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Category Archives: Oz Politics

BARNABY JOYCE MP, MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE: He comes across as sort of the effervescent, sometimes bumbling character and that is a ploy. You do not get to where you are by being a fool. You’re a fool if you think he’s a fool.

Can we please dispense with the nonsense that somehow Clive Palmer and PUP will be a hindrance to Tony Abbott and the LNP?

They both want the same things: destruction of The Greens and repeal of the Carbon and Mining Taxes. Palmer is a Coal Miner. From this all else follows. The Great Barrier Reef, the Tasmanian Wilderness and everything else is valueless to Palmer except insofar as they may sit on gigantic seams of coal. And Abbott’s organisation is funded by coal maniacs.

As we get closer to the new Senate taking their seats from 1 July 2014, Palmer has become explicit on his utter disdain for the (non-coal) natural environment, AGW Climate Change and the IPCC. Here are some Palmerisms on these subjects:

On PUP’s Intention To Repeal The Carbon Tax :-

As a matter of principle, we favour the repeal of the carbon tax, as does the Government,” Palmer said.

“And our party has the balance of power in the Senate right now, even if we’re unsuccessful in the election in WA, which we won’t be. So the carbon tax is definitely going. It’s a fait accompli.”

On Climate Change :-

There’s been global warming for a long time. I mean, all of Ireland was covered by ice at one time. There were no human inhabitants in Ireland.

On How AGW Is A Conspiracy :-

I can get a group of scientists together and pay them whatever I want to and come up with any solution. That’s what’s been happening all over the world on a whole range of things

On How The IPCC Is Completely Useless :-

TONY JONES: [The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report is] based on 309 scientists from 70 countries and the summary for the policymakers has to be agreed line-by-line by 115 countries. I mean, that’s the sort of consensus that you’re rejecting here.

CLIVE PALMER: Well I think it’s a – camels were designed by a committee. With so many people, you’re really not going to get anything worthwhile. You need to have a proper report with people that can do something. But, look, I’m just talking about …

It has been fashionable for the media to treat Palmer as a buffoon and somehow as a hindrance to Abbott’s anti-Carbon agenda. It is the media who are buffoons for entertaining these propositions. Even the estimable Lenore Taylor imagined PUP intransigence on Carbon Tax repeal. While it it entertaining to see Abbott squirm a bit while Palmer teases him about the possibility of non-cooperation, it should have been obvious that the interests of Palmer and Abbott are aligned, not in conflict.

Palmer will make Abbott pay a premium for the passage of the Carbon Tax repeal. This premium will be composed of a small populist gesture, most likely the restoration of increased benefit payments to orphans of deceased servicemen, removed by Abbott in his typically heartless manner, and a very large personal premium to Palmer personally, which will be favourable conditions for the opening and servicing of Palmer’s huge coal tenements, currently closed. Abbott will pay these premiums and the Carbon Tax repealed.

The genesis of Palmer’s fall-out with Abbott is built around Liberal/National power dynamics within Queensland State politics. In brief, Abbott is a supporter of Liberal Party federal vice-president, Queenslander Santo Santoro. Santoro is an opponent of Palmer. The Australian Financial Review covered the issue in The Clive Problem: Why Palmer is Abbott’s Nightmare Best Friend.

Santoro’s modus operandum as a political fundraiser had so shocked the Queensland LNP that in 2008 it sent a dossier on his activities to the police. The police exonerated Santoro and the subsequent LNP internal feud left the Liberal arm in control and the National arm sacked from prominent positions and disenfranchised. The Liberal state arm was supported by John Howard, who championed Santoro’s career in Queensland politics, Abbott and Premier Campbell Newman.

Palmer’s opposition to Santoro is principled. Palmer feels Santoro’s methods are unhealthy and could divide or even corrupt the the Queensland LNP.

“Santo’s a very divisive fellow,” Palmer told the Financial Review. “He gets his power by raising funds for individual ­politicians. “My donations have always been to the party, that way you can’t affect the internal politics.”

Palmer’s opposition to Santoro has been costly for him. Palmer wants to develop his China First coal project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin but his plans have been blocked by the Newman government in apparent retribution for Palmer’s stand against Santoro. Santoro, for his part, has held a grudge against Palmer for the way in which Palmer engineered the merger of the Queensland Libs and Nationals in 2008 and probably for Palmer’s role in forwarding Santoro’s dossier to the police. Santoro resigned from John Howard’s ministry and from the Senate in the wake of a number of breaches of the Ministerial Code of Conduct and of the Register of Senators’ Interests. He is still a Federal Liberal vice-president and important fundraiser. This last would explain his support from Abbott.

Newman and Santoro are very tightly linked. The AFR story implies that Newman stalled Palmer’s China First mine in the Galilee Basin and other ventures because of Palmer’s opposition to Santoro. Palmer criticised the Queensland LNP government for stalling his mining operations and was promptly dismissed from the LNP. Shortly afterwards PUP was born.

So, PUP exists as a vehicle for Palmer’s personal enrichment. Palmer himself only teases and taunts Abbott as a means of payback for Abbott not supporting Palmer in the power struggle with Santoro. The criticism of Abbott is also intended to strip some votes from Abbott and the LNP and draw them to Palmer and PUP. Hence Palmer’s criticisms of Abbott over orphans’ benefits.

And as for buffoon – Barnaby Joyce was spot on. Anyone who thinks Palmer is a buffoon is themselves one. Since the moment Abbott supported Newman and Santoro over Palmer, Palmer has been assiduously working for balance of power in the Australian Senate and he has achieved it. Clive wins. Tony must now deliver.

But all the talk and teasing from Palmer masks the basic confluence of interests between the two men. Palmer will get his China First mine approval and Abbott will get his Carbon Tax repeal. Quid Pro Quo.

