Open forum: Would you pay $300 to support the disabled?

Julia Gillard is considering increasing the Medicare levy by roughly $300 a year to help pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. News.com had an article today, Would you pay $300 to support the disabled? where two reporters offered two alternative opinions on the issue.

From Matt Young, who clearly would not pay $300 a year we get:

My issue is fairly simple. Once you add the extra amount to rising rates, health premiums, rent and cost of living in a time when our government is wasting my money on failed schemes, I don’t see why I should go without heating this winter when there might be an easier way to solve the problem.

As an aside, I don’t know what country Matt lives in, but in our country we are not experiencing rising rate. He continues:

The Australian public should not have to suffer for our government’s continually poor economic decisions.

Need I remind our dear readers of the Labor government’s Building the Education Revolution scheme, in which $16.2 billion was forked out to build outdoor infrastructure to Australian schools… when many of the projects were hardly urgent.

Then there was the Pink Batts scheme which failed to deliver what the government promised.

The average Aussie wallet is not a last port of call for a government drowning in debt and in need of a desperate decision.

Get your books in order Gillard, then I’ll pay your levy.

Claire Porter holds a different view, not based on politics but on need:

Saying you should be able to pick and choose what your taxes pay for is fine . . . But we can all get on board with the idea of a national disability scheme, surely?

I for one would happily hand over my $300 a year if it meant it made things just a little bit easier for the disabled and their families to get by.

I’ve perused the social media today and the loudest opponents are those who could most probably afford $300 a year. And yes, most of those are LNP supporters. I haven’t heard many complaints from those who earn less money. Funny, that.

How about yourself? Would you pay $300 to support the disabled?

Running dry on Tony Abbott

spnewtony21-20130321184812510176-620x349One of the songs that I loathe is an extremely depressing little number called Send in the Clowns.
Musically haunting, lyrically lovely but on listening to it, I feel like throwing a brick at someone or something.

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear.
I thought that you’d want what I want…
Sorry, my dear!
And where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here.

I wish to report that I have thus far resisted throwing a brick at the tellie whenever Abbott deigns to grace the magic screen. Yet the word “farce” comes to mind when thinking about the potential of having this person as our Prime Minister.

What more can be said about Tony Abbott? If media interviews with Abbott are any indication, not much more can be said at all. Are the interviewers just as bored as the rest of us listening to Tony’s completely uninspiring and dully intonated promises to dud almost everyone, and to cancel almost everything?

Of the Prime Ministers of the last decade plus, John Howard wanted us to be relaxed and comfortable – Kevin Rudd wanted The Apology, the NBN and “to bring back the Fair Go” – and Gillard wanted another chance to achieve this.

Has there ever been an election campaign where the leader in the polls has promised to do nothing whatsoever (at least nothing within the realms of logic), and yet our media appear to be completely oblivious to this fact. Another farce? Or as many have suggested, a deliberate ploy by the media to have someone elected who is compliant and malleable to those issues of substantial financial benefit to the wealthy and/or powerful?

Has there ever been a time where a majority of people appear to be completely accepting of the fact that they are about to be dudded; to lose money and perhaps lose their job, either personally or as a flow on effect from the number of public servants and teachers who have been promised with the sack – and yet this is all perfectly acceptable because why? Another farce?

Am I naïve to believe that those who run for the highest position in this land should be the very best which Australia has to offer. This person does not have to be the best educated, the wealthiest, to be the most ruthless and politically astute; in fact those with these attributes seem to be the worst rather than the best. Perhaps it is in this democracy that everyone is entitled to a vision, be it right or wrong, achievable or not, but a vision nonetheless. Tony Abbott has none.

I’m sorry Tony Abbott, but I have wafted dry on anything that you have to say. Nothing which you have said has anything of that crucial element which is important to me – sincerity.

Photo: KieraGorden

Photo: KieraGorden

What I don’t like about ANZAC Day

This is a comment made this morning by a well-known Australian writer:

Anzac Day. A celebration of a society so fucked up it saw no other option than to go to war. Kill, rape and invade. Then glorify it.

