Abbott’s agenda

The_Nothing_pe

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. . .

Worst government in history

Photo: Drink Tank

Photo: Drink Tank

As noted by contributor Möbius Echo,

They are racking up the worsts, this government.

Worst PM ever;
Worst FM;
Worst Immigration Minister;
Worst Eleventy Minister;

. . . and all their other ministers, everyone the worst performers in their portfolios;
the worst Speaker ever by a long shot, was also the worst Minister in all the portfolios she was bounced around, like her Health Ministership where she supported tobacco advertising;

. . . and the worst government ever in the shortest time ever.

By the way what is it with the Liberals and their support for the tobacco industry. They go on with faux concern about asylum seekers drowning but have no problems supporting an industry that kills tens of thousands of Australians each year. Bloody murderers.

And now to add to the “worst” list . . .

An organisation that has been advising Australian governments on alcohol and drug policy for almost half a century shut its doors on Friday.

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, which has operated since 1966, was placed in voluntary administration in November after Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash decided it would receive no further funding.

Would this be on a par with closing down the Healthy food star ratings website?  And yes it seems that it was Nash herself who was in the thick of it.

The senior government bureaucrat in charge of the new healthy food star ratings has been stripped of responsibility for the program.

The change comes after the healthy food star rating website was published and then quickly taken down at the insistence of federal Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash and her chief of staff.

No accidents there, and although Alastair Furnival became the fall guy, it was Nash herself; with Furnival clearly having her full support.

A powerful food industry lobby group says it contacted Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash to raise concerns about a Government food star rating website the same day it was pulled down.

Mike Daube, spokesman on alcohol, Public Health Association of Australia: ”It just beggars belief that a minister responsible for alcohol seems to be taking policy decisions without talking with any of the key groups,”.

Does it beggar belief?  Or rather is this decision somewhat aligned to Nash’s decision to take down the healthy food star rating website?

Mr Furnival resigned two weeks ago following revelations about his role in taking down a healthy food rating website and his co-ownership of a company that had lobbied for the junk food industry. The company had also performed work for the liquor industry as recently as 2012.

Therefore not content with trashing and the intended trashing of the working conditions and wages of all of us:  Today (19th February), data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show annual wage growth is at the lowest level since records started in 1997 – even lower than during the depths of the Global Financial Crisis. . . wage growth is so weak, it has fallen below inflation meaning we now have real wage deflation – and clearly the health and wellbeing of Australians is of insignificant concern to this government compared with $s from those with vested interests – plus trashing Australia’s reputation on climate change, and that is aside from our reputation on the treatment of asylum seekers, there are the other issues which will only serve to reduce the quality of life plus the living standards of all Australians.

The Australian government is insulting the sovereignty of other countries with plans to dismantle its climate change policies. . .

Lord Deben, head of the UK Committee on Climate Change told RTCC that Australia’s attitude to reducing its carbon emissions was “very sad” and “something I feel very personally about.”

“It lets down the whole British tradition that a country should have become so selfish about this issue that it’s prepared to spoil the efforts of others and to foil what very much less rich countries are doing,” he said.

Worst government in history?  This is not only the direction in which we are heading, but we’ve arrived.

The Aboriginal Ten Commandments

Australia Day certainly brings out many emotions. Pride. Passion. And I’m sorry to say, racism. I saw plenty of that on a couple of Facebook pages today. Here’s one:

Happy Australia Day ….. , Yes I know some of you will say invasion day, citizens day, genocide day ….. however I do not care… you nay sayers can go root a unicorn and fart out rainbows for all I care.

Charming. What a wonderful fellow.

Among the follow-up comments telling this racist chap how amazingly funny he is or how brilliant his statement was, came this equally ignorant quip:

If it wasn’t for Captain Cook none of us would be here . . .

Racism is a choice. Ignorance isn’t. But having said that, perhaps some people chose to remain ignorant. Like the commenter above.

Now here’s one from a real Aussie hero who didn’t like the idea that a particular person opposed the Government’s asylum seeker policy:

you sound like a big cry baby sore loser.

just accept the fact that half the country doesn’t want boat loads of leeches coming in here looking for a free ride (we have enough of our own thank you).

if you care about these “asylum seekers” so much, why don’t YOU take them in to YOUR home and look after them? put your money where your god damn mouth is, punk

But enough about the idiots. Just as there was some absolute bile on Facebook today, there was also a fair amount of the opposite, such as something posted by an Aboriginal friend: The Aboriginal Ten Commandments. It had no hate, no patriotism, nor racism. It simply spelled out what sound like some wonderful rules to live by. It was too good not to share with you. Here they are:

Honour and respect the Great Creator, the one who is above all.

