Month: July 2019

Morrison government fails major test of good faith.

Ken Wyatt

 

“Art doesn’t imitate life, it imitates bad television”, quips Woody Allen.  ScoMo & Co’s reality TV Prime Ministership show, local franchise of the global schlock-horror melodrama of The House of Trump, sponsored by Multinational Oil Inc, exceeds our worst expectations this week. Our deep misgivings about its good faith are confirmed.

Frydenberg shills Philip Lowe into praising our tanking economy, trashing all vestige of RBA credibility as ScoMo re-runs Monster of the Third Chamber; kills any hope of constitutional recognition or voice to parliament for indigenous Australians – just to appease his right wing.

Daily, our Messiah from the Shire, the man without a plan, appears more a one seat wonder; every bit as impotent, inept and incoherent as either of his two immediate predecessors.  Daily, moreover, he seems to turn to theocracy rather than behave as the democratically elected representative of the people his political role entails.

Topping a top week, “Ecce ScoMo” gets invited to a nosh-up at a White House, once a type of confirmation ceremony, but it’s all going to hell under the current incumbent.

Trump backers attack the press in the Rose Garden, Thursday, an all-in brawl provoked by a reporter with the hide to ask Trump to take questions. Trump stalks off. He’s just ordered government to collect data it already collects, after failing to get a citizenship question on the US Census.  Sean Colarossi writes,

“The executive order meant to paper over his census loss went up in flames almost immediately – another loss for the president and his band of supporters.”

But help is on its way. When ScoMo scoots over to Washington in September, (if Dutton hasn’t toppled him), he’ll be sure to share his own media evasion tips. These include, as Immigration Minister, his infamous on water silences; then his abolishing press conferences altogether. Now it’s sooling the AFP on to nosey journos. At their homes.

The invite? It’s “a rare honour”, crows our ABC – equalled only by grovelling John Howard, Bush’s man of steel, a US lickspittle so keen to join in the killing of innocents; the illegal invasion of Iraq, that he lied, in 2003, to the parliament and people of Australia that he had legal authority. In fact, he had a couple of junior legal officers draw up a very specious case.

Howard still lies. Whistle-blower Andrew Wilkie quit his former job at the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in protest. He notes, “The US did not go to war in Iraq because of WMD and terrorism. Australia went to war in Iraq to support our alliance with the United States.”

Like his predecessor but with super-oleaginous sycophancy, Morrison is reviewing and  rehearsing ways to say “Yes, yes, yes!” to any request to join an illegal attack on Iran, although by September, Trump may have changed his plans several times.

He may have to. Report emerges from Sir Kim Darroch, Sunday, that Trump scrapped the Iran nuclear deal merely to spite Obama, “an act of diplomatic vandalism”  says the former British Ambassador who is promptly attacked by Boris Johnson as Boris performs his own act of subservience to Trump. It won’t silence Darroch.

In a wondrous case of art predicting the future – at least the generic, neoliberal political buffoon, HG Wells has a remarkably prescient image of Boris Johnson in A Dream of Armageddon (1901). Perhaps there’s more than a bit of ScoMo in the vision as well.

“He was one of those incredibly stupid energetic people who seem sent by Heaven to create disasters. His energy to the first glance seemed so wonderfully like capacity! But he had no imagination, no invention, only a stupid, vast, driving force of will, and a mad faith in his stupid idiot ‘luck’ to pull him through.” Wells would be happy substituting “Pentecostal faith” for luck.

Darroch highlights division among Trump’s advisors. And indecision. The White House lacks any ‘day-to-day’ strategy of what to do following withdrawal from the Iran deal. In other respects also, it lurches from chaos to catastrophe just as successfully as our own government.

But now, Trump’s past with registered sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, raises its ugly head.

Trump hosted Epstein as a guest at Mar-a-Lago, where he appears in photos in 1997 and 2000. Epstein’s little black book, leaked by an employee in 2009, contains 14 phone numbers for Trump, his wife, Melania, and several of his employees, reports Vanity Fair’s Eric Lutz.

Bill Clinton, a former frequent flyer with convicted paedophile, multi-millionaire money manager and sex-trafficker, Epstein aboard Jeff’s private 727 jet, nick-named the Lolita Express, an airborne bordello, is under the pump now that his friend, gigolo Jeffrey is indicted for sex trafficking minors, working-class girls to prostitute to the filthy-rich and perverted.

Trump is clearly worried that, he, too, needs to cover his tracks and they are extensive.

Trump once praised Epstein as, “a terrific guy .. who is a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.

Now, the US President is forced to say that he’s “not a fan”. The two had a falling out fifteen years ago. Times reporters assume this to be a sour business deal.

Epstein ran a shuttle service between Miami and New York. Trump is unlikely to have been a client. Yet the two were closer than The Donald admits, reports The New York Times on Tuesday. Trump’s association with Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 for soliciting underage girls for prostitution, includes the two co-hosting at Mar-a-Largo, a “calendar girl” competition in 1992, attended by twenty-eight girls and only two adults; organiser Trump and Epstein. The hopeful calendar girls were led to believe the contest would include many VIPs.

Trump fires his Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, former US Attorney in Miami, who negotiated a super-lenient, secret, “non-prosecution agreement” granting Epstein and his associates immunity from federal prosecution and a sentence of thirteen months in gaol for Epstein in 2008. The leniency included allowing the tycoon to leave prison to go to work each day and to hire his own private guards.

