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Category Archives: Oz Politics

I have just read David Marr’s essay The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race (Quarterly Essay #65) on Pauline Hanson and her party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. The confluence in name between Pauline Hanson and her party is exact and intentional. As Hanson said on national TV The Party is me [1]. And she is correct. The One Nation phenonemon is entirely a product of Hanson’s passion, personality, raw determination and resilience. Without Hanson One Nation cannot exist.

I will use this post to comment on Marr’s excellent essay, which Marr conceived in order to put a floor of fact under Hanson’s people and her political people [2]. Like all observers of Australian politics, Marr wants to understand the One Nation phenonemon, how it is that a race-based political party can thrive and become so influential within Australia. For those who abhor the phenonemon of race-based politics this understanding is a foundational, crucial first step towards neutralising One Nation or at least preventing it advancing further from its present toxifying influence into a genuinely Fascistic unadulterated race-hate movement.

Can I just say that the title of Marr’s essay The White Queen is marvellous ? It captures Hanson and the relationship of Hanson’s supporters to her perfectly.

Typical

A portion of Marr’s essay is strict quantitative research in which a profile of the typical One Nation voter is resolved from longitudinal survey-based research. This section while relatively dry reading is absolutely essential to understanding Hanson’s people.

Marr finds that the typical One Nation voter is Australian-born, male (56% v 44% female), identifies as working class , secular (not religious), lives on urban fringes of cities and large towns (but also in small rural communities), likely to have a trades education (i.e. is less educated than the general public), are pessimistic about their own economic prospects and those of Australia generally, heavily distrust government and politicians, are inclined to a law and order viewpoint in solving societal issues, thinks there is too much welfare, detests immigration and multiculturalism but does not personally live among or even know recent migrants migrants (though they may live in neighbouring areas to migrants)  or know those on welfare and, strikingly, perceives a nexus between immigrants and crime.

Marr summarises the Hansonites as being from National Party heartland

Infantile

This post will develop over the next few weeks as I add to it, but I just want to start with one comment for now. Hanson’s people are, at an emotional level, infantile. 

Marr, summarizing Rebecca Huntley, who has conducted voter focus groups for many years says Hanson’s people yearn for the past [3]. Many Australians aged 40 or older may express an opinion that the Australia of their youth was a better place, but if pressed, most voters will say, no, they do not want to return to the Australia of the 1950’s with its monoculture, remoteness from the world and limited work opportunities for women. But Hanson voters do really want to return Australia to the 1950’s. Hanson’s voters want to return Australia to the young adulthood of their fathers, when they were children, when everything was certain, secure, predictable and they felt physically and emotionally safe.

Consequently, even though Marr does not say this, I do: Hanson’s people are infantile.

Engaging One Nation

This is an important finding for engaging with One Nation. It means that you are dealing with children. How do you win an argument with 55 year old children ? You can’t. You just need to give them a few lollies and their favourite blanket and hopefully that will quiet them down before they trash the joint.

John Howard knew this. When engaging with One Nation he didn’t try and argue with them. He tried to mollify them. Specifically, he addressed their insecurities. Howard said, speaking of his GST reforms, that he would  give them something better than what they had i.e. economic security and in this way draw them back to the mainstream.

Keating terrified Hanson’s people. Open borders, open tariffs, familiar industries closing down, unfamiliar new industries to be encouraged, the welcome of Asia. Every Hansonite in the country, beginning with Hanson herself, filled their nappies in horror.

The Hansonite infantilism drives their insecurity. Hence their attraction to law and order solutions such as Capital Punishment and to gun ownership, by which they hope to protect themselves and their property from both ravishing migrant hordes and theiving, dishonest government.

Hansonites are impervious to argument. They need calming down.

So the first thing you need to do for Hansonites, like Howard, is say ‘Yes, yes I hear you’. And then listen. I mean really listen. But, as for children, don’t necessarily do as they demand. Reassure them. Offer them a rosy picture of the future. Let them know they are important. I would even give them a few lollies like, I dunno, rural subsidy for road-building or construction of humungous Anzac Day memorials if it was thought this would help social cohesion and defuse their anger to some degree.

Social cohesion is worth paying for. And it is necessary for governments to argue the case for social change. Hansonism is partially at least a result of governments taking the conservative under-educated for granted.

But ultimately if the giant 55 year old toddler baby Hansonites refuse to stop tantruming, they should be ignored. Their core constituency is low in number. You can’t let the country be governed by children.

And this is the problem that Marr identifies throughout his essay. The major parties are willingly accommodating to Hansonites. John Howard was in fact a Hansonite himself. So is Dutton and the rest of the conservative, reactionary, white male rump of the Liberal National Coalition. Both Liberal and Labor have adopted Hanson’s policies in regard to Asylum-Seekers.

The country needs a government that will treat Hansonites as children. But not dismissively as Keating did, but inclusively, without succumbing to the attraction of populism or the fear of educated reactionaries who should know better.

Hanson Is Not Racist

Hanson denies she is racist. She defines racism as a belief that one’s own race is superior to other races and says that she doesn’t think that whites are superior to Aboriginals or Asians or anyone else.

I believe Hanson. Marr does not.

Marr says that what betrays Hanson as a racist is her conspiratorial mindset, the belief shared by aggressive, ideological racists that they (the hated and feared other race) have a secret agenda to take over. This is certainly Hansonite territory.

Hanson once believed that Asians were soon to swamp Australia and now believes that Muslims intend to impose Sharia Law on us all. So-called University-educated Elites were also imposing Political Correctness on mainstream, normal Australians like Pauline Hanson, so taking over Australia with some kind of leftist Sharia. Malcolm Roberts, her climate denialist compatriot and co-Senator thinks that Climate Change is a hoax invented by Jews acting in concert with the IMF and United Nations to take over the world and enforce One World Government. Why would Jews want to do that ? Because they are evil, presumably.

