Thursday 23rd of October 2014

thieves in the night ....

thieves in the night .....

Tony Abbott leads the world's first Tea Party Government — something that simply does not fit into Australia's usual political spectrum, writes Cathy McQueen.

When Opposition Leader Bill Shorten likened the Coalition Government to "Tea Party Republicans" in his May Budget Reply, he neatly encapsulated the Abbott machine.

Because Prime Minister Tony Abbott has foisted something alien and foreign onto the Australian people — an American style lunar far right party, actively working to undermine the Australian way of life, to create greater inequality and an impoverished underclass.

In America, the Tea Party movement was the inevitable consequence of 30 years of politics moving gradually to the right.

The move came in increments.

It started with Ronald Reagan, who nurtured and encouraged the religious right; continued to a degree with Bill Clinton, whose domestic policies like deregulating the media were quite right of centre, and resulted in Fox News and people like Rush Limbaugh; and was completed by George W Bush, whose Presidency gifted us The War on Terror and the second Iraq War.

The election of Barack Obama was the tipping point for the far right in the USA. They could not countenance the election of even a half-white African American and the Tea Party was born, funded by the shady fossil fuel billionaire climate denial funding Koch brothers.

We have had no such incremental evolution in Australia.

The far right in the form of Abbott’s Government came with few warnings, now leaving people are in shock, reeling at the assault on the Australian way of life its Budget and policies represent.

Abbott lied to get elected, of course, because if he had told the truth he would have been unelectable — Australians would have run a mile.

Aided and abetted by the right wing media, largely News Ltd and the shock jocks, this extreme rightwing Government has been foisted upon us.

Sure Australia has a few billionaires who have an interest in maintaining inequality for their own economic purposes, for cheap labour, like Gina Rinehart, and sure there is a certain percentage of fundamentalist Christians in our population, but it is a small percentage — not like in the USA where virtually the entire South-East and much of the Mid-West is the Bible Belt.

Australians are different.

We have always enshrined the "fair go" as part of our social and political aspirations and we are, by and large, a secular lot. Only about 13 per cent of us go to church regularly for example and at the last census 22 per cent declared "no religion".

We are not naturally a far right country and so having a Government of this persuasion does not sit comfortably with the vast majority of Australians — even the apathetic, non-politically engaged ones, who care more about sport than politics.

In other words, the Abbott Government is, in many ways, to borrow from former conservative PM John Howard, essentially un-Australian. That is why people are angry and demonstrating in the streets in ways we haven’t seen since the first Iraq war.

So what is Australia's natural political spectrum?

Here is my theory.

I believe it can be found if you sit the Australian Labor Party and the Greens next to each other. The LNP has become so extreme it can no longer be considered representative of any more than, I would guess, around five per cent of our population.

The dominant right of the ALP is fundamentally conservative and, in my estimation, about as far right as most Australians want to go. Its members are conservative economically, and also in the realms of health, education, and social welfare and social justice.

The Liberal Party no longer has a left flank or “wets” — or if it does they are completely gagged by the newly emerged far right, who have been given free reign under Abbott. Such as Cory Bernardi, who thinks gay marriage will lead to bestiality and who has had many study trips to the USA to meet Tea Party types; and libertarian activists the Institute of Public Affairs, with its links to shadowy U.S. think tanks and which has also had a huge influence on Abbott’s Coalition.

The politics of most Australians, in my view, would sit on the right and centre of the ALP, you would have a sizeable percentage, say about 25-30 per cent on the left, and then about 10-15 per cent would be ideologically comfortable with the Greens.

That is our true political spectrum because the ALP right is, in truth, right of centre. As a Party, Labor still sits slightly left of centre, but taken on its own the right faction is really quite conservative and, as shown by the election of the Right's Bill Shorten against the vote of the membership, dominant in terms policy formulation and party direction.

Former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr was on ABC Lateline last Thursday talking about it being a good idea for Labor to consider copying the Abbott Government’s boat turn back policy.

I couldn’t believe it when I heard it, but then I remembered Bob Carr is a member of the ALP Right. Interestingly, Bob Carr even attempted to enlist Tony Abbott for the ALP in 1970s.