If I may play Captain Obvious for a moment, the secrecy around Operation Sovereign Borders is not for one moment intended to deprive people smugglers information about on water goings on. Indeed it cannot. People smugglers are of course first hand witnesses and participants in the events. As are the asylum seekers, who all have mobile phones and who will immediately call their relatives to inform them of their fate.

In fact, Morrison and Abbott want and intend that the asylum seekers immediately inform their friends and relatives back in Indonesia what has happened to them, to describe how horrible it was and how cruelly they have been treated, so that their failure to enter Australia may dissuade others. S&M inc (hat-tip Bob Ellis) do not at all intend secrecy for operational matters in the information flow going back to Indonesia. They want that megaphoned.

No.

The target of the secrecy is you and me, the Australian public. (Hi.)
Morrison and Abbott directly lie to us when they say otherwise.

Why Would They Lie ?

Because in lying, Morrison and Abbott serve a higher good than that of truth. For Abbott its the re-election of the LNP. For Morrison its the de-Islamisation of Australia. Lies, cruelty and torture, for these men, justify the purpose of serving their Higher Truth.

But they know that even the bigots and fearful in Australia can only stomach so much. That why secrecy is paramount.

Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?
Willard: I’m a soldier.
Kurtz: You’re neither. You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.
- Apocalypse Now (1979)

Figured it out. Its about destroying Unions.

More specifically its about destroying the voter base from which the ALP draws its support, an important component of which is Unions. Viewed from this perspective several of the Coalition’s supposed blunders in the past three months since taking power can be seen as a cohesive strategy and therefore make logical sense as opposed to being seen as inept, crazy or politically miscalculated. This was the error I made in my first blog on this issue.

The objective of political parties is not actually to govern the nation. This is merely the role assigned to them by democratic theory. The objective of political parties is actually to gain power for their donors so that the financial stakeholders (e.g Gina Rinehart, the CFMEU) and their administrative spokesmen (e.g Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten) may divide money and power between them according to their personal proclivities. Such proclivities may include trying to improve the lives of ordinary Australians, or at least the self-delusion that making party donors rich or powerful will do so as a by-product.

Someone once said, politics is the shadow cast by business over society. Precisely. This gets to the point that retail politicking (election campaigns and the like) is merely a proxy war fought by the powerful for power and money. So we may say, moving to the next level of analysis, that each decision of a political administration has as its true objective the continuation of the rule of the current ruling class or faction thereof and/or the disbursement of benefits of power to that faction. Any benefit that may flow to wider society is a necessary cost of power in a democracy, a grudging concession to the need to appease the none-core constituency i.e. those not financial donors or administrative tools. A majority must be garnered and maintained; and propaganda has limits. Voters demand to see the cash / education system they were promised. Unless you can talk them out of it.

The power base of political parties persists beyond each election campaign and their objectives are stable. Gina Rinehart wants to destroy unions today just as much as she did 30 years ago and her donations to the Liberal Party are intended, as they always have been, to procure that objective. Her servants and fellow ideologues, Graham Morris and Mark Textor (LNP strategist), have the same objective. They are constantly looking for ways in which to not only defeat but ultimately destroy the ALP. And the way to do that is to destroy their voting base of which Unions are an important component. This is achieved by Legislation (Work Choices), Propaganda (Rupert Murdoch, The Australian) and, where necessary, the Police or Military in support of legislation (Patrick Stevedores).

Morris Exultant

Here Graham Morris alludes with exaltation to the collapse in Union membership since 1980 and how this has gutted the voter base of the ALP:

GRAHAME MORRIS: Well, I think what we’ve talked about is the Labor Party problem. It is hard to think over the next decade or two where the Labor Party in any part of this country can from here on in govern in its own right. The labour, L-A-B-O-U-R, vote and support has just collapsed. It is down under 30 per cent

A major landmark in this long-term decline was the collapse in Manufacturing, especially Auto, under Keating in the 1990s, following the drastic reduction in tariffs that Keating administered. As George Megalogenis has described, many of those blue-collar workers, formerly unionized, became self-employed as couriers, landscape gardeners and the like. They became self-employed small businessmen and with it LNP voters. This was the genesis of Howard’s Battlers, low-income entrepeneurs, a voting bloc first recognised and effusively courted by Howard and the LNP and ever since a vital cohort of swinging voters, essential to electoral success. The ALP knows them as ‘Working Families’.

And that brings us to the decision to let Holden die, and with it quite possibly Australia’s entire Automotive sector. The decision is insane only when viewed from the perspective of national industrial capacity and diversity, skills retention, research and development and associated goals always considered part and parcel of rational and strategic national objectives.

Ripe

But sane governmental objectives are only tangentially associated with political power. The Automotive sector is heavily unionized. It is crawling with ALP voters. Therefore from the perspective of long-term Liberal Party power interests it is better to destroy the Automotive Industry. So they did: Morris, Textor, Minchin and Cormann I mean. Abbott too. Though frankly Abbott seems unlikely to know with any certainty what day it is. He’s a messenger boy. At best a figurehead. As for Hockey: he too will do what he’s told.

And why kill the industry now ? Because propaganda conditions are ripe. The public is ready to accept it. Unions are long-regarded as evil and European Debt and the GFC have been leveraged by Murdoch to mark government spending, most especially government debt as cardinal irresponsibility, a national shame and a hallmark of incompetence. In short, the public now believes, as per consistent repetition, that there is no reason, place or rationale for subsidy. Except for themselves, personally. If they are middle-class or higher. Subsidy for low-income and unemployed is evil. As instructed.

The next step, almost achieved in the USA, is to train the public to believe that government itself is evil. Then corporations will be able to rule unhindered by any form of regulation.