While the fear of being swamped or displaced by another race or culture is indeed a feature of racist thinking I don’t believe that Hanson is racist. I consider, instead, that Hanson is Xenophobic, i.e. has a fear of outsiders from other races. Specifically Hanson fears the extinction of her own culture: which is conservative, white, secular nominally-but-not-actually-semi-Christian Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Fish and Chips 1950’s Anglo-Australian middle-class parochialism. Once upon a time everybody Hanson knew, met, or ever even saw, was like that. Hanson thinks that this particular thing that she is, is the only kind of Australian that is authentically Australian.

John Howard is this kind of Australian too. John Howard once said that he was quintessentially Australian. This gave John Howard the self-assumed right and authority, therefore, to state what was Australian and what was UnAustralian. What was Mainstream and what wasn’t. Who could have rights and who couldn’t. Hanson assumes the same nativist, infallible perfection of insight. She is Australia and can therefore speak infallibly for Australia.

Hanson fears the loss of her own culture in her own country. She fears and experiences disempowerment. Her views were derided are passe, unacceptable and crass. She feels a displacement from the cultural centre, in other words a loss of privilege which she perceives as an attack on her and her culture; she perceives targeted assistance for Aboriginals as unfair to white Australians. She calls herself  a proud Australian. I don’t want to see my culture gone. She wants everyone to behave the same way as her when in her town, state and country. She refuses to accept that her views may be out-dated or vulgar and finds such an idea impossible. She does not believe that it is acceptable or possible for a culture to change, that there is more than one way to be Australian, that the idea of being Australian can evolve.

Hanson is definitely conservative and Xenophobic. These things do not mean that she considers her own culture superior to other cultures, but she does want to make sure her own culture remains dominant in her own town, state and country. I doubt she shares the anti-Semitic views of her co-Senator Malcolm Roberts.

[1] Marr, QE #65, p.72 from Sunday Mail 10 January 2015.

[2] QE #65, p.96

[3] QE #65, p.59

[4] QE #65, p.71

Keep It Light

A controversy recently erupted over Coopers Brewery cancelling a limited edition release of their Coopers Premium Light Beer. Coopers had planned to release 10,000 cases of beer cans emblazoned with different Bible verses to commemorate the 200th birthday of The Bible Society. In conjunction with the release, The Bible Society produced a video of Liberal Party MPs politely discussing the issue of Same-Sex Marriage, taking different sides without hostility. The video exhorts Australians to ‘Keep It Light’.

Coopers cancelled the release following a boycott by pubs with a LGBT clientele. Coopers also promised it would join Marriage Equality Australia, issued an apology by video and press release, affirmed Coopers support for its valued Coopers drinkers and extended family, as well as saying that Coopers encouraged individualism and diversity.

Bully Is Spelt ‘L-G-B-T’

Many Christians then expressed shock, outrage and disgust over Cooper’s decision to cancel the release of Bible Society cans saying that the Gay Lobby had bullied Coopers into their decision by use of a boycott, that this was typical of the bullying tactics of the Gay Lobby, that Christianity itself was under attack, and that free speech in Australia was dead. Examples are here, here and here.

Especially galling to Marriage Conservatives is Coopers decision to join the Marriage Equality Association. Marriage Conservatives see this as proof that the Gay Lobby uses force and intimidation to compel compliance to their agenda.

In my view Coopers got what they deserved by way of the product boycott.  Coopers are not neutral on the Marriage Equality question. They were just pretending to be. The LGBT community saw through the charade instantly and called Coopers out for being anti-Same Sex marriage, which they are.

I think Coopers got what they deserved.

Imagine This

The following is a fictional scenario designed to illustrate how Christian groups have over-reacted to the Coopers decision:

Officeworks decide to assist The Australian Federation Of Islamic Councils celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first English language Qu’ran.

So Officeworks release a special edition of Copy Paper emblazoned with quotes from the Qu’ran on them such as

‘And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say).”

AFIC release a video with Liberal and Conservative Christians debating whether or not Jesus is God, while referring to special edition Officeworks Qu’ranic Copy Paper.

The video participants all agree that a discussion about whether or not Jesus Is God is of vital importance to Australia.

Subsequently it emerges that Officeworks are long-time donors to Islamic Charities and to AFIC and most of the Officeworks board are Muslims.

1. Are Officeworks neutral on the Jesus issue ?
2. What are Officeworks trying to achieve by releasing Qu’ranic copy paper ?
3. Some churches boycott Officeworks. Are they justified in doing so ?
4. Are these churches enemies of free speech ?
5. Have the churches bullied Officeworks ?
6. Can we now say that free speech is dead as a result of the church boycott ?

Language Markers

Initially Coopers defended The Bible Society video, saying that the video debate was light-hearted, balanced and mature and that ‘its a debate we need to have’.  This essentially endorsed The Bible Society’s line that the “national conversation” on Same-Sex marriage had become “fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion”.

These different phrasings of the same sentiment are exactly how anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations voice their opinion that the Gay Lobby uses bullying and intimidation to achieve its goals. When anti-Same Sex organisations speak to each other or to their members they typically characterise  LGBT advocates as intolerant, shouty bullies, as the three articles here, here and here demonstrate.

But when anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations or persons wish to talk with the general community they emphasise the need for balance, mutual respect and good manners as Coopers initially did, mirroring the language of Dr. Peter Jensen of the Anglican Church when he appeared on Q&A (See and Ye Shall Submit, 10 Sep, 2012) to discuss Gender and Marriage issues a couple of years ago.

PETER JENSEN: You’re speaking to me as though you respect me and I respect you, well I hope you do. Let’s have a respectful discussion on these matters not (AUDIENCE MEMBER SHOWN SNEERING). OK, I’m sorry.

