Category: Political Comment

Coalition campaign launch a real shocker.

michaelia ute

“Their end game is simply winning at all costs, even at the expense of decency, compassion, and principle”.

Former Liberal leader, Dr John Hewson, Professor at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, on Coalition tactics.

 

Pledging “a fair go for those who have a go” , a triumph of self-righteous humbug; a vow to pull an aspirational nation up but only by its own bootstraps, and homage to upwardly mobile “Helloworld” lobbyist Joe Hockey’s fabulous lifters and leaners in one, cloth-eared, slogan, the Morrison government doesn’t even give itself a chance in this week’s spectacular self-abortive surprise launch of its five-week federal election campaign show, Thursday.

A bit of sniping from Point Piper doesn’t help. Mal Turnbull gives ScoMo a bollocking over Dutton’s random act of kindness in organising a special citizenship ceremony for the family of billionaire Huang Xiangmo, one of the Coalition’s keenest patrons. Dutton needs to pulled into line. It’s something Turnbull never could manage.

Although Huang was not granted citizenship, himself, given some Chinese whispers from ASIO spooks over the glad-handed tycoon’s links to China’s Communist Party, Turnbull tells Morrison to hold Dutton to account. Malcolm says he knows what it is to be Prime Minister and where the buck stops. He’s forgotten his own capture by the right wing and his secret undertaking to the Nationals to continue key Abbott policies.

But time wounds all heels. A joint investigation by Four Corners, The Age and SMH shows Dutton granting then-Labor senator Sam Dastyari approval to hold a ceremony for the family of Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo, reports the ABC.  Turnbull is “concerned and troubled” by the story; the Prime Minister should take it seriously.

“(Dutton) is supposed to be the minister responsible for the domestic security of Australia, he is supposed to be the minister responsible for ensuring our politics is not influenced by foreign actors,” Turnbull nags, helpfully.

“Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister and you can’t wave this off and say that it is all part of gossip and of the bubble — this is the national security of Australia,” Turnbull wags his finger. The former PM, until ScoMo deposed him, draws a parallel with Sam Dastyari, who resigned over similar issues, in a “furore”. (Created by the Coalition.)

There’s also a bit of bother brewing in the deep north where a mob of mostly Queensland fossil-fools succumb to Adani madness, an affliction chronicled brilliantly by James Bradley in The Monthly. Those afflicted include Barnaby fanboy, Matt Canavan and “crazy as a jaybird” James McGrath who threatens to quit or get work experience environment minister, former Minerals Council of Australia shill, Melissa Price to resign.

What they want is Adani to be approved. It means a lot to their career prospects in a few QLD NLP electorates where climate change isn’t happening and where the lies that Adani will create thousands of jobs are believed. Canavan gets all fired up. Steams in to shirt front ScoMo, Thursday 11 April. It’s Adani approval or else.

Later he denies threatening to resign or that anyone is bullying Melissa Price to comply or resign – yet some letters are leaked, according to Barrie Cassidy on ABC Insiders, Sunday, which suggest that bullying may well have occurred.

Liberal senator, James McGrath is both a “fruit loop” and a “Tea Party extremist” to canny Doug Cameron, and a former Boris Johnson boffin. Jim, who also brags he got the scalps of Abbott and Turnbull – or at least helped in their political downfall, now threatens Price. She should resign. Unless she complies with his demand and approves Adani’s groundwater plan, the last hurdle before Queensland gives the final OK.

It’s an edifying glimpse into Coalition democracy at work and it quite puts the lie to any rumours of bullying. But who is former assistant minister, James McGrath, that he should wield such power? His 2013 entrance into the senate gives a fair clue.

Junkee’s James Colley makes a fair analogy. If Clive Palmer, as the Tele suggested, came in like a wrecking ball, then James McGrath came in like a strange man who wasn’t quite finished shouting on the bus.”

McGrath’s maiden maunder is timely in the wake of Christchurch and as a clue to ScoMo’s woes. Early in his maiden speech, McGrath says,

“The ‘Hundred Years War against Tyranny’ continues today on three fronts: first of all Islamist fundamentalism intent on caliphates destroying Western civilisation, especially religious freedom; secondly, democratic governments restricting freedom of speech and association, betraying hundreds of years of liberty; and, finally, leftists delegitimising all views other than their own, especially in media and education.”

Typically, at such times of conflict, or brewing scandal, a Liberal PM could count on a hand from The Oz. Look over there! Bingo! Here’s a bit of rabid Labor-bashing.

Labor plans “to destroy the two core foundations of not just a modern economy but modernity itself and indeed civilisation” rants Liberal hack, Terry McCrann in Murdoch family rag The Australian, after bagging Shorten’s suits.

“I actually think this is my favourite Terry McCrann column ever,” tweets Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen.

Labor leader, William Richard Shorten replies: “I don’t remember putting this in our Fair Go Action Plan.”

Your campaign launch and your leadership is in trouble when your opponents point and laugh at your propaganda organs. Or when the Oz publishes Matt Canavan’s tweeted selfie as he bites into an onion at the Brisbane markets, Sunday, messaging “not as bad as I thought”, a cunning plug for Abbott’s return, or faint praise for ScoMo’s pitch. By eerie coincidence, sacks of brown onions mysteriously pop up in Warringah as if in silent vigil to Abbott’s fall.

But the Coalition runs off the road with its scare campaign. Labor’s target of 50% of new vehicle sales being electric vehicles is soviet-style economics. It’s Pink Batts all over again (in reality, a successful programme trashed by Abbott and a compliant media). Worse, it’s the end of the weekend – (unlike the abolition of penalty rates).

Unfazed, Labor socialists even plan to inject tens of millions into the production of electric vehicles; revive Australia’s moribund manufacturing industry. Instead of coal-fired power? Whatever will they stoop to next?

Electric vehicles can’t tow a caravan? (Nonsense retorts Toyota, we have powerful electric utes in production.) A farrago of lies and ignorance simply invites derision – and an industry rebuke. Wheeling in Michaelia Cash, without her whiteboard but with all her illegal AWU baggage, however, takes the Coalition campaign beyond peak stupidity and into mind-blowing, lunatic absurdity.

50% of tradies will lose their utes under Bill Shorten”, she rages.

How many? Only 50% of NEW car sales will be an electric target by 2030. Unless tradies trade-in their utes every year, it will affect less than half of them. Then there’s good news, electric utes and SUVs will soon hit the markets.

As The Blot Report, reports, “One of the current ute models developed in the US, the Rivian R1T, is expected to be on sale 2020… in three different versions, 105kWh, 135kWh and 180kWh, which will deliver a range of between 370 km and 650 km. Its payload is only 800 kg, it can tow 5 tonnes. Tesla also has an electric ute in production.”

“We are going to stand by our tradies and we are going to save their utes,” shrieks the Small Business Monster.

Yet Labor’s Great Ute Grab Scare of 2019 is abandoned, suddenly, when experts point out a range of fundamental flaws in Ms Cash’s case. This includes evidence that Josh Frydenberg, himself, was spruiking their virtues in January 2018. Where? You guessed it. The Australian, the one stop drop for every aspiring Coalition politician.

Since then, Josh has rocketed from Energy punching-bag to cadet-Treasurer despite lashing out at dinosaur colleagues, still behind the energy wheel. Josh even advocates electric car subsidies, predicting that “the critics will be the ones driving the vehicles in the next decade as part of a revolution taking place in the transport sector.”

We all expect ScoMo to go hard and go low but the fair go is first casualty of the campaign. Coalition rottweiler and Liberal leadership rival, Peter Dutton, slips his leash; attacking the honesty and integrity of Ali France, Labor candidate for his marginal seat of Dickson in Brisbane’s aspiring outer northern suburbs, accusing her of using her disability as “an excuse” not to live in her electoratecausing the nation of the fair go to rightly cry foul.

Dutton digs in. “Voters are angry,” he tells Coalition propaganda unit and minder, The Australian. “A lot of people have raised this with me.” It’s the “people say” fallacy, a common evasion of responsibility and the rules of valid argument. It’s preferred by Donald Trump, a figure hugely admired by our PM, PHON and other local politicians.

Matthias Cormann, Dutton’s numbers klutz in last August’s Liberal leadership coup, rushes to defend his idol by implying that Dutton lacks all moral autonomy and must, therefore, publicly repeat others’ defamation.

“Well, Peter Dutton was expressing views which were put to him by his constituents who had expressed those concerns,” Cormann tells the press. “There are people with a disability [who] live across Dickson and people in his electorate have put [it] to him, … that they don’t accept the explanation that was offered, as a reason for his opponent not moving into the seat of Dickson.”

Relaying malicious hearsay with intent to impugn, defame or gain unfair advantage is unlikely to impress his opponent, or her party, or local voters, or our judiciary.

Nor did MPs echoing opinion impress conservative icon Edmund Burke in 1774. “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

Morrison defends Dutton’s diatribe, which, he says, he hasn’t seen, despite Dutts rubbishing his own PM’s public views. Then, class act, ScoMo implies France is lying. “When Labor tell lies in this campaign, we’ll call them out.” Centrelink reversed the onus of proof for its clients; now you even have to prove your false leg is true.

Yet, ScoMo thunders “We have to establish a culture of respect for people living with disabilities and the families who support, love and care for them.” He proclaims a royal commission into abuse of disabled Australians. But his support for Dutton – and his snide insinuation that Ali France is a liar – makes him part of that abuse.

There’s not a wheel-chair accessible home for rent in Dickson, explains France. She’s forced to live six kilometres outside the upwardly mobile electorate. Dutton later tweets a delayed apology. By then, however, he’s torpedoed the campaign mainstay, the ritual ridicule, when Liberals finds black holes in Labor’s costings. Jeering, and finger wagging are cut short, however as Dutts fronts up with an apology – sort of.

Is it something Kristina Keneally says that triggers Dutts’ remorse?  Saturday, The Labor senator says she is “gobsmacked” that Morrison has not called upon Dutton to apologise. Is he afraid of Mr Dutton?” she asks.

“You cannot stand in the [Prime Minister’s] courtyard and shed a tear for people with a disability and then the very next week turn a blind eye to a low, despicable attack by Peter Dutton against Ali France,” Keneally protests.

She calls Dutton, “mean and despicable”, a “thug”, and the “most toxic man in the Liberal party”. To borrow a Duttonism, “many will view” Keneally’s counter-attack as showing admirable restraint and discernment but it’s a brave call nonetheless – especially given that “many will view” others in the Liberal Party as rival contenders.

It’s a public service. Open-minded voters can apply Keneally’s razor to assess any candidate’s despicable thuggery.

Or relative toxicity. ScoMo’s launch blows up in his face, upstaging the Liberals’ asinine slogan with their signature, baroque incompetence, policy nonsense, shonky costings and internecine division.  A toey, Tony Abbott, in “diabolical trouble” according to senior Liberals, with party polling a twelve percent swing against him, goes solo.

Abbott tells a hundred electors in a Sky News Pub Test at the Harbord Beach Hotel in the beach-side suburb of Freshwater, a local watering-hole in well-heeled Warringah, that immigration is the big issue of the campaign.

“Oh fuck off! You’re a migrant, Tony”, a woman in the audience reminds her local member, forgoing the temptation to go low. Call the budgie-smuggler out for being a ten pound Pom? They’re all class in Warringah.

But is there unseemly haste in Morrison’s surprise election call? Is he desperate to get into caretaker mode before any further questions can be asked in Senate estimates about how it could approve Adani’s Carmichael mine 2.0, now a pared-down mini-mega mine, a mere 27.5 million tonnes output P.A. instead of the 60 million in its permit?

“We were framed”, imply CSIRO and Geoscience Australia who step back from the Coalition’s assertion that the agency has given the green light to Adani’s new, improved groundwater plan. There is no new plan. The CSIRO merely answered a narrow set of questions on some aspects of Adani’s water management plans.

CSIRO categorically did not give the whole project its approval, reports The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton. Worse, it did not see Adani’s revised plans until two days after it had answered the department’s few questions.

Yet the senate was due to question CSIRO executives Thursday night and officials of the department the following morning. Suddenly Scott Morrison breaks with tradition to pay a 7:00am to the Governor-General. By 8:29 am, half an hour before Senate Estimates Committee is due to begin he is able to prorogue the parliament.

Murdoch family newspapers already have the news the night before, given a scoop that appeals to Morrison’s twisted sense of giving the media a fair go. It’s a way of punishing those scribblers who criticise policy. It also undermines democracy, claims AFR’s Aaron Patrick, because it polarises media further; removing grounds for a policy debate in the centre. “Moderate voices are lost in a tribal war between conservatives and liberals.”

Patrick defines postmodern conservatism. So, too in a symbolic way does Morrison’s trip to the GG. ScoMo’s driver backs out the 3.6 tonne Prime Ministerial Limousine. The ScoMobile is one of a fleet of nine armoured, bullet-proof BMWs, ($500,000 plus per car) like ScoMo himself, an Abbott indulgence or fit of paranoid megalomania.

Top Ocker Morrison, Fair Dinkum Bloke, Pride of Sutherland Shire, is on his early morning secret mission to the residence of His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter John Cosgrove, Principal Knight and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, Military Cross, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia; Pete’s pad at Yarralumla.

Yarralumla means echo, a perfect fit for ScoMo’s Canberra bubble. The federal election is at last proclaimed for 18 May. It will be an Adani of an election, Adani is the coal warriors’ totem in our postmodern war between those determined to act to heed the realities of climate change and those who would retreat into the denialism of coal.

Adani is one a dozen key carbon bombs, identified a decade ago which will spew out enough carbon dioxide to make a safe environment impossible. Should emissions continue, writes James Bradley in The Monthly, they will cause four degrees or more of warming well before the end of the century. ”

“Ecosystems around the world will collapse, wiping out most species of animals. Acidification and anoxia will devastate the oceans. Rising sea levels will destroy coastal areas, while heat and famine and cascading climate disasters will kill hundreds of millions. These are not outside possibilities. They are the inescapable and near-term outcomes of failing to reduce emissions.

