Month: May 2015

Abbott drums up more terror only to be rolled in cabinet.

abbott dictator

Australia’s unsuspecting body politic was about to be plunged into the chill and murky depths of revoking citizenship last week as Captain Abbott beat out a mean anti-terror snare on the old tin drum he keeps by for when fortune flags, boredom yawns or he gets stuck in the muck of good government. Strip their citizenship. Make ’em stateless. Fetch the gang-plank!

It was all rousing, hairy-chested, tough-guy, stuff. Bugger the judiciary. Nobody separates our powers, Abbott winked as he instructed Credlin to tell the ‘Tele’ the result of the cabinet decision before they’d had the discussion. No agenda necessary, Peta, he winked again. Peter Dutton fetched a length of timber from somewhere, checking carefully beforehand to see it wasn’t a sleeping Warren Truss. Tar and feathers appeared in another wink..

Things were shaping well towards our declaring undesirables stateless; their fate resting entirely on a Minister’s suspicion; requiring no burden of proof. Being made stateless would show them we were tough on terror. Teach them to nick off to the Middle East when you can get good falafel in all major cities. But was it too tough?

Revocation would be used only sparingly, ‘Gung Ho’ Dutton rushed to explain, managing only to sound like a bent head-master justifying his use of the cane. Dan Tehan reported that the backbench loved it. But their finer-pointing was drowned out by an outbreak of ‘robust debate,’ all reported verbatim in the Fairfax press the next day.

Robust debate scuppered Abbott. Senior Ministers Bishop, Turnbull, Brandis, Pyne and Andrews all opposed summarily revoking citizenship. Brandis claimed, po-faced, that as AG, it was ‘his job to uphold the rule of law.’ Tell that, Mr Brandis to the Australia Council whose funds you have just raided to create a personal slush fund, to be known as the ‘National Programme for Excellence in the Arts,’ without the merest hint of irony.

Dutton then broke everyone up by explaining no evidence was necessary. ‘That’s the beauty of it’ he said before being howled down. It was left to Barnaby Joyce, perhaps seeking to make up for his disgraceful email to Gina, to stop the show with ‘ Isn’t that what the courts are for?’.

Forced to back off revocation the PM then had to suffer being outmanoeuvred by a nimble Bill Shorten who upstaged him by proposing his own marriage equality bill to be debated Monday. Rolled by his own cabinet, a subdued Abbott walked out only to suffer a painful political wedgie from Shorten. It was too late to cancel the Telegraph’s report of a unanimous Cabinet in favour of revocation of citizenship for those whom we suspect may be un-Australian or who grow their beards, cover their wives, watch the Friday movie on SBS or eat that Halal stuff or something.

What should have been a week of simple pleasure drumming out death cult drongos or kids who fly to Syria to join ISIS; and drumming out any other enemies and fifth columnists within our embryonic police state, thus suddenly morphed into a long drop on to the dung heap for the hapless PM. Thank God for the backbench and their red-necked supporters. Thank Rupert for the Tele which continues to portray a version of the government which bears no resemblance to the real chaos, entropy and reality denial which engulfs the incumbent ruling political party.

LNP denial extends to the facts of life, embarrassing even to a grown man like Joe Hockey who appeared ambushed on ABC’s Q&A by a young woman campaigning to have the GST removed from tampons and other sanitary products. Put on the spot, Joe appeared to concede she had a case, a stance which the PM, wearing a silly grin which betrayed his discomfort on the topic, appeared to oppose the following day. The split between treasurer and prime minister revealed a PM who cannot command consistency of policy nor as it turns out loyalty in cabinet, although it must be said he had betrayed democratic process by his leak to the Tele of the result before cabinet had even met. A good captain leads from the front.

Upstaged by Joe’s going soft on tampon tax on Q&A; betrayed by Bishop and rolled by his senior colleagues in the best-leaked cabinet room revolt in Australian conservative political history, Abbott is suddenly looking very vulnerable. Cabinet has lost confidence in his judgement. Now he was to suffer mutiny along with mutterings of unfairness in his second budget – especially over his pledge to ‘never ever’ change tax on Super, a promise ensuring the wealthy continue to be subsidised in their retirement to the tune of 18 billion.