And the next next major step after that is the dismantling of middle class welfare which happens sometime after voluntary voting is introduced (Freedom TM, Democracy TM). The middle class is only cosseted now because it determines election outcomes. The voting franchise will be moved higher and higher up the socio-economic ladder as circumstances and propaganda permit. That damnable Obama motivated poor people to vote again! This is his true odium.

Cohesive, Logical, Insane

To summarize thus far, the LNP is destroying the Australian Automotive Industry because it is Unionized. By this destruction of Unions they hope to further gut the ALP vote and garner another voter wave of self-employed entrepeneurs, their set-up costs funded by their redundancy payouts.

Seeing the destruction of the Automotive Sector this way makes sense of other decisions taken by the Credlin government: namely Gonski backflips and Child Care pay rise withdrawal.

The LNP wants to destroy public education
because teachers are unionized and because publicly funded schools teach communitarian principles such as conservation and, well, community. The LNP ideal is for each voter to be an atomised, personally obsessed and entirely self-funded microbe operating in complete disassociation with any other person in Australia. This the LNP calls freedom. From communitarian principles spring horrific ideas like taxation, conservation, anti-defamation laws, national parks, equal opportunity and such. These impulses must be resisted and destroyed. Gonski would have strengthened public education. So it had to be undone. And it was.

Pyne was neither a fool, nor out of control, just a bit messy and arrogant. He did precisely what was intended and very effectively. He will be promoted and rewarded within the parallel Universe of the Melbourne Club, by Ambassadorial appointment, Chairmanship of the ICC or indeed whatever the heck he asks for. He may even get a Presidential Freedom Medal from the American Enterprise Institute or whom/whatever for services to crushing socialism in human thought.

Private education, on the other hand, teaches merely personal Values TM from which Libertarianism can be later extrapolated via Uncle Rupert’s wall-to-wall messaging. This is why the LNP gladly subsidizes private education.

The withdrawal of the funding of child care workers pay rises was done simply because the pay rises had to be made under an Enterprise Agreement which allows Unions more entrée to the process. This is plenty reason enough for the LNP to veto it.

Continuous Opportunistic Destruction

The delegitimisation and preferably destruction of unionized or communitarian ideals and institutions is continually in the forefront of the minds of Liberal strategists. Taking advantage of propitious conditions Peter Costello took the opportunity to eliminate compulsory student unionism on University campuses.

While superficially the abolition of compulsory student unionism appeared to be a childish misuse of Federal Government time and power, a juvenile continuation (and it was) of undergraduate politics club feuding into the sphere of national government, this move makes perfect logical sense if viewed as an opportunistic strategic strike against ALP leadership training and the entire legitimacy of unionism as a social institution. A strategy of moral panic was deployed by the Liberal Party in its successful campaign to delegitimise Student Unions by pointing out that Student Unions had sent money to Palestinian Solidarity groups. This rationale was simplified into panic-speak by claiming that Student Unions support Hamas.

The delegitimisation of Unionism has been a constant theme of The Australian since Abbott became LNP Leader Of The Opposition and has continued seamlessly into government. Unions are constantly portrayed as criminal, parasitic and wasteful inhibitors of national prosperity. This caricature is now the standard received Truth about unions for a goodly proportion of Australians.

Class Warfare

All of these decisions: kill Student Unions, kill Automotive, kill Gonski, kill Child Care pay rises were taken because each of them weakens the voter base of the ALP. They are extremely important and strategic decisions taken by the LNP-that-matters (hello Nick Minchin). Class warfare anyone ?

All of these decisions have political cost, i.e. they are all unpopular, and the LNP is now behind in the polls in record quick time for a new government.

But, hey, there are three years until the next election and two weeks until Christmas. People forget. In this way the LNP is doing what all new governments do which is get the bad news out of the way quickly and in plenty enough time for voter amnesia. Most Australians will have forgotten about Gonski and Child Care, let alone Debt Ceiling, by the time they dump the Christmas wrapping paper in the bin.

But the LNP has taken a very big gamble with the Automotive Industry. 50,000 jobs and a string of small component makers. That’s a lot of brothers, cousins, uncles and dads on the scrapheap. And not all at once. Component makers will drop out week in week out for who knows how long. Toyota may hang on for two years and then go. So this particular decision, to let Auto die, crosses the ideological line from long-term Liberal Party political strategy into national destruction.

Maybe the LNP have hamstrung themselves in the first week, like Gillard did with Carbon Pricing.

Mayhap, Touchwood, mayhap.

I think its because they want a budget surplus. Yes, the vision is that small. Please prove me wrong. (Hang on I just did: here)

Data in this post largely plagiarized from Political economist Dr Remy Davison from Monash University speaking on The World Today

The Australian Motor Vehicle Industry and associated components manufacturers provide 50,000 jobs. The level of subsidy Australians provide is relatively low by international standards. The US government just subsided its own car industry to the point of partial nationalization. ALL national governments heavily subsidize their Motor Vehicle Industry: China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and France.

The level of subsidy may well be $48,000 per year, per job as Treasurer Hockey says, but that’s $25 per head annually which is what the current assistance of $500 million amounts to.

The Motor vehicle Industry produces a $23 Billion dollar gross value add to Australia’s economy and is a $3.6 Billion dollar export industry.

Sorry. I am not seeing the urge or logic here. Where is the over-spend ? Isn’t it obvious that the asset has value ?

Australian banks are subsidized at least 4 times as much as the Motor Vehicle Industry at least $100 per person per year.

The Mining Industry receives $4 billion a year in subsidy. That’s about $200 per year per head or 8 times as much as the Motor Vehicle Industry.

The Australian car industry spends over $600 million per year on R&D. That will stop if the Motor Vehicle Industry dies.

Wasn’t Abbott and his team hysterical when Rudd announced the end of Fringe Benefit Tax concessions on Company Cars during the 2013 election campaign? Wasn’t that going to decimate the car industry ? The same one they are now willing to let die as a costly festering Stone Age heap of useless slag ?