I’ve been hearing such sentiments more and more each ANZAC Day. Personally, it makes me feel sick. It’s what I don’t like about ANZAC Day: the moaning of the ungrateful Aussies.

I wonder if the writer grew up in a family that went to war.

My father spend 20 months in New Guinea fighting off the invaders in WW2. You’d hardly know he served, so little did he speak of it. He certainly didn’t glorify it. I lived in a soldier settlement area on Kangaroo Island so all the ‘old blokes’ I knew had served in the war. Not once did I hear the war mentioned. Not even the glorification of their conquests, even the sexual ones. The above writer may find that difficult to believe. It’s fairly hard to spend your days raping local women while dodging the bullets of Japanese snipers.

But the war never ended for these guys. They carried emotional scars to the grave.

Anyway, like I said, I feel a bit sick in the stomach. How does it make you feel?

Dear Tony your hubris is poking out…

Dear Tony

Since the media and the commentariat, not to mention Errand-Boy-in-Chief Christopher Pyne, are already celebrating your imminent accession to the Prime Ministership, despite your success as Eternal Opposition Leader and before you get Margie, or more likely Peta Credlin, to measure the curtains and before you put the second-mortgaged joint in Forestville on the rental market we thought we’d better run a few things past you.

We thought we should remind you that there is a small matter called an election which is to be held on the 14th September this year. Trivial indeed for the latest in a line of Tories who have believed they are Born to Rule.

That means unfortunately for you that the people of Australia actually get to vote to decide whether your party becomes government. And not before.

Damn nuisance this secular democracy stuff – I’m sure you yearn for a simpler time as you share a bottle of vintage plonk with the Cardinal.

We are sorry to disappoint you. We know you thought it was going to be the MSM, the shock jocks, the polling organisations, the mining magnates, the ACL and your party donors who would decide and deliver your imprimatur, but that’s the way it is in this country for now.

So given that you are still deeply unpopular with over half the voting-age population and that these women are not easily fooled by any hints of sudden backing-down on your previously strongly – held repressive positions, it may not be such a done deal.

After all your own daughter aptly describes you as a “lame, gay, churchy loser”. We don’t know about the second descriptor but your behaviour certainly indicates you are far more relaxed and comfortable with your own gender, doing blokey things while wearing lycra and interfering with the OH&S of production lines of hapless Queanbeyan factories and their workers.

For instance you have already indicated whom you would pick as Governor-General. That’s a big step to take before the polls have been declared and while the present incumbent enjoys the confidence of the present Government and the Australian people.

We know the position of G-G is largely ceremonial but the prestige attached to the position of de jure Head of State means that it is important that the person selected be someone who will attract the respect of the whole community.

The current G-G certainly does that. Quentin Bryce is probably the most popular incumbent since Bill Dean and has been an admirable ambassador internationally for this country as well as a fine representative of the monarch. It would not be wrong to say that only her long-serving NSW counterpart, Governor Marie Bashir, would attract the same level of respect and regard.

However it seems that you regard the position as a sinecure for your preferred type of Australian.

Your preferred G-G, it seems, would be either a former soldier or a former judge. That’s a fairly convenient way of excluding just about anyone who is not male, not white, who is Indigenous and who does not belong to any other ethnic or religious groups which may make you feel unrelaxed and uncomfortable.

Your errand boy has also made it quite clear that Things will Change in Education when you take the Prime Ministership. Lots of imperialist chest-beating fantasy history, no doubt rote-learnt to be regurgitated at exam time. Guess that will make up for your own total lack of comprehension about what war is really like.

Perhaps you could ask your preferred G-G?

We are somewhat in the dark about the rest of your policies. Perhaps after your imminent court appearance next month to face David Ettridge, formerly of One Nation, you may be inspired to Please Explain, as his former leader was wont to say.

