Tag Archives: Morrison

Bring out your dead


We are a polite lot in Australia. We do not like to rock the boat. The recent Omicron death toll here has effectively doubled the number of deaths we suffered in 2020 & 2021. We continue to listen to Scott Morrison and his team of incompetents, when they can be forced to appear in public; rolling out their excuses, and their selective, but non-specific comparisons with overseas countries. We live on an island, we care how WE are doing. We are now doing very badly, and it is still summer here. Imagine what winter will be like.

We have learned to decipher the weasel words, and to find the callous, and orchestrated, indifference behind them. When people die, and you could have prevented the deaths, then you might have a case to answer. It is more than a political problem – it is a question of humanity.

Of course Richard Colbeck’s decision to go to the cricket, for THREE DAYS, while Omicron was marching unimpeded through Aged Care facilities, is breathtaking, and insensitive. But he is merely a pawn. Last year he was already hopeless, and then they put Greg Hunt in to ‘oversee’ his work in the sector.

That was merely a cosmetic change, however, and an unsuccessful one, because if anything the sector struggled more, and learned absolutely nothing from mistakes of the past. This time around Morrison has defended him, by saying he has listened, and he would take it on the chin, and move on. That is not a response, it is empty and meaningless.

How do the aged care residents who have died move on? How do their grieving families move on? As Prime Minister, did Morrison not know his Minister for Sport was off to the cricket? Did Greg Hunt, his immediate boss, not know? Surely the team discussed his appearance before a Senate committee, to discuss his department’s response to the Omicron wave. If not, why not? Of 55 recent senate hearings into aged care, Colbeck has attended 2.

Morrison has never understood that he is responsible for every problem, he is expected to fix every problem, because he has the resources and the people to fix them. We gave the Prime Minister great powers for that reason. With great power come great responsibilities.

Of course Morrison does not have the personality or the sense of destiny to take control. He dithers, he deflects, he searches desperately for ways to elude responsibility. He has now become so predictable in his public appearances that we listen for the “we” instead of the “I” when it comes to accepting the Commonwealth’s major task, which can be condensed into three words: Keep Australians safe.

Attending the cricket is trivial however, when we look at the way the Prime Minister hi-jacked the pandemic response and opened up the country before it was ready. The incompetence and the hypocrisy of a fundamentalist Christian telling us all to throw off the shackles, and take back our lives is stunning. A man whose every aspect of life is controlled by his religion, telling us to live free, so the economy would kick back into life, and get him re-elected.

It was a gamble. Now he cries that Omicron was a surprise. No it wasn’t. It was decimating Europe and the U.S. and we were insulated from its damage. Until he opened the borders, we were safe, but grumbling. Now we are in mourning.

Morrison has proved himself to be a spectacularly poor planner. In the early days of the pandemic, he sometimes over-delivered. Much of his response was ‘reputation-repair’ after the Hawaii debacle, but it worked. Deaths were kept to a minimum, health advice was followed, and we felt that our government was putting people ahead of the economy.

Of course the lessons he learned in the first year and a half have been forgotten. Economists have almost universally supported leaving the Jobseeker payment where it was, because the poor spend their cash immediately. Not on paying down the mortgage, not buying a speed-boat. No, they buy food, and they pay their bills. But Morrison knew better. He reduced it back to starvation levels, and threw out the safeguards.

Morrison and Hunt told us to look at numbers in hospitals, not case numbers. Then, because they thought it was like a cold, they reduced support for testing. They did not buy Rapid Antigen Tests, although they were the only way for us to test ourselves. And so the inevitable happened. The sick were heading off to work, for two reasons.

First, they did not know if they were infected, or infectious, and second, the payments had either stopped, or been reduced, so people had no choice but to present for work. As more became ill, the supply chains collapsed. As the booster shots were certified and deemed essential, we didn’t have enough, in the right places.

The vulnerable groups remained the same that they had been in the first waves. Indigenous communities, those covered by the NDIS, the regions, the economically disadvantaged were all exposed, again. They continue to bear the burden of infections, hospitalisations, lack of testing, lack of boosters.

Amidst the rising infection rates, Morrison and Frydenberg were taking the time to boast about the economy. Stunning. Take a walk along any shopping strip, and see the shuttered shops. Take a look at supermarkets, look at the empty shelves. Ironically, as Morrison lifted restrictions, many self-imposed them. Someone had to do it, because the government went missing.

Morrison’s triumphal progress to another term is looking pretty sick, because he became tangled up in stupid plans to “push through”. This was part of his re-branding as a freedom fighter. And we are paying the price.

Their characterisation of the deaths in Aged Care this year has sunk to levels of infamy not seen in Australia before. They now regularly insert the false narrative that most (60%) of the elderly Australians dying of neglect in Aged Care facilities were ‘at death’s door already, so no harm done’ is the implication.

No, their deaths are not able to be dismissed. That is why we call the facilities “nursing homes”. Not dying homes. People who have lived lives, paid taxes, brought up children, built this country, so the spivs in the Morrison Government can write off their deaths as incidental.

1519 people have died in Australia with or from the coronavirus so far this year. I can’t put a date on that figure, because it is going up at around 80 – 100 each day. The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer expects more variants, a flu season, and winter to present many more deaths in 2022.

Now would be a good time to quote our retiring Minister for Health: Greg Hunt, “Aged-care facilities have been required to implement infection control training and it is encouraging that despite the increase in cases, there has not been the same level of increase in illness or loss of life, with most facilities indicating that the cases have been more mild at this stage.”

