Budget of the damned

Background:  Herald Sun, Frankston Hospital December '13

Background: Herald Sun, Frankston Hospital December ’13

My impression in the lead-up to Hockey’s budget was that we would be damned if we did, and damned if we didn’t.  Damned if we were ill or disabled, damned if we were unemployed, and most definitely damned should we ever have the temerity to become ‘a burden on society’, and get old.

And it seems that for none else, other than the Gina types of our society, that this has been confirmed.

There is not much point in once again noting that Abbott promised no surprises, no new taxes, no increased taxes, no cuts to education, no cuts to health.  I would suspect that for the vast majority of us, that given Abbott’s political record that the surprise would have been if he had kept his word.  Making promises is nothing but ‘clever politics’, and anyway you cannot believe anything said in the heat of a debate – nor at any other time, it seems.  Tony Abbott promised to restore trust in government, then quickly discarded the notion.

As written by Robert Simms for The Drum:

Tony Abbott is a pathological liar who has lost the respect of the Australian people. He leads a beleaguered government, held ransom by extremists in the Senate. His government is illegitimate. He must resign and end our collective misery!

Simms was noting the irony of the hate campaign run incessantly by Abbott during his term as leader of the opposition.  Surely it is now time for Abbott and barrackers to apply the same standards to themselves.  But of course not.

Just prior to the election, the Herald Sun and without exception, all of the Murdoch stable gushed effusive praise.  Ding, dong, the witch is dead, and the wordy nerd come power-tripper gone with her.  All Hail the prince!

TONY Abbott stands ready today to become Australia’s new prime minister with a set of economic and social policies to take the nation into a safe and assured future.

He has not wavered from the task of building a disciplined and cohesive Coalition team . . . In doing so he has proved himself a conviction politician . . . He has proved himself a man of principle.

Labor has lost its way as well as its heart. It has chosen to stoke class war to gain political advantage.

Not only is this un-Australian, it is also a betrayal of modern Labor.

The Herald Sun believes Mr Abbott should be given the opportunity tomorrow to restore Australia for Australians.

I hope that the writer of the above editorial is now equally as damning of the obvious the ‘class war’, the restructure of our society with the well off being deprived of a small slice of their massive pie while the poor will be grubbing around in the gutter.

But now, and even before Hockey’s horror budget saw the light of day, (again from Simms):

This growing sense of hypocrisy is reinforced by the contradictory political persona the Prime Minister has crafted for himself. Indeed, six months after his election, many voters would struggle to articulate precisely what he stands for.

We have a budget emergency, yet the Government can still find billions of dollars for fighter jets. Abbott supported Gonski and the NDIS before the election, yet was eager to dump them after. He promised no new taxes, yet wants to charge for visits to the doctor. Even his Paid Parental Leave Scheme has been watered down, suggesting that if it was Abbott’s signature policy, his autograph was forged.

From Ross Gittins:

If you thought a man who could promise ”no surprises, no excuses” was a man who could be trusted to keep his word, more fool you.

Any experienced voter who didn’t foresee that changing the government would mean this year’s budget was a stinker, isn’t paying enough attention.

Here are but one example of the ideological agenda being presented to us, and for no one’s delectation except those whose beliefs run to right-wing extremism.  As someone tweeted:  Welcome to the United States of Australia.

April 2014 – “. . .the government moves to dismantle Labor’s GP super-clinic program by trying to claw back money from centres that are yet to be built.  GP super-clinics with longer opening hours, more staff and broad medical services were a major plank of Labor’s health policy in government, with $650 million earmarked for 60 clinics.  Funding has been suspended to three clinics which are yet to be built – in Darwin, Rockingham in Western Australia and Brisbane”.

December 2013 – “NSW will miss out on more than $150 million in funding for vital health services that has been cut by the federal government.  This is bad news for public hospital patients. People living in western Sydney will be hardest hit by the cuts, with Westmead Hospital losing $100 million over three years. The Children’s Medical Research Institute and the Westmead Millennium Institute will also lose tens of millions of dollars . . .”.

And now in addition to this and a whole lot more which is likely to have passed under the radar, there is:

Billions of dollars will be slashed from already-strained public hospital budgets under plans that could lead to huge increases in waiting times for surgery and emergency treatment.

The Commonwealth will for the first time allow the states to charge patients for public hospital treatment, partly to deter people from circumventing a $7 fee for GP visits by going to the emergency department, despite strong opposition from doctors who say hospitals are not placed to deal with the administrative burden.

