As evidence of abuse mounts, prosecution of Abbott Govt in ICC looking more likely

Originally posted on UndercoverInfo:

A year or even six months ago most pundits would have agreed it was highly unlikely that an Australian prime minister would face prosecution in the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding Government policy and treatment of asylum-seekers. But that was before the weeks and weeks of abuse testimony, of leaks by detention centres workers, and before the ‘people smugglers’ funding affair. Revelations of abuse (physical, sexual, psychological) of detainees, including children, at the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres, has meant prosecution of the Abbott Administration in the ICC is now far more probable. Indeed, a case against the Abbott Government has been filed with the ICC. Below, we explain what this case with the ICC will involve and, on the way, examine the numerous Australian laws and international protocols that the Abbott Government is accused of violating.

A. Submissions to the ICC re Abbott Administration

In October 2014 Andrew…

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One for old time’s sake


June 6th, 2010. The day Café Whispers opened.

June 6th, 2014. The day we closed.

So why this ‘anniversary’ post?

Well even a year after closing our doors we still have up to 3,000 visitors a month dropping into the Café, maybe hopeful that the doors have re-opened. And we still receive email (via The AIMN) from people (many we don’t even know) who tell us they were disappointed we closed.

It just seemed fair to give those dedicated daily visitors a chance to simply get together again.

So what’s been happening over the last twelve months?

I guess that’s rather easy to answer: You just have to look at the mess this country is in, who is to blame, and what we’re trying to do about it.

On the latter Carol and I have been kept more than busy over at The Australian Independent Media Network – mainly as overworked admins, not as a writers – where all the team is committed to holding the Abbott ‘government’ to account. The expectations we had here at the Café for the worst opposition leader in history have been exceeded beyond anything we could have imagined. Tony Abbott has quickly filled the role of being the worst prime minister in the worst government at the worst possible time.

He has ignored climate change. Jobs are being lost. Services are being eroded. Retirement savings are disintegrating. The poor are being used as scapegoats to the advantage of the wealthy. Refugees are (still) being dehumanised and (still) made to suffer for political gain. Our freedoms are being eroded. And much of this is unfolding under the stunned gaze of a seemingly compliant opposition.

Whilst – as stated – we are committed to holding the government to account, we are equally committed to holding the opposition to account as well. For in many areas they have been equally disappointing. And again like the government, at the worst possible time.

It has been a disappointing twelve months in Australian politics (though not without sensationalism) and for those with an interest in the environment, the future, social justice, science, education etc, it has also been a disappointing year for Australia.

The next twelve months don’t look any brighter either.

Pity that.

It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that in the coming months Tony Abbott will call an early election. From that moment on we can expect with complete certainty that the Murdoch media will go feral on Labor whilst hoisting Abbott and his government on a pedestal he/they are certainly unworthy of. It will be ugly. You can add the Murdoch media to the list of those we in the social media attempt to hold to account!

One thing that has annoyed me personally over the the last year is the mainstream media’s fascination with political wedges. Maybe it’s because the political parties themselves are aiming for nothing else. Repeated scoops such as ‘Shorten goes soft to avoid being wedged’, ‘Abbott drove in the dividing wedge’, or ‘Shorten succeeded in wedging Abbott’ ad nauseum are all we hear. Instead of focusing on wedges and mainstream media commentators, Tony, Bill, how about coming up with something that resembles workable policies and direction for all Australians?

Speaking of the media, the media frenzy that surrounded Tony Abbott’s address to the National Press Club a few days before the expected leadership challenge earlier this year provided the perfect example of how out of touch the mainstream media is with the issues important to voting Australians.

After Mr Abbott’s address he fielded questions from the invited media representatives and one after one they threw questions about the expected challenge. With the rare exception it was apparent that nothing else was worthy of consideration. They were only interested in the challenge.

They then scurried back to their respective offices and penned a story for their dwindling readership about (their) biggest issue in Australia: the challenge (that never eventuated).

They blew the chance to question Mr Abbott on the real issues: the budget, the lies about Labor’s debt, same-sex marriage, the mistreatment of asylum seekers, growing unemployment, climate change and the government’s ignorance to it, unfair subsidies to mining companies, negative gearing etc etc.

Think of any important issue … and it was ignored that day.

And on the main they continue to be ignored (although we can expect them to be twisted around a bit once the election is called).

That day in the Press Club – though now long forgotten by most – stands out to me as no better example of how the media fails us.


But to finish on a lighter note … my New Year’s predictions were that by the end of the year we would have a new prime minister and that Port Adelaide would make the AFL Grand Final. I concede that both my predictions look a bit wobbly.

And now how about a song?