The audience member sneered at Jensen because Jensen’s appeal to respect was transparently insincere and reeked of condescension as a perusal of the video will show, the segment quoted above occurring about 90% of the way into the episode.

Condescension

The Gay community see the repeated calls for mature, balanced debate on Same-Sex Marriage as arrogant, unbelievable condescension. Why is it that Marriage Conservatives think they need to instruct others on what constitutes morality, ethics and human rights when such matters are well understood by everybody ? Do Marriage Conservatives that it is only straight people that have a moral conscience or manners ?

Jensen’s comments, while superficially conveying a commitment to respectful discussion actually mean this:

You and the Gay Lobby generally are fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion. You are a bunch of shouty, intolerant bullies who systematically intimidate and victimise those with opinions different to yours. You force Marriage and Gender Conservatives to adopt Politically Correct positions by way of such intimidation. The behaviour of your lobby is reprehensible. Let me now demonstrate the manner in which mature, balanced, mutually respectful civil discourse on this topic should occur as I now explain it in the condescending manner of a parent instructing a child.

In short, the LGBT community recognised the language markers of their opponents in The Bible Society video and in Coopers defence of it. They saw through the charade and reacted to it. The entire campaign of Coopers was a pretence at impartiality by an organisation that was already committed to an anti-Same Sex Marriage position.

History

The long history of Coopers with The Bible Society, their long history of donating to Christian charities and to the Liberal Party is the behaviour which confirms the correct instincts of the LGBT community to the true attitude of Coopers to Same-Sex Marriage which is to reject it.

Which of course Coopers are entitled to do.

But Coopers should not be pretending that they are impartial on the issue.

And Christians should re-evaluate their over-reaction to Coopers decision.

Show Me The Bullying

The boycott by LGBT-friendly pubs is not a bullying of Coopers, though anti-Same Sex Marriage advocates portray it that way. Quite simply, people are permitted to boycott products for ideological reasons if they choose to. Why not ? How the companies react to the boycott is up to them. Boycott is not of itself bullying.

The pubs were not forcing Coopers to support any agenda. Rather, the pubs chose not to support a company they felt held a stance in opposition to their own values. Isn’t that a basic right in a democracy ?

The Newtown Hotel, which decided to discontinue stocking Coopers products,  said

“Dr Tim Cooper and the Coopers Brewery are entitled to spend their money however they wish — as are we”

In my counter-example above churches are permitted to boycott anti-Christian products if they so chose. Isn’t that self-evident ? Should churches really be expected to support anti-Christian organisations by buying their products regardless of what ideologies that company supports ?

But Coopers Support Marriage Equality !

Some defenders of Coopers see the decision of Coopers to join Marriage Equality Australia as proof that Coopers are honest brokers in the debate, promoting civil debate even while supporting the ideals of Same-Sex Marriage.

In my view, this view is mistaken. Coopers are anti-Same Sex Marriage.

Coopers have, for decades, been donors to The Bible Society, Christian Charities and the Liberal Party. These organisations are Marriage Conservatives. Then one day, faced with a damaging boycott to their $240 million dollar a year Beer business, Coopers decides to join Marriage Equality Australia.

Coopers is one of the biggest sellers in the inner-west of Sydney, amongst the many boutique pubs there and enjoys a 5% share of the national beer market. The boycott was taking effect in its retail heartland.

I think this plainly shows that Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is predicated on the profit motive. In my view Coopers’ pattern of behaviour established over decades for conventional Christian beliefs is much more of an indication of their true ideology than a sudden decision taken in the face of threats to profitability.

In my opinion, Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is simply PR and does not indicate any heart belief except a desire to protect market share.

But Coopers Didn’t Even Support The Video !

Coopers tried to distance themselves from The Bible Society video, which precipitated the boycott, saying

We want you to know that Coopers did not give permission for our Premium Light beer to feature in, or ‘sponsor’ the Bible Society’s ‘Keeping it Light’ video featuring Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson.

In my view, this distancing is disingenuous and while probably correct on the bare facts, does not account for the approval of the video expressed by Coopers in its first press release on the controversy, nor does any public comment by Coopers over the boycott reflect its own  mission statement given in its annual report last year, which Coopers says includes fostering family and community support based on Christian values. If those values do not include support for Marriage Conservatism then I will be highly surprised.

Finally, the distancing of Coopers from The Bible Society video does not square with its long-term support for The Bible Society. The press conference announcing the release of the commemorative cans featuring Bible verses and celebrating the work of The Bible Society was jointly hosted by Tim Cooper, the managing director of Coopers,and Greg Clarke, the chief executive of the Bible Society Australia. The Guardian noted that joint press conference was  laden with bonhomie.

The distance between Coopers Brewery and The Bible Society was not reflected in any language prior to the boycott and in fact is contradicted by the long-term support for The Bible Society by Coopers over decades. Press releases by The Bible Society reflect this sense of common purpose.

Bible Society Australia has teamed up with Coopers Brewery for the launch of a commemorative Coopers Premium Light beer.

Andrew Hastie, the Marriage Conservative Liberal MP in the video told the ABC  it was “a bit disingenuous [for Coopers] to suddenly distance themselves” from the video.

I fully agree.

Grandma, Ranji And The Politically Correct Bullies

My Grandma was a flat-out racist. Everyone in her generation was. Racism was normal in her generation. Nowadays its not.

One day my Grandma told my sisters You can marry anyone you like providing he is Australian, English, American or a New Zealander. What is the common factor amongst these nationalities ?

When The Olympics were on Grandma would cheer exclusively for the white athletes. She felt the muscular superiority of black athletes gave them an unfair advantage, particularly the black female athletes. Look at the size of them ! She would say, implying there was something not quite normal, not quite natural with black people.

