Thursday 4th of June 2020

cash economy...

cash economy...

Hopes that political rorts might be curbed by a chastened PM after last year’s narrow election win have been dashed. Alan Austin updates the tawdry Coalition record.

Read instalments for November 2015 here, December 2015 here, January 2016 here, February 2016 here, March 2016 here and May 2016 here.

A REPORT on Australia’s black economy confirms Malcolm Turnbull has failed to curtail the corruption that has burgeoned since the 2013 election.

As the Coalition took office, new PM Tony Abbott opened the door to the black economy with “Australia is open for business (nudge nudge, wink wink)” and a more productive economy is a less-regulated one" (if you get my driftand“Australia is under new management" (say no more, say no more). 

Corners were then cut in industrial safety, leading to a spike in worker fatalities, corporate taxes were avoided on a massive scale, Transparency Internationallowered Australia’s corruption ranking and a spate of scandals led to multiple Coalition MP sackings. State and Federal Coalition ministers or speakers gone in disgrace now number 23.

In Parliament last year, Tony Abbott openly spruiked executive jobs for retired Coalition MPs as rewards for service to big business:

“The member for Groom Ian McFarlane was the resources minister who scrapped the mining tax ... It was a magnificent achievement ... and I hope that the sector will acknowledge and demonstrate their gratitude to him in his years of retirement from this place.”

Just shameless! Unfortunately, hopes for greater integrity when Turnbull replaced Abbott in 2015 have not been fulfilled.

One basis for hope was the Black Economy Taskforce, which Turnbull commissioned last December to expose tax evasion, corruption of the visa system, worker exploitation, zappers and other business fiddles.

I hope the ‘Black Economy’ taskforce include business owners taking cash? Or just the easy targets @ato_gov_au ?

— Magoo (@Bubbles4000) April 4, 2017

Last month’s interim report confirms the problems are not being resolved. It put the cost of the cash economy to the budget – and to the Australian people – at about $25 billion. Since then, taskforce head Michael Andrew has revised that to $50 billion.

The government responded with the mealy-mouthed “accepted the recommendations” and “will continue to consult widely” but signalled no action. Until corrupt corporate operators and the politicians who enable them are routinely gaoled – as happens in countries genuinely committed to integrity – Turnbull is not fair dinkum.

Several issues have emerged since IA’s last corruption update — which brought the tally of issues of profound concern to 50.

The count continues:

51. Undisclosed interests

Last November, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash purchased another investment property but failed to list it on the pecuniary interests register until investigated.

read more:


destroying the environment...

MASS DEMONSTRATIONS, legal challenges, social media campaigns, boycotts, lobbying and national campaigns are the tools of the conservation movement. But do they still work?

Aside from the national campaigns opposing Adani's Carmichael mine project by the Australian Conservation Foundation and GetUp!, the only victories these days seem to be when small communities get their act together against local threats.

Court costs are prohibitive. Although public interest lawyers, barristers and senior counsel willing to work pro bono are available, it’s becoming more and more difficult to legally challenge actions by governments.

An alarming lack of awareness and downplaying of the environment nationally by politicians and mainstream media has ensured an uninformed public. Significant changes in legislation and repealing existing environmental laws have played a major role in weakening any protection.

The Baird, now Berejiklian Government, provides the perfect example. In March 2015, the NSW Government pledged $100 million over five years to protect the State’s threatened species, commencing 1 July 2016.    

At the same time, conservation organisations were aware that Baird was planning a devastating repeal of major environmental legislation, making a complete mockery of the $100 million pledge.

As anticipated, on 3 May 2016 the NSW Government released a draft package of land management and biodiversity conservation reforms in response to theIndependent Biodiversity Review Panel recommendations.

Hundreds protest against #biodiversity threat proposed changes to #NSWland (#forestry )-clearing laws

— creativity news (@pjforguk) October 19, 2016

According to the 'NSW Land Management and Biodiversity Conservation Reforms' report:

'The new legislation aims to integrate and modernise laws governing biodiversity conservation and the management of threatened species. The reforms also aim to introduce more equitable and effective arrangements for managing the clearing of native vegetation in rural areas.'

"Modernising and integrating” are code words for allowing more development; cutting red tape, wiping out more species and ensuring the language of the legislation prohibits legal challenges. The “reforms” are also aimed at ensuring critical issues such as climate change impacts are ignored. 

read more:

lying economic vandals...


Turnbull and the Coalition are crass economic vandals who wreck everything they touch, from climate policy to housing affordability — and then lie about it, writes Ingrid Matthews.

AS TEDIOUS AS IT IS to keep compiling the failures, the incompetencies, the irrelevancies and the routine corruption of the Federal Government, it is also necessary.

One of the most persistent lies of liberal democracy is that conservatives are inherently "better" economic managers.

This one is never laid to rest and is disproven again and again — by continuing low interest rates (meant to stimulate economic activity, because nothing else will) and by sluggish Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) quarterly National Accounts figures to be released today.

Conservative fiscal management

When I was growing up, the prestigious position of Saturday opinion above the fold was held by Alan Ramsey. His signature style was to dissect a development in the corridors of power with extensive references and quotes from previous iterations or steps in this development — a bill here, a policy there, a leadership change looming. Ramsey constantly reminded readers that some things never change, that political egos are vast and uncontainable, and that politicians work as much or more on their own party positioning as in the national interest.