Temporarily under new management

On the ‘All things must pass’ thread, Michael said:

The Café won’t be disappearing into the internet oblivion though; it will be kept open indefinitely as an ‘archive’ of everyone’s contribution. So yes, by all means we’ll still be here if you wish to continue adding comments on any of our existing posts, but I will not be adding any new ones.

Following on from this thought, I have agreed to look after the Café to allow Michael time and space to deal with the AIMN site and his studies. Rather than developing or changing the Café, I will just keep an eye on it, perhaps creating a new ‘Cafe Talk’ thread if threads get too long, especially for those on mobile devices.

Some Whisperers have indicated interest in a new site to continue on from the Café, so with that in mind, I have started work on creating Whispers’ Cellar. I am quite busy at the moment with renovations to our kitchen, and my wife’s 95 year old aunt died yesterday, so that will also require some time to sort out – funeral and sorting through belongings, wills etc. I am hoping to have the Cellar open for business in the next few weeks. If anyone would like to help out – author an occasional article, or assist with the administration of the new site, let me know.

Meanwhile, we can continue our discussions upstairs here at the Café.

All things must pass


Our first logo

Our first logo


Today’s our fourth birthday, but sadly it will be our last.

When we opened we thought we’d last about a month! Now, four years later it’s time to draw the curtain on what has been an amazing experience.

If it were possible I’d keep the Café open forever – but it’s not possible.  I’m focused on finishing my law degree as well as other internet ventures, and I don’t seem to have the spare time that I’d like to have.

We finish with a proud record and that’s a good way to finish.

Over the four years we’ve had almost 1.5 million visitors, 147,000 comments, and 1,200 posts. These are remarkable statistics. But best of all we’ve shared this experience with hundreds of amazing people, many of whom I now consider truly great friends. They all added to the experience, and they all made it worthwhile.

There are too many to thank – both as authors or commenters – so forgive me if I skip that formality. However, I would like to reserve a special thanks to Min. The Café wouldn’t have had a heartbeat without her.

The Café won’t be disappearing into the internet oblivion though; it will be kept open indefinitely as an ‘archive’ of everyone’s contribution. So yes, by all means we’ll still be here if you wish to continue adding comments on any of our existing posts, but I will not be adding any new ones.

And of course we’ll still be able to catch up with each other over at The AIMN, which has grown beyond all my expectations and where many of my friends from the Café now gather. So we’ll see you there.

Anyway, shall we finish with a song?



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

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’.

Labor’s vision for Australia misses one huge detail


I received this email today:


Some time ago I wrote to you asking you to complete a survey so I could see what you believed was Labor’s direction for the future.

Today our party – the oldest organised labour party in the world – is undergoing a process of grassroots reform and revitalisation. That’s why this was such a tremendous opportunity to hear from you.

I wanted to make sure all of you got a chance to see the results of this survey and what our community’s vision for the future of Labor was. Read our report and take your chance to share my favourite part of this job – listening to people about the things that matter most.

Thanks for your support,

George Wright
National Secretary

For whatever reason, I didn’t complete the survey. Nonetheless, I was interested to read the report.

Sadly, it told me little, but I was extremely disappointed with the summary. Here is a part of it:

The policy areas of importance to supporters, namely healthcare, climate change, the NBN & schools funding, were policy areas already championed by the Party.

So why am I disappointed? I’m disappointed because Labor’s vision for the future doesn’t include on-shore processing of asylum seekers. It obviously wasn’t an issue for the respondents. Not surprising when you consider that:

Respondents generally used the internet either every day, regularly consumed media television (68.10%) & radio news (65.18%), as well as Facebook (49.64%) and online newspapers (49.08%).

So there you have it: most respondents still favour mainstream media over social media.

If we want to change Labor’s vision, we first need to change where its members get their news and opinion. Then we can really tell Labor what we think of  off-shore processing of asylum seekers. And maybe they’ll listen.


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.


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. . .


Budget for Abbott’s Australia


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.


Another Open Letter to Tony Abbott

Originally posted on The Australian Independent Media Network:

TonyAbbottOpenLetterDear Tony Abbott

I’m writing to you again with the knowledge that you clearly haven’t read my previous correspondence, including this letter, this letter and this video. Since I wrote those letters, you have gone from my worst nightmare as an Opposition Leader, to an even worse nightmare of a Prime Minister. Yet, as I was reminded this week on Twitter, and as I would like to remind anyone who reads this letter, you aren’t a scary monster. Thinking of you has some scary creature underneath the bed is probably not very helpful because it gives you a status you don’t deserve (and I don’t like the idea of you being anywhere near my bed). But seriously Tony, to be scary and feared, you need to be successful. But when you look at your term as Prime Minister so far, it would be inaccurate to suggest you’ve been…

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