Category Archives: Politics

#Morrisonsongs

Hard not to hear this Foreigner anthem about Scott Morrison whenever he pops up to do some other horrible thing to more than justify it. So few changes required it’s almost redundant amending the lyrics at all.

Cold As Ice

You’re as cold as ice
You’re willing to sacrifice their lives

You never take advice
Today they’ll pay the price
I know

I’ve seen it before
It’s happened many times
You’re closing the door
You leave the world behind
You’re digging for votes
Yet throwing away
Australia’s reputation
And someday we’ll pay

You’re as cold as ice
You’re willing to sacrifice their lives
You live in Paradise
But someday you’ll pay the price
I know

I’ve seen it before
It’s happened many times
You’re closing the door
You leave the world behind
You’re digging for votes
Yet throwing away
Australia’s reputation
And someday we’ll pay

Cold as ice, you know that you are
Cold, cold, as, as, ice, as cold as ice to them
Cold, cold, as, as, ice

Ooh, ooh, ooh, cold as, cold as ice
You’re as cold as ice
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice, we know
You’re as cold as ice, yes we know
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice, we know
You’re as cold as ice, oh yes we know
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice, we know
You’re as cold as ice, oh yes we know
You’re as cold as ice, cold as ice

PS Hey did you hear we’re kidnapping people off boats in international waters now?

49% risk of torture or death? We’ll make ‘em take it.

So… what kind of human beings are we?

The Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, is planning to increase the stakes dramatically in deciding whether his nation should send an asylum seeker away to the dungeons and the hands of brutes.

And he wants to put a figure on the ghastly business. Yes. He’s offering an each-way bet, set a bit shy of 50-50.

Applicants for asylum on the basis of fear of torture must establish, under his proposal, that there is more than a 50 per cent probability that they will be subjected to agony or even death if returned to the country they have fled.

In short, if there is a mere 49 to 50 per cent chance of escaping being hung by one’s thumbs from meathooks while being thrashed by a length of electrical flex, that’s good enough for Mr Morrison. They can be sent to whatever fate might await them.

And I doubt you’d find many Australians happy to hold the Coalition’s front bench to that same standard. 49% chance of brutal torture or death if we put them on this plane? No, they’re not that bad. They’re not, you know, asylum seeker children.

Meanwhile, on this link there’s a video of Scott telling shattered refugees that they’ll be staying in those camps for “a very very long time” unless they voluntarily go back into danger.

If you voted for this, or worse – are intending to keep voting for this, then I have some rather unkind words for you. But they’re not as unkind as what you’re prepared to do to vulnerable people.

UPDATE: Apparently there’s been some confusion in the comments as to whether Australia really would do something like this.

Here’s the Government’s bill to amend the Migration Act to make this the new test:

6A(2) The Minister can only be satisfied that Australia has protection obligations in respect of the non citizen if the Minister considers that it is more likely than not that the non citizen will suffer significant harm if the non citizen is removed from Australia to a receiving country.

Budget 2014: setting up for more tax cuts for the rich, funded by grinding the poor into the dust

How to give a certain class of Australians what they want.

Tony Abbott at Daily Tele post-budget party

Tony Abbott at tonight’s Daily Telegraph post-budget party

  • Step 1: Win government, promising that, even though the country’s finances are well-known, you can magically create a “budget surplus” whilst simultaneously cutting taxes, and not cutting spending.
  • Step 2: Exaggerate budgetary difficulties. Double the deficit. Lock in revenue cuts (eg abolishing the mining tax) that help your rich mates. Lock in company tax cuts.
  • Step 3: Claim “budget emergency” (even though anyone paying attention can see that the only things that have changed since the election were done by you)
  • Step 4: Slash basic services for the poor – drive those on NewStart further into poverty, deny young people even that support, bully the poor out of going to the doctor or even the emergency room, cut services for the disabled.
  • Step 5: Cover your permanent assault on the poor with a comparatively small “deficit levy” on certain wealthy people that is, unlike the service cuts, only temporary.
  • Step 6: As soon as the unnecessary cuts produce a surplus, give the proceeds to the rich in more tax cuts.

In short -
Times are good: lock in tax cuts.
Tax cuts wreck the budget: lock in service cuts.
Service cuts create a surplus: more tax cuts.
REPEAT

End result: America.

Still, after all, it’s just what Australians want – which is why before the election we had to tell them none of it would happen. Because of how much they support it.

