Monday 18th of June 2018

master class...


teaching dishonesty and sadism

In politics one of the cheapest and most cynical things you can do is to stand far away from the scene of the crime – to leave the country while your deputy delivers bad news, to let underlings do the sackings, to pretend core responsibilities have nothing to do with you.

In Australia, the flawed federation facilitates this act – it’s all that much easier to duck accountability when the lines of accountability are blurred.

This week’s budget presents just such a case.

While media commentary focused on the pure numbers – who’ll be taxed and who’ll take the cuts – the reality of this budget is far more complex than that.

The debate so far is exactly the one which the Abbott government wanted us to have. It mightn’t be pretty but it’s a long way from the scene of the crime. Over months now, the government has framed the budget as one simply of tax changes and welfare cuts. They’ve sought to present a “budget emergency” (in a nation that has a AAA credit rating) and have argued repeatedly that the age of entitlement has to end.

The debate might not be going well for them but in focusing on income distribution – like the fact that someone on $190,000 a year will pay $200 a year more in tax while a 23 year old unemployed person will lose $2,340 in Newstart allowance – the media is at least covering the government's preferred ground.

The big story of the budget though is in the things the treasurer has entirely left out. Having for months argued that core public service responsibilities were nothing to do with it, the Abbott government has now cut $80 billion from health and education funding.

The clear strategy is to force the states to call for a rise in the GST. That might be politically smart but Australians could ponder the ethics of adopting such a tack.

Public health and education are core government responsibilities. Less than half the population has private health insurance and two thirds of all Australian students are educated in public schools. To cut their funding is not to play around the edges – it is to attack the fundamentals of services on which most Australians rely.

The $80 billion cut is from a long term funding path. The Labor Government, in an attempt to create service security, had committed to funding growth over the next ten years. With this budget the new government tears up those agreements, returning health and education funding to the states to CPI increases for the foreseeable future.

This decision will have a real human cost.


the libs (CONservatives) want to relive the past...

Australia is the only country founded with a deliberately imposed class system, says David Horton, and the Liberal Party's budget shows the battle is still on in earnest for equality.

WHAT ELSE can possibly be said about the worst Australian Budget in history that wasn't said by Abbott's smirk as Hockey screwed the students; his comment that they were going to undo everything the Australian Labor Party had ever done in government; and Hockey's comment that they were going to get government out of people's lives (given that the government is, or should be, the people, this translates as 'getting people out of their own lives')?

Well, possibly this:

Australia is the only country founded with a deliberately imposed class system.

The division, from 1788 on was clear cut — an upper class comprised of Governor, senior Army officers and, after a few years, rich "squatters" who arrived in the colony and were given huge chunks of Aboriginal land; and a lower class comprised of convicts.

There were also, of course, the original owners of the chunks of land, but they were seen as lower than the convicts, totally outside any white class system —ordinis nullius.

A perfect system, a Utopia, as seen by the British upper classes occupying Whitehall, or those eager to send their good-for-nothing younger sons out to the colony to make a fortune  — a land grant being a license to print money, based as it was on dispossessing original owners without payment, and then running an enterprise based on slave labour and sure sales to a captive market or the Mother Country.

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The Prime Minister is a liar... and dishonest and a hypocrite


Well, I can understand why just at the moment politicians aren’t much trusted because we’ve had too many politicians who say one thing before an election to win votes and then do the opposite after the election…

Tony Abbott, Newcastle radio, June 13, 2013.

The Prime Minister is a liar. There is no point mincing words. We have never seen anything like it.

With this budget he has shown himself to be cynically dishonest on a scale unprecedented in modern politics. Although Abbott is not the first political leader to break an election promise and will not be the last, no prime minister in memory, Liberal or Labor, has come even close to his contemptuous deception of the electorate he sucker-punched on Tuesday.

To a point, this is not surprising. All my adult life I have been lied to by the Tories, from the Vietnam war on down to John Howard's invention of the non-core promise. I was therefore expecting duplicity from Abbott. It's what people like him do, how they think, how they govern.

But it was genuinely shocking to see his wholesale abandonment of the bargain of candour to be expected between leader and people. Almost every significant commitment he made in the election campaign last year has been flung overboard or distorted beyond recognition.

No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.
Tony Abbott, SBS NEWS – September 6, 2013

There are five separate betrayals in that lot alone. The most heinous is his full frontal assault upon Medicare, with even the poorest families forced to fork out a $7 "co-payment" – as the euphemism goes – to see their GP, to get a pathology test, to have a CT scan, to fill a prescription. It's a tax from a government that promised no new taxes. Pay it, or join the ever-lengthening queue at your local hospital's emergency department, where Abbott has given them the green light to charge you as well.

In education, university fees will soar as they are thrown onto the open market. Stand by for the $120,000 arts degree. This, despite Christopher "Poodles" Pyne's promise to Sky News on November 7 last year that " we're not going to raise fees ... I am not even considering it because we promised that we wouldn’t."

But these two hits – gross as they are – pale against the enormity of the biggest surprise in this no-surprises budget, the government's decision to unload $80 billion of health and education spending onto the states in the coming years.

It is the end of the Gonski education reforms. It is the shredding of the health care safety net by a Prime Minister who just weeks ago could proclaim, without batting an eyelid, that he was "the best friend Medicare has ever had".

