizens should have the right to bear arms, that any relationship, or family, based on anything other than the classic nuclear family is immoral, that reducing taxes on the rich does anything other than increase inequality, and that poverty is a sign that a vengeful god is punishing the poor, because they deserve to be punished.

There are many other areas to examine, but I want to highlight the matter of voter suppression, which is definitely on the radar for our very own Trumpist government.

Voter suppression is a first step to authoritarianism

Voter suppression is an ancient, and honoured tradition in America, and it continues today. Since 1870, when the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, all men (later broadened to include women) were guaranteed the right to vote. This included men of all races, and specifically former slaves. Southern states, still smarting from their loss in the Civil War, set about limiting black access to the vote.

These methods included a poll tax, which charged a fee to lodge a vote. Poor whites could gain an exemption from paying the fee, but not poor blacks.

Literacy tests were also routinely applied, with many more black Americans being excluded than white Americans. This often related to the education available to black Americans, which was in most cases inferior, if it was even available. But in other cases, the tests applied were selective, with African-Americans often receiving more difficult tests. These measures were gradually phased out during the 1960s, but not before they had disenfranchised generations of otherwise entitled voters.

More recently the Republican Party has refined its methods, to suit the times. In Florida, for example, until recently convicted felons were ineligible to vote. Many with similar names to felons were wrongly purged from the electoral rolls.

That law was reversed in 2018, but the Republican State Government managed to circumvent the intention of the statute, known as Amendment 4, by making restoration of the right to vote almost impossible. Do not forget the election of George W Bush in 2000 was decided by less than a thousand votes, while convicted felons, and those with similar names, were purged from the electoral rolls. Convicted felons were, by a huge margin, more likely to be black, and to vote Democrat.

Although the election last year was not decided by a tiny number of votes, Florida voted for Trump. As many as 1.4 million voters were eligible to be restored to the rolls, but only 300,000 were allowed to register. That is 1.1 million voters disenfranchised. That would make a difference to the result.

That couldn’t happen here

Of course that could never happen here, could it? We have no voter fraud here, so there could be no reason to change the voting rules. Well, yes it could, As Caitlin Fitzsimmons recently reported in the Herald Sun, of all newspapers, the (Australian) federal government’s joint standing committee on electoral matters recently included a recommendation to require ID to vote, and another recommendation to require ID to enrol or change address.

Liberal members of the committee made similar recommendations in their reports on the 2013 and 2016 elections as well. They quoted several submissions in support, from the Institute of Public Affairs, and others. Labor and the Greens opposed the recommendations, but were outvoted.

There is a cynical reason for such a simple rule. The more disadvantaged you are, the more difficult it is to conform to what look like petty requirements. And the ID of choice for the majority of Australians is the driver’s licence. Petty for you, and me, but not if you have insecure housing, or are forced to live on the starvation line, or if you are fleeing domestic violence. And many disadvantaged people do not own, or drive, a car. That means they do not necessarily own a licence, and yet they may need to buy a licence, in order simply to vote.

The Liberals think that the disadvantaged are more inclined to vote for Labor, so any measure which makes voting or registering to vote more difficult, is a good thing. There is a reason why most Australians despise the IPA and its ilk. They appear to be staffed by weird and strangely cruel people, who desperately want to be characters in Atlas Shrugged. Strange, but true.

Trump’s Australian fans are as stupid as you would expect

Although the US election is done and dusted, and Donald Trump now faces an uncertain future, most of the democratic world seems to have formed a consensus that the scenes in the Capitol were scandalous, and terrifying. They might still lead to criminal charges against the President; they have already caused him to be impeached, for a genuinely “unprecedented” second time.

The fact that the crowd was incited by Trump is seemingly settled, and leading parliamentarians from around the world have weighed in to condemn both the actions of the murderous mob, and also those of the ‘Instigator in Chief’.

Those leaders include Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern, and even Vladimir Putin. They all condemned the revolt, but in good old Australia we weren’t that concerned, it seems.

Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, expressed his “distress”, but he could not bring himself to connect the actions of the mob with President Trump. That is a disgraceful omission, for a democratically elected leader, considering that Trump’s goal was to incite a violent insurrection, with the possible outcome of seizing power, perhaps permanently. Do not forget that Trump is still the “Commander in Chief” of the most powerful nation on earth.

Some MPs thought Twitter was more at fault than the President

Michael McCormack was our acting Prime Minister last week. He was asked whether he condemned Trump’s actions, but then he went on to answer that “violence is violence and we condemn it in all its forms,” and then he compared the Black Lives Matter demonstrations with the attack on the Capitol. He did not want to be drawn on who was to blame.