Oh, alright, yes, they’re angry – now, two and a half years out from the next election, when they can’t do anything about it. Sure, we’ve got a lot of votes to buy back in the next two budgets – but with the money we just gouged out of the poor and vulnerable, history indicates we can do it.

Trust us.

Carbon tax did it

Hey, stop blaming the Abbott Government for the things falling apart on their watch. It’s not their fault. They’re trying to fix the place, but Labor’s carbon tax makes that impossible. And Labor just refuses to let them repeal the carbon tax and solve all the nation’s problems.

I’m putting up a handy thread here for us all to record shemozzles as they continue to happen under this new adult government so we can remember what could have been saved or fixed if only Labor had voted to repeal the carbon tax. (NOTE: comments including a link to where the people involved in the debacle in question expressly contradict claims the carbon tax had anything to do with it WILL BE DELETED WITH PREJUDICE.)

UPDATE: Companies that have noticed the carbon tax having negligible effect on their business, contrary to the government’s claims, FOR GOD SAKE KEEP THAT TO YOURSELVES. Learn from the story of Qantas and its insolently disobedient board, that made the foolish mistake of contradicting the government and is now unconvincingly scrambling to make it up to them. Don’t let that happen to you. Blame the carbon tax early and often.

Tony Abbott finally says something so obviously against Australia’s interests that media stop covering for him; public turns*

Even if you have little sympathy for the fellow human beings fleeing persecution and asking for our help, even if you’ve internalised ridiculously misleading and flat-out inaccurate phrases like “illegals”, “queue jumpers”, “country shoppers”, and “non-genuine refugees”… if you’re otherwise a rational Australian you’d realise that a few thousand people on boats could never damage our country as much as a significant deterioration in our relationship with Indonesia, our most populous neighbour.

This new PM, Tony Abbott, ranks that relationship BELOW his obsession with persecuting refugees.

20140125-071307.jpg

The Oz tries to minimise what that damage might mean, making it sound like just a few meaningless speeches, and the News Ltd tabloids are presently a hotbed of “who do those Indons think they are” macho idiocy – but if you think sensibly for a few moments, you couldn’t possibly dismiss it so cavalierly.

…even if this means enduring significant damage to [our] relationship with Indonesia

As if that’s a pissy second-order issue.

It’s true we’ve done things to piss off the Indonesians before – when we (eventually) stood up for the human rights of the East Timorese (before stabbing them in the back for their precious natural resources); most recently when we tried to prevent animal cruelty to our livestock. But unlike the present case, we were not alone in the former – we were backed by most of the rest of the world. And the latter issue didn’t involve affronts to Indonesian sovereignty. In an Indonesian election year.

This new government we’ve got aren’t “adults”. They’re children playing at being cowboys. And if we let them keep doing it, it’s hard to have confidence it won’t seriously hurt us all.

*Not really, obviously.

Like most conservative Australians, I’m sure we can trust the government to do the right thing without any oversight

OK, ok. The leftists are out there constantly claiming that we’re doing all sorts of monstrous crap to country-shopping fake-refugees that, in reality, most of us know we’re being far too nice to.

We just know we are. If we weren’t, we’d have heard about it, surely?

And since we know that our treatment of refugees is, if anything, too nice, because otherwise we’d have heard about it, that means that secrecy is fine, since we already know we’re being too nice. If there’s anything we know about governments, it’s that they can be trusted to do the right thing when nobody’s keeping track of them.

As Tony Abbott, our trustworthy and honourable new Prime Minister, declared this week:

Abbott was also questioned by the breakfast TV hosts about whether he was happy with the conditions inside detention centres.

“I am confident that we are running these centres competently and humanely,” replied Abbott.

So shut up about it. Why would the PM declare that the centres were being run “competently” and “humanely” if they weren’t? What’s his motivation to lie? Why must you leftists be so cynical and untrusting of government? If you’re going to be so untrusting, maybe you’re exactly the wrong people to be keeping tabs on what’s happening in these places.

Fair enough that Nauru is trying to drive you meddlesome busybodies away.

Stop trying to expose things we don’t want to know about because whilst we want our government to do monstrous things to our fellow human beings to drive them away, it’s much harder to endorse cruelty when the details are right in front of us. Stop undermining our carefully-constructed edifice of plausible denial.

The government is NOT doing indefensible things on our behalf. Shut up, it isn’t. And if it turns out later that it was, it’s not our fault – we didn’t know about it. NOBODY TOLD US. Shut up, nobody told us. You did not.