You cannot continue to disappear from scrutiny in a puff of smoke for much of the week once you are PM. You would think Peta would be on to that – she has more time to make sure you were all polished up and Manchurian Candidated for the media than Andrew Robb had. He was a Shadow Minister with an electorate to service and a man with his own problems. He was wise to toss in the job.

You see, the people of Australia are totally in the dark about what you really stand for, as was evident when your Shadow Medicine Man Dutton appeared on Q&A, devoid of policies, mumbling alarming forecasts of a US-style two tiered health system and muttering the No mantra which is still your response of choice. Dutton only was able to appear to be on the ball when the non-controversial topic of palliative care for kids came up, because no one can oppose the notion of palliative care for kids with terminal illness.

Even a Coalition party member.

Though Dutton was a bit hesitant even on that point – perhaps he secretly believes the same as Toby Ralph ?

You see Tony, we don’t trust you. The people of Australia should not trust you. You will never be our Prime Minister, and if that dire day ever comes when you move into the Lodge, you will be regarded with even more alarm and apprehension than was John Howard. And everything you do, every breath you take, every aspect of your life past and present will be scrutinised and critiqued by us.

Be afraid

Conspiracies

You can’t help but be tempted to click on a headline as ludicrous as this one: 12 Million Americans Believe Lizard People Run Our Country, which I did, out of complete curiosity. It took me to a list of America’s most popular conspiracy theories. You can tell by the headline that some of these must be completely ludicrous. After all, everybody knows that reptiles haven’t run America since the days of the Bush/Cheney Administration. Nonetheless, I thought they’d provide a great talking point and perhaps you could add a few of your own.

We have our own local conspiracy theories, such as the CIA involvement in the dismissal of Whitlam, or the alleged kidnapping of Holt by the Chinese. The latter is the craziest thing I’ve heard, but it was running rampant in the late 60s. Anyway, here’s the list:

Conspiracy Percent believing Number of Americans believing
JFK was killed by conspiracy 51 percent 160,096,160
Bush intentionally misled on Iraq WMDs 44 percent 138,122,178
Global warming is a hoax 37 percent 116,148,195
Aliens exist 29 percent 91,035,072
New World Order 28 percent 87,895,931
Hussein was involved in 9/11 28 percent 87,895,931
A UFO crashed at Roswell 21 percent 65,921,948
Vaccines are linked to autism 20 percent 62,782,808
The government controls minds with TV 15 percent 47,087,106
Medical industry invents diseases 15 percent 47,087,106
CIA developed crack 14 percent 43,947,966
Bigfoot exists 14 percent 43,947,966
Obama is the Antichrist 13 percent 40,808,825
The government allowed 9/11 11 percent 34,530,544
Fluoride is dangerous 9 percent 28,252,264
The moon landing was faked 7 percent 21,973,983
Bin Laden is alive 6 percent 18,834,842
Airplane contrails are sinister chemicals 5 percent 15,695,702
McCartney died in 1966 5 percent 15,695,702
Lizard people control politics 4 percent 12,556,562

It’s good to see that not everybody is listening to Tony Abbott

Last November the Liberal Party released a publication called The little book of big Labor waste, which you can gain access to here. Their introduction stated that:

The Coalition has today released a book listing the top 50 examples of Labor waste and mismanagement since the overnight coup that installed Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.

The little book of big Labor waste shows that waste and mismanagement was not just a feature of the Rudd Labor Government; it is also a hallmark of the Gillard Labor Government.

One of the initiatives they targeted as an example of Labor’s waste was this:

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are going to promote the carbon tax to toddlers as part of Labor’s multi-million dollar carbon tax campaign. The Department of Climate Change has provided grants for:

1. $150,000 to Dirtgirlworld Productions Pty Ltd – producer of children’s television program popular with toddlers.

2. $200,000 to Green Cross Australia to run carbon tax ‘Show and Tell’ programs in primary schools.