In the face of this reality, opening new coalmines is like locking our children in a burning house and throwing away the key.”  Yet all our PM has to offer is a vacuous slogan about a fair go. He is gelignite putty in the coal lobby’s hands.

“I believe in a fair go for those who have a go,” Morrison proclaims outside his office Thursday morning. “And what that means is part of the promise that we all keep as Australians is that we make a contribution and don’t seek to take one.” Has he even begun to think about those who can’t “have a go”? His slogan is pernicious twaddle, a form of words which will lead to denying those of us in need as undeserving.

Borat impressionist, bingo-caller and a dab hand with a curry, our PM is a man of few parts and no interior or life of the mind but having worked for the Property Council early in his career he knows all about housing. In fact, there’s not much anyone can tell him.

Expect more nonsense about Labor’s grandfathered capital gearing causing property prices to plummet. There’ll be no admission of how over nearly six years’ flat wages growth has eroded each household’s standard of living.

The Morrison omnishambles even makes a hash of its formulaic set-piece, blowing their fake black hole deception by roping in an aggrieved Treasury. Having a flashback? John Fraser, who did little in Treasury except expunge all reference to climate change and take the department back to the (John) Stone age, was similarly put upon.

Bernard Keane reports “Treasury was regularly used to cost bastardised versions of Labor policies that were then dropped to News Corp stenographers as sensationalist “Labor $10 billion hole exposed” fictions.

Plus ça change …  In June, 2018, Fraser made clear that Treasury wasn’t costing Labor’s policies, but what was fed them by Morrison’s office. Perhaps he was underwhelmed when ScoMo publicly snubbed Treasury on negative gearing, insisting he, personally, knew more about the experts on housing. We are at the mercy of ScoMo’s “own experience and understanding”, his faith, or his chutzpah or even just the vibe that guides every dud captain’s call.

Treasury Liberal Phil Gaetjens, a former chief of staff to Costello and Morrison, himself, who also has a seat on the Reserve Bank Board, says that Treasury wasn’t costing Opposition promises. It was just given sets of figures to add up. In other words, like the Minister for the Environment, he’s been conned. Or he’s conning us.

In brief, the new black hole is nonsense but as it quickly hardens – as it surely will- into campaign false narrative, by endless media repetition, it is vital to challenge. Labor’s taxes will never cost  $387 bn; try $157 bn- that is, if you can set much credence on projected expenditure over ten to twelve years – an almost meaningless exercise.

The coalition’s election campaign is all over the auction – rather like Morrison’s dysfunctional government itself. The fair go slogan has been ruptured on the reality of Dutton’s cruelty to Ali France, aided and abetted by Scott Morrison himself who has not even tweeted an apology for calling her a liar.

The centrepiece of the black hole in Labor’s costings has been eclipsed by revelations from Treasury that the government has lied about its new figures being based on Treasury costings. The true figure is closer to $157 bn dollars over ten years, despite what the Coalition may try to tell you.

Above all, the Coalition is divided and under fire from two former PMs, each with their own agendas. What adds some semblance of coherence, finally, is based a series of lies. Adani has not received CSIRO approval for its water treatment plans. Nor will they be soon forthcoming. The Queensland government will need to see far more detail and evidence of practicality before it can even contemplate the process of final approval.

“This advice was limited to answering discrete inquiries on whether elements of Adani’s proposed plans would be adequate to protect nationally significant environmental assets,” says CSIRO’s executive director for environment, energy and water, Dr Peter Mayfield. Adani’s dreadful environmental record internationally  offers little hope of this.

“In that advice, CSIRO had found a number of problems with Adani’s proposed groundwater plans and recommended changes. The environment department, which has the role of regulator, summarised and conveyed those concerns to Adani, which then undertook to make adjustments.”

So far, the department, with its bullied, inexperience Minister, Melissa Price inspires little confidence.

What is certain, however, is that before too soon, electric cars could be produced in Australia and before that the import of electric cars, buses, trucks and utes will bring us cleaner, quieter, cheaper transports of delight. Not only are both parties’ plans almost identical on electric vehicles, it will take more than a catastrophic coalition election campaign to impede their uptake. Yet the launch is a moral and ethical disaster.

Above all, Dutton’s attack on the integrity and honesty of Ali France reveals the vacuity of ScoMo’s fair go slogan and his Prime Minister’s failure to censure him an indictment of his leadership. To accuse a disabled woman of lying about her disability, moreover, plumbs new depths of cruelty and inhumanity.

There is no undoing the hurt, but Morrison and Dutton could start by making genuine apologies. The fair go nation will expect no less.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The phony war has started. Expect a savage campaign to follow.

frydenberg budget 2

The phony war has started. Josh Frydenberg’s budget speech, Tuesday, is a fraud. It’s more a campaign launch than a real budget. Yet when Barrie Cassidy, on ABC Insiders, Sunday, asks the Treasurer to confirm Laura Tingle’s tip-off that the government is spending $600,000 per day on advertising, Frydenberg demurs.

“The process is transparent” is the best he can manage. “So transparent”, Barrie persists, “that you can’t tell me.” The exchange goes to the heart of Coalition accountability.

And why the delay? A government which dips into the nation’s housekeeping kitty to conserve its campaign war-chest will alienate voters before the official launch. Dud judgement and poor politics dog Morrison’s every move. Frydenberg is challenged to defend the Morrison government’s spending $185 million to open Christmas Island.

And close it again. “It’s a deterrent” is the best the Treasurer can manage. It prevents refugees gaming the system.

Gaming the system? Seriously? You have to flee your homeland. You spend thousands to risk your life on an unseaworthy boat to travel to Australia knowing that you will be caught by Border Force; put on Nauru or Manus. Then you will fake an illness serious enough to get yourself transferred to a soon to be closed Christmas Island?

The explanation has as much plausibility as Frydenberg’s promises and projections pretending to be a budget.

“Back in black”, Josh Frydenberg’s budget fantasia is a pack of lies.  In part it’s a specious hymn to thrift, self-reliance and the God-given right of the rich to be selfish. Pay less tax. Our everyday heroes, the story goes, are those who can stand on their own two feet. They have a go. Hence they merit the lion’s share of “tax relief”.

Wealthy people will pay less tax, because the government is “incentivising and rewarding hard work”. The uplifting narrative is marred only by the nagging afterthought that some voters see the poor as deserving. Hardworking. Incentivised, whatever that is. Flat taxes, in effect, continue the war on the poor.

The problem is fixed a day later by promising unemployed workers and pensioners seventy dollars, a “one off” energy supplement; a handout. Genius.

“We are delivering a surplus. In 2019-20, the surplus is $7.1 billion. Over the forward estimates, surpluses will be $45bn.” The Treasurer lies to The National Press Club in Canberra this week. How does he get away with it?

Delivering? Try projecting. ScoMo lacks the bottle to deliver a budget; risk putting his rubbery figures to a vote in parliament. Everyone knows you can’t trust Bill Shorten. Shorten obliges by outwitting the government on its tax cuts in his well-pitched budget reply speech which invokes hope, promises fairness and a big boost to Medicare.

Do you want the best health care system in the world? Or the biggest tax loopholes? Do you want your children to get a world’s best education? Or the world’s most generous tax subsidies? Do we want a fairer, more equal country where the economy works in the interests of everyone? Or do we want another three years of drift, with the top end of town profiting much better than everybody else?

Labor cleverly frames the election as a contest about fairness. It’s quick to repudiate the radical flattening of the tax system proposed by the Coalition, which would slash $95bn from public revenues in five years, while enriching covetous, upper-income earners in inner-city electorates, according to National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) analysis.

Research by The Australia Institute, reports Max Grudnoff, shows that when the tax rates are flattened in 2024-25, a third of the benefit of these tax cuts will go to the top 10 percent of taxpayers and more than half go to the top 20 percent. By comparison those on the bottom 20 percent only get 3 percent of the tax cut.

Lies? Everyone knows budget projections are bodgie. The last decade’s budget projections were out by $12.76 billion on average; half the budget balance. Alan Kohler notes, “The 2019-20 fiscal balance could end up being anything. We’ll find out in 18 months, and the only thing we definitely know is it won’t be a surplus of $7.1bn.”

But Frydenberg’s on a roll. He gives out racy photos of himself in tennis rig back in 1984 when he had a mullet and Labor was in the black. Laugh? It’s another hilarious dig at Bill’s apostasy over surpluses if not the neoliberal faith itself. Just another reason not to trust Bill Shorten. The stunt confirms Frydenberg’s narcissism to anyone in doubt. Number one funster, ScoMo, just about wets himself. Calls Frydo “The Member for Mullet”. What a crack-up.

Poster-boy for post-modern conservatism, Josh and his mob love their hyper-partisan avatars and emotions far more than truth and reason. As the Coalition climate change debacle shows, what matters is their version of reality – not what experts say is happening, contend Deakin University’s Geoff Boucher and Matthew Sharpe in their prophetic 2008 work, The Times Will Suit Them. Postmodern conservatives turn our culture into a war zone.

What is unlikely to happen is whopping growth say NATSEM. “The budget predicts an average growth in revenue of 6.2% over the next four years. To put this into historical perspective; that is almost double the average revenue growth experienced by the Labour governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and the Abbott government.”

Our record is fabulous. Frydenberg insists.” Growth is higher. Unemployment is lower … fewer people on welfare. There are a record number of Australians with a job. School and hospital funding are at record levels. And the budget is stronger.”  It’s all spin and cherry-picked puffery. A few examples will suffice to illustrate.

Growth? Annual GDP growth was 2.34 per cent for 2018. This ranks 112th out of 183 countries in the world, and 19th out of the 36 OECD members; Australia’s lowest rankings ever, reports Alan Austin

Unemployment lower? 664,000 workers are unemployed. Over one million are underemployed.

Record jobs? Since the Coalition came to office, TAI chief economist, Richard Denniss points out, population growth of 1.7 million people (over 15 years old) during the same period “created” those jobs.

Lack of evidence does not stop Frydenberg’s spruiking. Again we hear the Coalition’s favourite fantasy about wages rising in a flood of prosperity that will bucket down as rich bosses get buckets of money to tip all over the poor. Trickle-down trickster, pin-up for narcissistic personality disorder ScoMo, provides Dooh-wah-diddy gospel fusion backup. Belts out one hell of a hallelujah chorus for those who stand on their own two feet. Having a go. Unlike the rest of the nation’s wage slaves, or the multitude trapped in welfare and pension penury.

Even Peter Van Onselen is disgusted with the Coalition’s budget hoax. He provides a handy summary critique.

“It crows about a surplus it hasn’t actually achieved yet. The forecast surplus for next financial year is built on the back of better-than-expected commodity prices and less spending than was anticipated on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, while the out year forecasts predict wages growth that won’t happen and economic growth numbers that certainly won’t be achieved. Throw in the dodgy numbers ­projected for the birth-rate and immigration flows, and clever accountancy is as responsible for the “return to surplus” as any claim to “strong economic management”.

Brazenly, the Coalition rolls out a massive pork barrel. An eye-watering $22 million is splashed out on the bijou Bundanoon arts foundation, Arthur Boyd’s old joint, a sandstone prison for art, set on the lower NSW coast amidst 1100 hectares of bushland, stolen from the Yuin nation, along with their fishing rights, near Nowra in the Shoalhaven region and smack dab within Gilmore, the Coalition’s most marginal seat.

Captain’s pick Warren Mundine, Gerard Henderson’s son-in-law, a former Labor Party President and newly rebirthed Liberal has been parachuted into the contest, much to the chagrin of Alby Schultz’ son, Grant, who will stand as an independent, narrowing Wokka’s chances, although he has emailed all electors with his manifesto,

I’ve spent my entire life in regional Australia, helping to create jobs and build communities. I’ll fight for you and stand up for our region’s needs.”

Curiously in his autobiography, Warren Mundine, in Black and White, Wokka says he’s lived variously at Auburn, Cabramatta, Darling Point, Haberfield and Lidcombe. A spin on “regional Australia” worthy of a Frydenberg.

Soft corruption upstages the rubbery figures that fluff up the rest of the Budget 2019. Two billion dollars for a Very Fast Train is promised to the lucky punters in Corangamite where Liberal Sarah Henderson, the nice lady who used be on the 7:30 Report and who won a Walkley for her 1999 coverage of the Port Arthur massacre, faces a challenge from Labor’s Libby Coker, a former teacher, making her second bid.

The promise is too little, too late not because the redrawn seat may shrink former News Corp lawyer Henderson’s estimated margin to 0.3%, but because the funding will not be available for two years and work may not begin until the mid 2020s.

Former Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks is adamant that $20bn is a fraction of what a VFT would cost but let’s not confuse spin with substance. Yet the memo doesn’t seem to have got through to all MPs.

Alan Tudge insists the VFT could start in eighteen months but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews shunts Tudge into a siding by noting that forward estimates allocate only $50 million. Geelong will be lucky to get a VFT study group.

Yet Budget 2019 is more than an outrageous assertions built upon false assumptions. A surplus is not inherently good. It’s a failure to invest responsibly in the greater good. Our nation was built on deficit spending. Labor and Liberal. Menzies’ deficit spending in the 50s and 60s stimulated economic growth and built public assets.

Budget surpluses, however, increase private debt and are a bugger to run. Ultimately they are unsustainable. As Per Capita economist Warwick Smith reminds us somebody’s surplus is always someone else’s deficit – and this includes the federal government.

At the end of last year, household debt was equivalent to 127% of GDP, or 189% of disposable income. Both ratios are near record highs and are very high on any global comparison, reports Michael Blythe.