It might be time to retire the lot of them, and see if there is a way to prosecute those who failed us.

The gambler in The Lodge is gambling with our lives


“As a politician, my instincts and passions have always been domestic,” the prime minister said. “Despite my activity of the past year, I am not one who naturally seeks out summits and international platforms. But as prime minister you must always be directed by the national interest. As has been the case for prime ministers past, so much of Australia’s future right now is being shaped by events and relationships beyond our borders”.

There is not enough time left this year, or next, to analyse the sheer emptiness and fatuousness contained in the statement above. Where would one start? Like everything he says, if you pay attention you realise that you are reading strategically placed little lies, sprinkled like fool’s gold through the serious words.

Verbal fairy floss, spun out of a desperate search for respect, and plausible deniability. Of course there is a percentage of the electorate which automatically respects the office of Prime Minister, no matter the quality of the incumbent. But even those trusting souls who believe in the institution of government are about to be betrayed.

Morrison and his lieutenants, Frydenberg and Dutton, are betting the house on the Omicron variant being little more than a cold. They have created such a climate of faux “freedom from government” that the premiers of New South Wales and Victoria have blindly followed the flawed rhetoric. By the 10th of January we could reap the reward from ignoring scientific advice, and common sense. Our hospitals could be bursting at the seams.

Andrews and Perrotet have been shamed into putting the economy ahead of lives, with their own versions of betraying their own populations, by going along with the most dishonest government ever seen in this country.

Morrison is always scheming for political advantage, and he rode the wave of anti-vax and anti-lockdown rebellion cynically, until Omicron hit us. He dared the premiers to open up, too early, and he has them backed into a game of chicken. Who will blink first?

The Astra-Zeneca vaccine is about to lose its efficacy against the new variant. The other vaccines are marginally better, but not enough to protect the community. So boosters are strongly recommended.

There are a couple of problems with boosters. The first is that there is a limited supply available, and no adequate supply will arrive in Australia until after the New Year. Considering the monumental mess created by the first (st)rollout, who has faith we will have adequate supplies this time around?

By shortening the time gap between second and third (booster) shots, the number required by eligible people by December 31, rose from 2.3 million to 3.8 million. There are less than 1 million doses in the country now, and going by the empty shelves in most stores, international logistical problems will play a big part in whether we get our boosters in time, or not. Put an executive from Toll in charge, or at least someone who knows about logistics. Not a lightweight politician!

Secondly, Morrison, or Hunt perhaps, has reduced the fee payable to pharmacists for delivering vaccines into arms. Pharmacists received $16 per jab when administering the first dose, $26 for the second, and will now drop back to $16 per booster, which is less than the $24 paid to GPs. So pharmacists, who run businesses, not rorts, are pulling out of the program. So we have a shortage of doses, and a shortage of those prepared to deliver them. Some of the squandered cash from JobKeeper might have encouraged the pharmacists.

Morrison in campaign mode is different to Morrison the bad tempered and ‘shoot from the mouth’ leader of the country. When he sniffs an election he morphs into the ‘miracle worker’ he thought he was in 2019. He plays in the moment, there is no past, just the news cycle and the headlines, day after day after day, until he falls over the line.

This time around you can almost script his response. It will be the fault of logistics organisations, or overseas countries, or the Omicron variant was nastier than he thought, or the AdBlue diesel additive supply ran out, or people were reluctant …

The vulnerable were left till last during the last rollout. Aboriginal communities are even now still getting their first or second doses. Nursing homes and disability residential services have also missed out, as have many of their staff. Imagine what it will be like for them, adding another five months onto their already ridiculous waiting times.

A sobering thought – even if Omicron proves to be mild, its ferocious transmissibility will probably overwhelm our hospitals, and all classes of patients will be exposed to further delays in their medical treatment. The death toll will rise, and we will have our leaders to blame.

As we head into Christmas it is clear that no mainland Australian politician has the guts or the integrity to tighten up the rules, and to impose whatever limits it takes to keep us all safe. And we will be forced to watch their disgraceful attempts to shift culpability.

The Aussie Pandemic Diaries


Date: October 6, 2021

Another week of cynicism, lies, prevarication and obfuscation. We should have a unique page in the thesaurus for the many ways we can label public discourse in Australian public life.

Today Dan Tehan arrived in Paris. Yes, slow talking Dan, who is our Trade Minister. He is going to try and arrange for someone in France to talk to him. His loner status was caused by the Prime Minister’s recent attempt at international diplomacy.

You might remember how the Prime Minister tore up a long-standing, large ($90 Billion) contract for submarines. If he worked for a corporation rather than a country, he’d be sacked on the spot. The damages will be substantial, as will the damage to our reputation for fair dealing. But then I cannot think of a corporation which would consider employing him.

He replaced the contract with the French with (drumroll) zero, zilch, nothing. A photo opportunity in Washington. But there was a result. The French are not taking our calls. They do sit on the Security Council of the United Nations, but who needs the French when you’ve got Boris on your team?

Remember the PM’s first foray into international affairs? He attempted to move our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was slavishly following Donald Trump’s lead. Remember how the Islamic world turned on him, (and us, by association) for his sheer naivety, and his stupidity. Who else would have joined with Trump, that well known career diplomat?

I have a theory that he heard the name “Jerusalem”, from those “end of world” lectures at that weird church he belongs to, and he thought “how good is Jerusalem?”

Angus Taylor has had a bad week. Firstly an American advisor to Joe Biden on climate change, asked whether he was an idiot, or an ideologue? Tough question, when you have listened to his nonsense about gas-led recoveries, and the end of the weekend. Then Ford announced they are releasing electric versions of the F150 ute. Thank God the weekend is safe.