Here’s a quote from the Coalition’s election material on Rudd’s FBT changes:

The Coalition does not support Labor’s $1.8 billion hit on the car industry.

Tony Credlin-Abbott said that Rudd’s FBT cancellation was

a disaster for a motor industry which is already under pressure

and that the FBT concessional support should be maintained to support the industry.

Today it seems the Coalition is happy to see the Industry gone altogether. No, not true. They sincerely want it to survive, but without one cent of government assistance. Which happens nowhere in the world. Its a fantasy.

As Ian Credlin-McFarlane-Credlin, our current Federal Industry Minister said just six weeks ago

every vehicle in the world was subsidised, either directly or in kind, be it through tariffs, currency manipulation or other means…All countries subsidise. Most subsidise much more than we do…If you don’t subsidise the industry, it won’t be there. I accept that argument. I’m not sure that my colleagues do yet.

What drives the Coalition fantasy of a subsidy-free Motor vehicle Industry ? A small headline saving on the 2014 budget spreadsheet ? One which would be dwarfed by the ensuing loss in economic value add ?

Surely not.

Something Worth Subsidizing

So what does the Coalition think is worth subsidizing ? Well, hospitals in marginal electorates. In 2010 Abbott offered Andrew Wilkie $1 bn to re-build Hobart Hospital in exchange for Wilkie’s support in a minority government. The promise was unfunded.

So 50,000 jobs in the Motor Industry is not worth a $500 million subsidy.
1 job in the Federal Parliament, the PMship for Mr. Tony Abbott, is worth a $1 bn subsidy.
Taxpayers should feel…informed.

PS

Actually, back on Hockster’s per job figure I’ve just calculated it. That’s a subsidy of $10,000 per job. Not $48,000 as per Hockster, who must be using direct jobs in direct car manufacturing alone even though he knows the direct manufacturing jobs support the entire component industry. Sneaky old Hockster.

LNP Reneges Again

I was initially gob-smacked that the Credlin LNP government would renege on the agreement by the outgoing ALP to fund a minimal increase in the wages of notoriously underpaid child care workers.

OK, Pyne and Credlin decided to kill Gonski after agreeing pre-election to keep it and Hockey abolished the debt ceiling after spending three years screaming that every cent in deficit was a skull and crossbones tattoo of shame and incompetence, so we are learning to expect both shysterism and hypocrisy as a daily staple from Credlin’s team. But refusing to honour wage rises that had already been agreed ? That’s big. And asking for the awarded wage rises to be voluntarily returned ? That’s borderline crazy.

We’re not talking about Boris Becker returning a golden tennis racket encrusted with diamonds here. We’re talking about low-paid childcare workers doing a job far more difficult and valuable than any financial sector screen jockey and being paid about one of those guys per annum would spend upon wristwatches and Cabernet Sauvignon. You get $19 per hour as a Cert III Child Care worker.

So I just thought, well, they’re shameless that LNP. Howardite non-core promises all over again: secretive, raids on human rights lawyers, Abbott’s six positions on climate change, uninterested in their own MPs rorting the entitlements system…what can you say?

Assisting Unions, Destroying Unions

But then Catallaxy alerted me to the political dimensions of the Child Care pay rise towback: its about Unions. That Catallaxy post, Another Labor scam: promoting unionisation in childcare, explains everything about why the Coalition is so determined to undo this agreement: it works to the advantage of Unions.

The key insight from the Price Waterhouse Cooper report commissioned by Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley-Credlin

“The fund also required centres to negotiate an enterprise agreement in order to access the money…There is evidence that the requirement to have an enterprise agreement was used by United Voice to increase its membership…

With their typical lowest common baboon level of analysis the Credlin government
has labelled the money a union slush fund

Just quietly, it is possible to have a non-Union enterprise agreement, but Enterprise Agreements do allow Unions much more capacity for involvement in wage agreements, much to the disgust of the LNP and its supporters. Hence the LNP’s determination to defund this agreement. Nothing to do with the major reasons cited: equity and allowing funding for professional development. Everything to do with bypassing Unions.

ALP Shenanigans

The Price Waterhouse Report is quite devastating about the way in which the fund for the pay rises (Early Years Quality Fund – EYQF) was set up. Funds were dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis which of course advantages larger providers who have the resources to quickly submit applications.

Goodstart Early Learning managed to submit a 5000 page application just 48 minutes after the fund opened and applied for $132 million of the $300 million in the total fund. The govt. and Goodstart signed the paperwork for $62.5 million before change of government. Not by coincidence, Goodstart sat on the ALP-established EYQF advisory board but somehow even Price Waterhouse Coopers think there was no conflict of interest in that arrangement, a proposition which even now causes my pet Axolotl, Bruce, to ROFLOL.

Most tellingly, in my opinion, is that PWC found that, unlike its stated objective, the disbursements made under the EYQF do not support the objectives of the Child Care National Quality Framework which is basically to upskill Child Care workers. All of the successful applicants already conform to the NQF guidelines.

So, yeah, the ALP has used this fund to bolster union membership.

So What ?

So the fund acts to increase union membership:

1) So what ?

2) Child care workers deserve a pay rise whether or not they are unionized. And did you know that wage rises negotiated by Unions under an Enterprise Agreement also accrue to non-Unionized workers ? So its not like Unionized workers get more under this deal than anyone else.

3) The undoing of the wage deal is designed by the Libs to keep Unions weak. Its just as politically motivated as the set up of the original fund was.

4) Except the child care workers don’t get any money under the Libs. Funds will be retained says Ley-Credlin, for the good of all. She means she will spend it on training. Maybe.

5) This proves the Libs could not give a reheated rats eyeball about wages in the child care sector. Servants may eat bread, cake, grass, lino or any other (semi) nutritious substance. As long as they dust the Rolex regularly why should I care ?

