31 Jul 2017

Australia has descended into a society of toxic media and toxic politicians.

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Australia has descended into a society of toxic relationships between media and politicians
Greg Barns, July 31, 2017 12:00am

John Lawrence is a barrister who lives in Darwin. More relevantly, he was one of the lawyers who courageously fronted the ABC’s Four Corners program last year and exposed the cruelty of the youth detention system in the Northern Territory.

And recently, speaking at the Castan Centre, based at Melbourne University, Mr Lawrence described better than most the decline of Australia over the past two decades.

Since the election of John Howard in 1996 as prime minister, Australia has descended into a society that is today racist, bigoted and mean spirited. It is now the case that when one is overseas it is with reticence that one admits to belonging to this country.

If only one could sport a genuine Canadian accent or spin the line that one loves living in New Zealand, two nations with a much more open and liberal view of themselves and the world.

John Lawrence’s speech nailed the descent of Australia in his speech delivered on July 21.

He reeled off the litany of awfulness that is Australia today starting with the “toxic, dishonest and destructive relationship between the media and politicians of both parties that exploits the issue of law and order” to the point where, he says, the local newspaper in Darwin “calls children “dirtbags” in front page headlines.”

Then there is the overt “racism that exists and is countenanced in Australian society [and which is] at a level not seen in recent times.”

The treatment of former AFL star Adam Goodes and the brilliant young commentator Yasmin Abdel-Magied “is living proof of that”, argues Lawrence.

Where 20 years ago, former Essendon footballer “Michael Long’s actions in combating racial vilification were, if anything, lauded by the Australian community,” Adam Goodes, “for outing racism, has been hounded out of the game.”

We are renowned across the globe for the cruel treatment of asylum seekers and we couple that, says Lawrence as “one of the world’s richest countries” continuing to reduce the foreign aid budget.A March 21, 2014 file image of ssylum seekers staring at media from behind a fence at the Oscar compound in the Manus Island detention centre, Papua New Guinea. Picture: AAP

But what is so troubling is that too many Australians actually think that the peddlers of cruelty and prejudice like Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Pauline Hanson are doing a good job. What does that tell us about Australians in 2017?
“Our citizenry have become less ethical than they were 20 years ago as a consequence of what has transpired during this period,” argues Lawrence, and he definitely has a point.

Up for a republic. I am.

Hooray! The right wing is embracing the spirit of Eureka

Peter FitzSimons

There is a fascinating blue going on at the moment between the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, and the left-wing union, the CFMEU, over who has dibs as heirs to the spirit and saga of the mighty Eureka Stockade. As you'll recall, the whole conflagration took place in Ballarat, in the last gasp of 1854, when a multitude of miners took arms against a sea of trouble and an iniquitous British regime, to build a stockade and raise a flag, only to be stormed by the Redcoats, and have a couple of dozen killed for their trouble, while another dozen were placed on trial for treason.

The catalyst for this latest squabble turns on the IPA releasing a video last week, maintaining the essence of the rebellion was an uprising against an excessive mining licence fee, while the CFMEU says the IPA has wasted its money on a propaganda exercise to "suck up to their monarchist mates and Donald Trump", and that, in fact, the essence of the fight for Eureka was worker's rights, and the whole thing in fact lies at the very heart of the birth of the labour movement.
The Eureka flag.The right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, and the mining union, the CFMEU, are at loggerheads over the spirit and saga of Eureka.

Hooray! It is an invigorating, inspiring debate to have, and my first point, as one who penned a weighty tome six years ago, entitled Eureka, The Unfinished Revolution, is that it is terrific that the right wing of politics is at last getting interested in the rebellion, as there really is a lot of inspiration in it for the right – even if it is late to the party. Back in 2004, not a single member of the Howard government attended the 150th anniversary commemorations, and John Howard refused to fly the flag over the national Parliament. And yet, there is so much for the LNP mob in the yarn.

Let's hear it for the entrepreneurs! Up with individual liberty! Down with big government! Boooo to the iniquitous mining tax!
A contemporary sketch by Charles Doudiet shows the Eureka rebels swearing allegiance to the flag of the Southern Cross at Bakery Hill in Ballarat. Photo: Courtesy of Ballarat Fine Art Gallery

None of which is to say the CFMEU is remotely wrong in its claims. For the beauty of the whole saga is that it is so comprehensive, fought on so many levels, that there is inspiration for all if you just look into a little more deeply.