Liberal MPs Craig Kelly and Dave Sharma, Nationals MP George Christensen, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack are among government members who have condemned the “silencing” of Trump.

This is presumably because they believe that your right to incite violence is more important than the competing right of having your vote counted, and not overturned by a mob of illiterate thugs. It also shows that these ‘luminaries’ are woefully ignorant of the exceptions to the First Amendment. These are as follow:

Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment (and therefore may be restricted) include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising. Wikipedia (Categories in bold type are those Trump habitually uses.)

Why would Morrison not condemn Trump?

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has always been embarrassingly taken in by Trump’s ‘braggadocio’ (an apt term, meaning boastful or arrogant behaviour). Morrison has stopped far short of condemning the President, an extraordinary omission from the leader of a liberal democracy, considering Trump’s goal was to violently overthrow the results of a democratic election and retain his power.

A complicating factor is that much of Trump’s electoral success has been built on the white evangelical vote. Footage of charismatic Christians ‘laying hands on’ Trump in the White House may be viewed as quaint in Australia, but is Morrison ‘blinded by the light’ when it comes to Trump? We can only hope he does not see Trump as “the chosen one”, as Trump has been described in the US.

Well after Trump lost the election, he awarded Morrison a Legion of Merit, for leadership which if it wasn’t so tragic, would be funny. Presumably he did not mean the award to be for addressing global warming!

So John Howard gets a medal, and we go to war in Iraq. Scott Morrison gets a medal, and we defend Trump’s right to attempt to overturn an election.

Trump has been exposed over the last four years as a violent sexual predator, an adulterer, a white supremist, an anti-semite, a religious bigot, a homophobe, a fraudulent businessman, a liar, a thief, an environmental vandal and a putative dictator, and yet many of our elected representatives appear to support his right to invalidate elections and to undermine the rule of law.

The death and destruction he caused by mis-handling the pandemic is yet to be finally calculated, but the fallout will continue for years, I suspect. Will he ever be brought to book for that? As he kills his supporters they continue to flock to his side, so maybe not. Again, where were Australia’s leaders standing as he touted dangerous and stupid solutions? If you are Craig Kelly, shoulder to shoulder.

These matters are not mere mannerisms, or a lack of style. They set him apart from most of humanity, and it is worth thanking fate for his incompetence, and lack of care for detail. At least we have been spared the damage he could have caused if he was half-way competent. The US is still a democratic republic, and we can only hope Joe Biden can repair some of the damage.

But what of the state of our own democracy? A Government obsessed with secrecy, faux threats to our security, unaccountable, most of the members in the grip of the neoliberal sickness, and some individuals who appear to be in personal thrall to the departing, failed President. How many times must we utter “Poor Fellow, my country”? It might be time for Australians to actually stop, and think. This is serious.

… this rabble of a Government

“Jesus I am sick of this rabble of a government of ours – if it is not making an ass of itself in its handling of relations with our biggest trading partner it is attacking the little bloke’s Super – all of this is inspired by the twisted ideology of the IPA and the ASPI that leads it to think that we will all go to Heaven in the long run if we just follow Donald Trump and stamp out Communism and foreigners in general and anyone who does not contribute funds to the Liberal Party” Terryroger#2

That is taken verbatim from the comments section of either The Age, or The Guardian, on December 15, 2020. I can’t re-find the article it commented on, but I thought it might be interesting to fact-check the comment. It is, without doubt, one pithy statement of despair.

… if it is not making an ass of itself …

So far Scott Morrison has managed to dig, deeper and deeper, the hole he started back in April 2020, and is covered here Morrison, China and Aged Care. In short, he went out, on his own, repeating Donald Trump’s deranged accusation that China had manufactured the coronavirus in a laboratory. He then called for an enquiry into China, and the World Health Organization (WHO), because Donald Trump didn’t like them that day.

He has continued to challenge China at every step, as Australia, which has an economy less than one quarter the size of the Chinese economy, struggles to repair the damage caused by Morrison’s lickspittle approach to foreign affairs. China has decided to wage an informal trade war with Australia.

Some of the products affected include barley, beef, wine, coal and cotton. Each one of those industries is suffering hardship, due to a shocking drought, bushfires, a global pandemic which caused at least a global recession, and mass unemployment. But never fear – our anti-Communist warrior steps up the rhetoric, demands apologies over cartoons printed in China, takes them to the World Trade Organization (WTO) court because other coal is even worse than ours. His Trade Minister cannot get through on the phone to even discuss the dispute. Result – factual.

