Month: June 2015

Abbott government silent on people smuggling, attacks ABC, free state education in a week of ‘good government.’


‘Full steam astern,’ Captain Hook-or-by-Crook Abbott, ducking volleys of brickbats, derision and sheer disbelief from home and abroad, cowers on the poop deck, manfully commanding the start of another week of good government and doing whatever craven acts it takes to follow the almighty IPA’s wish-list, amen, annihilate all opponents and preserve his arse, a commodity he must remind us, that is not for sale.

Monday sees him suddenly reversing course to avoid a leaked green-paper proposal for wealthy parents to pay fees for their children’s public schooling bobbing up like a turd in the surf at Bondi.

‘Not policy now or ever’ Abbott lies, trusting someone will pick it up and run with it. It’s a win-win. The fuss will distract the nation from the legality of Australia’s offshore detention being challenged in the High Court or PWC’s report that a third of Australia is effectively in recession. So much to evade, deny, silence or lie about, he sighs, so little time. But at least, he can do Bill slowly. The Royal Commission into destroying Shorten forever promises to be worth every penny, he winks as he is told the Information Commissioner has given up after being forced by government cuts to pay all costs, even work from his own home. The Abbott government’s war on transparency is all going to plan.

A hell’s kitchen of housing prices continue to bubble but nothing to see here, says Abbott and Hockey rubbishing the RBA’s view. Who cares as long as decent, Liberal voters owning property in Sydney and Melbourne make a fortune? Does it matter where investment comes from? Some foreign buyers, it seems, are all cashed up with the proceeds of crime or are buying under shonky schemes to hide their identity. Yet the matter is well in hand as the government’s new fee for overseas buyers is guaranteed to ease the pressure. Sort things out. Guaranteed. Enough with the negative. Listen to Billson if you want proof that economic management is in our DNA.

Tax breaks for some small businesses are restoring our nation’s flagging prosperity. Why just the other day, a small business in my electorate bought a new coffee machine. A new coffee machine, Madam Speaker, by taking advantage of the new tax write-offs. LNP turd polishers instruct MPs to stud their talk with homespun folksy anecdotes about having a go in the new millennium of the Hockey economic miracle of pandering to where the votes are rather than where investment or even an economic plan is needed.

…this polyester-wool blend Pollyanna…

Minister for Positive (Delusional) Thinking and mindless optimism Bruce Bilge water gurgles joyfully, winsomely to the house, possessed by a permanent raptus, a true believer whose evangelism embodies all that is wrong with the Abbott’s ‘open for business’ slogan. No-one ever tells this polyester-wool blend Pollyanna to shut up on a point of order. Everyone is struck dumb in awe of the holy simpleton. Not so dumb, however, is the rest of the world which is taking less kindly to our wool-pulling in climate change and our entry into the people-smuggling trade.

World leaders are increasingly short with Hunt’s walnut shell and pea solution to global warming while it looks as if none of the coal in the Galilee Basin is worth mining let alone ruining a world heritage reef over. Scrapping the carbon tax continues to shred our credibility. The notion that Australia is too small to make any difference to world is challenged by the view that only if the world can get nations such as Australia to reduce emissions will measures to counteract climate change have a chance of success.

We are keeping the world guessing over if our PM will even attend the Paris climate talks or send ministers with a cut lunch. And our new emissions target is still a secret. Abbott will only repeat his empty rhetoric that any new target for Australia will ‘safeguard economic growth while taking action on climate change.’

Kill Bill, our PM’s real contribution to statecraft, runs dead midweek in a late night call, we are told, to chateau Shorten. The PM, no, Australia needs the opposition leader to agree to change the law on Thursday to make offshore detention legal. Shorten chortles at the thought of Manus and Nauru suddenly expelling their main income source but agrees with his shifty counterpart that bipartisan support is needed if you really want to make a go of trashing human rights.

Cabinet leaks continue. Abbott continues to tank in all reliable opinion polls and it is increasingly harder for Julie Bishop to disguise her looks of withering scorn; her utter contempt for her PM, a ten-pound pom who never renounced his British citizenship still blocking her glittering career path to the top at any cost.

..a flogging with a limp lettuce leaf… 

Yet none of this cramps Abbott’s style in a week which sees him flanked by ten national flags, avidly eying off some openly displayed colour-coded maps of pure evil secret intelligence on camera. There is an image of the Middle East projected on a screen behind him which experts recognise as a year old souvenir from a Fox news broadcast. Labor give him a flogging with a limp lettuce leaf in parliament about going public with those maps but Abbott has by then enjoyed exploiting his unique photo-opportunity.

Eager as Priapus to protect Australia and to keep us all safe from death cults other than Catholicism he tells the nation that ISIS is coming for each and every one of us. His jihad on the ABC is helped immensely by the appearance of Zaky Mallah on Q&A. Heads must roll he says. Say what you will about his taste in imagery, our PM wastes no time on over thinking his strategy. Witness his crafty hand pass of the privatising state school political football.

