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Why can’t we live together? We’re all part of the human race, after all

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Saturday, 22 January 2011 15:36 by HillbillySkeleton


As I intimated in a comment on my previous blog, I was going to strike out in a philosophical direction for this, my latest blog.

I thought it might be especially pertinent in the light of the two major tragedies that have occurred in the Western Hemisphere over the End of Year/New Year break. That is, the cataclysmic floods in our own country, most especially in Queensland, and the horrific massacre and attempted assassination of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona.

In the light of the moving eulogy that President Obama gave at the Memorial Service for the slain and the wounded there:



And also, considering the magnificent response to and superhuman effort of Anna Bligh, her Emergency Response Team, and Queenslanders in general, but also as a result of a conversation I had with my son about the concept of 'Belonging', I thus decided to put my thoughts about all of it down here.

So, I think we have come to a new inflexion point in the 'Culture Wars' between the Left and the Right, or, as I now prefer to characterise the two sides of politics, post Globalisation, and post the Cold War, between the Regressives and the Progressives, wherein we are fighting against the forces that would see our societies go down the path of atomisation and the supremacy of the individual, as opposed to fostering the sort of society which sees us all 'belonging' to a 'Great Society' and being part of, and contributing to, the Common Weal. As best as each one of us is able, within reason, according to our talents and capabilities.

Now, don't mischaracterise this desire as my support for 'The Communist Manifesto', or a Chinese Totalitarian One Party State. Both of those 'Left Wing' ethos sets have been shown to be seriously flawed. In the Chinese case, despite its economic success; or unworkable, as in the example of the USSR.

Actually, I don't mind a bit of Capitalism, just as long as we don't get too greedy, insulated and isolated from a sensible reality by it. Such as occurred recently in the environment which precipitated the Global Financial Crisis. This Uber Capitalism destroys our sense of 'Belonging', our sense of connectedness to the most of us and the least of us.

I mean, it is essentially that concept of maintaining connectedness and empathy for all in our society that motivated me to come down on the Progressive side of politics. The fact that it strove to unify the human race rather than atomise and 'individualise' it, as the Regressive side seem intent on doing.

Ever since Margaret Thatcher declared, “There is no such thing as Society”, I have said to myself, “Wait a minute, lady, yes there is”, and I was intent to do my bit to keep it hanging together. I think that although, since the time of Reagan and Thatcher and their desire to see the supremacy of the individual in society, the 'Field Evidence' (as Howard was wont to say was the ultimate arbiter of a case), has firmly come down in favour of 'society' as a concept. It's something that, in the absence of a concerted effort by Progressive politicians to carry out their aim to work towards a 'Great Society' concept, by being out of power in influential Western Democracies such as America and Australia for the most part in the recent past, we have nevertheless, through our desire to feel a part of a social whole, and that unquenchable desire to 'belong', come together in other ways naturally to form social groupings anyway, e.g. in everything from sporting groups to knitting circles to 'Get Up'.

Although I must admit that this may have been exactly what Regressive politicians desired as they tried to dismantle the Progressive ethos of 'Egalite, Fraternite, Solidarite”, and form discreet, little atomised groups. I, however, do not agree.

Now, by harking back to that old French concept I am not saying that I am in favour of 'Socialism' per se, involving support for public or common ownership of the means of production and a rigidly-organised hierarchical society in the One Party State model that was tried by the USSR, and, as I said before, which ultimately failed spectacularly, or, as it is being played out in China now, with a few Capitalist tweaks. No. Instead what I am advocating, so as to heal the ruptures that have opened up since Thatcher's day, which has seen the re-emergence of Religion and Militarism as controlling and determining forces in our societies, is instead a 21st century hybrid that might forestall the worst excesses of the sort of societies that are therefore resulting; such that we instead work towards societies where all labour is valued fairly and the Middle Class is no longer hollowed out, resulting in the 'Employer' and 'Employed' Classes, and that we maintain the concept of 'A Fair Day's Pay for a Fair Day's Work'. Also, importantly, that output for individual consumption is distributed through markets, and distribution of income is based on individual merit, effort and individual contribution.

Also that we realise that we all 'Belong' to our Nation and that we must therefore provide, as good and right-thinking citizens, for the Common Weal, such that we recognise there will always be those, not as favoured in life as we may have been, who will need to be supported in our society by the rest of us – the Disabled, the Disfigured by accident, the Down on their Luck.

Not that we should carry bludgers, but that the unfortunate indigent belong to our society as well, and the health of our society is best served, as the research released in Britain recently attested to, by us not being self-serving individuals, but by being 'Caring and Sharing' members of society.

I think the best example I can give to show how this idea can be put into practice is to refer to how we can best fix up the mess that the Queensland and Victorian floods have left in their wake, literally, but also how we deal with Global Warming and the inequity that Mining creates in our country by producing a 'Two Speed Economy'.

On the one hand you have Tony Abbott rabbiting on about the fact that the Gillard government wants to “Introduce Three New Taxes: the Carbon Tax, the Mining Tax, and the Flood Tax”. This line by Abbott speaks to people's innate greed and desire to keep all their earnings for themselves and their family by having to pay as little tax as possible, and not to care about the environment we all love and live in daily and hope will keep supporting us; not care that the Mining Companies are getting away with Blue Murder and Super Profits and not putting their fair share back into the economy to aid the people who do not directly benefit from the Minerals Boom but who, as citizens, are the owners of the minerals they exploit and dig out of our ground; and, finally, not to care about the dire straits that our fellow citizens in Queensland and Victoria face after their worlds have been washed away. Basically, the “I'm all right, bugger you, Jack” attitude writ large.

On the other hand we have the Prime Minister trying to make us see that we all belong to the Commonwealth of Australia. Thus, we must collectively face our responsibilities as grown-ups and realise that we need to introduce a Carbon Tax on Greenhouse Gas emitting businesses to provide the Price Signal they need to change their ways and pivot into the new, Low Carbon Economy; we need to make the 'Rich as Croesus' Mining Companies put back into our economy a fair fraction of what they take out; and, finally, we need to agree that at about the rate of $1/citizen/week it is only right and proper that we put our hands in our pockets to help our mates in Queensland and Victoria through the tough times that are ahead.

I don't think it's too much to ask.

What do you think?

Comments (139) -

January 22. 2011 03:49 PM

Catching up

We can ask ourselves why the healthy have to contribute to the sick through taxes and Medicare.  Why do people with no chldren contibute to those who have children?  There are many other examples.  The answer is that the whole community gains from these needs being met. For a strong economy now and partically in the future, we need strong, healthy and well educated workforce.  No man is an island to himself.  We all rely on the support and skills of others.
While I am at it, I would like to point out to the many who are complaining about aid been given to those who did not have sufficient cover, most of the need money for flood relief will go to restoring infrastructure such as roads, school, rail and other government utilities.  
Remember Toowoomba was on top of a mountain and did not have a river.  It was freak weather that caused the disaster.  This can happen wherever you live.

Catching up

January 22. 2011 05:20 PM

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Catching up
Welcome to TPS in 2011.  Do come again.

I agree with your sentiments.  The infrastructure costs will be massive and will attract most of the Government funds allocated to restoration.  Infrastructure is for the good of us all.  

Our community relies on mutual support in times of trouble and falters when, as HS points out, greed and self-interest prevail.

Ad astra reply

January 22. 2011 08:07 PM

Feral Skeleton

Catching Up,
            Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post. Smile
I love your comment, 'No man is an island unto himself', so much that I wish I had thought of it myself! However, in saying that it exemplifies exactly what you were trying to point out. That is, you have talents that allow you to contribute in one way, and I have talents that allow me to contribute in another. Together we make what is common to both of us better.
   Sure, we could keep all that we make in life to ourselves, but it's so much better when we share. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Feral Skeleton

January 22. 2011 09:35 PM

Feral Skeleton

   Interesting Galaxy Poll results wrt the upcoming NSW State Election:
ghostwhovotes.files.wordpress.com/.../...3-nsw.pdf

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 08:35 AM

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HS
Thank you for yet another thoughtful piece that goes to the heart of the political process, both here and overseas.

Paul Krugman's piece in the NYT on January 13 A Tale of Two Moralities is germane to the argument you make in asking the question: ‘Why can’t we all live together?’.

Among other things he says: "One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state – a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net – morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

“The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

“There’s no middle ground between these views. One side saw health reform, with its subsidized extension of coverage to the uninsured, as fulfilling a moral imperative: wealthy nations, it believed, have an obligation to provide all their citizens with essential care. The other side saw the same reform as a moral outrage, an assault on the right of Americans to spend their money as they choose.

“This deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development. Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it. As many analysts have noted, the Obama health reform — whose passage was met with vandalism and death threats against members of Congress — was modeled on Republican plans from the 1990s.

“But that was then. Today’s G.O.P. sees much of what the modern federal government does as illegitimate; today’s Democratic Party does not. When people talk about partisan differences, they often seem to be implying that these differences are petty, matters that could be resolved with a bit of good will. But what we’re talking about here is a fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government.”


This phenomenon is just what you are alluding to in your concluding paragraphs.  Can we avoid the same deep divisions that have wrought such havoc in American politics?

His whole article is well worth reading: www.nytimes.com/.../14krugman.html

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January 23. 2011 09:43 AM

Feral Skeleton

   To answer your question, AA, I would make a couple of points that are specific to Australia.
   Firstly, as a Nation of only 22 million people, it is easier for us to relate to citizens who are at the top of the tree and the bottom of the ladder. Combined with our enduring concepts of 'Mateship' and a 'Fair Go', which have sprung from our roots such as the Eureka Stockade, the Harvester decision(both of which Howard tried to besmirch and overturn when he was in power because he realised their importance in the national psyche), and the financial calamities such as Depressions and Recessions, I think we are lucky enough to still be able to remember and believe in the line, 'There but for the grace of God go I'. Also our religious institutions, until the Evangelical movement came along recently, was based around an egalitarian ethos similar to that which permeated society in general, whereby they were more interesyed in helping those worse off than themselves, rather than accumulating wealth in order to expand their religious empires.
Such that the Catholic laity, as opposed to its hierarchy is seen to be in the Labor camp, and the Uniting Church is too, but the Evangelicals and the cultish religions, such as the Exclusive Brethren, and the conservative hierarchy of the Catholic and Anglican Churches, are in the Liberal camp.
   Secondly, however, we need to consider the pernicious effect that the Shock Jocks and Rabble Rousers in Print and TV are going to have long term on the nation's zeitgeist. This is a question I can't find a definitive answer for yet, mainly because I keep on hoping that the scales will one day fall from people's eyes about these charlatans and carpetbaggers such that they will realise that they are being had big time by these mouthpieces for the economic elites. There was an inkling of it recently when people generally wouldn't have a bar of the greedy retailers campaign wrt GST on items bought over the Internet for <$1000. However, the pressure to support people such as them, the Miners and other Economic Elites is going to be relentless in the future, and, as the Mining Industry Ad campaign showed, if you get your messaging right, you can convince the electorate to go against their best interests.
   However, as recent events in Tunisia have shown, once the population is abused too much they finally revolt.
   AA, you might be interested in reading this:
www.theatlantic.com/.../

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 10:10 AM

TalkTurkey

Don Dunstan was Premier of SA and Robin Millhouse the Shadow Attorney-General when I wrote some idealistic nonsense that started with something like, "One day the People decided to sink their differences". We're talking, like, '71? Don and Robin were half-way to being friends, well anyway Millhouse liked to pretend that, based on his having had a nodding professional university relationship with Gretel, Don's first wife.  
[Exactly as, BTW, Abbortt tried to pretend that Gillard and he were friendly flirty sparring partners, where she of course made it quite clear that she entertained no respect whatsoever for Phoney Tony.] Don was more circumspect and less outspoken about Robin Millhouse,(well Millhouse wasn't in the same street of obnoxious as Abbortt) but I gradually came to realize that Don held him in some distaste and trusted him but little. A very shrewd opinion too, really; even though Millhouse was one of the least horrible of the Liberal Country League (as it was then!), and relatively moderate, he was still a snide and petty fellow in the end. Don was very clear-eyed. But for a while I, younger and very naive, had some dumb hope that we could really make a decent society down here, and maybe spread it to elsewhere. Don made a lot of people feel that way, he was so-o-o special.

What happened?

(To be continued)

      

TalkTurkey

January 23. 2011 10:28 AM

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HS
Thank you for the link to The Rise of the New Global Elite by Chrystia Freeland, freelance writer for Reuters, in the January/February issue of The Atlantic

In this comprehensive article, a few paragraphs stood out as consistent with your piece:

"The good news—and the bad news—for America is that the nation’s own super-elite is rapidly adjusting to this more global perspective. The U.S.-based CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds told me that his firm’s investment committee often discusses the question of who wins and who loses in today’s economy. In a recent internal debate, he said, one of his senior colleagues had argued that the hollowing-out of the American middle class didn’t really matter.