Honour and respect the Earth for we are physically and spiritually connected to all living an non living things as we are in their custodianship.

Honour and respect our ancient philosophy whereby ‘what is good enough for one is good enough for all’ as no one is above another, for all are equal.

Honour and respect all members of humanity for we are all one ancient family, united and related through our kinship systems.

Honour and respect every person’s right to freely practice and express in their own way their unique forms of spirituality, faith and beliefs.

Honour and respect our ancient rule of sharing with one another so that no one is ever left without.

Honour and respect our ancient rule of caring for one another so that no one will ever feel alone.

Honour and respect both our Elders and Youth for each are very important when it comes to generational change and the advancement of our Peoples.

Honour and respect that violence ad substance abuse have no place within our lands, homes and families.

Honour and respect other peoples home boundaries and never walk into the home of another without first being invited in, as it is our ancient way.

Ten Commandments

You are a disgrace to our nation

It’s rare that I post an article simultaneously with The AIMN but this is one that I am very passionate about. Given that this site is frequented by many people who are equally as passionate about this (on both sides of the argument) I have no hesitation in offering it for debate.

I was appalled at the results of the recent poll conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald that revealed, for whatever reason, most people want the Abbott Government to treat asylum seekers more harshly than the disgustingly inhumane levels they currently do. It was noted, disturbingly, that:

A strong majority of Australians, 60 per cent, also want the Abbott government to “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers.”

It is obviously not good enough that the:

Manus Island’s detention centre has been described as cruel, inhuman, degrading and violating prohibitions against torture in a detailed report by Amnesty International.

The most extraordinary claim in Amnesty’s report is that drinking water in the largest compound . . . is limited to less than half a litre a day.

“A dozen bottles a day for nearly 500 men, according to the staff who supply them, or less than a single 500ml bottle per person, an amount that is clearly insufficient, especially given the heat and humidity.”

Or that an:

. . . independent body of psychiatrists, psychologists, GPs and other medical professionals and advocates gave advice to the government about the serious mental health impacts of offshore processing and long term detention.

The living conditions in the facility are hot, extremely cramped and poorly ventilated. There is no privacy. The conditions in one dormitory were so bad that Amnesty International considers the accommodation of asylum seekers there a violation of the prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment. “P Dorm” is a World War II building with a low, curved, metal roof. It sleeps 112 men on bunk beds arranged with no space between. There were no windows, and two standing fans. As a result, the smell is overwhelmingly bad and the heat is stifling. Asylum seekers reported finding snakes in the room and flooding when it rained.

As the week progressed, we witnessed a string of unnecessary humiliations.

The men spend several hours each day queuing for meals, toilets and showers in the tropical heat and pouring rain, with no shade or shelter. Staff refer to them by their boat ID, not their names. Almost all are denied shoes. Most have had their possessions confiscated by people smugglers or staff on Christmas Island.

Pointless advice, apparently, as sixty per cent still want the Abbott government to increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers.

I now have a message to that sixty per cent: You are a disgrace to our nation.

It is highly unlikely that any of that sixty per cent will read this post but I have the satisfaction of telling The AIMN’s readers what I think of those disgraceful human beings and I can only hope that my feelings are widely disseminated. I would like to hope that my feelings would not only be widely shared, but widely supported.

This message comes with the warning that course language will be frequently used. I won’t be holding back.

To that sixty percent:

You are disgusting pieces of low-life shit.

You’re no doubt mildly pleased that asylum seekers are forced to live under conditions condemned by Amnesty International but it still isn’t good enough. What would make you assholes happy? No, on second thoughts, I’d dread to know what would really make you happy: I’d find it even more shameful to accept that we share the same nation and I can assure you that a high degree of shame already consumes me. And disgust. And anger.

