Maybe you’ll be old one day too

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“Treasurer Joe Hockey has signaled a further increase in the pension age, more welfare means testing and co-payments for medical services in a speech in Washington delivered as the budget takes shape”.

And it’s not if we didn’t see that one coming.  For quite a while now Hockey has been “priming his audience” with stern lessons about how we must “end the Age of Entitlement”.  Hopefully it’s not just those least able to defend themselves who will be at the top of the Liberal government’s agenda.  To date the cuts already announced, and often surreptitiously, do not instill me with a great deal of confidence; cuts to welfare groups including the PCYC, cuts to legal aid for Aboriginal people and has begun dismantling the GP super clinics, to name but a few.

But surely when Hockey spoke about the ‘Age of Entitlement’ he was referring to the upper income brackets, those with plenty of cash to splash on luxuries such as multiple investment properties and private this and that. . . but perhaps not.

But let’s admit it, we have been forewarned. . .

From April 2012,

Despite an aging population and a higher standard of living than that enjoyed by our children, western democracies in particular have been reluctant to wind back universal access to payments and entitlements from the state.

Quite right and bravo, Joe!  Obviously Hockey was on the cusp of announcing that he didn’t support his boss Credlin, Abbott’s fervent desire to pay ‘women of calibre’ $75,000 for bonding time with bubs.  Or perhaps he was referring to the cancellation of all upper class welfare and other lurks and perks.

But of course not.  These are the same people who add, and substantially to Liberal Party coffers. . . they are therefore a no-go zone.

The Daily Telegraph was clearly stunned to learn:

Senior government sources have confirmed that Australians over the age of 70 are also almost universally securing free or discount medicine ­because they qualify for ­taxpayer-funded concession card schemes.

A stunning 94 per cent of Australians over 70 qualify for either a pensioner concession card or a seniors health care card for self-funded retirees.

The growing number of older Australians claiming discount medicine under the PBS is a challenge for the government because 78 per cent of the cost of scripts claimed at chemists under the PBS is going to concession cardholders.

Hell, we can’t have that!  The luxury, the profligacy – *gasp* discount medicine!  Perhaps we should go back to “the good old days” and have pensioners cut their heart tablets in half to make their prescriptions last that little bit longer.  Pensioners also receive free hearing aids, plus “low cost” batteries, discounts on public transport, plus on electricity.  OMG the world’s gone mad!  It’s all the pensioners’ fault.  We have to stop it now – we simply cannot afford these oldies and their draining the dollars from “hard working Australians”.  How much was that again that Brandis was going to cost us for his new library?  How much was that again that Abbott cost the taxpayer because he didn’t fancy staying the $3,000pw temporary Canberra residence, the house that he had originally chosen?

However, and in the real world, it is important that politicians at least make a semblance of keeping their promises, and it is understandable that at times some do get broken or bent in the process of having to re-jig a government in that particular political party’s own image.  Gillard certainly paid the price for her poorly explained price on carbon, the JuLiar tag being the result.  So I wonder what the public will make of this plethora of broken promises coming from the Liberals?

In a pledge, an absolute guarantee Tony Abbott said on the night before the 2013 election:

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

And election eve pledges are certainly ones which need to be believed as these are the promises on which many people base their voting decision.  To sneak into victory based on a series of known falsehoods is deception at it’s worst.

The GST and other lies

Hockey GST

In 2004, Alan Ramsay wrote:

“Telling a lie is easier than killing it, even for a prime minister. A lie is a lie, and once it is out on the street no amount of passing traffic can ever truly skittle it. John Howard told a lie on May 2, 1995. Then he told more lies to reinforce the first lie. To protect himself from what he judged a serious threat to his last chance to be prime minister, Howard lied and went on lying. Now, three years later, he is telling still more lies to hide that first lie.

Ramsay was of course writing about then Prime Minister John Howard and Howard’s never-ever promise to never-ever introduce the GST.

“Suggestions I have left open the possibility of a GST are completely wrong. A GST or anything resembling it is no longer Coalition policy. Nor will it be policy at any time in the future. It is completely off the political agenda in Australia.”

Amanda Vanstone was somewhat more honest than ‘Honest John’ stating that, “I wouldn’t have tried it from Opposition. You’ve got to wait until you get into Government and sell it there”.

