Tag Archives: Robodebt

Australia’s lost decade on everything, including climate


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

Morrison-leader of the lost


The Morrison Government continues to display such levels of dysfunction as to be almost comical. That would be true if it was not so tragic for Australia. Let us count some of the ways this Government is bungling its way forward, during a global pandemic.

It has announced, through the stand-in Minister for Immigration, that it intends to redesign the test for Australian citizenship. From November 15, there will be new test questions on “Australian values”. This may be just another announcement of an intention, but it obviously exercised the mind of the responsible person.

Alan Tudge is the stand-in Minister, because the actual Minister, David Coleman, has been on personal leave since December 13, 2019. That is over nine months now, which is a long time to stand aside, without being replaced. It is said that he still represents the people of Banks. So he has been given leave of absence for a part of his job, but not all of it. This is a novel idea, which the Canberra Press Gallery has not seen fit to question.

Anyway, in the absence of the Minister, and considering the gravity of the situation, they brought in the guy on the bench. He has a somewhat sketchy record in management, but you go with what you have, when you’re short of staff.

What will the Australian Values be?

Tudge says this test will require potential citizens to understand Australian values like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law. They must answer these questions correctly, so clearly values are very important.

Please remember that the person applying the test for Australian values, is the very same individual responsible for the Robodebt fiasco, the introduction of the cashless welfare card, the perilous folly of criticising the Victorian Appeals Court, and last but not least, he has recently been accused of ‘criminal conduct’, in which he kept a detainee locked up, in defiance of a judicial order to release him.

So that would appear to be a clear-cut case of a misuse of power. He kept a detainee in detention, illegally, for five days. He apparently did not agree with the ruling by the court. The next part is priceless, however.

The senior Law Officer in the Parliament, Attorney General Christian Porter, when asked whether Mr Tudge should resign, defended his actions thus: “it’s not the first time that in the robust environment of the law surrounding visa approvals, that there’s been strong words said about what is in effect government undertaking its duties through the minister”.

So if we unpack that, it is a commonplace for the Government to break the law, as the act of depriving the man of his liberty unlawfully, was merely “government undertaking its duties through the minister”.

To continue the theme of ‘old Hallelujah Morrison’ and his enthusiastic band of libertarians, Mr Porter has presided over an era where secret trials are conducted, with no public oversight, of not only a whistle-blower who told the truth, but his lawyer, for defending him. Has Mr Porter been following the career of William Barr, Attorney-General of choice for Donald Trump?

To return to the matter of the Centrelink scandals, Mr Tudge has been accused of knowing that Robodebt was unlawful as far back as 2017, and yet he persisted in its use, and the harm it caused. This tale is almost biblical in its outcome. They ruined people’s lives, to recoup a piddling sum of cash, which they will have to repay in full, and then pay much more, in damages. Maximum harm to so-called clients, at a huge cost. That is what happens when you are consumed by hubris.

Alan Tudge is also the Minister who introduced the cashless welfare card. The cashless welfare card is one which places 80% of a person’s income into a card, which prohibits the purchase of alcohol, gambling, and the withdrawal of cash. It is an affront to any adult, and the Government continues to show its contempt for the unemployed. I blame that attitude on the ‘prosperity gospel’, which is a self-serving belief system for the deluded, who confuse luck and ruthless ambition with God’s rewards.

Minister Tudge designed the card alongside Andrew Forrest, a well known billionaire, ‘familiar’ with being dehumanised because of poverty. Mr Forrest wanted it made mandatory for unemployed people, carers, people with disabilities and single parents. That would be the hugely experienced social worker Andrew Forrest? Not even Tudge thought that would fly.

Fun fact: Mr Forrest has been accused of avoiding paying company tax, having revealed in 2011 that Fortescue had never paid company tax. He was also unelected, and yet he was on the panel to advise the Federal Government on welfare matters. One can only hope he was not paid for his time.

Anyway, back to the citizenship test. We can only hope that the people marking the papers do not take too hard a line. We need an injection of brains in this great country of ours, because it is clear that those who have risen to the top are not up to it. And isn’t it good that in the midst of a global pandemic, the Government and its fearless leader are onto the important issues.

Scomo wrote us a letter of regret – you wish


Why did he write the letter?

I dreamed that Scott Morrison woke up one day, very recently, and was filled with regret. He was so overcome with regret that he wrote a letter of apology to the people of Australia. The gist of his imaginary letter went something like this:

It is clear that the country needs to be re-set. We have at last done something right, and I feel a sense of pride, and achievement, as I have never felt before. We have flattened the curve of the virus. The people have banded together, and helped us through this turbulent time. They are chafing at the bit now, but we are confident we have done the best we could.