“His point was that if the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that’s not such a bad trade,” the CEO recalled.


"This plutocratic fantasy is, of course, just that: no matter how smart and innovative and industrious the super-elite may be, they can’t exist without the wider community. Even setting aside the financial bailouts recently supplied by the governments of the world, the rich need the rest of us as workers, clients, and consumers. Yet, as a metaphor, Galt’s Gulch has an ominous ring at a time when the business elite view themselves increasingly as a global community, distinguished by their unique talents and above such parochial concerns as national identity, or devoting “their” taxes to paying down “our” budget deficit. They may not be isolating themselves geographically, as Rand fantasized. But they appear to be isolating themselves ideologically, which in the end may be of greater consequence.


"And, ultimately, that is the dilemma: America really does need many of its plutocrats. We benefit from the goods they produce and the jobs they create. And even if a growing portion of those jobs are overseas, it is better to be the home of these innovators—native and immigrant alike—than not. In today’s hypercompetitive global environment, we need a creative, dynamic super-elite more than ever.

"There is also the simple fact that someone will have to pay for the improved public education and social safety net the American middle class will need in order to navigate the wrenching transformations of the global economy. (That’s not to mention the small matter of the budget deficit.) Inevitably, a lot of that money will have to come from the wealthy—after all, as the bank robbers say, that’s where the money is.

"It is not much of a surprise that the plutocrats themselves oppose such analysis and consider themselves singled out, unfairly maligned, or even punished for their success. Self-interest, after all, is the mother of rationalization, and—as we have seen—many of the plutocracy’s rationalizations have more than a bit of truth to them: as a class, they are generally more hardworking and meritocratic than their forebears; their philanthropic efforts are innovative and important; and the recent losses of the American middle class have in many cases entailed gains for the rest of the world.

"But if the plutocrats’ opposition to increases in their taxes and tighter regulation of their economic activities is understandable, it is also a mistake. The real threat facing the super-elite, at home and abroad, isn’t modestly higher taxes, but rather the possibility that inchoate public rage could cohere into a more concrete populist agenda—that, for instance, middle-class Americans could conclude that the world economy isn’t working for them and decide that protectionism or truly punitive taxation is preferable to incremental measures such as the eventual repeal of the upper-bracket Bush tax cuts."



And finally: "The lesson of history is that, in the long run, super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth. It is obvious which of these would be the better outcome for America, and the world. Let us hope the plutocrats aren’t already too isolated to recognize this. Because, in the end, there can never be a place like Galt’s Gulch."


The whole piece is at www.theatlantic.com/.../

Ad astra reply

January 23. 2011 10:47 AM

Rx

All things being equal we could dismiss Abbott as a garden-variety crank. A linguistically- and morally-challenged religious fanatic, political radical and finger-puppet of the greedy and fearful.

Being that Regressives dominate the so-called mainstream media, plying its enormous influence for his bleak cause, the time is now for the Progressive side to step up and assert its proportional share of the national media voice.

With this thought in mind I bring to the attention of Swordsfolk the federal government's Media Convergence Review which is currently underway.

From the website of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy:

The draft Terms of Reference for the Convergence Review aim to highlight the major issues that arise as a result of convergence. These include the value of Australian and local content, diversity of voices, community standards, regulatory certainty, competition and innovation. We encourage you to contribute to the conversation.

www.dbcde.gov.au/.../

The closing date for submissions is 5 pm EDT on Friday 28 January 2011.

In this, the final week of submissions being accepted, I call on all interested readers, posters and lurkers to send your ideas and wishes to the Department on how a representatively-balanced media can be brought about. In particular, how to ensure that Progressive views receive an equal media voice to those of the Regressives, being that Australians are traditionally split roughly 50:50 into the Labor and non-Labor camps.

There has never been a more opportune time to work for positive change in the make-up of the media.

www.dbcde.gov.au/.../

Rx

January 23. 2011 11:53 AM

Acerbic Conehead

Thanks FS, for a challenging and thought-provoking call to Australians to support those in our community who are doing it tough.  I definitely don’t think it’s too much to ask to help out, especially when disasters strike.

Moreover, it looks like the community-building People Skills that Tones brought to the Coalition’s 11-year reign have got a bit rusty.  He dragged himself away from building sandcastles during his summer holidays and belatedly tried to come to the rescue of Queensland after the floods.  However, it seems that a more community-minded Anna Bligh and Julia Gillard have stolen a march on him.  Here he is, holed up in an upper-room of a flood-damaged Queenslander, sulking at the lack of success of his attempts to portray himself as the Leading Concerned Citizen.  Cue Simon and Garfunkel’s, “I am a rock”.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhgFNRhgVP8
:- (
A summer’s day
In a damp and dark Queenslander
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
I see Jooles and Anna, their faces all aglow
I am in shock
I am in denial
:- (
I've scrubbed walls
Just long enough for the cameras
A false image to perpetrate
I have no need of mateship; mateship is a pain
It's power and number one I proclaim
I am so vain
I am so selfish
:- (
Don't talk of tax
Or levies we’ve raised before
It's dams we should be building
Just because I’m fonder, of a roof that’s blown away
Than re-doing a leaky bathroom, they say
I am a schmuck
I am a deadhead
:- (
I have my book
My Battlelines to protect me
I am shielded with my blarney
Hiding in this room, safe within my tomb
I’ll stay here til they stop their sleep-walking
I am the tops
They are deluded
:- (
And WorkChoices never dies
Only gets buried and cremated

Acerbic Conehead

January 23. 2011 12:16 PM

Feral Skeleton

Great line that, in 140 characters or less, encapsulates this blog:
   'Tony Abbott, the LNP/News Ltd inc. ideology: transform Australia from a country built on Mateship, to one where hateship is the norm.'

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 12:22 PM

Feral Skeleton

AcerbicC.,
          'Leading Concerned Citizen' sounds too 'Lefty'. Thus I suggest 'Empathiser-In-Chief' as an alternative. It has those militaristic overtones the Regressives love to insert into the discourse of Civil Society. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 12:25 PM

Feral Skeleton

Rx,
    Thanks for bringing the Media Convergance Review to our attention. In this last week of the school holidays I may just have time to get something together. I think I also suggested previously, when I first heard about the review, that AA would be an ideal submission submitter. Have you put in a submission?
   Nevertheless, it's good to see that Senator Conroy isn't letting the grass grow under his feet after getting the NBN away.

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 12:28 PM

Ad astra reply

Rx
Any of us who feel aggrieved by media imbalance ought to make a submission to the Convergence Review at www.dbcde.gov.au/.../#submissions where it says: “You can make a formal submission by following the link below to fill in the online form or by email to convergence@dbcde.gov.au. Please make sure you are familiar with our Submission Guidelines when making a submission.”

AC
Simon and Garfunkel’s, “I am a rock” is a great tune to accompany your Abbott profile, which might appropriately be titled ‘I am a crock’.

Ad astra reply

January 23. 2011 12:59 PM

Feral Skeleton

Talk Turkey,
            I refuse to cease my idealism. Smile
Who knows, in the great scheme of things, like the Butterfly flappin' its wings in the forest, my idealism may end up creating a Cyclone of support for our better angels.

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 01:02 PM

Rx

Feral Skeleton,

I certainly have made my submission. It concerned the ill-effects of the current concentration of right-wing voices in the media, as well as some thoughts about how a more representative balance may be brought about.

I'm hoping that articulate ideas-people such as yourself, Ad Astra, TalkTurkey, NormanK, Acerbic Conehead, Bushfire Bill (if he's about) and other Swordsfolk of good intent (forgive me if I've neglected to mention you by name) who, as Ad put it, "feel aggrieved by media imbalance", will find the time during this coming week to add their thoughts and suggestions to the review process.

The government has indicated that is all ears - we've got their attention - let's as many as possible tell them what we think!

Rx

January 23. 2011 01:34 PM

Feral Skeleton

  Here's a concise rundown of all the Levies that the Howard government introduced, from Shane at Cafe Whispers:

#
on January 23, 2011 at 11:07 am Shane in QLD

'Tony Abbott is shouting from the roof tops about the proposal to introduce a flood levy as he claims we do not need to as our economy is strong and we can save the money in other ways. He claims there is no need to inflict the public with another levy.

I would like to point out the hypocrisy of these kneejerk comments in comparison to the levy for everything government he was a member of between 1996 and 2007.

In 1997 our budget DEFICIT was 5.4 billion and a gun buyback levy was imposed as a result of the tragic massarce in Tasmania. While this was a tragedy and the removal of guns fully supported by myself, there was no natural disaster or infrastructure decimation. The levy imposed simply bought back guns people owned. The Levy went from Oct 1996 to Sep 1997. We were in deficit so OK we needed a levy for a one off event.

In 1999 our budget SURPLUS was 4.3 billion and a Stevedoring Levy was introduced out of ideological determination to break the MUA and Industrial Reform. This levy lasted from 1999 to May 2006. We were in surplus so under Abbotts rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2000 our budget SURPLUS was 13 billion and an 11c a litre levy was introduced as a result of ideological determination to deregulate the dairy industry which forced thousand of famers off the properties to pay them an exit grant. This was supposed to reduce milk prices to the public. It simply reduced milk prices to the farmers sending thousands of them to the wall. This levy was in existance from 2000 until it was abolished by the Rudd Government in 2009. This was an exremely expensive levy placed on the public as milk is a staple. We were in surplus so under Abbotts rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2000 we also had the East Timor Levyevy at a time when our budget was in surplus by 13 billion dollars. We were in surplus so under Abbotts rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2001 Our budget SURPLUS was 5.9 billion and a levy of $10 per return flight ticket was introduced to compansate workers who lost their entitlements due to the collapse of a prviately owned business who did not provide allowance for employee benefits. This levy lasted from Sep 2001 to June 2003. In addition $100 million of the funds raised was used for airport security and nothin to do with ansett employees. We were in surplus so under Abbotts rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

In 2003 our budget was in SURPLUS by 7.4 billion dollars and a 3c per kilo levy on sugar was introduced as a result of ideological determination by the government to deregulate and reform the sugar industry. This levy ran from Jan 2003 to November 2006. Once again a savage levy on the general public. We were in surplus so under Abbotts rulings this levy should not have been introduced as we had enough money collected as taxes already.

So while the levy for everything government has massive surpluses they slugged us via levies with a summary as follows.

1996- Gun Levy
1997- Gun Levy
1998- No Levies
1999- Stevedoring Levy
2000- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-East Timor Levy
2001 – Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Ansett Levy
2002- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Ansett Levy
2003- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Ansett Levy-Sugar Levy
2004-Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Sugar Levy
2005- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Sugar Levy
2006- Stevedoring Levy-Milk Levy-Sugar Levy
2007- Milk Levy

In addition other than the gun buyback and ansett levy the other levies were politicial ideology deregulation levies. Not one levy was as a result of a natural disaster effecting thousands of poeple but rather ideology busting.

Now Tony please re convince me of your argument that this government does not need to introduce a levy.'

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 01:40 PM

Feral Skeleton

  A pretty sober and objective view about the Floods/Dams issue from a Queensland expert:
www.abc.net.au/.../3118379.htm?section=justin

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 01:45 PM

NormanK

FS
Sorry this is going to be off topic. The gerbils are still racing around in their cage trying to come up with a semi-literate response to your blog.

Rx
Keen as I am to provide input into the Media Convergence Review, so far I have not found anything in the draft terms of reference which speaks to my dismay at our current media shortcomings. As I tried to point out on the last thread, Australia and Queensland in particular are currently subject to a gross imbalance in the availability of divergent points of view if one is a casual consumer of news and current affairs. Convergence as defined by the MCR and accompanying papers seems to already be working in favour of a wider range of opinion i.e. you and I can readily find content which disputes the claims of the MSM but it is the casual consumer who is being short-changed in the current MSM set-up.
Not to say that I won't submit something, regardless of whether it can be described as being relevant to the terms of reference or not.
As you correctly point out, when the public has a chance to bend the ear of government such opportunities should be grabbed with both hands.

NormanK

January 23. 2011 02:33 PM

Feral Skeleton

Here is Andrew Elder's latest blog where he talks about the NSW Right and their federal 'White Knights'. It also ties in nicely with the post-election blog I did(Sep 3,2010) about a couple of the same characters:
andrewelder.blogspot.com/.../...is-latest-pvo.html

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 02:37 PM

Ad astra reply

Folks
I'm getting on the road now for Melbourne.  I'll be back this evening.