As a student of economics and politics at the time – even in the 1990s one professor still called it political economy – this long lens approach was a profound influence. I was thinking about the Ramsey style as I listened to economist vox pops on the pending National Accounts figures and what we coyly call "negative economic growth". Like they always do on social issues, the conservative Coalition Government is taking the economy backwards.

Most of us outside Capital Circuit remember that legacy media hailed Tony Abbott as a roaring success for mobilising the blunt tactics of xenophobia (Stop the Boats!), lies (No cuts to the ABC!) and scare-mongering (Debt! Deficit!). His bigoted backwardness and politics of destructionism were endorsed by every mainstream media outlet, barring The Age and The Guardian.

Abbott won easily against a fractured government. Few called out the lasting effect of three years of viciously sexist attacks on our first woman prime minister (although she did); or conceded his strategy was nothing but aggressive racism and misogyny. Gaining traction in the Australian electorate for bigotry is not tactical brilliance. Anyone but the Gallery could have predicted that Abbott would lead his party to the brink of one-term disaster. Once the Liberal Party gathered its wits and installed the vacuous Malcolm Turnbull, he, in turn, squandered the political capital of almost three million voters’ approval. He snuck back into office by the skin of one seat and a $1.75 million donation from his own back pocket.

read more:


a bad miming act while talking shit...

The great French mime artist Marcel Marceau had an act which consisted solely of walking briskly onto the stage.

It seemed entirely normal, but when he got to the middle of the stage something happened – he kept walking, but he wasn’t getting anywhere. Marceau became alarmed, then frantic: his legs and arms worked harder than ever but he remained stuck in the same spot.

Which brings us, inevitably, to Malcolm Turnbull. Our Prime Minister is obviously not as graceful and elegant as Marceau, nor, unfortunately, as silent: he has spent the last week of parliament repeating the same diatribe in ever-increasing volume in the hope that those few voters who watch question time on television will hear him even when they have reached for the mute button.

His loyal colleagues, have followed the same formula, with varying results. Peter Dutton is, as you would expect from a Queensland copper, a natural; Scott Morrison is getting there. Christian Porter and Josh Frydenberg are trying hard, but Greg Hunt is seriously unconvincing – let’s face it, he always has been.. Barnaby Joyce, on cue, can be relied on to provide comic relief.

And on the other side, Bill Shorten and his troops are delivering all their hard-won experience of barracking at rowdy union meetings to ensure that the cacophony is bipartisan. If there are any actual messages, they are lost in the hubbub, which is probably just as well, because the pseudo-arguments from both sides do not bear examination.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is not dependent on an increase in the Medicare levy; Turnbull’s pretence that there is no alternative is frankly deceitful. The NDIS can be funded from multiple other sources from consolidated revenue if the government chooses. But an increase in the levy – which is in fact an across-the-board increase in the variable, progressive, tax schedule — is not in itself such a bad idea; Shorten is being, at best, disingenuous saying it is an unfair burden on lower and middle income earners.

But he has a point about the end of the tax levy on high income earners: if it was designed to reduce the deficit, why does it cut off when the deficit is far larger than it was when the levy began? Everyone agrees the banks should be bashed, so although this is clearly ad hoc populism, the bank levy will go ahead. But it would be nice if the government could explain just how much revenue it hopes to gain, and the apparent paradox of charging the levy at the same time it claims all corporations desperately need a tax cut.

Read more:

back-firing while trying to play politics with the judiciary...

"Can I add to that?" added Justice Stephen Kaye. "If we dismiss the appeals, it may be said we are reacting, perhaps overreacting, against the content of what your client said."

The technical term is "scandalising the court". Justice Kaye said he had never seen anything like it in more than 40 years in the law. Warren and Justice Mark Weinberg agreed.

The three had invited the three ministers to appear before them on Friday to explain why they should not be tried for criminal contempt of court.

It was their last and only opportunity to put a case before the judges decided whether to refer their conduct to the Office of Public Prosecutions. None turned up. Instead, they sent the Commonwealth Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue, QC, who made it clear he was representing them in their "role as ministers within our system of government".

He had his work cut out. The video shows him opening by reading a statement in which the ministers neither withdrew what they had said nor apologised.

Then after 39 minutes of excruciating questioning, he received his own text.

"I have just received instructions from Mr Sukkar that he is content to expressly withdraw the statement about hard left activist judges," he informed the court.

"Does he apologise for it? He doesn't apologise," Kaye noted, amid nervous laughter from the packed public gallery.

"Sounds like somebody's on the telephone," Weinberg observed, before adding: "Could I ask whether any of your three clients are lawyers or legal practitioners with any experience in the law at all?"

All three were lawyers. None had turned up.

"In other instances where these kinds of developments have occurred, the minister has taken the opportunity to retract the statement and apologised to the Court," the Chief Justice pointed out.

And then another text, amid more nervous laughter. "My instructions have evolved somewhat in the course of the morning," Donaghue stammered. "I can convey to the Court that I have received instructions to withdraw three of the statements in the article."

"Ideological experiments" and "divorced from reality" were also withdrawn.

And, on further questioning, the statement about the judges being appointed by Labor governments was withdrawn.

They had "multiple appointments to judicial offices for governments of both the Coalition and Labor," Warren pointed out.

Hunt, Sukkar, and Tudge may have left it too late for an apology. If it goes to trial and they are convicted, they could lose their seats.

But there's a potential upside. They would most likely be replaced by ministers with a clearer knowledge of the law who devoted attention to health, housing and Centrelink.

read more:


Of course in this affair, the merde-och media is involved up to its arsehole...