To make matters worse, Barnaby’s email advising Gina Rinehart’s ungrateful brats to suck it up was all over the news, as if Abbott had set it up, an outrageous slur. It was the Peter Slipper witch hunt all over again. To say nothing of the witch hunt now underway to prove Bishop and Turnbull collaborated on leaking chapter and verse of cabinet to Fairfax reporters.

Better late than never, Cabin boy Hunt fetched good news from the crow’s nest he is forced to occupy now that cabinet has excluded him and his ministry because it can’t stand either of them. He spied fair landing on The Great Barrier Reef, he shouted.

‘At the end of the day, this is the strongest possible endorsement of what Australia and Queensland are doing,’ the Minister for breathless Hyperbole, puffed. In reality, someone had just emailed him a UNESCO draft decision which was highly qualified, cautious and untrusting.

The committee recorded its concerns about the poor outlook for the reef and recommended that the World Heritage Committee review any lack of progress in 2017.

UNESCO’s concerns would cause any self-respecting environment minister to reef in his sails but Hunt’s faux triumphalism capped another week of chaotic instability, duplicity and bad decision-making that our PM assures us is ‘good government ‘.

Not content with pretending that UNESCO had given us a big tick of approval for our reef management, Hunt huffed that our environmental policy now earns us unreserved applause from a grateful world, not to mention a few clapped out reef tourist operators who are keen to flog the half of Great Barrier that survives its wholesale abuse since the 1980s.

At least Hunt’s false joy makes a change from our PM’s tendency to sneer at the UN and to lecture it on daring to lecture us on what is fit and proper to do in our own sovereign dystopia. Don’t try to lecture us on human rights or anything now. We lead the world on the environment.

Granted there was our wee fracas with the US only a year ago when a senior Democrat accused Australia of “behind-the-scenes lagging” on global efforts to tackle the challenges of climate change. But ever since then, Hunt pretends, Australia has been so quick to clean up its act that the rest of the world must now sing our praises for, as Hunt puts it, ‘what we are doing.’

Doubtless Hunt’s ‘what we are doing’ includes the abortive Bjorn Lomborg Consensus Centre, a proposal which caused such dissension UWA had to abandon it. Fossil fuels continue to rule in Oz. We pander to the coal industry and we continue to subsidise big mining. Perhaps that is or rather was the plan. With Bjorn in a professorial chair we could have been world leaders in climate-sceptical self-interest and mutual self-destruction. Let false prophets bless our fat profits. To hell with reason, science, responsibility and all the rest of that leftist bullshit.

What are we doing? We are busily licensing the Adani mega-mine in the Galilee Basin while expanding coal ports up and down the Great Barrier Reef coast. Let Germany get into bed with renewable energy. We love it under the doona with dirty old coal.

If ‘coal is good for civilisation,’ as Abbott claims, it has failed to promote civilised or rational behaviour amongst its advocates and producers who would elbow each other under the next monster mining truck in their rush to exploit a fuel which has ravaged the planet and which threatens us all with extinction as coal fires boost global warming and pollution.

Selling more coal to other countries is like shouting a drink for an alcoholic on the grounds that someone else is only going to do it if we don’t. And it gets us off the hook. Greenhouse gas emitted by coal-fired plants in other countries doesn’t count. We only sold them the coal.

‘Direct Actor’ Hunt’s hollow assurance highlights, a remarkable week in the Coalition’s forlorn and at times sordid, quest for legitimacy as it continues its desperate search for credibility and respect by looking for love in all the wrong places. And in all the wrong ways as Barnaby Joyce’s email to Gina Rinehart’s children illustrates.

How and why Joyce would take it upon himself to persuade the children to drop their case against their mother’s control of their inheritance is just another extraordinary episode in the chapter of accidents that was the week that was.

The government has been strangely buoyed by a phantom ‘bounce’ in opinion polls, which all others see as showing a continuing preference for Labor. It is crowing with fiscal pride because no-one is throwing up over its second budget. Yet the budget continues unfairness, especially in pensions and superannuation which are set to preserve the perks of the wealthy while diminishing the returns of the deserving, the middle to lower income retiree who now have to make do with less, despite all of Morrison’s enjoyment of phrases such as taper rates and other attractive jargon used to cloak taking from the poor and elderly to subsidise the rich.