Epstein’s case makes our own corporate criminal, and thrice jailed national hero, Alan Bond’s final minimum security stretch in prison seem harsh. In 1997, Bond spent time in maximum-security Casuarina prison before transfer to minimum security Karnet Prison Farm – where he had his own art studio; four years for the biggest fraud in Australian corporate history – stripping over a billion dollars from Bell Resources shareholders.

Acosta’s dilemma is not without irony. A US Labor Secretary’s role is to protect workers and children from exploitation; enforcing laws on child labour and human trafficking. That’s the theory. In practice, Acosta may have acted to protect a sexual predator. Miami Herald investigative reporter, Julie K. Brown, estimates that in 2008, Epstein received “one of the most lenient sentences for a serial sex offender in U.S. history.”  

It is government by kakistocracy, the kleptocratic tyrants of a very bad soap opera.

Epstein’s Bust is also an event that rocks our own ruling class to its core; our age of obscene inequality, wage slavery, wage-theft and sexploitation, a melodrama in which the thrifty rich trumpet their virtuous ascendancy over the slothful working-poor, on whom our taxes are frittered to cover the prohibitive costs of a welfare safety net – plus tax cuts for the rich.

Unlike the prudent self-denying plutocrats, lower classes are addicts to instant gratification. As ScoMo implies, they are unworthy because we give a go (only) to those who have a go.

“The Epstein scandal blows holes through the foundational myths of our time, revealing them for the empty and sickening bromides used to justify obscene wealth and power and privilege that they really are,” observes The Washington Post’s Helaine Olen.

Barely days after sending him on a fool’s errand, to get consensus from the Liberal Party and its National Party abusive partners, in Beyond Our Ken, ScoMo pulls the rug from under Ken Wyatt and any justice or voice for Indigenous peoples. The right to be and to be heard. It is despicable betrayal of trust and Prime Ministerial responsibility.

In a parallel sub-plot entitled Labours of Hercules, bigot-whisperer, Christian Porter, a Jedi, meanwhile, gets a year to “workshop” Coalition colleagues into embracing Ruddock’s religious freedoms, a rear-guard ambush of marriage equality. At the same time, Israel Folau takes his homophobia to the Fair Work Commission in a cameo appearance in With God on My Side.

The preposterous notion that first peoples be heard by our law-makers; have a voice to parliament or any right to constitutional recognition is quickly denied by ScoMo as climate clown Craig Kelly makes a fool of him. Aboriginal people should just be Australian he says. The mineral lobby sponsored IPA calls The Voice racist.

Wilfully misrepresented, thank you Mal, as an impossible demand for a third chamber in parliament, right wing critics see The Voice as nothing less than an assault on our parliamentary democracy itself – which any fool can see is a sacred institution working flawlessly to serve the ruling elite, and as fairly run as the Uluru Camel Cup.

Or as fairly run as the Fair Work Commission (FWC), a Rudd legacy, which has been carefully stacked by the Coalition. Last December, Bill Shorten pointed out that the government had appointed twenty employer appointments in a row.

Israel Folau’s case to the Commission against his employer, Rugby Australia, is that he was punished for his religious beliefs when his contract was ended after his Instagram post that homosexuals were going to hell. Whilst Folau’s homophobic comments are mistaken by some for his religious freedom, the case will also expose the FWC.

And it may also embarrass Scott Morrison and our Social Service Minister Stuart Robert, currently in the gun with pensioners for his niggardly adjustment to pensioners’ deeming rates. Both have close ties with the homophobic Hillsong Church.

Righteousness exalts our nation as Stuart Robert escorts fellow evangelical ScoMo to the annual Hillsong cult conference show where Morrison leads 20,000-odd in prayer. ScoMo attends Horizon, a Hillsong affiliate.

Hillsong prospers from its 34,000 local congregation’s tithes and offerings to the tune of one hundred million dollars a year. Blessed are the poor in spirit.

The congregation gives Morrison a standing ovation. ScoMo then faffs around in dialogue with himself and the church and the nation claiming publicly that religious freedom is about “culture” not about the law when clearly it’s about both. ScoMo’s increasing reliance on his belief system to supplant his political role is a concern.

Most voters would rather see a government act on the science of climate change and measures to abate carbon emissions rather than see the PM pray for rain.

“Our nation needs more prayer, more worship. That’s how things are overcome.” In a min-sermon, the first Pentecostal PM in the English-speaking world calls for “an avalanche of love”.

More love? It’s up to Peter Dutton to continue the Coalition’s war on Shorten on Nine’s Today Show Friday, by telling Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, that his failure to expel CFMMEU Secretary John Setka from the Labor Party makes Bill Shorten look good.

“This country needs more love and less judgement.”  Dutto would do well to heed ScoMo who eerily echoes Hillsong’s Global Senior Pastor, Brian Houston’s, Message to Folau, April opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Less judgement? Brian was quick to judge his own father, Frank, sacking him from his role as pastor and head of Assemblies of God in 1999, when he was accused of the sexual abuse of nine boys – yet did not report the abuse to the police – records The Royal Commission in 2015.

Whilst he acknowledges that he understood his father’s acts to be criminal, Brian Houston made the judgement that he would conceal what he knew from the authorities. His grounds?

“Rightly or wrongly, I genuinely believed that I would be pre-empting the victim if I were to just call the police at that point.” “Genuine belief” trumps moral or legal responsibility?

