If it’s Labor let’s dig some dirt


The Howard Dirt Files were renowned. But even so, the Howard years were just a foretaste of what was to follow once Labor was elected.  I quote here from Miglo aka Michael Taylor’s post of September 12: Media mud chuckers.

It appears that no matter who leads the Labor Party, whether in Government or Opposition, the media always manage to dredge up some mud to throw at them.

The comparison couldn’t be more startling than at present.  Where are the demands for Abbott (and a quarter of his front bench) to resign?  These are not just unsubstantiated rumours from “unnamed sources”, or speculation on events from years ago, this is here and now with the rorts continuing up until the present.  Where are the threats from shock-jocks to throw the perpetrators into chaff bags?  Why are not Abbott’s family “dying of shame” as it was suggested that Gillard’s late father should do?

Shorten has now won the leadership of the Labor Party.

A little about Bill, born in Melbourne his father a waterside worker and unionist from Tyneside, UK.  Educated at Xavier Collage, graduated in Law at Monash uni.  Aside from his former role as National Secretary of the AWU, Bill is probably best known for his role in the Beaconsfield Mining Disaster.

The event was reported thus:

HE SPEAKS the language of the people; everyone is “mate”.

And he is never seen wearing anything other than the union official’s uniform, the chambray shirt and branded bomber jacket.

This week, Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten has been the public face of the Beaconsfield mine disaster. He has featured in almost every news bulletin and newspaper, has given countless news conferences and, at times, been the sole conduit of information about the mine for the media, the public and for anxious miners’ families.

He has played the hand of the “good bloke”, and won praise from both mine management, as well as miners’ families. He says the week has been a rollercoaster for him.

At the 2007 election, Bill Shorten was elected to the House of Representatives as the Labor Member for Maribyrnong and commenced his career as the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services.   As Parliamentary Secretary, Shorten pushed hard for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, something which was later to become a policy of the Labor Government and passed as an Act of Parliament shortly prior to the 2013 election.

Isn’t that how you are supposed to express things?  Factual information.

But not so, almost immediately the media runs a lead article titled:  Labor’s Shorten experiment: the tale of ‘Showbag Bill’.

The article includes a snippets including the names and statuses of his former wife and current wife, which seems a little irrelevant but as this comment immediately followed the inevitable “power broker” descriptors, it was perhaps meant as a method of emphasis.

Shorten’s first wife, Debbie Beale, is the daughter of multimillionaire businessman and former Liberal MP Julian Beale. His current wife, Chloe, is the daughter of the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

Tony Wright’s article is otherwise fair and balanced. It does however give the appearance that it was written some time in advance. And why lead with such a negative title? Why is Bill Shorten “an experiment”, there is certainly nothing within the text of the article to justify not to provide any sort of explanation as to this description.

Shorten, in fact, has the gift of speaking the salty language of factory-floor workers and the smooth tones of captains of industry alike. He is a born networker and has a reputation for remembering names, whether they be union members from Adelaide or Ballarat or bosses from Sydney.

News.com on the other hand is yet to give it’s comment on the announcement of Shorten’s election to the leadership, other than this trivial and sarcastic remark:

Shorten: “Bill the Knife”, which reflects his not insignificant part in recent Labor leadership coups. Actually, he probably doesn’t answer to that name at all, but anyway.

My intuition tells me that it will be exactly as Michael predicted.  Again from his topic, “Media mud chuckers”:

At the moment there aren’t too many people in the party who’d be safe from the mud chucking. But anything will do. Kissing the wrong baby in 1985 or dumping a girlfriend as a teenager would be enough get the sharks circling.

In your opinion, given my assumption that the media would want political blood, who could thus be ruled out as the person to lead Labor at the next election?

That well known manifesto of good taste and style (said with sarcasm), Larry Pickering has labelled Shorten (only when it looked likely that Shorten would win the ballot) as, “..a treacherous union thug in a white collar and red tie”.  More to follow, I should imagine.

Abbott’s presstitutes

Just over a week ago Tony Abbott had this to say about the NDIS: He said:

. . . the Opposition had supported the NDIS “every step of the way” and wanted to support it to its conclusion.

Then yesterday he lamented that the Government wasn’t telling him enough about the scheme (link not available).

