One person’s take on what March in March was all about

Over the last weekend (15-17 March) hundreds of thousands of people across Australia got together and marched against the Tony Abbott-leg government, under the banner of March in March.

There were many questions about who organised March in March and what were its motives and supposed outcomes. There was some quite good discussion about these questions in the lead up to March in March. But across the weekend hundreds of thousands of Australians marched.

They marched for various reasons.

I was fortunate enough to attend Melbourne’s March in March which started out at the State Library before heading off to Treasury Gardens. As it turned out there were tens of thousands of Australians packed into the gardens out the front of the State Library and around Melbourne Central. Some estimates suggest there were between 40,000 and 50,000 people.

It was a fantastic gathering of people from all walks of life and political persuasions.

I soon realised it didn’t really matter what March in March was all about but rather that this collective expression needed to happen.

People that had never met each other were discussing why they were there. And it turns out people had a variety of reasons but the theme was definitely overwhelming; the Abbott government is unsatisfactory and hurting people. It seemed that the people I was surrounded by were mostly there because of our treatment of refugees; our country going backwards on climate change; the expansion of CSG and opening up heritage forests to logging; and the attacks on single parents, students, aged and disability pensions.

There were others that I knew were there for those reasons and the attacks on workers’ rights and unions; and the education.

Personally I was there because:

  • Our country is going backwards in tackling climate change and isn’t moving towards an economy powered by clean energy and driven by innovation;
  • Our government has abandoned science;
  • Our government’s reckless austerity measures in the face of all evidence saying austerity is not necessary – ensuring the most vulnerable are put further at risk;
  • The policies of Labor and LNP towards refugees now sees some of the cruelest policies being implemented;
  • Of the attacks on workers’ rights and unions;
  • Our government doesn’t value the investment that education is in our population;
  • Of the increasing attacks on our digital rights and the implementation of a second-rate broadband network;
  • Of a government that panders to mining magnates and media moguls;
  • Our government seems to regularly embarrass us on the international stage;
  • A seeming lack of detail in articulating any kind of plan or vision for Australia without resorting to three word slogans.

There are definitely more but then this post would be very long and probably quite boring to read.

However I’m also confident that you can add your own reasons to this list for going to a March in March event held near you.

In the end it didn’t really matter why people were there; just that they did turn out to make this massive collective expression. I know it made me feel extremely positive and that the issues I work on and campaign for do matter and do make a difference. It was something that everyone there could enjoy – that they weren’t alone in feeling that something was very wrong with our federal and state governments.

The challenge, as noted by others, is for people working on progressive issues to turn this collective expression into further action.

For what it’s worth:

Here’s some video I took from the rally – this was well after the march had started but it was so massive it took some time before we got moving. Fortunately some street performers kept us entertained and revved up.

NOTE: This is a slightly altered version of the original post published here.

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


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. . .

It’s hotter in LA since Andrew was there

A year ago I wrote a piece for The AIMN titled “Andrew Bolt: the glob-trotting weather presenter” in response to an article – ridiculing climate change nonetheless – he called “Almost too cold to type this message to a warmist“. He wrote:

As it happens, I am in Los Angeles, freezing my backside off in an unusually cold spell . . . The world is not warming as was predicted.

Well, Andrew, LA ‘s damn hot a year to the day later. From conditions where you found yourself freezing your backside off . . . to this:

A record-breaking heat wave combined with gusty Santa Ana winds has created extreme fire conditions across parched wild lands in the Southland, forecasters warned.

Red flag warnings for Los Angeles and Ventura counties have been extended until 3 p.m. Friday with abysmally low humidity worsening already tinder-dry conditions. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are possible in mountain areas, the National Weather Service said.

Downtown Los Angeles hit 85F (30C), tying a daily record set in 2009. Bob Hope Airport in Burbank recorded a high of 86, breaking by one degree a record for the day set in 1976.

It’s funny how the weather can change so much in one year. Or maybe you were just using “an unusually cold spell” to support your opinion that climate change doesn’t really exist.

“These are matters for Tony”

Greg Hunt, the Federal Member for Flinders is the Minister for the Environment. He had only been sworn in a matter of days and he closed down the Climate Commission and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

I think the man is a hypocrite. Or gutless. This interview with Leigh Sales in December 2009 reveals that he is perhaps both. Here is a quote from it:

. . . But I do enjoy the environment – I’m passionate about it; I believe in the challenges of climate change – but these are matters for Tony.

Great. He wants to do something about climate change yet is happy to lick the boots of Tony Abbott – a man who thinks climate change is crap. He’ll leave it up to Tony. Wow, what a man of principle.

How does he sleep at night knowing he’s sold himself to the wrong bidder?

I’ve seen enough

In the days before the September election I resigned myself to the impending (and dreadful) likelihood that Tony Abbott would be forming a new government. After his victory I thought to myself, “Well, he’s won. I can only sit back and see how it goes”.

Well I’ve seen enough.

I’ve seen enough to come to the conclusion that it does not go well at all.