And the victims are only foreigners, anyway.

Pyne: yes, but there’s more to Australian history than the massacres

So I hear that Christopher “Yes, he’s seriously the federal Minister for Education” Pyne has a new plan to revise the National Curriculum. “Teachers like certainty”, he said, as he declared that everything they’d been preparing would now be torn apart by two totally random guys who are going to, with a small amount of admin support, perform a comprehensive review of the curriculum that took years to develop, in four months. I guess they’ll be working weekends.

Chris reckons that, despite all the places where it does just that, the curriculum “has not sold or talked about the benefits of western civilisation in our society”:

It’s very important the curriculum is balanced in its approach to that. It’s very important the truth be told in our history. So, yes, the truth of the way we’ve treated Indigenous Australians should be told in our curriculum. But also the truth about the benefits of Western civilisation should be taught in our curriculum. And I think that there is some fair criticism that the curriculum is balanced one way rather than the other.

I’m totally with Chris. Like most Australians, I remember spending most of my time at school learning about Australian historical atrocities – like this one I drove past on Friday on my way back from Narrandera that I’m sure you, as an educated Australian, know all about:

14-01-10 drive from narrandera
Oh, not Poison Waterholes Creek again!

And yet nobody ever focused on the key achievements of Western Civilization, like the rule of law. Imagine what would happen if young Australians grow up not understanding the importance of fundamental protections our civilisation took hundreds of years to develop, like the right to not be imprisoned without a fair trial? Imagine what a government made up of such a generation might do.

Thank goodness Chris recognises the danger.

5 things the poor pay more for

Fascinating article out of the US this week, in which a lady living in poverty explains just why it is that the sort of decisions people make in that situation that many more fortunate people mock or, worse, use as if they’re justifications for a person’s poverty, why those decisions are in fact perfectly logical and understandable and you’d probably make them yourself. You might find it eye-opening.

Now, we don’t live in America, and our welfare system is of course not as terrible as theirs. But NewStart is still kept well below subsistence level – which means not “you can’t live on it comfortably” but “you can’t live on it without falling into impossible debt and going without food or other necessities”.

Worse, many people don’t realise that the poor actually pay more for many things, further entrenching their poverty.

Here are some examples:

  1. Housing – if you don’t have a good job and good credit, you won’t be accepted for desirable properties, ie insulated, secure houses at the best prices in locations with decent public transport. You’ll have to pay more for a dump nowhere near anything which will be harder to heat and cool and cost more to secure. Also renting means that you can be forced to move with two months’ notice at the landlord’s convenience – good luck finding the money for house-moving transport when you’re already in debt.
  2. Transport – the poor have to live more remotely, where public transport costs more (we really should get rid of zoning systems for fares) and is less available. They can’t afford to keep their cheaper cars regularly serviced, so when they die they die more seriously, and because they’re cheaper and older they die more often.
  3. Utilities – if you’re poor, you can only afford an old fridge (the seals of which have probably gone) or at the best a new very inefficient fridge. Same for heating, washing machine etc. Your house won’t be well insulated, and you couldn’t afford to insulate it even if you had the right, which you don’t because, of course, you’re renting. Oh and you don’t get to take advantage of government subsidies for things like solar panels – those are just for the wealthy who own their own homes. Guess what – you’ll be paying a vast amount more on your electricity bill.
  4. Money costs more. They can’t get cheap credit secured by their home loan: they have to take the crappier credit deals where they pay more for less. Their credit fees cover wealthier people’s fee-free credit cards. And once they do fall into credit card debt – and good luck not doing that, when you’re trying to survive on below-subsistence NewStart – the interest on the interest on the interest becomes simply unsalvageable. It becomes a permanent tax on poverty, the recipients of which are the wealthy.
  5. Healthcare – whilst at least we cover most things if you’ve got a health care card, it’s not comprehensive. Bulk-billing doctors are difficult to find. There are massive waits for even basic surgery. I once had a client with his arm off at the shoulder who, for month after month after month kept being bumped for private patients even after being prepped for surgery. They pay for this in sick leave they don’t have from bad employers who’ll just sack them, and self-destructive workarounds (starting with terrible fast food) while they’re incapacitated.

And two bonus points as to why they’re even more screwed by the above than you would be:

  • They don’t have networks of comfortable friends and family who can help them in emergencies.
  • It’s harder to get a decent job to get out of this nightmare. Where’s the money for a clean suit and personal grooming for an interview? Sorry, car broke down on way. No, left two hours early for the interview on the terrible public transport where I live in Dumpsville Nowhere and the train was cancelled. No I don’t have an email address I can’t afford the internet connection. And if you do get the job – your work day will be hours longer than those of your colleagues because you’ll be travelling much further on much worse transport. Good luck out-performing them!