Grandma grew up at a time when India was still a colony of England. She enjoyed cricket. England’s premier batsman for a period from 1896 was an Indian Prince named Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, popularly known as K.S. Ranjitsinhji or Ranji.

 As Wikipedia says  Ranji has widely been regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. The famous cricket writer Neville Cardus described him as “the Midsummer night’s dream of cricket”. Unorthodox in technique and with fast reactions, Ranjiitsinhji brought a new style to batting and revolutionised the game, amongst other things inventing the Leg Glance.

When Grandma saw something that was very black she would say ‘That’s as black as Ranji’s bum’. One day I pointed out to Grandma that it was vulgar to draw attention to a person’s skin colour. She nodded and said sadly ‘Yes, it is nowadays’.

Grandma’s voice carried a  defiance that indicated that modern social norms regarding racial equality had unfairly constrained her right to free comment on Ranji’s bum and its blackness. She was put out by my demand for manners in regard to dark-skinned people and if the term had existed at the time of our conversation she would have no doubt considered me Politically Correct. 

Grandma, like all racists, thought it perfectly acceptable to be mildly insulting to black people. Unfortunately for her, social norms had moved on. It was no longer OK to be a racist. She felt bullied by those who told her that racism was vulgar. She felt attacked and a bit vulnerable.

Loss Of Privilege

Grandma’s sense of vulnerability was a result of her losing her privilege of assumed racial superiority. Her loss of privilege to vulgarity made her feel like she was being judged and found wanting by the transient social fad of racial equality.

Advocates of an anti-Same Sex Marriage position are feeling that same sense of bullying, judgement, vulnerability and attack that Grandma did. Social Conservatives have lost the privilege of the assumed right to be able to state who should and should not be able to get married. Modern social norms consider the assumed privilege to reject Same-Sex Marriage to be Homophobic and Social Conservatives therefore to be ignorant of what constitutes basic human respect and decency.

Seen from the perspective of Same-Sex Marriage proponents, Marriage Conservatives thus find themselves in possession of a Homophobic ethic as vulgar and as self-evidently disgusting as Racism. Explaining his decision to discontinue stocking Coopers products,

Union Hotel general manager Luke Hiscox said he found the video condescending and could not continue to support the brand, especially as many of his staff identified as LGBTI. “The idea that we need to have a discussion about basic human rights is probably why people are so upset,” he said.

When told that their views on Same-Sex Marriage are vulgar and passe, Marriage Conservatives feel shouted at and bullied, same as my Grandma did when being corrected for her casual and unconscious Racism. Just as my Grandma was shocked to be called a Racist, Marriage Conservatives are shocked to be called Homophobic and reject that labelling.

Marriage Conservatives are feeling what its like, for a change, to be the ones considered to be holding degenerate views, to be told to reform their degenerate thinking and learn what is basic human decency.

The claim to be suffering bullying and persecution is the pained and confused cry of those having privilege stripped from hem.

After a considerable number of centuries where Marriage Conservatives have held privileged and uncriticised views, the shoe is now on the other foot.

So, personally I don’t think Marriage Conservatives are being bullied by the so-called Gay Lobby. Marriage Conservatives are merely suffering a loss of privilege. Naturally, we don’t like it.

I should know. I’m a Marriage Conservative.

Some Final Words On Ranji

Ranji had to crash through barriers of Racism in order to take his warranted place in the English cricket team. The ingrained Racism of authority figures in the England of the 1890’s gives a great background to my Grandma’s epithet ‘As Black As Ranji’s bum’.

Though popular amongst many in England, both in the upper-class and in the general cricket watching public, many resented that a dark-skinned man could be better than an Englishman at cricket.

Surely that bipolar attitude toward Ranjitsinhji must have been mirrored in Australia: admiration for his ability and disdain for his colour. Like my Grandma said ‘No-one could get him out’

Again from Wikipedia,  in 1896, although his form merited selection, Ranji was not chosen by the MCC committee which chose the team.

Lord Harris was primarily responsible for the decision, possibly under influence from the British Government; Simon Wilde believed they may have feared establishing a precedent that made races interchangeable or wished to curtail the involvement of Indians in British political life.[78]

Bateman’s assessment is less sympathetic to Harris: “the high-minded imperialist Lord Harris, who had just returned from a spell of colonial duty in India, opposed his qualification for England on the grounds of race.”[79]

Ranjitsinhji made his Test debut on 16 July 1896. After a cautious 62 in his first innings, his final score in the second innings was 154 not out,[84] and the next highest score for England on the last day was 19.

He was given an enthusiastic reception by the crowd and the report in Wisden stated: “[The] famous young Indian fairly rose to the occasion, playing an innings that could, without exaggeration, be fairly described as marvellous. He … punished the Australian bowlers in a style that, up to that period of the season, no other English batsman had approached. He repeatedly brought off his wonderful strokes on the leg side, and for a while had the Australian bowlers quite at his mercy.”[85]

Although Australia won the match, the players were astonished by the way Ranjitsinhji batted.[86]

Not everyone was pleased at his success. Home Gordon, a journalist, praised Ranjitsinhji in a conversation with an MCC member; the man angrily threatened to have Gordon expelled from the MCC for “having the disgusting degeneracy to praise a dirty black.” Gordon also heard other MCC members complaining about “a nigger showing us how to play the game of cricket”.[87]

More on Liberal Party preferencing strategy towards One Nation here.

The Liberal Party has decided to preference One Nation in the upcoming Western Australian State Election. This decision has endorsement from the national executive of the Liberal Party including the Prime Minister and is also endorsed by former Prime Minister John Howard whose regard within the Liberal Party is hagiographic, kind of like living royalty, a saint, the effulgence of an idealised Philosopher/Statesman.