The state and territory leaders – Tories all bar one – are livid. Mike Baird rightly called it " a kick in the guts for the people of NSW," and Queensland's Campbell Newman demanded an emergency COAG meeting. At which, no doubt, the states will howl for an increase in the GST. Eventually they will get it, expanded to catch food and anything else it does not hit now, and then hoicked to 12.5% by a prime minister who could boast in opposition:

"We are about reducing taxes, not increasing taxes. We are about getting rid of taxes, not imposing new taxes. This is my whole reason for being in politics, in the Parliament."

Tony Abbott, November 20, 2012.

And on it goes. Up with the fuel excise, hitting you at the servo. Old people will fall back in the race against inflation. Eventually they will have to work to 70 to get the pension ; OK, perhaps, if you're an office worker. Frightening if you're on the tools, driving a truck, teaching infants, or nursing in intensive care.

The young unemployed are savagely bashed with the refusal of the dole for six months. The disabled are to be interrogated, yet again, to determine if they are cheating. The ABC, bludgeoned as well, will be forced to shed staff, cut programs and very probably close some of its foreign news bureaus. And that's before the so-called "efficiency dividend" is imposed. Goaded by the Murdoch press, the Liberals make no secret of their loathing for the ABC as a nest of lefty traitors. It is punishment politics at its most vindictive.

This is a fair budget, everyone is doing his or her bit, including, dare I say it, politicians.”
Tony Abbott, Channel Ten, May 14.

If Labor had brought in a "deficit levy" on the wealthy – yes, another tax – the Tories and their claque of media toadies would have shrieked blue murder about socialist class warfare. Instead, they portray Abbott as a strong leader taking tough decisions to end a budget "emergency" they themselves invented.

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united and disruptive in protest


Is this really what we want politicians to see? A group of angry university students who resort to violence? Mikaela Davis shares her experience of the protest against Sophie Mirabella at the University of Melbourne.

I am a firm believer in protests. They are a pillar of democracy which allow the public to have a voice and tell the government exactly what they're thinking.

As a student, I resent most of the changes to university fees that have been announced in the budget, but I admit, I'm not one to protest about it. In that sense, protesters are also speaking out for those who don't want to speak up. For that, I am grateful.

But there comes a time when protesting can get out of hand. On Monday May 19, I was in the University of Melbourne lecture theatre when members of the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) surrounded Sophie Mirabella, which saw her have to be escorted out by police. The week before, Julie Bishop was jostled by students at the University of Sydney.

There's something to be said about the lack of respect that we hold for politicians. Love them or hate them, I believe that it's still important to respect these people. I don't agree with Ms Mirabella on almost all of her views, but that doesn't mean that I have the right to say to her "you don't deserve to exist".


Dear Mikaela...

Sorry to interrupt here... You are a firm believer of protest?... Important to respect these people? Do they respect you? They possibly do, as a nice girl next door but not as a group of student. They will piss on you after having told you about freedom. This is always the problem.

protest can be silent, peaceful or violent. But no matter, the police will come in to "restore order" should the person in power decides so... Sometimes no matter what your beliefs are, you need to disrupt the bullshit-outlet from these people, who too readily use their "freedom (and power) to tell you crap" in a cunning rounded way in which you will feel sheepishly inadequate...

There is a point at which "these" people like Mirabella need to be disrupted. Why should they be given the power to lecture anyone anyway in the first place?

A protest of one is lousy. A protest is there to be shared, like we did on the Vietnam anti-war protest when the boss threatened us with being sacked. We had to tell him to go to hell. We had to be united in our protest. A protest has to be disruptive, otherwise may as well blow soap bubbles.

In a protest you never tell these people that "they don't deserve to exist"... This is not the purpose. But the protest is to stop them performing a function which may or may not have been acquired by bullshitting (mostly bullshitting). You know that some (all) of their ideas are not worth being propagated. Thus there is a need to protest and show  that "enough is enough'...

But you don't have too.

I know some scientists who loved forest but disagreed with people who protested and chained themselves to trees. Had there not been any protest, there would not be any trees left in the Franklin River, Tasmania and the famous Tasmanian Wilderness would now only be a couple of rows of trees either side of a road, while the rest would be wood chips and toilet paper, for example... Protest need to be measured and also need to show "enough is enough" — otherwise may as well pack up.

australia's george bush?... I hope not... Not twice!

In mid-May, the recently elected conservative government in Australia proposed its federal budget. Although Australia enjoys one of the most resilient economies in the developed world, and was left relatively unscathed by the global financial crisis, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have revealed massive spending cuts and new taxes.

Losers include low- and medium-income earners, students, and pensioners, who are all set to receive fewer benefits and increased fare costs in their day-to-day living. Two of the most contentious proposed policies would result in car fuel prices being increased and patients paying an up-front fee to see a medical doctor where previously there was no cost involved.

Meanwhile, high-income earners have been left relatively unaffected.

This is all in sharp contrast to Abbott's pre-election promises. Famously, on election eve, he promised Australian voters that, if elected, his government would enact: "no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the [goods and services tax] and no cuts to [the public broadcasters] ABC and SBS."

All of those promises have been broken.

youth political engagement...

Young Australians are more politically engaged than many older Australians and are just as likely to stand for public office, according to new research done for the Museum of Australian Democracy.

Researcher Max Halupka from the University of Canberra says the research showed Australia's oldest and youngest citizens have engaged in the highest number of political activities, overturning the conventional view that those aged under 35 are the most apathetic.

"This idea that this new generation is disengaged is unfair," Mr Halupka said.

"It is just engaging in new ways. It's got a broader repertoire of engagement."

It all depends on how political engagement is defined. If traditional actions like joining political parties or streets protests or writing a letter to a member of Parliament are the only criterion, then young people are more disengaged than ever.

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