First and foremost, it was a triumph for democracy as the miners took the view that, a la the American Revolution, there be "no taxation without representation", and many of the specific reforms demanded by the rebels were ushered in around Australia over the next few years. Eureka happened too late in the piece to directly affect the different constitutions of the colonies but as Geoffrey Blainey has noted, "the first Parliament that met under Victoria's new constitution was alert to the democratic spirit of the goldfields, and passed laws enabling each adult man in Victoria to vote at elections, to vote by secret ballot and to stand for the Legislative Assembly." The other colonies quickly followed suit.

You believe in multiculturalism? Well, listen to the contemporary account of Raffaello Carboni, an Italian, detailing the moment that the rebel leader, the Irishman Peter Lalor, stood on the stump before the throng to get the rebellion underway, gazing out on a sea of rebels coming from so many lands, men and women of all religions and ethnicities. Tell 'em, Raffaello.

"The earnestness of so many faces of all kinds of shape and colour; the motley heads of all sorts of size and hair; the shagginess of so many beards of all lengths and thicknesses; the vividness of double the number of eyes electrified by the magnetism of the southern cross; was one of those grand sights, such as are recorded only in the history of 'the Crusaders in Palestine'."
The original Eureka Flag now on display in Ballarat. Photo: Adam Trafford

And hear the account of Lalor himself, as he asks the throng to raise their right hand towards the mighty Eureka flag, now bravely flying in the breeze.

"I looked around me," he would recount. "I saw brave and honest men, who had come thousands of miles to labour for independence. I knew that hundreds were in great poverty, who would possess wealth and happiness if allowed to cultivate the wilderness that surrounded us. The grievances under which we had long suffered, and the brutal attack of the day, flashed across my mind; and with the burning feelings of an injured man, I mounted the stump and proclaimed 'Liberty'."

Ah, say it after me: Rah!

Eureka also stood, of course, for egalitarianism, for mateship and the virtues of Australian justice as those 13 miners tried for treason were all found innocent. The Indigenous angle is also covered, with a strong oral history maintaining that the local Aboriginal people put aside their grievances over lost land, to look after the children of fallen miners and wailing wives until the storm passed.

For we republicans the inspiration is obvious as there was even a Declaration of Independence that was read out to the cheering miners. (Yes, as opposed to the copper-plate writing and inspirational phraseology of Thomas Jefferson, ours was a drunken ramble, penned on the back of some butcher's paper, but it did exist.)

Listen, there is even something in this yarn for the monarchists. Go you, Redcoats! Stick it to those who would revolt against the crown! (I kid you not, over dinner in 2015, my friend Tony Abbott, as prime minister, took at least a quarter of that slant, saying he couldn't agree with me that Eureka was a better and more inclusive national saga than Gallipoli, as he was troubled by the fact that it really was a revolt against the crown.)

For those of us who want a change of flag to the Eureka, let the record also show that despite the claims of the Conservatives that "our Diggers died for the current Australian flag", there is only one case in recorded history of anyone actually dying for an Australian flag, and that is the miner Charles Ross, the father of the Eureka flag, standing at its base, and falling, with sword in hand, as he died defending it!

Let the last word, however, go to Paul Murphy, founder of Eureka's Children, who, a decade ago, was asked what it meant to him.

"Whenever you see the Eureka flag," he said, "whether it's farmers in Mildura, soccer fans or on building sites, it simply means, 'I'm pissed off with whoever's in charge.' It's an act of free expression and I would encourage those supporters to fly it as an act of defiance, with the best wishes of the Eureka descendants."

And so say all of us.

Contract private security is not the answer at airports. Australian Federal Police officers must be returned to our airports.

Plastic police are not the answer!
Australian Federal Police officers must be returned to our airports
EDITORIAL, Mercury July 31, 2017 12:00am

THE Federal Government must listen and the Australian Federal Police must be returned to Hobart International Airport.

This is a call echoed by all sides of politics, and it has the support of Tasmania Police.

The AFP was controversially withdrawn from the airport in 2014 due to a $22 million Commonwealth budget cut.