And what precisely does he mean by pre-empting the victim? He’s pre-empting justice.

One of Frank’s victims, Brett Sengstock, routinely abused between the ages of seven and twelve, has publicly called upon Houston to explain why he did not report his father.

Instead, Frank was allowed to resign with a retirement package. Sengstock, who has terminal cancer, unsuccessfully sought compensation when it could not be proved Assemblies of God was responsible for the abuse he suffered.

Church service over, ScoMo can relax. Our nation is in good hands Gorgeous Gus Taylor, spivvy star of Watergate and fossil-fuel poster boy Energy Minister, continues his dazzling run by jacking up both electricity prices and carbon emissions. Power bills are up on average fourteen per cent last quarter. Carbon, energy and sustainability experts, Ndevr Environmental report that our direct emissions are at their highest since 2002.

For the 2017 financial year, our total emissions were 9.1 MtCO2-e more than the previous financial year and equivalent to an additional 3.37 million car exhausts over the same time.

At Taylor’s rates we won’t meet or beat our Paris emissions reduction targets. Or anything. But at least ScoMo’s rudderless, agenda-free yet bitterly divided government rivals Abbott’s in breaking election promises, as well as in austerity budgeting, although details of spending cuts, which will amount to forty billion a year by 2030, are still well-concealed from punters.

At the same time, money for “soil magic” (as Lenore Taylor calls carbon sequestration) is drying up as the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) runs out of funds and projects. The ERF was climate denialist Abbott’s fabulous scam to fork more pork to Coalition sponsors. Now he is out of pork, while pesky emissions rocket ever upward, plucky Gus is over a barrel. And soon he’ll have to face a senate committee.

To be fair, Taylor is flat out hosing down claims he breached ministerial guidelines in March 2017 when he asked, then Environment minister, Josh Frydenberg to water down law to let him poison critically endangered grasses on 30 hectares of family property at Monaro, NSW.

But Taylor’s only an Energy Minister with no policy. His frantic efforts are dwarfed by a Morrison government which has set no course beyond tax cuts, which is already at the mercy of its reactionary rump and which seems content to muddle through on a wing and prayer.

That it took but four days for the Prime Minister to abort Ken Wyatt’s mission and to dismiss a quest for recognition and a voice to parliament made through extensive community consultation and in good faith is bad enough – but to do so by reviving the lie that a voice for indigenous peoples is a demand for a third chamber is to dismiss an act of good faith with an act of bad faith, a monstrous abrogation of democratic process, social contract and human rights.

Forget its surplus fetish and its neoliberal idiocy with regard to flattening our progressive tax system and its war on the poor, especially those who have endured a Newstart that hasn’t changed in twenty-five years, the Morrison government has failed a far more serious test, a test of its capacity to govern in good faith and to govern for all Australians. It will find it impossible to recover.

 

Plots and Prayers but no policy agenda bode ill for Coalition.

 

Dutton to a hostile ScoMo

What a week! Australia’s newly sworn in ScoMo-government wastes no time in destroying our progressive taxation system, one of the last vestiges of Aussie egalitarianism which the neoliberal toxin has virtually annihilated.

ScoMo & Co’s dodgy promises dupe Jacqui Lambie and crypto-Liberal duo Griff ‘n Rex from the Adelaide Hills into voting to kill the quaint old notion that each Australian should taxed according to his or her means. Benito Dutton’s Home Affairs Despotism admits to already using new laws to steal press freedom from under our noses and spy on the ABC.

But Mum’s the word – unless you want an AFP or ASIO operative ransacking your bedroom drawers or forcing QANTAS to tell where you’ve been travelling and what your stated travel purpose is, especially if you visit Afghanistan and you work for the ABC.     

Economic Management has never been better thanks to ten years’ Liberal DNA at work, but Philip Lowe, Governor of our Reserve Bank, warns government that monetary policy can go only do so much. He almost begs the Coalition to forget its surplus fetish; even borrow to start investing in infrastructure building – instead of endlessly talking about it. Or we are staring down an economic recession, which is what we’ve been suffering for years if you look at per capita recession.

Lowe also warns how wage stagnation threatens social cohesion but ScoMo & Co just point to Trump’s US miracle. The myth that Trump’s tax cuts have promoted trickle-down prosperity is repeated ad nauseam in our mainstream media.

The 2017 Tax and Jobs Act – the Trump administration’s one hit wonder in terms of enacted legislation – constitutes the biggest corporate tax cut in US history, but in the end, workers enjoy almost no benefit. But no-one can tell ScoMo.

He should read the report of the six-month investigation,by Peter Cary and Allan Holmes, from the Center for Public Integrity, a not-for-profit news agency based in Washington DC. But Morrison is a faith-based politician. He believes in the Laffer Curve and the magic of trickle-down.

At trickle-down HQ, it rains on Trump’s parade. Exposes his bald spot. His half-arsed military jamboree or A Salute to America, features ancient Abrams tanks, retired in 1957, replete with peeling paint as they rust atop their Heavy Equipment  transporters. Russian commentators piss themselves laughing at “Putin’s America” while Trump boasts “we took over airports in 1788”, a howler, the Covfefe-in-Chief blames on the rain, and a defective Teleprompter. It will all be the fake media’s fault.