What is most evident, finally over much of the week’s politics is the tribalism of the Abbott government, a mentality which experts tell us is part of a widespread cultural trend toward fragmentation and a retreat from civil discourse. Stripping any citizen of his or her right to have rights, their citizenship, is part of a drift towards partisanship and cultural isolationism – as Abbott’s book title warns us battle-lines are being drawn. As the people we are not included in the process of government but increasingly marginalised, frightened we are expected to simply choose sides.

Rohingya crisis exposes Abbott government utter lack of humanity and accountability.


Accountability is the cornerstone of good government. It ensures answerability, a readiness to explain itself; to provide sufficient information and justification to the people for its actions. We, the people, feel secure in being listened to, understood and provided for by our elected representatives who may be relied upon to provide wise leadership at home and to justly uphold our rights and discharge our responsibilities as members of an international community of nations abroad.

And so it was last week that Australians of all walks of life rejoiced in a wealth of edifying and illuminating explanations ranging from Australian dogs’ best friend, Barnaby Joyce, whose Yorkshire terrier turn-back was a triumph of diplomacy and statesmanship to our barking mad Prime Minister’s gnomic repudiation of all notion of social contract ‘Nope, nope, nope.’

Non-answerability came thick and fast after their leader’s lead, as coalition politicians ‘fanned out’ to ‘sell the budget,’ as the PM termed his team’s approach, a process avidly embraced by Bruce Billson in interview with ABC Insiders’ Barrie Cassidy.

So mad keen on fanning out was our Minister for Small Business on Sunday morning TV that he resembled nothing so much as a lap dog himself, whimpering and wetting himself with pleasure; beside himself with excitement on being given a bone, in the form of instant tax write-offs for some small businesses.  If he could, he would have licked his master’s salty face. News shots showed him in the corner of each frame adoring his leader with dog-like devotion.

Never to be outdone, Julie Bishop elbowed our recycled former health watchdog Peter Dutton out of the spotlight with her forensic rationalisation of our nation’s cruel indifference towards several hundred wretched men, women and children found starving, destitute and begging for help in a wooden fishing boat turned back by Malaysia to fend for itself in the Andaman sea. How do we know they are real refugees? Bishop asked.

Minister for Ineffectuality, Peter Dutton was left to wring his hands. ‘We do so much already, he despaired. We can’t help everyone. ‘There are about 20 million people who are displaced around the world. We can help some but we can’t help everybody,’ he told Channel Nine, as if, somehow, this explains why we must do nothing.

Yet Dutton manned up when it came to Pistol and Boo, Johnny Depp’s un-quarantined Yorkshire terriers. He blew the whistle long and loud, even, somehow teaming with Barnaby Joyce who issued an Aussie ultimatum ‘Bugger off home.’ The phrase resonated with the international crisis and encapsulated LNP refugee policy whilst guaranteeing the enmity of all fair-minded Australians, dog-lovers and Depp fans world-wide.

But it’s OK to chuck ’em out, added Labor, in reference to expelling ‘illegals’. In a disturbing display of race to the bottom bipartisanship, Labor immigration spokesman, former senior legal consultant, Matt Thistlethwaite, ditched empathy and ethical responsibility in favour of a narrow, legal view.

‘Countries have the right,’ he observed feebly, ‘to remove people who are not found to be refugees under UN convention,’ a perspective which would greatly comfort the countless dispossessed of the world who are forced to return to their country of origin and certain persecution and or a life of destitution.

Australia must throw its hands in the air. It is the only logical solution chimes in our de facto Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, our self-appointed Federal fixer before Christopher Pyne abrogated the title.

‘It’s dumb to even suggest that we might help, argued Rottweiler Morrison, a former border protector himself, whose practices have contributed to the current crisis, before proceeding to rebuke us and set things straight with one of his ‘people who’ explanations.

‘People who suggest countries in the region can resettle persecuted Rohingya misunderstand the scale of the problem.’ There are a million persecuted Rohingya in Myanmar.’ Clearly Morrison thinks that tolerance begins at home – and should stay there. Australia, perhaps, should just tell Myanmar to back off the Rohingya, just as we told Putin to back off in Ukraine. That seems to have worked a treat.

Too many to count, too insignificant to matter, too wretched to care, none of this wisdom reached the ears of the desperate people in a wooden fishing boat, condemned to a death at sea. Two hundred people died during their three month ordeal which culminated in their being abandoned to the elements by a crew made desperate at news of a crackdown on people smuggling. Their bodies were thrown overboard. Survivors were vainly trying to shelter from the fierce Andaman sun under flimsy plastic tarpaulins. No-one was game to take them in.