Ad astra reply

January 23. 2011 02:53 PM

Feral Skeleton

Here's a fantastic blog from a UNSW Computer Scientist who debunks Andrew Bolt's latest claim that Global Warming didn't increase the severity of the Queensland floods:
scienceblogs.com/.../...olt_can_get_fooled_aga.php

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 02:56 PM

Feral Skeleton

NormanK,
        Be my guest! The gerbils running around the cage in one's head settle when they will. We are but their human ciphers. Smile
   Anyway, I've already gone off-topic meself. That's the beauty of TPS, we are accomodating souls. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 03:45 PM

2353

I can see a small glimmer at the end of the tunnel.

Lets look at the figures, something like 24000 people volunteered last weekend to assist cleaning up flood damage in Brisbane alone.  That figure is the ones that registered through the Council and one of 4 centres across the city (where the number of buses to take them to damaged areas couldn't meet demand).  For a variety of reasons I've had to drive around 100k around Brisbane today and through a few of the areas that were flooded.  The number of signs outside public facilities and businesses of all sizes thanking volunteers for what they have done for the particular facility is mindblowing.  Today (Sunday) I've seen crews from Ergon Energy (the electricity supplier for regional Queensland), around midnight one night early this week I drove past a Country Energy truck doing some work at a substation (don't know where they're from but they had NSW plates!).  I've also seen a number of Logan and Redland Councils trucks working hard (both in the South East but really not affected much) and people are actually slowing down at the "roadworks" where they are still removing rubbish.  I would imagine that similar activities are happening throughout the rest of Queensland as well as Victoria.  The community spirit in Brisbane at the moment is amazing.

Abbott's "cheap political shots" is getting some media coverage for all the wrong reasons in Brisvegas at the moment - the Courier Mail being the chief executioner.  As far as the commercial news services (and ABCTV) is concerned, Abbott is hardly reported (and Langbroek - the state LNP leader might as well be on Mars for all we know).  A number of articles have been in both the Courier Mail and (internet only) Brisbane Times this weekend that are highly critical of Abbott's parrot fashion "a great big new [insert name] tax" asking why is a Surplus budget necessary by a certain date, what's wrong with assisting other to return to some semblance of normality and pointing out the contradiction of the last Conservative Government introducing a range of "levies", Abbott himself suggesting a levy for paid maternity leave and then protesting at the suggestion that a levy be introduced to fund the mother of all clean ups across three or four states.

I read somewhere over this weekend that in some way, this flooding across the east coast may be the circuit breaker the country needs to realise that life goes on - Australia missed the GFC bullet and there is a way forward that doesn't involve the radicals of all political beliefs continually bringing every other discussion down to their level.

As I said at the top, I see a glimmer of light - Bligh (formerly less popular than Keanelly in NSW) seems to be invincible at the moment because she is seen as doing whatever she can - she was out shovelling mud in a unit complex in her electorate yesterday, Gillard is responding to Abbott's "thought bubbles" through actions rather than words, the Courier Mail which has been until recently reporting Abbott's thought bubbles as the preferred Government position is now questioning his motives and they are even publishing critical comments (I listed one of mine of the previous topic here) and Emergency Services Queensland in general are being lauded as heroes.  

The Independents at the last election demonstrated some moral and ethics when they refused to be bought by Abbott's offers of a hospital here and water security there - Abbott completely missed their mood.  It seems that Abbott has again missed the mood on the community paying for the redevelopment of a large percentage of the east coast - the majority of the nation isn't interested in politics at a time like this.  Hopefully the radicals at both ends of the political spectrum can read the mood of the greater population and act appropriately.

2353

January 23. 2011 04:39 PM

Feral Skeleton

2353,
     I had forgotten that Abbott himself had suggested a 'Great Big New Levy' to fund his Paid Parental Leave Scheme. What a flamin' hypocrite that man is!
   You know, you speak about a glimmer of light, well, as I posited in the blog post, I think that we reached a political inflexion point over the end of year break with the floods in Queensland and Victoria, plus the almost fatal shooting of the Congresswoman in Arizona. I believe that because these events occurred during the traditional period of reflection for people when they were, for the most part, on their holidays, they were thus able to see the events differently from the way they would have if they had have occurred when they were more harried in their day to day lives.
   I have had a theory that goes to the fact that the Regressive parties are magnificent at Sound Bites, Talking Points and control of the 24/7 News cycle. It works to their advantage because people in their everyday lives generally do not have the time or the inclination to deconstruct these messages and form a considered opinion about whatever it is that the Abbott Opposition, and the Republicans in the US, are forcefully projecting into the media space. So they end up convincing a lot of people to their way of thinking who may normally be a bit more sceptical. And so it goes on and on, because they are also relentless and never take a backward step, until it collides with an election.
   As I said though, sometimes the electorate is given the time to reflect and ressess and consider Progressives' generally more nuanced positions. Also to see the Regressives' malarky for what it is in the cold light of day.
   I hope this is one of those times. I guess it will depend on whether the federal Labor Party can capitalise on those gains as parliament resumes and with their policies in the year ahead.

Feral Skeleton

January 23. 2011 08:35 PM

Ad astra reply

2353
Maybe the MSM is finally waking up to Tony Abbott’s hollowness.  The public has never rated him highly in comparison to Julia Gillard.  He has languished in the low thirties as PPM.  The people seem to have a fix on his behaviour; if the media joins them he may be finished.  There is only so many times that a politician can use the same line – maybe GBNT has had its day.

HS
Andrew Bolt is not stupid, so the only explanation for his outrageous statements that do not accord with the science is that his purpose is to outrage.  Sustaining a high hit rate seems more important to him than transmitting the facts, than seeking the truth about climate change.  He behaves as an entertainer and a rabble rouser among the skeptics and deniers, who follow his every pronouncement without question.  From this he makes a good living even as his reputation as a reporter of matters scientific sink lower by the day.

Ad astra reply

January 23. 2011 11:49 PM

Feral Skeleton

  Here is some more fine blogging from Mr Denmore at 'The Failed Estate'. One is about the increasingly irritating habit of Newsrooms leading their bulletins with, "The Opposition said today...", and suchlike. The second one which we have not linked to recently should interest Rx especially. It is about the growing media tension between Murdoch's desire to converge the media world into his backyard, and how he is pitting his empire against Public Broadcasters.

http://thefailedestate.blogspot.com/

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 10:28 AM

TalkTurkey

Has anybody been watching, or rather been subjected to, Barry O’Farrell on ABC 24, at the enquiry into the sale of NSW Electricity Thing, going on for HOURS and HOURS and HOURS in what amounts to an election rant? Well most of a whole hour at least, and it seemed like all morning. Crisp Almighty, is there nothing in the world worth broadcasting? I’m a Croweater, why would I want to hear that all morning? O’Farrell wouldn’t of course detail or even outline his own policy, and he was allowed to have his way with the whole enquiry, on and on and on . . . Dog I despise the ABC now, 24 is just a bad joke. I will certainly send my thoughts to the Media Convergence Review, thank you Rx for alerting us to its existence.

TalkTurkey

January 24. 2011 11:49 AM

nasking

Why can't we live together?

Because certain radio jocks, media outlets make big bucks dividing communities. And some archaic & destructive industries use them to survive. As they do certain pollies...including Mr. Negabore Abbott.

And screw the consequences. They can always afford to build on high ground. And/or keep multiple premises in case one is hit by those consequences.

And they can afford to pay for flood insurance. When yer that rich you can afford to think: "What me worry?".

And ignore reality...whilst sipping on yer calmative cocktail and yelling into yer top notch communication device, w/ sh*t eatin' grin: "Show me the money!!!"

N'

nasking

January 24. 2011 01:58 PM

Feral Skeleton

Talk Turkey,
            I was unlucky enough to catch the beginning of the rant from the Leader of the already corrupt NSW Coalition Opposition myself before thankfully having to go out this morning. I think he's mastered the technique of circular breathing because I swear I did not discern him pausing for breath once while I was looking and listening to him.
   I'm sure the Liberal Party will be pleased with all the free publicity that they received courtesy of ABC24. Such an uninterrupted chunk of media time is priceless.
   Anyway, it's now obvious to Blind Freddy why the Liberals wanted this Inquiry into the sale of the Trading & Generating assets of the NSW Electricity Industry so badly, they wanted a free kick for Bazza O'Farrell to bloviate on a platform provided by for free by the media right before the election.
   As per usual with the slippery Liberals, you couldn't get one syllable out of his mouth though about his own policies, just a mere mouthing of the platitudinous, and extremely contemptuous of the electorate, line about, "You will see our policies released in good time during the election campaign". What's that supposed to mean? I'll tell you, they don't want the sort of scrutiny that comes from releasing your policies WELL BEFORE the election campaign. Instead, they'll release them all in a rush during the hurly burly of the election campaign when the electorate will be distracted by the scorn that will be raining down upon the ALP from all the media outlets in NSW.
   Like I said, this crew have already become mired in one corruptiojn scandal, with the son of the Shadow Attorney General, Greg Smith, using taxpayers' money to employ his son's PR firm(his son is a Plumber by trade, btw), to work on election material.
   Not that I mind. I'm quite looking forward to the NSW Liberal/National Coalition, home of Tony Abbott, showing the rest of Australia their true colours before the next federal election. And I'll be on their tail the whole way.

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 02:55 PM

Feral Skeleton

Nasking,
        Wow! Bear was growlin' today! Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 04:00 PM

NormanK

Feral Skeleton
Time's up for the gerbils! When asked for a positive response to "why can't we live together?" I was met with a blank stare.
They were quick to remind me of running street battles where the only ideological difference between the two groups was which particular football team they supported. They pointed to long-standing confrontations, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths, based on a disputed historical interpretation of events whereby one holy book differs from another holy book even though the basic tenets and messages of both books are fundamentally the same.
With pitying eyes they directed me to an item in today's news where it seems that not only are greedy (but not needy) individuals in Brisbane claiming $1000 because they qualify by having been without power for 48 hours but they see fit to gloat about it on Facebook.
The criticism came yesterday as some recipients gloated on social networking site Facebook about the easy money.
One Facebook user wrote: "Thank you Centrelink. $1000 flood money! Bali Bali Bali."
Another wrote: "$1000 flood money. Bought two cartons and won $90 on the pokies."

www.brisbanetimes.com.au/.../...0110124-1a1hd.html
The comments section following this article makes edifying reading as well.
So we have the contradictory co-existence of the "what about me?//it's free so I'm gonna take it" portion of our society clashing with the altruistic generosity of strangers willing to help those in times of strife.
Equally contradictory are those who go to great lengths to minimise their tax bill (to the point of fraud by claiming in full un-receipted outlays for tools and uniforms etc. when no such outlay exists) whilst at the same time bemoaning the state of our roads or hospitals or schools or funding for the arts or whatever their personal bugbear happens to be.
In short, "why can't we all live together in peaceful coexistence?" Because a significant percentage of any given population is selfish, greedy and short-sighted.
No further proof of this is required beyond the success of Abbott, Jones, Bolt, Beck, Palin et al. In the marketplace of ideas, if there was no fundamental customer base for their particular type of tripe, they could not exist. Some people may be swayed to their point of view through misinformation and outright lies but a reliable base of individuals who genuinely share their view of the world is the only thing which makes them successful in the first instance.
Having said all of that, the gerbils (when faced with eviction from their cage) conceded that the fight is not lost but that it will be a constant ongoing battle between those who have sympathy and empathy for the under-priviliged and downright unlucky and those who say "what I have is Mine".  All we can do is live our lives according what we think is right and fair and continue to take up our mops, our brooms and our shovels to lend a hand to a fellow in trouble. Starting at the grassroots level, it would be hoped that this philosophy will continue to percolate up to the decision-makers in our society who will then form policies and take actions based on compassion rather than selfish greed.
Unfortunately, this is a battle which will have to be fought anew every day by each successive generation.

NormanK

January 24. 2011 06:33 PM

2353

During the recent flooding in Brisbane, Queensland Rail moved a lot of trains from the Mayne (yes that is spelt correctly - it's a suburb) Rail Yards to some of the tracks around the suburbs as Mayne Yards are subjected to creek flooding.  Some people saw it as an opportunity to vandalise the trains with paint cans.  The Police arrested some of the culprits the other day.  The interesting thing (speaking about personal responsibility) is the CEO of Queensland Rail announced in a letter to the editor on Saturday that half the fleet is vandalised and Queensland Rail is also going to sue them for damages.  So far anyone that has seen the sequence of events feels that a lawsuit is legally all that can be done  - but a lot of other suggestions are being offered - some of dubious legality.  Centrelink and the State Government are also cracking down on people who have claimed "flood benefits" unnecessarily or incorrectly according to the media.  Those boasting of their incorrect claims on Facebook will probably be getting a visit from someone really soon!