6) The Coalition cannot win hearts and minds on this argument. Taking money from the low-paid just before Christmas must cost the LNP even more political capital, in which area their resources are already negative. Nuances will not sink in.

7) Just on that, the performance of the Credlin govt. in losing a poll lead just two months after an election is the worst in Australian political history. Long live PM Credlin. May I suggest she applies EVEN MOAR control over her Cabinet and its utterances in order she may utterly drive her govt. into the rocks.

8) But a temporarily bloodied nose is worth it to the Coalition paymasters to keep Unions on the mat. After all, three years till next election…

9) Bolt, Jones and Rupert will be overtime on the megaphone justifying this.

Look, with minimal effort the Libs could have disbursed the remainder of the funds ($237.5 million) as pay rises in any way they chose. Just call it open and accountable or accords with NQF. Message – we care about you and are not sneaky union slush-funders like those ALP sleazebags. But they’re choosing not to proceed with those much-needed wage rises. Ergo message is: Pay rises are not cool (for you). Please vote for me next time. PS We are crushing your union. KThxBi

Blogosphere Erupts

Great Cartoon showing PM Credlin as a harassed child care worker in a crèche full of her front bench minions.

On the day that Julia Gillard gave her public accession speech, on Sept 7, 2010 announcing she would be Prime Minister in the hung 43rd Federal Parliament Of Australia I was sitting in the office lunch room of the prominent private sector firm where I worked.

One of the women there, smartly dressed, intelligent, but not in senior management, some kind of assistant, began vocalising a demeaning assessment of Gillard’s ability and character. In content it was not much different to demeaning assessments of John Howard by ALP/Green voters I knew, but in tone it had a deeply hostile edge not commonly heard and which I had noted with curiousity on a number of previous occasions from other persons here and there.

What was it about Gillard that evoked such a hostile reaction in some ? The woman had not even been Prime Minster 10 minutes.

So I asked, ‘What is it about Gillard you don’t like ?’
‘Uh. Uh She’s terrible, she’s not up to it…uh…she’s…’
‘So its just that she’s on the wrong team. ALP not Lib ?’ I suggested.
‘No. She’s awful.’

The explanation was purely emotional. Not rational. No doubt given time my work colleague could have summoned some rational basis: Carbon Tax maybe, or knifing of Rudd.

But that deeply hostile edge…

Old World

As Gillard’s Prime Ministership unfolded we saw the infamous and ugly ‘Ditch The Witch, Bob Brown’s B…’ protests, so happily presided over by Abbott, Mirabella and Bronwyn Bishop, as Abbott praised the supposed decency of the shock-jock audience protestors against the supposed reprehensible dishonesty of Gillard.

Later Gillard made us aware of a disgusting genre of anti-Gillard commentary typified by Larry Pickering, intentionally humiliating, deeply personal and plainly misogynistic.

The humiliatory aspect of anti-Gillard misogyny is central to its relevance. To humiliate means to bring low. Gillard, female Prime Minister, had to be bought low because she embodied an overturning of patriarchal power unthinkable and threatening to the Pickering cohort. Females must be subjugated to men. The old order including the freedom to belittle women must be maintained. So the upstart new order, female power, must be humiliated.

Echoes of that humiliatory misogynism appeared typed up on a menu for a Liberal Party fundraiser organised by Mal Brough, a man so superbly protected by the privileged order that even when found guilty (now appealed) of political conspiracy to bring down the Speaker Of The House Of Representatives, the fact was barely reported at all. Tony Abbott was moved to describe the menu at Brough’s fundraiser as scatalogical.

And in the rabid centre of attacks on Julia Gillard was the spittle-flecked Alan Jones much pandered to by Tony Abbott, whose misogyny was explicit as he rattled off names of women who had come to positions of political and social power in Australia and who had Destroyed The Joint. Jones’ plain message – women, in particular atheistic, unmarried, childless, leftist women do not belong in leadership. They are invalid.

Now Jones, Abbott, Pickering and the shock-jock universe do not think that all women are unsuited for power. Margaret Thatcher is a hero of most of them. No, its only leftist women who are unsuited for power, who do not belong, with their unconventional philosophies about marriage and child-bearing. Leftist women particularly represent a threat to Privileged Order because that Order’s truisms, its ontology about the place of women is threatened by powerful women. Leftist women encapsulate the many fears and bigotries of the Privileged Order. They are simply the wrong type of person and invalid, not entitled to be, leaders.

As Tony Abbott put it on the ocassion of Gillard’s attendance at the Harry-Kate Royal wedding:

“She may not believe in God, the monarchy or marriage, but there will be a royal wedding bounce [in the opinion polls Quarterly Essay 47, p. 85]“

A leftist woman in power shows society out of control of the Privileged Order and forebodes the death of patriarchal certainties.

Leftist men are bad enough. But enough of them are tolerably comfortable with male privilege. But a Leftist woman might undo that, that last bastion, open the doors to the clubroom bar and smash the cut glass decanters housing sacramental claret and whisky. Privilege gone. Power gone.

That threat to established order is why Julia Gillard PM attract such hatred and fear. It’s why the shock-jocks and Pickerings and Abbotts and Joneses – 50 to 70 year old conservative white males and those who have similarly imbibed these certainties of the past – so vehemently despised her.

New World

Conversely, for feminist women, Gillard is loved almost worshipfully by a segment of the Feminist Left. In the same way that conservative white males aged 50-70 will reject and despise any powerful leftist female simply on the basis of gender, so the Feminist Left will embrace and celebrate almost any powerful leftist female simply on the basis of gender.