Given that Australia’s private sector debt is at least 200.00% of GDP compared with government debt of around 30%, voters can expect the PM and his government to explain why they think we should increase the record level of debt we already hold in our homes and businesses.

Surplus fetishists pose as virtuous, responsible civic-minded money-managers. It’s a hoax. What does it mean to run a surplus? The budget papers say it requires ‘continued fiscal discipline’ a bit of self-congratulatory jargon. What it should say is, “Our plan is to tax you eighteen to twenty billion dollars more than we need just to cover government spending,” as The Australia Institute’s Dave Richardson translates the budget’s econobabble.

“Fiscal discipline” is rich from a government which says it will blow five billion dollars just on getting re-elected.

Or not. Back in black? This government’s never been in the black. Flattening the tax system, moreover, is not “highly progressive” as Frydenberg proposes, It’s regressive; a retreat from fairness. It abandons the principle that how much tax we pay depends on how much we can afford to pay. A flatter, simpler tax system, as the government chants, is a recipe for creating a more unequal society with fewer hospitals, roads and schools.

The unvarnished, unspoken truth is that every tax cut means less government spending on health, education, aged care and all other services that Australians have every right to expect. Along with the right to fair dealing.

Abandoned also is good faith. Frydenberg fudges; adds last year’s tax cuts to this year’s pocketful of promises.

Few notice. We are Waiting for Godot as the forty-fifth federal parliament fizzles out and we begin the protracted, ritual theatre of the election of its successor. The process is a spectacular distraction. It includes incessant guessing when the PM will call on Her Majesty’s representative, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, General, The Honourable, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Pete was due to retire last month; make way for David Hurley, another old soldier, ScoMo’s captain’s pick, but will now be kept on and on for the election, which pundits predict could be called next weekend, with polling day either 18 or 25 May. Hurley’s appointment is keenly awaited, especially given his wife Linda’s revelation.

“I hula-hoop every morning and I like to read the Bible or a devotional book while I’m doing that.”  Don’t we all?

Polling day, meanwhile, is rapidly morphing into polling days and weeks, a “Netflix effect” which taxes our politics and media’s capacity to get and keep our attention. The Australian Electoral Commission speculates that,

“… electors consider the inconvenience of ordinary voting at a polling place on the Saturday as an infringement on their time and are prepared to avail themselves of other voting opportunities that may be more convenient.”

It’s not just convenience. More than a third of Australian workers now work weekends. And workers are busier: at least two million Australians now work two jobs. Little wonder that in 2016, 4.5 million votes were cast prior to election day — a stark increase on the 26% (3.6 million) early votes in 2013’s general election.

Postal votes also rose from 1.1 million in 2013 to 1.2 million in 2016. Then there’s convenience, The Netflix Effect, which means that political campaigns must not only gear up quickly to reach early voters, they must be “always on”.

“Politicians need to shift and understand that they need to sell to voters at every moment in the campaign, especially in the early days,” argues  Marcus Phipps, lecturer in Marketing at the University of Melbourne.

So does media need to shift. Our mainstream media often resemble those hired actors who hold up placards flattering Trump at his mass rallies, an ancient tradition which includes such potentates as the wanton profligate Nero, who paid groups to applaud his singing. Yet a few lynx-eyed independents such as ABC’s Laura Tingle scoff at the Morrison government’s vapid yet “spectacular pretension”; a budget is not a budget until enacted in law.

Dazzled by the sound and light of Frydenberg’s forecasts – for that is all his budget amounts to – most of our ABC struggles to keep up; its editorial independence crushed by budget cuts and relentless government bullying – reduced, after long abuse, to “a punching bag by narrow political, commercial or ideological interests”, as former Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Guthrie laments. Look over there! Frydenberg cries.

All miss his duplicity; how our P-plate treasurer inflates projected tax refunds by adding in cuts from Budget 2018.

Intrepid investigative news-hound, Michael West, alone, is on to Frydenberg’s fiddling. Low income earners, he writes, “really get a boost of $55, not $255, as $200 has already been legislated. The Treasurer’s trick is to inveigle the press into counting the tax cuts in last year’s Budget in their numbers for this year’s Budget, a ruse which inflates tax cuts for low income earners by a factor of five and medium income earners by a factor of two.”

Of course, it’s not a real budget until it passes parliament and Morrison’s government is not up to that. The budget is a bit of puffery, a campaign pitch about as real as Frydenberg’s guarantee of transparency around funding and election expenditure Sunday. Or the government’s chances of having to follow through on its pledges.

Bookies quote the ScoMo government a one in five or 20 percent chance of being returned. Labor, by contrast has, on average, an 80 percent chance of winning next month’s election.  Tony Abbott, on the other hand, looks set for a defeat if what Nine Newspapers’ Michael Koziol reports is “diabolical polling” proves an accurate indication of his vote. Abbott’s currently lagging independent challenger, Zali Steggal, by twelve percent. News of a Chinese donor scandal brewing will not help his fortunes.

There is no doubt overall, however, that the Netflix Effect, which extends voting in ways parties have yet to fully adapt to – if they ever can, combined with the weaponising, the ruthless pragmatism of campaign strategies by our hyper-partisan postmodern conservatives will make this election harder to call and more savagely contested.

The dirt unit deployed so successfully in the recent NSW election is already being mobilised for the Federal Coalition campaign.

The emergence of an organised, disciplined Labor Party with a platform which lures the Coalition on to Labor strengths, education, health and low income earners can only increase the government’s sense of desperation. The phony war is about to go ballistic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Nation shoots itself in the foot while our gun lobby takes aim at our democracy.

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“We’ve been importing all these Muslims into Australia. We have about 230,000 people coming in a year. Our population’s only 25 million… some really dangerous people. They’re just breaking into people’s homes with baseball bats and killing people. Basically stealing everything they own. Our country’s going into chaos.”

Steven Dickson, One Nation QLD.

 

“Some really dangerous people” do show up last week, but not the people Dickson demonises as he makes his pitch to America’s National Rifle Association. The enemy is within. In an undercover sting, One Nation’s duplicity is exposed in utterly compromising footage of its attempt to woo the US gun lobby, even tap the billionaire Koch brothers, in a deluded bid to beg enough funds to buy a controlling share in our political system.

Cranking up Islamophobia, trashing Labor, betraying Australia, a well-oiled, trio of desperadoes, Queenslander Dickson, aspiring senate candidate, Chief of Staff, James Ashby and leader Pauline Hanson, plot to relax our gun laws in return for a $20 million squirrel-grip on our democracy in How to Sell A Massacre, a two-part Al-Jazeera documentary, three years in the making, completed, in September last year, screened by the ABC this week.

Now, the party is campaigning to stop overseas political donations to organisations such as GetUp!, but consistency is one charge you could never level at One Nation nor its fickle Morrison government bed-mate.

In a boozy bull session, the boys are locked and loaded: a $10-20 million donation is a sure-fire way to win One Nation enough House of Reps and Senate seats to give it the balance of power. How? It’s a big picture thing. It fits mainstream media’s narrative: One Nation is back – even if it’s suffered a series of recent failures at the ballot box and in parliament and no matter that its proposals are mainly Trumpist, racist brain farts dressed up as policy.

Steve’s loyal side-kick Jim is played by James Ashby, a natural black ops conspirator whose creative skulduggery includes Hunt the Slipper, a botched plot to character-assassinate Peter Slipper, the black-robed former speaker of the house. Ashby even shirt-fronts Brian Burston after Pauline claims the former PHON senator hit on her in the Rooty Hill RSL. “Pauline’s been propositioning me for years”, replies Brian. A man’s not safe alone with his boss?

Each calls each other out on their alleged sexual harassment.  Brian dobs in his former boss to the AFP and plans to sue Hanson for defamation, when all she was doing, she says, was trying to support “Lucky” Jim Ashby for trying to report “the sexual abuse and harassment that was going on with the female staff” in Senator Burston’s office.

His Burston biffo gets James suspended from his workplace, but will Pauline choose Rooty Hill to die on? Happily ABC Four Corners eagerly screens, the Al Jazeera doco, providing an edifying, if not show-stopping, diversion.

Gold Logies all round for Al Jazeera’s Rodger Muller and his RM Williams Akubra Cattleman hat, in How to Sell a Massacre, co-starring One Nation’s knights errant Steve Dickson and James Ashby’s quest for funding with the help of their friends in the National Rifle Association, an outfit which guides them, almost flawlessly, to the fabulous Koch brothers’ pad. You can take the boy out of Buderim but you can’t take the Buderim out of the boy.

Even in the grainy, groggy, button-hole camera scenes, Dicko is shooting his mouth off. As he did on Safe Schools,

“We are having little kids in grade four at school, young girls being taught by teachers how to masturbate, how to strap on dildos, how to do this sort of stuff — that is the real problem in this country,” One Nation Queensland Senate candidate, Steve Dickson claims of the Queensland Safe Schools program in 2017.

Later, Dicko apologises for using the word “dildo”. He has never retracted the allegation which is based, he maintains, on information provided him by a parent. Anastasia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier was forced to intervene. Point out that safe schools is not even taught in the classroom but support to teachers and families.

Pauline’s very quick to defend her crack crew. Fake documentary, she cries. Cut and paste job. “I’ve been dubbed and spliced.” And entrapment. This is quickly taken up by Peter Greste (of all people) amongst others and is in danger of having the intended effect of distracting from Hanson’s party of patriots’ betrayal of her nation.

Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Charley tells Guardian Australia that while they had “pushed the boundaries”, his conscience is clear and the public interest in the material justifies the methods used.

Lawyer Michael Bradley argues in Crikey that Al Jazeera’s sting is not only legally watertight it is ethically responsible – if not a necessary and inspiring example of the need for journalists to keep politicians accountable; democracy transparent.

“Entrapment is a sexy word, moreover, he adds, but in Australia it has no legal meaning. The police routinely run sting operations to catch criminals and, even if they acted illegally, that doesn’t give the accused a defence.”

How to Sell a Massacre is an indictment of One Nation and of US gun lobbyists. But it also reveals an arms industry with its sights on our politics. Above all, it reminds us that the Howard government’s National 1996 Firearms Agreement was a step away from the US path we were following, but a step too far for any state to sign it -yet.

Beneath the Howard idolatry lies the reality, Gun Control Australia points out in its 2017 state by state audit, is that after 21 years Australia’s gun laws are unravelling and “in trouble”.  But not fast enough for One Nation.

“We’re not even allowed to own guns in Australia for the self-protection of women”, wails Dickson, One Nation’s “Queensland leader” in a line straight out of the US National Rifle Association (NRA’s) playbook. Dickson’s a mine of nut-jobbery, but How to Sell a Massacre shows his own gun fetish has little to do with protecting women.

“They’re not even allowed to have mace.” Except in WA, Steve, although neo-fascist, “Final Solution”, Fraser Anning, hopes to fix that. One Nation’s one day wonder, whose nineteen personal votes meant he replaced crackpot Mal Roberts, Anning is now an independent. His role in parliament is to make One Nation look good.

Anning wants to expand the use of mace if he’s in politics long enough to live down his censure. Get elected. The former One Nation senator is quick to blame the victims in the Christchurch massacre in a cynical bid for publicity.

“As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views, but … the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Hanson will not take part in a bipartisan move to censure Fraser Anning when Parliament returns. “It won’t prove anything,” she says. Nor will her abstaining prove anything, either, but it will suggest sympathy for Anning’s views.

It’s all about the money. Dickson declares. “We want to get funding. That is really the nuts and bolts because we can change everything in this country. We can make that happen. This is the thing I want to get through your head: if we can get $10 million we could fucking win a heap of seats plus a shitload of seats in the senate.”

Naturally, One Nation cries foul. It’s how you’re caught – not what you’re plotting that matters. “Entrapment” Hanson howls, a call AFR’s Michael Stutchbury duly, outrageously, repeats on ABC The Insiders, Sunday.

Stutch blusters; shakes his head over a doco being “made by a foreign company using foreign funds”. Like CBS? CBS owns Channel Ten, whose recent episode of The Project helped the foreign company expose Scott Morrison’s 2010 Islamophobic proposal; the shameless PM’s patently transparent excuses are no match for Waleed Aly.

Undeterred, ScoMo offers a bad parody of Nelson Mandela, morphs into Morrison the multiculturalist, forever dedicated to bringing Islamic and Anglo Australia together with his hug-a-Muslim, hug-each-other, all you need is hugs manifesto. Hug-me, ScoMo 2.0, possibly an unconscious homage to the Red Octopus, the National Party’s women’s code for Barnaby Joyce and fails its first real test when Kiwi PM, Jacinda Ardern visibly cringes, Friday.

Luckily, the Australian Financial Review and other MSM are there to support One Nation’s crusade.

“Al Jazeera.” Stutchbury insists. Channels his inner anti-Muslim. “Made with Qatari money. Foreign interference in our political system.” What is he saying? You can’t trust an Arab nation? Foreign interference in Australian politics has bedevilled us for decades. It could be foreign CEO, Rupert Murdoch’s, News Corp’s motto.

Yet Stutchbury’s ill-considered comment gives Pauline Hanson’s disclaimer a boost it doesn’t warrant.

“When I first saw the initial hit piece and Steve Dickson’s comments I was disgusted. But having watched my own comments knowing how out of context they were betrayed to the Australian people, I knew he was stitched up,” Hanson says happily settling on her perennial theme that an adoring mainstream media really have it in for her.

Hit piece? Let’s not get carried away. Too Trumpish. Your party was exposed, Pauline. Actions speak. Your boys were sprung betraying their nation – and to the reckless endangerment of the Australian people. The 1996 National Firearms agreement is not perfect, but it is, at least, credited with helping halt mass shootings.

Professor Simon Chapman‘s 2016 study shows 13 mass fatal shootings in 18 years were followed by 22 years with no such incidents, with the probability of this being a chance occurrence calculated at 1:200,000 against.