‘I think it’s good that some of the states and territories at least are thinking creatively about how they can responsibly fund their operations.’ Abbott winks as he puts away his dog whistle.

By the week’s end the PM has backed away from ‘a whole raft of measures including his love for the ABC.’ Ever the stand-up comedian, Abbott was happy to waste parliament’s time with his ironic public vote of thanks to the ABC for shafting Shorten in The Killing Season but a day later he was calling the national broadcaster to account for ‘betraying Australia,’ and getting Malcolm to send the boys around for a please explain.

‘Whose side are they on?’ The question will play out well on talkback. Tony Abbott morphs into Oskar Matzerath, the hero of Gunther Grass’s Tin drum who chooses to remain a child forever, as he gives a blast on his whistle and beats his anti-terror drum.

It is a big back down…

It is business as usual. PM Flip-Flop suddenly drops his mission to give Immigration Minister Dutton the power to banish undesirables in favour of something constitutional after all. Dutton would no longer revoke citizenship all by himself but an existing law would be amended. It is a big back down that goes unacknowledged. But the tough on terror dog whistle has done its job.

A 1948 law that automatically cancels the citizenship – subject to judicial review – of dual nationals who fight with foreign militaries against Australia was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday, making Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s lack of opposition to anything on national security appear even feebler but sparing him a political wedgie.

Abbott fails to wedge an infuriatingly bi-partisan Bill Shorten as soft on bad terror legislation. Even worse, ultimately for both parties although neither can see it, Shorten unctuously supports Abbott in the hasty last-minute change to the law to fix the human rights smart-arses appealing to the High Court on the legality of Australia’s concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Islands.

So unseemly is the government’s haste to close what it calls ‘a loophole that it is clearly unsure as to ‘whether it had the authority to lock asylum seekers up indefinitely in the territories of other sovereign nations or to effectively procure that detention’ says Daniel Webb, The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy.

The bigger loophole is in allowing access to education to the hoi-polloi. Here, the coalition’s strategy is a work in progress. The PM’s high speed flip-flop on fees causes a bit of a pile up in the conga line of suck holes of his ministry. Pyne and Turnbull even break step for a moment to dissent but their leader masterfully out-manoeuvres them.

Abbott, stoically shrugging off a possible light bruising, quickly gets in first telling the House that it is not policy. The day’s morning news flash is a non-starter by question time. The PM leaves us guessing why it had been run up the flagpole in the first place.

“If the states and territories want to charge wealthy parents fees for public schools – that is a matter for them…Charging wealthy parents for their children to attend public schools is not this Government’s policy. It is not now, it won’t ever be,” he said.

Christopher Pyne is all a-Twitter…

By question time Monday afternoon, Minister for Social Media, wealthy parent Christopher Pyne is all a-Twitter with his opposition to the idea, causing wonderment if not utter disbelief amongst those of the commentariat not under threat of decapitation.

Those permitted to keep their heads were encouraged to avoid all controversy and to stick to publishing lists of the coalition’s record achievements, photographs of Bruce Billson beaming and photographs linking Bill Shorten with colourful union identities and would-be foreign mercenaries.

Some voters are old enough to recall governments refining proposals after discussion, debate and due consultation. Last week the Abbott government set a world record in responsive government. No-one can recall a government ever floating and sinking its own proposal on the same day. It is as unprecedented as paying people smugglers bound for New Zealand to turn back to Indonesia.

Clearly, creative problem-solving is all the go whether it be our PAYG border protection racket or keeping ordinary people in ignorance by privatising state schooling. A little fancy footwork is only to be expected when it comes to keeping the nation safe from bad ideas.

The fee for public school reversal, the last minute dash to change the law to make our offshore prisons legal are like beacons of what Mathias Cormann made it his mid-week mission to tell us is the orderly and methodical approach to government favoured by the Coalition. It was all just a means to ‘a mature and sensible discussion’ about how best to steal our children’s birthright and ensure that inequality of opportunity is entrenched in education.

Abbott’s sights remained firmly set on the main chance of his continuing in politics by hook or by crook in a full week of the skulduggery and thuggery that was our good government before parliament rose, perhaps for the last time.

Kill Bill was going gangbusters. Even little Katie Carnell was out smearing Shorten with the CFMEU’s criminality on Monday’s The Drum. Citizen-stripping got the tough on terror message out coverage and Monday’s Q&A gave him a perfect opportunity to have another bash at the ABC and the silencing of all objective reporting and – God forbid, dissent.

Abbott trashes rule of law; shows utter contempt for Australian democracy.


walker on abbott

Whilst they professed their undying loyalty, fealty and overwhelming devotion to the great charter in public, our MPs trampled Magna Carta in the mire last week as they resumed the tribal blood-sport that now dominates national politics at the expense of the national interest and the common good.

A boat bound for New Zealand had been turned around with a wad of cash. Questions about it dominated the first day of parliament. Time to batten down the hatches, boys, says Captain Abbott.