Many Americans are unhappy as Kleptocrat-in-Chief Trump pilfers $2.5m from a cash-strapped National Parks to help pay for his folly. But it’s just petty cash; Trump’s oxymoron (his administration) is cutting Parks’ budget half a billion dollars in 2019 – and again in 2020. His brazen conversion of a national holiday into yet another episode of the Donald Trump Show, a reality TV presidency, sponsored by the US taxpayer, also produces howls of righteous outrage.

“Trump is creating a spectacle of tanks & missiles on the National Mall where the great protests for civil & human rights have been held at a time when 140 million Americans are poor & low income. He thinks this is the sign of strength, but it’s a damn narcissistic travesty,” tweets The Rev William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.  If only folks could kick back and relax; get with the vibe of the show. It’s unpatriotic to be so critical.

While no-one is prepared to allow 60 tonne tanks to trash the asphalt as they did in George H. W. Bush’s 1991 National Victory Celebration, F-22 Raptors and a B-2 stealth bomber roar over the Washington monument, the reflecting pool and the Lincoln memorial. “Great country” Trump says. “For Americans nothing is impossible.” An honest president, perhaps?

Tanks but no tanks? Later in his 47 minute harangue, Trump, a five times draft dodger whose bone spur excuse has long been exposed, is heard exhorting young Americans to join the military. At a starting salary of $20,000, you’d have to be in it for the safe working conditions, the healthy outdoor lifestyle, not to mention the travel and career opportunities.

Ronald Reagan airport is forced to close for two hours just to satisfy Trump’s ego. It’s poetic justice. Named after the only former president to rival Trump in fiscal incompetence, Reagan cut taxes for the ultra rich, while – like Morrison and Trump – he repeated the mantra that such contractionary measures would miraculously “grow the economy”.

In one term in office, Reagan took the US from being the world’s largest net creditor of $140.9bn to owing $532.5bn –  the world’s largest debtor nation, a place it has kept ever since. In eight years, inequality took off while, as in Australia, average incomes stagnated, although the top one per cent saw their incomes rise ten-fold, compared to everyone else.

A millionaire paying $700,000 in tax in the seventies would pay $350,000 in the eighties. The economy withered. With their extra income, the rich funded think tanks, hired economists and lobbied politicians to change laws.

In 1960, business supplied 24 percent of federal revenues. By 1980, the figure had fallen to 12 percent. A vicious cycle flourished where wealth begat more wealth and more power; a cycle which ScoMo’s tax cuts will reproduce here.

What could be a more fitting emblem for the nation, its 45th president and tribute to moribund Neoliberalism than the damp squibs and obsolete tanks on trailers of Trump’s Independence Day Parade, a moth-eaten, flea-circus?

“Ya radge orange barmpot” (lustful or mad orange idiot), as Trump is called in Turnberry, another of his financially troubled international golf-courses, by hospitable yet canny local Scots, is spared further derision from Russia, Iran, North Korea and others when explosive memos from Sir Kim Darrouch, British Ambassador to Washington, are leaked. Kim warns London that an “inept and uniquely dysfunctional” Trump regime means “real risks are on the horizon”.

Risk of war with Iran is confirmed when news emerges of the truth behind Trump’s recent piking on his missile strike. Tehran is laughing at his backdown. “Iran was ready to retaliate on an unbelievable scale,” an Iranian journalist tells investigative journalist Reese Erlich in a phone interview. “After the first U.S. missile launch, Trump wouldn’t be able to control the consequences, not only in the Persian Gulf but from Saudi Arabia to Israel.”

A risk on the home horizon for Trumpista Morrison is Plots and Prayers, Niki Savva’s book-length gossip and hearsay column with some direct testimony on Turnbull’s coup. ScoMo’s reputation for deceit and disloyalty is revived while Labor waves the “absolute arsehole’s” taxation bill through even though it spells the end of Australia as we know it.

“We prayed that righteousness would exalt the nation … righteousness would mean the right person had won” Stuart Robert, fellow evangelical, god-botherer tells Niki Savva of a brief moment of quiet piety in Plots and Prayers, a methodical, detailed demolition of whatever may remain of ScoMo’s pretensions to honesty, integrity and decency.

Or popularity. “Morrison’s an absolute arsehole” shrieks Michael Keenan, gazumping talk of Weirdo-ScoMo’s flaws by a dozen senior Liberal MPs trashing party show ponies, tipping stayers and picking winners, as they lunch long at Guy Rossi’s top-noshery Garum in WA’s Westin Hotel in April 2018. Say what you really think, Mickey. Don’t hold back.

Keenan set the gold standard for arseholes as the Human Services Minister, who reminded the ABC that the automatic debt notice process is “reasonable, lawful and fair”. The department sent more than 900,000 debt letters to individuals during the period 1 July 2016 to 31 October 2018. Over 2000 people died after receiving Centrelink robo-debt notices.

Slurs flow as freely as the vino as our MPs repair to the Westin’s well-stocked cellar. Niki Savva knows how to set a scene. A dozen MPs on the turps can be jolly unkind. “Arsehole” almost becomes a term of endearment. Yet, oddly, Niki omits all mention of Keenan’s controversial 2015 gun-lobby meeting from which gun-control advocates were excluded, an act of bastardry any arsehole would be proud of – if not quite up to the master Morrison’s gold standard.

Red tape must be cut from gun regulation. It’s far too hard for an arsehole to acquire an arsenal. True, sporting shooters do tend to lose a lot of guns. The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) admits its members are targeted by organised criminals.  But that’s all about awareness; education. In over 12 years shooters “hadn’t learned properly” about appropriate firearm handling, use and storage.  But Keenan was keen on winding back gun control.