There is an active group from the Labor Left, Labor For Refugees, that want to soften and humanise the ALP's harsh refugee policy and make it more compassionate. The Greens, of course, already have a very compassionate asylum seeker policy.

See what I mean by encompassing the spectrum of political views in Australian society? Australia's natural political spectrum is comfortably covered by the ALP and Greens.

We are not a radical rightwing country, nor have we have ever been in our entire history; the likes of Sir Robert Menzies would be turning over in his grave at the antics of Abbott and his extremist rightwing Government.

Abbott and his cohort makes even John Howard look left of centre.

And that could well be why, at the next Federal election, whenever that may be, we may see something new in Australian politics — a massive ALP landslide or, possibly, the emergence of our first formal ALP-Greens Coalition Government.

That is if Tony Abbott’s lunar rightwing Government lasts.

With the challenges of ALP, Greens and PUP in the Senate, as well as various other cross bench senators, who knows what may happen next.

We live in interesting times.

Abbott's Tea Party and Australia’s true political spectrum

 

the idiots of your news circles...

It is impossible to speak sense to committed climate change deniers like Rupert Murdoch and Tony Abbott, writes Rodney E. Lever.

THERE IS LITTLE WE CAN DO at this time about climate change deniers like Rupert Murdoch and Tony Abbott.

They are both barmy, firing off comments on issues they clearly know nothing about.

Global warming is happening and if there are people who do not accept this factthen too bad. There is little anyone can do about people who are just too dumb to spend an hour or so of their time readingthe links in this paragraph, all of which set out the facts clearly and simply.

I remember speaking to one of my younger daughters one day about the world being round.

She said, precociously, pointing out the window to the sea:

“Look, it's not round. It's flat!”

Then she said:

“Anyway, if it was round all that water would fall off.”

You can’t argue with logic like that.

The word that Rupert Murdoch uses more frequently than any other is “bullshit!” He uses it several times a day.

...

Tony Abbott is a different kind of creature.

I don’t know him as well as I got to know Murdoch. He claims to have had an education in theology, which always has a negative effect on reality.

Tony is our prime minister — but that doesn’t register his level of intelligence. It is rare indeed to find any prime minister or politician who talks sense about anything.

I recently read an article in Media Matters, in which Tony Abbott is quoted as saying global warming is “absolute crap”.

That is another way of saying “bullshit”.

In the same article, Rupert Murdoch says much the same thing.

The article continues:

'Murdoch's anti-climate change crusade in Australia certainly mirrors his company's commitment to misinformation in America, and highlights the dangers of having news media moguls who are dedicated to propaganda efforts regarding pressing public policy issues. Indeed, Murdoch's media properties in Australia have been shown repeatedly to be wildly unfair and unbalanced when it comes to the topic of climate change.'


read more: http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/murdoch-and-abbott-climate-change-denying-flat-earthers,6712

the real 'team awstrayla' .....

Tony Abbott’s government has declared a “civil war of rich against poor” with the Indigenous population at the coalface as the country’s “people most denied”, the film-maker and journalist John Pilger has warned.

This year’s Australian federal budget was “a copy of the kind of declaration Margaret Thatcher made when she came to power”, says Pilger on the line from Britain before his return to Australia to appear at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House.

“It’s going to involve attacks on people’s working rights, social rights, right throughout the country, in a country that has declared itself – or [its] mythology has – as the land of a fair go.”

In his 2013 film Utopia, Pilger brought attention back to the Indigenous disadvantage in remote Australian communities, dismantling the Howard government’s basis for its Northern Territory intervention (the claim of widespread child abuse by Aboriginal men) and arguing that a new “stolen generation” of Indigenous children is emerging.

Pilger turns attention in his Dangerous Ideas talk to income management and the BasicsCard, first trialled in Indigenous communities. A wide-ranging review by the mining magnate Andrew Forrest recommended the scheme be radically expanded to all Australians of working age receiving welfare payments, alongside plans from 2015 to withhold employment benefits from people under 30 for the first six months.

“The advantage of having this group in power is you can see the whites of their eyes,” says Pilger. “In the 1960s, Australia had the most equitable spread of personal income in the world. The great myth was then more than half true: it was a land of some kind of fair go. Certainly not for Aboriginal people, and for others, but it was in terms of the equitable spread of income.” All this has changed, he says.