Gillard, summarizing her Prime Ministership, said

[Misogyny] doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing…

We may replace ‘Misogyny’ with ‘Gender’ in the above statement and get the same meaning. Gender explains two things about Gillard PM: the irrational disdain and hatred of a cadre of privileged male conservatives and their traditionally-minded fellow travelers, and the hero-worship she receives from a segment of the Feminist Left. Anna Goldsworthy, prominent feminist writer said:

There are those who will vote for Gillard because of the sheer fact of her anatomy, a qualification that trumps any policy. These are the most devout members of the sisterhood, the ones for whom, as Greer wrote in 1999, “to be feminist is to understand that before you are of any race, nationality, religion, party or family, you are a woman”. And there are those for whom Gillard’s gender is the only disqualification required.

Gillard was indeed a threat to Privileged Order, to patriarchal certainty. And she succeeded in getting to the highest office of the land. And Gillard is correct. There will be more to follow her. For Feminists, despite the ways in which Gillard falls short of the feminist ideal, Gillard is a harbinger of a New World, a new society, proof that the feminist ideal is obtainable. She has become a Feminist hero, if not quite an idol.

For Feminist women, Julia Gillard PM represents not a threat to the old world but a promise of a new world.This is why Gillard’s most ardent supporters are Feminists like Anne Summers who has provided intellectual attack and defence against Gillard detractors, Margot Kingston who self-described as a Gillardista and well, read any Feminist-friendly blog. The beaming Summers-Gillard interviews in Sydney and Melbourne which farewelled the Gillard era were a celebratory procession welcoming this new world; the new reality.

Julia Gillard PM is very significant. She’s the beginning and the end. Watch that space just to the Speaker’s righthand over the despatch boxes. The men are.

Abbott’s almost female-free Ministry was not selected solely on merit.

As Mark Kenny has pointed out, the LNP dissects and allocates those juicy and prestigious positions on a variety of criteria including representation from each State, fair division between Senate and MHRs, the Coalition’s need to include a certain number of National Party MPs, factional weighting and party seniority. And merit.

A moment’s reflection shows that these diverse considerations are pulled together by the overarching necessity of balancing party power relationships through careful apportionment of the spoils of victory. Let me encapsulate that in two words: power relationships.

Harmonising Power Relationships

Abbott and the party executive have carefully thought through each of the power dynamics salient to their party’s needs and satisfied them as well as they possibly can. If the harmonics of the competing power claims are misjudged the party will inevitably collapse into squabbling and disunity. That might take some time, three terms in office even. But ambitious persons and factions will not forever be denied what they see as rightfully theirs: Power.

So, the lesson of the almost-female free Abbott government is that gender balance is not relevant to the internal power relationships within the LNP. It can be and was ignored, or at least set aside, for now.

And by gender balance I mean of course female representation. Imagine if Abbott had selected an entirely female Ministry. Would any men be complaining, Virginia ? Would power relationships be upset ? Would there be squabbling, disunity and collapse ? I will guess YES. But women can be excluded from an LNP Ministry, no complaints, no trouble (yet).

It is not necessary for women to have power.
It is very necessary for men to have power.

And that is how we can see that the Abbott Ministry is sexist.

Women may knock at the doors of power, but in the LNP they may only enter at the whims of men, as noted by 2013 Australian Of The Year Ita Buttrose, herself a trailblazer who as recently as 1989 became the first woman editor of an Australian metropolitan newspaper and who therefore understands personally the sexist hurdles that inhibit female representation at the top levels of power in this country.

Stability

Abbott campaigned strongly on the stability of his Shadow Cabinet ministry as compared to the drastic personnel changes in the ALP front bench that resulted from the narcissistic destabilisation campaign authored by Kevin Rudd against Julia Gillard over the term of her Prime Ministership.

This gives Abbott a plausible reason, an electoral promise, to minimise change in his Ministry and might therefore be seen as a merely temporary brake on the proper merit-based promotion of LNP women.

In my view this reasoning is not sufficient. Quite simply, why could not at least one of Bronwyn Bishop (moved to Speaker) or Sophie Mirabella (not re-elected) be replaced by a woman ? And why are there are only four female Parliamentary Secretaries or Assistant Ministers in Abbott’s outer Ministry, this being the pool and proving ground from which Cabinet Ministers are typically drawn ? Indeed one those women in the outer Ministry, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, is universally regarded to be on a career downpath as a result of her endorsement of the inferior candidate James Diaz in Greenway, who failed to win that highly marginal seat in the context of a strong national swing to the LNP.

In short, in Abbott’s ruling circle there are almost no female Cabinet Ministers and few identified as likely Cabinet Ministers.

Could it be that Abbott still believes as he did when aged 41 and a Cabinet Minister in the Howard government, when he told Good Weekend magazine on 29 Aug 1998

…men are by philosophy or temperament more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command ?

This is the real Tony. As Abbott said of Mark Latham

…he is already 42 and leopards do not change their spots

Eviscerated

For the ALP, of course, female representation is an important element in their power dynamics. If women are poorly represented in ALP power roles then the party is axiomatically destabilised. Should Albo or Shorten select a female-free Cabinet the executive would be under seige instantly and eviscerated (sorry I’ve been reading Politically Homeless again) before sundown.

No, No. It’s Merit.

We could of course take the LNP at their word in their claims that their Cabinet posts, pre-selections and Senate ticket positions are all exclusively and austerely determined by merit.

Which suggests, judging from current outcomes, that the current lot of LNP women are just not up to high office even though as backbenchers their sex appeal is without question.

The objective lack of merit in LNP female MPs as assessed by LNP leadership should be a cause of puzzlement to LNP supporters since the LNP has often claimed that it is the ALP with token and weak female representation due to their talent-destroying female quota system.