Contrast the above with the tens of thousands of volunteers that have helped clean up Queensland and Victoria, the Emergency Services workers (SES workers are usually volunteers) and so on who have helped people they have probably never met before.  There is still a large majority of the community who do the right thing.  What is needed is for those that do the wrong thing to be caught and the fact publicised.  I believe that over the next couple of weeks the media will actually do this in Brisbane anyway.  It's a start.

2353

January 24. 2011 08:03 PM

Feral Skeleton

NormanK,
        Whilst I can understand your tone of resignation with respect to the overriding reality as you see it, might I just say that I sincerely believe that we have reached one of those famous Ruddian 'Fork in the Road' moments with the collision of the two events that I spoke about in my post. I just keep coming across increasing scepticism from right-thinking, as opposed to Right-leaning, journalists, about the sort of political scams that the bigoted, Carny Barkers of the media and in politics seemed to get away with on a regular basis as late as the end of last year. Everything from whatever the hell bloviating buffoons like Joe Hockey are saying not getting as much of the air time as he used to in News bulletins, to journalists actually asking sceptical questions at Coalition Press Conferences.  Of course, that has to be balanced against the increasing influence of the Murdoch hacks on ABC and Channel 9.
  Baby steps they may be, and it may all revert to type as the heavy-hitters come back on deck, but I'm not giving up the fight. It's too important.

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 08:04 PM

Feral Skeleton

  I have a theory. We're not getting much input to this blog because the Tennis AND the Cricket are on TV. Smile
   Not that I blame anyone for watching. I'm just lucky enough to be able to do both at once!

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 08:10 PM

jj

AA,

It was all fine until you started on with the Tony Abbott, Labor Party spin again.
The one thing we need to make sure of in this country is that we do allow differing opinions to be accepted as just that. I suppose a lasting legacy of the Liberal, and to some extent Labor era, was the instilled sense of individuality and a rejection of collectivism to an extent.

TT and others,

The Labor party deserves everything it gets! It has had 16 years to propel this state forward, but now we are seen as the poor cousin of VIC and WA. I think the latest galaxy poll got it quite right, the Labor party should be annihilated in March, and i just dont understand the logic of those who would even for a moment consider voting for them.

jj

January 24. 2011 08:15 PM

Feral Skeleton

2353,
     The example of a community not just shrugging off concern for vandalised assets since the floods went through and communities were enlivened, is a pertinent one.
   I think the fact that people have seen that, collectively, they can flap their butterfly wings and create a positive wind for change, has done something to the way they approach life in their community and made them realise that all the fear of 'the other', that Conservative politicians engender as their stock-in-trade, was just a chimera, a bubble that has now been burst.
   Yes, there are bad people in every society, such as the assassin in Tucson, Arizona, but we should not just shrug our shoulders and turn away and focus on life behind our increasingly-fortified doors. Instead we should realise that we will always outnumber them, and our strength is in our numbers. Be it in the fight against train graffiti vandals, shock jocks and Murdoch media hacks, or devious and craven politicians, such as the pusillanimous Tony Abbott, and his coterie of coves in the Coalition.

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 08:52 PM

Jason

jj,
  As I understand it NSW Labor should have lost the last election!So are you saying the people are stupid or should the blame lay at the feet of the NSW coalition who it seems were thought to be even worse than the Labor party? So you could also argue your lot has had 16 years to convince people they were ready for government could you not?

Jason

January 24. 2011 09:15 PM

Rx

[i}...not getting much input to this blog ...[/i]

For what it's worth (!) I'm here frequently but don't often have much to say. Do appreciate, though, reading others' thoughts (with some exceptions). My main area of interest with politics is where it intersects with the media. Find myself lately in an ongoing state of dismay, to put it mildly, about what's thrown up where the two meet. Spin, propaganda, lies, childish slogans, cheerleading, boosting, bootstrapping, conditioning, agenda-driven behaviour from those who should know better - we see it all every day. Compounding the disappointment, there is no, repeat NO coverage of domestic politics that stands out from the crowd, that differentiates itself with quality. The ABC once did so (and in fact its Charter requires that it still do), but it seems that since right-wingers got to be a critical mass on the Board, well, its treatment of politics has scrambled into the sewer, where it rolls in the excrement in delirious partisan debauchery with the other overtly right-wing outlets. Something good and noble has been quietly trashed: Aunty has been defiled.

Rx

January 24. 2011 09:26 PM

Jason

Rx,
ABC and SBS board appointments!  Expressions of interest must be submitted by close of business on Friday 11 February 2011

www.dbcde.gov.au/.../abc_and_sbs_board_appointments

Jason

January 24. 2011 09:46 PM

Rx

Thanks Jason!

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (the Minister) will advise incumbents, in writing, at least four months before the expiry of their appointment whether it is intended to reappoint them, not reappoint them, or to advertise the position to test the field.

www.dbcde.gov.au/.../the_merit-based_appointment_process

One might just have to write to The Minister with advice on who to reappoint and who to not reappoint.

Rx

January 24. 2011 09:47 PM

Feral Skeleton

Rx,
    This might make you feel a tiny bit better:
www.guardian.co.uk/.../rupert-murdoch-empire-news-international

  Uncle Rupert isn't getting any younger(and he's starting to look it), and those that he left to mind the shop in the UK are looking like they are not up to the task he set them of running the country. Neither is his son, James, it seems, because all of this has happened on his watch. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 09:48 PM

Feral Skeleton

Jason,
      I reckon Ad Astra would be an ideal appointment for the ABC Board. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 09:54 PM

Jason

FS,
  I thought the same thing! or even your good self and Normank!

Jason

January 24. 2011 10:14 PM

Ad astra reply

Folks
I’ve busy all day with family affairs, and will be so until Friday.  So I’ll be making few comments.  I see you have been active in commenting about contemporary matters.  It’s very interesting reading.  Thank you.

Ad astra reply

January 24. 2011 10:16 PM

Rx

Phew! That's some article, FS. It pulls no punches. Long live the fearless, outspoken Guardian!

Rx

January 24. 2011 10:29 PM

Feral Skeleton

Essential Report for this week:
http://www.essentialmedia.com.au/essential-report/

Feral Skeleton

January 24. 2011 11:38 PM

Rx

Letter to Senator Conroy written, and ready to send in the morning's post. Thanks again for the tip, Jason.

Rx

January 25. 2011 12:56 AM

TalkTurkey

What happened?
(continued from January 23. 2011 10:10 AM)

Well, what did happen as a result of all Don's inspirational leadership?

Nothing much. Nothing good.

The Liberals were immovably, unceasingly, unfailingly illwilled. The way they always are.
Snide, sneering, sniping.

They hated Don more than Labor itself. He should have been one of them, they reckoned, he was a traitor to his class. So they turned to racial and legitimacy slurs about him.  

In the Dunstan household you could hear the latest racist jibes that had been put about about Don:

Gretel:
Knock Knock!

Don:
- Who's there?

Polly!

- Polly who?

Polly-nesian orphan bastard!(Everybody laughs)


Then Don:
Knock knock!

Gretel:
-Who's there?

Don:
Melanie!

Melanie Who?

Dunstan Kids (together):
Melanie-sian Orphan Bastard!

(everybody falls about)

But it really wasn't funny. The Right was always out to get him, and in the end I believe they did. Conspiracy theories had not yet come into vogue, but I had and still have my theory about the sudden death of Adele Koh, Don's second wife, and Don's simultaneous breakdown in health from which imo he never really recovered, even though he did a lot even after he resigned as Premier.

Nothing happened. The Right is just as rotten, they got Don Dunstan, they got Gough Whitlam, they got Paul Keating, and they hate Julia Gillard too for all the right reasons.

Why can't people live together? - Because there are enough illwilled people to foul up any good initiatives. Bum-Bolt, Anal Jones, Cloacaman, they're all heroes to those people. They get their jollies by being voices of hate, and the MSM pays them well. In fact I remember when I was at high school, there was a Current Affairs Bulletin issue entitled just that, Voices of hate, and it was about the Right in Australia even then. 1958 I think. The Right never changes, except to get nastier, and it has never been nastier than it is now. They don't want a better fairer society and have every intention of preventing it. They are the older equivalent of the little ( * )s who spray their idiot tags on the best of the murals that genuinely talented artists create. They are spoilers. Can you imagine anyone of a sincerely socialist persuasion lighting bushfires. Or anyone sincerely Green? It's ridiculous! So who does that leave? THEM! THEM THEM THEM! Limpy's side! How not to despise them? How to love them? They won't be loved, they are unloveable! That's why we can't live together! We can't fathom it, because we're not like that, and They won't relent, because that's the way they are. Damn.

I have to say, NormanK, you sure do write a mean article. These gerbils of yours, are they the Blarney Gerbils of legend? Can you send me a pigeon pair? I agree with pretty-well everything they have to say.    



TalkTurkey

January 25. 2011 09:29 AM

Ad astra reply

Folks
I'll be on the road most of the day.  Back this evening.

Ad astra reply

January 25. 2011 10:30 AM

Jason

Normank,
       The editorial in todays Courier Mail, sticks the boot into Abbott along the lines of "why does Abbott hate Queensland?"

www.couriermail.com.au/.../story-e6frerg6-1225993700197

Jason

January 25. 2011 11:20 AM

NormanK

Jason
In the same way as one should not shoot the messenger, I probably shouldn't say this but that article has made my day! In the Courier Mail no less. And I thank you for it.
Perhaps the Boney One has accurately sniffed the wind and the MSM worm is beginning to turn.
For those who don't wish to give News Ltd your clicks, the article is fiercely critical of Abbott for his hypocrisy and opportunistic politicisation of any proposed flood levy. Much of what it contains has been exposed previously on TPS but it is heartening to see it put into the mainstream, especially in a Murdoch vehicle.
Politics must not muddy levy planby Paul Syvret
HERE'S a question for Tony Abbott: how is raising money to help tens of thousands of people whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by the Queensland floods a "great big new tax"?
No sooner had Prime Minister Julia Gillard rightly and honestly said that the Federal Government was considering all options for paying for the cost of the disaster including a possible temporary levy to raise some extra revenue than our alternative prime minister was off his medication again.
"Great big new tax, great big new tax."
Honestly, the cynicism and political opportunism of the man can give you as bad a headache as the stench still wafting from the mud in some areas of Brisbane and Ipswich.
And that's before we get to the rank hypocrisy.
Is this the same Tony Abbott who was a member of the Howard government cabinet, which used special purpose at every opportunity to fund politically expedient or unforeseen expenditure?
Was it not the Howard government that gave us a special levy to pay for the gun buyback in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre?
That was, though, definitely good policy (why any "sporting shooter" needs a semi-automatic weapon is beyond me) and as a nation we footed the bill. Fair enough.
Was it not the Howard government that gave us a special levy on airline tickets to fund payouts to Ansett employees after the airline collapsed
Not, mind you, a government that established a national scheme to protect those most at risk in such circumstances, but certainly one prepared to tap the public purse for a few dollars more when the politics of the day demanded it.
And what of the levy to fund the dairy industry as it dealt with the painful policy impacts of deregulation?
Was that a "great big new tax", Mr Abbott? Or was it a helping hand (paid for by the rest of us) for a previously protected sector of the economy that was hurting as a result of policy decisions and very important to the National Party's polling booth prospects?
You say you want a balanced Budget and you pay lip-service to supporting those left with shattered homes and shattered lives, and to getting on with the job of rebuilding billions of dollars of damaged public infrastructure.
That money has to come from somewhere and, no, scrapping the National Broadband Network is not going to solve the problem.
Aside from depriving Australia of a major piece of nation-building infrastructure that will improve competitiveness and productivity and if managed well may actually return a shekel or two to taxpayers the spend on that program is spread over such a long time frame it is unlikely to meet the immediate rebuilding needs we now face.
Like John Howard's gun buyback all those years ago and more recently the defence mounted against the impact of the global financial crisis, we need a quick, decisive and well-funded response, not a knee-jerk, four-word slogan.
Having spent the best part of the past two weeks covering the floods at ground zero, I can assure you that this event has directly affected far more people's lives than any dairy industry restructuring or airline collapse.
So if we're all pitching in to help each other get through this, what is so wrong with the sort of special levy that the previous government (that would include you) used so often?
Or do you want spending cuts in other areas? Aged care, perhaps?
Or maybe removing unemployment benefits for those jobless people under 30? Wait, sorry, you've already proposed that.
What about cutting back some of the middle-class welfare excesses introduced under the previous government, Mr Abbott, such as non-means-tested baby bonuses and private health care rebates? (Memo to Treasurer Wayne Swan: have some guts here, mate, and stop embracing this profligacy . . . the electorate will respect you in the morning.)
No? I thought not. The Ascot and Toorak mummies may not be able to upgrade their four-wheel-drives in time for the next election.
So cut the tawdry point-scoring over what has been described by both sides of politics as a disaster of almost biblical proportions.
Let's just raise the money to rebuild and then raise a bit more to try and floodproof the most vulnerable areas.
That's not going to come as cheap as a 20-second grab on the 6pm news about "great big new taxes", but it is an investment in our nation and the future.
Yes, target the levy carefully so it doesn't hurt those already under real pressure even more. But we are a very, very wealthy nation by world standards and we can afford to pay for this if those among us who are reasonably well-off (and yes, that includes me, and yes, I'm happy to pay) sacrifice a bit.
Most importantly, we can do it without carving back the spending in areas that also define us as a largely caring and compassionate country.
We are Australians, we help each other out when the mud hits the fan and we tend to resent cheap politics intruding on getting the job done.