In six short weeks I’ve seen the Prime Minister insult our Asian neighbours, insult Putin, insult APEC members, insult insult UN officials over their views on climate change, and insult us all by running away from any journalist likely to ask a question.

In six short weeks we’ve been swamped with allegations of travel allowance rorts from his party members and we’ve seen Tony Abbott quickly jump to their defence, even though the finger of probable guilt has been pointed at them.

In six short weeks we’ve seen seen a group of wrecking balls, in the form of his Ministers, unleashed upon an unsuspecting electorate. We’ve seen Greg Hunt shut down the Climate Commission and in doing so, rebukes all the evidence that we are indeed approaching the serious threat of climate change.

We’ve seen Scott Morrison present us to the world as a nation of heartless bastards, and I am ashamed of that. In six short weeks we have seen that the only voters that matter in this country are the racist rednecks. And if the rednecks haven’t been appeased enough, now Brandis is making a High Court challenge to the ACT’s same-sex marriage legislation.

In six short weeks we’ve seen Joe Hockey dismantle every argument he has ever had about the previous government’s economic management and he himself is setting us on a course of possible economic Armageddon.

It’s only been six weeks, but yep, I’ve seen enough. There’s much more I could mention but I’m taking a break now. It’s time to bang my head against the wall.


From Tony Abbott’s address at the Institute of Public Affairs 70th Anniversary Dinner on April 4 we read:

. . . I want to assure you that the Coalition will indeed repeal the carbon tax, abolish the Department of Climate Change, abolish the Clean Energy Fund.

Perhaps he missed Minister Combet’s media release on March 25. Combet, the Minister for Climate Change, Industry and innovation announced that:

The Gillard Government is merging the majority of functions of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) with the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE).

The detailed policy design work and legislation for the carbon price has now been completed and the carbon price is being implemented successfully.

He might have also missed the Channel 9 news that night where it was reported that:

The federal government has announced that with the carbon tax up and running, there is no longer a need for a dedicated Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Well, he really is on top of things, isn’t he? The department was abolished within 24 hours of Combet’s announcement.

And of course, we had the Opposition condemning it:

Opposition climate action spokesman Greg Hunt said the decision to merge the department was “more climate chaos”.

“We’ve had pink batts, green loans, cash for clunkers and the citizen’s assembly all announced and abolished. Now we have an entire department announced and abolished,” he said.

Yes, the same department that Tony Abbott wants to abolish . . . no longer exists. Meanwhile, Hunt condemns the fact that it’s been abolished before Tony could do it.

The fact is, everybody knew it was abolished but Tony Abbott himself. A search of the internet reveals that the story of the department being abolished appeared in just about every newspaper in the country, including those media giants in Maribyrnong, Port Stephens, Parkes, Katherine and Mudgee.

Tony Abbott is, in a nutshell, clueless. Does he have any idea what going on in this country? He certainly is blind to what the Government has been doing.

English: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott address...

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses a forum to discuss the Government’s recently-proposed carbon tax at Customs House, Brisbane, Australia on July 14 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the war

Welcome to the war. The media war, that is. Against Julia Gillard.

The way the media reports the results of opinion polls would have one believing that nothing else has happened in the world. Julia Gillard could find a cure for cancer yet we’ll only read about the poor opinion polls against her. I’m not saying that the dissection of the opinion polls are media beat ups, rather, they beat them up out of all proportion at the expense of something newsworthy.

Of course, the media are free to write whatever they want, however, I never see what they write as being in everybody’s best interests.

Nominally, I’d like them to focus more on policies that are important to this country and let the reader make up his or her own mind about how such policies will effect their lives or livelihood. At present they are focusing too much on writing about personalities, such as Gillard versus Abbott. Why not more focus on ALP policies versus LNP policies? And why all the focus on who they are voting against rather than what they are voting for? Their only mentions of policies are that climate change is rubbish and that the price on carbon will ruin us all, and of course, such articles always degenerate into the echo of “it’s all Julia Gillard’s fault”.

In the end it doesn’t matter who is Prime Minister. Sure, some are better than others. Some can be out of touch with ordinary Australians or make fools of themselves on the international stage, but the PM is only a figurehead. What matters more is which party is in Government, not who sits at the head of it.

John Lord provided a list of what electorally significant policies are ignored when readers of the media get sucked into their war against Julia Gillard. While having it hammered into them that Julia Gillard is doomed, and accepting it, they ignore what this Government has provided them and hence:

They overwhelmingly reject the need for a price on carbon. This in spite of the fact that it is bedded down and working well. They are prepared for the opposition to rip it up in favour of a plan that economists and environmentalists say will not work. And they are even prepared to go to a double dissolution.

They overwhelmingly reject the need for a broadband network of the standard the government is building and would be happy with a Mickey Mouse network that the experts say is inferior.

They overwhelmingly reject the need for a better and more equal education system for their children and think that the Gonski report is not worthy of implementation despite it receiving loud applause from academics and the public. Remember the Coalition had said they are happy with the current system.

They overwhelmingly reject the need for an NDIS and are happy with the status quo. Again this policy has received widespread community support. The Coalition while supporting it say it is not in their immediate plans.