Expect to hear more “in this space” from our congestion-busting, red-tape cutting, freedom-loving Prime Minister.

Our gun lobbyists are big political givers so there’s nothing odd about a Justice Minister excluding unions, public health groups, domestic violence advocates, politicians and other spoilsports who support gun control in Australia. Since 2011, gun lobbyists have donated $1.7 million towards the best independent, democratic and objective decision-making money can buy.  Mad Bob Katter’s party has done the best; netting a cool $808,000 but, then, Bob does have Robert Nioa as son-in-law.

In 2017, Robert Nioa, CEO of NIOA won a contract to supply over thirty different munitions to Australia’s military. The contract is valued at $95 million and has an option to extend it to 15 years. Katter’s donations come mainly from  Nioa and The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA) dedicated to unwinding our gun laws. Nioa is a SIFA Director. But the group of MPs at Garum have other MPs – not our local NRA, the over-powerful gun lobby in their sights.

The Liberals indulge in the time-honoured bonding ritual of back-stabbing absent fellow MPs for having leaders’ batons in their knapsacks. A cleansing Margaret River Cloudburst Chardonnay or a big red Vanya Cabernet Sauvignon helps.

As always, talk turns to who would lead if then-leader, malfunction Mal, fell under a bus or into the gap between the platform and the track of his beloved public railway train? Keenan, who has held Justice, Human Services and Digital Transformation among other portfolios says his former Immigration Minister boss, Morrison treats him like a school boy. If the cap fits? Fellow sandgroper Christian Porter’s thought of the day is that Orifice Morrison is “not a team player”.

Hold that thought, Mr Porter. Cormann has seen Dutton up close now, he says – a disturbing image – and “Dutton’s better”. No-one’s touching that. Everyone in the parliamentary party knows that the pair are soul-mates. Cormann doesn’t tell, but Savva knows ScoMo shouted at him. Didn’t try it twice, brags Mathias full of testosteronic machismo. Quickly sketched is a portrait of a Liberal Party bullying culture which reaches all the way to the top.

Garum takes its name from the salty, sauce originally made from fermented fish guts. Much favoured in ancient Greek, Roman, Carthaginian and Byzantine cooking, it’s the perfect condiment for contemporary politics. The arsehole anecdote is later faithfully relayed to Niki Savva whose husband, Vincent Woolcock, is a veteran Liberal adviser of forty years’ service. Naturally, it is not implied that the pair ever share salacious political gossip, titbits or juicy morsels.

Savva clarified her independence as she launched Road to Ruin, her account of Abbott’s brief but disastrous term as PM.

“I never tell Vincent what I’m writing, she says. He didn’t see a single word of my manuscript.”  Vincent is acquitted. But Plots and Prayers’ insights, like those of Road to Ruin, are a tribute to Savva’s access to pliant Liberal Party sources.

Savva quickly establishes Morrison’s low peer approval, high distrust and his spectacular dishonesty. A News Corp Liberal, her richly alliterative Plots and Prayers is a type of swingeing director’s cut of ScoMo & Co’s coup of August 2017.   So far, Morrison’s only response is that it’s ancient history. No-one’s interested in that. Even if it does show who he really is – a ruthlessly ambitious, double-crossing liar who will say anything to anyone to get what he wants.

How good is News Corp? Rudd reckons it’s a political party and a cancer on our democracy. QED. If not exalting the messiah from the shire, or killing Bill or Albo via Setka, Savva’s News Corp certainly boosts ScoMo’s political fortunes.

Re-iterating the trickle-down fantasy, a myth which helps Liberals make a virtue out of selfish greed, is News Corp. The trickle-down dream helps divert attention from the flow of wealth from labour to capital, as increasingly underemployed and underpaid workers find their wages buy less as the cost of living rises in an increasingly divided society. News Corp leads Australia’s mainstream media chorus this week in crowing about ScoMo’s “stimulus” victory.

Stimulus? Propagandists to Morrison’s inept, agenda-less, policy-free regime, Murdoch’s media help perpetuate the lie that tax cuts and the virtuous pursuit of a budget surplus, (both contractionary measures) will not shrink the economy at all but, instead, by the miracle of the trickle-down tooth-fairy will somehow stimulate our tanking economy. So what if nowhere in the world, least of all in the US, is there proof that tax cuts stimulate wage growth or productivity?

Catastrophe of the week is ScoMo’s Unfair Go, the Coalition’s pyrrhic victory over reason, common sense and social contract; its subsidy of the rich, ironically entitled Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill 2019. Yet you’d have little clue of the real nature of the bill from its coverage in the press.

As Crikey’s Bernard Keane calculates, 227 print and online media sources tackle the most profound change to our tax system in decades, but only 25 provide any analysis of the fiscal and equity impacts of the package – and six of these are rubbish; specious arguments that would kid us middle – not high-income earners are the major beneficiaries.

Our MSM simplify and select. Coverage is confined, says Keane “to a race call” of who voted for what – along with details of how much you can expect to get. It’s the broader, simpler, picture that suits our new streamlined media where veteran journalists with fine-honed analytical skills and independent insights are an endangered species. Instead, tabloid infotainment masquerades as news, especially on ABC 24, as newsrooms compete to keep it cheap, light and fluffy.