TT
Thanks for the kind words. I must confess you've got me stumped with Blarney Gerbils. It's curious, is it not, that there are some places our imaginations find it difficult to travel to? Ad astra got me with a reference to Paddington Bear in an exchange with SIC some time back - never understood that one.

FS
"Tone of resignation" got the hackles up for a minute, but on reflection it is probably as accurate as any other description. That resignation (to the presence of anti-social and/or selfish and/or unhelpful and/or fiercely dogmatic individuals in all societies) is one formed in my early teens and unfortunately subsequent experiences and observations have not disavowed me of the opinion. I did try to finish on a positive note though. It requires constant vigilance and action to prevent these segments of our society from exercising undue influence over public opinion and policy. As you say, none of us should give up the fight. It is far too important.

NormanK

January 25. 2011 12:17 PM

Bring Back Maxine

Talk Turkey

Thanks for your perspective of the Dunstan years. I especially agree with your last post.

"Why can't people live together? - Because there are enough illwilled people to foul up any good initiatives."

Kevin Rudd appointed several high profile Liberals to Government positions. Costello to the Future Fund, who criticized the Governments GFC response. He even lobbied the UN Sec. Gen. for Downer to be appoint as Special Envoy to Cyprus, who in turn tried to smear Rudd as a Liberal Party double agent as he went under anaesthesia for an emergency gallbladder operation.

Message to Labor in 2011 "Take no political prisoners"

Bring Back Maxine

January 25. 2011 12:38 PM

TalkTurkey

Jason,
Yes thanks for the Courier Mail link, you find great stuff. As NormanK says it is enough to make one's day. It sure sounds like a TPS or Grog or Cafe Whispers post, and it's in a Murdoch rag! Well said Paul Syvret, you're very courageous, I hope it's not terminal though.

Ya don't need to be a Weatherman to see which way the wind blows . . .

I've said all along, Abbortt is going DOWN! The only thing that's keeping him up at all is MSM hot air, and it's cooling fast. If the Coalition had a potential leader with anything credible to offer, (it hasn't, fortunately or otherwise), Abbortt would be splattered like raspberry jam over the landscape already.
Queenslanders do read the CM and they won't like the picture they're getting of Abbortt. About time.



TalkTurkey

January 25. 2011 12:53 PM

nasking

Yes indeed...Ad astra should be appointed to the ABC board.

And eventually Mr. Denmore of the blog 'Failed Estate'.

Enuff of these Howard & Murdoch lackeys. Growl. Smile

Top thread Feral. Per usual.

N'

nasking

January 25. 2011 02:49 PM

Feral Skeleton

Talk Turkey,
            Do not despair.

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 03:56 PM

tredlgt


   TT
   I to remember the feeling of optimism and excitement at what was possible when Don Dunstan showed how things could be .
   He made it appear that we could all have far better lives if the common good was more important than complete  self interest.  A great person who made a positive everlasting change in the whole of Australia.
   At around the same time another influential person was emerging from that part of the country to give us partially clothed  women on page three of our newspapers and has continued to provide outlets for derision  and intolerance to this day. Pity this grub has lasted so long .
   In the long run the influences of Don Dunstan have improved the quality of australian life and those of the grub are still trying to hinder that quality .
   I still barrack for Don and his fellow travellers, all the Believers who want equality and fairness for everyone not just those who can buy it.
    Don Dunstans Cookbook , chapter 1 is still a good read .

tredlgt

January 25. 2011 04:21 PM

nasking

Paul Syvret is one the few News Ltd columnists who doesn't make my blood boil or get me shakin' my head w/ despair. He seems quite sane for that organisation. Like George M.

Read his piece and thought "good stuff...'bout time QLDers heard some truthtellin' about Abbott" by way of their one & only rag.

More.

N'

nasking

January 25. 2011 04:28 PM

Feral Skeleton

I left a comment on the Paul Syvret piece. Sadly it didn't get published. Hope he read it though. Which is just as important to me. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 04:33 PM

Feral Skeleton

Bring Back Maxine,
                  I take great comfort from the fact that now that Julia Gillard is leader of the government no more of Kevin's Triangulation appointments will be made to the very important vacancies which are coming up on the Reserve Bank Board and the ABC Board. I wouldn't be surprised if Julia appointed someone like Eva Cox to the ABC Board, or Wendy Macarthy, who both have long resumes in the media area and have fought the good fight for Progressive causes without getting too political about it. I'd love to see the expression on Janet Albrechtsen's face if she was replaced by one of them....Or, maybe Maxine. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 06:01 PM

Rx

Feral Skeleton,

I left a comment on the Paul Syvret piece. Sadly it didn't get published. Hope he read it though. Which is just as important to me. Smile

Me too. Not published either.

It makes me wonder how many comments from Progressives the obliging News Ltd servants censor out across the entire organisation. Imagine: all those outlets, hundreds of political stories open to comment per week. The amount of censorship of commentary that is contrary to the house line must be phenomenal!

Rx

January 25. 2011 06:28 PM

2353

Me three.  I left a (unpublished) comment as well.  

I actually emailed Paul Syvent complimenting him of a piece he wrote some time ago - suggesting not to take the criticism it would no doubt get seriously as a number of people would also agree.

I got a very nice email back thanking me and pointing out that the emails he got in relation to the article were 90% positive.  As someone said up further - one of Murdoch's better journalists.

Off topic but here goes anyway - the Brisbane Times this afternoon is reporting Police have arrested a number of people accused of looting, someone stealing a boat that was washed down the River and another train vandal today.  Good to see it happening - even better to see it reported.

2353

January 25. 2011 07:51 PM

nasking

Just watched part of ‘The Drum’ on ABC 24.

The panelist who got most time to air their views on the possible “flood levy” was a Costello advisor. And negativity dominated.

It’s the first time I’ve watched The Drum in mths...now I remember why I don’t bother w/ it.

Oh, BTW, the Costello advisor reckoned it would be a different matter if it was a big war or somethin’ similar. Then a levy might be justifiable.

Freakin’ warmongers.

N'

nasking

January 25. 2011 07:53 PM

Ad astra reply

jj

You complain: "AA, It was all fine until you started on with the Tony Abbott, Labor Party spin again."

You had better get used to us getting into Tony Abbott, because it will continue until he behaves responsibly.

If you think we are being unreasonably criticising him for his behaviour over the recent floods, try reading what a News Limited journalist Paul Syvret said in an article in the Courier Mail: Politics must not muddy levy plan

www.couriermail.com.au/.../story-e6frerg6-1225993700197

Ad astra reply

January 25. 2011 08:03 PM

Patricia WA

Just back, and after visiting Cafe Whispers and here I was immediately inspired to read Paul Syvret's article and then to comment.  I'll be interested to see if my expression of astonishment at the stupidity of a political leader who wants to be PM encouraging such selfishness at a time of national crisis is published.  Syvret's opinion must surely be shared by all sane Australians, whether of the right or left persuasion?

Patricia WA

January 25. 2011 08:21 PM

Feral Skeleton

Nasking,
        I, too, watched 'The Drum' in horror tonight. I only started watching it when they put Steve Cannane in the host's job as I was very impressed with his work when he was at JJJ. What a difference an outlet within the ABC conglomerate makes! Tonight he barely pushed back against the Liberal Talking Points that Alan Anderson(who, btw, happens to be the same Alan Anderson that used to write Op Ed pieces for The Australian during the Howard years. Funny, he was never mentioned as a 'Costello Staffer' then.) Not only that, but when 'Man Dumpling'(Colbert comes up with the greatest put-downs for Regressives), Anderson made one of those limp-wristed put-downs of the Labor Party that the Liberals specialise in, all I heard from Cannane's place, which was off-camera at the time, was an obsequious little giggle.
   Do the Liberals who work at the ABC, when these guys get a job on one of the 'serious' channels, grab them by the gonads and say, "If you know what side your bread's buttered on, son, I'd drop all that Pinko, Left Wing crap if you want to get ahead", or something?
   Not only that, but tonight 'The Drum's' idea of a panelist from the 'Left' of politics was that fop Thom Woodrofe, whose main claim to fame is that he's all over Twitter every day like a rash, making foppish comments in 140 characters or less! Puhhlleeaassee!! He basically agreed with everything Anderson said anyway, but was just the Private School bitch to Anderson's aggressive, aspirational head-kicker, as opposed to a contrary point of view.
   Then, to top it all off, we had a Pommie Bastard ABC female journalist, whose main contribution to the show was gloating over the fact that because she spent too long in the pub the night before having to drive the Tanami Track to Katherine she was glad she had a Bull Bar on her 4WD so she could just plough through our wildlife at the rate of knots in order to make it on time to her next destination!
   And the ABC calls this show a serious discussion about the issues of the day? No way. It's a bitch session against the ALP government, as are too many of the ABC's programs these days.

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 08:48 PM

jimbo

hi all
      am glad to be back at tps this year.a year we need to come u with some quick snappy slogans for wingnutt.i have com up with a few.one if which is[mr ahbort you carried out systematic voting down of labor policy how then does the australian people know you wont abort your own mr ahbort

jimbo

January 25. 2011 08:53 PM

Miglo

Happy birthday Feral and welcome back Patricia.  I haven't been blogging for a couple of days as my lupus has been knocking me about, but I don't want this grand occasion to go unrecognized.

Miglo

January 25. 2011 09:05 PM

Feral Skeleton

Miglo,
      Wow! You are special! A male with Lupus. But then I always knew you were special. Smile
Anyway, thank you for the kind salutations. I've eaten too much cake already. Frown

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 09:07 PM

Feral Skeleton

jimbo,
      Happy New Year! And Welcome Back to TPS for 2011. Smile
How's this for a 3 Word Slogan?
'No More Dams!'

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 09:11 PM

Feral Skeleton

  Here's a good article from 'The Economist'(if somewhat disturbing in one sense because it goes to a form of Social Darwinism that will determine our collective future):
www.economist.com/node/17929013?story_id=17929013

   As it relates to this blog I can only say that I hope that those who are cognitively superior in the future don't forget that not everyone is and that it behoves them to allow the continuance of the Social Safety Net for those that are not.

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 09:55 PM

NormanK

Happy Birthday Feral!
Go balloons!!

Welcome back Patricia WA.

Welcome back jimbo.

Miglo - sorry to hear you are unwell. It is very fashionable you know. All the best Little Duck.

NormanK

January 25. 2011 09:56 PM

Feral Skeleton

  Good to see some Conservative political parties agreeing that Climate Change isn't 'Absolute Crap':
www.smh.com.au/.../20110125-1a3nq.html

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 10:25 PM

Feral Skeleton

NormanK,
        Thank you. Smile
I made my son make the cake for me. It was revenge for all the cakes I have made for his birthdays where the greatest effort he had to make was bringing the beaters back out to the kitchen after he had licked them clean!

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 10:37 PM

Ad astra reply

FS
Happy Birthday from me too.  You share a birthday with my dear departed father.  A very special day.

Ad astra reply

January 25. 2011 10:54 PM

Jason

FS,
   Happy Birthday hope you had a good one!
Jason xo!

Jason

January 25. 2011 10:57 PM

Jason

FS,
  Happy Birthday hope you had a good one! xo

Jason

January 25. 2011 11:08 PM

Patricia WA

Happy Birthday, FS.   Did you get to lick the beaters?

Patricia.