John Howard, campaigning for the WA Liberals, wholeheartedly approved of the One Nation preference deal calling it very sensible and pragmatic.  Since John Howard is formally campaigning, and he is in his very person a living extension of the Liberal Party secretariat, his comments tell you that the Liberal Party at the highest levels endorse and approve preferencing One Nation in the WA Election. This is despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressing the formal autonomy of the State-level Liberals and distancing himself from any opinion or input into the decision.

WA Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, has made no secrets about the rationale for the One Nation Preference deal – its a simple matter of maximizing his chances for re-election. There is no consideration of ethics or policy. His decision is completely unprincipled and designed simply on tactical considerations of how to retain power.

As Barnett said:

 (It’s) just a mathematical equation, the Liberals best chance of winning. (We) can’t sit back and let it all happen.”

As straight-forwardly stated by WA Today, The WA Liberals want to avoid a repeat of the 2001 election when Richard Court lost power after putting One Nation last.

Barnett, trying to avoid being tarnished by association with One Nation viewpoints, has claimed he doesn’t even know what their policies are. This is absurd and Barnett can not expect anyone to believe what he says. In fact, just like Labor and the Greens, One Nation is opposed to one of the Liberals’ signature economic policies. That is the privatisation of Western Power, mainly in order to reduce the state’s extremely high and worsening debt levels.

So Barnett’s central Budgetary policy will be likely scuppered by the outcome of the preference deal he has made with One Nation as a  probable result of that deal is that One Nation will hold Balance of Power in the Upper House.

Apart from this, of course, all of Australia, including Colin Barnett, knows what One Nation stand for. Barnett is trying to avoid guilt-by-association while forming a partnership with persons he knows both reject his major Budgetary policies and hold a range of reactionary, xenophobic, irrational and homophobic viewpoints and in fact are an entirely erratic, idiosyncratic collection of individuals loosely bound by broad agreement on certain themes.  Consigning Balance of Power to such a group is unbelievably irresponsible on the part of Barnett, Howard, Turnbull and the entirety of the Liberal Party executive and leadership.

Sophisticated And Nuanced

The Liberal Party have attempted to justify their preference deal with One Nation by claiming that One Nation is no longer reactionary, xenophobic or racist and that Pauline Hanson and One Nation themselves have become more nuanced and sophisticated.

This is simply untrue. One Nation is the same entity as it ever was. As the Western Australian newspaper WA Today reported, WA One Nation candidate Richard Eldridge once advocated killing Indonesian journalists and attacked “poofters”, Muslims and black people on his then-deactivated Twitter account.

Mr Eldridge, a real estate agent contesting an upper house seat in the South Metropolitan region of Perth, called Muslims “little sheet heads”, derided gay relationships as “poo games” and advocated taking up arms against “extreme Muslims”.

He recently revived his Twitter account, saying his 2014 comments did not represent his views today.

A second WA One Nation candidate, Michelle Myers, nominated for the newly-created seat of Bateman, said that the gay community uses Nazi-style mind control techniques in order to brainwash ordinary citizens into supporting policies of the alternative sexuality movement. WA Today quoted Myers as follows:

Are you wondering why even some Christians are being swayed by the gender industry’s pitch and push 4 same sex ‘marriage’ and acceptance of fake families?”, the One Nation candidate asked. It’s not by accident; it’s by a carefully contrived but disingenuous mind control program, melded together by two Norwegian homosexuals who graduated from Harvard – one of whom has since prematurely passed away.

Whatever one thinks of the statements of Myers and Eldridge, it is obvious that One Nation has not changed one iota. They remain the same beast they were in 1998, utterly unnuanced and unsophisticated, as  when John Howard instructed the electorate to put One Nation last in every seat.

As the Australian Financial Review puts it

The suggestion Hanson has changed in some fundamental way is actually an indication of how much the rest of politics has changed

Consistently Unprincipled

The decision by The Liberal Party to preference One Nation continues its historical policy of dealing with One Nation purely on the basis of Unprincipled Self-Interest. This is the way that The Liberals have always dealt with One Nation and what they are doing now in the WA Election.

Here are the major milestones of the consistently unprincipled Liberal Party / One Nation preference deal journey:

March 1997 – One Nation Formed.

One Nation immediately commandeers 9% of the national vote, measured by polls, most of which came from the Liberal/National coalition. George Megalogenis states that the LNP vote fell from 49% in March 1997 when One Nation was formed, to 40% one month later ‘and all of it went over to the One Nation column’.

Howard could not afford to antagonize One Nation as their support base was comprised mainly of disaffected Coalition voters. Howard needed to ensure that One Nation voters would preference him, so he played softly-softly with them.

Howard is not fundamentally opposed to the One Nation agenda and tells his party room that he would prefer to work with them rather than the Australian Democrats. Peter Costello and Amanda Vanstone disagree. Both of these made public comments that the Liberal Party should put One Nation last in the preference order on ethical grounds i.e. that One Nation were racist. Both received long and emphatic phone calls from John Howard they should retract their opinions, Vanstone commenting that Howard was so loud she was forced to hold the receiver away from her ear (‘The Howard Years’, Episode 1, ABC Television, broadcast 17 Nov. 2008)

Howard decides to preference One Nation above Labor. This, Howard hoped, would send a message to One Nation voters that he was not displeased with the One Nation message, particularly in the climate of general social condemnation of One Nation, and maximize the One Nation preference flow to the Coalition.

June 1998 – Queensland State Election

One Nation won an astonishing 23% of the primary vote and, aided by Coalition preferences won 11 seats, while the Coalition itself lost 5 seats in Brisbane as inner-city voters expressed their disgust at Howard’s preferencing of One Nation above Labor.

If these results were to be repeated at the upcoming Federal Election, Howard and the Coalition would be soundly defeated.