They would overwhelmingly forgo any possibility that gay folk would ever achieve marriage equality.

They would overwhelmingly forgo any possibility that Australia might ever become a republic with its own head of state. Not even a plebiscite.

They overwhelmingly think it’s fine for families to lose their school hand outs that help to pay for school fees etc.

They overwhelmingly accept that a large portion of the population (3.6 million and mainly women) will have their taxes increased.

They overwhelmingly say that they are not interested in a 3% increase in their superannuation.

They overwhelming think its fine for the Opposition to rip up the Murray Darling agreement.

They overwhelmingly reject the Government’s handling of the economy which most observers believe to be amongst the best in the world. If not the best.

They overwhelmingly want to get rid of the mining tax despite it having the potential, repeat, potential to spread the wealth of the nation.

They overwhelmingly could not care less that between 13,000 and 20,000 public servants will lose their jobs.

So they have decided overwhelmingly to reject all this even without an Opposition card on the table.

Now I could probably go on and some might also add some other policy areas but these suffice to make my point.

And of course we have a judge finding that members of a political party (The LNP) conspired with James Ashby to use the courts to bring a false claim against the speaker of the house with the eventual intent of bringing down the government. Do I take it that this means nothing to the electorate?

None of those important issues ever make it to the front page, unless the old “it’s all Julia Gillard’s fault” tag can somehow be twisted into the story.

To give you an idea of how focused the media is on the latest poll results, I have been provided with a list of the most viewed articles across the Fairfax media sites. The results speak for themselves.

Most viewed articles on Brisbane Times

  • Beware knives of March
  • Rudd resurrection is no fantasy: just ask Walt
  • Poll a ‘wake-up call’ for Labor
  • Final nail in PM’s coffin
  • PC WCs no wee matter

Most viewed articles on WA Today

  • The discount fuel docket illusion
  • Fighting the stigma of mental illness
  • Final nail in PM’s coffin
  • Poll a ‘wake-up call’ for Labor
  • Beware knives of March

Most viewed articles on The Sydney Morning Herald

  • Beware knives of March
  • Final nail in PM’s coffin
  • Poll a ‘wake-up call’ for Labor
  • Bully-boy Malaysia immature and Australia’s reaction so limp
  • Rudd resurrection is no fantasy: just ask Walt

Most viewed articles on Canberra Times

  • MP says legal costs no threat to keeping his seat
  • Beware knives of March
  • Obama-style fight ‘could save PM’
  • Stalemate as queen bluffs all
  • Och aye, PM could be on a hiding to nothing

Most viewed articles on The Age

  • Poll dents faith in Gillard
  • Poll a ‘wake-up call’ for Labor
  • Final nail in PM’s coffin
  • Beware knives of March
  • Rudd resurrection is no fantasy: just ask Walt

And that’s just the Fairfax group. Do we dare look at what the Murdoch media are writing about? Probably its usual anti-Gillard tirade with splashings of trivia about a reality TV show or a woman born in Borneo with three nipples.

Where are the important issues? Where is the policy debate? And in regards to the LNP, what are their policies? Can we please see them, or do the media just want to continue their war against Julia Gillard?

The little book of big Liberal lies

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 was a bit sloppy:

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.

I am grateful to Jason W for exposing how sloppy it really was and allowing me to publish his responses to the claims made. It’s a bit of a read, but hard to put down. I’ve also added a few comments, which are highlighted in blue. Let’s start:

Claim: “The Rudd-Gillard Government has been the most financially reckless government in Australian history”.

Response: Really? Then why is it, that an IMF paper is reporting that Howard was far more profligate in his spending, and had made more decisions worth over a billion dollars than the Labor government, in his budget?

“In 2007, Labor inherited a government with net worth totaling $70 billion. All that has now been squandered – all gone”.

Howard achieved a surplus by reckless selling of public assets and with huge cuts. Labor had to face the Global Financial Crisis and had to stimulate the economy with spending that created the deficit.

Thanks to Labor, Australia now ha a government $147.3 billion of net debt – the biggest debt in Australian history! We are now paying almost $20 million a day in interest to service that debt.

What? The biggest debt, as a percentage of the GDP, was in the Hawke-Keating debt. Half of which was inherited from Malcolm Fraser!

In fact, under the leadership of Julia Gillard, the list of waste and mismanagement is increasing at an alarming rate. From the multiple billion dollar blow outs in the immigration portfolio to gold plated coffee machines for bureaucrats, the litany of waste is staggering.

Gold plated coffee machines? This already reeks of sensationalism.

What Labor does best is rack-up debt through waste and mismanagement – it’s in their DNA. The only way to stop Labor’s waste and pay back the debt is to change the government.

The debt is a manageable percentage of the GDP, and can be paid back within 4 years without austerity measures.

Labor’s failed border protection policies and Julia Gillard’s stubborn refusal to re-introduce the full suite of proven Howard Government policies that stopped the boats has resulted in an immigration budget blow out of $6.6 billion in the last four years. This does not include the full cost of reopening detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island and increasing the refugee intake to 20,000 people per year.