Police Commissioner Darren Hine objected to the move at the time but, nevertheless, Tasmania Police was forced to fill the void.

And it has done so professionally and without fuss.

But the occurrences of the past few days have brought home the seriousness of this issue and understandably sparked calls for urgent intervention from the Commonwealth.

Federal Police swooped on five properties in the Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl and arrested four men over an alleged terrorist plot to bring down an aircraft using an improvised device.

Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said terrorists were becoming “ingenious” about coming up with ways to bypass security.

It has understandably sent shockwaves throughout the nation and the concern is being felt in our capital city and beyond.

To call for the AFP to return to Hobart is not to scaremonger.

It is not to alarm, nor make people feel unsafe. It is not to be overly dramatic, nor churlish.

It is a sober, rational and measured response to an increasingly dangerous environment, one with which all countries must face and come to terms with.

Tasmania is increasingly becoming a destination of choice for interstate and overseas visitors.

It is not a regional backwater.

It is a thriving and energetic capital city and one of Australia’s leading tourism destinations.

With that comes all the economic benefits, but also the associated risks.

The State Government and Labor are making the right noises.

Premier Will Hodgman is understood to have discussed the issue with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Police Minister Rene Hidding said simply: “Our position is that the AFP shouldn’t have gone, they should be there now.”

Denison MHR Andrew Wilkie has described the Federal Government’s ongoing refusal to reinstate the AFP as “pigheadedness”.

Tasmanian Labor Senator and party heavyweight Carol Brown said the position simply “beggars belief”.

This is not an argument driven by politics, as all sides of politics agree on the issue. It is not driven by hidden agendas. It is not driven by selfishness nor short-sightedness.

It is driven simply by a determination to make the right decision now, to ensure our state is protected and to never think we will one day look back and ask: “What if we had’ve acted when we had the chance?”

30 Jul 2017

Employers are robbing workers. Not just Australia its happening in the UK also

Far too many companies are getting away with breaking the law over the wages they pay, the UK  government’s adviser on employment abuses has said.

Sir David Metcalf, director of labour market enforcement, signalled he wanted tougher action against employers who underpay, and more resources to catch those breaching the law. In an interview with the Observer, he said action against offenders was “rather patchy” and he would look at measures that could lead to more people banned from being company directors if they breach the law.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) would need additional resources, he said, to ensure that workers were paid the new living wage. Its workload would triple, with the proportion of the workforce covered by the minimum wage set to rise from 5% to 14% by 2020.

“Do we have the right level of enforcement resources, and/or are the fines high enough? This is something I am going to properly look at,” Metcalf said. “It is the case that HMRC has had double the enforcement resources in the last two years – it has gone up from £12m to £25m. But it may be we need to do more.”

Metcalf oversees the remit of HMRC’s national minimum wage enforcement team, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. He said the government’s decision to impose fees on bringing cases to employment tribunals had “been a problem” in the fight against bad employers.

28 Jul 2017

States and Territories opened the flood gates.10 years ago [states and territories] loosened the monopoly poles and wires businesses

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the states have been focused on making as much money as possible from their energy businesses at the cost of their citizens.

Chairman Rod Sims said governments have been behind increasing power prices

10 years ago [states and territories] deregulated or very much loosened the monopoly poles and wires businesses. This opened the door for poles and wires businesses to become a good source of income for their owners, the states and territories.

"That pushed up the costs of the poles and wires, and that's 50 per cent of your bill. That almost doubled the poles and wires costs alone.

According to Mr Sims, the behaviour of state and territory governments is price gouging.

"I think there's been too much focus on state governments maximising the revenue from their energy business and not giving a thought to affordability," he told AM.

"I'm afraid I am [saying they've price gouged their citizens]."

How often do people read their state or territories annual reports for their electricity businesses. Not very often I'll bet, mind you, you'd probably have to be an accountant to understand it.

23 Jul 2017

Shorten has nominated the problem will Malcolm come to the party?

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Bill Shorten, said yesterday in his speech to the Economic and Social Outlook Conference in Melbourne. He declared that tackling inequality would become the defining mission of a Shorten Labor government.