… attacking the little bloke’s Super

There are some really stupid policies which defy reason. While Morrison was throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at the likes of Solomon Lew and Anthony Pratt, he allowed his unaccountably innumerate Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to allow Australians to prematurely raid their Superannuation balances. This is known as the ‘let them eat cake’ response to hardship, and it showed the utter contempt that this rabble of a Government feels for its citizens. Let them eat crumbs when they retire, from people sitting on 15.4% superannuation benefits while gutting the country. Good work if you can get it!

They then decided that they would not allow the already legislated rise in the Superannuation Guarantee from 9.5%, arguing that it would hold back wages growth. As Paul Keating explained, that amounts to about $8 a week, which in some parts of the country means two coffees.

Their next step is classical double-think. They want to allow the retail super funds to continue to under-perform, while raking off millions in profits, from fees for underperforming. Remember the Banking Royal Commission. Well, they don’t.

And in a government which describes itself as pro-market, they want to hobble the Industry super funds, with specious enquiries, led by such intellectual titans as Tim Wilson and James Paterson. These two were produced by the twerp factory, otherwise known as the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which specialises in turning out otherwise unemployable spivs in shiny suits, who constantly whine about organisations such as the ABC and the Industry super funds, which out-perform their market-based competitors every day of the week.

So, allowing the disadvantaged to access their super early, reducing the Super Guarantee, setting the Italian greyhounds onto the Industry super funds really DOES amount to attacking the little bloke’s super, so result of fact check – Correct.

… twisted ideology of the IPA and the ASPI

Many current members of the Liberal Government are also members of the IPA. Here is a roll-call. Abetz, Birmingham, Cash, Christensen, Cormann, Evans, Fletcher, Frydenberg, Hawke, Hunt, McGrath, Morrison, Paterson, Porter, Roberts, Ryan, Stoker, Dean Smith, Tony Smith, Tehan, Tudge, and Tim Wilson. All are affiliates of the Global Atlas Network, supported by right wing loonies who hail from the U.S.A.

That would be where they get the passion for no minimum wage, and no health care. Past members include Abbott, Howard, and let us always remember that one can be a member of any number of cults at the same time. Scott Morrison is also a current member of the IPA. To read up on their policies, start here IPA is wrecking our democracy

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is a think tank, based in Canberra. It appears to be funded by several foreign countries, with an anti-China thread running through its fabric. It is also funded by arms manufacturers, and there seems to be a bit of old-fashioned anti-Communism thrown in.

ASPI’s 2018-19 annual report stated that it received some funding from the Embassy of Japan and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia, as well as from state governments and defence companies, such as Lockheed MartinBAE SystemsNorthrop GrummanThales Group, and Raytheon Technologies.[7][8]

Most of the policies of these two ‘think tanks’ appear to present at least a danger to Australians, and our peaceful pursuit of a good life. These ideas are mostly imported from the U.S. The Morrison Government is clearly captive to foreign influence, and it is unashamedly drawn to the American neoliberal experiment. The entire Government should be forced to register as an agent of foreign influence. Twisted ideology? – Correct

We will all go to Heaven in the long run …

… if we just follow Donald Trump and stamp out Communism and foreigners in general and anyone who does not contribute funds to the Liberal Party.

I don’t know about this last statement. Clearly Scott Morrison believes it. Fact check – inconclusive.

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.

Australia could do with another John Curtin

John Curtin is best remembered as a war-time Prime Minister. He is routinely described as Australia’s greatest Prime Minister. His policy work, alongside that of his Treasurer, Ben Chifley, was crucial in establishing a Welfare State, on Australian lines, designed for Australian conditions. Curtin was influenced by the economic theories of Keynes, and he had long wanted to transform life for Australians.

He had seen the damage caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s, and took the opportunity offered by wartime conditions to transform the nation. In 1942 he imposed uniform taxation on the states, which changed the financial relationship between the two levels of government forever. It also allowed him to increase revenue. The removal of the states’ right to levy their own income taxes was to be compensated by the Commonwealth ‘picking up’ their liability for social programs.

With a uniform income tax he was then in a position to expand his vision of a socially activist Commonwealth Government. The states, especially New South Wales and Victoria, had been adding elements of a social safety net since the beginning of the century. He and Chifley, between them, completed it. Early examples were the Widow’s Pension Act, and the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Act.

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

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

John Curtin was a believer and a doer. He was lucky to be succeeded in the Prime Mininstership by Chifley, who carried on the commitment. The aim was nothing less than the dynamic re-construction of Australia, post-war. Curtin and Chifley both maintained that the key principle of a successful re-construction was full employment.

