One for old time’s sake

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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.

Sigh.

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?

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?

 

 

Labor’s vision for Australia misses one huge detail

 

I received this email today:

Michael,

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.

 

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…

View original 809 more words

The ‘new look’ Dept of Climate Change

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

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

Carbon tax to be abolished from 1 July 2014

Rather presumptuous, don’t you think?

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

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

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

Why are we removing the carbon tax

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

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

Rather odd, isn’t it?

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

 

Image courtesy of quickmeme.com

Image courtesy of quickmeme.com

I must be mixing with the wrong people

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a ripper from another nameless imbecile:

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

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

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

From the same person:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I suspect it’s the latter.

Image courtesy on knowyourmeme.com

Image courtesy on knowyourmeme.com

Standing Orders

From day one Speaker Bronwyn Bishop has been under fire for her blatant partisanship which favours the Government. I do not wish to delve into the instances here; I’m sure you’ve all witnessed her horrible display. Though I might add that it’s somewhat incredulous that this week we have seen 10 Members of the Opposition kicked out of the House and none from the Government. This of course isn’t without precedence, but it is indeed odd.

But speaking of really odd . . .

Her comment to the Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke that: “You were not standing properly on your feet – You should have been sitting down” has a touch of the ridiculous, don’t you think?

Has it really become that ridiculous?

In case you missed it.

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In case you missed it, here’s a press release from Tony Abbott in November 2012.

The next Coalition government will create a strong and prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia.

Our policies will deliver more jobs, higher wages and better services for Australian families.  We will achieve this through lower taxes, more efficient government and more productive businesses.

Today, I am committing a future Coalition government to creating one million new jobs within five years and two million new jobs over the next decade.

My confidence in this pledge is based on my confidence in our policies and in the competence and experience of my team.  Sixteen members of the Shadow Cabinet were ministers in the Howard Government which delivered a golden age of prosperity.

The last Coalition government created 2.4 million jobs, oversaw a 21 per cent increase in real wages and resulted in Australian households experiencing a near tripling in net household wealth.

We have done great things for our country in the past and we can do it again.

The next Coalition Government will create one million jobs in five years and two million jobs in ten years by:

–  Abolishing Labor’s job destroying carbon tax.  On the government’s own figures, eliminating the carbon tax would add a cumulative $1 trillion to GDP by 2050;
–  Scrapping the mining tax and restoring Australia’s reputation as a safe place to invest;
–  Removing $1 billion a year of red tape costs from business and implementing our Deregulation Reform Agenda to lift national productivity;
–  Ending Labor’s waste and bringing the Budget back under control, taking needless pressure off taxes and interest rates;
–  Tackling lawlessness in workplaces by restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission;
–  Removing export bottlenecks by investing in the major infrastructure that Australia needs
–  Establishing a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals;
–  Lifting workforce participation through a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme and reviving work for the dole;
–  Strengthening relationships with the growing Asian region through greater emphasis on foreign languages in schools and a new two way Colombo Plan;
–  Establishing a Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council and ending Labor’s anti-business rhetoric.

In 2013 the Coalition will make further detailed announcements with policies that will strengthen the economy, encourage investment and create jobs.

I have nothing more to say than simply . . . we were conned.