“I acknowledge Steve, made some inappropriate comments, however, let’s not forget, he was set up.”

This risibly feeble defence which skates over Dickson’s racism and treason may work with rusted-on supporters, where reason and evidence mean little to Hanson’s Trump-like cult following, but being set up didn’t dictate Dickson’s behaviour. Nor can you possibly dismiss his rants as “some inappropriate comments”.

Dickson salivates over guns on camera. He almost humps a pump action shotgun on show. He waxes priapic over his plan to use up to $20 million to get the seats his party would need to hold the balance of power in parliament – although it’s not clear how. One Nation is but a shooting star in our nation’s political constellation.

Trumpista Hanson, who toadies to the NRA in an embarrassing segment where she fancies herself as a Trump groupie – reminiscing, in her cups, about her party’s champagne toast to Trump’s election and how it represents the power of “ornery people” also tries to argue that it’s fake news.

“Dubbed” and “spliced” she shrieks again; accusing highly reputable veteran journalist, Peter Charley and his Al Jazeera team of wasting three years creating a patently flawed mockumentary. Dream on, Pauline.

What is remarkable is the authenticity of How to Sell a Massacre ; how it faithfully preserves Pauline’s own patois, her idiosyncratic syntax and vocabulary. The scene of the well-lubricated, One Nation leader, disputing that one gun man could not be responsible for the Port Arthur Massacre to which Martin Bryant confessed to shooting and killing thirty-five innocent people is compelling Cinéma vérité.

It is also a dangerous myth, however much it may appeal to La Hanson, doyenne of conspiracy theorists, ratbag nutjobs and abusive, misogynistic, men with a grudge against the family court and justice in general.

Within hours, Hanson is forced back into denial. She just didn’t say what the camera shows her saying, (clearly, in a way that appears to show no hint of editing) that Bryant was not alone. The theory is seductive to conspiracists on social media. It is called upon by gun lobbyists and right wing nut jobs to bolster the pernicious and enduring myth that Port Arthur was engineered to deprive Australians of their God-given right to bear arms.

“An MP said it would actually take a massacre in Tasmania to change the gun laws in Australia,” Hanson tells Al Jazeera’s undercover man. “Those shots, they were precision shots. Check the number out … a lot of questions there.” They weren’t. Bryant missed every terrified being he shot, at apart from those he shot at point blank range.

Pauline is equally ill-informed on her grounds for legal appeal. Lawyer and writer, Michael Bradley observes in Crikey that even in Queensland, (where much of the local scenes seems to be shot) it’s not illegal to secretly record a conversation to which you’re a party, and it’s OK to publish it – if doing so is in the public interest. Recordings made overseas don’t trigger any Australian laws, so they’re in the clear. Unlike One Nation.

The timing couldn’t be worse. As Damien Murphy notes, ten days after the Christchurch massacre in which home grown white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant killed fifty Muslim worshippers and wounded fifty others with an AR- 15, his chief weapon, One Nation’s James Ashby and Steven Dickson appear on national television offering to help water down our laws restricting the same semi-automatic weapons, in return for $10-20 million in funding.

Peter Charley’s documentary reveals a lot more as our intrepid brothers in arms, Ashby and Dickson get into a bonding session with US National Rifle Association (NRA) personnel. We get the NRA playbook for (not) responding to a massacre. It’s a chilling reminder that that this is a group no-one needs in their politics.

How should you respond to a deadly mass shooting if you are a gun rights advocate?

First, “Say nothing.” If media queries persist, go on the “offence, offence, offence”. Smear gun-control groups.

“Shame them” with statements such as – “How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?”

It’s clear that both Ashby and Dickson are already converts to the cult of gun violence. They lust over gun-shops and are wowed by tactical advice from NRA strategists – “you have to weaken gun laws one slice at a time.”

And it’s personal, Steve confesses that to hand in his guns after Port Arthur was “hell on earth” for him.

One Nation’s  former Campbell Newman government Minister, member for Buderim and rabid anti-Muslim fabulist, Steve Dickson defected from the LNP in September 2017, (entirely of his own accord, Pauline Hanson wants us to know), to become a big fish in a small pond; One Nation’s Queensland leader and a federal senate candidate in May. Given his cameo monologue where he waxes lyrical about his fantasy to be a drug-lord who’ll “shoot everything up and down the water, with a machine gun”, he may or may not have blown his chances.

Or blown up One Nation. Australia’s Muslim Threat is just one paranoid delusion traded by Dickson bigging up himself to the US National Rifle Association (NRA) captured, along with buckets of alcoholic braggadocio, on button-cam by Rodger Muller, in Al Jazeera’s documentary-sting, “How to Sell a Massacre” .

Jim and Steve get on the ‘ski, schmooze the NRA and plot to strong-arm our political system. Put a nine millimetre to the back of its neck. Visit Koch HQ. It’s boys’ own adventure-Walter Mitty type stuff – if it weren’t so dangerous. Not only are the pair prepared to trade our gun laws for their own gain, they are happy to subvert our democracy by being willing accomplices in the gun lobby’s plan to back minority parties as a means to infiltrate our politics.

This is already happening, of course, given Bob Katter’s son-in-law Robert Nioa’s vast arms empire which makes him Australia’s largest supplier of weapons and munitions to defence and civilian buyers.  Rob’s also supplying the New Zealand Police with 70,000 Glock pistols and providing their military with a handy grenade launcher. But he’s still a big police supplier, this side of the Tasman. Seventy per cent of Victoria Police’s ammo is bought from Rob.

Nioa got his big break from John Howard whose 1996 gun buy-back scheme helped the Queensland gun-dealer amass over $1 million, tax-free, which became his capital to invest in a market Howard had helped make less competitive; sending rivals out of business.

Labor alleged at the time Nioa’s stock was overvalued but did not pursue this.

$1.7 million was donated to Australian political parties from the gun lobby since 2011, just from publicly disclosed donations says The Australia Institute’s (TAI) research. Major beneficiaries of gun lobby donations include Katter’s Australian Party, with a tidy $800,000 – plus, and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, which received nearly $700,000.

It seemed to work for Katter, reports TAI. “At the last Queensland state election, Katter’s party increased its seats from two to three. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party won three lower house seats in last weekend’s NSW election, up from one. The final count will determine if they increase their seats in the upper house, too.”

Major donors, apart from firearms supplier and manufacturer NIOA, include the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and the Federation of Hunting Clubs.

Thanks, indirectly to Howard, our politics is now awash with gun money which funds campaign such as the recent “Not Happy Dan” campaign in Victoria and the 2017 Flick ‘Em campaign in Queensland. Neither has been hugely successful but they are insidious given that the gun lobby prefers to finance campaigns above parties or candidates. The tactic is straight from the NRA playbook. So too is the amount spent by the gun lobby.

The Australia Institute calculates that now the gun lobby in Australia spends as much per capita as the NRA.

Yet Australia does not need any gun money in its politics. Foreign funding is also likely to corrupt our democracy. It’s time we acted to remove the gun lobby from its unfettered access to MPs, parties and time we made it illegal for the merchants of death to invest in any political party. The Al Jazeera team should be commended on highlighting the issue as much as for their service in exposing One Nation’s dangerous delusions of grandeur.

 

Hugs won’t cure your government’s Islamophobia, Mr Morrison.

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If a lie is half-way around the world before the truth can get its boots on, what does it take for a Prime Minister to call out a falsehood eight years later? Our intrepid PM tries to set the record straight this week. Or is it a reboot? Many wonder aloud why he didn’t call out the lie earlier.

The alleged lie? In 2010, Morrison called on his party to make political capital out of popular anxieties over Muslim immigration, or so alleges, Lenore Taylor who bases her story on several reliable Liberal sources.

Yet not a peep from ScoMo. “Neither I, nor as far as I know, any of the journalists who did follow-up stories, received threats of defamation suits, nor even an angry phone call from Mr Morrison,” says Taylor to The Age’s Peter FitzSimons.

Is this the curious incident of the shaggy dog in the night-time? What’s clear is, in the wake of Christchurch, Morrison denies he ever suggested fanning anti-Muslim fears and bigotry at a shadow cabinet meeting late in 2010. Some of his colleagues say they don’t recall. Greg Hunt says Morrison’s right but it turns out he wasn’t at the meeting. Luckily, after closing down a presser, ScoMo 2.0 comes up with another version of events entirely. Bugger plausible deniability.

Yeah. Nah. What ScoMo was doing was canvassing ways his party could protect our Muslims from local Islamophobia.

Not only that, ScoMo’s dedicated his entire parliamentary career to walking the talk; even taking young Muslims and “a whole bunch of others” from the Shire up the Kokoda track and in the track of the Sandakan Death March in Borneo in 2009 and 2011. Why, when he couldn’t go himself he was helping organise a trek.

But, in the end, he says, cheerily, his government’s made up of individuals. What can one poor Prime Minister do?

A leader can’t stop Peter (Dutton) lamenting “the mistake” of Lebanese migration; how so many second or third generation Lebanese-Muslim men are terrorists. Nor Gorgeous George Christensen, he’s LNP QLD, anyway or any other MP’s racist hate-speak as he equably explains to Waleed Aly on The Project, Thursday.

Dr Aly list a few examples to support his case that the Coalition may have an Islamophobic problem.

  • “George Christensen speaking at a Reclaim Australia rally, appearing on an alt-right podcast, speaking at a Q Society event where horrible things are said about multiple minorities.”
  • “Tony Abbott saying that; “Islamophobia never killed anybody,” when actually it already had – it’s not just that it was true at the time and it isn’t now, it wasn’t true at the time – and suggesting that when Muslim leaders condemn terrorism, they don’t really mean it.”
  • “Peter Dutton suggesting that Lebanese immigration in the 70s was a mistake or that mistakes were made around it. Talking about Mehreen Faruqi, who is a Muslim Senator, who is part of the Greens, being ‘as bad as Fraser Anning after the Christchurch attacks.”
  • “When you have … seven Coalition Senators shaking Fraser Anning’s hand after he gives the ‘final solution’ speech in Parliament.”
  • “And when you have reports in a newspaper like The Australian that it got to the point that the head of ASIO Duncan Lewis contacted members of the Liberal Party and of the Coalition, to warn them about the way they were talking about Islam.”

When I aggregate all that and – there are other examples I could give – when I aggregate all that, is there something that does need to be confronted within your own Party henceforth?, Aly concludes. 

Prime Ministers and Liberal Party Leaders do have power and responsibility, it is clear despite the current tendency for the PM to be told what to do on policy by his right wing. Scott Morrison regularly makes captain calls about candidates.

Former Labor member and Gerard Henderson’s son-in-law, Warren Mundine is even parachuted in to Gilmore leaving Alby Schultz’s son Grant spluttering. (Has the PM no respect for the practice of rural dynastic succession?) The PM or his party is able to fast-forward the application process so that Mundine is virtually signed up on the spot. Schultz will now contend the seat as an independent; hardly an outcome likely to help Wokka’s prospects.

Most recently, ScoMo rings Stan Grant. Invites him round to Kirribilli House with its view of the harbour. (The Morrisons moved there from their Port Hacking home last September. All that reaching out to community now so much harder.) Asks him to nominate for Craig Laundy’s inner-western Sydney seat of Reid. The Liberal Party will put all its resources behind you, he promises. Grant is not a member of any political party let alone even a member of declining Liberal Party.

Grant declines, he says, wisely, because he likes what he does now. And he values his independence. If only Senator Marise Payne’s excuse were so admirable. Asked if she could get some government Islamophobes to shut up, she uses the well-worn “things are too sensitive” at this moment evasion. Christchurch, David Marr says, on ABC Insiders Sunday, might never have happened as far as Coalition anti-Muslim policy is concerned, Payne’s evasion is pitiful.

“I am not going to go into a series of adjudications on statements made by my colleagues or anyone else at this time. We are dealing with a very serious situation here,” Payne chips in this week to defend indulging Dutton .

It’s just like when ScoMo’s pal Dr Jamal Rifi, The Australian’s Australian of The Year 2015, rang him to see if he could do anything about the El Baf family’s four boys who’d gone off to join ISIS in Syria in 2014. Sadly, it was all too late, says Morrison. Muslim boys just sit at home all day waiting to be called up by an ISIS recruiter. (Nowhere in his appearance, Thursday, is any hint that the risk of alt-right White supremacists far outweighs any other terror).

Always impressively dressed these days, ScoMo opts for a charcoal blue suit on The Project, Ten’s dumbed-down current events show, a blokey, jokey middle-class fantasy world where grinning men in suits run everything with an easy-going superiority. The power suit and open-necked business shirt combo help him blend in while reminding us and his host he’s the Prime Minister. Above all, it implies he’s taking Islamophobia seriously (even if he won’t deal with it).

“G’day Waleed”. Using your host’s first name is a trick that goes back, at least, to Bob Hawke, The Great Ingratiator. See. It’s not really an interview after all. Just two good mates fixing up some personal stuff – as you do, whenever your Prime Minister calls you in to explain himself. Or put you right. On CBS’ prime-time national television show.

ScoMo sits low in his Project set chair – a hint of Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily“, all steel rectangles and shallow bum-shelf. A leg crosses. He cocks one foot up on a beefy knee as if about to kick his Egyptian-Australian host, Dr Waleed Aly. It’s ScoMo’s signature pose. A veneer of matey first names, slick grins and forced civility over bruiser body language.

Exposing a sole to your host is an offensive gesture in Egypt. ScoMo could politely inform viewers he’s on The Project to clear up a canard that he’s Islamophobic based on a leak from a shadow cabinet meeting in December 2010, where he’s accused of proposing a strategy to win votes by exploiting anti-Muslim anxieties in the community.

An “ugly and disgusting lie”, is what comes out of his mouth.