The GST was subsequently introduced by Howard government on the 1st July, 2000 with predictions of how its introduction would hit hardest the poorest in society while at the same time doing little to tackle the cash in hand economy.  On winning the election Howard promptly declared that victory gave him a mandate for the GST.  He however only succeeded in getting it through a hostile Senate after doing a deal with the Australian Democrats to exempt food.

Howard’s sales pitch to the Australian people included:

“This is something the country has needed for more than twenty years and we’re doing it because it is the right thing for the nation.

It will give us a fairer taxation system.

It will cut our income tax.

It will strengthen us in the world.

It will guarantee the revenue we need to support the health, education, police and other services so important for a fair society.

The new tax system is designed to reward Australians and their families with lower income tax and increased family benefits”.

Has the GST ever lived up to what was promised?

KERRY O’BRIEN: Pensioners are emerging as the latest bloc of voters to test the Howard Government’s promise to listen to their problems- in this case, over the GST.

They were due to receive a 4 per cent increase to their pensions today in line with the cost of living.

But they only received 2 per cent…

KERRY O’BRIEN: Edith Morgan of Pensioners and Superannuants Federation. . . says that pensioners are coming to her saying, “We have paid our own way all our lives. Suddenly, after the GST, we’re going to have to go to charities and collect food parcels to live on.”

KERRY O’BRIEN: The peak lobby group for the welfare sector, ACOSS, says that the compensation package was always inadequate.

They said that before it came in. They say the facts have now borne that out.

They say that in particular as people, pensioners, the disadvantaged, are experiencing the full cost. That’s being passed on to them by retailers.

Also, and from 2012:

TAX dodgers are cheating the country of up to $100 billion a year in undeclared income through the cash economy more than a decade after the introduction of the GST.

“It was said the GST would put an end to the cash economy but that was always a flawed argument,” he (Taxpayers Association spokesperson Roger Timms) said.

“Clearly it hasn’t reduced since the GST, in some ways it has promoted the cash economy. If a householder pays a tradesman in cash the householder saves on GST.”

Since it’s inception the spectre of raising the GST has been used as a stick with which members of both parties have used to try to beat their opposite numbers.  The slightest hint or a leak from an ‘unnamed source’ would have leaders and treasurers and their equivalent opposition spokespeople scurrying into a series of denials.

April 22, 2008: ‘It is very important that Mr Rudd guarantee Australians there will be no increase in the GST’, Brendan Nelson

May 18, 2013:  ‘Abbott plans to raise GST’, claims Bill Shorten.

 Peter Martin recently wrote, “Hockey and Abbott spent the entire election campaign never entirely ruling out an expanded GST, as they shouldn’t have“.

The Abbott government is now of course in a complete state of denial that they ever countenanced such an opinion.

The Abbott government has dismissed calls from Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson to consider raising taxes to get the budget out of trouble, including lifting the rate of the GST.

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s office on Thursday rejected the suggestion that the government would raise the GST to plug holes in the budget.

According to all economists, there as likely to be some massive ones..holes in the budget.

“A broader GST covering currently exempt services such as private health and private education would fix a hole in the tax system and get serious money from Australians with serious money”.

However, it is unsurprising that Hockey has rejected all worthy suggestions, even suggestions that the GST is something which we should be talking about, especially given that this would mean tackling the ‘serious money’. . . and anyway:

Joe Hockey criticises Treasury as not trustworthy….

2013 ELECTION Shadow treasurer will not produce final forecast of deficit or surplus because Treasury projections are ‘not credible’…  The Coalition is refusing to commit to a final budget bottom line when it releases policy costings because it does not believe the Treasury figures…

So there you are, once again nothing will be done, the Abbott government clearly incapable of playing hard ball with a difficult opponent (such as private health or private education), and any GST would doubtless instead of tacking private and wealthy institutions would instead be looking at bread rolls and goat’s milk.  Given that those looking to take the majority of the hits, the least powerful, those on welfare, are going to be hit big time in the forthcoming budget, any attempt to add further to this pain would be equivalent of hitting someone over the head while simultaneously stabbing them in the back.  Clearly Hockey’s current priority is to tackle welfare, and any further forays into real reform will have to wait until – next time.

 

 

Palmer pursued. . .

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Why did they bring this up this week?” Mr Palmer said. “Why is the government, ministers and the departments handing stuff to Rupert Murdoch?”

Quite right Mr Palmer, why is the Abbott government handing “stuff” to Rupert Murdoch?

