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INTERVIEWER

Good evening. Tonight, in order to meet our effenciecy targets, we’re bringing you the same interview we gave you last night. Representing the PIPA or Private Institue of Public Affairs we have Mr Wim Berk. And to provide balance, we have someone representing the Welfare Lobby, Ms. Melanie Hart. Let’s start with you, Ms Hart. You recently stated that you felt the Abbott Government was telling the poor to go to Hell, then trying to charge them for the trip…

BERK
If I could just get a word in here, I’d like to say that this is typical of the ABC, people on the Right like me are never given a go.

INTERVIEWER
I was intending to let you respond after Ms Hart had explained her statement.

BERK
That’s right, give your comrade first crack at the audience.

INTERVIEWER
Well, would you like to respond.

BERK
Yes, I would. This sort of thing is exactly why the ABC should be privatised. Government instittutions are always less efficient because they’re answerable to nobody whereas, private ones are accountable.

INTERVIEWER
Do you have anything to back that up?

BERK
Yes. Lots of people agree with me.

INTERVIEWER
I mean, is there any evidence to suggest that private companies are more efficient. For example, have the privatisations in energy companies led to lower prices and better service?

BERK
Lower prices than what.

INTERVIEWER
Than when they were government run.

BERK
Of course. It goes without saying. No need to actually look at figures

INTERVIEWER
Well,what about service? I waited on the phone for half an hour the other day waiting to speak to someone about changing my energy plan.

BERK
Half an hour? Have you tried ringing Centrelink lately?

INTERVIEWER
Have you?

BERK
No, why would someone like me need Centrelink. But I believe that some people have been waiting on the phone since last Christmas.

INTERVIEWER
If I could just bring Ms Hart into the discussion at this point…

BERK
But we already know her position. She doesn’t believe in personal responsibliity, If it were up she’d let all those people who’ve hit the welfare jackpot sit around without contributing to society.

INTERVIEWER
The welfare jackpot?

BERK
Yes, it’s a pretty good life, sitting around, watching TV, taking drugs and growing fat.

INTERVIEWER
Surely you don’t think that it’s easy to survive on the dole. Doesn’t that contradict the concept that people on $150,000 can’t afford to pay more tax?

BERK
Not at all. People on $150,000 have greater needs.

INTERVIEWER
In what way?

BERK
Well, some of them have mortgages for a start. Not to mention the fact that they can’t hang around all day in moccasins and a track suit.

HART
If I could just…

BERK
Excuse me, but I’d like to finish my point.

HART
Well, I’d just like to know if private institutions are more accountable, how come you can refuse to tell the public where your funding comes from?

BERK
We’re a private body. We’re not accountable.

INTERVIEWER
But didn’t you just say that private institutions are more efficient because they’re accountable.

BERK
Yes, but that was in different context.

INTERVIEWER
I’m just looking for consistency.

BERK
Well, you’ve certainly found at the ABC – it’s consistent. Consistently biased. I mean, when was the last time you had a person like me on.

INTERVIEWER
Just now.

BERK
But before that.

INTERVIEWER
Last night.

BERK
See a whole twenty four hours has gone by without a voice for sanity.

INTERVIEWER
Unfortunately we’re running out of time, so if I could just ask Ms Hart for a final comment.

BERK
Typical – give the left the final say!

INTERVIEWER

Tune in to “The Insiders” every Sunday for a replay of this interview.

 

SNAFU – Situation Normal, All Fouled Up! (That’s the polite version anyway.)

“…I just have to say to Mr. Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government, well with friends like Bolt we don’t need any enemies.”                                            Malcolm Turnbull, earlier this week. 

 

“Alan is a friend of mine, Andrew Bolt is a friend of mine, I think that they are both very significant commentators and they’ve got a lot to say as you know.”                               Tony Abbott, yesterday.

 

“You said I wanted to diminish you. The truth is I don’t. You said I wanted to challenge you in 2016. The truth is I don’t. You said I wanted the presidency for myself. The truth is… I do. What politician hasn’t dreamed of about what it would be like to take the oath of the highest office of our land? I’ve stared at your desk in the Oval and coveted it. The power. The prestige. Those things have a strong pull on someone like me, who came from a small South Carolina town with nothing. But since you assumed office, my only aim has been to fight, for you and alongside you.”

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards”

 

“I’ve coached Australia in rugby, if one of my players was seen on the eve of the rugby test was seen … having dinner, privately inviting to dinner one of the All Blacks, the player would be sent home Malcolm.”                                                                                              Alan Jones.

When the choice is between a conspiracy and stuff-up, always choose the stuff-up and you’ll be right more often, according to conventional wisdom.

All right, must of us heard the loooong pause from Turnbull when asked if this was part of a co-ordinated campaign. The question, of course, is what is the campaign and what does it hope to achieve?

Ok, let’s examine the conspiracy theories for why Bolt and Jones would want to give the story about Turnbull’s leadership ambition so much publicity. The first is that it’s a way to distract from the Budget. The second is that they hate Turnbull and a just using this as a chance to whack him, while boosting their ratings. The third is that they’re part of a conspiracy to help remove Turnbull from the front bench.