No-one really challenges ScoMo’s incredible farrago of lies about his role in deposing Turnbull. Savva’s book will help expose the truth. Yet Morrison’s myth of his immaculate conception as leader – like his tax cut recovery are all part of his fabulist-politics. Keep the story simple. And the myths large. Perceptions not facts that matter most in politics.

Morrison’s politics most closely parallel those of his mentor Donald Trump but it remains to be seen whether the imported model will enjoy quite the same degree of success. Savva’s book is evidence of the PM’s low status and limited authority over his parliamentary party.

But unlike Trump, Morrison must deal with the Dutton, his nemesis, who daily exercises his excessive powers – a monster created by Turnbull against the best advice, solely to appease a right wing which under ScoMo will still call the shots.

The excitement of a $1080 tax rebate will quickly subside even for the minority of Australian workers who receive it. The Morrison government now faces the challenge of no agenda, no real policy and the prospect of an imminent internal battle over religious freedom. ScoMo cannot sit on Ruddock’s report forever. Whatever bill is produced, it can be guaranteed, it won’t placate the right who seek laws to discriminate or those others who seek freedom from discrimination.

Conservatives are also urging IR reform, code for even lower wages and worse conditions, at a time when the economy, if not the dictates of humanity, demand a decent living wage and a fairer system. Then there’s a slew of problems and challenges shelved, a voice to parliament, the NDIS, the NBN lemon and the vacuum in energy and environment.

And it is environment, in the form of the Murray Darling Basin rorts and a nine billion dollar scandal at least, which is fast shaping to drown all other problems faced by a recycled proven failure, an inept government in bed with Big Cotton, Big Banks and all the other business barons from the top end of town who need only frown or pout and it goes to water .

 

Trump’s love for Kim almost upstages G20 farce.

trump-and-kim

“I never expected to meet you at this place” Kim can’t believe his luck. “He wrote me beautiful letters and we fell in love, Trump tells a Patrick Morrissey rally in West Virginia last September. Love must be in the air, Sunday, as The Donald waddles slowly toward an approaching Kim Jong-un.  Trump extends one small, fleshy hand in greeting.

The filming of the men’s cautious approach evokes a western duel. Is it High Noon or just high farce? The romance of a lover’s tryst is subverted for an eternity, it seems, by Trump’s ample rump filling the lens of a hapless cameraman tagging along too close behind. So much historic action to capture. So little time. So many fearful Koreans.

The leaders meet. Shake. It’s a fine bromance, even if Trump had to beg just to get a handshake. Even if the best outcome he’s ever going to get is an agreement from Kim to start talking. Nuclear. Not politics. Love is blind to concentration camps. So Kim has people killed for speaking their minds? Trump argues that the US has people killed too.

Kim’s regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Crimes “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” concludes a 2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea.

Retired judge, jurist and academic, Australia’s Michael Kirby is one of the report’s three commissioners.

Trump squeezes Kim’s arm through Kim’s pin-striped Mao suit. Spins Kim around; frog marches him over the 38th parallel, (an ad hoc split of Korea’s 1500 years’ unity, by US decree in 1945). Now he turns, profile to camera, to pump Kim’s mitt. It’s a dangerous liaison – orchestrated -Trump would have us believe, by a single, humble, self-effacing tweet.

“After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” Clearly, Kim finds “His Very Importance” Donald Trump’s humility irresistible.

Epic bromance or bravura braggadocio?. Trump’s stunts exceed peak attention-seeking, whatever you may think of the “mentally deranged US dotard”, as Kim once bagged The Donald. His G20 pickings may be slim, but, hey, look over here!

Of course from Kim’s point of view, US recognition is everything. The nuclear weapons threat is working a treat. And the mutual back-patting helps Trump with his myth that he has heroically tamed North Korea’s pocket rocket-monster.

If only Arab and Israeli leaders could apply the same hands-on, speed-date approach to diplomacy. Mid-East peace in our time, a show that even wunderkind Kushner is having trouble with, could all be fixed with a man to man handshake.

“Big Moment. Big Moment”, this week’s episode of the pussy-grabber-in-Chief’s reality TV presidency show, rates its Texan cotton socks off. And Trump’s G20 shtick almost upstages Mohammad bin Salman or MBS who stands smack dab in the middle of the G20 selfie in Saudi Arabia’s G20 photo-op coup, a credit to his product placement smarts.

MBS is a really great guy, great, says Trump . “It’s an honour to be with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine, a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia,” Trump sucks up publicly to MBS . “And I think especially what you’ve done for women. I’m seeing what’s happening; it’s like a revolution in a very positive way.”

Just when a little Saudi sword-jiggle dance appears to be on the cards, Trump is overcome by gratitude, “I want to just thank you on behalf of a lot of people, and I want to congratulate you. You’ve done, really, a spectacular job.”

Spectacular human rights abuse, perhaps? Human Rights Watch’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson, has some sobering, contradictory testimony. “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘reform campaign’ has been a frenzy of fear for genuine Saudi reformers who dare to advocate publicly for human rights or women’s empowerment. The message is clear that anyone expressing scepticism about the crown prince’s rights agenda faces time in jail.”

By an incredible stroke of luck, Saudi Arabia will host next year’s G20 summit, which gives Prince Mohammed a prominent place for his brand at the front and centre of this year’s dysfunctional “family photo” of leaders Thursday.

A UN Report published last week finds “credible evidence” to warrant further investigation into allegations the crown prince masterminded the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi whose body was dismembered with a bone saw in a planned assassination. “No conclusion is made as to guilt,” the report states, but: “Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances.”

