“Fucking get over it”, is Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s uplifting advice to 71 year old Fay Miller, Mayor of Katherine, who dared front Hunt in Canberra last December, to lobby him for more local resources to clean up contamination, a multi-billion dollar operation, from toxic fire-fighting foam used at RAAF Bases in Darwin and Tindal.
Hunt doesn’t give a toss about the environment, either. His PM is due to tell us the Coalition has squandered $2.3 billion on Direct Action, Hunt’s emissions reduction fund boondoggle.
As a back-bencher, Turnbull had the guts to predict Direct Action would waste billions of taxpayers’ dollars paying farmers to plant trees so industry could freely pollute, a scam he denounced as “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale”– akin to his current unfunded corporate tax cuts.
“F…get over it” could be The Liberal Party’s motto if it had one. So much better than “Our Plan will deliver a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.”
“F… get over it” would also be fair warning of the Libs’ abandoning any pretension to be a party of individual freedom when as coalition partner they constantly extend state power over us, be it beefing up surveillance, (Home Affairs plans to expand the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on all citizens), retaining data, censorship, human rights abuse, compulsory ID checks at airports for all, or violating our right to privacy.
Privacy? Personal information may be leaked to damage your reputation or discredit your case – as Alan Tudge, or his department, did to Andie Fox who dared criticise the DHS’ Robodebt reversal of onus of proof extortion racket.
In Paul Malone’s Fairfax article in February 2017, a Centrelink spokesman, General Manager Hank Jongen, commented on Ms Fox’s personal information including her history of claiming the Family Tax Benefit and relationship circumstances.
Acting Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk, declares this week it’s OK for Social Welfare Dictator Alan Tudge and his band of bureaucrats, to use private information “if the individual would reasonably expect it to do so.”
Her deliberations have taken a year but her verdict boils down to this. So you think you have a right to privacy? Get over it.
The Mayor of Katherine does not like being told to “fucking get over it” – and let’s face it, who does? – even if Hunt “may reasonably be expected” to model himself on his PM.
“Fuck off and get out of my way,” Malcolm Turnbull once told Peter King, his rival for Wentworth, in 2004. Ironically, in an aside to a scrum of reporters, King declared.
Bullying is “abhorred by everybody and true liberal values are contrary to that approach.” My, how times have changed.
Twice, Miller writes the minister, Dear Greg, you owe me an apology for your abusive outburst. But it’s more than abuse. Hunt, who, in January, vowed he was an advocate for mental health because his late mother, Kathinka Hunt, suffered bouts of bipolar disorder, was “rude, disrespectful, misogynist, boorish; arrogant“, Miller tells our ABC.
A former NT MP, Miller says she was “probably in the biggest boy’s club in Australian politics” as a Country Liberal Parliamentary Party member, but claims she has never been as insulted as she was by Hunt — who called her “feisty”.
“He went off like a light switch,” she explains. As mayor, she “believes in fairness” she adds and being an advocate for her community. “Sometimes people in parliament are seduced, so it’s important that they remember how they got there”.
Hunt counter attacks in February, bagging Miller’s own behaviour. Only last Wednesday does he offer an apology – and only then, when –News Limited claims – The Herald Sun submits questions to Hunt and his PM, does Hunt phone Miller.
What a mensch! Greg’s tender, bedside manner and what the former Environment Minister tries to kid us is just “strong language” vividly evoke his government’s contempt for the welfare of working Australians, everywhere, especially those who may be over 70, female and refractory. Or regional.
Hunt’s class act, moreover, sets the tone of the week’s political theatre.
By Thursday, Labor’s Catherine King confronts Hunt in Question Time; asking whether he had been involved in any other instances “involving inappropriate behaviour towards stakeholders, public servants or staff”. King later tells Sky News Hunt appears to have “an anger problem” and his PM “had to decide whether it was befitting a minister”.
Yet Hunt is prepared to divulge only that “one case has been raised with him”.
This again concerns “strong language”, his euphemism for abusing Martin Bowles, his own department head, who has since resigned. Hunt’s defence is to claim dramatically that it was a matter of life and death: the progress of screenings for cervical cancer.
Of course the ends always justifies the means for Hunt and his party. “I think in that situation, while it was a strong discussion, it resulted in the right outcome, the program was able to be continued and I have utmost respect for the (now Head of Calvary Health) public servant involved,” Hunt bull-shits Parliament. It’s not what happened.
Martin Bowles, a highly regarded senior bureaucrat, seems to have been bullied into resigning as Head of the Department of Health, 1 September last year, after “rumours of tensions” between himself and Hunt. Bowles was tipped to become defence secretary but was overlooked in favour of Greg Moriarty, Malcolm Turnbull’s former chief of staff.
