Interest rate hike upstaged by Dutts’ and Barilaro’s Circus

“Marxist” teachers are teaching our kids “absolute leftwing rubbish”. NSW Senator, Hollie Hughes, Shadow Minister for denying climate change and promoting fossil fuels, moonlighting as Opposition national curriculum cop, reads from the Republican playbook’s false alarmism about critical race theory and gender whispering being taught in schools. The Coalition sideshow is pumping now Dutton’s obsessed with vetting what goes on in the classroom because it works for right-wing politicians in the US.

Marx? No-one’s sure if she’s talking about Groucho, Harpo or Karl. Having lost the plot long before it lost power, the opposition will struggle to hold Labour, or anyone else to account, but at least it can do some public good by holding itself up to ridicule.

Dutton’s on a week’s leave so “Lying Cow” Linda Reynolds tries a bit of biting self-satire with her “targets with teeth”, a way of talking about quotas without mentioning the “Q” word. “Inaction is not a strategy”, she tells Sky News, a refreshing insight from a former minister in a government which gave new meaning to inaction, inertia and ineptitude.

Reynolds’ best gag, however, is her claim that her government “did more for women than any other”. This is the same government that helped push Australia further and further down the greasy pole of the Global Gender Gap Index.

Standout performer in the well- contested absolute rubbish arena, however, goes to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s top tipster, Phil Lowe. Phil’s RBA has a patchy track record but to our right wing media controlled by vested interests, he’s some type of High Priest instead of an investor-class shill who can fiddle the till by printing money.

Phil’s out and about peddling the lie that we’re in a wage price spiral. Given real prices have been going backwards for a decade it’s not strong on logic but it meets the Reserve Bank brief which is for its CEO to come out as required to beat down wages, in the name of “stability”. Hiking interest rates does, however, leads to joblessness which neoliberal governments love to use to suppress wages – even if it is utterly at odds with the RBA’s other goal of full employment.

Although not counted in the CPI, mortgage payments and rents are nudged up by interest rates which now rise every time the banksters and usurers’ pals on the RBA Board attend their monthly meetings. Real estate values fall as the cost of borrowing goes up, while a price-profit spiral beggars the poor and threatens the wealth of our investor class.

Our celebrity-media does its best. Even our ABC repeats the old gag that it’s a wage-price spiral. Blames selfish low-paid workers for daring to get a pay “rise” below inflation.

Inexcusable, however, is Phil Lowe’s cameo appearance on ABC 7:30, jaw-boning the lie that wages rises equals inflation which is easily kept in check by raising interest rates. In reality, none of this is true. But he’s a performer in a circus where illusion is everything.

Phil’s got a great sense of humour, too. All those years he’s been dog-whistling wage rises and now he turns around and blames inflation on greedy workers asking for enough pay to buy groceries and pay the power bill. And look how he stooged us all with his “No rate rise before 2024.” What a crack-up. Especially to those who borrowed big on the strength of his prediction and now face job losses. You’re a funny man, Phil, even if you’re full of bullshit. All you care about is protecting investors’ profits. And your board is a dud.

Five out of nine RBA board “business leader” members have no qualifications whatsoever in setting monetary policy, the bank’s core business. Overseas, reserve banks attract the top echelon, the experts who write the textbooks. Luckily, Phil’s RBA minutes are secret.

It’s impossible to find out how the RBA reaches its decisions. Or makes so many mistakes. Like the National Cabinet, there’s no record of who said what. But it all ends up costing a fortune – not just Phil’s million dollar salary but in unemployment growth.

Keeping the cash rate too high in the four years before the pandemic cost us 270,000 jobs, reckon Dr Zac Gross and Dr Andrew Leigh, our assistant Treasurer, in fresh research out this month. Dr Gross notes, for perspective, that closing down coal mining tomorrow would cost only 38,100 jobs. Lowe is on ABC 7:30, however, telling tired old lies about our inflation being a wage-price spiral when it’s driven by profits and price-gouging.

No-one asks Lowe about the massive debt his bank helped create over the last few years, ostensibly, to get us through the pandemic by throttling back interest rates whilst printing money, a nifty trick known as quantitative easing. Pioneered by the Japanese in the 1990s, it didn’t work for Japan either but it’s a sure-fire way to devalue assets and elevate Australian household debt to around $2.5 trillion, a record 120% of GDP.