This week Twiggy Forrest described Carbon Capture and Storage as useless. It doesn’t work. All Angus’ eggs are in that basket. What to do? Send some dodgy figures to a newspaper, Angus. Hopefully your goose is cooked, come election time.

New South Wales lost its Premier. There was a’moaning and a’groaning about what a great Premier she had been. Strangely forgotten was the reason for the loss of her career. She was being actively investigated for corrupt conduct. Or having bad taste in men? Possibly both.

With no hint of shame, several news organisations suggested that the Federal Liberals would use this event to further delay a National Integrity Commission, because it had ‘caught out’ a Liberal Premier, and such a result was regrettable, and a reason NOT to have a Federal watchdog. Very like abolishing the police, because they keep catching criminals.

Her replacement was a staunch and rigid Catholic, who looks to have close to zero life experience, but he likes straight marriage, lots of kids, and presumably doesn’t mind people like George Pell. He is against abortion in all cases. He has also something of a chequered career as Treasurer, but he is white, straight, male and religious. What could go wrong?

He wants to open up the economy, like Scott Morrison does, when they hit the bare minimum of vaccinations, no matter the number of cases. We will remember if they cause unnecessary deaths, and the thinking electorate is already stocking up on baseball bats.

Morrison has also just accused the Queensland Premier of attempting to extort money from the Commonwealth, because she fears an overload on their hospital system, and she wants to be prepared for the rush of cases when we do inevitably open up.

Now his chronic inability to actually deliver a reasonable sentence, has him accusing a Labor Premier of a criminal offence, for trying to cushion what will be an outburst of new infections, once those borders come down.

If nothing else, his statement was tone deaf, stupid, defamatory, demeaning, meaningless. She wasn’t trying to buy herself a condo in the Gold Coast, she was asking for health funding in the midst of a pandemic which has seen the deaths of nearly five million people. Classy, Scotty. Even your mates from the Gas Industry would call that a step too far.

Finally, will he, or won’t he, go to Glasgow? Too chicken to go, too chicken to not go. Decisions, decisions. Man up, Scott.

I can’t wait for another week to pass. Reminder! I am not making this up.

Christian Porter’s inevitable fall


Christian Porter is something of a cliché. Brilliant, charming, gifted, but apparently a tortured soul. Searching for what? Authenticity, or respite from all the privilege and expectations, piled onto his young shoulders? Could he be the lonely high achiever, doomed to be separated from his fellows by his towering intellect, and his looming date with destiny?

Born into an established and high profile Liberal Party family, it was always expected that he would achieve greatness. He was educated at Hale School in Perth, an exclusive and expensive old college. Its secondary fees begin at around $27,000 a year, plus. Its grounds are immaculate, and extensive. Its strict uniform policy is rigidly applied.

It is not clear when Christian Porter took up the demon drink, but it seems he was an enthusiast while still at the University of Western Australia. It did not diminish his academic abilities, however. He completed three degrees while there; a bachelor’s degree in Economics, Arts (Politics) and Law. He later attended the London School of Economics, where he obtained a Master of Science (Political Theory). He topped his class.

So why does he consistently take aim at his own feet? He has suffered a shattering fall from grace, compounded by a seeming inability to regulate his own behaviour. He is now seen as arrogant, narcissistic and self-destructive, and with a tin ear. His drinking is seen as problematic, and his attitude to women has been front and centre. His legalistic bluster has proved ineffective at redeeming his reputation.

The Four Corners program, and its consequences

The ABC’s Four Corners program aired on November 9, 2020. Titled “Inside the Canberra Bubble”, it detailed allegations of inappropriate conduct and extramarital affairs by Attorney-General Christian Porter and Population Minister Alan Tudge, with female ministerial staffers.

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher agreed that one of his senior staff questioned the program’s bona fides, before its release, but it was shown, as scheduled. Porter denied the allegations made against him, and indicated that he was ‘considering his legal options’. He did not follow through with his threat to sue.

Barrister Kathleen Foley was quoted on the program, based on her knowledge of him when they were at university together. She said she believed he was “deeply sexist” and a “misogynist”. She provided examples, which must have been damaging to his standing amongst women.

Grace Tame was named Australian of the Year on 25 January, 2021. She was the inspiration for Brittany Higgins, helping her to find the courage to come forward and to divulge her own story. She did so on 15 February, which caused the Morrison Government to scramble to protect itself. Morrison initiated enquiries into who knew what, and when. Unsurprisingly, the enquiries are still ongoing, with no results.

Anonymous letter sent to selected politicians

On 26 February 2021 the ABC published an anonymous letter, which accused a Cabinet Minister of an historical rape. The Cabinet Minister was not named. The letter had been sent to several politicians, including the Prime Minister, which made it impossible to ignore. Although the Minister was not named, Twitter settled on Porter’s name quite quickly, which caused much innuendo and tension.

Porter made much of protecting his reputation, when he fronted the media, to name himself as the alleged rapist. Although he strenuously denied the allegation, the earlier Four Corners episode had unearthed aspects of his personality, and of his personal style, which had started as a trickle, but which would become an avalanche, of suspicion and distrust.

The country was divided. Morrison sat on the fence, but he stonewalled, with nonsensical arguments about the sanctity of the ‘rule of law’. He also denied reading the letter. So we were faced with a farcical situation where the accused Minister, and the Prime Minister, both professed to not having read the letter. As one is forced to acknowledge when discussing the Morrison Government, I am not making this up.