What is truly disturbing, nay frightening, is that you possibly represent the views of the majority of Australians. Sixty per cent of them to be precise. That means we have a nation that is predominantly populated by the lowest common denominator when it comes to compassion for the plight of human misery. In other words, we are predominantly a nation of heartless, selfish, ignorant, racist bastards. And you sixty percent have proven to be heartless, selfish, ignorant, racist bastards because you want the Abbott government to increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers.

I have no idea why you are the way you are and I don’t know where you came from. I didn’t grow up in an Australia where heartless assholes like you dominated the social landscape. What happened? Were you simply born a nasty piece of shit or was it external influences like the fear mongering mainstream media in this country that caters for your Neanderlithic intelligence. Or maybe you’ve believed the equally racist Abbott Government – don’t get me started on them or their resident Darth Vader, Scott Morrison – or that xenophobic freak John Howard. Or maybe you await your daily dose of instructions from that screaming idiot Alan Jones on how to run your life. Perhaps you were among the angry mass that came down from the trees pumping with racial hatred when Jones urged his listeners to:

“Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day . . . “

If any of those poor sods locked up in those filthy detention centres – you know, the ones that aren’t getting treated harshly enough – if they ever make it to this ugly country, what would you like done to them? I can’t imagine how horrific it might be, though I’m sure it’d be something ghoulish enough to satisfy your heartless souls.

As I said, you (and your ilk) are a disgrace to our nation. And what a crying shame that sadly, you are our nation.

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Abbott gets it wrong on Sri Lanka

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Image courtesy of smh.com.au

Do you remember when Tony Abbott defended Sri Lanka’s human rights record, saying the Rajapaksa government was committed to upholding the democratic charter of the Commonwealth but that “sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen”? Yes, like torture. And murder.

He went to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka with nothing but praise for President Mahinda Rajapakse, rather than to “bury him under the weight of human rights abuse allegations” that had completely dominated the CHOGM.

“We are here to praise as much as judge,” he told the forum’s opening meeting, lauding the ending of Sri Lanka’s civil war, and the development in the country since.

While Tony Abbott is content with showering praise, meanwhile in the real world:

A tribunal of 11 eminent judges has unanimously found the Sri Lankan government guilty of the crime of genocide against ethnic Tamil people. Sitting in Bremen, from December 7 to 10, the Second Session of the Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka found that the crime of genocide has been and is being committed against the Eelam Tamils as a national group.

The tribunal found that genocide against the Eelam Tamil group has not yet reached the total destruction of their identity; however, the genocide is a process and the process is ongoing. The military killings of May 2009 have been transformed into other forms of conduct causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group. The tribunal considered that the proof established beyond any reasonable doubt that the following acts were committed by the government of Sri Lanka:

- Killing members of the group, which includes massacres, indiscriminate shelling, the strategy of herding civilians into so-called ”no fire zones” for the purpose of killings, targeted assassinations of outspoken Eelam Tamil civil leaders who were capable of articulating the Sri Lankan genocide project to the outside world.

- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, including acts of torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, sexual violence including rape, interrogations combined with beatings, threats of death, and harm that damages health or causes disfigurement or injury.

- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part, including expulsion of the victims from their homes; and seizures of private lands; declaring vast areas as military high security zones to facilitate the military acquisition of Tamil land.

The tribunal undertook to further examine allegations of forced sterilisation of Tamil women.

Britain and the US were found to be guilty of complicity in the crime of genocide, including complicity by procuring means, such as weapons, instruments or any other means, used to commit genocide, with the accomplice knowing that such means would be used for such a purpose; and complicity by knowingly aiding or abetting a perpetrator of a genocide in the planning or enabling of such acts.

The tribunal recognised that Sri Lanka did not have the capacity to achieve genocide without assistance and, on the basis of evidence provided, came to the conclusion that Britain, the US and possibly India are guilty of complicity. However, due to the constraint of time, the tribunal limited its findings to Britain and the US, pending the availability of further evidence against India and other states.

After the recent gift of two patrol boats to Sri Lanka’s navy, Australia is in danger of being one of those states. The gift adds to the military capacity of the Rajapaksa regime to illegally detain and harm Tamil asylum seekers fleeing repression.

But in Abbott’s eyes it’s OK to donate two navy ships to Sri Lanka because they simply “promote enhanced collaboration on people smuggling”.

Is it really worth it? Is he that desperate to stop the boats that he’s happy to accept that the alternative for those people is that difficult things might happen to them?