Border Protection? The boats still came during Howard’s time, they didn’t stop completely. As Malcolm Fraser noted, the only way to stop the boats is to let them in via humanitarian camps, which are cheaper to run than border patrol and detention centres.

NBN Co’s revised corporate plan reveals that Labor’s broadband policy is way behind schedule and way over budget. There has been a $4.6 billion blowout in the operating and capital expenses, and indirect operating expense – primarily staff costs – have more than doubled from $3.7 billion to $7.8 billion. In all, the total cost of the NBN has increased $3.2 billion, from $40.9 billion to $44.1 billion.

What about the coalition’s copper cable plans, which includes power exhaustive nodes, and will fail during times of flood. This investment is definitely worth the sacrifice, as it will develop infrastructure and create jobs. “Shit Happens” – Tony Abbott.

Labor is spending $69.5 million advertising the carbon tax, a tax Julia Gillard emphatically ruled out introducing before the last election.

First of all, it’s the CARBON PRICE, not a tax. Gillard did promise a carbon price. Second of all, it’s natural for a government to inform its populace of changes. This is to avoid misinformation and lies from being circulated.

Labor’s panicked reaction to an ABC Four Corners story threw the cattle industry into chaos, resulting an a $100 million assistance package. If Labor had stuck by its original decision to restrict live trade, instead of reacting to the a Get-up! Campaign, the need for an assistance package could have been avoided.

So we should just let animal cruelty reign? Of course, the subsidy is STATISTICALLY INSIGNIFICANT compared to government revenue, which stands at a total of 267 billion dollars.

Labor’s bungling of the Australia Network tender cost taxpayers at least $2 million as the Government was forced to compensate Sky News. An Auditor General report into the tender found the process “brought into question the Government’s ability to deliver such a sensitive process fairly and effectively”.

Then isn’t the flaw technically due to the process of competition, and corporate laws? Again, statistically insignificant.

The current CEO said the $100 million a year in funding was too much for the body to manage efficiently. “It is actually impossible to spend that amount of money responsibly”, he said (in relation to the Carbon capture and storage facility).

Then why had $122 million dollars already been spent at the time, with the government defending their decisions to cut funding?

Taxpayers forked out more than $30 million in market research since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister in June 2010. This is double what Kevin Rudd spent in his two and a half years as Prime Minister.

Please explain John Howard’s actions, when he paid a billion dollars to US corporations to fund their spending.

Taxpayers are spending about $150 million a year on an army of spin doctors to sell Labor policies. There is now about 1600 staff employed by federal departments and agencies in media, communications, marketing and public affairs roles. Yet again, Labor’s focus on spin over substance is coming at a huge cost to the taxpayer.

Spin over substance? Coming from the LNP, I find this comment highly hypocritical. It seems like all they do is put out misinformation and spin. Besides, without people putting out facts, anyone’s reputation can be trashed. Just look at what happened to Gough Whitlam, and MSM.

$1.3 million was spent on payouts to terminated staff immediately following Kevin Rudd’s political assassination, and a further $5.5 million following the subsequent election. Australians didn’t just wake up to a new Prime Minister on 24 June 2010; they also awoke to a massive payout bill.

There would’ve been a mass desertion, if Kevin Rudd was not voted out. That might entail a bit more payouts. $6.8 million is not a “massive bill”, compared to the total tax revenue. Much more was being lost due to the number of Public Servants who couldn’t work under Kevin Rudd. The staff were dropping like flies.

Labor’s Clean Energy Regulator, better known as the ‘Carbon Cop’, has spent $4.4 million sprucing up its new offices. This comes after it was revealed the Department of Climate Change office rent jumped $1.3 million a year to $25.2 million under a newly signed five-year lease.

Give the poor public servants a break. They’ve been instrumental in reducing emissions by 8.6%. Oh, and Howard spent $18.4 million, over all those years, to maintain Kirribilli house.

Kevin Rudd spent $1.2 million on overseas travel in his first month as Foreign Minister, after being dumped as Prime Minister. It was obvious Julia Gillard preferred Kevin Rudd out of the country, but it came as a huge cost to taxpayers.

John Howard spent $7 million traveling between The Lodge and Kirribilli house. At least Rudd achieved diplomatic progress in his travels. What has Howard achieved by traveling at such a frequency?

Labor donated $10 million of taxpayer’s money to trade unions to train upcoming union leaders in its 2011-12 budget. This followed Kevin Rudd’s union donation in the 2010-11 budget. Unions have now been fully compensated for their $20 million donation to Labor at the 2007 election.

If you don’t pay it back, it’s called stealing. I thought the LNP empathised.

Labor will spend $20 million on a propaganda campain about the National Broadband Network in a desperate attempt to paint over the waste and mismanagement of the $44 billion off-budget project.

Waste and mismanagement? The LNP’s plans involving copper wires is not suited to the present day, far too expensive compared to fibre optics, and very exhaustive to maintain. Where’s the costings for the LNP’s repeated attempts to berate the LNP in ads, smear campaigns, etc?