Immediately after Queensland election Howard flies to Queensland to meet with One Nation supporters and try to convince them that the Coalition understood their issues and would help them. In the meantime he commissions Tony Abbott to find a way to destroy One Nation. Abbott creates a slush fund to fund legal action against Hanson and One Nation. Abbott and Howard lie about their knowledge of and existence of the Fund. Abbott and Howard eventually get Hanson thrown in jail.

The strategy of the National and Liberal parties to preference One Nation paid off outside Brisbane, where it won five seats from Labor and failed only narrowly to secure the re-election of the Borbidge Government (Ward and Rae 2000, 114), in Brisbane the strategy badly back-fired: urban voters ‘punished’ the Liberals for directing preferences to One Nation (Reynolds 2001, 156).

So the overall effect of Coalition preferences was to assist One Nation to win seats, to win some seats for the LNP in rural and outer-metro areas, but to experience significant punishment in urban seats as relatively educated and progressive voters express disgust against associating with One Nation

1998 – Federal Election

Howard decides to put One Nation last to protect urban seats  (of which there are many) from backlash against inner-city voters, foregoes assistance in rural seats (of which there are few) and avoid loss of outer-metro seats to One Nation.

2001 – WA State Election

LNP again put One Nation last. LNP lose power to ALP.

2002-2015 One Nation Ceases To Exist as a significant political force

2017 – WA State Election

Barnett, Turnbull and Howard fine-tune the preference strategy, swapping One Nation preferences in Lower House for Lib preferences in the Upper House. The deal is limited to selected seats. The Libs are trying to sandbag Lower House seats and so retain government whilst conceding Balance of Power in the Upper House. They are also avoiding assisting One Nation to win seats in the Lower House.

Like Howard did, Barnett and other Liberals are trying to mollify One Nation voters by saying they are good people, sophisticated and nuanced, and that their concerns are seriously addressed by the Libs.

Also, noting a reactionary shift in the political landscape toward populism, nationalism and anti-Immigration, the Libs judge that urban voters are less likely to punish them by association with One Nation

The Libs, including Malcolm Turnbull, are also trying to distance themselves from One Nation even while cuddling up to them, hence Barnett feigning ignorance of their policies. This is to mollify urban voters intended to reduce backlash.

I go into more detail about the early LNP / One Nation history here, drawing heavily on research by Margo Kingston.

 

Many people believe that in 1985-87, when Negative Gearing was abolished in Australia by the Hawke/Keating government, that rents rose, and rose dramatically.  This is certainly the assertion of the Turnbull government as part of its 2016 Federal Election campaign strategy in which the spectre of massive rent rises coupled with a  dramatic fall in housing prices is daily utilized as a scare campaign.

In fact, during that period 1985-1987, while rents did rise in Sydney and Perth as NG was abolished, they fell in Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane and remained steady in Melbourne. In other words there was no relationship between the abolition of Negative Gearing (NG) and rental prices in that period.

The predominant reason that rents increased in Sydney and Perth during that time was tight rental vacancy rates. Sydney, in particular had very low vacancy rates (less than 1%).

If the abolition of Negative Gearing leads inevitably to rent increases it should have done so in all cities during 1985-1987.

It did not.

This alone is enough to disprove that abolition of Negative Gearing has a dramatic influence on rents.

Even the recent (March 2016) BIS Shrapnel report which modelled a particular set of assumptions about Negative Gearing and which has been used by the Turnbull Government to forecast general economic disaster should Negative Gearing be abolished, agrees that rents did not rise during 1985-1987. It says

neither rents nor dwelling prices displayed any notable change of behaviour or deviation from trend during 1985-87 [when negative gearing was abolished]

The CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, Ian Narev, whose bank owns a $400 Billion property portfolio says that Negative Gearing is only a minor influence on housing prices. He said:

I can tell you having a $400 billion home loan book – your assumptions on unemployment and what’s happening in global interest rates will dwarf whatever assumptions you’ve got on the modelling about the impact of negative gearing by a factor of…I can’t tell you the number but it’s a big number.

It would appear that the BIS Sharpnel model is drivel.

Macrobusiness characterises the BIS Sharpnel modelling outcome as hoplessly inconsistent on its own terms:

 [BIS Sharpnel say] restricting negative gearing to newly constructed dwellings would somehow crash dwelling construction, raise rents, and destroy employment, the Budget and the economy? Even in its own terms this makes no sense. How does a sagging economy and rising unemployment lead to a rental cost spike?

One should also note that the NG scenario that BIS modelled is significantly different from the actual policy that the ALP has proposed, though Prime Minister Turnbull and Treasurer Morrison used the BIS Sharpnel scenario to criticise the ALP’s NG proposals.

So Why, Then, Was Negative Gearing Restored In 1987 ?

We are thus left to answer the question: So if Negative Gearing has a negligible effect on housing prices and rents, why then did the Hawke/Keating government resume Negative Gearing in 1987 ? My assessment is that they caved in to political pressure, possibly due to the upcoming NSW State Election being fought in a climate of rental stress and declining construction activity.

The Cabinet Submission prepared by Keating in 1987 said, in general agreement with Ian Narev above, that

Evidence suggests local factors rather than tax measures dominate in metropolitan rental markets

But the submission nevertheless stated an expectation that Negative Gearing would re-stimulate the construction sector, which had dropped off over the prior 18 months, during the time that Neg Gearing had been abolished. Keating’s submission said

restoring negative gearing could be expected to provide some stimulus to construction in the medium term

This ‘expectation’ of Keating’s is nowhere backed by evidence in his submission.

As we have already noted, the actual available evidence (listed in detail in the submission) points to ‘local factors’ driving rents. Not Negative Gearing..

My contention is that Keating was feeling political heat and just wanted to be seen to be doing something to assist the Building Construction sector and ease rents. But he knew re-establishing Negative Gearing wouldn’t help much, if at all.