Forget policy. What matters is whose side are you are on and what can you get away with. Federal government, rattled to discover it fosters the people smuggling trade it demonizes, reverts to its opposition strategy of attacking the man. Abbott is back in his element; doing the one thing he knows. Kill Bill. Get Gill. Who gives a fig for the common good, or justice and the rule of law?

Bribe back the boats. Lie about it. Let our border force boys be creative. We will do whatever it takes. They are keeping us safe. We won’t say how. We don’t comment on operational matters. What matters are results. We are at war with people who ask questions.

By Tuesday, Labor had dropped the ball. Suggestions that it, too, had bribed sea-farers in the people trade, were enough to cause an abrupt cessation of an attack which should have been continued. Julia Gillard came out to deny ever paying people smugglers but by then the opposition had dropped its demands for an explanation. And the people’s right to know.

A plucky Tanya Plibersek picked up the ball late in the week. But she may call all she likes for a full explanation. Tony Abbott will continue to refuse as long as he knows he holds the trump card of cheap, xenophobic, populism. As long as we let him.

Paul Sheehan reminds us, most of us closed our hearts and minds to refugees long ago. Now the PM wants us to close our eyes and stop our ears. We will do whatever it takes, he soothes, to keep you safe.   Transparency? You really don’t need to know. And you can keep your criticism to yourself.

It was an ugly week in politics. An increasingly despotic LNP government turns viciously on its critics. It scorns and mocks and undermines those who seek to hold it to account. Even if it is their job. Labor is said to be ‘rolling out the red carpet’ for terrorists because Mark Dreyfus reminds a reporter our courts cannot try a person in his absences. Labor is about to steal our super.

Even uglier was the disgraceful attack on Monday on Gillian Triggs whose job it is to hold the government to account. The context of Magna Carta made it seem even more an indictment of our representatives’ capacity to pay lip service to ideals they daily scorn or flout.

The 800th anniversary of the great charter occasioned such a gush of public speaking that the forked tongue seemed fit to gain a place on our flag. The paying of homage in counterfeit coin was enough to make a baron blush while the deeds of those entrusted to govern us were once again a travesty of Magna Carta’s guiding principles in protecting us from abuse of power by upholding the rule of law.

How low can you go? Certainly, Captain ‘Hook or by Crook’ Abbott and his limbo-dancing government appeared to violate the rule of law at every turn, from Bronwyn Bishop’s public bullying of Gillian Triggs on ABC’s Q&A, another shameful act in the Coalition’s orchestrated campaign to undermine the Human Rights Commissioner, whose independence is intended to act as a check on executive power, to the PM’s mission to set up a kangaroo court in the Immigration Minister’s office for those whom he suspects should have their citizenship revoked.

Monday night it fell to Speaker of the House and Minister for ejecting Labor MPs, Bronwyn Bishop to take up the cudgels; belabouring Triggs with the LNP bully baton. Repeating the lie that the report on children in detention was politically motivated, Bishop urged Triggs to shape up or ship out.

There is a time, and I think Gillian recognises it, that as a statutory officer you have to decide whether you’re a statutory officer, fulfilling that role with security of tenure, or whether you wish to say, ‘I want to be part of the political debate’ and stand for office and run to become part of that political process.’

Clearly the only free speech this government values is its own and its mates’.  It has a tame commissioner, Tim Wilson, formerly of the IPA waiting in the wings. It seeks Gillian Triggs’ scalp for the Human Rights Commission’s report on children in custody.

The Human Rights Commission, along with the judicial system, has its own job to do under international convention and Australian law.  The Abbott government’s campaign to discredit it undermines the rule of law. It tramples the principle that independent actors are given specific roles as checks and balances to the government’s political power.

At least a small handful of LNP cabinet members who still believe in the rule of law but they are to be denied access to the final draft of the citizen-stripping bill which is calculated to win more political kudos than the alternative. The alternative would be to simply modify the existing law dating from 1948 under which dual citizens forfeit their Australian citizenship if they take up arms in the service of a foreign army against Australia.

The bill also dispenses with the courts, giving the Immigration Minister the authority, because, as the PM blurted out on radio last week, involving the courts is always perilous. Abbott, clearly has no faith in the legal system and is backing a single minister to get him a better result.

Abbott was keen to tell parliament he had support. He even verballed former national security laws monitor and head Brett Walker, a distinguished leader of the legal fraternity. A furious Walker was quick to issue a press statement pointing out that the courts should be an essential part of any such bill. Yet the PM continued unapologetic, unscathed, almost unchecked.

In parliament last week, Abbott did divulge that the final draft of the controversial bill would be seen by the AG and the Immigration Minister. The Foreign Minister is sidelined, as are all others who may dissent. The PM is more concerned with the roar of approval he anticipates from the mob.

Mates like anti-wind-farmer Alan Jones are vital to the Abbott government’s access to the mob. And the argument cannot be pitched too low just as long as it floats the shock jock boat. I know what the people are thinking Abbott says during the week. For ‘the people’ read Alan Jones’ listeners. It’s called talkback radio but anyone who disagrees is rubbished on air.