Bowles’s fraught, if not downright unhealthy, relationship with Hunt was a major factor in his decision to “abruptly end his distinguished 40-year career of public service last August”, contends The Herald Sun, Friday. The Australian claims “government MPs have privately expressed concerns there could be further tales of temper tantrums.”
Temper tantrums? Why infantilise an abuser? Bullying or silencing dissenters is not, of course, confined to the Coalition’s approach to inclusive, democratic leadership.
When the arse falls out of One Nation, this week, no-one is surprised. But it’s as almost as comical as bankrupt Rod Culleton and his tea cup juggling. Or as farcical as Mal Roberts’ attempt to explain his citizenship.
The back end of Hanson’s One Nation panto horse departs the front. Brian Burston, backs out, mid-performance. Rips asunder the patched, well-worn costume.
Pauline’s panto horse party, her mythic white charger, ever rescuing battlers in distress or offering hope to an entire nation of deadbeat dads who hate the family court for having to pay maintenance, now lies in shreds downstage.
Can it ever be repaired? Is there a panto horse vet in the house? Hanson rushes to be comforted on the Bolt Report. Weeps buckets. “Burston’s a backstabber”, says the betrayer of her entire electorate of battlers. Backstabber Burston accuses Pauline of “a massive dummy spit” and “running a dictatorship”; both of which are fair comment.
But unwise. Pauline orchestrates a very public falling out with the NSW senator over Burston’s baffling decision to keep his promise to vote for the Coalition’s corporate tax cuts, just as she decides One Nation will renege on its deal.
It’s only the fourth or fifth change of position which the party has taken on the company tax cuts but Brian refuses to budge. Some scurrilous scuttlebutt has it that the PM wants an excuse not to proceed with the unpopular tax measure.
A high-handed Hanson kindly writes to Burston to give him his marching orders. Quit the party. Leave the senate. Now.
She’ll have to expel him from the party. Burston won’t budge. He won’t resign from One Nation, he declares. Let Pauline expel me. And he has no intention of leaving the senate. He’ll become an independent who’ll vote with the government in the One Nation tradition.
Rumours abound that he touts himself around to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers but it’s all the fault of a matchmaking mate who didn’t tell small bore Brian that he was pleading his case. Mates go off half-cocked like that all the time.
AAP reports that the Shooters reject Burston like a shot. A spokesperson says it is not a lengthy decision.
Mad Mark Latham is now being touted as a possible recruit for the One Nation parliamentary micro-party which will soon be able to meet in the cabin of the Jabiru 230-D two-seater aircraft, bought for it by property speculator Bill McNee, a political donation which the AFP reports breaks no Commonwealth legislation. Who needs law courts?
Latham refuses to confirm or deny any overture from One Nation but he’s probably only waiting for Burston to bail out. Time is on the wing for Pauline’s vanity political party, along with La Hanson, hersel.
The consummate drama queen with a nose for trouble, flies to the UK Saturday with a parliamentary delegation. She’s hell-bent on bonding with fellow alt-right martyr Christopher Yaxley-Lennon alias Tommy Robinson, a football hooligan turned anti-Muslim rabble-rouser who is in stir for contempt of court.
Founder of the (now defunct) far right, English Defence League, banned from Twitter under its “hateful conduct” policy, yobbo Robbo is sentenced to do thirteen months’ porridge for live-streaming outside a continuing court case; a practice which could have prejudiced a fair trial.
He pleads guilty. He knows it will make an iconic free speech warrior of him.
The Drudge Report, which has 1.3 million followers, and other alt-right disinformation sites already hail Robbo as a fearless citizen journalist silenced Soviet-style by British justice. Roseanne Barr and Donald Trump tweet their support.
There’s heaps to talk about should Hanson make contact. She’ll boast how she’s closed down the Australian family court thereby advancing men’s rights, when in fact she has just made it much harder for women victims of male violence to gain legal help. Horse-trader Cormann and his party are, of course, complicit in the secret deal.
Closed down? The government’s announcement that it will “merge” the Family Court of Australia (FCA) with the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) will affect tens of thousands each year. Even the super court’s not so super jaw-breaker of a title gives a hint of the troubles which lie in store for the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA).
The changes will affect a great many of us each year. We average 47,000 divorces annually, while thousands of de facto relationships also wind up in the courts. In 2016-2017, we made 106,000 applications for family law determinations.
Naturally former failed WA treasurer, Christian Porter our current Attorney-General, is raving about the savings which the new merger will bestow upon all of us. Of course it will save confusion as well as “address costly inefficiencies” which is government jargon for providing fewer services and having to make do with fewer funds.
Porter does stop short at the Coalition favourite neoliberal weasel phrase, the “one-stop shop” but there’s no evidence at all that the merger will be any less inconvenient or any less expensive overall to families than its predecessor. It’s billed instead as “saving time and money”. Clearly, that doublespeak means government time and money. What could possibly go wrong?