Patricia WA

January 25. 2011 11:14 PM

Feral Skeleton

PatriciaWA,
           As an avowed egalitarian, I licked one beater and my son licked the other. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 11:15 PM

Feral Skeleton

Jason,
      Thank you, comrade. Smile
I let Australia take the spotlight tomorrow though. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 25. 2011 11:17 PM

Bring Back Maxine

FS

Happy Birthday!!  How about "Dam(n) the Stunts" as a birthday present! A three word bogan slogan for Ah..but in 2011.

Bring Back Maxine

January 25. 2011 11:19 PM

Feral Skeleton

Ad Astra,
         Thank you.
   This is the Age of Aquarius. Which keeps me getting up in the morning.
Enlightenment will always triumph over darkness in these times, I keep saying to myself. Smile
For your dad to have produced such an outstanding individual, he must have been pretty special.

Feral Skeleton

January 26. 2011 10:16 AM

Ad astra reply

FS
Thank you for your kind remarks.

Happy Australia Day to everyone.

I'll be on the road all day visiting family.  Back this evening.

Ad astra reply

January 26. 2011 11:06 AM

Gravel

Feral Skeleton

Thank you for another thought provoking article, and can I also join in the birthday wishes.

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes.  The recovery is very slow and the thought processes not firing on all cylinders for now.

Gravel

January 26. 2011 01:01 PM

NormanK

Possibly preaching to the converted but I want to put to bed the Regressives' notion that scrapping the NBN will go a long way towards alleviating the cost of repairs from flood damage in Eastern Australia.
I won't revive the debate about this being infrastructure spending for the long-term benefit of all of us - this has been eloquently dealt with elsewhere.
Rather, let's have a look at the raw numbers.
If you are a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, you might choose to believe that if the NBN were scrapped or even postponed tomorrow the federal government could "save" $50 billion. More than enough to cover the flood bill twice over. This figure is a complete nonsense and belongs in the minds of those who don't wish to give the subject any thought at all or are trying to score political points. See below.
Slightly more thoughtful but none-the-less flawed is the idea that the "savings" would amount to $43 billion - the overall cost of the build. This figure incorporates government investment and NBN Co privately raised funds, none of which is actually sitting in the Budget ready to be "saved". In other words, none of this is the much-vaunted "taxpayer dollars" so fiercely defended by the Coalition when in Opposition. It sits outside of the Budget structure and therefore can not be "saved".
Perhaps the $27 billion commitment by the federal government to the building of the NBN could be regarded as a "saving" if we stopped the roll-out. Once again, these are not taxpayer dollars. They are borrowed dollars which the government is going to invest in special infrastructure with a reasonable expectation of eventually recouping their investment including interest paid on the loans.
Which brings us to the taxpayer dollars involved in this venture - i.e. money which will have to come from the Federal Budget to facilitate the construction, money which could, in theory, be spent on other things. The only taxpayer dollars which need to be accounted for across the forward estimates (next four years) are the interest repayments on the loans.
Before we get to the punch-line of just how big these "savings" would be, let's entertain some of the "costs" of announcing the delay or indeed cessation of the NBN roll-out. We need look no further than the housing insulation scheme for a reasonable model of what the consequences might be.
Right now sub-contractors are at the very least training the trainers who will teach the new workforce best practice in how to conduct the roll-out. These same subbies will be looking at investments in machinery, tools and personnel in order to be best-placed to bid on contracts when they come up for tender. Capital investment in the millions of dollars will have already occurred.
Millions of metres of fibre optic cable will be required to fulfil the needs of NBN Co once the project reaches a decent head of steam and it would be a foolish manufacturer indeed who doesn't already have plans for increasing production to accommodate this need. It is not unreasonable to imagine that the "go ahead" button was pushed once the Gillard Government reached a deal with the Independents and Telstra was brought on-board. A modest stock-pile of cable almost certainly exists, ready to facilitate the acceleration when it occurs. More millions of dollars invested in expectation of the NBN going ahead.
The "boxes" required to connect the cable to itself, to service providers and to the end-user will be required in seriously high numbers. Some of these boxes have been decided upon in terms of design and proposed provider while others are still in the evaluation stage. Never-the-less, huge numbers of these will be required over the next ten years and, once again, if a company wishes to win contracts for their supply they will have to prove that they have the means of manufacturing and supplying them at a competitive price.
Not to mention, what to do with what has already been rolled out?
So, if the insulation scheme is anything to go by, the government could expect compensation claims in the hundreds of millions of dollars for reneging on in-principle agreements, existing smaller contracts and the possible collapse of businesses who have made investments in the reasonable expectation of future profits.
Back to Mr Abbott's "savings". According to the Departments of Treasury and Finance, they have this to say on the subject as part of their costings of Coalition election promises :
a reduction of $900 million over four years to public debt interest savings from reversing the ALP's policy to build the NBN.
www.scribd.com/doc/36771897/Coalition-Costings
Nine hundred million dollars. Not $50 billion. Not $43 billion. Not $27 billion. $900 million. A mere drop in the ocean for the expected expenditure on flood repairs which according to some estimates could go as high as $20 billion.
Any thought that the $27 billion earmarked to be borrowed to fund the NBN scheme could be swung around to fund other things (like flood repair//hospitals, etc.) is another complete nonsense because by their nature these expenditures would be "on budget" and therefore entail the use of taxpayer dollars.
So the next time Abbott or Hockey or Joyce or Robb front the cameras and call for the abolition of the NBN because the "savings" could fund the flood recovery effort, bear in mind that they are speaking of $900 million over four years.
Is it any wonder that those of us with a low tolerance for bullsh*t are disdainful of this current Opposition who have such a flagrant disregard for truth?

NormanK

January 26. 2011 01:09 PM

Miglo

Thank you Norman.  I'll battle on, but my problem is I don't know when to rest.  Until now.

Miglo

January 26. 2011 01:21 PM

Rx

All the best, Miglo. Love your work. Yours too, Feral Skeleton. Happy Birthday! To all Swordsfolk of good will, Happy Australia Day. Keep fighting the good fight.

Rx

January 26. 2011 01:51 PM

nasking

"I only started watching it when they put Steve Cannane in the host's job as I was very impressed with his work when he was at JJJ. What a difference an outlet within the ABC conglomerate makes! Tonight he barely pushed back against the Liberal Talking Points that Alan Anderson"

Feral,
top response.

My wife is very disappointed w/ Cannane...she used to listen to him regularly, like you, and reckoned he was far more feisty, wide thinkin' & intolerant of crap in those days. I don't know him from a bar of soap but find him dull as dishwater. I thought him a Liberal hack until S' told me otherwise. Amazing what earning more money & popularity can do to some eh?

It certainly makes you wonder about the environment in the ABC these days. Strangely got me thinking of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'. I imagine the home planet is called Murdochia.

Have a goodie of a birthday Feral.  

Welcome back Patricia.

Miss Lyn. Where's the super-linker?

Not that the rest of you on here haven't been doin' a fine job in that department. But Lyn is like the cherry on top. Smile

N'

nasking

January 26. 2011 02:55 PM

BSA Bob

Norman K
No doubt Hokey, Robb et al could dredge up a figure they've quoted if pressed, but it seems to me they largely get away with not mentioning projected long term costings, maintenance, etc, attributable to their competing communications scheme of the day.

BSA Bob

January 26. 2011 03:07 PM

NormanK

BSA Bob
Putting aside their alternate communications scheme, if we look only at Abbott & Co's claim that scrapping the NBN would largely fund the rebuild of Queensland and Victoria we can see that it is another Big Mac moment. Not for the first time, I ask where are the so-called professional journalists in all of this? If I can know that the real savings is only $900 million spread over four years, then so can they.

NormanK

January 26. 2011 04:04 PM

Feral Skeleton

NormanK,
        I love it when intelligent men start throwing meaningful numbers around! Keep it up and I'll have to start a fan page on facebook for you. Smile
   Now, you wonder why your average journalist is unable to do the sums as you have? Well, it has been stated elsewhere that Australian Press Gallery journalists have a preference for 'demolishing' the Gillard government, as opposed to analysing the facts of an issue; plus, as I read elsewhere, it has been shown that they are not the most numerate of beings, even though they are expected to analyse and comment on government economic programs; and, finally, they appear to jump from Press Release to circulated Talking Point, to journalist interviewing other journalist(many of whom do not bring their objectivity with them but their agenda), and thus are not mentally fit enough to do the hard yards necessary to have a truly objective point of view informed by the facts.
   However, this is where we here in the blogosphere have to have faith in the evidence which is constantly suggesting that individuals are moving away from the old, daily 6pm News feed for their political fare and increasingly turning to the diverse sources that the internet offers to them. Especially when it comes to fact-based, research intensive analysis of politics. Also, that we in the 5th Estate allow the sorts of conversations that the more mainstream media sites do not. And we do it for free!

Feral Skeleton

January 26. 2011 04:27 PM

Feral Skeleton

  A man after my own heart, Dr Geoff Gallop, and a topic along the lines of this blog:

www.smh.com.au/.../...c-values-20110124-1a2p7.html

Feral Skeleton

January 26. 2011 04:28 PM

Miglo

Thanks Rx.  It's good folk like you that keep us fighting.

Miglo

January 26. 2011 07:06 PM

Patricia WA

Am so disgusted with Abbott (I know that's not unusual for me - but much more so than usual!) that I can't find anything humorous to write about what he's playing at right now.  So yesterday I spent unpacking and getting across what's been said by you all in the past ten days.  Forgive me if I go off topic to respond to a couple of things that came up towards the end your last marathon thread

I know I could easily have dropped in to an internet cafe or even the public library on my daily walk but that somehow didn't fit the time warp I was in with my brother and his wife.  At 85 and 92 they are still avid newspaper readers and watchers of TV news and current affairs programs, as well as 'The Weakest Link!' And still crossword addicts too! The cold weather is their greatest enemy in that it keeps them indoors a lot and so less active, leaving them increasingly frail, though my sister-in-law is still up and down stairs with one thing and another around the house.  Their mutual caring for each other is wonderful to see after more than fifty years together. I came away thinking I might yet have to make another visit since both are so concerned about how the other will manage without them they'll hang in there and probably last me out!  Meantime they live in a world without the internet, or even a computer, and with radio and TV, amidst books, newspapers and periodicals.  Proof of how the intellect can survive a decaying body. I felt priveleged to be with them in their world and participating in it with them.

Yesterday I enjoyed catching up on the to and fro of comment here and my other favorite sites.  I thought Ad Astra deserved a response to his suggestion that people like TT and AC and other versifiers like me might want a separate thread for our efforts.  AA, this was tried by Miglo at Cafe Whispers, but for myself, and I suspect other rhymesters, satire needs immediacy and to be read in the context of the events being sent up.  A bit like the cartoon on the opinion pages.  Often a hilarious, but relevant, comment on current issues.
    
But I also read the comment from Janice on January 19th that she would like to see the poems posted by myself  TT and AC in book form entitled (perhaps) "The Political Sword Poets".  Thanks for the compliment Janice on how you enjoy reading them and wish you could remember them and/or wish you could pass them on to others.  Again, Janice, I don't think book form would work here either.  It does need context, and anyway satire is meant to be ephemeral, just for that moment and that event and that perpetrator of the latest outrage.

I do wonder though if we can't somehow use both these suggestions to collate last year's 'pomes' and songs and rhymes onto AA's generous offer of a sub-thread, with a brief dateline and outline of events showing their relevance.  This interests me now particularly since my brother was interested to know that I had written a lot more than I shown him so far and wanted to see all of my 'pomes' -  and I now have the task of giving him a brief note on the relevance of each one. Otherwise they'll be meaningless to him.

It may be that TT and AC have already collated their stuff with datelines and relevant notes - eg I note that AC has a note explaining and encapsulating his 'I am a rock' song above and I'm pretty sure that TT often does the same.   It only needs a few words and a date referring to the political context for some sort of coherent thread to be developed.  I myself now need, for my brother's sake, to do something of the kind with my 'pomes' which I then plan to print off for him to have in full.

Can TT or AC see themselves somehow cooperating in interweaving our stuff into some sort of date or thematic order on a thread offered by AA, or perhaps by Miglo at Cafe Whispers where his dedicated "Literature" thread has not had the use it deserves?  Does this sound like duplication?  Or is it what Janice is looking for, something to which she can either direct her friends, or print off for herself?

I stress though, this would be a collation, a record keeping process of already published stuff.  Immediacy within the relevant thread is the first priority of the satirist.

Patricia WA

January 26. 2011 08:19 PM

Miglo

Joe Hockey is making a song and a dance that people will have to pay a $5 a week levy to help the Queenslanders.  I'll tell you what I'll do, Joe.  I'll pay $10 so that you don't have to contribute.  If you decline the offer, perhaps I could pay on behalf of one of the rednecks that have written into news.com screaming for Gillard's blood over this tiny imposition.  