Bugger global warming: renewable energy is so ugly. Abbott uses Sydney radio to tell us that he hates windmills. Like Hockey he needs to say so. They look bad. Bound to be bad for you. ‘Visually awful,’ he says to his pal – unlike, it would seem, a nice clean coal-burning smoke belching power station.

Reasoned discourse, dissent and difference continued to be pushed to the wall. Mud-slinging and dog-whistling remain our PM’s own special way of fostering a ‘national conversation’ on energy. On our responsibilities as global citizens. On the process of accountability itself.

As modelled by Bronwyn Bishop on Monday’s ABC Q@A, the much-touted national conversation that the LNP urges upon us is all one way. Shut up and listen to our platitudes, prejudices and lies. Hector your critics. Threaten them when you can.

Royal commissions come in handy, here. They sound so legitimate. Even ABC sound-bites help carry forward the impression that the latest commission is anything more than a political witch hunt. Abbott gets the boot in early.

In Cairns on Friday to flog a White Paper on Developing Northern Australia, Abbott accuses Bill Shorten of ‘identity theft’ in the former AWU head’s workplace negotiations. ‘Verging on identity theft’ are his weasel words.

Ironically his white paper on the deep north is a tissue of lies, based on rent seeking, opportunism, romanticism which flouts the expert advice of countless studies attesting to its national economic, social and environmental madness. But this is not mob to fuss over serving self-interest or ignoring science.

‘Verging on identity theft. ‘How or why is best left unsaid. The PM’s smear is a mere appetiser to the meal he is certain to make of Shorten’s appearance next week at the costly political witch-hunt that is his government’s Royal Commission into Trade Unions. Nothing like giving your independent judiciary a helping hand. What’s that about the separation of powers? Don’t you worry about that. Just look at that crook Shorten.

Senator David Leyonhjelm, at times, such as on gun control, a cup short of the full tea-party is all over commercial news with skeletons of this magnitude which Shorten must explain. Shorten is ‘haunted by his days as a union boss’ according to another. In fact when he appears on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday, he is proud of being a modern bloke and an accomplished negotiator who has moved beyond class warfare. Much good may it do him.

Bill Shorten is already convicted in the Murdoch media over alleged union support of his campaign to the tune of $300,000. The smear campaign has already found him guilty of something unspeakably shifty despite union support being perfectly legal. What is not reported is that it is only about half of Roslyn Packer’s 2013 gift to the LNP of $580,000 in 2012-13. In the commission also Shorten is guilty until he proves himself innocent. In the court of popular opinion he is another Craig Thomson already. Reports have it that his former wife has been interviewed. Must be dodgy.

The LNP receives twice as much money from all donations than Labor but this week we were being worked up over Shorten’s ethics in accepting unnecessary support. Joe Hockey should know. Is it as unnecessary as an allowance paid to a wealthy treasurer who rents a house his wife owns in Canberra?

Worse, Shorten was diddling the workers he was representing. In reality, he helped negotiated a series of rostered days off into flexible RDO’s. But the media pack is baying for blood. On Murdoch TV we learn that Shorten’s personal life is under scrutiny from the Royal commission. Guilty. Guilty Guilty.

Criticism is a type of treason it seems according to the Abbott government’s rules of engagement. So blind is its anti-terror frenzy; so virulent is the anti-other intolerance and hysteria it whips up to cripple the national psyche.

Luckily for us simple folk, head coach, Captain Hook-or-by-Crook-Abbott pledges to keep us safe from harm by doing whatever it takes, whenever he feels like it, to make us all feel endangered, whilst he busily stirs up further insecurity, enmity and division. The biggest danger to our well-being as a nation is himself and his government of crazed neo-cons. The only leadership he knows is how to put the boot in.

Our elected representatives were spoilt for choice as heads to kick popped up everywhere last week. Let’s kill Bill,’ the government’s contribution to bipartisanship, played to packed houses in and out of parliament while the week began with yet another round of ‘let’s get Gill.’ She’s just a political mouthpiece for telling us that children should not be in indefinite detention. Any kind of detention.

Mothers got some tough love too, as support for perinatal depression was axed in another round of ‘independence-building’ in the needy and the vulnerable. Australia wants mothers who lift not lean. The $85 million National Perinatal Depression Initiative expired in 2013 leaving state health ministers to negotiate its future but Health Minister Sussan Ley told them this week that the Commonwealth would stop contributing by the end of the month. You have to be cruel to be kind.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley called a press conference to object to a cut which does not just hurt the mother but her whole family:

“To cut the programs that fund perinatal programs that support mothers and children is just one of the cruellest cuts [the Federal Government] could deliver to the most vulnerable families,” he said.

Yet it was not all negative. After his on-air rub-down with Alan Jones, Abbott had an innovative proposal. We are to be blessed with a new wind commissioner we never knew we needed, after the PM declared his hate for the sail on his mate Alan Jones’ hate-for-the- other radio.