Cries of “Please help us! I have no water!” rose from the boat as a vessel carrying journalists approached. “Please give me water!”

Help? ‘Nope, nope, nope.’ Our nation’s leader, Good Samaritan Abbott made a captain’s call to negate our collective humanity. Sensing somehow that her leader was not even prepared to enter into discussion of the matter, his foreign minister leapt in with both feet, as she is wont to do, almost to his rescue, by explaining to a disgusted world that the Bangladeshi boat-people would not get any help from Australia because they were not genuine refugees.

In fact, Bishop hissed, during a break from her mobile emoji-sending, they were ‘illegal labourers’ according to her sources in Indonesia, fellow turn-backers and buck-passers whose self-interested perspective is doubtless utterly credible. Many aboard are reported be carrying readily available false National ID and counterfeit passports. ‘Illegal’ labourers are less than human it seems and forfeit all right to humane consideration.

The boat’s plight highlights the migration crisis confronting the region. 6,000 to 20,000 migrants are believed to be at sea, fleeing ethnic persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh, while countries such as Australia pass the buck or point the finger.

It is also, tragically a litmus test of legitimacy for a coalition government which has abdicated all responsibility, accountability and answerability in favour of spin. If we cannot swallow our slogans and practise our humanity and common decency, there is nothing our government can do from now in to salvage any last vestige of credibility or moral integrity at home or abroad.

Hockey’s incredible budget backflip.

hockey make up

Joe Hockey’s second Budget set a new backflip benchmark even for the Abbott government which has elevated flip flops into a key political strategy. For stop-go Joe and for his do-whatever- might-work party, Budget number two was either a dramatic reinvention or a breathtaking political quick change from neo-constrictor to big stimulus spender.

Forget debt and deficit disaster. Expect nothing but blue skies from now on. We are on ‘a credible path to surplus’ sometime in the next decade or two provided the good times keep on rolling. Provided we keep the telescope up to the blind eye.

Iron ore , for example, can’t possibly drop below its current price  despite Citigroup predicting it will drop below $40 a tonne as miners boost supply and markets contract.

Whatever they thought of the  motive, the reversal was so remarkable as to leave most observers wondering who Joe Hockey is -and what his party stands for. Is he now just Scott Morrison’s sock puppet?

The wealthy, however, were not to be left in doubt. Superannuation tax breaks for those on high incomes would continue, Hockey reassured us, although he neglected to say our support of the privileged costs the nation the same as the entire Medicare scheme.

Just to keep faith with those who expect more mean and nasty, however, the Coalition was able to put the boot into breast-feeding mothers and any others who dared to double- dip, rort and defraud the virtuous tax-payer by claiming two periods of paid parental leave, albeit in total less than Abbott’s original unfunded proposal – and still inadequate.

Morrison was all moral outrage on radio:

Channeling a Catherine Tate character, Morrison was all moral outrage on radio: ‘how very dare they!’ Later, he offered another version of his comment in case we were confused as to what he really said which he said was not a criticism of women at all but a flaw in the scheme. Of course.

Strangely Hockey has also claimed that his comments were also mis-reported although his PM is still keen to voice his new-found opposition to women taking two periods of leave, despite this being intended in the legislation. It can only be assumed that Credlin has yet to catch up with him.  Expect to hear another version of what he really meant soon.

Similarly, the old Joe could be detected in funds to help women. Yet only after the budget did Michaelia Cash announced breathlessly that another 4 million would be spent on an 1800RESPECT help line to tackle the epidemic of domestic violence. She did not explain why the afterthought or why this was less than one percent of the ‘the spend’ on increased anti-terror measures also announced in the second budget.

So far, initiatives in the government’s response to the nation’s domestic violence crisis have been underwhelming. If two women each week were killed by terrorists, it would be a different story. So are it has funded an awareness programme and a helpline. Although it says 25 million is allocated for shelter for the homeless, this is a paltry investment when contrasted with the funds pouring into our war on terror.

…child dental care rise by $75…

Saving women’s lives is clearly far less of an Abbott government priority than say organising an armoured vehicle to patrol north Melbourne or pouring millions into welfare police. The budget will see child dental care rise by $75 as a result of its freeze on Medicare rebates. We already have the GP copayment by stealth.

