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Tuesday, 08 March


Federal Election 2016: Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's faux outrage North Coast Voices

This was Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull frothing at the mouth in March 2016:

Now at the time writs were issued for the 2013 federal election there were 34 Liberal/Nationals senators, 31 Labor senators, 9 Greens senators and 1 independent.

After that election there were 33 Liberal/Nationals senators, 25 Labor senators, 10 Greens senators, 1 independent senators and 7 minor party senators.



Australian Federal Election 2016: Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's mother of all wars on the poor North Coast Voices

If there was any doubt left that Prime Minster Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, who has been a millionaire for the last thirty-three years, is that classic form of well-heeled Liberal Party politician who believes that being poor and/or poorly educated is the personal fault of all individuals in those situations, then this report in New Matilda on 5 March 2016 should lay those doubts to rest:

Unemployed and underemployed Australians can be issued with on-the-spot fines by privately owned job agencies under a tough new Government proposal, writes Owen Bennett.
Later this month the Turnbull Government will be asking the Senate to support one of the most devastating attacks launched against poor and vulnerable Australians in recent memory.

The Bill – entitled Social Security Legislation Amendment (Further Strengthening Job Seeker Compliance) Bill 2015 – proposes to give privately run job agencies unprecedented new powers to financially penalise unemployed and underemployed Australians. If passed, the fines will come into effect on July 1 this year.


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Monday, 07 March


2010 again Press gallery reform

The 2010 election, and the parliamentary term that followed it, is seen as a freaky time in Australian politics. Minor scandals (e.g. Gillard's bathroom, Thomson's pants, Slipper's diary, Kelly's solvency) assumed seismic importance. Neither Labor nor the Coalition held a majority in their own right. Neither of them, nor the press gallery, were comfortable with this situation becoming the new normal. But it did for a while, and it will again.

Living on the edge

Every government facing re-election suffers a loss in seats. Sometimes that loss is so great it removes a government after a single term; this happened in Victoria in 2014 and in Queensland the following year, but that hasn't happened federally since 1931.

The Turnbull government might be defeated at this year's election, but it probably won't. Economist Stephen Koukoulas reckons the government will win 78 seats (in a 150-seat House, 76 is required for the barest of governing majorities). Given my record of prognostications, all I'll say is that guess is as good as any.

When the 2010 election returned neither a majority for the incumbent Labor government, nor one for the Coalition, the press gallery were pretty dirty on us voters. We had let them down by producing an ambiguous result (see the archives on this blog, or of the traditional media if they still have them up). Julia Gillard negotiated with independent MPs to cobble together a working majority for the incumbent government rather than hold another election.

The press gallery love election campaigns, and they love unambiguous mandates for major parties coming from them; stripped of the pre-fabricated narratives and cliches that traditional media needs to cover politics, they regarded Gillard's arrangement as illegitimate.

In her Earle Page...


STUDY: Global warming set to further increase inequality Independent Australia

STUDY: Global warming set to further increase inequalityAs temperatures rise with climate change, the Earth’s natural capital will change too − but there may be few winners, even among the wealthy. read now...


Non tax evaders political geometry

Apple aus boss Tim Cook

Peter Mandelson

old man rabbit


An opportunity to find out for yourself what passes for modern thought Catallaxy Files

There is an article of mine in the latest Quadrant which has been put up online. It is a review of Roger Scruton’s latest book, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left. It is as good a book as you are likely to read on political theory in the modern age. How good? This good, taken from a review in The Guardian:

This polemic adopts the abusive and paranoid style it decries in its leftwing opponents.

Abusive, absolutely. It’s a short book and has to cover much territory by cutting to the chase. Paranoid, if this book doesn’t scare you, you must already be on the left. I, on the other hand, describe the book like this:

The book has a specific purpose. It is to provide a way of escape to students who are caught up in various versions of a modern humanities course, where they are fed an endless mind-numbing postmodernist gruel. The book goes through the various manifestations of the modern Left to explain their idiocies and unravel the Newspeak in which they are encoded. But the book does more. It opens up to those of us who are only vaguely aware of the ways in which the humanities are now taught, our own entry into the depths of a problem most of us are, at best, only dimly aware of. . . .