“The Clean Energy Regulator is currently investigating whether Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd has made any payments towards the debt in the last 24 hours,” a spokeswoman for the Clean Energy Regulator said.

“We have no record of payment having been received at this stage”.

Already well and truly on the public record is Clive Palmer’s objection to the carbon tax with Palmer stating in November last year that, “the Abbott government should sue him if they want to get the $6.17m in carbon tax owed by his company Queensland Nickel“.

However to Clive Palmer’s credit,

Palmer United Party federal leader and Member for Fairfax Clive Palmer will abstain on voting on the Abbott government’s carbon tax repeal legislation package despite the party’s opposition to the carbon tax…

“I’m applying company director standards and stepping out of this debate as there’s currently a potential conflict of interest,” Mr Palmer said.

This being a most refreshing attitude coming from the right of politics where conscience and money are never normally an issue.

The fact Clean Energy Regulators is/was “currently investigating” came as a huge shock. . .  just to know that the CER is still with us.

New prime minister Tony Abbott wasted little time after the swearing-in of his conservative Liberal National Party coalition, delivering immediately on his promise to repeal or dismantle all institutions and policy measures involving climate change and clean energy.

Therefore even more of a shock is Tony Abbott’s statement of yesterday that Clive Palmer should forthwith pay his taxes, taxes which are a direct result of the price on carbon.  Surely there should be some sympathy given Abbott’s endless rants against the carbon tax, including that Whyalla would be wiped off the map.  So incensed was Tony Abbott that he called on Labor and the Greens to “repent”.  However, not to get between a politician, some pre-election rhetoric and a dollar, Abbott has now insisted that Clive cough up.  **Apparently Mr Palmer has paid, but that wasn’t going to stop The Australian running the story anyway.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has insisted that Mr Palmer should respect the law and that his company should pay its outstanding taxes.

But I thought that Tony Abbott was so vehemently against the price on carbon that he will call a double dissolution election should he fail to get a repeal through the Senate.

“. . .if an incoming Coalition government can’t get its carbon tax repeal legislation through the Senate, well, we will not hesitate to go to a double dissolution.”

I would say, bring it on Tony.  If your grandstanding about Palmer not having paid a bill which he has in fact paid is the best that you can currently dredge up, I would suggest that you go back to your knights and dames.

The ‘new look’ Dept of Climate Change

Typing in http://www.climatechange.gov.au these days takes you to the Department of the Environment. It used to take you to the Department of Climate Change – back in the days when we had a government that had climate change as a high priority.

The big bold headline you are now met with is . . .

Carbon tax to be abolished from 1 July 2014

Rather presumptuous, don’t you think?

We clicking on a link invited to do so, we see . . .

The Australian Government will abolish the carbon tax from 1 July 2014. This will lower costs for Australian businesses and ease cost of living pressures for households.

Not only presumptuous, but now a bit of bullshit has been added for good measure. Here’s more of the bullshit:

Why are we removing the carbon tax

Repealing the carbon tax and the Clean Energy Package is designed to:

  • Reduce the cost of living – modelling by the Australian Treasury suggests that removing the carbon tax in 2014-15 will leave average costs of living across all households around $550 lower than they would otherwise be in 2014-15.
  • Lower retail electricity by around 9 per cent and retail gas prices by around 7 per cent than they would otherwise be in 2014-15 with a $25.40 carbon tax.
  • Boost Australia’s economic growth, increase jobs and enhance Australia’s international competitiveness by removing an unnecessary tax, which hurts businesses and families.
  • Reduce annual ongoing compliance costs for around 370 liable entities by almost $90 million per annum.
  • Remove over 1,000 pages of primary and subordinate legislation.

Rather odd, isn’t it?

I could have swore that on their site I read somewhere the claim that ‘We contribute to developing climate change solutions, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and adapting to the impacts of climate change‘.

 

Image courtesy of quickmeme.com

Image courtesy of quickmeme.com

Tony Abbott is a modest man…and forever on the spin cycle

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In September last year Paul Kelly, Editor at large at The Australian gushed effusively, and in hindsight disastrously over-optimistically, concerning the Big Picture of Tony Abbott, Prime Minister.

Quoting Abbott himself (no doubt sourced from ‘the usual’, a Liberal Party Press Release), Kelly effused:

TONY Abbott has signalled a new style of Coalition government based on collaborative ties with business, a clearer set of priorities, less frenetic, more predictable and geared to stability, not fashion.