The failure of Negative Gearing In Australia to provide its stated aims of stimulating Housing Construction and reducing rents is well-established by the prominent Australian economist Saul Eslake.

An Expensive And Failed Policy

In 2013 Eslake noted that 92% of housing investors buy established dwellings, so NG has not significantly improved housing supply. All it does is assist investors to buy established homes, this bidding up prices on the existing housing stock.

Eslake also notes that in the decade 2001-2011 Australian Housing Stock grew at a rate less than the population growth. Negative Gearing has simply been ineffective at increasing housing supply to any significant extent, if at all.

In fact, by rewarding speculative investment in Housing,  The National Housing Supply Council, of which Eslake is a member calculates that NG has assisted in the suppression of  investment in new housing during 2001 and 2011, such that the national housing stock was 228,000 dwellings less than would otherwise have been under historical rates of housing formation.

In summary then

  • Abolition of Negative Gearing did not increase rents between 1985 and 1987
  • Negative Gearing does not stimulate housing construction
  • Negative Gearing is a very minor factor in housing prices
  • Negative Gearing does not reduce rents
  • The March 2016 BIS Sharpnel report is based on a faulty and self-contradictory model of Negative Gearing effects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the perspective of Liberal Party donors, could Abbott’s Prime Ministership actually be seen as a colossal success ?

He destroyed the Motor Vehicle and associated Components Industries which has eliminated thousands of unionists and crippled a major Union.

He also destroyed the Submarine Industry, eliminating even more unionists.

He has made Carbon Pricing politically impossible for at least two Federal Election cycles – until 2020 at the earliest.

He destabilised the Renewable Energy sector. Some repair now in progress by Malcolm Turnbull.

His Royal Commission Into Trade Unions (TURC) has full potential to make both Unionism and the ALP synonymous with crime in the public mind.

He has pushed de-Federalisation of Public Education and Public Health into a live Federal issue. The next budget may well make this a centrepiece of the LNP policy platform, masked by an election campaign based on TURC smear, thus sneaking defunding of public education and health through as a ‘mandate’ while the election is fought on other issues

This will kill two more Unions and eliminate all Federal spending on Health and Education. Hey Presto – Budget surplus and LNP proven again to be great economic managers.

Passed legislation to conceal earnings of company board members, CEOs and the like. Prevents questions arising about stratospheric and ridiculous salaries self-awarded by board members who are mostly LNP voters, members and donors and also dampens calls arising for higher income taxes to be levied on the super-wealthy. Remember most board members are members and CEOs on multiple boards.

Declined to give the iconic Australian company and important regional employer SPC (Shepparton Preserving Company) Federal funds to maintain operations. This almost killed off more unionised jobs, but regrettably for LNP donors the Victorian State government provided emergency funds and kept SPC trading. SPC used the funds for strategic capital investment and now look set to continue profitable operations, an outcome which unhapplly for LNP donors has maintained some unionists in employment.

So there is the list of achievements: Tony Abbott – greatest and most effective LNP Prime Minister of all time as seen from the perspective of LNP donors.

Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, treats asylum-seekers worse than cattle.

The asylum-seeker Reza Barati was recently murdered in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, while resident in an asylum-seeker detention centre operated by Mr. Morrison. Barati had a rock dropped on his head while he lay helpless on the floor having been beaten by a marauding mob armed, like Frankenstein’s villagers, with iron bars and whatever other industrial weaponry lay at hand. Barati’s head was caved in. He died.

This does not trouble Morrison. Five months after the incident no one has been charged and a major suspect has fled Manus. From Sarah Whyte’s article in the SMH

One of the four chief suspects in the killing of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati had fled Manus Island and his whereabouts were unknown.’…It was ‘an ongoing case,’ a PNG police spokesman, Dominic Kakas, said, and ‘no-one had been charged, or interviewed.’

As Bob Ellis puts it, quoting Morrison in the article, Morrison seems unamazed, and even untroubled, by this. Said Morrison, I have no further information,’ he said yesterday, ‘than what is already, publicly available..

One might wonder how much effort Morrison would put into an investigation in which an asylum-seeker was alleged to have killed a Navy officer during on-water operations. Of course, Morrison and his team of 95 Media advisors would be working around the clock to characterise the asylum-seeker as a diseased, evil, lazy, ungrateful, criminal, jihadist whose associates in Australia need to be monitored by a volunteer citizen-informer network similar to, say, Ceaucescu’s Romania. It would be front page news for six months. The Daily Telegraph would print souvenir mourning issue for the State Funeral. Andrew Bolt would be incandescent with fury. Of course.

But Reza Barati is a non-human, a non-entity. His life does not matter. He can be treated worse than cattle.

So right at this moment, the High Court is hearing preliminary argument into the illegality of Morrison’s surreal Border Force and its arrest of 153 Tamil asylum-seekers who were taken prisoner by Morrison while in international waters on their way to New Zealand (yes you read that correctly).

Morrison does not release any information about this incident to the Australian public, claiming that to do so would assist people-smugglers. This is an obvious lie by Morrison. All asylum-seekers carry mobile phones and are in instantaneous contact with people smugglers. The target of Morrison’s secrecy is the Australian public, whom Morrison has decided may object to his cruel and inhumane methods should they become generally known.

Today at the High Court hearing we learnt that the asylum seekers are being detained in windowless locked rooms with men kept apart from their families…they have not been asked to discuss their reasons for leaving India.. that Morrison has argued that outside of Australia’s territorial waters, asylum-seekers have no rights under the Australian Migration Act.

So, even though the Tamils have no rights in Australia, Morrison has the right to arrest them lock them up and deport them to whatever country he sees fit.

How come Morrison has complete rights of the destiny, life , health and fate of these people and yet they have no rights at all in Australia ?