Those are not comprehensive lists, either. Please feel free to suggest others in the comments.

The point is, the status quo crushes the poor. It locks in poverty. We are wasting the talents of many of our citizens with a profoundly unfair system that prevents them working their way ahead. Anyone thinking we should do less for the poor needs to try a week living in their shoes.

I knew it was going to be bad, but… do even Liberal voters want this? or; in which Australia becomes an international pariah

So this morning’s news is that, far from criticising Sri Lanka for its recent blatant human rights abuses, the Abbott government is actually giving them Australian warships to stop people trying to escape.

Yes, you read that right: we are GIVING THEM SHIPS to stop people fleeing human rights abuses. This is a government so authoritarian last week it detained an Australian senator for holding a press conference criticising its record.

Meanwhile, Scott “I seriously have no conscience at all” Morrison has, in the last fortnight:

All because we’re ludicrously paranoid about people seeking refuge here.

Liberal/National voters, I’m finding it really difficult to even look at you right now.

…Well, you know, we all wanna change the world.

  1. It’s absurd for Jeremy to suggest that someone who lives in a society, whether they vote or not, could in any way have no authority to speak on political subjects. All you need to have that authority is eyes, ears and a brain.
  2. Russell seems to confuse “voting” with “voting for Tories”. Although in the UK voting system with first past the post, single member electorates and no preference voting, the system massively favours the big established parties and if you vote for someone else, like an actual progressive candidate*, you are with respect to the contest between the big two parties making it easier for the one you like the least to win government – you’re at least having your voice heard. Opting out entirely (or, in Australia, voting informal) just makes it even EASIER for the big parties to ignore you, and makes it even harder for alternatives to grow.
  3. The fact that the current parliamentary system in the UK is fundamentally broken and undemocratic doesn’t mean that anarchy is better. For one thing, the main flaws in their system could be remedied without abandoning the whole idea of democracy. For another, remember that it’s the Tories who are cynical about the idea of “society”, and the poor and vulnerable who tend to do particularly badly when it collapses entirely.

I look forward to reading Russell’s plan to move towards a better world. Hopefully his gig at the New Statesman will help him push us in that direction.

*Surely even in the UK progressive people do actually run for parliament.

UPDATE: Here’s his piece in New Statesman.

Please –

Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics.

What you’re doing is politics. When you read people arguing things you agree with, or against things you despise, that’s politics. Maybe be a bit more specific? “I am utterly disenchanted by all three big political parties in Britain and the electoral system which locks them in”, perhaps?

Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.

Again, define “politicians”.

Billy Connolly said: “Don’t vote, it encourages them,”

Actually, voting AGAINST THEM is the only way not to encourage them. Abstaining just encourages them to ignore you and people like you.

and, “The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever being one.”

Ha ha, but useless. If by “politician” you mean “MP in one of the big establishment parties”, sure. But if by “politician” you mean “person with political views who genuinely has ideas to push the world in a more equitable direction and can persuade people to support you through the strength of those ideas and your advocacy for them”, then no – you’re exactly the sort of person who should make politics your profession.

Young people, poor people, not-rich people, most people do not give a fuck about politics.

But they DO. They just don’t give a fuck about what they’re being told is “politics” (the Westminster farce) or what they’re being told are “the politicians” (the establishment MP jerks).

They see no difference between Cameron, Clegg, Boris, either of the Milibands

…because there’s little.

…or anyone else.

THAT IS A MASSIVE CALL. “Anyone” else? There’s no-one else advocating for the things they believe? NO-ONE? Or is it that there are people who are representing the political views of the young, the poor, the not-rich, it’s just that the establishment media are ignoring them? Maybe let’s go and find these people, or if we can’t, become those people instead?

…There’s little point bemoaning this apathy. Apathy is a rational reaction to a system that no longer represents, hears or addresses the vast majority of people. A system that is apathetic, in fact, to the needs of the people it was designed to serve.

Sure – so we should be fighting to FIX THAT SYSTEM, or consider a better one if one’s on offer. We can opt out of what they call “politics” without opting out of POLITICS.

You know who wants anyone who believes in equality, fairness, social justice, compassion to give up on politics? The people who want the opposite.