“During the Hawke years, as during the corresponding years of the Thatcher government, the transfer of wealth, from the bottom to the top, was epic. That was done by a Labor government, by the treasurer, Paul Keating, and by the prime minister, Bob Hawke. So the ground has been well and truly laid for the inevitable – that is, an extreme political system now implemented by the Abbott government.”

In his talk, Pilger will also tackle what he calls the “great Australian silence”: the double standard that says we must not question the mythology of Anzac Day even as it is being used to promote Australia’s “increasing integration into American war plans for the Asia-Pacific”.

As Utopia highlighted, the Australian War Memorial fails to acknowledge Indigenous deaths in the frontier wars of the 19th century. It’s a theme taken up by the historian Henry Reynolds in his 2012 book, Forgotten War, in which Reynolds estimates 2,500 British settlers and “steeply upward” of 30,000 Indigenous people were likely killed.

Given the number of Indigenous film-makers who have emerged in recent years – Rachel Perkins, Warwick Thornton, Ivan Sen and Wayne Blair among them – is there still a place for Pilger’s work? Or is there a danger of paternalism in a white, non-Indigenous man speaking on Indigenous people’s behalf?

“Well, you could ask Henry Reynolds that, or any of the other chroniclers or allies of Aboriginal people,” says Pilger. “I don’t speak on behalf of Aboriginal people. All my views have been well and truly discovered from the moment I – quote – ‘discovered’ Aboriginal people when Charlie Perkins [the late Indigenous activist] took me to the Northern Territory.

“All of my views have been developed and honed by my association with Aboriginal people. I never speak on behalf of them, and I think if you ask any of those interviewed by me, they would say the same.”

Is ignorance or denial to blame for the “great Australian silence” he identifies? “All those things,” he answers. “There may not be rights, there may not be good healthcare for Aboriginal people, there may not be land rights, but there sure are plenty of excuses. Australia is a land of excuses. It’s usually blaming the victim, and follows a colonial pattern.”

What Australia is missing, he says, is the celebration of its most enduring culture. “You find – and this is really puzzling to foreigners – almost a contemptuous view of Indigenous people.” Moments of optimism such as the 1967 referendum that granted Indigenous people citizenship in their own country, or the 2000 march for reconciliation, were both about “ticking a box”.

While the majority who walked across the Harbour Bridge were sincere, as were those running the Sorry campaign, Pilger calls them “small-L liberal campaigns that assume goodwill on the part of the political leadership of Australia. There isn’t the goodwill.”

He calls for a treaty with Australia’s Indigenous people, not all of whom support what some see as an important first step: constitutional recognition. But if Australia can’t have the kind of conversations swirling round the war memorial, how will it find the words to write a treaty?

“A treaty could be the beginning,” says Pilger, who believes a majority would welcome what he likens to a bill of rights for Indigenous people – covering health, land rights, educational rights and the right to live securely. “All those questions that you raise could be dealt with in a treaty. It could be all-encompassing, not just a piece of paper.”

Pilger cites the Alyawarr, Arrernte and Anmatjerre elder and actor Rosalie Kunoth-Monks when he restates that Indigenous people never ceded ownership of Australia. “This would be an historic convention, long overdue. Some would say, a couple of hundred years overdue, between the original owners of the country, who have never ceded ownership, and the colonisers.”

All the advances of the latter 20th century – “Mabo, native title, Wik and so on” – have been distractions, he adds. A treaty is the main game.

“Until that happens then Australia will be, even compared with other colonial states, quite primitive. Compared with New Zealand, the United States and Canada, where there are many problems, in Australia there isn’t even the will or the goodwill to recognise these problems. There’s an indifference that easily becomes cynicism.”

• John Pilger talks at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at Sydney Opera House on 31 August. Guardian Australia will be live blogging from the festival – see the full program here

John Pilger: Australia is a land of excuses, not the land of the fair go

 

Pilger rightly identifies Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd & Gillard as Abbott’s predecessors as the real ‘team Awstrayla’ who act as the public face of the real ‘faceless men’ who run this country for their own benefit.