Household debt as a proportion of disposable income is at an historic high; all of which is oddly dissonant with Lowe’s mantra that we’re all cashed up at home. Sitting on an extra $240 billion because we couldn’t go out and spend during lockdown.

“We have a big potential problem courtesy of the way we have run our housing system, for not just the last decade but for the last at least three decades,” says Chris Martin, UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre Senior Researcher.

Martin’s concerned policies such as low interest rates, negative gearing and capital gains tax discount encourage punters to take on more debt, particularly to purchase investment properties. The latter two benefit the top ten percent and drive up house prices, argues The Australia Institute’s Matt Grudnoff.

Never to be upstaged, there’s a Barilaro of laughs in the Big Top of Politics Oz. The former deputy Premier of NSW will still call Australia home after being forced out of a cushy new $500,000 post in New York, a fabulously public-spirited boondoggle he set up for himself. Shit happens, Tony Abbott says, but now Bruz is Perrottet’s unflushable turd.

Where would we be without Barra? John “Save the Brumby” Barilaro, rips up his ticket to ride in a boilover at the starting gate in the Dom Perignon New York Stakes, a race identical to the Berejiklian event run last year. He’s forced, Barilaro says, by The Media, out of the saddle of firm favourite, New York under syndicate instructions.

Given that his rival, top hoop, Jenny West, won Berejiklian’s race only to be disqualified afterwards, like Dancer’s Image in the 1968 Kentucky Derby, “Bruz ” thought he was unbackable. Whilst an inquiry learns that West was “overqualified”, that wouldn’t help her.

The rules are changed after the start as Amy Brown, CEO of Investment NSW explains, to eliminate West, in a late “change in government policy to convert the roles into statutory officers appointed by a minister”. No wonder Barilaro feels ripped off.  His sense of injury is no doubt assuaged as Ms Brown explains the Investment NSW process.

“We give it to God and pray and pray and pray, and he will work out his purposes.”

Our showbiz-MPs, with their performative rorts, ugly skulduggery and shagadelic sleaze-baggery, work hard on their show routines, while they cook the books and the planet. Say what you may about the light on the hill, or the deep twilight of a captured state; the venality, corruption and deceit, our politics is still show business for ugly people.

But we’ll have no appearance-shaming here, given the peculiar potency of our defamation law to silence criticism and dissent. Giovanni Barilaro is a winsome, over-achiever of inestimable talent and a natural crowd-puller. A stud muffin. True, he’s the Barnaby Joyce of NSW politics because he’s so divisive. But you can’t pull all of the people all of the time.

He hasn’t won over Barnaby. Barilaro is “grating and pushy” Joyce says.

Politics, of course, is also a means to wield power for its own sake in every possible way, as it is for the incredible sulk, False-Messiah Morrison, a man who heard voices and saw a vision in an eagle photo, telling him he was chosen by God to lead us out of the wilderness. He is now in witness protection, surely, after driving his Liberals into a mountain.

Morrison’s means included disinformation, weaponisation of asylum seekers, and the stacking of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the ABC and The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and other bodies. Labor promises its federal ICAC by the year’s end, while it says that the AAT, a fabulously well-paid dumping ground for failed Liberal politicians and retired party apparatchiks. will have to be disbanded and rebuilt fit for purpose.

Former family joinery artisan, a man who knows all about opening doors, NSW Deputy Premier, National Party star, Barilaro is a barrel of laughs as he handcrafts his own plum job in The Big Apple. But he’s not just a funny man.

John’s public-spirited, humble and self-reflective, too. Two years ago, he pulled out of preselection for the Nationals’ ticket in the Eden-Monaro federal byelection. Why?

“In politics, ego can quickly skew decisions … In this time of self-contemplation, it is clear I can do more as NSW Deputy Premier,” he promises, selflessly.

A day later, his text to Deputy PM Michael McCormack takes another tack.

“The Nats had a chance to create history, to change momentum, and you had a candidate that was prepared to risk everything to make it happen”.

Barilaro is right the first time. Do more? He games the game of mates. Takes jobs for the boys to a new dimension with his DIY, $500,000 a year plus $100,000 perks, New York-based gig as Senior  Trade Commissioner to the Americas. What does such a Trade Commissioner do? He does lunch. And he does dinner, too, on the taxpayer dollar.

But always in style. Amy Brown, CEO of Investment NSW, advises a parliamentary committee of inquiry that the fit-out for a New York office for Barilaro cost $AU 1.3 million.