Labor is wasting $67 million on administration costs to run a program to install set top boxes in people’s homes for an average of $350 each, even though Harvey Norman offers customers the same deal for $168.

The scheme is actually for pensioners, who are needy people. They most likely do not have the ability to install the top boxes, and some cannot even afford to pay for one, with what savings they have.

Labor has repaid the groups who have been the loudest supporters of the carbon tax by donating $3 million in grants to those who formed the backbone of the “Say Yes” climate change campaign, such as the Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Climate Works Australia.

At least they’re trying to help the environment and not dismissing climate change as “absolute crap”. What does the LNP have? A “direct-action” scheme already dismissed as a fraud by Al Gore?

$1 million was wasted holding a tax forum demanded by Independent Rob Oakeshott, another talkfest that delivered no results.

Oh really, then why is Oakeshott describing it as a success? Results includes the tax-free threshold being raised to $21,000 dollars, and an institute being set up for research into taxation. That is not “no results”.

Despite being unable to deliver a system that doctors can actually use, the National E-Heath Transition Authority still managed to spend $4.3 million on travel in 2011-12 and more than $1 million on events, conferences and dinners in five-star hotels.

Nonsense. There already was a version put out that doctors COULD use. A simplified version is now made as a beta built, and is being subject to trials.

To go with its new office, the Department of Climate Change is expected to purchase a suite of shiny new appliances for Julia Gillard’s ‘carbon cop’, including 23 bar fridges, 14 dishwashers, 26 microwaves, two ovens, two cooktops, two wall mounted range hoods and a 40-bottle wine cabinet.

Looks like the LNP is splitting hairs, there was already a point about spending on public servants. Aside from that, so what? The public servants are just going to sit there in some dingy, unfurnished sweatshop? When I joined the Public Service Howard was Prime Minister. All departments had those appliances.

Julia Gillard’s carbon tax has had an immediate impact on her electricity bills at The Lodge, with the July 2012 bill increasing 25% from the previous July 2011 bill. As the bill clearly states, there is $660 worth of carbon tax payments (including GST), some 12% of the total bill. But unlike ordinary Australian families, she won’t need to worry about how to pay for it – that will be picked up by the taxpayer.

Firstly, The Lodge is for the taxpayer to foot regardless of who is in power. Secondly, the effect of paying for The Lodge, to the taxpayer, is minimal. Thirdly, would Abbott stop whinging if he himself was in The Lodge? Fourthly, if one removes overseas travel from expenses, then Abbott actually spends FAR more than Gillard in terms of personal spending. (Gillard has to go on diplomatic trips, that’s part of her job). Abbott spends $380,000 more, factoring out travel overseas. Who’s straining the taxpayer more? What’s he doing traveling overseas, anyway, as opposition leader?

Fair Work Australia has spent more than $1.8 million on outside on outside legal and accounting advice for its investigation into the rorting of HSU funds, including $1.3 million on external legal advice, $100,000 on external accounting advice, $430,000 on KPMG’s review of the investigation.

Keep in mind, it is the LNP and Mainstream media who are pressing the charge and vilifying Thomson, so they are technically responsible for the costs.

The $1.8 million does not include the cost to taxpayers of launching FWA’s court action against Labor MP, Craig Thomson. The court action followed FWA’s findings that Mr Thomson had used FWA funds to pay for escort services and other improper purposes.

Craig Thomson’s wrongdoings were as a member of a union, not as a member of the Labor Party. All criminal persecutions should be followed through. It would be inappropriate to drop a case simply for the reason of saving money.

Labor spent $1.03 million researching the effectiveness of Julia Gillard’s taxpayer funded carbon tax advertising campaign. This follows revelations that Labor has installed a secret spin team charged with selling the carbon tax at a cost of $1 million a year.

More split hairs. The ‘carbon tax’ team is supposed to provide information to the general population, as any good government should, come time for major changes.

Labor wasted more than $5 million on its failed Malaysian deal, including $360,000 refurbishing motels in Malaysia, almost $50,000 on rent, $4.6 million in operating costs, $272,000 on its legal defence in the High Court and another $200,000 on “accrued costs”.

More split hairs. The deal was scuttled by the High Court as a result of lack of ethics in Malaysia and complaints from human rights lawyers. One cannot blame Labor for trying. Besides, the $5 million is statistically insignificant, even as a part of the immigration budget!

The number of SES level staff in the public service has blown out by 185 in the last three years. With an average SES pay level of approximately $150,000, this blowout is costing taxpayers an extra $30 million dollars a year.

There are 2850 SES level staff in total. The increase is insignificant. Those 185 SES were more than likely at the Director level and on approx $120,000 per year level before promotion, so in effect the increase is only $5.55 million.

The Prime Minister’s department and the Department of Climate Change were the biggest movers, increasing the number of SES staff from 42 to 90, and 18 to 56 respectively.

This should come as little surprise, considering that one of the key goals of the Labor Government was to tackle climate change.

The Auditor General has found that Labor’s literacy and numeracy national partnership program has produced no improvement in student outcomes, despite $540 million in payments over the last four years.