Morrison stood by his man, until it was inconvenient. He then demoted him to Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Porter has been criticised for ‘going missing’ in his new role, although he has stayed in the newspapers.

Legal actions, and their payment

He sued the ABC, and its journalist, Louise Milligan, for defamation, but he then discontinued the action. He claimed victory, but he received no damages. The ABC agreed to pay for the mediation costs. There has been relative quiet, apart from Porter’s reported sorties to the courts, where he has sought to permanently remove the ABC’s defence from public scrutiny. His costs have presumably continued to accumulate.

On Monday, September 13 Christian Porter updated his register of interests. In it he stated that a portion of his legal fees had been paid by an anonymous donor, or donors. This of course has unleashed a huge controversy, about transparency and accountability. These are sensitive areas for Porter, considering he has been accused of previously stalling on an Integrity Commission. For nearly three years! Great job, Christian!

Ex Prime Ministers, many eminent judges and even the current Prime Minister have questioned the morality, and or the optics of the donation, with its attendant potential for corruption, blackmail, or even threats to national security. The greatest casualty has been Porter’s reputation. If it was not irredeemably in tatters already, it surely is now. Porter looks to be yesterday’s man.

In breaking news, Porter has ‘resigned’ from the Ministry, but in an apparent deal he continues in Parliament, but he gets to keep the cash. Morrison is thus spared the indignity of calling a by-election, which he would lose. This Government defies all laws, of morality, and even of gravity. How does it remain in power?

JobKeeper was just another rort (but big!)


When this Government decides on a program which distributes taxpayers’ money, it seems that they never start with a blank sheet of paper. The spreadsheets might be pre-populated with Coalition seats, as in the case of the “sports rorts affair”, although some of the cash went to vulnerable seats, which might, under favourable conditions, swing back to the coalition.

The arrival of the pandemic was akin to a miracle, in that it swept in just in time to save Morrison from the escalating scandal, which had already claimed Bridget McKenzie’s scalp. It would have eventually worked its way up to Morrison, because his fingerprints were all over this program. Morrison was implicated as the architect, and the chief beneficiary, of the cash splash.

The timing was, if not close to being criminal, at least cynical and immoral. Just before an election, arguably some crucial funding decisions were taken after the caretaker period began. Caretaker mode means that the Government refrains from making major decisions, because the House of Representatives is dissolved, as is half the Senate. There is effectively no legislative powers, until the next government is sworn in. Everyone in Canberra knows the rules. They also know it is a convention only, so no problem there.

There is another rule, about governing for the whole country. That is where funds are allocated on a needs basis. Not on where you live, or how you vote, but on your needs. So, every one of his team who received, and then announced, their ill-gotten gains had a moral duty to return the funds. But, as it is a moral question, the Morrison Government failed to admit to the rort, and failed to rectify it.

$1.1 MILLION TO UPGRADE AND REPLACE SPORTING FACILITIES IN KOOYONG

That is the headline from Frydenberg’s announcement pre-election. The local member, Josh Frydenberg, is the Treasurer, and he was when this program unfolded. He oversaw $150 million being squandered on buying votes, and he did not object. Was that because he didn’t expect to win the election, and they were shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic? His announcement of the grant to Kooyong sporting clubs was made on May 3, 2019, fully 15 days prior to the election. So much for fiscal rectitude, or for following the spirit of the conventions.

Not only is Kooyong one of the wealthiest areas in Australia, its sporting facilities are second to none. Kooyong should have been the last place chosen, if the program was decided on a needs basis. Do not expect the local member to hand anything back. He suffered a swing of 8.2% against, even with the electoral sweetener.

The car-parks rort was more of the same, except four times bigger, and even clumsier. $660 million was offered to MPs who didn’t even have to ask for the money. The scheme was launched by preparing a list of 20 top marginal seats, and inviting the sitting MP to nominate projects for funding. Both the sports rort and the car-parks rort involved the same staff member from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Keeping JobKeeper secret

So why are we surprised when Morrison and Frydenberg ‘design’ JobKeeper, and lo and behold, the main beneficiaries are Liberal supporters and donors. Already red-faced with excitement at the prospect of their promised tax cuts, here is the Treasurer offering them more free money, with no strings attached. They don’t even have to prove eligibility. All they need to do is guess that their turnover will fall, and the money starts to flow. If they erred, no problem. No need to pay it back, we don’t engage in the politics of envy.

Another quirk of the system is that public companies can be shamed into paying it back if it wasn’t needed, because the ATO released a list of the companies who claimed JobKeeper, but were later found to be ineligible, or not in need.

Private companies were protected by their veil of secrecy, which is even now being extended by the Government. Their latest recruit in protecting the names of the companies has been Pauline Hanson. She was apparently rewarded for her support, by being allowed to announce a Fitzroy Community Hospice upgrade in Rockhampton, to which the Treasurer had pledged $8 million. That is how things are done by this Government. Very transactional.

In his defence to charges that he had mishandled the scheme, Mr Frydenberg said the JobKeeper scheme deliberately did not include a claw-back provision, because it might have made the companies stop and think about their eligibility, which could have caused a delay.

I know, he is the Treasurer, and he does obsess about deficits, and he espouses small government. This was despite $6 billion in emergency funding flowing to 150,000 companies who actually increased their turnover last year. Labor MP Andrew Leigh has called it the biggest waste of taxpayer money in Australian history.