Personally, I consider that spending money on climate change education in schools is money well spent. Let’s look at what’s happening in one particular school, in Perth, which sadly I am unable to name. The following text was taken from one of their student projects:

Sustainability Research

Introduction

As you guys know, our school has two great sustainability projects:

  1. The solar panels.
  2. The wind turbine.

It’s your job to find out how they work and what they’re doing for our school.

The Solar Panels

The system here generates about 50kWh a day when it is sunny. Your average school uses about 100kWh a day. So this system generates about half our energy use when it is hot.

Here is the power production for Wednesday the 3rd of April. Look closely at the graph and how the power gets produced (graph removed as it names the school).

  1. Why do we need electricity?
  2. How do solar panels work? Why is the graph shaped like that?
  3. What kind of days should produce the most power and what time of year would be best?
  4. Describe renewable energy? Why is it important?

Here is our power production for the month of MARCH. Compare this to the climate data below for Perth for the same period (graph removed).

  1. Which day produced the most power and which produced the least?
  2. What was the average daily power production?
  3. Can you see any trends between power production and the weather data? If so explain them.
  4. How much total power did the panels produce in March?

Here is one of our power bills for mid-February to mid-March. This is about the same each year and close to the period covered by the graph above (bill removed, amount due was just under $10k).

  1. Assuming that our panels generate roughly half our electricity, how much money will we save for the month of March?
  2. Extrapolate this for the entire year and how much will we save?

Go to the Sunny portal website at (link removed). This shows our solar power production on the web. Log in to ‘our school’s’ website and answer the following:

  1. How much total energy have we produced?
  2. How much CO2 we’ve avoided.
  3. Why is it important to reduce our CO2 production?

Wind Turbine

This is a one kWh system and was connected at the same time the solar panels were. Study the power production graph below for the first half of March (graph removed).

  1. How many kW were produced for the 14 days of the graph?
  2. How much would this be for the month assuming the second half of March was the same?
  3. Does the wind turbine produce more or less power than the solar panels and what is the difference?
  4. Which days produced the most power and why? Do these days fit with the Perth weather data table above?
  5. Which days produced the last power and why?
  6. Is the any relationship or pattern between the best wind days and the best solar power days? How about the worst days?
  7. Is it the case that the wind turbine works best when the solar panels are at their worst? Explain.
  8. What can you say about the 6th, 11th and 12th of March in terms of power production?

Reflection Questions

  1. What have you learnt about these items in class?
  2. Do you have any other environmental measures at your school?
  3. Do you have any environmental programs at your school?
  4. What have you learnt about the environment at school?
  5. Why do you think we should take care of our environment?
  6. How do you think we could get more people to care about the environment and save water/energy?
  7. Why is saving energy/water important?
  8. How can you help your school to save energy/water?
  9. Which ideas could you use at home?
  10. Describe renewable energy? Why is it important?
  11. Do you have any handy hints for helping the environment.

Brilliant, isn’t it? But according to the LNP all this is a waste of taxpayer’s money. These initiatives are being undertaken by hundreds of schools around the country while the best Tony Abbott can do is wave a pensioner’s power bill in Parliament lamenting an increase due to that lousy ‘carbon tax’. Meanwhile, the people who don’t listen to Tony Abbott spend $50K on solar panels and reduce their electricity bill by $4.5k a month.

It’s good to see that not everybody is listening to Tony Abbott.

Tony Abbott, small target and lower your vision

imagesTony Abbott will be Australia’s next Prime Minister. His ambition to fulfil his destiny will be realised. What Tony Abbott wants, Tony Abbott takes and with remarkable determination will see the idealisation of his destiny become reality. He will wave his hands high on the steps of Parliament House. He will express humility at the honour which ordinary Australians have bestowed on him.

But wait for a moment, isn’t this imaginary scenario all about Tony Abbott and his ambition? For a while let us give a thought to that which follows, and after that “momentous occasion” when Tony Abbott is presented with the keys to the Lodge and his team are dutifully sworn in to serve Australia and her people by Governor General Quentin Bryce.