Kelly also unambiguously  predicted:

Announcing his ministry, Abbott said the people wanted a government that was “upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well”.

Decoded, this means cutting the spin, delivering his promises and getting the economy ticking in the teeth of rising unemployment.

Kelly then followed with a character evaluation of The Great Man himself.  According to Paul Kelly, Abbott:

  • Is a modest man but he must deliver more than modest government.  This one has at least been successful, there has been no modesty about this government whatsoever.
  • He hates embroidery, loathes long ministerial titles.. Gosh, it’s no wonder the msm ridiculed Julia for knitting when Abbott hates embroidery!  Yes indeed, Abbott’s loathing for long titles (doubt no due to a limited attention span), has cost the government (aka us) millions in now defunct stationery.
  • He won’t be talking to the media unless he has something to say..  Hence the Cone of Silence which quickly enveloped this government, Abbott clearly has nothing to say.
  • (Is a) conservative warrior and the anarchic modern media with its thirst for drama and obsession with gesture. So it’s *us* the citizen journalists with the thirst for drama and the obsession with gesture? … ahh, the nobility of it all, the warrior versus anarchy..that’s *us* again.
  • He believes the public is tired of Labor’s egoism, boasting and endless self-obsessions.
  • Abbott said the people wanted a government that was “upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well”.
  • Abbott should have promoted another woman into his cabinet where Julie Bishop is the only female in 19 ministers. A very slight rap on the knuckles, but hell, what do you expect, Abbott is a man’s man and this just reveals “a stubborness to do things his way”.
  • The heart of this government is its economic team. Abbott is convinced Labor stumbled because of its obstructionist attitude towards big, small and resources-based business.
  • This is an economic team that is close to Abbott. Its values are pro-market, deregulatory reform and cutting Labor’s red and green tape.

One of the main gripes from the alternative media to mainstream is the often complete lack of scrutiny of statements which emanate straight from the Liberal Party, now government.  Especially when in opposition, all one-liners, the trite phrases were treated as god’s own gospel.  Perhaps this is one of the mainstream media’s problems, that anyone with a computer and who knows how to “Google” can check claims emanating from the prime ministerial office.  Just because Peta Credlin says it, doesn’t make it so.  And just because one or several journalists from the mainstream media repeat the quote verbatim, does not make it so.

No wonder the frustration from the Australian public, no wonder paywalls are a capital F for fail.

Just for the fun of it, let’s just check a couple of Kelly’s statements, and let’s start with #7. Labor stumbled because of its obstructionist attitude towards big, small and resources-based business.

Then why as per the Reserve Bank and Remarks to the Bloomberg Australia Economic Summit 2013 Sydney – 10 April 2013:

Business investment in Australia is higher now as a share of GDP than at any other time over the past 60 years

Why the anomaly, the difference between the factual evidence and the illusion?  Why lie?  Surely senior journalists cannot be ignorant of factual evidence?  If Labor was so obstructionist then why the outstanding results?

The Murdoch media looms large where very little uncensored information penetrates out onto the Australian public, and certainly very little positive which might be contra to the current line which the spin maesters have deemed the *moment* to promote.

On all of the above, one can go no further for the ever insightful Ross Gittins who commences his article of today with:

The world of politicians gets deeper and deeper into spin, and so far no production of the Abbott government rates higher on the spin cycle than last week’s Repeal Day.

This statement from Gittins deserves capitals, and bold:

But the most objectionable feature of the whole red tape Repeal Day charade is the way it has been used as cover for rent-seeking by the Coalition’s industry backers.

It’s an open secret the protections for investors provided by the Future of Financial Advice legislation are being watered down at the behest of the big banks, which want to be freer to incentivise unqualified sales people to sell inappropriate investment products to mug punters.

With the comparison being the Charities Commission abolished, “….despite the objections of most charities, presumably because the Catholic Church doesn’t like it”.

Watch this space for further developments on what the Church likes and doesn’t like, what the Big Banks like and do not like.

Then there is #6.  Abbott said, the people wanted a government that was “upfront, speaks plainly and does the essentials well“.  Spin, spin and spin.

Abbott’s agenda

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Tony Abbott campaigned extensively on “restoring trust” and “no surprises”.

We will be a no surprises, no excuses government, because you are sick of nasty surprises and lame excuses from people that you have trusted with your future”, he said.