Miglo

January 26. 2011 08:57 PM

Feral Skeleton

  It's shameful the way the Opposition manipulate people's emotions for their own selfish political gains.
   On this Australia Day, I'm disgusted to call them fellow citizens.

Feral Skeleton

January 26. 2011 09:01 PM

Feral Skeleton

   Of course you have to add scumbag news outlets like Channels 7,9 and 10 to the above. I nearly fell off my chair tonight when I heard the newsreader on Channel 7 refer to the Flood Levy as, "Gillard's Flood Tax". How mean-spirited, spiteful and partisan can you get?

Feral Skeleton

January 26. 2011 10:01 PM

Feral Skeleton

Is $5 still the cost of 'a sandwich and a milkshake'? Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 26. 2011 10:07 PM

NormanK

Miglo & FS
I'm guessing that you are referring in particular to this article :
Emergency Medicare hike expected to raise $3.5bn flood funds
For the squeamish, here are abbreviated highlights from the Comments section :
The disaster happened in Queensland, why spread it around the nation further? .... Queenslanders blocked the dams and failed to flood proof their state - they should bear the brunt of the cost - this would be more fair than taxing all.

The sensible solution is to delay the $400 billion broadband roll out

I have no kids and earn a decent income so I get screwed the most.

Stop sending millions of our hard earned tax dollars to overseas countries

The people of Tunisia have set an example on how to remove a repressive and incompetent dictator. A series of peaceful public demonstrations and rolling strikes could well be the answer here too.


www.news.com.au/.../comments-fn7ik2te-1225994595371

The general feeling seems to be that there was no GFC in Australia; we should save our compassion for use on ourselves; the new tax will never be rescinded; its Queensland's own fault; cancelling the NBN will fix it; I should never have given to the Premier's Fund; how can we trust Labor with money after pink batts and BER?

I rest my case regarding my earlier resignation about the presence of a significant proportion of selfish fools in this country.
Makes you proud to be Australian on Australia Day.
To balance our dismay, we should remember to acknowledge that they are only 100 comments out of a population of 22 million. Not exactly representative.

NormanK

January 26. 2011 10:21 PM

Miglo

Norman,

Joe Hockey, news.com and the commenters they coax down from the trees have been the reason for a number of swearing episodes I have conducted today, both at Café Whispers and on my Facebook page.  I'll refrain from repeating them on this respectable site.  True, Café Whispers is a respectable site but as the blog master I'm allowed to swear. Smile

On the one day I was hoping to have complete rest and avoid stressful encounters, Joe Hockey and news.com conspire against me.

Miglo

January 26. 2011 10:44 PM

Ad astra reply

Folks
It's been a long but highly enjoyable day with family with long distances traversed.

I've enjoyed reading your comments this evening and found your analysis NormanK of the 'savings' consequent on abandoning the NBN revealing.  Are we to believe that Abbott and Co cannot do the same sums?  Are we to believe that there is no journalist capable of doing likewise and exposing the lie the Coalition is perpetrating?  If the answer is no, then we are being subject to deliberate fraud by the Coalition and their MSM sycophants.

PatriciaWA
Thank you for your comments about satirical poems.  The difficulties you mention are noted.  There may be other ways to highlight the delightful verse our poets write.

FS
'Gillard's Flood Tax' - it shows how determined some of the MSM are to run  Labor out of office.  Many punters will be revolted by this blatant political play when we all know how much the flood disaster requires all of us to pull our weight.

Ad astra reply

January 26. 2011 10:46 PM

NormanK

Miglo
You were quite justified in your outrage. I enjoyed your dummy-spit over at the Cafe.
There are indeed times when there are not enough expletives to go around and too few venues in which to hurl them with gay abandon.
Sleep well, Migs. It's a cliché but health really is the most important thing you know. Rest up so that you can fight another day.

NormanK

January 27. 2011 07:37 AM

Feral Skeleton

Ad Astra,
         The imagery that you allude to with your words 'determined to run Labor out of office' sent a shiver down my spine as it conjured up visions of vigilante groups with their pitchforks and flaming torches running some poor unfortunate out of town, usually someone who they had been incited to fever pitch to believe was a 'Witch'.
   I certainly hope, therefore, that the innate goodness that everyone is born with can be found within us all as we pull together and overwhelm the negativity being spewed like bile from the mouths of the self-interested and don't give up on our fellow Australians in dire straits in Queensland and Victoria.
   To aid my hopes, and NormanK you might want to look this story up as a balance to the vile outpourings of News.com.au, I was heartened to see a story yesterday on ABC24 about a group called 'Blazeaid', which formed in Victoria after the Black Saturday Bushfires. They are just a group of volunteers that fire up each time there is a natural disaster to donate their time and effort for free to help out those who need a helping hand after disaster strikes. Yesterday they were in Victoria pulling detritus and muck of a guy's grapevines so that they may recover and start producing wine grapes again. It very quickly, once the water had receded, become dry, hot and dusty work, but there were these people, of all ages, shapes and sizes, mucking in and pulling dried weed off everything and restoring his fencing. There was even one guy who had put off his 'Grey Nomad' around Australia holiday, to come down from Gosford near where I live, to lend a hand for as long as it took.
   So, I guess the moral of this story, NormanK, is, these people are out there too. You just don't see their opinions on News.com.au because they aren't sitting around taking potshots at the government, or greedily complaining. They are just getting on with doing what's right.

Feral Skeleton

January 27. 2011 10:34 AM

Patricia WA

FS, not surprisingly the Oz hasn't printed my plea for decency, which I know you've read at the Cafe, so I guess they're not planning to change their ways.  I re-thought the title and tidied it up a bit overnight, anyway, so I can try it on a few other media sites.

<b>Our Mates Ain't Heavy.  We'll Take A Levy!</b>

Why is 'The Australian' so kind
To Abbott’s not so little mate?
Why listen when he feels inclined
To spread bad news and speculate
On anything that comes to mind
To stir the pot and fester hate?

Why, even on Australia Day,
Let Hockey throw political mud?
I thought it was the Aussie way
To fight as one through fire and flood.
Let's read what Julia has to say!
Help her to stir the nation’s blood!

That paper’s name is a call to arms!
Their masthead's a declaration
They'll fight anything that harms
The heart of our young nation!
Reporting truth with less alarms
Would help all Oz. Perhaps too - their circulation.



Patricia WA

January 27. 2011 11:13 AM

TalkTurkey

Swordsfolk,
This was supposed to be yesterday's post, sorry, Out of date now, had to change Today to Yesterday.  

PatriciaWA back yesterday!
Lyn come back 1st February, eh!
Skeleton You now OK ?
(Hippie Bathday Aussie Day!)
Jason, Miglo, NormanK
Nasking, Gravel, you jj?
All Yous others I can’t say,
But, Dear Swordsfolk, SEIZE THE DAY!
Let’s ALL nominate AA!

What for? Or, For what? . . . ? . . .

Jason wrote
" Rx,
ABC and SBS board appointments!  Expressions of interest must be submitted by close of business on Friday 11 February 2011 "

'On ya Jase.

[That gives us 14 days to organise. Always assuming that Ad astra is agreeable, of course. TT]

Furthermore, and of much more imminent effect:

On Jan 23 Rx wrote:
" . . . I bring to the attention of Swordsfolk the federal government's Media Convergence Review which is currently underway.

From the website of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy:

The draft Terms of Reference for the Convergence Review aim to highlight the major issues that arise as a result of convergence. These include the value of Australian and local content, diversity of voices, community standards, regulatory certainty, competition and innovation. We encourage you to contribute to the conversation.

www.dbcde.gov.au/.../

The closing date for submissions is 5 pm EDT on Friday 28 January 2011.

[That's TOMORROW as the crow flies! TT]

In this, the final week of submissions being accepted, I call on all interested readers, posters and lurkers to send your ideas and wishes to the Department on how a representatively-balanced media can be brought about."


And in recognition of the importance of Rx's post,
AA wrote
' Rx
Any of us who feel aggrieved by media imbalance ought to make a submission to the Convergence Review at www.dbcde.gov.au/.../#submissions where it says: “You can make a formal submission by following the link below to fill in the online form or by email to convergence@dbcde.gov.au. Please make sure you are familiar with our Submission Guidelines when making a submission.” '
Ad astra reply

My submission will be brief and not concerned directly with the convergence of technologies, about which I understand little, but rather with the convergence of opinion expressed in today's mainstream media, which is really where the IT rubber hits the road. Or similar smellier similes.

TalkTurkey

January 27. 2011 11:27 AM

NormanK

FS
I don't really make too much of opinions expressed at News.com - in fact I don't go there any more. Yesterday was an exception brought about by Miglo's reaction to the comments made there. There will be plenty more of these whackos and their ilk spreading hate and dissension over coming days. I am not as down on the Australian people as perhaps my comments have suggested.
The government should spend time spelling out that the levy will go towards repairing crucial infrastructure like road, rail and ports and that it is the Premier's Flood Appeal funds which will primarily be used to assist individuals and businesses. There seems to be a misconception that Levy money will go towards replacing carpets in flooded houses etc.
Blazeaid came to my attention yesterday with the release of a song by Jane and Fred Kellaway who are donating the proceeds to Blazeaid to assist with their ongoing efforts. As I understand it, their primary purpose is to assist with fence repairs which means that they tap into a particular skill-set and perform one of the tasks most needed to get rural folk and primary producers back on the road to recovery.
http://www.blazeaid.com/
For every selfish scumbag there are a hundred good and charitable people out there.
I sincerely hope this blows up in Abbott's face. Firstly because he deserves it and secondly to restore some faith in the goodness of Australians who understand that it is all hands to the pump during times of adversity. Fingers crossed.

NormanK

January 27. 2011 11:30 AM

TalkTurkey

Miglo
Poor little Daffy Duck, pursued by Lupus, the big bad Wolf!
I know it's not at all funny . . . Not really . . . You have my sincere sympathy . . .
But it so reminds me of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, the Wolf swallows the Duck whole and alive! There's a lovely animated movie of it now, perhaps you might find the soundtrack soothing too.
The lass who lives right next door too is a Lupie, ( the technical term, I understand)and no lovelier person draws breath. She never complains, but her condition gives her a very bad time. Get well soon Comrade.

TalkTurkey

January 27. 2011 02:30 PM

Ad astra reply

Folks
If you haven't heard or read Julia Gillard's speech about flood restoration at the NPC, Peter Martin has it on his website: www.petermartin.com.au/.../...-flood-response.html

Read it - it is inspirational.

Ad astra reply

January 27. 2011 03:36 PM

Jason

AA,
  Watched Abbott's presser! went pretty much the same as the old routine we saw during the election campaign, although the hard questions started earlier than usual then he just walked out!
Light on detail says he'll have more to say in the coming days!!!
I know Queensland wasn't kind to Labor during the last election! but it wouldn't surprise me to see in this weekends employment pages coalition members advertising for more staff to answer the phones in their offices of their pissed off constituents,that have no time for Abbotts games.
That said apparently Abbott will be on with George @6 tonight!

Jason

January 27. 2011 03:42 PM

Jason

AA,
  Some of the most affected areas hit by the flood in Queensland must love Abbott saying no!

its going to be even funnier to see the reaction of the Liberal MHRs!
Toowoomba & Dalby – Electorate: Groom – MHR: Ian McFarlane (LNP)
Lockyer Valley – Electorate: Wright – MHR: Scott Buchholz (LNP)
Mary River/Gympie – Electorate: Wide Bay – MHR: Warren Truss (LNP)
Caboolture – Electorate: Longman – MHR: Wyatt Roy (LNP)
Moggill, St Lucia – Electorate: Ryan – MHR: Jane Prentice (LNP)
Brisbane City, Newfarm – Electorate: Brisbane – MHR: Teresa Gambaro (LNP)

Jason

January 27. 2011 03:44 PM

Ad astra reply

Jason
Tony Abbott is vacuous when it comes to solid policy.  He's a three-word slogan man.  After that there's nothing.  Joe Hockey is no better.  Read what he had to say about the levy on the ABC's AM this morning.  If you find a link to Abbott's presser, please post it.

Ad astra reply

January 27. 2011 03:45 PM

Ad astra reply

Folks
Tomorrow we have a surprise for you – one of your favourite satirists has written a piece about Australia Day TOE-KNEE’s Australia Day.  I’ll post it in the morning.