Passive-aggressive. Nursing injury, says his body language. The camera also magnifies his footwear, not the shonky two left-feet-K-Swiss trainers of “shoegate”, but solid, RM Williams ankle-boot jobs that could do you an injury. Boots that put the boot into “putting the boot in”, continue a menacing counterpoint to his puffery; his public self-praise.

These boots are made for walking. Morrison says he’s walked the Kokoda Trail with young Muslims and others. “Both parts of our communities.” In case any Morrison-watcher may have missed it, ScoMo’s been out doing the hard yards community building. “… it has been my work in Parliament to try and build these communities together, not apart.”

What a legend! Not only is Morrison up to rub out a lie, the old shape-shifter reinvents himself as a latter-day Nelson Mandela. A fair bit of air-brushing is required. It was George Brandis in August 2017 who upbraided Pauline Hanson for her burqa burlesque in the senate. ScoMo has never censured Dutton for branding Lebanese Muslims as terrorists.

And, even after Christchurch, the last thing ScoMo will commit to is putting One Nation last on how to vote tickets.

“Don’t prejudge me”, he threatens his host, Dr Waleed Aly, even though that’s impossible given we’ve seen so much of the great man’s work already. ScoMo’s well beyond prejudging, and it’s bizarre for him to act as if there were some way he could “reset” his political identity as The Guardian Australia‘s Katharine Murphy wryly points out.

Murphy cautions Morrison, “You are what you have been. You cannot outrun your record as a public figure, because you are still that public figure, and your identity is the sum of your record. So there aren’t any prejudgments.”

There’s hypocrisy. ScoMo’s been an avid pre-judger, especially, as we love to say nowadays, in the asylum-speaker “space”. Morrison’s record as political attack dog rivals junkyard Abbott’s; it’s well and truly out in the public domain.

As is his ambition. ScoMo’s vaulting ambition saw him leap-frog preselection rival Michael Towke, eight votes to eighty more popular, to win Cook in 2007. Towke was going well until a series of scurrilous attacks on his character appeared in The Daily Telegraph. The Libs rescinded his pre-selection. By-passing preselection, ScoMo was parachuted into candidacy and won the retiring Bruce Baird’s old seat, as he likes to remind us; the baton of greatness passing on.

Bruce Baird was also Morrison’s second boss in tourism as former transport minister in the Nick Greiner and John Fahey NSW Liberal governments (1989-2005). Morrison’s rise to political power is a tribute to his networking.

Scott’s got anti-Muslim form. He cut his political teeth as Liberal bovver-boy challenging the reckless benevolence of paying for the families of drowned asylum-seekers to come to Sydney to bury their dead. Morrison led the Abbott and others in The Opposition pack attack on a feckless Federal Government decision to fly 22 asylum seekers to Sydney for the funerals of eight people, including two babies, who died in the Christmas Island shipwreck, December 15, 2010.

Excessive benevolence? The $300,000 total cost of airfares amounted to a cost to each of us just two cents apiece.

Faced with some opposition from his own party which included Joe Hockey, his mentor Bruce Baird, Russell Broadbent and others, Morrison later withdrew his objections and issued a sort of an apology, professing that he was insensitive to question the cost. Poor timing, he added. Nationals’ Fiona Nash still couldn’t see the point given that Australians don’t get government help attending a funeral forgetting that the Disaster Assist Fund does pay up to $10,000.

After a wobbly start in Social Services culminating in his brilliant “wait for the dole” scheme, which the senate rejected, Scott got a gig as Head Bouncer at our island concentration camps, a job he put his own stamp on as we know.

Less well understood is how his secretive communication style matches his capacity to reach out to local communities, bind them together and inspire them with shared walks on Kokoda and other self-punishing odysseys.

A good guide to his capacity to reach out to others is his record of briefings on border security. As Immigration Minister, ScoMo was quick to do away with briefings entirely. Or walk out of them. Many were replaced by an occasional memo. Despite commissioning a $330,000 media briefing room in Canberra, next door to DFAT, ScoMo chose never to use it. Instead, from October 2013, weekly briefings were held at commonwealth offices in Sydney, closer to home. Briefings ended, that December, as reports of boat turnbacks came in which the government refused to discuss.

Just keeping the room on standby cost us $100,000 PA. Even the unused door knob cost an impressive $800.

In Canberra, Morrison uses Parliament House facilities for border protection-related pressers.

Yet he takes pride in his work. ScoMo proudly displays in his office a model boat trophy of his defeat of the human need for sanctuary; a refuge-seeker’s right to asylum, typically involving men women and children of Muslim faith.

“I stopped these”, says the inscription on the laser-cut steel trophy. It’s an empty boast. The flow of asylum-seekers travelling by boat slowed to trickle in 2013 when Kevin Rudd made it clear that no refugee or asylum-seeker arriving by boat would be re-settled on the mainland. Morrison was, moreover, one of the key figures in the Abbott opposition who helped frustrate the proposed 2011 Malaysian solution, a decision which led to a surge in numbers of maritime arrivals.

Morrison contends he prevented drownings, of course, but a slogan about boats rather than people helps desensitise us to the reality while distracting from the reality that most asylum-seekers arrive by plane. 18,290 arrived by air seeking asylum in 2016-17 and 27,931 in 2017-18, according to former Border Force Commissioner,  Roman Quaedvlieg.

Not only is it faster, it’s cheaper with a flight from Teheran at $1500 compared with $5-10,000 on average for a berth from Java to Christmas Island, although Morrison, Abbott and Dutton would have us believe the boats will start up again any minute, given Labor’s perfidious, Medivac Bill that will also swamp us with paedophiles, rapists and murderers.

Murderers? One of ScoMo’s last acts as Immigration Minister was to refuse permission for Egyptian father of six, Sayed Abdellatif to apply for a visa despite his own department recommending that this be granted. Abdellatif was tried and convicted of murder, firearms offences and destruction of property in absentia, in a show trial which relied upon testimony from his father and brother-in-law, obtained under torture. Interpol removed him from their Red list last year.

But Home Affairs keeps him in gaol. We’ve detained Abdellatif for six years in the Hotham high-security wing of Villawood, an act of sadistic cruelty.

“My case has taken five years to be finalised, it’s ridiculous. It’s not only crushed my hope. It’s torture, he says

We call it immigration detention but really it is open-ended imprisonment without charge, writes Richard Ackland.

Back in the studio there’s a palpable subtext of injury. “Morrison’s office”, that wonderful cop-out of modern politics, rang Waleed Aly recently and threatened to sue him over his claim that ScoMo urged his party’s shadow cabinet to exploit concerns over Muslim immigration. It’s a hurtful slur which festers.

“Does your Party and your Coalition have a problem of Islamophobia?” asks Aly.

Morrison replies he does not believe the Coalition had a problem with Islamophobia, as if it’s a matter of belief.

“I don’t think the Liberal Party does as a total group. And I don’t think the National Party does either,” he ducks and weaves before abdicating any responsibility as leader of his party for its members’ bigotry.

“Our party is made up of a lot of individuals and in our parties individuals have a lot more freedom to say what they think than other parties. It’s not for the party to answer for every single member on every occasion,” he responds, changing Aly’s question which is perfectly clear. What is he, as PM, going to do about his party members’ islamophobia?

The Project is dedicated to the Wildean premise that while all of us are in the gutter, some of us are pissing ourselves laughing at everyone else’s misfortune but the only joke, tonight, is the PM’s appearance as an angel of mercy.

In thirty minutes – “commercial-free” -ScoMo totally owns the show. A grateful nation rejoices. Gets the good oil; fair-dinkum gospel according to Arthur Brooks, US neo-con think-tanker, man of God and mammon, about how we should “disagree better not less”. ScoMo’s devoted his whole political career to binding and uniting.  And denial.

The denials come thick and fast. ScoMo’s never led an anti-Muslim mob in his life. A PM’s can’t be responsible for whatever Tony or George or Peter may say in the heat of the moment. It’s up to branches to put One Nation last on how to vote cards. “We’re a party of individuals, he says, unlike some … (we know who you mean, ScoMo, you sly-digger.)

Why, Scott’s got mates in Lakemba who’ll tell you. He doesn’t have an Islamophobic bone in his body. On cue, the ubiquitous Dr Jamal Rifi, News Corps’s celebrated “moderate Muslim” pops up on Friday on ABC’s The Drum to say just that. Rifi extols Morrison’s compassion and humanity.

Muslims rush to hug him when he rocks on up to the local mosque. Hug one another. That’s what we all should be doing at this troubled time. Just like they do to you down at the intensive care unit when you come in bleeding to death from an AR 16 fired by a white supremacist. St ScoMo, somehow knows that what the nation urgently needs is a bucket full of platitudes and absolutely no action. He won’t attempt to stop the Islamophobia. He can’t.

“So as I said on that first Friday night to Australians; just hug each other tonight. I think we need to keep hugging each other,”  the new touchy-feely Morrison, touchy-feelie gropes for what he hopes will be mistaken for compassion.

Hugs are only part of his story. Morrison’s a beacon of ecumenical enlightenment, tolerance and multicultural, inter-fidelity. Just the other day, he took Jenny and the girls to pray at a Coptic church. Put that in your thurible and smoke it.

If he were truly such a huge friend of Islam, Morrison would be acting upon the leaders’ advice. The Islamic Council of Victoria, for example, urges that we need to act upon what is sees as the escalating threat of white extremists.

“We’re not confident they’re taking the threat of far-right extremism as seriously as they do – and I’ll use their terminology, though I don’t like it – Islamist-based or jihadist terrorism,” fears spokesman Adel Salman, who tells The Saturday Paper. “This is a very, very toxic form of white nationalist and white extremist ideology.”

Salman wants governments to publicly condemn Islamophobia. “It’s about time that our authorities … do it seriously,” he says. “They may be doing it behind the scenes, but they need to be taking it up publicly.”

An enchanted nation looks on in wonder as ScoMo, Australia’s most spectacular quick-change artist sets out to convince the nation that he, too, can talk like an Egyptian. If his goat ate your washing, he’d tell you that it wasn’t his goat and it just didn’t happen because Greg Hunt says so and besides you ought to be more careful where you peg out your smalls.

 

 

 

 

 

Australia’s home-grown terrorist a threat to all of us.

jacinda

“We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism,” Jacinda Ardern told New Zealanders in the confused hours following the attacks.

“We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”

 


Fifty unsuspecting men, women and children attending Friday prayer at 1:00 pm in the leafy, peaceful, central Christchurch Al-Noor mosque and in the nearby mosque at Linwood, New Zealand, are suddenly brutally, cold-bloodedly shot at point-blank range by Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 29 year-old Australian alt-right terrorist using an AR-15 semi-automatic, the weapon of choice in US mass shootings from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino.

Surgeons, who have treated wounds caused by AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, call the weapons perfect killing machines that can tear a body apart and create massive haemorrhaging. Many medicos call for it to be banned.

The assault is a callous, calculated hate-crime which leaves fifty Islamic worshippers dead and wounds fifty others, thirty-six of whom remain hospitalised, twelve in critical condition and a community utterly traumatised. Broken. Police arrest Tarrant, an Otago rifle-club member; charge him with one count of murder. Other charges will follow on 5 April. Despite earlier reports of a group of terrorists, police say Tarrant is the lone gun-man.

If only he were. Not for a moment, does Tarrant behave as if he is on his own. It’s in his demeanour in court, where he smirks at reporters and flashes an inverted white power symbol- it’s in his “manifesto”; the in-jokes and ironic references to fellow “shit-posters” on white supremacists’ websites; his prior posts to social media; his decision to film his pathological odyssey of destruction.  He is living proof of the myth of the lone wolf terrorist.

In his own, narcissistic, bubble-head, Tarrant’s gone from “zero to hero” appeasing the savage god of alt-right celebrity social media notoriety in thirty-six minutes. But he’s not got anywhere on his own. “Lazy talk of lone wolves obscures the nature of the real threat and makes us all less safe”, writes The Guardian’s Jason Burke.

“The truth is much more disturbing. Terrorism is not something you do by yourself, it is highly social. People become interested in ideas, ideologies and activities, even appalling ones, because other people are interested in them.”  Increasingly, however, links are tenuous. Networks, autonomous cells and “in rare cases” individuals have replaced groups with chains of command. Sadly, our AFP and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s other anti-terror forces appear still to be busting down doors in Grafton, Monday, looking for a mythic Tarrant terror cell.

Tarrant exudes complicity; a sense of co-conspiracy; a psychotic, anti-heroic triumphalism of “us” against “them”.

Has the tolerance given the alt-right by governments and mainstream media in Australia, misled him to believe he is starring in his own movie? That he’s untouchable? Or does he simply have the psychopath’s empathy by-pass? Yet rather than seek out a terror cell as his mentors, we need look no further than the federal government.

“Some politicians in Australia have for years been whipping up anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment,” Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi tells ABC Television’s News Breakfast, Monday, “and for years, Muslims have also been warning; we’ve been speaking out and saying this is damaging and hurting the community, and that this does have consequences – this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And when I talk about politicians, I have to say I’m not only talking about the usual suspects like One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, or Fraser Anning.”

Faruqi spells it out, later on Radio National “… politicians like Peter Dutton have actually contributed to creating an atmosphere where hate is allowed to incubate in our society. They can’t shrug off their responsibility.

What they’ve been doing does come with a cost, it does come with consequences, because really they’ve been playing games with our lives.”

Peter Dutton takes this gentle rebuke with typical good humour. He quickly accuses Faruqi of making political capital out of the NZ shootings. Dutts says it’s “a disgrace” that people “on the far left or far right [are] trying to extract advantage” while families are “burying the bodies of those who have been massacred in Christchurch”.