It is fair and reasonable that any government might find the need to refine or to reassess with changing circumstances.  The Abbott government has no such excuse.  Arriving to power with the expectation that a steady hand would be running the country, the promise was an almost immediate return to Howard’s “Golden Age”.

”There will be 2 million more jobs, in manufacturing as well as in agriculture, services, education and a still-buoyant resources sector”.

Tony Abbott did however suffer an awkward moment after a video posted on YouTube about how he’s “delivered on his promise” was taken down for being ‘deceptive content‘.  YouTube then suspended Tony Abbott’s entire account.  Is it any wonder that Abbott detests the alternative media, it’s where his bullsh*t is called to account.

I note that the Abbott government is just about over any pretext of running this country in any way, shape or form in a method resembling their pre-election promises, that is with the notable exception of job losses from the public sector . . . we are seeing plenty of those, and more to come in the near future.

I remember that prior to the election a somewhat wry comment which has become a self-fulfilling prophesy, that why would Abbott need public servants when he has no policies to implement?  And true enough, with all the programs which he has already cut to the bare bone, and no new programs emanating from this Do-Nothing government, you do not need anywhere as many staff to implement The Nothing as would have been needed if you had intended to be actually doing *something*.

Written early December 10, 2013:

In the 84 days since Abbott and his cabinet were sworn in, they have struggled to find a positive vision for the nation, let alone explain it.

. . . And nothing has changed in the ensuing 100 days, except for the worse.  Some clues however might be determined from the “tweeking” performed by the Abbott government, much of it reported on as nothing more than an aside from a clearly bored and jaded mainstream media.

Tony Abbott has signalled that personal benefits could be scaled back in the May budget by declaring that, “everyone” had to live within their means . . .

By “everyone”, I am assuming that excluded will be Tony’s “women of calibre” who are clearly worth every penny of their estimated $75,000 handouts.  After all it’s “all about” encouraging women of “calibre” to have children, thus said Tony Abbott, and goodness knows, women of calibre need loads of encouragement to have babies . . . and more money will clearly do the trick.

Abbott himself of course will be leading by example (sarcasm alert) on Australia’s road to future austerity:

Luxury renovations for Prime Minister Tony Abbott at Kirribilli House.  TONY Abbott has spent more than $120,000 overhauling Kirribilli House since winning the election – including $13,000 on a family room rug.

Well perhaps not leading by example, but at least with a smidgeon of empathy? . . . well perhaps not again, as who could forget Abbott’s year long funk after losing a portion of his salary.

Said Tony Abbott,

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he (Tony Abbott) said at the time.

“You don’t just lose power … you certainly lose income as well, and if you are reliant on your parliamentary salary for your daily living, obviously it makes a big difference.”

Clearly the mortgage in question was causing Tony Abbott so much stress, that promptly forgot about it . . .

LABOR has questioned whether Tony Abbott could manage the Australian economy after he failed to declare a $710,000 mortgage on his family home.

So which of us is likely to be the “everyone” who Abbott says must live within their means?  Who says it better than Mungo MacCallum, with below from his blog, The View From Billinudgel: So which bits is Abbott going to cut?

Well, obviously not parental leave – in fact Tony Abbott’s pet scheme is set to add a few extra billions to the bill. And the government has already promised to scrap the means test on the health insurance rebate, which gives it another hefty boost.

But perhaps we could start with some of the hand outs of the Howard years, the family tax benefits that go mainly to those who don’t really need them, the archetypal middle class welfare? No, perhaps we couldn’t, because that would make an awful of Coalition supporters very unhappy indeed.

So we’ll turn to the pensioners. The obvious targets are the aged pensioners, who cost as much as the rest of them put together. But they are a strong voice, and what’s more they overwhelmingly vote for the Coalition.

So we’ll move on to the powerless, the disabled and the unemployed. Surely they could do more to pull their weight. We can’t actually reduce their pensions, particularly not  for the unemployed (who now include single mothers); they are already scraping along on the poverty line.

But we can make it harder for them to get anything at all.

And the disabled – well, some of them are only a bit disabled.

Does all this have some sort of wry irony?  While Abbott spends, spends and spends and the latest is the cost of the orange lifeboats which now have apparently topped the $7.5 million dollar mark, not to mention Tony’s boys own adventure of $3 billion for drones.  Then there is the $4.3 million worth of research contracts commissions to scrutinise Twitter, Facebook and blogs . . . and all the while pensioners are threatened with having to belt-tighten.