This seems to an ongoing theme of the Abbott/Credlin/Hockey government, that all should be government via ‘deterrence’.  The excuse for imposing a $7 fee has been that this will act as a deterrence:  “. . . imposing more user charges in health in order to deter overuse”.  But surely it is the medical practitioner’s role to decide on the level of care required by each patient, and not the role of governments to decide what is and what is not ‘overuse’.

The previously-mooted $7 fee will apply to GP visits, diagnostic imaging such as X-rays and pathology services such as blood tests. Concessional patients and children under 16 years will pay the fee only for the first 10 services they use each calendar year. The government will cut its contribution to the cost of those services by the same amount, saving it $3.5 billion over five years. Part of the new fee will go towards a new $20 billion medical research fund.

Presumably, which will also act as ‘a deterrence’ to those individuals who go groveling at their GP’s feet, begging for ‘unnecessary’ items (which therefore might be ‘overused’), such as X-rays and blood tests.

Doctors have discretion to choose who pays the fee, but there is a catch.

If GPs choose not to charge a patient, they won’t receive their $6.20 bulk billing consultation payment from the government.

Anyone for blackmail?

Patients will also pay more for prescription medications, with the general patient contribution rising next year by $5, while the contribution by concessional patients will rise by 80¢.

This may not seem like much, but here is a true indication of how means and just plain nasty this government is: “. . .the cost of the diabetes drug insulin will rise from $37.70 to $42.70.  But if you’re a concession card holder, you’re in luck. Instead of the $5, card holders will pay an extra cost of just $0.80.

For instance, if you are a concession card holder and you need to buy Dabrafenib, a treatment for malignant skin cancers, you would pay $6.90 instead of the previous price $6.10″.

That’s right.  If you are a pensioner with cancer, this government is going to extract 80 cents out of you.  Mean, petty and just plain nasty.

Consumers Health Forum chief executive Adam Stankevicius said the budget spelled the end of universal access to primary care under Medicare.

“It’s very bad news for consumers, particularly the elderly and those with chronic disease.”

The president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Anthony Cross, said the introduction of the fee would lead to more people seeking treatment in emergency departments for problems more appropriately treated by GPs, and it would be ”almost impossible” for hospitals to decide which patients  should be charged for treatment.

Just a question, and this is again from news.com:

New rules mean you’re going to have to wait six months if you want to receive Newstart or Youth Allowance and you’ve just left school or are a new jobseeker.

After that six month period, the government will provide you with six months’ worth of income support — although you’ll have to participate in Work for the Dole at 25 hours a week.

If you’re still unemployed after the first 12 months, the government will not support you for the next six months — except in the form of wage subsidies to employers as an incentive to hire you.

The tedious cycle of six months on, six months off continues.

How are people meant to survive if they are unemployed and will not receive any form of assistance for six months?  Beg on the streets?  In typical Abbott/Hockey style the practicalities of things such as survival seem to escape them in their zeal to enforce this thing now known as ‘a deterrence’.

Under the radar

The Abbott/Credlin team are successful in nothing else, except perhaps confusing everyone.

Perhaps someone should whisper in Peta’s ear (that’s if they’re game enough), that she might be a tad on the ‘obvious’ side.  Going to ground doesn’t help either, it just makes it all that obvious, via absence.

However, let’s have a look at the absolute and utter confusion that the Abbott government are making of things.  It’s all taken straight from the John Howard Little Book of How-To’s of course. . . but they’re doing it so badly, and so obviously that it’s an embarrassment.  Therefore in the process, making naught but confusion.

Abbott won the election built on no vision for the future other than ‘trust me’, and no new taxes.  There were vague and unexplained references that some sort of ‘something’ might happen, but nothing specific other than ‘Ditch the Witch’.  That was the aim; there was no other.

Very rare and far and few between were any commentators from mainstream who bothered to ask the question:  What happens next?  Rather, it was wink, wink, nudge, nudge. . . clever politics.  And bugger the country.

However, and aside from the utter ‘wanker’ that many consider Abbott to be, this is serious business and the remaking of Australia.

Much has been written, and to give credit by mainstream criticising what are colloquially known as Abbott brain f*rts, and given credence by the Commission of Audit. . . however, due to lack of coherence Abbott brain f*rts they remain.

**Just as an aside, but if the Commission of Audit comes up with these you’beaut ideas, how is Hockey able to ‘bung’ them into the budget so quickly if the whole kit wasn’t already preconceived?  No, don’t tell me. . .

However, back to the serious stuff, and one of the better, more precise articles in my opinion is via Bernard Keane, who states:

The Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit has recommended the abandonment of Australia’s post-war fiscal structure in favour of a decentralised state-based model of taxation and service delivery that would significantly reduce the Commonwealth’s role in national life.