No improvement? -Primary schools achieved higher, especially in numeracy. -School participation in high school has increased. -There was an improvement in Indigenous students’ academia, albeit they are still below the results of non-Indigenous students.

Staff numbers in the Prime Minister’s office has blown out by almost 30% since Labor came to office in 2007, costing an additional $1 million a year. This is despite Labor promising at the 2007 election to slash ministerial staffing levels.

A bit of sensationalism here, the $1 million increase is NOTHING compared to the total amount spend on payroll. Most likely, those staff were already Public Servants who simply transferred over.

The Environment Department has signed a $500,000 contract to deck out its offices with indoor plants. Not to be outdone, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations forked out more than $1 million to decorate offices with pot plants.

More sensationalism. Let’s not forget, Howard arranged for giant pot-plants to be placed around parliament, when the US president came to visit to avoid people from seeing them. I know the DEEWR building well. It would be lucky to have 800 plants in the whole building. According to the LNP’s calculations that $1250 for each plant. Wow.

Federal public servants are purchasing gold-plated coffee machines at a cost of $15,000 each. The Department of Innovation spent $75,000b on buying and installing five high-end coffee machines for its Canberra offices. The Clean Energy Regulator spent $20,000 on eight machines.

John Howard splashed $250,000 on building a gold carriage for the queen. The LNP is equally guilty of splashing cash around. The only difference is, public servants benefit from the former, and might be motivated to work harder. How anyone in the community will benefit from the gold carriage remains to be seen.

Labor has sent Origami style cardboard cut outs of a $1.4 million taxpayer funded truck to all federal MPs to supposedly help them ‘understand’ how the NBN works. The actual truck, a prime mover with a specially fitted out trailer, has been organised to travel the country to promote the NBN.

More split ends hairs from the Carbon Price advertising claims. Some areas are quite secluded. It is important that they also have equal access to information.

Government agencies are spending more than $10.3 million a year checking what is said about them in the media. This bill would pay for more than $100 (I think they meant ‘100’) full-time staff each eearning $100,000 a year.

Substantiate the claim. I could find nothing about media monitoring as a means to save face. On the other hand, media monitoring is used as a means to receive information on community issues. This is so politicians can act on said issues. Media monitoring was going on when I worked under the Howard Government. This is nothing new.

The cost of renting and furnishing houses in the community for asylum seekers is costing on average $9,100 on average for each house, almost 30% more expensive than the original estimate of $7,100 for the average family of five.

Splitting hairs again. Paying for asylum seekers to come in via humanitarian camps, and providing for them, is still cheaper than putting up border patrol, detention centres, running processing centres, etc.

Senate estimates revealed that Senator Conroy spent $525,719 to select 11 ABC and SBS directors. At about $50,000 for each position, Senator Conroy appears to have created an incredibly wasteful and expensive process to fill ABC and SBS board vacancies.

Nice copy and paste from The Australian there. (See my comments below this post). The new process is merit motivated, as opposed to being picked by the Government of the day. If picked by the Government, the system would be prone to nepotism. The new system is instrumental to avoiding bias in broadcasting (Murdoch Media is enough).

Goverment bureaucrats sold two billiard tables for $6000 and then promptly stumped up $100,000 to investigate whether the sale was value for money.

Pure sensationalism. Where’s the evidence? Good question.

Labor has paid more than a half a million dollars for a questionable accounting scheme for Kenya. The $550,000 tender has been awarded to the Clinton Foundation for designing a national carbon accounting system. The Foundation’s expertise is not in carbon accounting but in HIV/AIDS which provides practical assistance for developing countries.

A mathematician, not a climate scientist, discovered the greenhouse effect. What’s your point? Beside which, aid to combat HIV/AIDS is still for a noble and worthy cause. It certainly isn’t worse than employing a catering company do to your budget costings.

While most people run blogs at no cost; Julia Gillard has spent $53,000 running two that will run for about three months. The blogs feature little more than articles about Australia-Asia relations and just one reader has bothered to make a comment.

Before making such comments, and referring to tabloid journalism, please release the costings for Tony Abbott’s blog.

One of the two blogs doesn’t even allow readers to comment – a staple of online blogs. Taxpayers are forking out for a fulltime editor and a part time assistant to run one of the blogs.

Yes, and on blogs that can comment, the amount of harassment and hatred from LNP supporters is astonishing. Abbott’s blog will block you, if you so much as make a dissenting comment.

Labor has handed out a $72,000 grant to the Auburn Community Development Network to host an ‘enviro tea salon’. Thanks to the funding, participants can now take part in “a weaving workshop” using “native Lemandra grass”. Participants will be ” . . . encouraged to share their energy efficiency tips in exchange for free seeding, re-potted into a recycled cup sourced from local businesses”.

Handing out money to help spread environmentalism isn’t such a bad idea. Besides, I thought that the LNP supported businesses. So why are they complaining about local businesses being benefited by the move? They should have given the money to John Howard’s brother.