To all the journalists in our country: “Helloooo, where are you? Do any of you have the guts to ask Abbott why his party didn’t even bother to turn up when it was introduced into Parliament? Are you happy just to take his word that he claims to support it “every step of the way” and also blame the Government because he doesn’t know enough about it?”

“Stop laying on your back and acting like Abbott’s presstitutes”.

Support it all the way, my arse.

“FFS, the whole country knows that he’s been caught out telling a lie. All with the exception of you lazy mob of bum sniffers. Here’s the picture to prove the lie”:


Disability Funding Triumph: Progressive Blogosphere Abdicates

A repost from Labor View from Bayside:

This week we saw a major achievement in Australian policy – the bi-partisan acceptance of an increase in the Medicare levy to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (DisabilityCare). There was considerable activity on social media before Tony Abbott’s concession but there has been a deadening silence in the progressive blogosphere since.

When you google Oz blogs for the last four days, there are no posts heralding this policy triumph. In fact it seems that many have just accepted it as a political victory for Abbott, not a policy win for Julia Gillard’s government. A lone voice has been Gary Sauer-Thompson at Public Opinion but even his post was titled Perhaps:

The disability people got what they wanted: a secure funding source that will partially pay for the NDIS and bipartisan support. That means the Coalition will find it hard to renege at a later date because they are publicly committed to the national disability insurance scheme.

If the conservatives keep their word, the NDIS  will be a major legacy of the Labor government, whether it is reelected or not. Abbott’s “conditional” support of the levy contained his usual dissembling but once the legislation is passed, he should be locked in.

Yesterday Victoria signed up to NDIS, just as we are abandoning the field to the Liberal National Party policy void. Despondency over the polls and government policy failures must not make Abbott’s austerity a fait accompli.

Schools, climate change and the NBN are just a few reasons to keep up the political fight. If progressive bloggers cannot step up, then it is probably time to archive their blogs and retreat into the twitter ether or a subscription to Foxtel.

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?

Canberra Connect

Whenever there’s very little happening around the country – that we haven’t already talked about – we can always rely on Canberra to provide us with something to sizzle over. Today I turn to Canberra to see what happening.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is in the news and despite the scheme expected to benefit 400,00 Australians, the Liberal states are more interested in what’s in it for them ahead of what’s in it for the people who actually need it. Now who in their wildest dreams would have thought the Liberal State Premiers would want to play politics on such an important issue? Their political tackiness and the cost of such has been recognised:

Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Steve Hambleton said his body wanted the state governments that have not signed on to the NDIS to overcome their opposition and put the interests of people with a disability ahead of ‘political squabbling’.

That’s a fairly big ask. It’s asking the Liberals to act against their political grain. Good luck.

Labor leadership speculation again boiled to the surface this week and for the record it was for once not media driven, with Federal Government Chief Whip Joel Fitzgibbon providing the drive. Mr Fitzgibbon said that:

. . . if leaders stayed unpopular for long enough, they would inevitably stop leading the party.

And naturally the media had to chime in with this bit:

Speculation has mounted about Ms Gillard’s time as leader as the federal Labor Party’s standing in opinion polls remain in electoral wipeout territory.

Perhaps they missed that Mr Fitzgibbon actually said leaders, not Prime Ministers. Honestly, someone could suggest that the Collingwood captain is unpopular and the media could be relied upon to turn it into a Julia Gillard story.

In money news, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens says Australian governments are enjoying their lowest borrowing rates in more than a century and there are now suggestions that the Government should consider taking this as an opportunity to go into deficit to fund infrastructure projects. As wise as that idea might seem, the current Government is committed to returning a surplus which in my humble opinion is only driven by the need to keep the Liberal monkey off its back.

Opportunity lost, unfortunately, with Economist Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics saying that with the government borrowing money at rates barely above the inflation rate, in real terms it was was getting its money interest free.

What a pity that everything is so poll driven.

A jet lagged Tony Abbott, in the meantime, has made a big hit in China with his talk on tougher investment guidelines. Here’s the reaction:

Some in the Chinese system have laughed off Mr Abbott’s tougher investment guidelines as the empty talk of an opposition leader.

”I never take seriously what politicians say,” said Lu Bo, the deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce’s World Economy and Trade Research Department.

The empty talk of an opposition leader! Goodness, our Chinese cousins are very perceptive?

Parliament House Canberra, Australia

Parliament House Canberra, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)