Scruton explains why everything you know, believe and understand about the world can be instantly dismissed by these people through the revolutionary perspective of Grand Theory. And here we are discussing nearly every one of the major philosophical thinkers of the modern age: Hobsbawm, Thompson, Dworkin, Sartre, Foucault, Habermas, Althusser, Lacan, Deleuze, Gramsci, Said, Badiou, Žižek and many others still who do not make it into chapter title...


Information bleg Catallaxy Files

Several years ago there was an incident where a judge in the Federal court criticised the ATO for not following the decisions of 4 or 5 previous cases where a point of law had been set out by the court. The ATO kept interpreting the legislation contrary to precedent.

I’m trying to recall the details so that I can look up the facts surrounding the case. Does anyone recall something like that – if so, please let me know in comments or email me.


Smoke Signals from the Vatican Laundry political geometry

Fool or charlatan? Pope Frank believes George Pell. 

No cleanup required at the Augean stables. George had the walls recently covered up with institutional whitewash. Tony Abbott is decorating the place with all the suppositories of wisdom he can, er, bring forth.

Cory Bernardi is enraptured by their sweet aroma

Thet are in fact


What a wonderfully descriptive paragraph Catallaxy Files

Just posted on the AFR web site, Trevor Sykes describes why he is  ”no friend of Malcolm Turnbull’s anymore“.

A fascinating read, but the opening paragraph is wonderful in its accuracy and pithiness:

In economic management, the Rudd and Gillard governments showed a lack of sense, while the Abbott and Turnbull governments have shown a lack of spine. And neither seems to give a stuff about the effect they are having on business or investors.

I don’t agree with Sykes’ recommendations, particularly the tax rises.  But Sykes’ analysis is spot on.  IMO.


Is that a selfie, or just deviously funded and sponsored self-interest? loon pond

This week's outing by the dog botherer, in his weekly diatribe where he allegedly watchers the watchers, thereby requiring the pond to watch the dog bothering watcher watching the watchers ...

... amazingly does serve a useful purpose.

It allows the pond to run an unconnected Rowe cartoon, and draw attention to more Rowe here ...

Ouch, that looks painful. What exactly is that trunk a metaphor for ...? Is it time for a zipperless fuck?

But once the pleasure's been had, it's time for the pain, and that sneering, leering snap of the dog botherer in the reptile splash hints at the sort of pain to follow ...

Why there might even be an alien probe involved. Watch out for the lizard people ...


Nauru goes invite only No Right Turn

Now that it is hosting an Australian concentration camp, Nauru doesn't like journalists. Last year, they effectively banned all outside journalists from entering the country. When one snuck in anyway under cover of a tourist visa last month, the government threw a tantrum and revoked all visas. Now they've gazetted new immigration regulations. The short version: Australians and New Zealanders are only allowed to visit Nauru if they have a written invitation from a sponsor living there. And if they turn out to be a journalist - sorry, "breach the terms and conditions of his or her visa" - both they and their sponsor could go to jail.

The goal here is fairly clearly to shut down outside scrutiny of what is happening on Nauru, both to its democracy (the government has evicted the opposition from Parliament) and to the refugees it is imprisoning for Australia (who are abused, beaten and raped by both their guards and the local population, and effectively beyond the protection of the law). Its the move of a government which feels that it has something to hide. And when there's prisoners in gulags and an election coming up, it looks deeply, deeply suspicious.


Forking the Tone: An affair to forget Independent Australia

Forking the Tone: An affair to forgetLast week, we were treated to two unedifying spectacles — Cardinal Pell in Rome, and the media piling on Credlin and Abbott over their alleged affair. read now...