Bishop

Ironically, the only female LNP Cabinet personage, Foreign Minister and Deputy Leader Julie Bishop, is not there by merit. Her appointment to Deputy Leader was and is a tokenistic concession by which the LNP tries to appeal to women voters. Doubly ironic is that Bishop’s elevation to Deputy Leader was a strategic move by the LNP to add female representation in order to counter the profile and popularity of Julia Gillard.

Her position as Shadow and now Cabinet Foreign Minister is Bishop’s chosen consolation prize for stepping aside as Shadow Treasurer. Her performance in both Shadow roles left many unimpressed.

Of wonderment to myself is Bishop neglect of her Shadow Trade portfolio in which she did not ask a question of Craig Emerson, the relevant minister, for three years. By contrast, the now departed Sophie Mirabella, while abrasive and self-destructive, was visibly engaged with her Shadow Manufacturing portfolio and able to marshall relevant detail into her statements and questions.

Michelle Grattan, writing in 2010, put it straight-forwardly

She [Bishop] has survived by virtue of her gender and the party’s need for stability.

Also in significant part, Bishop has the Deputy Leadership of the LNP because she represents zero threat to the power relationships of the LNP. In Abbott’s words, unsettling even Andrew Bolt, Bishop is a loyal girl.

Abbott’s first mistake: to give deputy Julie Bishop a cuddle during the press conference and call her a “loyal girl”.

Merit and power: They’re interrelated. But when it comes time to apportion power, merit is only an influence and only sometimes a determinator of outcomes.

The race is not always to the swift.

Michael Kroger, former President of the Liberal Party in Victoria, and still influential in Liberal Party circles is outraged that the Liberal Democratic Party achieved a NSW Senate seat based on a passing similarity with the name of his party, the Liberal Party. Kroger described the result as to the eternal shame of the Australian Electoral Commission. The Libs had protested against the registration of the LDP to the AEC precisely because they thought this eventuality would emerge.

One of the problems you’ve got also is the fact that the Australian Electoral Commission, to their eternal shame, allowed this party, the Liberal Democrats to be registered

But it appears that Liberal Party voters are the only group that cannot recognize their own party name on the ballot paper. The Democratic Labor Party has been in existence for decades and to my knowledge there is no assertion that this confuses ALP supporters into voting DLP.

Its only Lib supporters that are unable to process two words on a ballot paper, their attention span shorting out at one word after reading Liberal. The dumbing down of the Liberal Party vote by Mr. Tony Three Word Slogan has had its ultimate effect: Liberal voters are now unable to read.

Also they perhaps suffer disproportionately from incontinence and are unable to take the 2 mins required to read the top of the Senate ballot before packing off to the comfort facilities.

What can we say about older Australians? … it is clear that voters aged 60 and over have supported the Coalition to a much greater extent than the overall average

Fortunately Gonski has arrived in time for the new generation Liberal supporters to gain alphabetic recognition sufficient to differentiate between LP and LDP. For the senior LP cohort, it appears to be too late.

Over the past few years Janet Albrechtsen of The UnAustralian has regularly turned puce decrying supposed ALP attacks on Freedom of Speech: Conroy’s proposed media regulation and Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act under which Bolt was convicted have been her hobby horses. Here, Janet gives both a run while exalting incoming Federal Attorney-general George Brandis as the champion of the LNP defence and recovery of Albrechtsen gold-standard Libertarian free speech.

Brandis understands something his Labor predecessors apparently didn’t: fundamental human rights are the birthright of every human being, not legislative gifts bestowed on us by government. His aim is to reposition freedom, and in particular freedom of speech, at the heart of the human rights debate.

Not Allowed to Say One Word

JA must surely then be disgusted that Brandis’ commitment to Freedom of Speech does not extend to allowing LNP election candidates to say what they think to their electorates during election campaigns. Here’s the defeated LNP candidate for Fowler (South-West Sydney metro), Mr. Andrew Nguyen describing how his Freedom of Speech birthright was stripped from him by Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin and George Brandis

DEFEATED Liberal candidate Andrew Nguyen says his party’s strategy of gagging candidates showed “no respect” for voters and sabotaged the Coalition’s chances of making inroads in southwest Sydney.

Breaking his months-long silence, the 74-year-old candidate yesterday said Liberal Party headquarters even banned him from speaking to the local ethnic press or SBS radio, for fear of derailing Tony Abbott’s broader campaign. Mr Nguyen, who endured a 9.5 per cent swing to Labor’s Chris Hayes in the seat of Fowler, said:

“Even when the Vietnamese newspaper wanted to interview me, Chris Hayes said a lot, Chris Bowen said a lot, but I was not allowed to say one word,” he said.

Not allowed to say one word. Wow.

Inalienable Birthright For The Right-Born

Brandis and Albrechtsen must have temporarily forgotten that Nguyen’s freedom of speech, pace Albechtsen, is not a party-political gift bestowed on him by the LNP executive, but an innate and inalienable right attached to his very humanity – his very birthright. Both GB and JA are notably silent at this transgression and restriction at the throat of liberal democracy. Does Bolt has a better birthright than Nguyen ? He certainly must if measured by outraged column inches by JA or in vocal statements of principle by GB of which Nguyen apparently warrants zero but Bolt an unlimited supply.

Look its obvious: Nguyen’s right to free speech is trumped by the transient interests of power (for the right people) of whom GB, JA and Bolt are variously servants and recipients. Nguyen’s rights are dispensible. Bolt’s are not because Bolt is the superior, more articulate, more influential guarantor of power.

That is why the LNP executive were quite happy for Nguyen to take out a $300,000 mortgage on his home to personally fund a LNP campaign in a practically unwinnable seat, but locked him into solitary confinement when it came time for Nguyen’s right to speak. Nguyen may embarrass power. Then again he may not. But he may. So Nguyen had to be silenced. Tell me again JA how many rights Nguyen has.