“Inequality kills hope,” he said. “Inequality feeds the sense that the deck is stacked against ordinary people, that the fix is in and the deal is done ... it fosters a sense of powerlessness . It drives people away from the political mainstream and down the low road of blaming minorities and promising to turn back the clock.”

He outlines the ways in which he believes inequality establishes unfair roadblocks in the lives of “ordinary Australians”.

It is the sort of inequality that deprives average workers of a decent pay rise and cuts penalty rates for weekend work, while corporate profits and executive salaries go through the roof and company taxes come down.

It is the sort of inequality, he says, that skews opportunity against ordinary Australians in education, health, the housing market — all the hot button policy issues that are igniting political debate.

Can Malcolm drive his coach load of people to address these issues or will he be forced to turn right instead of taking the middle road. If he's forced in the wrong direction polling for his party will be even worse, he will loose the next election by a mile.

20 Jul 2017

Indigenous community of Coen flips the roles in violent colonial times.

Cape York Indigenous community of Coen flips the roles in violent colonial photos
RN By Hannah Reich for Books and Arts

PHOTO: Photographer Greg Semu wanted to flip the narrative of victims and victimisers. (Supplied: Greg Semu)

"It was set up to gather the Indigenous people from out in the bush and chain them up and bring them into Coen ... to get them off the country," says artist and Kaantju traditional owner Naomi Hobson.

The Cape York community of Coen, home to just over 300 people, has a violent past as a mining camp and police base.

But in Semu's images the script has been flipped — often the victims pose as abusers.
And the entire Indigenous community of Coen was involved in the recreations.

Scared to speak
PHOTO: Hobson says her community is now talking more openly about its history. (Supplied: Greg Semu)

Today, eight Indigenous clan groups reside in Coen, living alongside a handful of non-Indigenous families who trace their ancestry back to gold miners.

Hobson, who has been based in the town her entire life, says her community has often been unwilling to talk about its past.

"They come from that history where they couldn't speak about where they came from, they couldn't speak their language ... they were treated like cattle basically.

"Just rounded up from the bush and taken into a reserve that was fenced in."

Though Coen's residents have learned to live together, Hobson believes the project, which is on display at the Cairns Art Gallery, has sparked much-needed conversations about the community's brutal past.

Malcolm's biggest mistake, Potato Head could be his downfall!

This guy can now dig up dirt on anyone!

Duttons fellow MP's should be very wary because, if he wants dirt on you he'll find it, your privacy is in his hands.

Even Malcolm should be wary, Dutton's ambition is to be PM and now he has the means to do whatever it takes.

Don't forget that potatoes live life underground and now this one has the underground operations of our intelligence services in his grasp.

19 Jul 2017

Peter Dutton has the new "Home Affairs Department" or D.U.T.T.O.N.- Department of Unlikely Treatment of Truth Openness and Numbness.

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The new Home Affairs Department(D.U T.T.O.N.) is a "federation of border and security agencies". It will be responsible for:

Unlikely Treatment, Truth, Openness and Numbness in the existing agencies.
Australian Border Force
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)
Office of Transport Authority and Immigration


This has left some ministers with no clothes but their undies.

This will give Dutton access to everything about you, via ASIO, AFP, Border Force, ACIC and AUSTRAC who can monitor your Internet and phones.

Are you comfortable with the 'lovely' Peter Dutton having access to this information. I'm not at all comfortable, he has shown himself to be too secretive, his catch word is "national security",every question to him has been sidestepped.

This is not the sort of guy who should be in charge of this department.
He acts like an 'bad old' style Queensland policeman and he talks at people all the time. I doubt if he can be inclusive and inspire confidence after his past performances. He has to get rid of his bullying image.

18 Jul 2017

Parliamentarians, is this your life?

The environment parliamentarians work in is a pressure cooker, the tone of national affairs is reflexively hostile, trolling and takedowns set the tone of the day, and protagonists are being rewarded for their efficiency at treachery rather than the substance of their contributions.

14 Jul 2017

Federal gov't is sitting on its hands. Australia does not have a national prescription drug monitoring system. Why not!

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Victoria leads the way on real-time monitoring

Australia does not have a national prescription drug monitoring system, why this has not been addressed by federal governments before is beyond me. It would allow doctors and pharmacies to access patient records in real time.