Gratuitous Advertising: Liberal Democrats Victoria Meeting Catallaxy Files

The Victorian Branch of the Liberal Democrats will be having their monthly meeting this Thursday night at

857 Burke Road, Camberwell

Time:  7pm.

Food and drink are available for purchase.

This month we are pleased to have another guest speaker attend our meeting. Professor Sinclair Davidson will present a critique of Malcolm Turnbull’s Innovation agenda.

All are invited.


The obvious question No Right Turn

Shub has a story about a pair of rich Australians whining that they had to look after their own kids on their New Zealand holiday because Immigration saw through their scam to get their nanny to work illegally on a visitor's visa. The story focuses on the fact that the nanny had to spend a night in jail while waiting for turnaround, and I agree that's neither desirable or really necessary. Meanwhile, it misses the obvious question: why weren't those rich Aussies charged? Because they seem to have violated s343(1)(a) of the Immigration Act 2009, which says that it is a crime to:

for a material benefit, aids, abets, incites, counsels, or procures any other person to be or to remain unlawfully in New Zealand or to breach any condition of a visa granted to the other person

The penalty for that is up to a $100,000 fine or seven years in jail, and the rich Aussies have as much as admitted the offence in the media. Instead, the person they put up to it is punished (she won't be able to travel for years as a consequence of her deportation), while those actually responsible walk away scot free.

But I guess we couldn't possibly punish rich people when they break the law, could we?


The pseudo-campaign: How the media enabled Trump by destroying politics Independent Australia

The pseudo-campaign: How the media enabled Trump by destroying politicsThe media is bemoaning the inevitability of Donald Trump’s nomination — which is a bit like the boy who kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is an orphan. read now...


David Leyonhjelm: Spending addiction includes defence Catallaxy Files

While both the government and opposition are busy comparing innovative ways to hold everybody by the ankles and shake them, they don’t have a true appreciation of just how much money is already falling out of our pockets. In fact, when I repeat the old line about “a billion dollars here and a billion dollars there, pretty soon you’re talking real money”, quite a few politicians fail to realise it’s not really a joke.

Indeed, like Dr Evil in the Austen Powers films, some don’t seem to know or care about the difference between one million, one billion or a trillion dollars. For many in Canberra, money is an abstract concept rather than the result of ingenuity and hard work by millions of people. Moreover, our largely innumerate media class is not about to call them out.

One way of returning budget numbers to a scale we can all understand is to compare it to a household budget. For example, try wiping off seven zeroes from the latest budget numbers. Looked at this way, the federal government is like a household with an outstanding credit card balance of $23,872. And despite this scary debt, and despite earning only $39,489 a year, the household still decided to spend $42,834 this year. So that’s an extra $3,739 on the credit card.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this spending in excess of earnings was a once-off, arising from a need to pay for a longstanding and unavoidable expense. But the Government’s inability to manage its budget is not a once-off. It spent more than it ‘earnt’ in each of the last seven years. It plans to spend more than it ‘earns’ in each of the next five years. And every half-year, it comes up with new discretionary spending, far in excess of any decisions to cut back on spending elsewhere.

What’s worse, all the Government’s figuring is built on economic assumptions so optimistic I suspect they’ve been smoking funny cigarettes down at Treasury.

Nobody but the most spending-addicted, short-term fixated, devil...


A waiting list by another name No Right Turn

When National was in opposition, it rightly attacked the then-Labour government over the size of hospital waiting lists. People were suffering in pain, sometimes for years, because DHB's were not meeting patient needs. When National became government, they announced they would fix this by setting targets for waiting lists. And they did so - by the simple expedient of stopping people from getting on them in the first place:

More than 5300 people missed out on the surgery they needed, within a three month period last year, because there wasn't enough resources to do it.

It's the first release of Government figures measuring the surgical need that was going unmet, by hospitals stretched to capacity and struggling to keep up.

And while it was well down on estimates of about 170,000 annually by some Government critics, Health Ministry officials warn the figures could get worse before they get better.