Dan Rowden, on providing the link to the tribunal’s finding (above) on The AIMN summarises it better than anyone:

And this Government has now made Australia complicit. Whatever else this Government does I don’t think this one can be surpassed.

Abbott certainly got that one wrong, didn’t he?

Abbott picks his priorities

Tony-Abbott

I would like to start by wishing everyone a very Happy 2014.  This year, and hopefully not too far beyond is certainly going to be a challenge.

Shall I say it; Tony Abbott has exceeded expectations.  I think that all know from Abbott’s gilt-edged promises that “the Abbottoir” would fulfill his destiny and do his best to dismantle anything and everything which does not fit in with his perception as expressed in Tony World.  In Tony World for example, women of calibre are worth every single taxpayer dollar to enable them to employ au pairs and live in nanny’s.  In Tony World one visit to an indigenous community once a year means “taking an interest”.

Tony World is superficial.  Tony World avoids anything awkward such as having to provide truthful answers.  Tony World runs and hides, and hopes that it will all go away.

It was therefore shortly after the election, and with some feeling of dread that I read the announcement that Abbott had decided to take control of both indigenous and women’s issues, both of which require avoidance of the superficial, a commitment to provide truthful answers, and a determination to NOT run and hide.  These qualities being the antithesis of what all have come to expect from the person Tony Abbott.

My immediate impression was that by taking control of these two very important and to Abbott, somewhat vexatious issues, that he could grandstand – take the high moral ground by claiming that these issues were “so important to him” that he had decided to take direct control, whilst at the same time not have a minister who had to answer questions.

Almost two years ago, I wrote this article:  A Stint in Jail which in part reads:

Late June last year a report was tabled to the House of Representatives:  Doing Time – Time For Doing.  As well as the above, this report includes that:

  • Between 2000 and 2009, the incarceration rate for Indigenous Australians rose by 66%.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, the actual number of Aboriginal men in prisons rose by 55%, and the number of women rose by 47%.
  • 70% of remote Indigenous adults have hearing loss or problems, but that Australian Hearing, “which provides free treatment for children under the Hearing Services Program, doesn’t visit juvenile detention centres”.

So why are Indigenous young people imprisoned at 28 times the rate as white kids?  Creative Spirits provides the following:

Non-Aboriginal indifference

Police remain hard-hearted and indifferent to prison rates and, in some cases, to Aboriginal prisoners themselves. The Children’s Court is often being told imprisonment is the only option due to lack of accommodation.

“Incredibly trivial offences”

There is evidence to suggest that police treat Aboriginal people differently for trivial offences, for example some Aboriginal people end up in jail because they did not get the postal notifications of court dates after which bench warrants are issued and bail is unlikely.  Another example is being caught with 1.5 litres of any alcohol including beer in a restricted area carries with it a 18 month jail term.

Peter Collins, Legal Director of Aboriginal Legal Services in Western Australia (ALSWA):

“Every day of the week we act for Aboriginal people who’ve been charged with disorderly conduct. “Their crime: To swear at the police. They use the F word, they use the C word. Often they’re drunk or affected by drugs or both, or they’ve got a mental illness or they’re homeless or whatever. But it seems to me the only people in this day and age who are offended by the use of the F word and the C word are police. And so these [Aboriginal] people are hauled before the courts for these incredibly trivial offences.”

Lack of understanding of white law

More than 90% of people in Arnhem Land, NT, could not answer basic legal questions.  95% of Yolngu people could not explain the 30 most commonly used English legal terms, such as ‘bail’, ‘commit’, ‘arrest’ or even ‘guilty’. Even 90% of community leaders, school teachers and council representatives had no understanding of these legal terms.

This might explain why in 2008 over 80% of the Northern Territory prison population was Aboriginal. Many of them might as well be innocent because they didn’t understand what ‘guilty’ meant.

Richard Trudgen, CEO of the Aboriginal Resource and Development Services:

“People thought that pleading guilty actually got them through the court quickly and they didn’t go to jail. When they realised what the term guilty meant they were able to identify some of the things that they were convicted of that they never had anything to do with.”

Another reason why Aboriginal people make ‘false’ statements in court is that they are hearing-impaired through a cycle of poor health. There is a clear relationship between hearing loss and early Indigenous justice problems – 90% of Indigenous inmates in Darwin Correctional Centre suffer from hearing loss.