It's too late for Heather'

When Heather Fotiades died, 26 years after a car accident that left her needing multiple surgeries, more than 50 boxes of prescription medication were found in her bedroom. Now, her father wants action to combat the opioid curse.
However, Victoria has committed almost $30 million to the establishment and implementation of such a system.
The Feds should have taken action before, doctors have been asking for action for years. All it takes is the linking of existing systems.

12 Jul 2017

Majority of federal MPs refuse to sign up to Tony Fitzgerald's ethical standards

Majority of federal MPs refuse to sign up to Tony Fitzgerald's ethical standards:

'via Blog this'

Malcolm's(A Menzies Liberal?) That is, we're not "conservative"? Really Malcolm?

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The centre right of Australian politics is 'conservative'and Malcolm can talk all day denying it, it just doesn't wash. All we have to do is see how they govern(I use the word govern advisedly) and who they are aligned to. Its to the top end of town.

In 1944 Menzies went to great pains not to call his new political party, consolidating the centre right of Australian politics, 'conservative'. He favoured the Liberal Party name, which he firmly anchored in the centre of Australian politics.

He wanted to stand apart from the big money, business establishment politics of traditional conservative parties of the right. Now they stand apart from big money and big business? That's a bloody laugh!

So he then proceeded to govern for years, policy development was not a high priority because he stole what suited him from the Labor party. This last Malcolm budget is a Menzies budget, most stolen from Labor.

"Menzies said at the time: 'We took the name 'Liberal' because we were determined to be a progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary but believing in the individual, his right and his enterprise, and rejecting the socialist panacea'."

Willing to experiment, not likely, they were, and still are very much a conservative government they do not experiment.

"The sensible centre was the place to be. It remains the place to be."says Malcolm.

The comments by Malcolm Turnbull will be read as a rebuke to those conservatives on the backbench, led by Tony Abbott, who have been openly critical of the direction that the Government has been heading in.

Today 2017 LNP budget:- Big tax cuts for the rich ,Big tax cuts for big business, cuts to social services and opposition to wage rises.

This is the centre? Not bloody likely mate, this is true blue conservative!

10 Jul 2017

If Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott was“not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs”. Its time for them to go!

Gov'ts crackdown on wage rises
resulted in the following results
Image result for money manager cartoon

Based on an article by Alan Austin
How much national income goes to regular working people. It is measured quarterly by Australia’s statistics bureau in the series on the nation’s finance and wealth.

Since records have been kept, the amount of money Australian families have been free to spend has increased steadily almost every year.

Disturbingly, however, the last two losses of disposable income were in 2015 and 2017, during periods of strong global recovery, robust trade, excellent business revenue and record corporate profits.

‘Household gross disposable income’ fell in the year to December 2015, the transition year from prime minister Tony Abbott and treasurer Joe Hockey to Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison.

There is no obvious explanation for this drop apart, perhaps, from Mr Turnbull’s saying that his predecessor had “not been capable of providing the economic leadership our nation needs”. However its obvious that he is not providing 
economic leadership our nation needs either.

The latest figures show that ‘household gross disposable income’ fell again in the March 2017 quarter.

Is working poor the new norm in Australia, is that the country we want to live in?

9 Jul 2017

Tony and Barnaby horror story, Malcolm's not taking any chances.

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By Tony Wright

An anxiety-burdened Malcolm Turnbull has ordered a supersonic private jet to remain on standby at Hamburg airport during his visit to Germany for the G20, its motors running and its pilots on 24-hour alert.

High-level sources refer to the jet as the "Barnaby and Tony Emergency Express".

Should Barnaby Joyce, who is acting prime minister while Turnbull is absent from Australia, or Tony Abbott, who is thought to have stopped taking his pills, so much as utter another word. Then Malcolm will offer urgent apologies to his G20 hosts and jump an Uber Black Tesla direct to the airport.

"We've calculated that if we ignore the scaredy-cat rules about skirting airspace around places like Iraq and Afghanistan, we should be back in Canberra just in time to save the last sticks of furniture," a Turnbull confidant confided.

"We're not sure whether anything will save our trading relationship with China if Barnaby breaks the locks on the cell we've erected in his office, of course.

"With Tony, it's a little easier because everyone knows he's, shall we say, a disturbed soul.

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