We know from the Parliamentary Budget Office that $13 billion was funnelled into companies whose sales rose during the period covered by JobKeeper, and a further $15 billion was given to companies whose sales didn’t fall by 30 or 50 per cent.

What Australian voters want is an honest Government which does not play games with our money, and does not spend most of its time devising tricky schemes to deceive voters. We also want to know that the Government is fair. Relentlessly pursuing Centrelink clients for tiny debts incurred by Centrelink’s own errors does not align with letting our largest private companies off, when we know many of them did not qualify for JobKeeper, but chose to keep the money, because the Prime Minister and his Treasurer told them they could.

Morrison has made a Faustian deal with the cabinet


Australians have never seen the like of this Government before, precisely because of the unlucky convergence of two unique circumstances. The first is Scott Morrison’s relentless ambition, and the second is the sycophantic, supine nature of his governmental colleagues.

Scott Morrison has become a scourge on this democracy. His anti-social and ideologically driven policies have generally only been spasmodically opposed by some of the cleverer Laborites, but mainly by the independents in Canberra. His so-called Cabinet Ministers act more like a team of obedient assistants, rather than the dedicated professional policy makers they should be.

Australians pride themselves on an egalitarian, larrikin spirit of individualism, but a collective apathy has overtaken the people. When Morrison ran for the Prime Ministership, we congratulated ourselves for ‘dodging a bullet’, in the figure of Peter Dutton. By now we all know that was a false victory. What we got with Morrison was much worse than the alternative.

Dutton reminds me of the cartoon figure, Dick Dastardly, described by Wikipedia as a “fictional, villainous anti-hero”. In that characterisation, Dutton does regularly play to the ‘peanut gallery’ with his outrageous displays of supposedly tone-deaf utterances, but as with Dick Dastardly, he is more comic-book than evil. And his ‘administration’ of the Home Affairs Department was so inept, that he proved there is nothing to fear. His major act as Defence Minister has been to cancel ‘woke’ morning teas, so the Chinese People’s Army better wake up to itself!

Morrison on the other hand, is suffused with a shape-shifter’s amorality, with seemingly no beliefs, no principles, and total shamelessness. His acceptance of Andrew Laming returning to the Liberal fold demonstrated his contempt for parliamentary or even moral standards, but also a withering scorn for Australian voters. He must genuinely believe that we have no memories, or at least no capacity to judge, and no expectations of our governments.

His professed Christianity is not rooted in any reputable church’s history, but it is a confected import from the U.S. Traditional Christians in Australia are continually being confounded by his apparent lack of charity, or compassion, or common decency. But his branch of Christianity does not espouse these qualities.

Instead it basks in dog eat dog competition, as in the gospel of rich versus poor; it revels in a narrow orthodoxy because mankind is seen as not being fit to exercise free will and moral choices; it reads the Bible as literal truth because it presents a simplistic view of the world, one that is more than two thousand years out of date.

It believes in the duality of the world, divided between the Prince of Light, and the Prince of Darkness. This appeals to the uneducated who feel cast off and left behind by the modern world, and it has provided a handsome living for those who have latched on to the scam. Many of those leaders traditionally end up in jail, or disgraced, when their misdeeds are uncovered.

Matters as important as the status of women are settled, in that women are at best help-meets, and never equals. The Pentecostal and its stable-mates on the evangelical right are designed for, and sold to, white males of a certain cast of mind, and Scott Morrison fits the mould.

His treatment of asylum seekers when he was Minister for Immigration and Border Protection was so clinically and morally harsh that 300 of his schoolmates from Sydney Boys’ High School were compelled to write an open letter objecting to his speaking at a fund-raiser at the school. They were ashamed of him.

His apparent obsession with punishing the asylum seekers led him to re-open Christmas Island, so that he could rain hellfire on them, again. That was fully five years later. He was now Prime Minister, and his anger was re-ignited because he thought their struggles with physical and mental health issues were, not imaginary, but confected. After five years, in a badly run gulag, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

That is not to mention the hapless Sri Lankan family he has imprisoned on Christmas Island, for years. Don’t think that ‘Dick Dutton’ calls those shots; Morrison controls the members of his Government as if they were toys.

We are all too polite, in a typically Australian way, to call him out for his authoritarianism, his miserable, penny pinching nature, his weird set of beliefs, his sociopathic pursuit of his enemies. It is no wonder that the ABC is running scared, and the rest of the media, if that is what we call it, is either controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his own brand of puppets, or by Channel 9. It is definitely no surprise that Morrison has had such a run with the Australian public.

So are we just unlucky enough to have scored this dangerous person, at this moment in time? Not at all. He studied Trump’s post-truth regime, and he saw that, if enough of the people are apathetic, or ill-educated, or fed lies on a constant basis, he might just get away with it.

Recent failures in quarantine and the vaccine rollout have seen his self-assurance wobble. The Victorian Labor Government applied some heat to Morrison, and he has retreated. This might be the way to attack this incompetent one man band. Actually challenge them, and then even the Murdoch press has to deal with the public disenchantment. Hopefully Australian voters wake up before we sleep-walk into another Coalition government.

Morrison’s shallow talent pool


As a general rule, upon election, it usually took Parliamentarians some time to show what they were made of, and gradually those with the best minds, and the greatest capacity, worked their way up through the ranks. In political life that has always meant attaining ministerial appointment. If one was unfortunate enough to be seated on the ‘wrong’ side of the chamber, one gained ‘shadow’ ministerial experience.