Everything. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Tolstoy observed. Families have complex and unique problems. They need specialised help – not speed and efficiency.
Jane Wangmann and Miranda Kaye of the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney list issues of family violence, child sexual abuse, alcohol issues, mental health concerns, and questions of parenting capacity. Time to be listened to properly and at length vastly outweighs any fast-tracking.
Fast-tracking? Was the merger rushed through to help secure One Nation’s vote on tax cuts for companies?
Why is the Turnbull government so keen to pre-empt the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC)’s review due March next year? It’s the first comprehensive review of the family law system since the Family Law Act was passed in 1975.
There are certainly challenges in our current system. 87% of Family Law matters are heard by the non-specialist FCC leaving only 13% to the specialists at the FCA. Yet the “reforms” extend the non-specialist FCC. Cheaper, faster, better.
Faster decisions do not necessarily lead to better judgements, however, and the merger appears not only over-hasty and premature but lacking in consultation. Again, these are the hallmarks of a Turn-bull in a china shop government.
The Burston bust-up briefly upstages the Joyce soap opera when father of the year, Barnaby breaks down with stage fright, exacerbated by a shocking case of self-righteous indignation.
He cannot go on. Medicos immediately triage him on to sick leave – with a medical certificate, vouches Leader of the House, the Mouth That Roars, Christopher Pyne.
On the set of Love Among the Cinders, (a working title for what may well become a mini-series or blossom into a full-blown soap opera, Joyce is badly hurt by cruel if not outright vicious criticism of his decision to flog for $150,000 to a voyeuristic, tabloid TV show the right to publicise everything about how he and Vicky Campion found true love, a modern maid-servant swept off her feet by her Prince Charming and vice versa; a fairy tale romance come true. And, of course, the miracle of a male heir at last.
But – sheesh – just look how the media puts them all through living hell; ruins his privacy; spoils their intimacy.
Revealed in the caring and sharing spotlight is Brian Burston who vows he’ll keep his word to support his party’s Aussie battlers by voting with the government on an unfunded tax cut for big business which will go straight into company profits and do less than nothing for workers who will end up paying for it in higher taxes.
Finally, even a nation accustomed to its lunatic fringe regularly being eclipsed by its government’s own spectacular random acts of madness, is astonished to hear how Scott Morrison gets his little hands on our piggy banks.
Hardworking Australians, who mostly now delight in the riotous freedom and flexibility of casual work; liberated from such encumbrances as sick leave, holiday pay, regular hours or a living wage, thrill to learn that a public-spirited Turnbull government has just vacuumed up $2 billion of their unclaimed super.
Less than half of Australia’s workers hold a permanent full-time paid job with leave entitlements. Insecure, inadequate, underpaid work is the new normal, for the first time on record, reports, The Australia Institute‘s Centre for Future Work.
For our government, the super windfall is a win-win. Not only will the cash come in handy in fudging a return to surplus, it also helps its false narrative that union super funds are shonky – despite the Productivity Commission’s findings.
Because it doesn’t trust our super funds with our money, the Coalition argues, it sensibly pockets the money itself. A lot of money. The ATOs been swooping on 4.1 million “lost” super accounts.
Of course, the money will still be able to be claimed should its owners realise it’s theirs to claim – and provided the government passes measures in its May Budget. Pigs might fly. In the meantime, it’s a boon to its budget bottom line.
The $2 billion unclaimed super grab is “factored in”, as Treasurer ScoMo is desperate to tot up even the miserable $2.2 billion fantasy surplus, which the government bullshits it will deliver in 2019-20. It’s a promise which beggars belief and defies even its own expectation that most new found lost super funds will flow back into the active funds of workers.
The median income for all workers – that is, the amount at which half earn more and half earn less – is just $52,988. Most of us on these rates will save bugger all in super.
It would be cheaper and a far better investment of time and effort to cancel the $11 billion a year which the government spends subsidising private health insurance funds whose operations directly undermine a successful Medicare system. Put half of that into health and put the rest into boosting age pensions and welfare payments.
Minister for Jobs and Innovation and ripping off workers, Michaelia Cash gives a bravura performance this week of not answering any questions to do with anything. In frustration, Senator Murray Watt asks her if she knows the time. She has no intention of explaining how she got the AFP on to the AWU, despite there being no law broken.
She called the media to the AWU raid in a stunt to embarrass Bill Shorten. It may backfire. Sooner or later she needs to explain as to how she misled a senate inquiry on the matter. But it’s all Bill Shorten’s fault because he just can’t be trusted.
In the meantime, let us count our blessings, Cash never fails to sound as if she’s auditioning for Kath or Kim or Upper Middle Bogan. Bugger the workers. Stuff the injustice. The Coalition show must go on. And on. And on.
What’s that? You’ve got serious issues with the performance? The narrative? No. Just take a hint from the sensitive new age Mr Hunt: “fucking get over it.”