I hope that we’ve all got that. . .it’s not just an Abbott brain f*rt, nor Eleventy Joe Hockey but a ‘fiscal restructure’.

And by the way, has anyone else noted how we’ve been ‘done’ – a Howard strategy – throw in all kinds of furphies – such as granny being dragged bodily from the family homes under the ‘leaked rumour’ that the family home is to be included in the assets test for the old age pension – so as to distract the plebs, but meanwhile the Libs are onto serious business, such as ‘the abandonment of Australia’s post-war fiscal structure‘.

In spite of economists from A to Z stating that a deficit, and especially such a low one for a vibrant economy such as Australia’s isn’t such a problem, it seems that the Abbott/Credlin/Hockey team are intent on forging ahead.

As the Catholic Social Justice Network states:

When invested wisely and efficiently, deficit spending has the ability to spur economic growth, create jobs, and accelerate recovery. In our current economic climate, NETWORK recognizes deficit spending as a necessary action in the restoration of a healthy economic environment. As society’s most vulnerable are impacted the most by the recession, our call to justice and compassion moves us to action, and the need for deficit spending becomes even greater.

My impression is that the Abbott government is intent on sending us on a downward spiral while trying to fob responsibility off onto the states.  There was the scare campaign over a ‘deficit tax’ which apparently won’t effect most of us.  So why start the scare campaign at all?

Or are the Liberals so disorganised, plus so inept that only a few days out from presenting their First Budget, that they do not know whether it’s $150,000 or $100,000, whether or not it’s $17.00 or $6.00?

However, most important of all is the social restructure.  Post-war our society became more egalitarian, public schools, public hospitals.  The Diggers demanded it.  Having served their country, the leanest factory hand said, ‘My kids deserve the same as your kids’.  You start with the children, you start with health.  You give all a level playing field – you give all access to the best education, the best health care and. . .let ‘er rip.  Kids from all classes, all races and cultures will show you what they can do.

The Abbott government’s intent is to restrict access to almost everything to user-pays, meaning that ‘if you can’t afford it, then you don’t get it’.

Blind Freddy knows that problems are NOT to do with old ladies sitting in mansions, lol-abouts who refuse to work – it’s not about spending – it’s about how the government rakes in money and spends money on the people with the ability to pay.  Let’s say it again – with the ability to pay.

Does the Abbott government have the balls to tackle the big end of town?  There are small bleatings about it, but my guess is that THIS WHOLE PALAVER is a FIZZER.

Meanwhile:

Liberal frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull has described the Coalition’s measures to stop asylum seekers arriving by boat as “harsh” but necessary to combat people smuggling.

This is coming from Turnbull, where the meaning of ‘harsh’ equates to using dried rather than fresh tarragon in one’s Lobster Thermidor.

As a note, we’ve recently decamped to Wodonga, don’t worry Bacchus, it has an even larger cellar. :)  Therefore apologies for the lack of posts.  Plus on top of it Miggsy has his law exams in a week or so, so he’s been cranky, pissed off, all of the above, being nagged to death, very busy.

This pic was one of my ‘works in progress’, but I kinda like it anyway. . .

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Budget for Abbott’s Australia

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The Abbott government has been working incessantly to work up to the Mother of All Scare Campaigns.  There is an emergency!  There is a crisis!  About what, the government has been careful to avoid backing up with anything factual.  Economists both left and right leaning have said not one single word in support.  We do know that there is debt, writ large with a capital D and that somehow pensioners and disabled people are the cause of it. . . or at least both Hockey and Abbott sticking to their chosen theme would have us believe so.

This brought to mind one of John Howard’s favourite techniques, this being to prime up his audience usually via the media so as to create ‘a situation’.  Newspapers, shock jocks et al would dutifully comply running numerous *shocking stories* complete with photos taken by willing neighbors/rellies and other assorted accomplices of, for example:  long haired ‘louts’ who refused thousand-dollar-a-week jobs on sublime tropical islands due to the fact that they preferred to loll about on the dole in some mall in an unnamed western suburb, or a ‘pretend’ disabled person caught by his worthy neighbor *gasp* on his roof.  Clearly people with disabilities cannot be disabled if they can find themselves on a roof.

And it worked very well.  Following a few weeks of such stories, which by some miracle would appear simultaneously in all major newspapers; to the rescue – our fearless then PM, little Johnny promising to ‘come down hard on’ such rorters.  A thankful public sighed with relief that we had such an alert PM who knew how to ‘take action’.

John Howard, did however accomplish this with at least a modest amount of subtlety, a trait which Tony Abbott and his team are the antithesis of.