The party’s small-business heartland will do OK out of this budget. Experts believe it will do no harm either in key tradie-infested Victorian marginals, as have-a-go-Joe happily forgoes revenue in tax breaks to small businesses in the hope of buying votes before they call a double dissolution.

No-one expected the Joe show to be so startling. ‘Dull’ was the PM”s  promise but he did not put it in writing. ‘Do or die’ was easily the most popular guess by those in the know and even those with no clue at all, mostly because it sounds dramatic. Double-dissolution got more than a whisper from some highly placed sources.

In the end, however, no-one tipped that the Treasurer would publicly turn himself inside out and his party back to front to unleash a big spending big taxing budget on an unsuspecting nation.

Joe came out as a wet.

‘Have-a go-Joe shocked even his closest followers. We expected dullness before he opened his cake-hole. And we were not disappointed. Only the random, ragged applause of clapped out party hacks served to remind us that this was not just another political soliloquy; another raving nutter talking to himself in public. But then, amidst the happy-clappers came the bombshell. Joe came out as a wet.

No-one warned us to expect Joe to go wet on us. His act upstaged his message. Upstaged his entire party’s platform. Was this the secret, inner Joe? Or was it some new Joe? Who could tell? Certainly not his leader.

Tony Abbott, no stranger to dullness himself, as G20 leaders know, had worded us up to expect his dull Treasurer to give a dull, ‘nothing to see here and move along please’ budget that his dull party could ‘tick off’ before it ‘moved on’ with its next round of public spending cuts or its brazen pandering to privilege and wealth and persecution of the poor that constitutes its idea of good government. Joe must have missed this hint. For Budget Night was all about his miraculous turnaround. Before our very eyes, the economic dry became a very wet one.

Hockey’s budget speech was as boring as bat-shit. Clichéd, commonplace and as corny as all get out, it was just the sort of twaddle the dutiful neo-con radical-conservative feels he ought to say on public occasions such as budgets.

…dreary, lazy, superficial generalities and unexamined assumptions:

As nimble as big men often are , Hockey adeptly sidestepped depth, originality or insight. Instead he ladled out the LNP stew of dreary, lazy, superficial generalities and unexamined assumptions: ‘every big business started small’ and ‘small business is the backbone of the nation.’

Were it not for the incredible spectacle he made of himself with his almost total capitulation to expediency, it would have been a dull night’s entertainment. Yet, here, before his peers, stood last year’s economic dry who could not do enough to cut spending and to preach economic doom and disaster. Now we were to accept his spectacular reincarnation as an economic wet who would spend us out of the impending recession even if it mean repudiating everything his first budget stood for.

Hockey’s own party clapped loud and over long for his support of the monied. They loved him for his public homage to those popular have-a-go myths with which they liked to console themselves and rationalise their naked self-interest. Genius, Joe. Buy ’em off! Joe the deliverer and redeemer might even get them re-elected if he kept this up.

Jobs would doubtless flow; wealth would trickle down as the burden of tax would be eased on the small business folk of Australia, the backbone of the nation. Amen. Not one of them would take the money and run. No-one seemed to bother to with the fact that even if you have an immediate tax write-off, you still have to have the capital in the first place. Nor was time wasted on the two-tier tax system created when experts already warn of unfairness in favour of small versus medium enterprises.

…Hockey’s last chance…

It was, let’s be frank, Hockey’s last chance to show us why Scott Morrison should not have his job. Why, Joe could rustle up a party narrative with the best of them. he would not let himself or the PM or the party down by letting truth get in the way of a good story.

Porky pies followed thick and fast.  The world economy, he lied is on the up and up. And as for Australia? Why, Australia is set to rocket off into prosperity along a ‘trajectory’ hitherto undreamt of because of all his party’s heavy lifting.- Look at our raft, he said, of Free Trade agreements with China India and other places where labour is cheap and life is even cheaper.

Best of all, he paused, as you do when you are free-wheeling, we have no carbon tax to ruin business or a mining tax to ruin Gina Rinehart and other such entrepreneurs whom he poppy-cocked repeatedly were once small businesspeople. Every business was once a small business.  Like Gina’s. Like IBM. Or when Mark Zuckerberg knocked back his parents’ financial support.