Often the Minister, and his or her shadow, continued in the same portfolio, over a period of years. In this way each became expert in the area covered by the job. For example, when the Government was changed by the electorate, the Shadow Minister was able to step into the ministerial role almost seamlessly, and often with shared goals. That approach was known as bi-partisanship.

This served to illustrate the maxim that the Cabinet is there to serve the country, rather than the party. In the best of times the Minister and his or her shadow were able to work together, with the goal of achieving improvement, for the country as a whole. This really came to an end with the Howard Government.

How did Howard change things?

To many Australians John Howard was known as honest, earnest and relatively harmless. But that persona was carefully crafted. His Government was described as ‘mean and tricky’ in a report Howard himself commissioned, from the Liberals’ own president, Shane Stone. Howard was on a mission in 1996 to re-make Australia, into a faux Thatcherite society, and he used the oldest trick in the book – a faux ‘budget emergency’.

Serving as a beacon to Tony Abbott in 2013, Howard ‘manufactured’ his budget emergency, and embarked on a ruthless project to rid his Government of debt, by imposing strict savings on reluctant Ministers, and selling off the country’s silver.

Some of the more notable pieces of silver were the sale of Telstra, and the privatisation of both the Commonwealth Employment Service, and the Aged Care sector. The damage these own goals have caused, has cascaded throughout the years, and continues to cause the country to bleed.

This served Howard in two ways. Firstly he engineered “cabinet solidarity” on solving the ’emergency’, thus mandating even unreasonable savings, and he isolated the so-called ‘wets’, many of whom fought for their portfolios’ funding.

‘Wets’ was another term for moderates, who generally believed in a type of humanistic Conservatism, where they achieved economic goals, while protecting the poor. Some of his best performers were either sidetracked, or actively removed from the parliament, through selective organisational targeting.

The party is of course now stacked with time-serving, narrow, ideologically motivated drones, whose life experience is usually having served as an ‘adviser’ to a parliamentarian hack, or as a lawyer. That does not deepen the gene pool, but it does provide malleable cattle with which to work.

What happened to bi-partisanship?

Cabinet ministers are now chosen on the basis of loyalty to whomever is sitting in the prime ministerial chair. Talent is in such short supply that someone like Michaelia Cash, a former lawyer, is now a cabinet minister. Her portfolio area is Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. With her unreasoning loathing for all things union, who could she work with, across the aisle? And working at a major law firm, as a taster for small business?

Angus Taylor is a former Rhodes Scholar, and he has worked as a management consultant for twenty years or so. He must know about risk management, or he would not have been employed in management consulting. And yet, in possibly the most important role he will ever be employed in, that of reducing Australia’s emissions in a pre-apocalyptic world, he adheres to the anti-science rhetoric, and apparent obfuscations of a global heating denialist. The only possible explanation for his behaviour is that he is unable to read a risk profile, or he cannot escape the shackles of his denialism.

The Hon Melissa Price MP was Vice President of Legal and Business Development for Crosslands Resources, an iron ore miner, before she was appointed to the Environment Ministry. As Peter Fitzsimons asked on television, “If a million dead fish at Menindee doesn’t attract your attention as the environment minister, what does it take?”

She also approved the Adani Mine’s groundwater plan just days before the 2019 election, although the plan was riddled with errors. It puts her in line to contest the Worst Environment Minister in History Award, with Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenberg also in the running.

Was the Prime Minister joking with these appointments?

One theme runs through this tiny sample of ministerial misfits. It can be read as being the best we can do, with a shallow pool to pick from, or did Morrison actually choose ministers who would so underperform that he could show his contempt for the very areas they represent.

Considering the IPA obsession for small-to-no-government, could this be, like Trump’s, a new low in ministerial commitment, as we head to low-to-no regulation, and really ugly capitalism?

Politics has been called, unkindly, show business for ugly people, but it should not be taken so lightly. Politics is a deadly serious undertaking, because it has real, tangible consequences. That is why it constantly surprises us that politicians think that they have some form of pass, that they will not be judged for their actions. Because their decisions often have real-world consequences.

The IPA fears the ABC, because we trust it


During the neoliberal boom of the 1970s and 1980s, it became fashionable to sell many valuable state-owned enterprises, often for a song, and usually to friends of the regime. Later on this would become something of a blueprint for the Russians, who created a whole class of thieving kleptocrats, who then went on to pillage Russia’s wealth, and waste it on buying fripperies, like English soccer clubs and Faberge eggs.

They justified the sales by stating that ‘the market’ would run things a whole lot better than career bureaucrats, and that the profit motive would cause the new owners to utilise every trick of modern management principle, to strip down waste, and to maximise service, and customer satisfaction. They would make loads of lovely profit as well, because of their inherent efficiency.

Have a look at your latest electricity bill, or your water bill. That shows you what ‘the market’ will do, when let loose. The misfortune we all suffer is that the same class of idiots are still in charge of government policy, and contrary to all evidence, they maintain their absurd faith. As the late, great Maynard Keynes said so clearly, “Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.”

No matter how often energy companies, or public transport, or toll-road operators make huge and stupid losses, they bring the begging bowl along, demanding more state subsidies, and the neoliberals continue to deliver. Of course, many of these same true believers pick up a post-career job, often working for the very same outfit to which they gave taxpayer subsidies.

As my old Uncle Jeff remarked many years ago, quoting Jack Lang, “always bet on Self Interest if it’s running, because you know it will always do its best.”

Is Rupert Murdoch just a big, old socialist?

You can see this magical farce playing out, in real time, right now. Rupert Murdoch cannot run his media organisation at all well, and so he has an army of ‘servants’ pushing for one of his competitors to be closed down, and also getting lovely, un-tied, taxpayer-funded subsidies. I think it has been $40 million so far this year, but you never know where our money is going, with this Government.