Of these, the idea that it’s the Liberals way of taking the focus of the Budget is the only one I’d consider if we were dealing with your average government. However, any government that can appoint Christopher Pyne to anything more than working out the seating plan for meetings with the Premiers, clearly lacks a grip on reality and we can’t just look at the logical.

The second is partly plausible. Bolt and Jones are, after all, first and foremost, reliant on their capacity to generate controversy. But would they really want to hurt the Liberal Party by helping create a re-make of the Rudd/Gillard soap opera? I mean, aren’t they “Friends of Tony Abbott”. (Mm, and it’s the ABC that are supposedly biased.)

Are the Liberals really so stupid as to think removing Turnbull would help them politically? In spite of his dinner with Clive, Malcolm has been a good little boy towing the line on all sorts of things from Direct Action to the NBN. While he may have the odd word about gay marriage or the Republic, he’s basically supported party policy. If he’s quietly biding his time, trying to boost the numbers for a crack at the leadership, this only becomes an issue when it hits the media. Which it does when people like say Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones bring it to public attention. Even the big “Dinner With Clive” event would have run out of legs by now.

But no, thanks to Bolt – Abbott’s “friend” – Turnbull’s alleged disloyalty is a hot topic. Which gives Turnbull the opportunity to deny it, thus keeping the story alive.

So, Abbott, the leader is part of a conspiracy to help put stories about his rivals leadership ambition in the media? Isn’t it usually the other way round? I mean, isn’t it usually the challenger who wants the speculation and the incumbent who wants to pretend that nothing’s happening? Perhaps, really hasn’t noticed that he’s Leader of the Opposition, let alone PM.*

Which brings us to SNAFU…

According to the polls, the Government is unpopular with the electorate. Turnbull, on the other hand, is preferred leader by a long way. While this may not be a good enough reason for the Liberals to dump Abbott and install Turnbull as PM, it hardly suggests that dumping Turnbull from the Ministry would be something that would boost their standing with the electorate. Could they really be so out of touch with political reality that they don’t see how Turnbull’s sacking would play out?

Let’s ignore the media reaction about the removal of a moderate because he’s a threat and letters to the editor complaining about how far to the Right this government has gone. Let’s just ask ourselves, how would Turnbull react?

Yes, it’s a nice fantasy to think that he’s had enough. That he goes rogue. He tells people exactly what he thinks of the Liberals and – with no hope of ever being PM – spills as many beans as he can. Or maybe he joins PUP. Or the Labor Party.

Or perhaps he, channelling Peter Costello, just gives up his dream of being PM, resigns from Parliament causing a by-election in his seat of Wentworth. Can’t see the Liberal strategists cheering for that one.

But wouldn’t the most likely scenario be for Malcolm to quietly see out his time on the backbench, occasionally having dinner with the odd friend – as Tony pointed out, journalists are sometimes friends of politicians – reminiscing and providing “off the record” comments? And, Keating-like, quietly reminding people that he’s there. While it’s true that many in the Liberal Party don’t like Turnbull, they like losing even less.

Nope, no sane, rational leader would even a re-shuffle where Turnbull was removed. Mm, with that in mind, he’ll be gone within the month.

But just because I’m likely to get that wrong, here are some other predictions that I’m more confident about:

  1. The head of a retail change will suggest that the poor are just being selfish by spending their money on rent and food instead of electrical goods.

  2. An advisor to Tony Abbott will say that owing to the fact that unemployment is so high, perhaps people could job share. That is, a group of people all work full time for the same company but share one wage.

  3. If the Medicare co-payment gets through, there’ll be an immediate call to increase it, as it’s not covering its administration costs.

  4. One Liberal Politician will suggest that people suggesting that the rich could pay more tax are indulging in class warfare on the same day that another suggests that people should be happy to contribute to Australia’s future by making sacrifices. A clarification will follow where the Liberals explain that paying tax is not making a sacrifice, and that sacrifices are when one throws a peasant into a volcano to appease the gods.

*In a previous blog, I pointed out the Rafael Epstein suggested to Graham Morris that the weeks after the Budget had been Abbott’s most difficult as Leader of the Opposition.

 

 

 

 

 

The Australian Independent Media Network

IMG_1264

“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.”

H. L. Mencken

Over the next few weeks we’re going to have glossy brochures shoved in our letter boxes, explaining the necessity of the Government cuts. This will, of course, be difficult, because if it’s paid for by the Government and not the Liberal Party, they won’t be able to use the phrase, “The mess Labor left”. Although I suppose “Budget Emergency” may sneak through.

Now I have a massive problem with many of Abbott and Hockey’s statements on the Budget. I accept that the extent of the “emergency” is highly debatable. And I can’t see how anyone can argue that they didn’t break any promises and, anyway, they have to break some promises in order to keep their main promise, because the…

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The Australian Independent Media Network

“One version of the get-together is as follows.

Mr Turnbull was back late in Parliament House because his department was being grilled in Senate Estimates hearings. As he left he ran into a friend, business executive and Liberal Party vice-president Tom Harley who also was a friend of Mr Palmer. They agreed Mr Turnbull should text Mr Palmer and invite him to dinner. Another businessman, John Fast, was with them.