Huge savings from turning back boats, people-processing savings and not building new detention centres have left us with buckets of funds, he continued. In fact, he crowed, ‘our party doesn’t do tax. That’s the other mob.’

Hockey then plunged into a froth and lather detailing his party’s highest taxing, biggest spending budget of all time. This included billions in foregone tax revenue so that saintly small business folk such as tradies, the backbone of the nation, can get new utes to hoon around Noosa and doubtless down to Centrelink the following day to hire a swag of long-term unemployed.

…Newscorp’s divine right to a monopoly…

Hockey just the previous day was forced to hold a press conference to show Rupert that despite being upstaged mercilessly by Scott Morrison, he could still make himself useful in putting GST weights up on Netflix and any other rival to Newscorp’s divine right to a monopoly in Australia, while continuing to lead the pack in paying tax elsewhere.

Resourcefully the ABC pants on fire brigade, dropped their yoga mats and braved the chill Canberra evening outside while they dissected the corpse of the DOA budget and its fire-breathing Minister.  Perhaps they were making a symbolic statement of independence. Or were they just dramatising their exclusion by a government which favours fawning sycophants over reporters.  At least we got to see the trendy coats ABC reporters can still afford.

The untold story is that the bad old cuts will continue to bite deep – Sussan Ley, the bunny in the headlights of the Health ministry still has to cut 1.6 billion out of the health budget – ‘savings’ as they are cynically re-branded. They are not savings they are cuts which will have a negative effect on both health – not to mention the flow-on effect to other sectors of the economy. Perhaps we are going to all buck up after hearing the good news of the budget and have no further need of doctors and hospitals.

Hockey’s second budget may have come as a surprise but don’t be surprised when after failing to deal with the  senate  and while small business folk everywhere are maxing out credit cards in the rush to cash in on their tax breaks, the government calls a double dissolution in the more than faint hope of re-election through its cynical courting of self-interest and the pursuit of power for its own sake.

Abbott and Hockey fudge 2015 budget.

111 abbott and hockey on budget

Tension is high across Australia in anticipation of the Abbott government’s budget extravaganza, B2, a vaudeville-cum-variety show which opens in Canberra next Tuesday as the existential angst of aid workers attests:

“The whole of the aid sector is hanging on the edge, waiting nervously for the May budget when it will be revealed exactly which parts of the aid budget will be cut – a bit like a doomsday clock,” ActionAid Australia’s Holly Miller says.

Tellingly, the ABC’s attempts to seek details were evaded. “The Treasurer isn’t engaging in budget speculation.” So much for ‘consultative government.’

Time is not only ticking down for aid workers, however, the clock is also running for our PM and his mate. Hockey is on notice that he will be replaced, if he fluffs this budget, Niki Savva says sagely, whilst others believe a dud budget will also terminate Abbott’s flagging career.

Will B2 be a hit?  Even if he has to fudge it, Abbott will do anything to save his neck; even contriving to appear fair.  He’s dropped his ‘debt and deficit disaster’ scare-mongering. He’s flip-flopped on debt from Labor’s “disaster” of 13 per cent of GDP to now call projected debt of 50 to 60 per cent of GDP as “a pretty good result.”

Abbott, the eternal pragmatist, now favours restraint, while Hockey wants to cut further. Little wonder relations appear strained in recent images taken to show a matey, blokey collaboration; a budget chumming up. Or do they reveal a duo who will go down together?

Bringing down a budget is a sideshow compared with the ‘running the economy’ yet, unless our leaders can step up, Australia will continue its economic slide. Abbott’s evasion will only further damage his credibility and weaken his capacity for reform.

Leadership is what we expect from government, leadership which has a real plan as distinct from rhetoric; a slogan about a plan. 94 per cent of Textor’s recent research sample, for example, agreed the nation “needs a better plan for its long-term future”.

But what to do? Property is booming while our terms of trade unravel, as commodity prices drop back to normality after a boom which governments chose to see as endless. Now the Coalition can choose between allowing deficits to balloon and a credit rating downgrade in return. Or it can rein in spending and slow the economy even further.

Satyajit Das, financial market veteran, argues federal budgets matter little in an increasingly globalised financial system; a global economy. Yet others contend that our economic structure has been crippled by years of policy failure. Leaders lack political will to reform. Governments do nothing beyond simply looking to the RBA to lower interest rates in the hope that this will boost economic activity.