“He still refuses to take responsibility for his role in demonising Muslims, migrants and refugees,” Faruqi tells Guardian Australia.Trying to claim that my response to the horrific massacre and Senator Anning’s disgraceful comments that harm our community are in any way equivalent is just vile.”

Anning blames the New Zealand victims in a bizarre tweet which asks “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?” His asinine comment causes the Indonesian Foreign Ministry to summon the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta where foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir has some helpful advice,

“Acts of terrorism, he says, are not associated with any religion.”

“The thought conveyed by the Australian senator is inappropriate and does not have a place in the modern world, whether in Australia, Indonesia, or elsewhere,” he says. Anning, meantime has over a million votes on a GetUp petition in favour of his standing down from parliament. His attention-seeking stunt is working marvellously.

As for acts of terrorism, if we look, as we do to the US, violent extremism driven by right-wing, racially motivated ideologies is growing at an alarming pace – ahead of the capacity of public understanding nor government action to keep up or to combat it. Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, calls upon leaders to wake up and to mobilise the necessary resources to deal with right wing terror. In Australia, we lag further behind.

Marvy Morrison is mugged by reality. Yet when it comes to “Muslim extremism” he has the answers all off pat. ScoMo echoes Abbott and most of his other MPs when he says the Muslim community in Australia must be more “proactive” in tackling the threat of terror attacks. Why?  Because “in many cases” imams and community leaders will know who is infiltrating and radicalising members of their flock. It’s reductive, patronising nonsense.

But Brenton Tarrant’s radicalisation is difficult to blame on anyone else but himself and his anti-Muslim, Islamophobic government. Not that ScoMo doesn’t give the hand-pass a try. He’s surprised, he says, that NZ authorities didn’t have Tarrant on their radar.

Jacinda Ardern replies that she’s surprised that Australian authorities, so much more advanced at this anti-terror stuff, weren’t on to Tarrant way back. Why weren’t his community leaders more proactive?

Proactive? Given our first major terrorist turns out to be a white supremacist, Neo-Nazi, why is ScoMo now not calling Anglo-Celtic community leaders to account? Because it’s nonsense? If there’s any good to come out of the tragic horror of Friday’s shootings, it’s the way that it exposes the Coalition’s preposterous supposition that Muslim “communities” are run by imams as some sort of theocratic state.

It also exposes a chilling truth. Paranoid nonsense about white genocide to one side, Tarrant’s intolerant ranting manifesto has many parallels with Coalition anti-immigration and anti-Muslim polemic. Tarrant’s immigration phobia; his scapegoating of Muslims, echoes ScoMo’s government’s own Islamophobic prejudices.

When a clearly deluded and paranoid Hassan Khalif Shire Ali killed one person and injured two others in Bourke Street, the PM identified the “vile presence” of radical Islam as the cause of the attack, dismissing the suggestion that mental health issues negated that primary cause as a “lame excuse”.

Tony Abbott insinuates Muslim leaders do not condemn terrorism: “I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.”

What messages did Abbott think he was sending when he allowed his government to send National MP “gorgeous” George Christensen to address an anti-Islam rally – Reclaim Australia? Perhaps Tarrant was even in attendance? The title of the address is remarkably similar to the theme of Tarrant’s cracked manifesto.

If it takes a whole village to raise a child, how many does it take to raise a genocidal, white supremacist gun-man? At the family level, Tarrant’s devastated relatives offer their profuse apologies to the families who have lost brothers, sisters, uncles, nephews, nieces, husbands and wives who until last Friday were teachers, engineers, accountants and scientists.

And children.  Two young children are among those gunned down in cold blood. Mucad Ibrahim, aged three, dies in his father’s arms. Abdullah Durie, aged four, is caught in the cross-fire and later dies in hospital, explains Abdulrahman Hashi, his uncle. Nothing anyone can ever say will ease their parents’ grief.

Suddenly, we are exporting terrorism. ScoMo’s government has the wrong script. Scott Morrison has said the Muslim community in Australia must be more “proactive” in tackling the threat of terror attacks because “in many cases” imams and community leaders will know who is infiltrating and radicalising members of their flock.

No Australian politician, however, steps forward to take responsibility for his or her role in contributing to the toxic miasma of Islamophobia; the anti-Muslim hate-speech that they nurture as part of Australia’s contemporary political discourse with its blaming, its scapegoating, its fear of the other.  No-one in government apologises for raising terrorist Tarrant, let alone allowing him out of the country to commit his hideous act of carnage.

Scott Morrison offers his condolences but his words ring hollow given how, in December 2010, ScoMo allegedly encouraged the shadow cabinet to exploit populist Islamophobia; growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia”, how “Muslims” were not assimilating – suppressing their culture, subjugating custom, thought and belief much as Australia’s aboriginal peoples are in many ways still expected to behave.

Julie Bishop and Philip Rudd allegedly remonstrated, but in 2011, Morrison asked why the Australian government should pay the fares of twenty-two mourners to come to the Sydney funeral of family drowned when an asylum-seeker vessel, SIEV 222, (Suspected illegal entry vessel) in our Orwellian terminology, evoking anonymity, illegality and illegitimacy, broke up and sank off Christmas Island’s Rocky Point, with the loss of over fifty lives.

Tony Abbott was censured by Wayne Swan for “parroting Pauline Hanson” in Abbott’s backing of Morrison.

ScoMo was persuaded to apologise or at least he made a contrived statement of contrition,

“I made the suggestion (the funeral) should have been held on Christmas Island. That wasn’t the right time to make that comment. I accept that. I have to show a little more compassion than I showed yesterday.”

Luckily, former accountant-cum-ethicist, Barnaby Joyce is on hand in 2011 to protect the borders of our humanity. The price of compassion is “not limitless’‘, he says. “You can’t do it with a completely open cheque book.”

Making his atrocity even more horrifying is that Tarrant live-streams his killings on the internet and posts an online manifesto, “The Great Replacement”, a deranged treatise on white supremacy: the high volume of immigration now seen in the West is bringing about a “replacement” of host populations by immigrant – and of course, inferior – cultures. The influx of newcomers is causing a “white genocide.”

Kiwi politicians get a copy of the treatise minutes before his attacks. Both his email and his Go-Pro live-streamed film convey not only his bizarre deliberations but suggest that the “entire attack seemed orchestrated for the social media age” suggest CNN reporters, Jenni Marsh and Tara Mulholland. It’s an ISIS-like recruitment tactic.

Before Tarrant’s attacks, a post on the anonymous message board 8chan — a forum featuring racist and extremist posts –previews the horror. It links to his 87-page grab-bag of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim slurs, and directs users to a Facebook page hosting the live stream. He also uses a new Twitter account to herald the attack. Yet no-one in any anti-terror police unit either in Australia or New Zealand notices his declaration of intent to murder.

Facebook claims that within 24 hours of Friday’s shooting the company had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack from its platform globally. Naturally, Scott Morrison has this contingency all under control.

“We will be seeking to get assurances from the social media companies about their capabilities to ensure that this tool cannot be used by terrorists,” ScoMo says, keen to be seen to impose “a tough on Facebook borders” solution. However, he reveals an astonishing ignorance of how social media works. As Mark Zuckerberg explains, his company could not have stopped Russia manipulating the outcome of the last US presidential election,

“We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don’t think society should want us to. Freedom means you don’t have to ask for permission first, and by default, you can say what you want.”

The slaughter is quickly labelled “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and “an act of terrorism” by Kiwi PM, Jacinda Ardern. Other world leaders offer sympathy. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan goes further; arguing that Muslims worldwide have found themselves targeted and “demonised” since the 9/11 attacks on the US.

“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he tweets. “This has been done deliberately to also demonise legitimate Muslim political struggles.”

It is the largest massacre in New Zealand history since 1943, when forty-eight recently-arrived Japanese prisoners of war staged a sit-down strike at a POW camp in Featherston, a Wairarapa town in the Wellington region of the North Island. Guards fired a warning shot wounding Lieutenant Adachi Toshio. The prisoners rose. Forty-eight were shot by guards. A guard was killed, possibly by the warning shot. A further 63 prisoners were wounded.

Acting out his warped fantasy, Brenton Harrison Tarrant straps on his Go-Pro helmet camera, packs three semi-automatic rifles, two pump action shotguns and a bolt-action rifle in his Subaru before driving four and a half hours north from his home in Dunedin to Christchurch where he opens fire on unsuspecting innocents.

As Waleed Ali has written, it is “slaughter by appointment”. The true threat posed to us by this new form of terror; the true obscenity of the killings lie less in any alt-right madness about white genocide or Islamophobia but in the abuse of human trust and instinctive hospitality. The killer would have known how profoundly defenceless, how vulnerable, his targets would have been as they gathered in peace to begin their prayers. How vulnerable in their humanity and the innocent rituals of their faith.

“Hello Brother,” one greets Tarrant before the Australian terrorist shoots him dead.

 

 

 

ScoMo’s cynical Christmas Island stunt is an assault to our democracy and an affront to our humanity.

scott morrison on christmas island with fuehrer salute

 

“I will do everything in my power to ensure that these suggested changes … never see the light of day… I will fight them using whatever tool or tactic I have available to me … .” Scott Morrison

 

Flanked by a trio of Border Force black-shirts and a lone, grim digger in camouflage, Scott Morrison morphs into Colonel Kurtz of Christmas Island, Wednesday. Consumed by his delusions. In a spectacular mid-week flight of fantasy, he becomes Colonel Kurtz of Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s phantasmagorical 1979 Vietnam war film loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. For Kurtz and ScoMo  Horror and moral terror are your friend. 

Morrison is up for another stunt if only to drown out the erupting chaos and crisis of confidence in its leadership which, yet again, engulfs the Coalition. He’s also working up to a sensational International Women’s Day address Friday “so tone deaf so terrible” – so bad it makes international news. Is it the Kurtz method acting? Or is it just ScoMo’s ear of tin?

Pet black rock-star Morrison tells a flabbergasted audience at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy in Western Australia, a bastion of women’s emancipation, that it is “not in our values” to “push some people down to lift some people up”.

“That is true of gender equality,” he says. “We want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse. We want everybody to do better, and we want to see the rise of women in this country be accelerated to ensure that their overall pace is maintained.”  Clearly, ScoMo has no idea what equality means. But that doesn’t stop him “telling women not to get ahead of themselves” as Sarah Hanson-Young tweets.

Feminist, Malcolm Turnbull embarks on a finely nuanced new offensive against those who knifed him in the least successful coup in Liberal history by telling the BBC, his MPs dumped him because they knew he could win the election.

“Basically you could argue that their concern was not that I would lose the election, but rather that I would win it.”

It’s absurd. Obligingly, however, Turnbull also lets the world know that the Liberals definitely has a woman problem; a serious gender inequality issue. ScoMo will be thrilled. But Turnbull slaps down Tony Abbott for his “innumerate idiocy” in his carbon emission triple back-flip and snipe. The suppository of all wisdom declares he’s all for following the Paris climate-in-a-canter agreement now. Why? “Because the party’s leader and energy minister have changed.”

Nothing to do with being likely to lose his seat of Warringah where his chief adversary Zali Steggall confirms that Tony is being his “rude, aggressive, self.” He’s also lying, she adds. Who says there’s no consistency in politics?

Bonkers Barnaby Joyce is up for a change; he’s making ready to depose Nationals Leader Michael McCormack. The fracas will be very helpful to ScoMo in diverting us from Josh Frydenberg’s April stunning budget tax-cut bribes.

Joyce is close to a shoo-in. Few even in his own electorate have heard of McCormack. The Nationals are miffed by their lame-duck leader’s train-wreck interview with Waleed Ali on Ten’s The Project which goes viral on social media.

It’s a simple question and one that Barnaby Joyce would struggle with. “Could you name a single, big policy area where the Nats have sided with the interests of farmers over the interest of miners when they come into conflict?”

Macca just can’t name a single way that the Nationals Party stands up for the farmer rather than for mining interests.

Naturally, Macca is also attacked by “Joyced-up” Queensland Nats-rats who demand he underwrite Matthew Canavan’s “about ten” new coal-fired power stations before the Budget. For now, the agrarian socialists simply want state power over power companies; Angus Taylor, bring you big stick back. Or is this Barnaby’s cunning plan to win his old job back?

Macca kicks another own goal by telling the ABC, Sunday, that night-time sport would have to be cancelled given Labor’s emissions targets. McCormack calls Bill Shorten “nuts” and “living in fairyland” for pursuing a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions. “I mean sure, go down that path, but forget night footy, forget night cricket.”

Given this surfeit of absurdity, disunity and ever-mindful to lead by inspiring, ScoMo takes his shock-horror show on tour to Christmas Island, pressing a hand-picked media claque aboard an RAAF 747; a virtual, portable Canberra bubble. He says nothing he couldn’t have said in Canberra but he knows exotic settings make the news. And the value of escape.

“Anyone who wants to game the system, understand you won’t be able to game your way to the mainland if I have anything to do with it. This is why we are here,” he blusters. Border Force cutbacks are not mentioned. Yet David Wroe writing for Nine Newspapers quotes a leaked Defence Department classified briefing paper warning,

“The Australian Border Force has been falling short of its sea patrol target by 20 per cent, which has posed an increased risk” to maritime security. Anti-terror work has been cut back just because the ABF hasn’t been out there doing its job. Budget cutbacks and crew shortages are cited as reasons in Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

It’s a far cry from the halcyon days of Tony Abbott’s boat-stopping, a feat he didn’t achieve, which he has never ceased to take credit for. The depersonalisation stuck, as well. Stopping boats or “illegal maritime arrivals” is so much easier than owning sadistic cruelty to vulnerable people. As for Abbott and Morrison’s boat-stopping fiction, asylum-seekers, in fact, stopped attempting to reach Australia when Kevin Rudd made it clear, in July 2013, that they would never be settled here. By the time Morrison was in charge, the flow of boats slowed to a trickle. Yet one or two still try.