We have had many insightful articles, (although these are exceedingly rare in the mainstream media) with predictions of what an Abbott Prime Ministership might consist of. There are predictions of huge revenue losses, large scale sackings of people who work in the public service (although Tony Abbott refuses to specify which services to the public), and handouts reminiscent of the Howard years but minus the mining boom, and basically little else. These predictions are quite dire, but surely there must be some reason, something which Tony Abbott is offering which explains why he is heading towards becoming Australia’s next Prime Minister.

I would suggest that which is missing and this includes anything emanating from the mainstream media, is The Benefits of an Abbott Prime Ministership. We therefore have to rely on Tony Abbott supporters for any glimpse into what they perceive as these benefits. And to be honest, these are scarce pickings.

We have:

Cancel the carbon tax – because there is no such thing as climate change.

Turn back the boats – because they’re not Christians and will take Australian jobs, plus they’re “illegal”. This same prejudice is the undercurrent – white, married and male flows on to those seen as “the others”; not white, not married and certainly not male.

Anything pertaining to private schools or middle class/upper class welfare is naught but class envy, yet all the while not being a part of the class which will by far gain the most benefit from Coalition policies.

But in the vast majority of comments, the underlying theme is that Tony Abbott is not a red-headed female atheist living in sin with a hairdresser.  For my own self this makes Ms Gillard far more interesting than Tony Abbott can ever hope to be..but that’s another story.

This therefore is what Tony Abbott is offering, or at least what his supporters hope that he is offering. There are two strings to this bow, that while Abbott’s policies remain unscrutinised his supporters are also victims of ignorance.

Here is my theory for what its worth:  The Abbott Strategy

The Abbott Strategy is to play small target on anything with a vision, a small target on offering anything to anyone.

Therefore Tony Abbott’s vision is anything that you may want; you imagine it and he will deliver it – or at least it may seem so in the imagination of his supporters.

From the Liberal Party website, the words of Tony Abbott.

In the future, as in the past, the Coalition can do great things for our country.

That’s good to know, but for Australia’s future are we going to do anything except “Ditch the Witch”? And turn back the boats? Is Australia’s future nothing more than a momentous occasion where it’s winner who takes all?

An Abbott Recession Or Worse?

Andrew James Whalan

History unlearned has an unfortunate habit of repeating itself.

Unfortunately, the present economic policies of the Abbott LNP will have historical long-term economic and social consequences.

The following ready reckoner and broad analysis sets out the short and long term consequences of an Abbott LNP government.  (Please note these commitments are not costed).

Short Term Consequences

Tax Reduction

Tax Neutral

Spending Increase

Spending Decreases

  • Unspecified (see below).

View original post 302 more words

Tony Abbott’s super plan

That fine custodian of moral journalistic virtue, Dennis Shanahan, in his article titled Labor fails super test with voters he gleefully tells us that:

Most people do not trust the Labor Party on superannuation and are overwhelmingly opposed to it being subjected to any tax increases after the Gillard government announced pre-budget cuts to retirement concessions for the wealthiest.

Only one in four voters believes the ALP, the party that introduced the modern superannuation system and compulsory employer payments to workers, is best able to handle superannuation. According to a Newspoll survey conducted exclusively for The Australian on the weekend after Wayne Swan announced superannuation changes aimed at saving $1 billion over four years, 55 per cent said they did not “currently” trust Labor on superannuation and 31 per cent said they did.

It’s all over Labor taxing the rich.

I’ll admit that I don’t like to see anyone’s superannuation savings diminished in any way, but given the choice between the rich and the poor being adversely affected, I’d happily settle on the rich. Tony Abbott – who I now introduce to the discussion – sees it differently to me. We need to talk a little about how Tony Abbott sees things. So do journalists like Dennis Shanahan.

Following the Treasurer’s announcement that super pension and annuity earnings greater than $100,000 would be taxed at 15 per cent, instead of being tax free – a move that would affect an estimated 16,000 people – Mr Abbott, in his role as the defender of all affluent Australians, said he:

. . . would “fight ferociously” changes that would play havoc with people’s retirement plans.