That inability to thrive seems to prove that he is not very good at running media companies, and that he is just a big, old socialist. He wants to close down his competitor, and he wants taxpayers’ funds, presumably so that he can rule the world. And he wants his ex-countrymen’s Government to pay for it.

If you listen carefully to the frenzied attacks on our national broadcaster, you will notice that there is a constant theme, repeated loud and long, that the ABC is left leaning, and biased. This comes from many different voices, most of whom spend time at Sky News. If you want an example of an unhinged set of ‘journalists’ look no further. Alan Jones, Peta Credlin, Paul Murray and the legendary Andrew Bolt are names to consider when looking for bias.

Alan Jones probably felt he was doing Mr Trump a favour, by personally not conceding the election, but he did not do himself, or his tattered reputation, any favours. Is it any wonder that almost no-one watches it?

Let us look at that scary ABC

Firstly, they argue that the ABC is now an anachronism, past its use by date. How they came to this position is peculiar. They state that when the ABC was founded, in 1932, there was a shortage of media available, and so the ABC was designed as a stop-gap measure. It would ‘fulfil a need for information’, until the real thing came along.

As the local commercial media matured, and evolved into something able to adequately serve the Australian public, the ABC, having served its purpose, would pack up its tent, and slip away.

Secondly, they argue that the ABC is not past its use by date, but rather it is cannibalising media opportunities, by competing too well with the media professionals, and shrinking their market. Global monopolies like the Murdoch empire cannot compete, and feel that the government funding gives the ABC an unfair advantage. This is the actual position put forward by the free marketeers, with access to seemingly unlimited funds, being unable to compete with ‘the luvvies’ of the ABC.

So on one hand the ABC has become redundant, as their charter is now being performed adequately by the corporate media; on the other hand they are too good at their job. Thirdly, the people like, and trust, the ABC.

They acknowledge that the ABC is popular, but in remaining true to their neo-liberal beliefs, they argue that there is no value in something merely because it is popular. It is a drain on the public purse, and must be divested. Another reason they don’t do well managing anything. Perhaps trying to please their audience would be a starting point.

What does the ABC do?

In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is legally required to ‘encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia’ and ‘broadcasting programs that contribute to a sense of national identity’ with specific emphasis on regional and rural Australia’. Wikipedia

The ABC Charter, set down by Parliament, requires the Corporation to provide informative, entertaining and educational services that reflect the breadth of our nation. That summary is taken from the ABC’s own website. https://about.abc.net.au/abc-history/

This year they have covered the bush-fires, peerlessly. Their staff were spectacularly committed, professional and pushed to their limits. Of course there were some who accused the ABC of committing too many resources to the coverage. That is easy to say, after the fire-storm, but I live in regional Victoria, and there is no other place I would trust to provide me with accurate, up-to-date information.

Take a look at their coronavirus coverage. During the darkest days of April they provided us all with straight, professional, uninterrupted coverage of a once-in-a-century pandemic situation. They did not drop the ball when the second wave arrived.

When researching this article I went back in time. They were there in the 1930s, broadcasting by wireless about the death of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, and the declaration of war, by Robert Menzies, in 1939. Cricket broadcasts began.

During the 1940s the ABC provided war reports from various overseas offices. It also attempted to provide an independent news service. In a precursor to today’s problems, it encountered some early government interference and censorship, by way of the newly formed Department of Information, run in 1940 by newspaper proprietor Sir Keith Murdoch. He was Rupert Murdoch’s father. So it seems that the Murdochs have always had a problem with public broadcasting. And they clearly don’t like competition.

The list of disasters, triumphs, royal weddings, funerals, bush-fires and floods is too long to recount, but there is not a time when Australians did not know where to look, if they wanted fearless honest reporting. We remember that the ABC is always there, and it is not swayed by the views of their advertisers, because there are none.

And if the ABC continues to outshine the so-called ‘professionals’, then the professionals need to lift their game. Stop asking the umpire for favours, and get on with it. The ABC does.

Why does the ABC use people like this?

My only complaint about the ABC is its regular use of right wing people whose stated aim in life is to eviscerate the ABC. Why have Amanda Vanstone? Tom Switzer? John Roskam? Tim Wilson? James Paterson? They are not ‘talent’. They are ‘assassins’, waiting to slip the knife in. I reckon they would all look great over on Sky News.

What we need on the ABC are people who are interested in the contest of ideas, rather than the mindless parroting of partisan rubbish. So disagree with me, but bring your brain along.

Team Australia-some key players


2020 has been a tough year. Let us take a look at the list, where they are at, what they have produced in 2020, and what we can expect in season 2021.

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 play. Has he been trying to do too much?

Michael McCormack – 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 of team spirit. Many struggle to understand why he is even in the team, but he does bring a folksy type of earnestness, with an amateurish vaudevillian ‘shtick’ to the post-match press conferences. Will probably stay, and play in the back pocket. A leader of sorts – of a small group of players who are somewhat lost in the ‘big smoke’.

Josh Frydenberg – a flashy forward type, he started the season strongly, very confident, much hype about being ‘back in black’. Has a tendency to ‘mouth off’ early, and often, in games, and rue his words later. Had a couple of real shockers during the season, especially when he came up against Dan Andrews. Andrews seemed to spook him, causing some unnecessary own-goals. Josh follows the game plan to the letter; which can cause a lack of creativity. Has leadership aspirations.