Priscilla Collins, North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA):  “Half the time our clients break the law because they don’t understand it”.

*** Note:  this young offender was given a custodial sentence, was raped while in jail and killed himself upon his release.

The horrors experienced by many young inmates, particularly those who are convicted of non-violent offences, border on the unimaginable. Prison rape not only threatens the lives of those who fall prey to their aggressors, but it is potentially devastating to the human spirit. Shame, depression, and a shattering loss of self-esteem accompany the perpetual terror the victim thereafter must endure.

Ref: Heilpern, David M, “Sexual Assault of Prisoners: Reflections” [2005] UNSWLawJI 17; (2005) 28(1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 286

Tony Abbott as Prime Minister: Indigenous legal aid to be cut by $13.4 million

The biggest blow toIndigenous funding was to legal aid – $13.4 million will be taken out of the sector over the next four years.

But the treasurer says it is part of returning the budget to good health.

“Much of the projected growth is from social programs, including welfare, education and health. Spending reform will inevitably require difficult choices about the policies that Australia needs now and in the years to come,” Treasurer Joe Hockey says.

As an example:  Those services cut (will) include the $45 million that was promised during the election campaign to set up four training centres that the government is hoping will train 5,000 Indigenous people.

Tony Abbott however will, set up a committee which will “meet three times a year with the Prime Minister and senior ministers, starting next month, and will inform the policy implementation of the government”.

I am highlighting just one of Tony Abbott’s delusions, that he intends to help indigenous people.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt, that he is delusional rather than stating specifically that he has lied.

Abbott’s health

While aspiring to be prime minister Tony Abbott promised:

The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has reiterated that if elected he wants to secure the jobs of today and build the jobs of tomorrow. He’s told AM there will be no cuts to education, health or pensions, and that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s talk of a $70 billion black hole will be proved wrong. The Coalition is preparing to outline how it intends to balance the budget should it win on Saturday.

The above pledge made on the 5th September must have been one of the most short-lived in political history, as by the 22nd September, and as reported by news.com:

The Coalition will also begin unwinding key “nanny state” agencies such as the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, established to lead the national fight against obesity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use . . .

Two major health agencies – the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the year-old National Health Performance Authority – are under review and could have their combined budgets – of around $40 million a year – slashed.

Create jobs?  Protect the health of the nation? Nanny state?  Let’s not forget the obligatory derogatory put-down, just for emphasis.  It could of course be argued that these are not cuts to health per se, just the services aligned to health such as preventative care.  It gets worse.

27th November via the Sydney Morning Herald:

One of the nation’s oldest health organisations has been placed in voluntary administration after its funding was cut by the government.

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, which has operated since 1966, learned on Monday its funding would cease immediately.

President of the council’s board, former Liberal MP Mal Washer, said the decision was a ”devastating blow” that would undermine years of work.

There is yet more devastation for the health of Australia, with details going mostly under-reported such as:

The loss of funding for Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE’s $63million Health and Social Wellbeing Learning Precinct means the region will miss out on more than 300 job opportunities.

Local member, Mal Brough of course blamed Labor.

A major blow to public health followed which brings us to the precise lie, that it is not just organisations which provide preventative care and education, but that health has been cut, and cut directly to public hospitals.  It was a dire warning from some that one should look at Tony Abbott’s stint as Health Minister to note what his likely attitude towards health would be.  We have all read about the $1 billion dollars gutted from public health, but there is also this:

He (Abbott) saw health as a matter of individual choice, and ill-health in medical terms around the prevention and cure of particular diseases.

Abbott is therefore worse than anticipated, not only clearly perceiving things such as alcohol and drug prevention as “luxuries” Australia cannot afford, but has cut precisely into public health, where it is clear that lives will be put at risk:

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.

It is an expectation that in wealthy country such as Australia, that an obligation of any government would include to “tackle chronic diseases, provide faster access to newly approved medicines, invest in Australia’s medical workforce and prepare the health system for the demographic changes ahead“.  Perhaps included might be “a four-fold increase in medical research funding“.  The Millennium Institute, is one of the largest medical research institutes in Australia working on cancer and leukemia research has had $12 million slashed from it’s funding.

Note:  the above quote is  from The Coalition’s Policy to Support Australia’s Health System will . . . The Coalition will?  It seems that the Coalition won’t.