Trump’s historic mission for world headlines goes beyond his reverence for dictators who dismember press critics with bone-cutters to a handshake in the DMZ with Kim. It’s huge even in an age of hyper-spin and hucksters’ hornswoggle.

Yet a shadow must fall. Shit happens, as Tony Abbott will tell you -even to a military man like Donald, a bone-spur draft exemption veteran, the man who put the offence in charm offensive, a roué who tells Howard Stern on CNN in 1998, repeatedly, that avoiding STDs was “my Viet Nam”. Trump jests he should get the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Trump is about to jet off to top this year’s G20 Circus, which is all about himself and his diplomatic, deal-making genius, when he is savaged by writer and journalist E Jean Carroll who alleges that he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman store dressing room in Manhattan in the 1990s. Trump airily brushes aside his twenty-first accusation of sexual misconduct.

“He opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway – or completely, I’m not certain – inside me,” Carroll details how Trump raped her in a department store change room.

It’s just another bum rap, claims The Donald. Besides, she’s “not his type”. “It never happened. He denies he’s ever met Carroll- despite photographs and testimony of two other women, Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach. He issues a written disclaimer.

Undeterred, the President sets a personal best in offence by publicly insulting Japan, India and Germany within hours of touching down in Osaka for G20, 2019. It’s the annual Neoliberal gab-fest and photo-opportunity in vacuous fatuity which originated in a real need for nations to cooperate to survive the GFC but which is now well past its use by date.

Co-operating to survive is heresy in a White House where a rules-based world order is less popular than nuking Tehran. There’s no risk of any change to “Bush-era war hawk,” John Bolton and “cheerleader of hatred”, Mike Pompeo’s mad plan to attack Iran. Nor will Trump budge in his equally disastrous trade war with China, for all his bluster about “continuing talks”.

But now he’s talked up a tariff war with America’s largest trading partner outside the EC, he can talk it down. It’s one of Trump’s typical approaches to negotiation. Bully-boy tactics are followed by some degree of appeasement. In this case his next wave of tariffs will be postponed. Huawei may be able to import US materials but who knows? Trump has made no specific commitments, Reuters reports.

The world’s two largest economies remain locked in the midst of a bitter and mutually disastrous trade war despite Trump’s sanguine mood.

It’s déjà vu all over again to Phil Coorey, guru of The Australian Financial Review, an arm of Nine Entertainment,

“So here we are again, new city, same situation. The WTO still hasn’t been reformed, the trade war is worsening and the world awaits another meeting between Trump and Xi.”

Luckily, Trump fanboy, little Aussie groveler, Scottie Morrison, is just busting to schmooze The Godfather of the free world.  Hard-working Australians thrill to see our taxes hard at work flying ScoMo’s crack trade squad business class to Japan just for “a working dinner” with The Donald, his family and a few toadies on staff he hasn’t had time to sack yet.

As bad luck would have it, some of ScoMo’s lies are catching up with him now that Liberal hack Niki Savva’s book is out and extracts from others including Turnbull himself and his fan, David Crowe, are appearing in The Australian. The transparent lie that Morrison did not plot to remove Turnbull is surely untenable in the face of an expanding body of opposing evidence.

Yet ScoMo dismisses his past behaviour. Being a disloyal liar last August is no clue to his present character. He says he knows we aren’t interested in ancient history. We’ve got exciting new unaffordable tax cuts to look forward to. A progressive tax system to flatten to accelerate our rapidly accelerating social and economic inequality. In the meantime, another foreign invasion would help restore some of ScoMo & Co’s waning credibility at home.

ScoMo & Co are so eager to help put pressure on Iran that no-one even bothers to ask what that means. Nor does the PM raise tricky stuff like bothering The Donald to ask Kim if he knows the whereabouts of 29 year-old Perth student, Alek Sigley who disappeared in North Korea a week ago. Trump’s got enough on his plate without finding lost Aussies.

Besides direct questions are dangerous. Morrison suggests we must temper our compassion with indirection – or something. His response is typically oblique, indirect, inadequate and offers little hope to Sigley’s wife and family.

“I will just be measured in what I say because that is all about using the best opportunities we have right now to, to inform ourselves about where Alek is and what his safety is and where he is being held, in what conditions,” cop-out Morrison tells reporters on Saturday evening. Our tough on borders door bitch is too afraid to tackle Kim.

President Pinocchio tells everyone he predicted Scott’s victory all along. How good are Trump’s lies? He makes a cryptic witticism in the midst of his self congratulation. It baffles everyone. Is it a droll non-sequitur or just a bloke’s joke?

“They called it an upset, but I don’t call it an upset. You probably didn’t. Your wife didn’t call it an upset,” gags the subtle funster as he takes a rise out of a fawning ScoMo & Co at the Thursday dinner. Cue over-hearty, sycophantic guffaws. Is that a rocket in Hockey’s pocket, or is he just happy to play golf with a lying, narcissistic psychopath who cheats? Or is he just turned on by wealth?

Along with normalising Trump with his mindless sycophancy, ScoMo has his own stunt to get a bit of international attention. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Snapchat and other social media delinquents need to stop hosting terrorist stuff, he says. Terrorism is bad. Other leaders are overjoyed there’s at least a chance to be part of something join in,

“The internet must not be a safe haven for terrorists to recruit, incite or prepare terrorist acts,” leaders agree solemnly in the mother of all motherhood statements. Yet it’s the laughably earnest, toothless, injunction that follows that exposes the G20’s impotence. It’s not so much a toothless tiger as a pussy-cat in high dudgeon.