Projects included $197,302 for “Sending and responding to messages about climate change: the role of emotion and morality”; $314,000 for a study to determine if birds are shrinking; and $145,000 for a study of sleeping snails to determine “factors that aid life extension”.

1. The money given to the research council, is for the research council to allocate.

2. Research about climate change, and its effect on humans isn’t a waste, it’s good preparation for the future.

3. Birds shrinking? Forgot a word there. It’s actually “Bird populations shrinking”. I was hoping the birds would shrink.

4. Aiding life extension sounds like a means to improve on medical science.

What waste occurred?

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.

What? If you actually check, they are merely schemes to promote environmentalism. It is absurd to think that they can peddle it into a children’s show. The most they can do is promote environmentalism, and that’s about it. Show me some video proof, or is this just more sensationalism?

Labor has handed the Australian Council of Trade Unions $93,000 to teach union officials how to sell the carbon tax to their members.

Bullshit. Even in your excerpt, the aim was stated to be “to provide information about climate change and energy reduction policies”. The carbon price is part of the set, but that doesn’t mean it comprises the whole of it!

Labor has spent $110,000 in six months on media monitoring for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, while at the same time cutting vital funds from frontline border protection services.

WHAT CUTS?! Oh, rescinding Howard’s inhumane plans? As mentioned above, media monitoring is a means to keep up to date on potential issues.

$600 million of Australia’s foreign Aid program is being spent on developing climate change “leader’ in the Pacific, making DVDs and writing policy briefs for overseas bureaucrats on climate change.

Spreading a message about the environment is a noble cause, considering the effects of global warming and climate change. To me this sounds very subjective in the way the LNP has presented this. They are clearly hoping that th reader interprets it as though the whole $600 million is going into making DVDs and writing policy briefs.

Public servants from the Department of Climate Change spent $3.1 million on overseas travel in 2010. This equates to about $250,000 a month. 86 staff travelled first or business class during 2010, taking more than 250 individual trips to cities such as Paris, London, New York, and Madrid. Reasons for travel included “energy efficient discussions”.

Discussing environmental issues is, as repeated above ad nauseum, a noble cause, considering the world we live in. When I worked for the Howard Government, senior public servants always flew first or business class. It was part of their salary agreement and used as a lure to get satff onto Australian Workplace Agreements.

The endless rotation of Speakers during this Parliamentary term will leave taxpayers with a bill of almost $100,000 in portrait costs. Former Speaker Peter Slipper is set to be immortalised on the walls in Parliament House with a portrait costing taxpayers $30,000.

Peter Slipper is a member of the LNP. That was, before Gillard instated him as speaker. Really, who cares about this? Perhaps when and if the LNP win office they can have the portraits done away with. Replace them with photos.

This follows the recently completed $30,000 portrait of Harry Jenkins, who Labor removed as Speaker in favour of Mr Slipper. After Mr Slipper’s resignation, a third Speaker was installed, guaranteeing the need for at least one more $30,000 portrait.

It’s no wonder he resigned, the LNP stabbed him in the back (note the terminology) and vilified him over sexual harassment for 8 months, before the supreme court threw their case out, for it was a scam. The LNP is to blame here, for ruining Slipper and forcing his resignation. If the Opposition didn’t drive Jenkins mad then this cost could have been avoided. And they are being a bit too speculative in claiming Labor had Jenkins removed. I thought he resigned.

Taxpayers will be forced to foot a $200,000 bill for the Department of Climate Change to contemplate how it brands itself.

What? Go substantiate your claims, with a reliable source. Again, more sensationalism.

Labor blew $60,000 on designing a “Nationa Carbon Offset Standard” logo – a logo experts say has no ‘wow’ factor.

Oh look, the LNP is getting desperate, and using more sensationalism. Labor was able to reduce emissions by 8.6%, with the carbon price. What will the LNP achieve, with their “market mechanism” scam? What logo experts?

Labor Ministers have breached their own rules on pork-barrelling after approving grants in their own electorates at least 33 times without properly telling the Finance department. And on 11 occasions, grants were approved by Ministers that government agencies recommended should be rejected! As Education Minister, Julia Gillrad approved grants to three schools in defiance of recommendations y her own department.

Don’t know what you mean by “properly telling”. It’s like saying that 90% of asylum seekers show up without papers, when papers specifically refers to passport. Here’s some good examples of pork-barrelling, Liberal style.

The Department of Parliamentary Services has spent about $2.4 million on “staff related and training” purposes – up $470,000 on the previous year. The Department’s annual report reveals the classes include advice on “getting a good night’s sleep”.

Sensationalism again. I thought staff training was important. The advice forms a PART of the whole training program. All the LNP seems to do is take a minor part of a scheme, and blow it up to vilify the scheme. Departments are required to spend an ex percentage on their entire salary budget on staff training. I remember when in the Public Service under Howard, the Government paid for people to have weekly massages because of getting sore bcks from their seating.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet spent $650,000 on training workshops in Julia Gillard’s first 15 months as Prime Minister. The department has spent thousands of dollars hiring performance coaches, some of who boast of improving emotional intelligence and ‘putting the lights on’.