An odd distortion of priorities is something which is coming to epitomise the Abbott government.

Red tape?????????????

What is this government really about, when they talk about red tape? Is not revision of legislation a part of good governance of all governments?

We have those in the financial  and charity sectors pleading that Labor’s reforms remain in place; that is the Charities Commission, and new laws involving financial advisers. Most seem to be saying these are good legislation and necessary.

This government says they have to go, as it involves red tape.

We have seen all advisory bodies, and the processes to collect information go. Yes, things such as asking industry to inform the government of how they employ women.

They say that they have nine thousand pieces of red tape ready to repeal. How does one assess how much is really necessary regulations, to ensure that people and small business are protected?

Does one get the feeling that this government believes that businesses, especially big business should have no restraints by government on them at all?  That they should have complete freedom to do what they like?

Red tape rarely equals regulations. All or most are brought in to meet a need in society.

Yes, over time, all should be reviewed, as times change. Getting rid of all of it, is another thing.

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis wants to champion a ‘classical liberal’ approach to human rights, but what does this actually mean?

Tim Wilson, Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, has announced that he will take a “classical liberal” approach to human rights. There is a fair degree of confusion about what this means.

Classical liberalism is not a coherent body of political philosophy. However, in relation to human rights, there are three key ideas that most classical liberals subscribe to.

The first is the idea that all people are born with rights, which they hold simply because they are human. This is the idea that underpins Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Not everyone shares this belief. Many people believe that rights are simply entitlements granted by the state and held only by citizens. But for classical liberals, rights are much more than this. They are universal (held by everyone) and inalienable (they continue to exist regardless of whether or not governments recognise this. Read more here.

Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in the 19th century in Europe and the United States.It advocates civil liberties with a limited government under the rule of law, private property, and belief in laissez-faire economic liberalism. Classical liberalism is built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century, including ideas of Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. It drew on a psychological understanding of individual liberty, the contradictory theories of natural law and utilitarianism, and a belief in progress.

In the early 20th century, liberals split on several issue, and particularly in America a distinction grew up between classical liberals and social liberals. Classical liberals supported the rights of captains of industry, who they saw as the natural leaders of society and the wellsprings of progress, while social liberals supported the rights of labor to organize into unions, and also supported the rights of women and minorities. Classical liberals favored small government which allowed businessmen the freedom to pursue profit without government interference. Social liberals favored big government to support the rights of the poor and disenfranchised.

In the mid-20th century, the classical liberals often formed an alliance with social conservatives; in the United States, they did this under the banner of the Republican Party. In Europe, the same two sides formed but with different labels: what are called social liberals in America are called simply socialists in Europe, and their party is usually called the Labour Party [sic]. Neither liberals nor conservatives adopted the ideology of pure Classical Liberalism, the belief that government exists to protect both social and economic civil liberty.

One person’s take on what March in March was all about

Over the last weekend (15-17 March) hundreds of thousands of people across Australia got together and marched against the Tony Abbott-leg government, under the banner of March in March.

There were many questions about who organised March in March and what were its motives and supposed outcomes. There was some quite good discussion about these questions in the lead up to March in March. But across the weekend hundreds of thousands of Australians marched.

They marched for various reasons.

I was fortunate enough to attend Melbourne’s March in March which started out at the State Library before heading off to Treasury Gardens. As it turned out there were tens of thousands of Australians packed into the gardens out the front of the State Library and around Melbourne Central. Some estimates suggest there were between 40,000 and 50,000 people.

It was a fantastic gathering of people from all walks of life and political persuasions.

I soon realised it didn’t really matter what March in March was all about but rather that this collective expression needed to happen.

People that had never met each other were discussing why they were there. And it turns out people had a variety of reasons but the theme was definitely overwhelming; the Abbott government is unsatisfactory and hurting people. It seemed that the people I was surrounded by were mostly there because of our treatment of refugees; our country going backwards on climate change; the expansion of CSG and opening up heritage forests to logging; and the attacks on single parents, students, aged and disability pensions.

There were others that I knew were there for those reasons and the attacks on workers’ rights and unions; and the education.