Tony Abbott in an attempt to emulate his hero Howard makes a mockery of all things Liberal.  The ham-fistedness and inept handling of this government’s attempt to reshape Australia in a regression to some unknown ultra-conservative stance way beyond anything which Howard would even contemplate, nor want, is an embarrassment to all.

Abbott therefore commits falsehoods, but one must consider that he does either with such ego that ‘it doesn’t count’, or with an ignorance which cannot be excused away as ‘new to the office of Prime Minister’.

May 18, 2010:

TONY ABBOTT has told voters not to believe everything he says.

In an extraordinary admission last night, the Opposition Leader said his only utterances that should be regarded as ”gospel truth” were carefully prepared and scripted remarks such as those made during speeches or policy pronouncements.

However, it would seem that we are not to believe even the carefully prepared and scripted ones.

To date the government has encouraged speculation on (and the list is not exhaustive), that the family home of pensioners will be sold from under them if they expect to collect the pension; that pensioners are a drain on the economy and society, (while completely ignoring the contribution that people in their 70′s, 80′s and beyond have made to Australian society); that pensioners and people with disabilities should be ‘encouraged’ back into the workforce (which jobs and how? remains an unknown); that ‘everyone’ will have to pay $6.00 to visit the doctors (while dismantling the super clinics).

And now comes the penultimate of lies, that the Deficit Levy is not a tax.  That is, families on $80,000 will be losing out by $800.00pa, more than the average of one month’s mortgage payment while at the same time giving millionaire mummies a ‘gift’ of $75,000 for 6 months of bonding time with bubs.  Is something not quite jelling here?

John Howard knew not to frighten the horses.  The Tony Abbott/Credlin duo do not have that sort of finesse, intelligence nor acumen.

 

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.

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.

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.

Abbott’s green army: it’s time to enlist

lego-toy-soldiers-4

Are you an Aborigine?  Are you disabled?  Are you a young person currently unemployed, or even enjoying their Gap Year?  Then Tony has the job for you!

You might be paid only half the minimum wage and not be covered by Commonwealth workplace laws but (and this is especially for the Gap Year kids), you might like to consider it as akin to working on a kibbutz . . . it’s all about the experience isn’t it?

Only Tony Abbott could create a ‘workforce’ where the workers aren’t legally workers and have no workplace rights“: Adam Bandt.

Clearly the intent of this ‘initiative’ is all about killing several birds with one stone, with Tony Abbott clearly expecting to be able to claim that he’s tackling the ‘absolute crap’ of climate change (his promised Green Army) while simultanously artificially bringing down the numbers of youth unemployment; while undercutting the rights of the young employed, and undermining the minimum wage.  And perhaps those Graduates and Aborigines might be the same people whose jobs he cut.

Women, junior workers, graduates and indigenous people will bear the brunt of a federal government order to cut 14,000 temporary workers, an analysis of government workplace statistics shows.

Graduate and indigenous recruitment will be slashed, hiring will be frozen across the bureaucracy and lead science organisation CSIRO will be among the the agencies hardest hit with the jobs of up to 1400 scientists and researchers threatened.

Does anyone else see something quite Dickensian about the vision of ‘an army of’ people with disabilities ‘enlisted’ to do “. . .manual labour, including clearing local creeks and waterways, fencing and tree planting“.  Perhaps it hasn’t entered the minds of Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt that many people with disabilities might struggle to perform tasks such as fencing and clearing local creeks of rubbish, and especially for a compulsory 30 hours per week.

Surely it cannot be possible that a person with a disability such as Downs Syndrome might be shifted onto the lower allowance of NewStart should they prove themselve capable of “manual labour”?

As suspected, Abbott’s so-called Green Army is nothing more than a Work for the Dole scheme which will primarily focus on cleaning up rubbish.  After all it was one of Tony Abbott’s more memorable predictions, that Aborigines should be grateful for what ever job they could get, even if it’s just “picking up rubbish around the community”.  Brilliant in it’s inception, Aborigines get to clean up rubbish alongside those other “dregs of society”, the disabled.  It should be quite an adventure for those graduates and Gap Year kids expecting an environmental, kibbutz-style experience.

Having clearly given up on the pretext that Abbott’s Green Army has anything whatsoever to do with Climate Change action, the real crux of the matter has now finally been admitted – it’s all about tidying up those messy unemployment and Disability Support Pension figures.

From the Daily Telegraph:

JOB snobs who refuse work because it’s too far to travel are in the federal government’s sights under reforms that would also collapse the disability support pension and unemployment benefits into a single universal welfare payment.

(Kevin Andrews is). . . determined to remove the “perverse incentive’’ to claim the disability pension because it is worth an extra $250 a fortnight compared to Newstart. . .