More sensationalism? Give her a break, most jobs have training workshops. Abbott spent far more, as mentioned above, than Gillard on a personal basis. All footed onto the taxpayer. If those coaches can improve emotional intelligence and ‘putting the lights on’ I think they should be contracted by the LNP. Where the Department of PM&C got the job done for $650,000 I think there might be a cost blowout working on the Opposition. I’d guess somewhere close to $100,000,000,000.

Julia Gillard has received a new $66,000 hot water system at The Lodge, equivalent to replacing hot water systems in about 20 ordinary homes. And the new system isn’t even solar!

Yes, and the lodge is a 40 roomed mansion. The hot water system wasn’t ordered by Julia Gillard, it was ordered by the Department of Finance, after safety concerns. At the same time, they had to remove asbestos and improve on other safety issues. The actual water systems cost $32,000. The LNP just added all the costs! The water systems are Australian built, high efficiency systems, as mentioned in that article! I thought the LNP supported local business. Did John Howard break the last one?

Over $20 million has been wasted on administration costs to deliver new homes in Aboriginal communities under the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program. Yet again, Labor has been shown to be incapable of implementing a program without wasting millions of dollars in the process.

Did they get the job done? Yes, they did. So what’s the problem?

Taxpayers are forking out $2022 for each tonne of carbon dioxide saved under Labor’s Green Precincts Fund. This is compared to the $23 a tonne carbon price under the Labor/Greens carbon tax.

Sources, please?

Labor has splurged $15 on a dozen ‘demonstration’ projects under the program, including a grant to Cate Blanchett’s Sydney Theatre Company to reduce their energy bill by $98,000, but cost the Australian taxpayer $1.2 million.

I thought the LNP already covered, and attacked a few of those schemes. Sources, please, for the claim about the Sydney Theatre Company.

Thanks Jason, great work.

Having looked through the Liberal book I was astounded to see that approx 90% of these claims were lifted from Murdoch media sites (namely The Australian and The Daily Telegraph), or from fluffy Liberal media releases. Simply amazing.


Election Talk

I don’t have the impression that any contributor here is undecided as to who they will be voting for in the September election. Perhaps one or two among us might be swinging voters, and I’m about to find out. So I ask:

  1. Do you know at this stage which party you will vote for in the House of Representatives and/or the Senate?
  2. What is likely to change your mind (if it were possible)?
  3. What are the issues that are important to you and why are they worth your vote?

Over to you.

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Andrew Bolt: the globe-trotting weather presenter

This was posted today over at The AIMN and is reproduced here.

Believe in climate change or not, there is no denying that the most vociferous and fanatical arguments come from those kitchen table scientists who do not believe we are on the eve of a catastrophic event. Their media bosses let them loose on anybody who even merely says “it’s hotter today than last week”.

Somebody must have said such a thing recently; enough to inspire Andrew Bolt to dedicate five of his last eight blog articles to attacking proponents of climate change.

His latest piece, Almost too cold to type this message to a warmist does nothing for his argument. Or his credibility for that matter.

Absent from his blog for a few days, we learn from Andrew that:

As it happens, I am in Los Angeles, freezing my backside off in an unusually cold spell.

He’d better prepare himself for some fairly nasty weather: I’ve just checked the forecast for Los Angeles for the rest of the week and they are expecting Arctic-lke temperatures of 25, 26, 27, 27 and 27 over the next five days. Those temperatures are in Celcius, mind you. Don’t go outside, Andrew. You’ll be snap frozen.

Andrew also tells us that Los Angeles has been experiencing record low temperatures yet assures us that:

I wouldn’t be so stupid or dishonest as to claim that weather in one part of the world says anything about the climate everywhere.

Before coming out with this gem:

Fact: to measure what we call “global warming” we need global records, not anecdotes about temperatures in Australia or California. And what those global records tell us is that the rise in temperature paused 16 years ago . . . The world is not warming as was predicted. And gloating over some bushfires in Australia does not changed that central truth. Indeed, it strikes me as dishonest.

(Now might be a good time to read Bolt’s short article in its entirety before continuing here).

While Andrew is sitting in front of the open fire while Los Angeles shivers he might want to pick up the local Los Angeles Times and read this article: 2012 was among the 10 hottest years on record globally. Here’s what it says:

The average global temperature in 2012 was among the 10 hottest since official record keeping began in 1880, with most of the world — from North America to far northeastern Asia — experiencing higher-than-usual temperatures, according to related reports issued Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Last year’s average global temperature was about 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 1.0 degree Fahrenheit warmer than the mid-20th century baseline, NASA said, making it the ninth-warmest year on record. NOAA’s evaluation showed that 2012 was the 10th-warmest. The agencies’ reports are based on slightly different methodologies and data.

Still, the two agencies concurred that the data point to a planet that has grown warmer swiftly and looks to get even hotter in the near future. The reports noted that except for 1988, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000. And 2012 was the 36th year in a row that the global average temperature was above the 20th century mean of 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

Now, Andrew, who is being dishonest?

Andrew Bolt