What Morrison can take credit for is a culture of secrecy and lies. As Immigration Minister, he showed contempt for the press – and with it – for normal measures of accountability in a democratic society. ScoMo would simply walk out of formal press-conferences when he didn’t like the questions – or scrutiny of openness and accountability.

At times, he would resort to the fiction that we were at war with asylum seekers and people-smugglers, a fantasy in which he was indulged by Abbott, a ruse to claim that “on water” or “operational matters” were top secret as a matter of national security. Yet, as his government’s exit, stage right, draws ever closer, his legacy will be his inhumanity.

Under Scott Morrison, Australia’s Migration Act was effectively entirely eroded: all affirmations of the rights of asylum seekers that applied in international law under the United Nations Refugee Convention were stripped from the Act.

Today, 1015 innocent men and women are deliberately being driven mad by the misery of indefinite offshore detention. Some are pushed to suicide and self-harm by our government’s policy of punitive incarceration; or sadistic cruelty.

Yet human beings with needs and rights do not feature in Morrison’s message to the press, midweek. There’s a lot about himself, of course. And pointing. Feeling of steel mesh. He points to where a refugee boat sank in rough seas in December 2010. Forty-eight died. But it’s only to reiterate the lie that Coalition policy is based on preventing drowning.

Does this humbug deceive anyone? Coalition policies are founded in crass, political advantage. Deny refugees’ rights. As John Menadue puts it, the Coalition’s political objective in opposition was to stop Labor stopping the boats. In co-operation with the populist Greens, it voted against the Malaysian Solution. A surge of boat arrivals followed.

Nowhere does ScoMo admit we must render others urgent medical help; our non-delegable duty of care. Instead, all he can talk about are those who will “game the system”. Fake illness. Like Dutton, he must dwell on duplicity; deception.

If not some type of disorder, the obsession with deception or lack of good faith destroys the Coalition’s promises to keep us safe. As do its laws preventing whistle-blowers. We’re safe until we blow the whistle. We’re not safe if we can’t trust government. As for deception, we have no idea how many boats have been turned around, give the level of secrecy surrounding Operation Sovereign Borders. Secrecy hardly encourages us to trust the Coalition’s official statistics

What is clear, is that punitive detention has no effect and the “successes” – if we can talk of abrogating our humanity and our responsibility to others in such a way – have come from boat turnbacks. No-one at the press briefing challenges Scott Morrison’s basic assumption – just how mainland medical aid to men on Manus or men and women on Nauru, which his government will deny by sending the suffering to Christmas Island, can attract more boats.

Talk of “illegals” crops up frequently in Coalition spin on “securing our borders”, a nonsense useful for wedging Labor. It’s repeated so frequently it’s become part of accepted truthiness. The word dehumanises but it is not illegal to seek asylum. Secondly, our borders are naturally insecure given our 25,760 km coastline. And more porous than they’ve ever been. In 2018, 9.2 million overseas residents flew in for a short-term stay say the ABS’ official statistics.

It’s high time we gave up the fiction of border control. Helping us, the formation of the Home Affairs (HA) super-ministry is already imploding. Size imperils co-ordination and communication. Home Affairs is so huge it took a senate committee two and a half days just to scrutinise Peter Dutton’s empire May last year, reports ABC’s Laura Tingle.

Home Affairs swallowed The Department of Immigration and Border Protection – itself a shotgun wedding of customs and immigration created by the Abbott government’s 2014, which Scott Morrison failed to manage well. One change was simply a captain’s call; desk-bound bureaucrats were suddenly kitted out in paramilitary uniforms.

Our refugees do not deserve our compassion, is Morrison’s subtext.  They do not merit being treated at “Bondi” he explains to Ben Fordham on 2GB’s bubble. The sick will be sent to suffer further on Christmas Island with its six bed hospital and its inadequate facilities. All that remains, is to demonise those whose only mistake is to seek our mercy.

The Coalition continues its warped fearmongering all week. Morrison has long accused asylum-seekers of carrying all manner of diseases from Hep B and TB to Chlamydia and syphilis. Now his government claims that those identified as eligible for treatment under Medevac include “paedophiles, terrorist sympathisers and an alleged murderer”.  

ScoMo’s speech could be made in Canberra but, instead, the Coalition flies its PM and an embedded media team by RNZAF 747, 5000 km to Christmas Island. It’s a bizarre and expensive stunt – even for the architect of Abbott’s 2014 “Cambodian Solution”, an abortive deal with one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt nations, which led to two refugees being resettled with no human rights guarantees at a cost of $55 million.

But Apocalypse Morrison sees only the horror.  Horror? “Labor will start the boats again. Every arrival is on Bill Shorten’s head.”  Last time it was in office, Labor brought 50,000 asylum-seekers in boats. Even if this inflated figure were accurate, his own government has seen 64,000 people claim asylum in the last three years. They flew here.

Today they are part of an oppressed, exploited, invisible underclass of worker on farms, in factories, restaurants, building sites, franchises and other businesses, as The Saturday Paper’s Mike Seccombe details.

ScoMo’s promo draws all the attention he can to Christmas Island’s ignoble re-opening. Does the PM hope that a boat might chance indefinite offshore detention or turnbacks, on the off chance that some asylum-seekers may be sick enough to be treated on the mainland – despite the new legislation clearly applying only to refugees from Manus and Nauru?  It’s highly unlikely but he does makes much of the people-smugglers’ lack of nuanced understanding.

Why else, apart from pure political bastardry, re-open another island prison in Australia’s gulag archipelago of cruelty?

On Bill Shorten’s head? It’s a desperate projection. As former Immigration Minister and distinguished public servant, John Menadue notes, by defeating the means to implement the Malaysian Arrangement, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison triggered the surge in boat arrivals from September 2011 onwards. The more boats the better for him.

In November 2009, the issue of asylum seekers was “fantastic” for the Coalition and “the more boats that come the better” a key Liberal Party strategist” told a US diplomat in Canberra.  Scott Morrison was the ‘strategy director’ for the 2007 NSW election campaign. The comment was published 10 December 2010 by the SMH reporting from Wikileaks.

Our onshore detention centres (gulags) are full, he lies.  Shorten’s new law means ScoMo must reopen Christmas Island Detention Centre, (a prison), because 57 “adverse characters,” require a “hardened centre”, (a fresh bit of jargon to help with the message that refugees are rapists, terrorists and worse. Some are Armani-wearing con-artists – just ask Dutts.)

“Somebody once said to me that we’ve got the world’s biggest collection of Armani jeans and handbags up on Nauru waiting for people to collect it when they depart,” Dutton told 2GB’s Ray Hadley two years ago, using the dodgy “somebody once told me…” propaganda strategy in the government’s squalid bid to smear our refugees as dishonest and undeserving – when it’s not demonising them as carriers of STDs or terrorist sympathisers.

Horror of horrors. There is room on the mainland. In a government of secrets and lies, truth, like science, is a dirty word. Home Affairs own monthly newsletter shows three mainland “hardened centres”. One alone has 200 spare beds. If every one of ScoMo’s 57 “adverse characters” were sick, we’d fit them all in. So far, not one has sought assistance.

And why ignore local residents of the Australian territory? They have a democratic right to be consulted,

Museum attendant, Roxanne Wilson, complains that ScoMo’s detention centre media blitz is certainly no advertisement for Christmas island. “I’m just concerned that any tourists on the island or [who] would like to come to the island, are thinking it’s a detention island. I would just like them to see the beauty of the island: we get bird watchers coming here quite regularly, the island has endemic bird life that is not found anywhere else in the world.”

Yet ScoMo flies 5000 kilometres to an Australia external territory, acquired in 1958, which his mentor, John Howard, rat-cunningly excised from our migration zone in September 2001.  An exhausted phosphate mine, Christmas Island is 1400 km north-west of Australia but only 360 km south of Java; alluringly close for Indonesian people-smugglers.

Is ScoMo hoping to reboot its allure? Another asylum-seeker boat or two could turn the May election into Tampa 2.0.

Or could it? How likely are demon people-smugglers to forget history? Tampa’s 438 passengers were taken to Nauru and Manus. Not to be outdone by the lying rodent, Howard, moreover, the Gillard government, excised the mainland of Australia from our migration zone in May 2013. Even if you do make it to Australia, you’ll end up being “processed” or in indefinite detention on Manus or Nauru. Only ScoMo could pretend the Medevac bill opens any “loopholes”.

Yet, blast the trump, Christmas Island is open for business again. What better spot for ScoMo to declare war on the Medevac Bill and humanity; protect us all from those who may “game the system”? Dog-whistle people-smugglers?

Morrison does boost Australia’s reputation for gratuitous cruelty and abuse of human rights via off-shore detention. Our democracy cops a hiding, too. Cap’n ScoMo’s determined to subvert the will of the Australian people as represented by parliament’s passing of a bill to allow asylum-seekers held on Manus Island and on Nauru to be treated on the mainland, a bill which received royal assent last Friday. No-one puts up a fuss. He’ll send them to an island where medical facilities are inadequate but thanks to Howard, the law doesn’t reach. It’s an act of pure political bastardry. And it’s not cheap.

All up, Monty Morrison’s flying circus costs taxpayers $2000 per minute, reckons Nine Newspapers’, David Crowe.  But that doesn’t begin to count the cost to our humanity nor to our capacity as sentient beings to find our way in the world.

The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world – and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end – is being destroyed.  Hannah Arendt

 

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Note

 From the Attorney-General’s Department, Laura Tingle reports, Home Affairs has taken carriage of national security, emergency management and criminal justice functions. The Office of Transport Security has been plucked from the Infrastructure Department. Multicultural affairs has been absorbed from the Department of Social Services. And from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Home Affairs has taken control of counter-terrorism coordination and cybersecurity. The super-ministry also assumes responsibility for key agencies including ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC.

No, ScoMo, you can’t have Snowy 2.0 and coal-fired power stations, too.

scomo hydro

“What we are talking about here is reliable, renewable, energy,” gurgles a pumped PM , Tuesday. He stands in the same spot as Turnbull, before ScoMo deposed him; the same huge penstock steel pipes arch back behind him like some gigantic, shamanic, horned headdress.  The pose gives pause for thought. As does ScoMo’s pivot; his sudden switch from bearer of the black rock in parliament to ScoMo of Snowy 2.0, a study of calculation in concrete brutalism.

In an incredible back-flip, Faux-Mo re-invents his carbon-emitting, coal-powered government as climate and environmental custodians. Snowy 2.0 is the site of Turnbull’s nation-building pet project. Is his an act of homage, or  usurpation? Yet it could be a lemon. Neither the Coalition, nor its wholly owned Snowy Hydro, will reveal any financial models. Giles Parkinson notes that there’s a fair bit of red tape to clear, not to mention environmental issues to resolve.

No financial modelling? No worries. Whether nation-building with your ego or your energy policy, it’s the vibe that matters. And the mix. A “technologically neutral” ScoMo-government may green-wash itself overnight but it’s careful to leave black or brown coal-fired power generation still in the energy mix. It prolongs the hoax that coal and wind and solar can somehow co-exist, whatever the market is saying about the need to invest in renewables to make a profit.

Naturally a few false prophets must be ignored. The Australian‘s Chris Kenny is all for a nuclear option, safe, cheap; a boon, environmentally, as Fukushima and Chernobyl attest, with only a few drawbacks including toxicity, short life-span, long build time and prohibitive price as demand for electricity diminishes. Nuclear is so yesterday. As for green, any saving in daily running cost is offset by a large environmental debit incurred in the massive concrete construction.

But is our new ScoMo Coalition with clean, green, pumped snowy hydro 2.0 fair-dinkum? Giles Parkinson drily notes,

“…a government that “scrapped the carbon price, tried to kill the renewable energy target, defenestrated the Climate Change Authority and tried to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency appears to be taking note that climate focused independents are posing a real threat to incumbent MPs.”

Is it green? Will our unreliable, coal-fired clunkers such as Liddell be taken off life support? (Liddell’s expected life-span was 25 years, when built in 1973.) Will filthy, new, polluting smoke stacks rise phoenix-like from the ashes, as the Coalition honours Matt Canavan’s recent pledge to fund ten new coal-fired power plants? Funding? Banks won’t touch them. China doesn’t love us any more and the Russians have already been well-tapped by Trump.

Government funding is promised to those keen to build new coal-fired power projects – but is it legal? In a startling new piece of legal advice from barristers Fiona McLeod SC and Lindy Barrett, The Australia Institute reports  McLeod and Barrett argue that the government will need parliament’s approval before it can underwrite any new coal fired plant.

The only existing authority for such appropriation of funds is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a body set up to encourage investment in energy-efficient; low energy or low emission technology. Coal or gas projects are excluded.

The barristers hazard that “Energy Minister Angus Taylor is in such a rush to funnel taxpayer funds to new coal fired power stations before the election, he seems to have overlooked that he has no constitutional authority to do so.”

Assistance for new coal fired power projects, it is argued, will require “some form of supporting legislation”, reports Katharine Murphy, either new or existing, to operate and fund the program, otherwise the arrangements would be open to a high court challenge. Certainly, Energy Minister Angus Taylor is coy about new build details.

Taylor, is tight-lipped on ABC Insiders, Sunday. Incredibly, after six years in government and with an election in May, he acts as if he is being put on the spot by a key question on major policy. Perhaps he is. Has no-one done the research?

“I’m the energy minister, I am not going to commit to a number here and now.” An evasive Taylor sees fit to use the Westminster code of ministerial responsibility to parliament to weasel out of a simple question in the national interest.

Instead, Trump-like, the Energy Minister spins a web of lies. He risks ridicule in pretending that the Coalition is reducing its carbon emissions. The government’s own figures show a five-year increase. (Emission rose again when, then PM, Abbott “axed the carbon tax: a lie which even former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin now admits was untrue – “just brutal retail politics” – by which she means ruthless, self-serving, pragmatism. Any means to win an election is OK.)