There are many areas that, on reflection, I should work on, though. Firstly, I need to stop thinking like my great friends, Donald and Boris. They both took a holiday when the virus arrived, and look where that took them. Thousands of unnecessary deaths.

I remember my own holiday. It did not turn out well. It seems that this is a full-time job. And I DO hold a hose, if required.

Education often appears, alongside health, as the biggest issue in people’s minds. I must remember that! My education was provided to me by the state. It was free, and secular. It was excellent, and I cannot imagine why I persist in funding wealthy private schools more generously than the state sector schools. It seems so counter-intuitive, to give taxpayers’ funds to people who choose to sequester their children, away from the common herd. Sydney High had it all, though. Free, but selective. Elitism, without the price. Anyway, I must have a word to Dan (Tehan). Maybe we can try to govern for all in the future.

I actually have a science degree, with honours. So the ‘daggy dad’ persona is a crock, or to put it in more seemly terms, a construct. I do feel great shame about the position my Government takes on climate change, because I know I have further enabled the terrible degradation of this beautiful country, and even its international reputation.

My area of expertise is in economic geography, but a science degree is built on the scientific method, and I know that I can, and I should, trust the scientists, when they tell us we are wrecking the planet. It is just that once I tasted success, and power, I lost my head. I felt that if I did the right thing, it might cost me the big job, but it is not too late. I must sack Angus, and put someone else in the job; someone who actually wants to help us save the earth.

Of course there are the refugees. Wow. What was I thinking? To demonise a thousand people, and to then torture them for years. I can’t even remember what it was I was trying to fix. I do remember saying something about keeping the sugar off the table. That was a reference to gaining entry to Australia through Indonesia. Considering my own family’s arrival here, it was really lacking in insight. But, it’s never too late to change. I sometimes look back on statements like that, and I cringe.

It can’t have been to save lives at sea, by ruining lives on land. That sounds like a false equivalence. What would my tutor in Economic Geography think? Perhaps it was to save money? But then, look at the money I wasted on ‘sports rorts’. We could have slung some of that money at the refugees. We could have put them up at the Hilton for the last seven years, and saved plenty.

Not to mention what Paladin has made from us over the journey. We don’t even check their invoices, so you know they have made a motza. Which brings me to Pete (Dutton). I keep buying him off, by increasing his powers, but nothing works. He craves more, and more. I never sanction him, I allow him to run his own line on Foreign Affairs.

He insults Lebanese-Australians by suggesting that they are more prone to committing crimes. He believes there is a criminal gene, I suppose. Doesn’t he even know that my great great grandfather was on the First Fleet, a convicted criminal. He might as well accuse me of having the same criminal gene. I think it is time I stopped Pete’s reign of terror, and put someone in who likes people. I will probably dismantle his department, while I think of it. It is one of Malcolm’s dopiest errors, and then I made it worse, by keeping Pete on.

I really need to apologise for that statement “A fair go for those who have a go”, which even I know is one of the most divisive phrases ever uttered in Australian history. I know better now that I am in this position. It is not a contest. We’re all in this together. Life is not a game, with winners and losers.

If I am going to stop Pete torturing refugees, I must stop torturing the poor. I want to ‘man up’, swallow the fact that I was wrong all along, and acknowledge that Newstart was degradingly low, and that the majority of Australians support it being substantially raised, permanently. So when the time comes to reduce it, I will remember that I serve the people. And I will leave it where it is.

That would not only make moral sense, but it would serve as a continuing economic stimulus. And while I am here, I would like to unreservedly apologise for ‘robodebt‘, which we know was unlawful and unenforceable for years. Again, what were we thinking? It has been suggested that that scheme may have caused between 800, and 2000 deaths.

Wow, deaths caused by a Government’s deliberate cruelty. Again, while I am seeking redemption, perhaps we could abolish the dreaded ‘cashless card’ for those who are already struggling. That is the one where we assumed that everyone on Newstart was buying grog, cigarettes and maybe even porn with their $290 a week. Now that it has been temporarily doubled, I can only hope that their lives have been improved. After all, that is supposed to be my main aim.

I am beginning to see the benefits of confession. It really does lighten the load. With such a brilliant population to work with, we can actually do anything. I think the extra $60 billion that Josh just ‘found’ could come in handy. I know, I will include the visa holders, and the artists, the performers, the casuals and anyone else excluded from JobKeeper. Let’s actually treat them with dignity, rather than sending them to food-banks. Food-banks, in Australia! What were we thinking?

Then I woke up.

Scott Morrison Should Resign and Call an Early Election


Looking for a renewed mandate has been done before

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

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

What is so wrong now?

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

How should the election be conducted?

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

If no election, what could change?

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

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

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

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

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

The main cause of the current dysfunction is Tony Abbott

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

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

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

Back to the re-set button

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

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

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

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