It was a kick in the teeth for sacked disability commissioner Graham Innes who protested that he must continue his advocacy unpaid after the government pulled the rug out from under him. We can’t afford someone to look after twenty per cent of the population who have a disability yet we need to fork out a million dollars on a commission into wind-farms that any number of previous commissions and reports have shown to be completely safe to public health.

In the meantime, the barbed wire canoe that is our ship of state sails ever further up shit creek without a paddle. But the coast is clear and nothing but fair seas await on the starboard bow. No-one in government knows anything they need to explain to the people or seek their opinion on while our Good Captain Abbott already knows, he says, with a wink, what the people think.



Vanstone attacks Abbott for his contempt for democracy; Indonesia issues please explain.

abbott and jones

Good Captain Abbott led Team Australia to a record-breaking tally of red cards, penalty shoot-outs and own goals last week in an incredible seven days of good government which began with an angry Mandy Vanstone caning the Minister for Women in her Monday Fairfax Liberal Party tub-thumper and which ended with the PM deploying the silver-tongued Mathias Cormann to defend his not denying that Australia may have paid thousands to people smugglers to turn back their boat.
The government’s week began badly when the PM copped a broadside from former colleague, Liberal hagiographer and one woman cheer-squad Amanda Vanstone. Vanstone typically goes out of her way to whisper sweet nothings about the LNP but there was nothing mellifluous about her excoriating attack on the PM. It made it all the more remarkable, readable and unanswerable. Mandy did not mince her words.

Abbott was ‘lazy, sneaky or both’ according to the former senator for his contempt of due process in Dutton-gate. He had ‘thrown the whole Westminster system of cabinet government out the window.’ Professing a ‘belief in the individual,’ whatever that means, Vanstone went on to express her:

‘…profound disappointment, bordering on despair, when I see some on ‘my team’ thinking it is OK for a minister alone to take away a citizen’s rights – indeed, take away citizenship – in the blink of an eye. No appeal, no judicial process, just a ministerial decision. What were they thinking?

Some see Vanstone’s attack as the beginning of the end for Tony Abbott’s career in politics. Yet Abbott himself, ever ready to obscure the real issue is quoted in Sunday’s media as being ‘certain the law will stand up.’ No mention of the cabinet hi-jack. No reply to Mandy. There is no reply. She has called it like it is. Not one of her former colleagues has been able to step up and reply to her broadside.

Bill Shorten should be making some political capital out of Abbott’s autocratic arrogance if he were not Bill Shorten and not about to appear in the LNP’s witch hunt of a Royal Commission into unions. Shorten featured wimpily in the news this week bleating that he had always done the right thing by the worker. This seems to have involved condoning having the employer pay employees’ union dues.

Expect a bucketing of Bill from Tony Abbott and his crew next week. Abbott needs the distraction and it serves his real interest in politics as blood-sport. He boasts that he can beat Bill Shorten but beating Bill Shorten is about all he can do. The week showed he does not have what it takes to be an effective Prime Minister. And it revealed a back to the future controlling PMO was very much to the fore again.

Dutton-gate reveals a PM’s Office leaking untruths to The Daily Telegraph. First was a lie that cabinet had been consulted. Second, was the falsehood that cabinet had reached consensus before it had even met. Third is the implicit lie that the concentration of power in the hands of the PMO has been reformed or is any less of a handicap to this government than in February when backbenchers complained of being controlled and shut out.

Stung to be so used and abused two senior colleagues struck back at Abbott. ‘Operation leak-back’ was sprung by two cabinet members, according to Julie Bishop’s friend Peter Hartcher who received the leak. Hartcher was able to publish such a detailed account of cabinet proceedings that the PM’s double deceit is rendered transparent. But this was only the end of the beginning. And the leaking continues.

In the end, the PMO had whip up a posse of backbench support just to shut the buggers up while George Christensen, National Party Whip has offered Abbott his help.

Gorgeous George is the only member of the current Liberal mob to have attended the racist Geert Wilders’ 2013 DIY workshop on bigotry, intolerance and citizen-stripping. He is also the only member of the current government to have boycotted National Sorry Day. What role he plays in whipping up support is an operational matter. Currently he is crusading against gay marriage and is in the PM’s ear.

The wisdom of getting your backbench to trump your front bench has to be conundrum of the week in good captaincy. Surely it is up there with paying people smugglers or trusting Peter Dutton with anything. The public, doubtless, will understand and forgive any PM who is prepared to be ‘creative’ in implementing his vision of a tough on terrorism government.

By ‘hook or by crook’ Tony Abbott assures us he has the national interest at heart even if he cannot deny paying people smugglers to turn back their boats. We can be creative. Who cares what we do if it gets results?

By Friday, the PM made paying people smugglers sound like smart practice. Extolling the imagination and flexibility which our border enforcers brought Under repeated questioning on Friday, Mr Abbott refused to deny the reports, instead saying authorities had been “incredibly creative” in coming up with ways to stop asylum seeker boats making it to Australia.