Yet Taylor’s cool with coal and pumped hydro competing. Has he read Tassie’s Project Marinus’ feasibility study? It’s clear from the project brief that the interlink will be economically viable only if coal is taken out of the mix – and soon.

“… when approximately 7,000MW of the national electricity market’s present coal-fired generation capacity retires”,

Pouncing, like a terrier, on the word “competition”, the topic of his M.Phil from Oxford where, like Abbott, he was a Rhodes Scholar, Taylor offers a touching non-sequitur, “You put your finger on it – we want more competition, Barrie.” Perhaps coal can compete with pumped hydro in the parallel universe of the coal lobby shill or the Kelly “ginger group”.

Taylor has ScoMo’s biggest lie off pat. “We will reach our Paris targets in a canter.” The Coalition knows that with repetition the lie will become orthodoxy  – as has the false narrative that our energy policy is a failure because “both sides” have been bickering, a point repeatedly made by Coalition MPs and their supporters on mainstream media, including the ABC’s The Drum and Q&A. No. It’s a Coalition wedded to its coal sponsors causing the damage.

There are no reputable scientists or economists who believe we will meet our Paris target to reduce our emissions by 26%, based on 2005 levels, by 2030 in a canter. Now the talk is of carry-over credits.

The question has Taylor talking about The Kyoto agreement to Australia fudging its figures; being allowed a credit for land-clearing and forestry in article 3.7 of the Kyoto Protocol, known but not fondly, as The Australian Clause and inserted at the behest of Senator Robert Hill. In brief, we chose 1990, a year when land-clearing had been high as our base, thus giving the impression of progress even if we did nothing. The Coalition’s attitude remains unchanged.

We did not do nothing. The Hawke government introduced policies to restrict land-clearing and established Landcare. When Kyoto was officially ratified in 2008, under Rudd, Australia was able to claim “emissions from Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) had fallen by over 80 million tonnes CO2-e … an almost 15 per cent reduction in Australia’s emissions – enough to offset the significant growth in emissions from electricity generation over the same period, which had added 82 million tonnes CO2-e by 2009.”

Because we will beat our 2020 Kyoto targets by 240 million tonnes of CO2, the Morrison government will carry these forward against our 2030 Paris pledge, if other countries are weak enough to allow this. The 26 to 28 per cent target effectively turns into a 15 per cent cut on 2005 levels.

It seems like sharp practice – and in terms of our real contribution to curbing global warming it is a shamefully weak effort, yet our environment minister, “Invisible” Melissa Price, says “it’s a great result for the environment and for the economy”, helping prosecute the fallacy that curbing emissions acts as a break on prosperity, a myth so widely and frequently circulated that it is Coalition and mainstream media orthodoxy.

Bill Hare, director of Perth-based global consultancy Climate Analytics, says there’s no chance we can meet our target without new policies.   Most other experts agree. Yet the Coalition is a policy-free zone, especially around energy.

Barrie tries to chat about rats leaving the sinking Coalition ship. Ten faux-green bottles no longer hanging on the wall. More to accidentally fall? Taylor recycles ScoMo’s spin that while the faces may change, the policies remain “focused”. Yet  coal is in now out of-focus while hydro gets a spin.  And since Taylor’s debut in August, energy is an enigma. Even Frydenberg didn’t try to ride two horses at once. You can’t burn coal and pump hydro. It’s one or the other.

Unless it’s for show. This week the Coalition puts another $1.6bn into the kitty for Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. Invests $56m in interconnector 2.0, or the Marinus link to make little Tassie a powerhouse; “the battery of the nation”.

Marinus will carry power not only from pumped hydro, moreover, it will be able to conduct electricity from wind-power projects in the pipeline. But it won’t be economic; it can’t pay its way unless coal-fired power generation is retired. The costs of the poles and wires are extra.  These, ScoMo generously makes clear, are to be borne by the relevant states.

For Tassie’s Marinus 2 project to work, however, its feasibility report says its necessary or our nation to get out of coal-fired power generation. Fast. 2020 is suggested. Yet Angus Taylor suggests there may be ten coal-fired plants which the government may subsidise. Again, it’s impossible to have an each-way bet. Giles Parkinson sums up: Snowy 2.0 and the Tasmanian scheme only make economic and financial sense if coal-fired power production ceases.

“There is no place in the schemes if coal-fired generators remain.”

That’s entirely at odds with Coalition policy. This includes a type of state aid to Trevor St Baker, the billionaire who bought Vales Point from the NSW government for a song – and poised to set up some new ones; a white knight of the black rock and a Liberal Party donor just battling to make a quid by keeping old stations such as Liddell running well past their use-by date.   No wonder the government is releasing no feasibility study. What they propose is impossible.

At base, however, Snowy 2.0’s just another show.  “Getting on with the job”, as Showboat ScoMo pitches his cynical faux humility. Typically, “the job” entails the hard slog of deception, disinformation and spin but the old stager knows no sort of performance can distract from the reality that at least ten of his Coalition crew are madly stampeding for the exits.

“Jobs for the boys” are what we are in fact talking about, as Labor’s Penny Wong never tires of reminding us.

Wait, there’s more good news. “A record seven women in cabinet”, boasts Nine news. ScoMo boldly overpromotes rookie WA Senator Linda Reynolds straight from assistant Minister for Home Affairs, to Minister for Defence Industry.

“When you can call up a brigadier, in the form of Linda Reynolds, to take on the role of defence minister, it shows we have a lot of talent on our bench to draw from” Morrison lies. It does show the Liberals’ fetish for militarism. Above all, it rewards Reynolds for quickly abandoning her complaints of bullying in the Liberal Party.

“As a soldier I believe you go through a chain of command and you do things internally,” she says. Her cryptic comment may make sense to a part-time army reservist on a weekend camp but how is this Liberal individualism?  Of far more concern, is how the potential Minister of Defence would respond to whistle-blowers.

Alarmingly, Reynolds repeats Morrison’s myth that voters have no interest in the internal workings of the party – a nonsense given the party’s commitment to transparency  – and given the ways our choices of candidate and party are justly informed by insights into party culture – or as Kelly O’Dwyer put it, ways votes are lost by a popular perception that the Liberal party is a mob of “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.

ScoMo promises to make Reynolds Defence Minister after Christopher Pyne tidies up his sock drawer and ties up a few other loose ends such as our $79 billion submarine contract. Can he get the boats built in Australia by Australians – preferably in his own state, if not his own electorate? How will we provide crews? A lot for the Fixer to work through.

Reynolds is also – gasp – a woman and a Brigadier in the Army Reserve – irrefutable proof of the Liberals’ egalitarian democracy, despite only nineteen MPs being women.  And a reservist Brigadier will instantly win over any full-time ADF member. Yet the PM fails to cut a dash given the splash as rats desert HMAS Chum-bucket his sinking submarine.

The week in politics sees the federal Coalition frantically green-wash its cred – even recycling the direct action scam, a monster magic soil boondoggle only Hunt could flog, as it struggles to “get on with the job” as ScoMo puts it.

Everyone else lost interest long ago. Or they’re jumping overboard or already off-grid, as a weary nation battles fair-dinkum fatigue, a torpor not even Snowy Hydro 2.0, a Sisyphean marvel now bigger than ANZAC, Phar Lap and Kokoda put together can shift.

“It’s absolutely fair-dinkum power. It doesn’t get more fair dinkum than this,” gurgles ScoMo, who transforms, this week, into state socialist as he widens the sluice-gate of government funding on a project which has already cost a mozza; $6 billion for the Commonwealth just to buy out NSW and Victorian states’ investments.

This week’s capital transfusion transforms Malcom Turnbull’s pipe-dream into a Ponzi scheme. Snowy 2.0 will pump water uphill when power is cheap and let it rush downhill again when the price is right driving whirling turbines to produce top dollar power which cannot but help drive up power bills.

“We don’t need Morrison’s money”, carps Snowy Hydro CEO, Paul Broad, to News Corp, rejecting the Coalition’s sudden, unbidden injection of $1.4 billion part of a largesse which includes glad-handing $440 million to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a sign that the outfit may be struggling to stay afloat; struggling to make its numbers add up.

Pumped hydro schemes are generally not profitable, reports Giles Parkinson. Last year, data from the Australian Energy Market shows that existing pumped hydro schemes made almost no money from this activity. In the last quarter, they actually lost money and over the previous four quarters made virtually no money. Paul Broad is less expansive.

“The government decided the way it wanted to balance out the funding. It wanted to sustain dividends,” Broad says. “It wanted to support the project with equity. These things are part of negotiations that go on. We never asked for it. We never asked for anything.” Keeping financial modelling secret only fuels suspicion that Pacific Hydro’s in trouble already.

 Our PM quickly whips up a succession of other phantasmagorical stunts, this week, ranging from Monday’s Climate Solutions fund to spruik the ERF’s resurrection, an Abbott scam for channelling funding to Big Agriculture and even Big Coal amongst other worthy Liberal donors and supporters. It would cost $200 bn to use it to reach our Paris targets.

In other words, it’s “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and a fig leaf to cover its determination to do nothing”, as Malcolm Turnbull proclaimed of Abbott’s ERF plan prior to the 2013 election.

An emission-abating nation gasps as “showboat” ScoMo simultaneously flogs a dead horse, puts lipstick on a pig and executes a reverse pork barrel dive with pike all in free-fall off Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains region.

“Magic-soil” Morrison rebadges Abbott’s quick and dirty emissions reduction fund (ERF) boondoggle as a $2bn Climate Solutions Fund (CSF) whilst slashing its annual budget from $510 million to $200 million.  Sheer genius.

It’s half of the funding Abbott committed in the 2013 election campaign. The Kiwis are right. ScoMo’s a phenomenon; a force of nature; a cunning stunt and not a one trick pony after all.

If there’s less pork to fork, what’s left is spread more widely; farmers, whose fingers are already worked to the bone filling in drought-relief forms can now apply for a CSF handout to “drought-proof” their farms, whatever that means, or just do a bit of re-vegetation. Businesses get handouts for “energy efficient projects” and not just planting for trees they would have planted anyway. Given that ERF farmers are agri-businesses, also, a double dip may well be possible.

The Wilderness Society calls on the invisible Environment Minister Melissa Price, former  to review the channelling of funds into paying farmers to protect native vegetation after Queensland satellite data suggested recipients of such money were clearing other parts of their land. What could possibly go wrong?

“Our analysis shows that 13,317 hectares of forest and bushland clearing has occurred across 19 properties in the same year or years subsequent to winning ERF contracts for funding under vegetation methodologies,” Glenn Walker, climate campaign manager for the group, says in a letter to Minister Price.

Not to be outdone, Home Affairs Super-Minister, one trick pony, Peter Dutton doctors up his fear campaign Thursday, with another populist dog-whistle from Dutts Unplugged, a long-running White Australia revival tour.

“People who need medical services are going to be displaced from those services, because if you bring hundreds and hundreds of people from Nauru and Manus down to our country, they are going to go into the health network,” Uncle Dutts tells a fawning of loyal reporters in Brisbane. Doctors respond that the claim is nonsense.

Oddly, not a word of support is heard from anyone, not even Craig and the rest of the Kelly gang, a sect whose job it is to invite climate-change deniers to parliament to mislead policy-makers and to hold Morrison to ransom on energy, a kindness paid forward by the PM and his federal energy minister, Angus Taylor in dictating to the states.

Nobody’s talking. It’s an “announceable” – not a discussion topic. Flanking his PM in the photo opportunity, is Angus, “Squizzy” Taylor, our federal energy enforcer. Was he in witness protection since his rout late last December’s COAG meeting? Then he refused NSW energy minister, Don Harwin’s call for a new national zero emissions policy?

“Industry is spooked by poor policy”, Harwin holds; a circuit-breaker is needed. Squizzy shoots him down. Out of order.

December’s COAG meeting does not even hear NSW’s point of view. Taylor tells Harwin to zip it, citing procedural grounds. Vetoes discussion. “It got ugly very quickly. It was a full-on revolt”, a source tells Fairfax, now Nine Newspapers.

Happily Craig Kelly’s not worried. “I know how [Taylor’s] mind works”, he explains to Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy. Murphy wisely leaves this alone. On Sky, Taylor won’t divulge how many Coalition coal projects are planned but Matt Canavan blabs that the government is looking at including ten in the underwriting scheme. Someone needs to talk to Canavan but only after voters are sold on the wave of jobs that will flow from so many new automated hell-holes and black-lung health hazards.

But it’s not Handbrake Kelly’s backbench committee to abort any change in energy or environment that Morrison really needs to win over. Nor is it the cabal of climate deniers Buzzfeed dubbed “The Dirty Dozen”, in 2016. Still in parliament, at least until May, are Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly, Zed Seselja, Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce and George Christensen. Senator Linda Reynolds must surely get a Dirty Dozen supporter lapel pin for disinformation,

“Remember when the coalition repealed the carbon tax? It led to the largest fall of electricity prices on record,” she lies.

ScoMo’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 reboot is a bid to woo Kooyong, Warringah, Wentworth, Higgins and Tasmanians who’ll be pumped to be included, even if they’ll have to pay for the bits to make the interlink link anywhere. Knit their own cables.

The media narrative that both major parties’ squabble threaten the development of a sound energy policy is a myth invented by those reactionaries and others who call themselves conservative parties. Conservative?

The lack of progress towards renewable energy is no fault of partisan politics or any 24-hour news cycle, but an outcome actively planned and funded by key stake-holders whose institutes, associations and think tanks enjoy remarkably success – if you can count the win of the mining lobby, (just for example), as a win and not an irretrievable, egregious loss in terms of global warming, environmental vandalism and humanity.