The LNP even physically deterred him, the prospective representative of the people of Fowler, from talking to the electorate:

Andrew Nguyen has claimed that Tony Abbott’s campaign staff physically escorted him away from an appearance by the then opposition leader in Liverpool during the third week of the campaign.

To my knowledge Planet Janet has not come to orbit on the LNP denying Freedom of Speech to its candidates during an election campaign, even though apparently, as JA puts it:

One of the most fundamental changes promised by a Coalition government goes to the heart of what it means to live in a liberal democracy [and that is] … freedom, and in particular freedom of speech

Quite plainly Janet’s outrage and principle is selective; so is that of Brandis, her champion. It would not be hard for JA to discover that Nguyen was gagged. Nguyen’s story appeared in her own newspaper with a large photograph under the headline Liberal candidate gagged by Party HQ.

Janet must also know, but weirdly is silent upon the similar / gagging of Jaymie Diaz in Greenway, indeed the systemic removal of LNP candidates from questioning by the public in Western Sydney electorates and as for Ron Delezio, LNP candidate in Watson

party strategists directed star candidate Ron Delezio to flee a public debate after learning media were present

Free Speech. Janet is adamant it should never be stifled:

placing free speech at the heart of the human rights debate also helps lift the … stifling, political correctness that has enveloped us these past six years.

But if her mates deny that right of Free Speech during an election, Janet will stay obediently silent. That’s hypocrisy.

I agree with Albrechtsen that Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination is a very poor law, inicimal to Human Rights and should be repealed. It was a shocking error by Roxon and the ALP. They were completely misguided to bring it to law.

But Bolt’s problem was not this law, but his negligence of the facts. He accused people of things they didn’t do. Said they were frauds when they weren’t. It was an open and shut case of Defamation if the complainants wanted to take it that way. I haven’t heard Janet admit these facts, though.

Same with Conroy’s proposed changes to Media Regulation. JA has never commented on the fact that Murdoch owns 67% of Australia’s newspapers, or considered that this domination is in itself an impediment to free speech and diverse viewpoints.

If you want argue a principled position, Janet, have some (consistent) principle.

To start with let’s see you take the LNP to task over gagging its own candidates during an election campaign. And why did they do that. For power. As Nguyen said:

because they didn’t want to damage the election campaign; I agreed, and that’s why I shut up.

Gagging free speech for reasons of power. That’s the classic approach of totalitarianism. Janet ?

The continuing Quasi-ALP government under Tony Abbott will retain the policies it enacted in its first and second terms under previous leaders Gillard and Rudd. Consequently we have Paid Parental Leave, Disability Care, an NBN and Gonski Education reforms heading into 2014 and beyond.

In addition the Abbott Qu-ALP administration has endorsed the Fiscal strategy of Rudd/Gillard by continuing indefinitely in Budget deficit while global economic conditions remain volatile. Yes, Hockster found $6 billion in loose change to be dropped in the kids piggy-bank incrementally over four years. As Australia has a $1.3 Trillion annual GDP, this represents a micro-saving of 0.12% per annum, the equivalent of someone on $100,000 saving $120 per year.

Qu-ALP is not all good news, however. The complete dismantling of environmental protections and Marine Parks is a tragedy and Industrial Relations will return to something almost indistinguishable from Work Choices. Remember, the Fair Work Act was christened Work Choices Lite and Qu-ALP wants to return to a sensible centre asymptotically approaching Gina Rinehart’s common-sense Nirvana of $2 per day.

Of course as Work Choices rises, productivity will be strangled.

Anyrate, just wanted to say that its pretty weird that Tony Abbott should be keeping the central policies of the worst government in history including even the supposed budget crisis spending levels. Do LNP supporters notice any of this ?

Now, orright, there will soon be a Commission Of Audit that, given the fact that a carbon-compliant Senate has been returned, will give Abbott and Hockey free reign to hack and slice to their heart’s content. No need for a Double Dissolution now. But what will be deep-sixed ? Surely Gonski will go, but could Paid Parental Leave be heavily trimmed ? And Direct Action abandoned ? I nominate these because it is fairly plain the at the LNP has no commitment to these policies. PPL, supposedly a productivity wunderkind and a nett saving to the national budget, does not commence until two years hence. Why not? If its such an economic supercharge let it start ASAP. Logical. So the LNP, I think, will dice PPL.

One thing is for sure, LNP supporters are already convinced that the PEFO figures are a fraud and that the ‘true’ Budget position will be revealed as truly horrible once Hockster and Tony shine the light on Budget papers. I know because I’ve been talking to some friends who are LNP cult-members. Hockey’s pre-conditioning to this end has already been deeply embedded.

And any Hockey-Abbott cuts will be directed exclusively at the poor,as their first tranche, just this week announced, were. As Mr. Abbott succintly explained any cuts to high-income earners are stupid-headed class war. Therefore the poor must endure all cuts. For the good of all of us. I am not kidding.

Its Nightfall.

For this was the Dark — the Dark and the Cold and the Doom.
The bright walls of the universe were shattered and their awful black
fragments were falling down to crush and squeeze and obliterate him.

He jostled someone crawling on hands and knees, but stumbled somehow
over him. Hands groping at his tortured throat, he limped toward the flame
of the torches that filled all his mad vision.

‘Light!’ he screamed.

Aton, somewhere, was crying, whimpering horribly like a terribly
frightened child. ‘Stars — all the Stars — we didn’t know at all. We
didn’t know anything. We thought six stars in a universe is something the
Stars didn’t notice is Darkness forever and ever and ever and the walls are
breaking in and we didn’t know we couldn’t know and anything — ‘

Someone clawed at the torch, and it fell and snuffed out. In the
instant, the awful splendor of the indifferent Stars leaped nearer to them.

On the horizon outside the window, in the direction of Saro City, a
crimson glow began growing, strengthening in brightness, that was not the
glow of a sun.

The long night had come again.

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