That would be admirable, if it weren’t for this:

Mr Abbott repeatedly refused to guarantee to wind back the government’s proposed changes, saying only that the Coalition would not make matters worse.

”We aren’t going to do any more damage,” he said.

That comment certainly makes his threat to fight ferociously appear rather shallow. All bark, no bite. I find it odd that he thinks repealing this would cause further damage. How?

Nonetheless, his opposition to the move has been most vociferous. No doubt you’ve see it headlined – nay, bashed to death – in the Murdoch media. Here’s an example:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has taken his “hands-off superannuation” message directly to those most worried by reported government changes – older Australians.

He rammed home the message to retirees on Sydney’s northern beaches on Tuesday that superannuation “piggy banks” were not government money but people’s money.

Raiding their piggy banks to fund the government’s “out-of-control” spending was a breach of faith and a betrayal of trust, he told the grey heads at the Dee Why RSL club.

He continues his attack on the LNP website:

The Prime Minister should end the class war and the latest escalation on the class war is the Prime Minister and the Treasurer’s coming attack on your superannuation. I want to say to the Australian people – your superannuation is safe under the Coalition. Your superannuation should be sacrosanct. There is no way that your superannuation should be raided by a bad government to get itself out of a hole. The Government should not be damaging your future to secure its future. The Government should not be raiding your money to get money for itself. It is a sign of just how debauched this Government has got that when it is in a hole, a hole of its own making, it should be seeking to trash your superannuation – trash, in fact, Labor’s historic legacy – to try to fix up a problem which it has caused.

But to Mr Abbott it’s more than just a fiddle with people’s retirement plans; it’s also a cash-grab from the Government:

“On balance, this is a $1 billion hit on people’s retirement savings,” he told the media in Melbourne.

“It is a $1 billion hit on savings that belong to the people, not the Government, and it shows that this is a government which is prepared to tax the people to fund its own spending.”

And it will only get worse, he warns:

If they get away with attacking the so-called rich today, they’re going to come for you tomorrow. That’s the truth about this government. If they get away with this, they’ll think they can get away with anything.

The man must be an emotional wreck; all that caring, all those concerns. Well, yes, he certainly has put on a sad face. He bleeds for those poor people raking in over $100,000 a year. The whole 16,000 of them.

And thanks to people like Dennis Shanahan we’ll always get to hear Tony’s side of the story.

Have a look at the Newspoll that Shanahan gloats about. What do you see? I see questions that are designed to elicit as much negativity about the Government possible.

Now let’s have a look at what Tony Abbott really thinks about superannuation.

It’s a con job, he once said, while on another occasion he savaged it as nothing but a gravy train for union officials. He even opposed an increase in the Super Guarantee – changes that would see 8.4 million Australians receive an increase in their retirement incomes. In effect, he opposed:

  • An additional $108,000 in the retirement income of a 30-year-old on average weekly earnings.
  • An additional $78,000 in superannuation for a women aged 30 on average weekly earnings, who has had an interrupted work pattern.
  • Australians who are over 50 and have low super balances, the opportunity to contribute up to $50,000 a year into superannuation at a concessional tax rate.

The latest ‘policy’ of Abbott’s confirms his apathy towards superannuation. Here it is in a nutshell:

Opposition leader Tony Abbott confirmed plans to axe a super tax break worth up to $500 a year for 3.6 million low-income earners.

And significantly:

. . . his plan to axe the $500 superannuation benefit for low-income workers will hit more than two million women, including 11,000 female voters in Tony Abbott’s own electorate.

It’s safe to say that in total, more people in his electorate will be effected by this measure than the number of people effected Australia wide by Labor’s plan. In total, it will effect 3.6 million Australians.

Wouldn’t it be good to have a Newspoll that asked questions about Tony Abbott’s super plan?

Perhaps they could try asking the very people who will be affected, such as the grey army.

Fair