Regardless of Abbott’s admiration for his authorities’ ingenuity, Indonesia is now demanding an official explanation from an Australian government which seems to have followed trying to ‘buy back the boats’ with a will to ‘bribe back the boats.’ It will not end well for us, or for Abbott. Yet the best Dutton and Abbott can offer so far is denial.

The week drew to a bizarre close on Sunday with Mathias Hubert Paul Cormann, Joe Hockey’s straight guy, interrupting Sunday lunch on ABC radio to explain to the nation that knowing nothing was the same as admitting nothing and the same as doing nothing when it came to his government’s knowing anything about paying people smugglers to turn their boat around and head back to Indonesia.

For information, Cormann implied, Australians must look not to their own government but to another nation. Don’t ask us. We are just running the country. Besides we do not comment on operational matters.

The fact that most of us, along with the rest of the world, have already heard report from an Indonesian police chief and other seemingly reputable sources just puts an extra gloss on this government’s veneer of transparency. Our vessels in the area have just become floating ATMs for those in the asylum seeker transport trade.

A little light relief for the nation came when Joe Hockey, the government’s funny money man observed that the best way to get a house was to get a well-paid job. It certainly worked for him. What also helped Joe were wealthy parents and marriage to a merchant banker. Aspiring home owners take note. The sun may be setting on sunrise Joe’s political career.

Speculation that Joe will really have to go over this gaffe is growing despite his PM’s defence and lame attempt, given his salary, to hose down the issue by posing as one of the ordinary folk of Australia who suffer to pay their mortgage. His attempt to rescue his feckless Treasurer is part of a side show in which the LNP pretends that we are all able to become as rich as they are if we work hard enough. Adherence to this pernicious myth increases the Abbott government’s irrelevance to average Australian lives.

What is also growing is the anxiety of those paying inflated prices for houses in Sydney and Melbourne where policies have helped foster a housing bubble. Despite some solid comment from the RBA’s Glenn Stevens and others who should know, the government seeks to deny that the bubble is happening, let alone take any steps to deal with it such as ending negative gearing or the provision of cheap accommodation.

There was much for Tony Abbott to account for last week but his contribution to responsible government may be summed up in his tilt at windmills on professional windbag and blatherskite Allan Jones’ talkback radio show. Abbott massaged his pal’s prejudices and those of their listeners by finding wind power generation ugly and something the government would be cutting back on were it not for that damned obstructionist senate.

With his recent cabinet coup, his carte blanche to do whatever floats your boat in international waters and his love of being a tough guy on terrorism, it led to an intimate rapport as Tony and Allan and the listeners could tell just how much better for us all it would be if we had a one party state and we just let Tony get on with it. All those greenies, progressives and human rights bicycle riders could just get out of the road.

Return of the junkyard dog as team Abbott deals with adversity by going on attack.

Dutton shouting

Captain Abbott, an Odysseus in speedos, found himself once again staring down mutiny on Monday as HMS Team Australia limped into port, divided over national security. The vessel was leaking badly. Team Australia had weathered some punishing offshore squalls and was coming apart at the seams, it seemed. Yet somehow disaster was averted by a government which went on the attack.

A quick fix suddenly presented itself: Peter Dutton would just have to have another go at Gillian Triggs. Dutton called for the Human Rights Commission chair to resign over her comments on the consequences of our turning back asylum seekers. His call summed up a key theme of government business of the week, the persecution of dissenters.

Dutton alleged on Sunday’s Andrew Bolt show that Triggs linked her criticism to a recent Indonesian execution of two Australians but the evidence shows otherwise.

Last week, at a forum in Adelaide, Triggs simply asked: “Have we thought about what the consequences are of pushing people back to our neighbour Indonesia? Is it any wonder that Indonesia will not engage with us on other issues that we care about, like the death penalty?”

If Dutton is to be given the power of deciding citizenship, as seems likely under the government’s proposed new anti-terrorism law, he has so far displayed little of the discernment or discretion that would inspire trust. But trust went out the window for the government all over the shop last week.

A FIFA scoundrel had pocketed 45 million of our hard-earned bribe, it was discovered, as Sepp Blatter’s incredible empire began to fall apart under allegations of systematic bribery and corruption. Perhaps the money could be forwarded to the Indonesians. Julie Bishop had to explain to Indonesia why a massive cut in our aid to our neighbour was not payback for their executing two of our finest and most famous young drug-runners.

The terms of trade continued to run away from us and although the world iron ore price was up to $60 per tonne from its low of $50, it was still a third of its price in the boom we banked on lasting forever. The root cause of the downturn is the slowing urban migration of Chinese country folk into cities, which in turn dampens the market for construction steel. Labor, doubtless, will be blamed.

The UN was disgusted by Australia’s slacking off on climate change while our cavalier dereliction of duty over the Rohingya crisis remains an international scandal. But no-one will preach to us, thunders Abbott.

Wagging its finger at Australia for wasting its time with direct action proposals that did not stack up, the UN found our carbon abatement targets too low to be real or fair. The US was underwhelmed by our support for its latest oil war given that Iraqi soldiers had just deserted their posts and run screaming from the enemy, a tactic not in any training manual.