The Abbott form of Social Engineering

I am grateful to John Lord for allowing me to reproduce his frightening piece, first published today on The AIMN.

social-engineering

In recent weeks I have written on three subjects relating to what I shall loosely call “The Psychology of Politics.” The first was titled Hidden Persuaders, the second You’re Being Manipulated and the third Political Lies and Who Tells Them. This one deals with Social Engineering.

This week I posted on Facebook the following statement.

“I have seen many governments come and go in my lifetime. All incoming governments naturally implement their policies within the constraints that exist within the two Australian Houses of Parliament.

The Abbott Government, however, seems to have embarked on some form of social engineering.”

I was taken to task for this statement by one person in particular and I told him I was writing an extended piece this week. To put my piece in some sort of context I begin with some quotes.

In one of his most influential essays, (Milton) Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as “the shock doctrine”. He observed that:

“Only a crisis – actual or PERCEIVED – produces real change”. . . A variation on Machiavelli’s advice that “injuries” should be inflicted “all at once” – Naomi Klein, “Shock Doctrine”

In other words, manufacture a sense of crisis and you can get away with anything starting with maximum harm. Therefore, the conservatives are manufacturing a non-existent debt crisis.

Margret Thatcher said this (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich”.

Abraham Lincoln said this:

“Labor came before capital and is not related to it. Capital is what’s acquired from labour, and would never have come about if it were not for labour. Therefore, labour is superior to capital and deserves the higher significance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt said this:

They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers . . . call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”

This is one of mine:

“The GST burdens the poor and those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life—food, clothing, rent, heating, power etc”.

Before addressing the issue of Social Engineering I should say exactly what I think a Government should be regardless of its ideology.

Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions. When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government. It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair reward for the fruits of their labour. And above all it should be answerable to the people.

What is ‘Social (political) Engineering?’

Social Engineering is when a political party seeks to use selective deceptive, manipulative and insidious psychological techniques to influence and bring about a change in the attitudes of masses of people to its point of view.

Now let’s get to the crux of the matter. You cannot possibly believe in democracy if you believe that your party is the only one who should win. Therefore, any party who wins an election is entitled to govern.

My problem with the Abbott Government is that it has embarked on a programme that is ideologically targeted at changing the way we think. This is social engineering.

Tony Abbott, for six years in Opposition created a negative image of our nation. He has never had a positive word to say about his country. He uses simplistic slogans to talk about complex problems and in doing so suggests he has answers when he doesn’t. He has spread negativity like rust throughout the community. This is because he sees a need to promote a sense of crisis, an Armageddon about everything. Everything is wrong and he is the only one who can fix it. There is a budget crisis when none exists. There is a debt crisis (while adding to it) when none exists. There is a crisis about the cost of living when Australians have never had it better. It’s a deliberate tactic of social engineering. Create an illusion of disaster and people will believe the perception is in fact a reality. And of course keep on doing it when you attain government.

Another form of social engineering is making the people feel threatened. Tell them that the poor souls seeking asylum are below humanity, demonise them so that the people hate them. Take away all their rights and appeal to the base instincts of ordinary people and the racists. Apply a code of conduct and treat them like animals. Even take away the basic human right of association. Tell the people the absurd lie that their borders are under threat. And keep repeating the same slogans in government. Perpetuate the lie that you have stopped the boats when in all probability it was the other party’s policies that were responsible. It’s called social engineering.

The conservative Abbott Government has taken away from middle and low income earners, the School bonus and a superannuation discount to low income earners, mainly women. In addition they have blocked a pay rise to low income Child Care Workers. The annual small lump sum to pensioners to pay for unexpected bills was also abolished. And when the commission of audit reports I should think the assault on the middle and lower income earners will be on in earnest. The abandonment of all these benefits in the name of austerity is a smoke screen. It is taking from one group to give to another. The Paid Parental Leave Scheme comes to mind. Also the 15% tax rebate for the highest wage earners. This is not equity, it is social engineering. If the budget truly demands cuts, they should be equitable.

When a Government seeks to backtrack on election promises like the Gonski reforms and reimpose its own elitist inequitable policy with not the slightest thought for those who can least afford a better education: it is practising social engineering.