Oddly not in the news is that Austrade, the federal government department for wining and dining prospective investors and carpet-baggers, already has a Trade and Investment Commissioner in its very capable General Manager for The Americas, Tony Davis.

An engineer with computer science qualifications, Tony is a highly experienced businessman whose career has spanned three decades leading highly complex Industrial, Energy, Aerospace and Defence domestic and international organisations, whose career includes a former CEO of Rolls Royce Royce Power Systems AG.

Barilaro has a TAFE certificate IV in Real Estate. But heaps of experience, as Kate Carnell tells those still watching ABC’s The Drum, where the former ACT Liberal Chief Minister and pharmacist, gets a regular spot to barrack for the blue team, now hyper partisans peddling disinformation are deemed to supply balance on our ABC. In Carnell’s view, it must be just bad luck Barra has not one but two separate inquiries into the scandal. Or is it now three?

Joe Aston’s not amused. The AFR’s most trenchant critic of poseurs is agape.

“A person labouring under the Dunning-Kruger effect is like a gruesome traffic accident: repulsive but impossible not to stare at.”

Not so funny is former Investment NSW deputy secretary, Jenny West’s story. The senior public servant is told the job is hers, only to hear, subsequently, that the offer is rescinded. Later she pens a forty-five page letter to get a few things off her chest. West fronts the state parliamentary inquiry, 11 July, in an appearance, she requests, be kept private.Tragically, this is overruled by the Greens Senator chairing the committee.

It will take all of forty-five pages to chronicle Barilaro’s byzantine, self-promotion, self-demotion and the metamorphosis of his New York post; a statutory appointment then a public service process. NSW Libs love a game of musical desks, Twister, or pass the parcel. But it won’t end well for the Premier. Barra-gate may bring Dominic Perrottet’s demise. Guardian Essential’s latest poll shows support for the Liberals is now below 40%.

In the end, politics can also be an old black ram tupping your white ewe, as Iago tells Brabantio, which, despite the racism of Shakespeare’s day, is not a bad way of portraying what is done to innocent Australians every day, by the powerful in their determination to have their way. And not just in NSW.

Barilaro may bring Perrottet down, while Dutton’s opposition can only further disgrace itself and the Liberal brand of expediency, deceit, self-aggrandisement and naked self-interest. Meanwhile, the RBA is exposed as an accomplice in the redistribution of wealth from labour to capital that has disgraced our politics since Neoliberalism took hold of Hawke and Keating.

It is to be hoped that the new Labor government has the bottle for long overdue reform, not just of the RBA but of the corruption, the venality and degeneracy of our politics itself.

6 thoughts on “Interest rate hike upstaged by Dutts’ and Barilaro’s Circus

  1. Australia’s Liberal-National coalition party consists of tricksters liars and city strutting con men.
    Same as the John Howard era, it was all lies and puffery, nothing of beneficial substance for the people of Australia. “Put the bastards in prison.”


  2. “Whilst an inquiry learns that West was “overqualified”, that wouldn’t help her.”

    Anyone who knows anything about public sector placements knows there is no such thing as ‘overqualifieid’. It doesn’t figure in any selection criteria; there’s just ‘qualified – yes/no’.

    So Barilaro’s cute visage only got him so far up the greasy pole. Now it’s all come crashing down. Should he blame the Christians? Perrottet? Friendlyjordies?


    1. No. Mercurial it’s a paraphrase of “exceeding criteria”. Public servants talking about another public servant. I am quoting documents revealed under parliamentary order which have exposed the handling of West’s initial appointment to the role, including that she exceeded criteria and that senior bureaucrats feared “ministers messing with due process” before finalising her verbal offer. I should have made the context clearer – but this is exactly what her public service colleagues are saying.


  3. Thanks for another instalment of comic relief, David.

    But I cannot look away whilst reading your last paragraph this time. I remember Albo shedding tears during his refusal to fill the shoes of federal opposition leader. Let’s hope he’s got a steady hand this time, as he reaches to command the bottle.

    The jury is out for the next three years.


    1. A most revealing incident. I was tempted at the time of writing to ask this very question. I’m not happy with my final version either. Your comment is spot on.


  4. I get a bit confused about prepositions myself.
    So, it’s possible Reynolds just mixed them up in that answer she gave,
    ” this government did more FOR women than any other”
    she really intended to say, “this government did more TO women than any other”.


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