In the Parliament House car park Mr Turnbull ran into Dr Parkinson, who had been head of the Environment Department when Mr Turnbull was Environment Minister in 2007. He, too, was invited to dine.” 

news.com.au

A couple of weeks ago, I tried to explain to someone that Labor and The Greens couldn’t force a double dissolution in the current circumstances, and that I couldn’t really see a scenario where Abbott was likely to declare one. For a start, even if…

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The Australian Independent Media Network

Well, for a few months it was easy to send up this government. You only had to repeat what they said and exaggerate it slightly, or, in many cases, just juxtapose it beside something else that they were saying. Tony criticising the Opposition for having no alternatives, for example.

But lately, there is no way to actually exaggerate their position. Look at this recent offering from Christopher Pyne:

“Mr Pyne said he had no “ideological opposition” to collecting debts from the estates of former students who died still owing money to the government’s student loan scheme.” Link

Now, perhaps the Liberals are concerned that – like the long term unemployed – people will hit the jackpot by dying before they’ve paid off their HECS debt. (One edition of The Herald-Sun this morning had the headline “Dole Jackpot” on the front page. It then proceeded to tell us that there…

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The Australian Independent Media Network

twain

Dear Bill,

You don’t know me, but I’m about to give you some really, really good advice.

In case you haven’t noticed, Mr Abbott has labelled you a “whinger” and said that you haven’t come up with any alternative to his Budget. Now, this is pretty rich. I mean, apart from a pom like Abbott calling someone a whinger, he and Smokin’ Joe have been telling us that there IS no alternative.

Of course, even if one accepts the premise of the Budget emergency, there are always alternatives. So, because you’re probably too busy defending yourself from all the people who are saying things like the left should unite to defeat the Coalition and why isn’t Shorten doing something about it, I’m giving you an alternative Budget to present to Parliament.

Here are a few simple suggestions for filling the Budget black hole: (Actually in the interests of accuracy…

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The Australian Independent Media Network

Slackers j

Well, I’m appalled. Apparently there are more people on Disability Support Pensions than war wounded. What’s wrong with our soldiers? Weren’t they trying hard enough? Gees, no wonder we lost at Gallipolli.

Oh, not the message I’m supposed to take from this? Ah, apparently, I’m meant to think that people on the DSP are slackers and that it’s about time that the stood on their own two feet. Unless they only have one, of course, in which case the remark about standing on their own two feet is a little insensitive. Still, we’re not meant to worry about offending people these days.

KEVIN ANDREWS: The problem with the DSP, and this has been the case for years, probably decades, is that it’s been a set and forget payment.
People have been put on the DSP and that’s been the end of it, and they could stay there for years or…

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The Australian Independent Media Network

Poll - Fence jp

“This is a watershed moment, when a bold new government does what has to be done to set the nation on a better course.” Tony Abbott.

Say what you like about Tony Abbott, he doesn’t lack confidence. But then, neither do problem gamblers who lose the rent betting on “certainties”. For the past few years, he’s been telling us how much better his government was going to be. How much more honest. How much more competent. He told us that he could lower taxes without cutting spending and still reduce the deficit. And, when those nasty scaremongers suggested things like the Liberals would want to raise the GST, he insisted that it wasn’t necessary, because, once he was PM, everything would fine and we’d have a strong economy once more. (Of course, there is no way the GST could ever be raised. I remember being assured of this by John…

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The Australian Independent Media Network

From Liberal’s Book of Labor Waste:     milk

“But the Treasurer accepted under questioning that the co-payment was a new tax.

“It’s a payment. You can call it a tax,” he said. “It comes out of a pocket. It comes out of someone’s pocket. A taxpayer’s pocket. You want to call it a tax, you can call it anything you want, you can call it a rabbit.”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/joe-hockey-admits-copayment-is-a-new-tax–or-a-rabbit-20140519-38kh5.html#ixzz32QXLyn8x

“Good morning, Mr Jockey, you said that your Budget would be unpopular and you’ve certainly been proven right on that one.”

“I don’t think so. It’s been quite well received actually.”

“What makes you say that?”

“You only have to ask the people that matter. You’ll find that they’re all behind it. Any suggestion to the contrary is just more Labor propaganda from the Media. I mean, why aren’t the Media questioning Bill Shorten on his plans. How would…

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The Australian Independent Media Network

Perhaps, Julia Gillard should have said that her overriding promise was to do something about Climate Change, so you could ignore anything else she said. Although that’s not exactly what the Liberals are doing. They seem to be saying that, while getting the Budget back “in order” is their main promise, none of the others were broken, because only Labor charges taxes and nothing’s being “cut”, organizations are just having their funding reduced or taken away. And anyway, the Commonwealth has nothing to do with schools or hospitals.

But there’s been enough ink about broken promises. In fact, it’s starting to concern me that people are so worried about what they said, that they aren’t spending enough time examining what the Federal Government is actually doing.

For example, perhaps I missed it, but I understand that $5 from the co-payment goes to establishing a fund for medical research. But who’s…

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