When it deliberately downgrades a policy like the NDIS on the basis of unaffordability but at the same time gives tax breaks to the wealthy industrialists including the richest women in the world: it is applying social engineering.

This Government came to office saying they were adult and trustworthy. That there would be no surprises. Yet what we have seen is an attack on the less well-off. It is making it very clear that there are untouchable cohorts and there are those that will have to support the untouchables.

The refusal to pay a miserly pay increase to Child Care Workers was an attack on Unionism. Taking money from aged care workers by dumping the Workforce Compact which provided a $1.2 billion fund to give aged care workers a much-needed 1% pay rise is another example.

The very premeditated, deliberate government induced exodus of GMH is not just the expulsion of the car industry but also a government attempt to rid the country of unions. There will be no government assistance for companies with union shops. It’s called social engineering.

If there were just a few instances of stamping a Governments ideological philosophy on the community you would say, fair enough. But there is a have, have-not form of serfdom running through this government’s work. They came to government without any policies and are more intent on destroying Labor’s legacy than governing for the common good.

We now have a Prime Minister for undoing, not for doing.

It seems the Abbott Government is attempting to socially engineer the minds of people. Nowhere is this more evident than its willingness to downgrade education and in particular, science. Any pretext to the scientific understanding of environmental impacts has been thrown out the window to appease the sponge of capitalism. We have seen in the past few days the reversal of Australia’s ocean reserves. A policy hailed throughout the world. God only knows what they intend for the Murray Darling.

To belittle science in order to create doubt in the community is social engineering of the very worst kind. And to suggest that excellent learning should only be available to the well-off is yet another example of social engineering.

In the area of communications we have a concerted attempt to eliminate the reasoned voice of opposing views. The dual attack on the ABC by the Murdoch Empire is an attempt to stifle debate. When a government condemns a perceived bias of one outlet without acknowledging the bias of another it is practicing social engineering

And when it appoints a person like Tim Wilson from the right wing think tank, IPA to the position of Australian Human Rights Commissioner at $330,000 a year (an institution that he and the IPA advocate eliminating) they are saying loud and clear that they are intent on telling you how to think. It’s called social engineering.

On his appointment he tweets this.

@Stimwilsoncomau: “To those who have welcomed my appointment, I give thanks. To those that have not, I welcome the chance to defend your free speech.”

Lying of course is the Social Engineers most effective tool. Throughout his career Tony Abbott has used this tool most effectively. He admits it and the people accept it but its effectiveness is in its persistency and continuity. Abbott has reached a stage in his Social Engineering where he is convincing people that truth is what he convinces us to believe rather than truth based on fact.

Here is an example:

“Let’s be under no illusion. The carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

The statement has no basis in fact.

Another tool of Social Engineering is secrecy and the Abbott Government has displayed a propensity for it. It’s called lying by omission.

We also see Social Engineering in policy and decision making. Here are a few: T

- The broken promise on the NBN will effectively mean that those who can afford it will become information rich and those who cannot will remain information poor.

= Done deals with every state and territory government to gut and downgrade national environment laws by giving approval powers to state premiers further erodes the public’s capacity to disagree. It removes the community’s right to challenge decisions where the government has ignored expert advice. By removing funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia it has taken away the participatory role of the people in government.

- By challenging the ACT Marriage Equality laws in the High Court it has ensured the ongoing discrimination against same-sex couples despite the vast majority agreeing with the proposition. By moving to repeal protections in the Racial Discrimination Act it is flaunting public opinion. By scrapping the Advisory Panel on Positive Aging, established to help address the challenges we will face in coming years as the number of older Australians grows it has taken away the voice of the people. And in abolishing the Climate Commission it has sought to silence science.

All of these things contribute to how we think act and feel. By manipulating society into thinking that the entire realm and ownership of knowledge is found in one ideology, one individual or cohort of individuals is a form of Social Engineering.

Collectively I believe these four pieces make a solid case that Abbott in Opposition and in Government is embarking on a course of Social Engineering. A course of inequality, of privilege and serfdom. Of manipulating society into believing that if the rich become richer their lot will advance at the same rate.

I remember Peter Costello being asked at the end of his tenure as Treasurer about the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. His answer was to say “but at least the poor have not become poorer.”

I will leave you to ponder that.

PS. And I didn’t even mention the malevolent treatment of women. Yet another example of Social Engineering.