A commitment to Australian boots on Iraqi sand was expected all this week. It seemed ever more likely as the government repeatedly denied having any such plan. Few are taken in.  Denial is typically this government’s prelude to action.

As for having no plan, chaotic adhocracy is the Abbott government’s modus operandi. Julie Bishop’s news that fiendish death cult ISIS plans to recruit experts to help with gas warfare is, moreover, surely evidence we are being prepared to fight pure evil on the ground, despite our letting Assad get away with it for years. Expect more on this score soon. Who knows? Someone in the Pentagon may even dust off the old WMD tactic again.

The PM stuck his finger up in response to all critics. He was a fighter! Rats in the ranks and Bill Shorten’s overtures of cooperation over small business tax breaks alike found themselves rebuffed, if not repulsed, by a macho PM in full flight. Abbott treated the nation if not the world to a brazenly unreconstructed, tough-guy, hairy chest-beating, vote-winning simian display of authority. The junkyard dog was back on attack.

In a stark reminder of its real commitment to bipartisanship and its increasing contempt for the role of parliament, the government voted against itself rather than allow Bill Shorten to expedite the passage of a small business tax-relief bill by tabling his party’s assent.

Abbott capped this bizarre act with another rough rebuff. Having secured Labor’s assent in principle to new laws stripping citizenship from ISIS supporters and anyone else Peter Dutton suspects, the PM refused to give Labor a briefing on the new bill. And his odd-ball hardball act was, it seems contagious.

Australia was grilled over its carbon emission targets. Environment Minister Greg Hunt, on Bondi Beach for the launch of the ‘One Tree Per Child’ initiative was in top form. Approached for comment over international concern as to whether Australia’s target of five per cent reduction by 2020 is fair, Hunt obliged with ‘No with respect, your statement carries a presumption that is false, untrue, incredible and inaccurate.’ Just what you would hope really from a consultative government committed to transparency, about to enter world negotiations on 30 November to save the planet’s future.

At home, trade winds threatened to blow us back on to the rocks of recession. A housing bubble would help it along. Even John Fraser the Liberals’ hand-picked, head-hunted Secretary to the Treasury discerned, he said, a bubble in the Sydney housing market, a housing bubble which apprentice treasurer, Josh Frydenberg mistook to mean higher prices on ABC Insiders Sunday. The member for Kooyong’s apparent confusion did not stop him denying any bubble exists. What would the Head of Treasury know about it anyway?

Similarly David Murray’s caution that the present exemptions for rich retirees made our super unsustainable were dismissed by Frydenberg, despite Murray’s expertise. Super was something the PM had promised would remain untouched, he said as if this were a real option.

Nor did it phase the assistant treasurer that the ERC was leaking as badly as cabinet. ‘What matters, he said, sagely, reciting his talking points, is that we are getting on with the business of government.’

That leaks imperil effective government is evidently not part of Frydenberg’s reasoning. ‘Why, there are green shoots all across the economy,’ he volunteered, remembering another part of his script. In fact the only green to be seen shooting in the non-mining sector is in housing construction and that could be a whole bubble of trouble rather than cause for more mindless applause.

Frydenberg also put on record this week his government’s meaning of the phrase ‘well-received’ as in Hockey’s ‘well-received’ second budget. Expect to hear more of this phrase. The truth is that there has been no rush of support to the government or ‘budget bounce’ as had been hoped by the Coalition.

‘Well-received’ translates into ‘has not been howled down’ except by families and low income earners, a large number of Australians who will be 15 billion dollars out of pocket as a result of cuts that remain from 2014 and new ‘savings’ read cuts in the 2015 budget according to Dr Cassandra Goldie of ACOSS. $6 billion has been slashed from family payments and 1 billion has been cut from health.

Happily for Abbott and his crew, however, a complete coalition capsize was averted, if only in the end, by a solid ballast of lies, denials, Tea-Party clap-trap, neo-con con-artistry, homophobia, xenophobia, sundry finger-pointing, blaming of Labor, witch-hunting and rabid scare-mongering. Not only are ISIS-groomed seventeen year olds about to kill us all in our beds, ISIS is planning to make war by chlorine gas. Bishop would have us believe ISIS needs to recruit experts to achieve this. Some of us, however, have not forgotten the use of chlorine in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Doubtless there would be some local experts already available.

Keeping to his cunningly reversed course, Crusader Abbott sought salvation for himself and the nation by fighting terror, fighting Shorten and fighting rats in his cabinet. He would even enlist the back bench in the fight. Pit front against back bench. Teach a lesson to those dogs who’d dare find fault with his decision to grant Peter Dutton supreme power over citizen-stripping.

Within his party, in parliament and on international commitments, Abbott continued to do his best to boost his fortunes by promoting a mindless tribalism. Ask not what you can do for your nation, but whose side are you on? This tribalism usurps and infects politics with self-interest, self-absorption and indifference if not hostility to others. It is a primitive herd-like mentality set to diminish us all; further weaken our over-stretched social fabric; destroy our democratic birthright.