The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes, our government’s power is proscribed but within its limitations, there is a power of good it can do. Or as in the current case, a power of damage to be done by choosing do nothing.

Lowering interest rates doesn’t always work magic as Glenn Stevens pointedly observed recently, cueing a reluctant Abbott government to take monetary action. There are limits to what can be achieved by fiscal policy alone. If anything. The most recent interest rate cut led to a rise in the Aussie dollar as speculators punted on it being the final cut.

Our prosperity is ultimately shaped by forces beyond control of governments, or nations. B2 will be a strategic diversion whilst real power over the nation’s fortunes lies in the hands of international capitalists in a global financial system. And our current local neo-con politicians are happy to surrender even their limited authority to the TPP, for example, such is their deference to international capital, free trade and ‘market forces.’

Yet, Bringing down the Budget will be a fantastic show. It’s traditional, for starters, for the country’s federal treasurer and his government to pretend to be in charge of the nation’s finances, to have plans and the means to carry them out. Fantastic. And it’s revealing. Hockey will, yet again, claim he knows what is best for us without ever having to ask.

Strong performances are expected from Tony the ten pound Pom, as the widow Twankey and Joe Hockey as a bungling but loveable, comic Ali Baba who runs around swearing revenge on a mob of merchant bankers, tax- evading multinational thieves, only to disclose in the final moments of the show, that he is married to one of them.

Highlights include ‘It’s everybody else’s fault but mine…’ in which a hapless Joe Hockey must convince a sceptical audience that that he has learned anything from Budget Mark 1 despite his continued need to blame others and his deluded claim that he ‘tried to do too much in the way of reform.’ If only we had all set out to do so much less and had no-one to contend with. The world would be close to perfect.

‘It is the senate. It was the Greens. It is Labor,’ Hockey explains to the AFR. Au contraire Joe, let’s not forget the matter of your poor communication and consultation. Your budgets won’t work because they are not built on consensus. For consensus you have to talk to people; share with them. You have to heed and respect what people say.

The essence of theatre is illusion. The Federal Budget perpetuates the illusion that our leaders have the power to shape our future when they clearly struggle to cope with the present. Expect more rhetoric about ‘heavy lifting;’ the ‘bulk of the hard work’ being done. Expect blather from Scott Morrison about pension ‘taper points’ as he wilfully confuses the technical element of budgeting with its real locus in political priorities.

The hard work of raising revenue has not even begun, whether it be via chasing tax evaders, reforming superannuation tax, a scheme which is obscenely skewed in favour of the rich and costs us as much as Medicare. Investing in renewable energy industries would make more sense than continuing to pour money into a hole in the ground to benefit multinational mining companies. Or into the pockets of the coal barons.

B2, is a cleverly marketed surrealist life-size puppet theatre show sequel to B1, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s debut. The show was widely panned as unfair. B2 is billed to be a ‘bring home the bacon budget’ although some observers add: ‘only for those already riding high on the hog’ or a ‘pigs might fly’ rider.

The (Second) Greatest Show on Earth gets its nation-wide release on May 7. A small fortune has been spent in its promotion. Punters await in frenzied expectation. Will Hockey get it right this time? What has he learned from his earlier flop? Will this be curtains for the dynamic neo-con duo?

Given our Treasurer’s abysmal first budget show, what hope is there for his second? All that is certain is that there is a lot riding on this production. No wonder he and Abbott look nervous, especially in each other’s company. No wonder Abbott is so toey.

Unwittingly using negative psychology, Abbott is promising a budget that will be ‘very dull, very routine.’  Or perhaps he’s slipped into his promised ‘under-promise, over-deliver’ mode.

Meanwhile Laurie Oakes is leaking. We are in for a double dissolution, he puffs, doubtless while we are still distracted by Charlotte Elizabeth Diana’s blessed arrival, the sensational success of direct action and the funds given over to WA to reward Premier Colin Barnett for being unable to see past his own greed far enough to forecast a return to normality in iron ore prices; banking on boom times lasting forever.

And a ‘fair budget.’ The fairness tick of approval will earned by a fudged budget that does nothing to address the nation’s declining fortunes or any other type of leadership but which will do everything possible to shore up Abbott and Hockey’s survival with perhaps even hope fantastical of boosting chances of an Abbott government return.