Robert Menzies was of a similar mind. He defeated Chifley in the election of 1949, and won seven elections in a row, on a platform which included full employment. In 1961, he was lucky to be re-elected, because the unemployment rate had ‘blown out’ to 2.1%. He won that election by just one seat.

The Welfare State in Australia is under constant threat, by both sides of parliament. This is counter to the wishes of a great proportion of the population, and it is driven by a political class who look after only themselves. They rely on the apathy of the people, who do not inspect governments closely, and who are disengaged from the political process. Politics and society are of no interest to most voters-a sad fact of life.

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

Where to from here?

In the Age of Coronavirus, with widespread economic devastation, we need action similar to that which re-constructed Australia in the period immediately after World War 2. We need to accept that we need massive stimulation, and we need to spend our way out of the coming economic disruption. We need Australians to be protected from hardship, because it is the corrective thing to do, but also because the people demand it.

Scott Morrison is a man shackled to his party, by his own ideology, and his limitless ambition. He could form a National Government, which included at least the Opposition Leader, and he could govern for the whole country, and all the people.

You can see that he is torn between being a small-time political hack, and a real leader. He could really lean into the task of re-building the country, from the ground up, after the laying waste of the economy, caused by the pandemic.

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

Seriously underachieving

The current Government seems to be, almost universally, staffed by a large group of impostors. Are they visitors from another planet, passing themselves off as movers and shakers, decision makers? Have they infiltrated the bodies of the incumbents, but are insufficiently programmed to carry off the deception? Are they all zombies, not alive, but not dead. Whatever the explanation, there is an eerie emptiness about them, as if their batteries are running down.

I watched Question Time recently. Perhaps I am suffering from that, but I did not see anyone who resembled a real member of a real Government. I saw absolute non-entities stand up to ask questions, so phrased as to invite disbelief, using terms, from Government member to fellow Government Minister, like “please explain how and why you are doing such a peerless job for the people of Australia, or your electorate”, and please take your time while you do it, so that the taxpayers of this country can be enraged, disgusted, disenchanted, and generally short-changed by their representatives.

The Ministers duly replied to these gently lobbed love-notes. And what a motley crew they are. And who would have thought that Scott Morrison, who constantly reminds us of the irrelevance of “the Canberra bubble” would sit, firmly front and centre of that self-same bubble, smiling his smug smile, as question after question was wasted, so shamelessly?

The Opposition was fixated on asking all their questions about Angus Taylor, that curiously lucky individual. With such a do-nothing Government, perhaps he is the only action in town. Their questions were all directed at the Prime Minister, who deflected them all, in between taking potshots at the Opposition Leader.

Morrison was ducking and weaving, answering unasked questions, using the inside language of his bubble, with “Mr Speaker” thrown in at every second moment, as if it lends a parliamentary gravitas to his essentially juvenile sneering.

Visit the chamber a day later, and the show has become even more bogged down in mediocrity, like a slow motion train crash. While the planet teeters on the brink of climatic ‘tipping points’ we have a Government found to have been terrorising welfare recipients.

The accusation is that these people might have been overpaid, once upon a long time ago, because the Government was using a possibly illegal, and inaccurate, income assessment tool. Their outrage appears to be real, even as they spend more on pursuing the matter than they will ever recoup.

More than sixty Australian citizens, women and children, victims of their husbands and/or fathers, are stranded in Syria. That is because Peter Dutton, that champion of children everywhere, thinks it is not worth retrieving them, because it would be too dangerous.

These are women and children dragged away, often against their will, to accompany fighters in a war most of them are too young to understand.

Australia’s international reputation is trashed, and our citizens shamed by the inhumanity shown to the refugees, both onshore, and offshore.

But first things first. Ignore real problems confronting Australian citizens to defend to the death the right of Angus Taylor to be Angus Taylor, an entitled twit. Angus is currently being slowly roasted for a totally unnecessary own goal, where he tried to embarrass Clover Moore with a juvenile prank. So he has embarrassed himself and the New South Wales and Federal Police, and most Australians, and probably Oxford University, because he is one of their own.

Which brings us to that well-known political genius, Scott Morrison, who thinks God helped him win the unwinnable election. We are seriously in the hands of idiots! It wasn’t God. It was a combination of your dishonest campaigning, and Bill Shorten.

Let us consider for a moment the fact that the fate of two almost meaningless, certainly small-minded, nasty pieces of legislation, which are before the Senate, are to be decided by Jacquie Lambie, and Pauline Hanson, respectively.

This must be what a mandate looks like, when an elected Government relies on the deciding votes of two such giants of parliamentary excellence. One is left wondering how we got to this terrible situation. I must fall back on my original thesis: Someone has kidnapped the Government, and replaced it with badly programmed robots.