Team Australia, never a tight ship at the best of times, continued to list to starboard and to take on water as a result of ‘operation leak-back,’ where the crew had leaked against the captain in retaliation for his leaking against them a decision they had yet to take.

Abbott had to take a stand. ‘Personal and political consequences,’ he thundered, will rain upon the head of each and every rat found leaking. Except when I, myself leak, or when Wonder Woman Credlin leaks to our Daily Telegraph.

It was, he crowed, a ‘come to Jesus moment’ for his crew. Christ-like he promised to walk on leaked water; turn back all leaks for all time. Yet, so badly holed was his omnipotence that barely a messianic moment had elapsed before the next leak occurred. Yes. His very sermon against leaks was leaked to the press. It was a telling sign of his decline since February’s leadership spill.

Luckily, Hockey was still full of bullshit. He bounced back like a celluloid doll but with less credibility. On Wednesday, he was cracking hearty over a ‘terrific set of figures,’ fresh from the ABS. He was elated to discover that he had something he could spin.

In truth the ABS figures contained no measure of any substantive economic gain. But you couldn’t shut Hockey up on the miracles he had wrought in Australia’s economy. He assured a sceptical nation once again that we were on a credible path to recovery or a surplus or whatever it is you want to hear before we pull the double dissolution lever.

Hockey sallied forth to babble all over breakfast television, claiming a blip in forecasts was iron-clad evidence of a credible path to economic recovery. Besides, hadn’t he just made tampons cheaper and cheap utes tax deductible for tradies?  The economy was set to take off.

Australian shares suffered their worst week in three years. Long term unemployment rose 18 per cent over the past year to 188,000 a peak not seen since late 1990, according to the ABS who report also that GDP grew only 2.3 per cent, well below the 3 per cent trend required to maintain employment.

The sixteen year high in long-term unemployment is a measure of real suffering. It is also expensive. It comes with a wellbeing cost of a record $3.9 billion in the March quarter. Workers who have been granted the smallest basic pay rise ever would not be so quick to congratulate Hockey over his GDP. Factor in population growth, moreover and real domestic product grew by only 0.8 per person. GDP itself is a poor measure of economic health for a treasurer to be flaunting. It is not, as it is presented, a simple tick of approval.

Nor do we get to keep it. In mining, eighty per cent of GDP flows out of Australia into the bank accounts of the international mine owners.  Success in stimulating investment outside the mining sector remains largely elusive.

Bilge-water rising, Abbott battened down the hatches on climate change and human rights, stopping his ears to a blast of international criticism on human rights and energy policy while his leaky craft continued to ship water in the wash-up to ‘Strip-gate’ and the lead-up to the Paris climate summit at the year’s end.

‘Strip-gate’ was not so much the kangaroo court invited by the summary revocation of citizenship at the Minister’s whim as much as Abbott’s attempt to bypass cabinet with this alarming assault on the rule of law.

‘Here we go again,’ Gatsby Turnbull complained, according to usually reliable leaks. Cabinet, angered at another dud captain’s call from Abbott the self-styled son of God, took issue with his megalomaniacal decision to revoke all semblance of democratic process from the cabinet’s decision-making.

‘The extraordinary privilege of Australian citizenship’ must not be taken lightly, gushed Dan Tehan, member for the blue-blood seat of Wannon where a sheep could get elected if it wore a Liberal ribbon. He was bleating anti-citizenship in an excruciating online interview with Fairfax.

Those suspected by the Minister to be in bed with terrorist agents would be stripped of Aussie citizenship, if they had a spare citizenship up their sleeves, or something like that.

‘Beam me up Scotty’ Morrison acted the big softie as ever and had his five bob’s worth by suggesting that suspension would be just as good. Or else it was what the government really had in mind or something like that. Why, he could do the same with rorting pensioners and other welfare fraudsters. No wonder Dan was not across the detail.

‘All hands to the pump’ commanded Captain Kangaroo. It thus fell to the hapless Andrew Laming to make a complete fool of himself by claiming that the leak from last week’s cabinet meeting was good. It had, in fact, he fancied, had the perverse effect of reinforcing the government’s resolve within the electorate’s mind. Laming’s own resolve is the stuff of Liberal legend.

Who could forget Dr Laming’s resolute embrace of tolerance and compassion; or his just, fair-minded perspective on civic unrest? In response to a skirmish between Pacific Islander and indigenous residents of Logan, he tweeted: ‘Mobs tearing up Logan tonight. Did any of them do a day’s work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap?’

Laming would do well to read Tehan’s website. Dan spells out clearly what we expect of all citizens clearly for the benefit of newer citizens.

‘For those who enjoy our citizenship there must be an acceptance of our core values; tolerance, pluralism and peace.’ Perhaps those who are already Australian citizens are exempt. Perhaps when he revokes his British citizenship, and applies to become an Australian, our PM will be able to practise some of these.