“We urge online platforms to meet our citizens’ expectations that they must not allow use of their platforms to facilitate terrorism and VECT. Platforms have an important responsibility to protect their users.”

The statement is a Morrisonian masterpiece of sonorous but evasive vacuity, an apparent tough stand which is in fact a retreat from real commitment. It’s symbolic and voluntary and compels tech companies to do nothing; nor the nations to pass the sort of beaut new surveillance and security laws which since 2011, we have eagerly invented to turn ourselves into a police state. But we’ve jumped the shark. Australia has already legislated in this area,

As Josh Taylor reminds us we passed “world first” laws in April creating new offences for service providers that fail to remove videos depicting “abhorrent violent conduct” including terrorist acts, murders, torture, rape or kidnapping. But isn’t the state guilty of abhorrent violent conduct itself constraining refugees indefinitely on Manus and Nauru?

Service providers won’t be able to host evidence of the Coalition government’s own brutality and inhumanity. Australia’s report, released to coincide with the gabfest, in fact may do more than the whole G20 in terms of putting pressure on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media. Yet, as another means to censorship and government secrecy, it may have unintended consequences.

The torture of refugees by indefinite detention in Australia’s offshore prisons does not rate a mention from ScoMo’s audience. State terror? No way. Trump is upbeat about our sadistic cruelty to those innocents whose only fault is to be wretchedly dispossessed and alienated; forced to throw themselves on our mercy. Deny them medical treatment. It helps deter others. There is general approbation of the nonsense of strong borders. Yet our vast borders have never been so porous.

Asylum-seeker arrivals by plane are at an all time high, according to Home Affairs, which processed 27,931 protection visa applications last financial year. The men, women and children who fly here are less likely to be “genuine refugees”

Despite its claim of stopping the boats, the Coalition’s own data shows it’s soft on borders. In four years, 64,362 protection visa applications have been made by un-vetted individuals who have arrived by plane writes Michael Pascoe, clear evidence that Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton have been ineffectual immigration or border enforcing ministers. And liars.

Other leaders make sympathetic noises. How good is ScoMo’s idea that we police social media? Ban it perhaps? How can (US) Citizen Murdoch stay in power with social media correcting his falsehoods; presenting accurate information?

Tuesday, Trump posts a series of our anti-asylum posters which say:  “If you come here by boat without a visa you won’t be settled in Australia” and “Australia’s borders are closed to illegal migration”.  “Much can be learned!” he tweets. Learned? The Coalition’s ongoing inhumanity and breach of international refugee convention is now a toxic contagion?

Tragically, some of ScoMo&Co’s limelight is stolen by Christopher Pyne’s brilliant new career. The Fixer’s been snapped up by EY, (formerly Ernest and Young) which breaks all ministerial guidelines for his expertise which includes the hunt the Slipper diary farce and his bastardry as Leader of The House, a role invented by IPA stooge, Bob Menzies in 1951.

One in four ministers go on to become lobbyists, reports The Grattan Institute. A Guardian investigation last year found over half of all registered lobbyists previously worked in some government role or for major political parties.

Expect the first question time of the new parliament to be taken up with at least a few Labor questions about Fixer Pyne being able to fix himself up so soon and in defence, such a bottomless pit of funds to shovel out. But without a code of conduct with real sanctions, there is no way to shut the revolving door. Or safeguard our democracy from being further corrupted by vested interests.

Despite his best efforts and a slew of expert has-beens, including occasional Trump golf partner and professional leaner, Joe Hockey but, oddly, not Marise Payne, our stay-at-home Foreign Minister, ScoMo can only insult Australians with his sickening sycophancy; grovelling to the monster-baby whose trade war with China and baiting of Iran could unfix us all.

Trump’s Osakan hosts are beguiled as the American President says the U.S.-Japanese defence alliance is unfair. Happily, funster Trump adds a commercial promo to his gaffe, joking that if the almighty United States were attacked, Tokyo could leave Washington in the lurch and instead “watch it on a Sony television.” Allies love to feel needed. Laughed at.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, whose stagey and supremely ill at ease act as Super Mario, an Italian plumber climbing out of a pipe, at the closing of the Rio Olympics, upstages anything his policies or charisma-bypass personality could ever achieve, is somehow this year’s perfect host. Abe is to the G20’s success as Tom Gleeson’s Gold Logie is to The sacred Logies but host aside, – and who can forget Tony Abbott quizzing G20 leaders about how to solve his brilliant doctor’s co-payment ideas in 2014 – the G20 is its own toxic self-parody. The world waits in eager anticipation of the Saudi show next year.

Perhaps MBS, like the great god capitalism, will lead by invisible hand to issue a communique of the need for arms dealers everywhere to assume their rightful legal liability for the injuries, suffering and property damage inflicted by their products. We have similar arrangements for other commercial products and services. Of course, we’d need to talk sense into insurance companies with their weasel worded “acts of war” clauses allowing them not to pay out as at present.

While we are at it, we could make Adani and other coal miners legally liable for damage caused by global warming boosted by the use of their product anywhere in the world. And environmental devastation.

Finally, to be inclusive of our generous Saudi hosts, let’s have a similar liability for the sale and subsequent use of hydrocarbon products, especially dirty diesel. That’d be a cracker of a G20.