Mathias Cormann – has retired from the game, although he is angling for a spot on the Commission. Seems to have enthusiastic backing from the team, from the coach down, but not a fan favourite. Led the backs; a dour, miserable type. Not able to accommodate changes in the game plan. Particularly evasive on the need to adapt to renewable aspects of defence. Stolid defender of the indefensible.

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. Rumoured to still harbour leadership aspirations, after unsuccessful tilt last year. Also known as a keen sledger, especially if his opponents wear green jumpers. Still able to unsettle the opposition. Dutton will continue to project menace.

Christian Porter – something of a strategist, known to play and to work hard. Can be a force when the going is good, but retreats when under attack. Something of a showy front runner. Treads a fine line with the umpires. He knows the rules, and he often plays outside the spirit of the game. Once touted for a future leadership role, but off-field issues have set his ambitions back. Expect a red-hot pre-season next year.

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 season. 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.

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.

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 off-field issues, but not a contender for the leadership group, so not crucial.

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 the 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.

At the moment he is unchallenged, however, because the team continues to win. 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 flag. The commentariat is asleep, and he will continue to dominate the game until the fans rise up, and demand change.

Wouldn’t life be marvellous, if it was as simple as a footy game? Sadly, it is not.

Morrison’s economic plans reflect his lack of life experience


While he plans to line the pockets of his mates and the wealthy with ridiculous tax-cuts, we have all read the reports that, with the cuts to Jobseeker and Jobkeeper, Morrison and his sorry acolyte Frydenburg, will be throwing millions of Australians into poverty, and even hunger.

Poverty seems more palatable, pardon the pun, but hunger? Are we really being led by people who think it is in any way acceptable to deny children, single mothers, the unemployed, (whether it is their own fault or not) the disabled, and even those who do not own a house to go hungry? Let us not forget homelessness, either. The pandemic economy will not be kind to the poor, deserving or not.

Scott Morrison lacks the intellect, the life experience and the character to lead this country, during a time when we need to rely on government.

It has already started to bite

I volunteer for a food-bank type operation in regional Victoria. During the short period when the Jobseeker payment was double its previous amount, the food-bank saw a drop in demand. It has now shot up again, because of the cuts; people have had to ask again for help, if they want their children, and themselves, to eat properly.

If we picture Morrison we see a man who has apparently never missed a meal in his life. We see a man so pleased with himself that the smirk may well be permanent. Criticise him for a lack of empathy, and he wants to know who will fund it. Ask how his supposedly Christian faith allows him to visit cruelty so casually on the weak, and he answers that the Bible is not a policy handbook.

Have you ever wondered if he ever had a real job, where he maybe made things that people wanted? Did he start at the bottom, or was it all handed to him? Did he develop a range of skills which would prepare him for running a country? Let us investigate.

All his jobs have been meaningless

Morrison seems to have been a manager all his life. He may have been born wearing a suit and tie. His list of jobs is interesting. He seems to have gone into every job at the top, or if not, just close enough to make the boss nervous. The jobs were not connected to making anything. He has not run a business, nor has he risked an investment in his own business. He is a classic member of the managerialist class.

So he has worked for the Property Council of Australia, a lobby group for property developers. He then moved into tourism, here and in New Zealand. When working in that sector, he left a string of disappointed colleagues behind him, amid stories of ruthless ambition and endless politicking. He has made something of a habit of causing trouble with the organisations which employ him, while relentlessly scheming to advance his career. He then departs, abruptly.

Next stop the Liberal Party, where he became the State Director. Such a meteoric rise, from leadership position to leadership position, without learning anything about co-operation, or collegiality, or even about that funny old thing, our society. When you run with wolves, there is little time for empathy.

Of course there were unsavoury tales surrounding his next step up the ladder. His pre-selection to Parliament was fraught. His opponent won the contest, outpolling Morrison by 80 votes to 8. The organisational wing of the Liberal Party disallowed the result, and a re-run was ordered. This had never happened before. They clearly recognised a managerialist of class, when they saw one.

How will this play out?

Back in some far off ‘golden old days’, the Liberal Party boasted members who had some form of decency, a social conscience even. The so-called Liberal ‘wets’ have been hunted out of the organisation, however, and it is now filled with neoliberal spivs. They cultivate a type of objective disdain for the less well-off, and dress it up as economic rationalism.

If you ever see the job title ‘policy director’ run away. Morrison was a policy director once, for a lobby group. Tim Wilson was a policy director for the IPA. So that is the sort of job many of the Liberal Party did before they got their big chance. And you can see how policy directors turn out!

Think tanks like the IPA don’t actually think. They import their silly ideas from the U.S. – all they have to do is unwrap them. Right wing think tanks provided Trump with his playbook. Pretty well all populist governments follow the same agenda. Increase inequality at the expense of the 99%.

Cut regulations, no matter whatever the cost. Cut welfare, except to corporations and the wealthy. Cut services, especially to indigenous communities and the aged care sector, privatise everything you can get your hands on. Ruin the environment, gut the public service while enriching multinational cartels, let the poor starve.

The worst part is that Morrison has amassed all this power at a point in history when Australia, and indeed most of the world, need real leaders. Not tin-pot dictators like Trump, Johnson and Morrison. Look at the way Morrison’s heroes have handled the pandemic. Scotty from Marketing has followed public opinion so far, but you can see him chafing at the bit to sacrifice ordinary people in the interests of business and commerce. We need to tell him that we won’t stand for being a smaller version of the failing American Empire.

As Oscar Wilde said, a cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.