Personally I was there because:

  • Our country is going backwards in tackling climate change and isn’t moving towards an economy powered by clean energy and driven by innovation;
  • Our government has abandoned science;
  • Our government’s reckless austerity measures in the face of all evidence saying austerity is not necessary – ensuring the most vulnerable are put further at risk;
  • The policies of Labor and LNP towards refugees now sees some of the cruelest policies being implemented;
  • Of the attacks on workers’ rights and unions;
  • Our government doesn’t value the investment that education is in our population;
  • Of the increasing attacks on our digital rights and the implementation of a second-rate broadband network;
  • Of a government that panders to mining magnates and media moguls;
  • Our government seems to regularly embarrass us on the international stage;
  • A seeming lack of detail in articulating any kind of plan or vision for Australia without resorting to three word slogans.

There are definitely more but then this post would be very long and probably quite boring to read.

However I’m also confident that you can add your own reasons to this list for going to a March in March event held near you.

In the end it didn’t really matter why people were there; just that they did turn out to make this massive collective expression. I know it made me feel extremely positive and that the issues I work on and campaign for do matter and do make a difference. It was something that everyone there could enjoy – that they weren’t alone in feeling that something was very wrong with our federal and state governments.

The challenge, as noted by others, is for people working on progressive issues to turn this collective expression into further action.

For what it’s worth:

Here’s some video I took from the rally – this was well after the march had started but it was so massive it took some time before we got moving. Fortunately some street performers kept us entertained and revved up.

NOTE: This is a slightly altered version of the original post published here.

I must be mixing with the wrong people

I couldn’t tell you how many people I’ve met, although they must surely number in their thousands.

Tony Abbott – a person I have never met – appeals to the oddest types and I’m thankful that I haven’t met any of them either. But they are out there! The majority of them prefer, it seems, to hide behind an internet persona while spreading the government gospel, usually with huge amounts of vitriol and disdain against anyone who wants to save a forest, a heritage site, the planet or an asylum seeker.

I’m yet to meet a person – in real life – who behaves as insanely mad as the knuckle-dragging, right-wing cheer squad do when they bang down on their keyboard all frothed up with hate.

But I must be mixing with the wrong people. From what I’ve recently read here, there are hordes of Australians (who are not the internet Neanderthals that I deal with on a daily basis) who are grateful for Tony Abbott’s stamp of authority on our national affairs.

I really can’t claim to know anyone who fits into this category, though the nameless commenter here obviously does:

I am amazed at how many Australians I speak to every day who say that they are elated now that the boats have stopped and equally elated that the ALP 5pm news spin machine has dried up. In fact, they all say that they are enjoying their after work family time more due to the stance Morrison et al have taken against the labor media barrage we suffered previously.

An amazing number of people, apparently. And they speak about it daily. Or maybe it was just a bit of bullshit.

Here’s a ripper from another nameless imbecile:

Most of these “most asylum seekers arrive by air.” are foreign students who fly in to get a Bachelors, Masters or PhD degree. They spend a lot of time perving at the bikini girls on Bondi beach.

This causes them to apply for asylum before there visas expire.

Do any of our readers live in Sydney? If so, perhaps you could take a photo for us of all those perverted PhD students grouped together with their eyes bulging out. They should be easy to spot. There should be, apparently, tens of thousands of them. Or maybe it was just a load of bullshit.

From the same person:

I have to listen to people crying because they cannot get jobs because so-called asylum seekers who fly in do not want to go home.

I’ve seen them everywhere: dozens of people crying on each others’ shoulders in shopping centers, clubs, pubs, footy games and around the family BBQ. Our country is in tears because an asylum seeker finds a job. Or perhaps that was bullshit too.

And it appears that we all, apparently, have access to someone who has accommodated an asylum seeker. Although this nameless person calls them illegals, and I don’t know if known illegal residents – of which asylum seekers are not – are at liberty to stay in hotels, motels, guest houses or whatever.

Talk to a few people who have accommodated these illegals , they carry on like ungrateful pigs . Even thrashed hotel/motels in Brisbane justify that Sludge! Stay on Manus Island , it is a really beautiful island. I had to pay a lot of money to get there and to leave

And I’m sure Manus Island must be a beautiful island. Aussies must be flocking to the place. Our asylum seekers would be so pleased to be locked up in such a beautiful place in the world. Why bother coming to Australia (to trash hotels) when you can live in such a paradise?

Either I must be mixing with the wrong people or the right-wingers on this site (who are typical of what I’ve seen across the internet) know nothing but bullshit.