That has to be piracy by any reasonable definition.

The article concludes that the case will be heard at the end of the month i.e. prison ship to continue for six more weeks with a continuation of the windowless locked room policy. Those in Nauru and Manus and indeed even in community detention in Australia will continue to suffer multiple intentional cruelties which lead to mental illness and inevitable to suicide and self-harm, about which Morrison (and Abbott) care zero. Asylum seekers are not people. Why should we care how they feel.

You wouldn’t treat cattle this way.
Morrison believes that asylum-seekers may be treated worse than cattle. They are not truly human.

And why ?

Because to Morrison, asylum-seekers represent the threat of Islamic colonisation of Australia. Now Tamils aren’t usually Islamic, but Morrison must stop all asylum seeker vessels to break the will of people smugglers with Islamic cargo. Morrison would prefer to send 100,000 people to suicide than allow one to enter Australia.

And the thing is he could simple de-ratify Australia from the International Convention on refugees and give himself a truly legal reason to deport every single asylum seekers, but he won’t, because to de-ratify from that convention would cause him embarrassment. By maintaining Australia as a signatory Morrison can claim ‘we support genuine refugees’. In this way, Morrison justifies his cruelty to the poor and dispossesed of the world just to maintain his personal reputation.

And the really scary thing is, I don’t think Morrison cares less.

He is ideologically insane.

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Instantly go to First Dog On The Moon’s The Age Of Entitlement Will be Over When I Say It Is. I reproduce it here as the beautiful, unsettling, lacerating poetry that it is. Thanks, First Dog.

The Age Of Entitlement Will Be Over When I Say It Is

Close those women’s shelters
And cast those women out into the street
Send them home to the men who will beat and kill them
and their children
Do it

Throw the weak and lazy off the dole
Down into poverty and homelessness
Just say no
Do it
Save my ever loving tax dollars
I will sleep soundly at night

Please spend my tax dollars on your smug glossy children
And their remarkable schools
Do it
Just do it

Spend them on great smooth roads
And killer planes
Do it
I will be warm and dry

You must never wake at 4am
With a fear in your gut
Realising how you climbed across the backs
Of the rest of us
Don’t do it
Never doubt my resolve
You owe it to my taxes

We put you there
Tiny feculent gods
Dancing to consolidated revenue
My vote is lurking
Ever vigilant

Hurry! Build your great fetid looming obelisks
To your mercurial glory
Poison the sky
Do it
But don’t you waste my goddam taxes
Have some decency.

First Dog’s poem reminds me of Adrian Mitchell’s To Whom It May Concern (Tell Me Lies About Vietnam). The link between the two is the concept of immunity from (First Dog) or self-delusion of safety from (Alan Mitchell) harm. In Age Of Entitlement this concept is conveyed by the pivotal line I will be warm and dry. Tell Me Lies conveys this idea in its title and also the remedies for the intrusion of reality e.g Fill My Ears With Silver.

Here is reproduced Tell Me Lies About Vietnam:

ADRIAN MITCHELL

To Whom It May Concern
(Tell Me Lies about Vietnam)

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I’ve walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn’t find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.
Made a marble phone book and I carved all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

I smell something burning, hope it’s just my brains.
They’re only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Down by the Cenotaph drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

…also somewhat in this genre …

I Like To Know About A Story From You Your Heart Your Feeling Your Way Of Looking At It

Literary Genius

Open Hearts In Arnhem Land

Five Things To Know About Me

I Feel Like Having You As A Pet

The Truth About Bugs
T-Shirt Of The Week

Driving home last night I tuned into 2GB to see what the crazy people were thinking. Steve Price was running a propaganda blitz on how brilliant the LNP HECS changes are, largely focused on how protesting Uni students are lazy bludgers sponging off hard working tradies and TEH TAXPEARZ!!!!11!!

Price was beautifully suckered by Orlando from East Dubbo* (from 24:39 on the audio) who rang in and said he was doing an MBA on-line from a private institution in Adelaide which was costing him $18,000 but said he was amazed when the UNSW quoted him $90,000 for the same workload. WHY ? Steve Price was non-plussed at the grotesque overcharge.

Steve’s in-studio expert quickly chimed in to ‘splain. Orlando’s institution is a private education provider which does not qualify for inclusion in the HECS system. UNSW is a HECS provider and charges $90,000 simply because ‘they can…supply and demand’. UNSW run a popular course and can accordingly by the power of market forces charge 5 times as much. On-air expert was starry eyed at how Joe Hockey’s brave new HECS would be MUCH SIMPLER because now both courses would be accessible through HECS and both would qualify for 45% Govt. contribution. This being the case we now have a before and after scenario for Orlando’s degree:

SCENARIO A: IDIOTIC LABOR HECS
Total Cost: 18000
Upfront Cost Borne By Taxpearz: 0

SCENARIO B: BRAVE NEW JOE HOCKEY HECS
Total Cost: 18000
Upfront Cost Borne By Taxpearz: 8100

So sainted TAXPEARZ PAY MOAR under the LNP scheme.
And obviously should any existing course blow out to 5 times current levels in brave new degregulated LNP HECS, TAXPEARZ are footing the BIGR BILZ AGEN. That’d be 40500 – 8100 = 32400 a pop under Orlando’s example.

Steve Price just let the horror of unregulated market forces pass unremarked. Sweet.
(Also more upfront public debt load under Coalition not v. important)

* Orlando from East Dubbo is really Jeff From Western Sydney. I just jazzed the name up a bit.

Andrew Blot just called.

The winning distance in Olympic Men’s Long Jump has been in decline since 1968. The cooling trend proves that money spent on Long Jump for half a century is a complete waste, not to mention a self-loathing anti-human Green-Left conspiracy which is destroying the minds of our children.

The data is incontestible

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.