Rather than solving the problem, National has simply hidden it. And meanwhile, people are still suffering. Its a perfect example of PR as policy, with the added twist of dishonesty and secrecy as well. As for how they'll "solve" it, I expect they'll pull the same trick again and simply move it back another step. Waiting lists were banished by requiring specialist referrals. And the hidden waiting list will be banished by making it more difficult to get those referrals. People will still be left to suffer, but their suffering won't be reflected in any statistics, so it officially won't exist. And so the government will get to pretend that their systematically underfunded health system is coping for another few years. A PR win while doing nothing.

The real solution, of course, is to fund the health system so that it can give everyone the c...


Or why homophobia is alive and well in the Liberal party and the lizards of Oz ... loon pond

The tree-killing front page showed the game was afoot ...

See, look how Peta has been downgraded to a subsidiary box.

Oh sure the digital edition still runs hot with Oz EXCLUSIVES ...

But they're not so EXCLUSIVE anymore, not when the book's out there and Savva turns up on The Insiders - got to pump up the volume and sell the books - and so The Graudian could be all over it too ...


A current affair to remember Independent Australia

A current affair to rememberDebbie Overell, as director of the last daily Queensland 7.30 Report, looks back at a time in Queensland when looking beyond the news was more powerful and persuasive; and more readily available. read now...


Or why Niall Ferguson shouldn't be allowed to scribble anything for the reptiles unless it's a satirical outing... loon pond

The pond was nervous the moment that it read this offering from Ferguson on the weekend.

What would teh Donald say, how would the teh Donald respond? Surely he wouldn't take this lying down ...

Ferguson being Ferguson, he spent the entire column demeaning teh Donald as a populist ...

And so on and on in the inimitable, tedious, fatuous Ferguson manner ...

Thank the long absent lord teh Donald struck back almost immediately ...



Labor down the rabbit hole with DIY economics Catallaxy Files

Today in The Australian

“In a society like ours,” Gore Vidal wrote some years ago, “politics is improvisation”: policies are announced, tactics invented and slogans launched with consequences “no one can foresee and everyone has to live with”. But if Labor’s proposed tax changes prove anything, it is the dangers that involves.


Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott on the subject of 'what a great man I am' North Coast Voices

This was former prime minister and MP for Warringah Tony Abbott donning his ‘journalist’ hat in The Australian on 27 February 2016 in order to trot out an increasingly tired old defence of his failed leadership.

We have courageous Tony, strong Tony, honest Tony, reforming Tony, fiscally responsible Tony, union busting Tony, tax killing Tony, boat stopping Tony, free trade Tony, war leader Tony, I'm better than Mal Tony,  et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…..

“The first law of governing is that you can’t spend what you can’t raise through taxes and borrowings; and the second law is that today’s borrowings have to be paid for — with interest — by tomorrow’s taxes. Governments, like households and businesses, have to live within their means.

With more than $250 billion of cumulative deficits under the former Labor government, the need for budget repair was the constant refrain of the Abbott opposition and the task of budget repair was the most important work of the Abbott government. We were far from fully succ...


Australian Federal Election 2016: one for the FFS! file North Coast Voices

Cory Bernardi going to the United Nations and staying on script? *shakes head*

The Advertiser, 1 March 2016:

SENATOR Cory Bernardi’s colleagues have voted to send him to Siberia for three months.
‘Siberia’ being the rarefied air of the United Nations in New York.
The Advertiser understands the firebrand’s mates were keen to give him the opportunity, but it took a few frenemies who wanted to see the back of him to give him the votes needed.
Senator Bernardi has been front and centre in recent weeks as the conservatives rock Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s boat.
Now he’ll disappear overseas for three months, just as speculation mounts about...

Sunday, 06 March


Why Abbott’s sex life is my business No Place For Sheep

  There’s only one circumstance in which I consider the sexual lives of politicians to be my business, and that’s when they legislate about what goes on in other citizens’ sexual lives. Failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott operates from a platform that is largely based on his personal morality, drawn from Catholic dogma. This morality advocates […]

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