I suspect it’s the latter.

Image courtesy on knowyourmeme.com

Image courtesy on knowyourmeme.com

Work is killing our weekend or . . . Women and kids kill jobs

big_girl2_pp_pe_peAustralians ranks amongst the hardest working in the first world, ranking fourth for long hours worked among 34 OECD nations.

Turkey ranked No. 1, with almost half its population working more than 50 hours a week. Mexico and Israel followed. The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Russia had the best work-life balance with only 1 or 2 per cent of employees working very long hours.

And that’s just the blokes, with one in 5 men working more than 50 hours per week.  At least Aussie sheilas are doing it better; or at least better than Turkey or Mexico . . . or are we?

TAKE a bow, ladies – Australian women are among the world’s hardest-working on the home front.

A report has found that of females in 29 countries, Australians rank fifth in the number of hours each day spent doing unpaid work.

Although this article from the Herald Sun treats the issue somewhat flippantly, unpaid work does mean one hell of a lot more than running the vac’ around the lounge room, it’s the carers, the volunteers without whom organisations could not exist . . . you know who you are.

Australian women also have the least time to follow leisure pursuits.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that “WORK is killing off the great Australian weekend and starving kids of family time.”.  Below of course pertains not just to the traditional family, mum, dad and kids but to all working people who are socially deprived due to the impossibility of anything resembling a life/work balance.

Australians are now three times more likely to work weekends than they were 20 years ago – one in three workers now spends Saturday or Sunday on the job.

New research exposes the true cost of weekend work, as it steals leisure time with friends and family all week long.

When fathers work weekends, mothers get less quality leisure time with their children as they catch up on chores.

But when women work Saturdays, the blokes spend more time with their mates.

Weekend work has nearly trebled over the past 20 years, from 12 per cent of workers in 1993 to 33 per cent today, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

Half of all business owners, 42 per cent of contractors and 30 per cent of employees now spend their weekends in the workplace, rather than the backyard or beach.

And one in four workers is on call or on standby, as technology contaminates leisure time with messages and emails from the boss.

The Social Policy Research Centre at the University of NSW has calculated the “knock-on” impact of weekend work on leisure time, by analysing ABS data sourced from time-use diaries filled in by more than 4000 workers.

When men work weekends, the researchers found, “this comes at the cost of mother-child leisure time”.

The study’s lead author, Associate Professor Lyn Craig, said weekend work was bad for family bonding, friendship and community ties.

More people are working shifts because lots of jobs are becoming 24/7, like retail,” she said yesterday.

“And workers are having their weekends encroached upon more and more by technology, so it seems harder to have a boundary between work and home.

“It’s not good for family bonding, to not have parents available to their kids when their kids are available.”

The research shows both parents spend less quality time with their kids if either mum or dad works weekends.

The above article is from new.com, and published in August last year.

This is the reality of working Australia.  Also to be kept in mind is that according to the ABS,One quarter of all employees earned $588.00 or less“.

More female employees were employed part-time (52.3%) than full-time (47.7%). Average weekly total cash earnings were $1,278.40 for full-time females and $562.40 for part-time females.

Eric Abetz:  “We risk seeing something akin to the wages explosion of the pre-accord era when unsustainable wage growth simply pushed thousands of Australians out of work.”

Steven Walters, a chief economist with JP Morgan, says “. . .wages growth is the lowest it has ever been.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is under pressure from his backbench to address ”job-killing” weekend and holiday penalty rates, with 10 Coalition MPs telling Fairfax Media the controversial issue cannot be ignored.

Does this make any sort of sense?  Since the Murdoch media installed Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, Abbott’s Mr. No persona has been reinvented as Mr. Slash and Burn with thousands of jobs thrown in the dust bin in pursuit of Abbott’s ideologies. Who exactly is the job-killer Tony?

Yet according to Abbott and Abetz it’s the kids, the women trying to support themselves and their families . . .and who are prepared to work weekends and holidays, and while knowing that they must sacrifice valuable family time in order to achieve this; it’s they who are in the “job-killing” business.

Yes you have it, according to the Liberals, Australians who work some of the longest hours of all OECD countries, and with the worst life/work balance, especially pertaining to women who seem to have ZERO time to do anything else except work . . . paid and unpaid; these same hard-working Aussies according to Abbott and Abetz are “in the job-killing business”.  Clearly the solution is to pay them less.