Ad astra reply

January 27. 2011 03:59 PM

NormanK

Ad astra
I agree. I think Julia Gillard spoke very well today, blending a good mix of "I am in control" and a call-to-arms to rebuild after the floods. She even answered my call to spell out the different roles to be played by the different fund-raising efforts (several times), making a clear distinction between infrastructure rebuilding and victim relief. At times she allowed the emotion to come at least as far as her eyes but avoided tears which, within the context of the venue and it being a prepared speech, might have looked like crocodile tears.
I made every effort to watch her address with both eyes open, as it were, in an attempt to see just what it is her critics see which to date I have not and I'm afraid I am still none the wiser. Tony Abbott has a half a dozen "tells" which indicate when he is about to prevaricate or lie or obfuscate or is buying time to come up with just the right answer when he doesn't think the truth will be well received. I see no such tells in Ms Gillard beyond the debating skill of buying time to formulate a well-constructed answer and today there was even very little evidence of that. She dealt with questions swiftly and decisively and with a bit of fire on occasion. Personally, I would like to see more of this fire but I do understand the constraints under which she must operate as the first female Prime Minister and of a minority government at that.
As to the levy and government cutbacks, they both sound reasonable and well thought through. The $2 billion immediate grant is a wonderful idea which will free the hands of the Reconstruction Authority and the Queensland government.
At least now we will know that those individuals who complain longest and loudest belong to a group defined as middle and upper income earners who have been unaffected by the floods.
Tony Abbott & Co should be on a hiding to nothing if they continue to block this proposal but, as we've seen before, the MSM don't often follow the most logical and reasonable line these days so it remains to be seen how the reports pan out tonight and in the days ahead.
I was unaware of Coalition members calling for a levy in the days prior to the Government expressing an interest in it as a possibility.
Will any journalist follow this up? Breath don't wait to be held.

NormanK

January 27. 2011 04:02 PM

Miglo

Don't worry about Tony Abbott's press release as all he'll say is 'great big new tax'.

Thanks Talk Turkey.  Your neighbour is very stoic in never complaining.  I complain all the time - to anyone - friend or stranger.  They can't shut me up.

I'm kidding of course. Smile

Miglo

January 27. 2011 04:16 PM

Jason

Normank,
      
       Nationals Senator Ron Boswell proposes insurance pool for flood disasters Joe Kelly From: The Australian January 05, 2011 11:41AM 37
QUEENSLAND Nationals senator Ron Boswell has proposed a national insurance pool to cover flood disasters.
Senator Boswell's proposal, which he hopes to raise with Tony Abbott, is centred on a small impost that would be linked to household insurance policies and collected by government.

The funds would be funnelled into a national pool.

"You'd call it the flood pool or something like that, the Australian flood pool," he told The Australian Online.

"It'd be activated in a flood. The pool would work on the same principle as Medicare.

"The way I think it would work, it would be that insurance companies would have to send in the amount of money that was prescribed into a general pool. And that pool would be held by the government and the government would activate that pool when there's a flood.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.
Related CoverageRESPONSE: Joe Ludwig put in charge
BIG WET: 2010 Australia's third-wettest year
FLOODS: Employers warn on inflation
MURRAY: 'One downpour from disaster'
What is a flood? - ACCC, insurers debate Adelaide Now, 2 days ago
Forget about a flood levy The Australian, 2 days ago
Insurers push for national flood map Perth Now, 6 days ago
Gillard asks insurers to speed it up Perth Now, 14 Jan 2011
National MPs seek disaster levy fund The Australian, 5 Jan 2011
.End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.
"The pool would build up. Maybe the government would have to come in and assist it. But they are assisting now."

Senator Boswell said he sold fire and general insurance between 1957 and 1966 and knew "a fair bit about the insurance industry".

"And it's always worried me that most of the insurance companies in those days, and I think even now, don't cover flood insurance," he said.

Senator Boswell emphasised that the idea was tentative and not fully developed. He did not know, for example, how large the fee attached to household insurance policies should be. "You'd have to do some sums on it ... It wouldn't be a great deal," he said.

"It'd be an add-on to your house insurance."

One of the benefits that Senator Boswell saw with the proposal was the potential to relieve the cost to government when floods struck.

The senator said he wanted to discuss the idea with Tony Abbott.

"It's something that I was going to take to the party room as a policy. It needs a lot more investigation into it and a fair bit of research. But I think there is a fair bit of need there."

Senator Boswell made his comments as Rockhampton residents in Queensland today were preparing for the flood peak along the Fitzroy River which may hit the city and inundate around 400 homes. It is predicted to reach 9.4 metres, the second highest on record.

Julia Gillard has said the relief effort after devastating floods ravaged parts of NSW and Queensland would see the commonwealth providing assistance that would run into the hundreds of millions.

Ms Gillard and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced further commonwealth and state assistance for NSW primary producers and small businesses affected by flooding earlier today.

Jason

January 27. 2011 04:50 PM

Ad astra reply

Jason
I hope those Queensland Coalition members remember Abbott's negativity at election time.

NormanK
I missed the Gillard NPC speech, but I read the transcript.  I'm pleased to see that you were impressed with her delivery and sincerity.  I wish the MSM would just let her get on with govening the counry instead of continually knocking her every effort.  At least Philip Coorey had some positive things to say in the SMH www.smh.com.au/.../...ins-here-20110127-1a6hb.html

Ad astra reply

January 27. 2011 05:45 PM

Ad astra reply

Folks
The knockers are out in full fight against the flood levy – BCA head Graham Bradley says it will “…hit consumer spending.

"Hundreds of thousands of households are just hanging on by a very thin thread and they will be forced to put less on the dinner table each night after this Gillard-Bligh tax grab," he said.

"I would encourage the federal government to put their new broadband connection on hold in favour of helping Queenslanders get back on track."


What he said could have been written by the Coalition.

Can anyone explain to me how people earning $60,000 and therefore paying a dollar week of levy will be forced ‘to put less dinner on the table’?  How much dinner does a dollar buy?  Also how will a dollar less a week, or five dollars less a week for that matter, have a major effect on retail sales?  This sounds like self-serving hype.  

Bradley also runs the ‘postpone the NBN’ line despite the fact that this will not loosen up the money needed, as NormanK showed so well yesterday.  Does he not know that, or is this just more hype.  If you have the stomach, you can read what he has to say at www.heraldsun.com.au/.../story-e6frfh4f-1225995547835

Terry McCrann’s video started reasonably enough but, as expected degenerated ending with ‘stop the NBN’.  video.heraldsun.com.au/1768081594/Flood-levy

How can a government govern a country when there are so many so-called experts that are either so self-centered (Bradley) or so incompetent (McCrann) that their utterances are not just incorrect but likely deliberately so.  Where is the ‘let’s all pull together’ sentiment that is supposed to characterize we Aussies? It seems as if there is plenty of it among ordinary people, but none among our self-interested ‘experts’.

Ad astra reply

January 27. 2011 05:53 PM

Jason

AA,
The workforce consisted of 11,418,000 people in December 2010.

Essentially about one person in four in Australia, or roughly 5 million Australians, will be playing this levy. The other 3/4 won’t.

Jason

January 27. 2011 06:52 PM

NormanK

Jason
Thanks for the Boswell info. I recall you posted this at the time. I had the impression from the PM that the talk of a levy by Coalition spokespeople was more recent and more pointed but perhaps she was just making a political point. No doubt the outstanding MSM journalists will clear this up.

In the interest of disclosure I should correct a figure used in my post regarding the possible "savings" to be derived from scrapping the NBN. I misinterpreted (YES FS, I misspoke!) the $20 billion estimated hit to the economy to be the cost of the rebuild. Sorry.

No man is an island but I hope Abbott & Co find themselves stranded on a distant beach over the new levy.
W-A Premier supports flood levy
The W-A Premier Colin Barnett is at odds with the Federal Liberal Leader Tony Abbott over the flood levy.
Mr Abbott is strongly opposed to the measure but Mr Barnett says he supports a temporary levy.

www.abc.net.au/.../3123384.htm?section=justin

NormanK

January 27. 2011 07:07 PM

2353

Hang on - Boswell is talking about adding a "little bit" to insurance policies to cover disasters while Abbott & Hockey are decrying a temporary flood levy.

Does anyone else see the slight inconsistency here?

2353

January 27. 2011 08:33 PM

Jason

AA,
  " If you find a link to Abbott's presser, please post it."
TONY ABBOTT:

Look, I strongly support urgent spending on flood reconstruction in Queensland and Victoria but the Coalition strongly opposes this unnecessary new flood tax. I want to make it crystal clear that many people who shouldn’t pay the tax will pay the tax. Donors will pay the new tax, volunteers will pay the new tax and many victims will pay the new tax, particularly people whose businesses have been wiped out by the floods but who didn’t qualify for the Centrelink payments.

There are four essential points that I want to make. Yes, we must pay what’s needed to reconstruct Queensland and Victoria after these terrible floods. Second, there is no need for this new tax coming on top of the mining tax and the carbon tax that the Gillard Government has already promised for the coming year. Third, the $1.8 billion that the flood tax will raise should be met through spending cuts and fourth, and most importantly, there is fat in the Budget because the Prime Minister herself admitted as much at the Press Club today. She was asked: if the costs exceed $5.6 billion will you increase the levy? She said ‘no, we will find further spending cuts’. So there is fat in the Budget, more fat in the Budget upon which the Government should draw in order to meet reconstruction costs in Queensland.

The final point I would like to make is that yet again this is another Government spending programme for which no one is going to be held accountable if things go wrong. The Prime Minister was asked who would be responsible if there was waste – as there has been waste in so many previous Gillard and Rudd Government spending programmes – and basically she waffled on about ‘it would be the Queensland Reconstruction Authority’. So plainly, if things go wrong, as they will go wrong under this Government, no one in the Government will be to blame. It will all be someone else’s fault.

QUESTION:

Are you worried Queensland will be inundated with migrant workers?

TONY ABBOTT:

I think it’s fair enough to try to ensure that where there is a job for someone, someone who can’t be sourced locally, it’s fair enough to bring people in under 457 visas. My fear, always though, is that this Government is pretty incompetent when it comes to actually doing it. If they try to do it through normal channels the bureaucratic processes seem to last forever. When they try to do things quickly, inevitably a whole lot of mistakes get made, and that would be my fear in this particular case.

QUESTION:

The PM said that the NBN isn’t going to be cut, are you disappointed by that?

TONY ABBOTT:

As you know, I think that we need broadband but we don’t need a $50 billion white elephant which is what we are likely to get from a government monopoly broadband infrastructure provider. So, look, I’m against the NBN and I certainly think that as far as the general public of flood ravaged Queensland and Victoria are concerned, what they want is restored roads, restored railways, bridges that you can safely cross. They don’t necessarily want more interactive gambling or more movie downloads.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you said you’re against the NBN, are there other areas though where you would cut spending in order to rebuild Queensland and Victoria?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, the point I make is that there is fat in the Budget because the Prime Minister herself admitted as much today at the Press Club. Now, we have a very good record when it comes to identifying savings. We identified about $50 billion worth of potential savings pre-election and we will certainly have more to say in coming days about where the Government could find the $1.8 billion other than through this new tax.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, specifically, you and Joe Hockey have been talking about how there is fat from the Budget you can trim, but specifically where will you get that money back from? You say that you will announce it in a couple of days but do you understand that until you say where you would get the money from, you’re not really presenting a viable alternative?

TONY ABBOTT:

I’m very clear here. This is a Government which came up with almost $4 billion worth of savings and deferrals of spending today. That’s out of a Budget of well over $350 billion a year. There is saving available in the Budget and if you don’t believe me there’s always people like Citigroup who put out a paper just this week saying that it’s less than one per cent of government spending and that could relatively easily be achieved.

QUESTION:

When you will announce where you will get the budget cuts from?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, we’ll have more to say on this subject in coming days but the point I want to stress is that the Prime Minister herself said today that there was effectively more fat in the Budget. She was asked a straight forward question: if the costs are higher than the $5.6 billion currently estimated, would she increase the levy? She said ‘no, we will find additional savings’. So, the Prime Minister knows that there is money there to be saved. The fact that they were so readily able to come up with almost $4 billion worth of savings and deferrals shows that they know there is fat in the Budget and that’s what they should be drawing upon to fund this reconstruction.

QUESTION:

Are you concerned that families will be left in further financial stress, given that we are seeing higher food prices, particularly those who are on $50,000, they are going to be taxed the same as those on $100,000. Most people who live in Sydney on $50,000 know that it doesn’t get you far.

TONY ABBOTT:

I think that’s right. The point is that a lot of people who don’t deserve to be hit up are going to be hit up by this new tax. Donors will pay the tax, volunteers will pay the tax and many victims will pay the tax, notwithstanding the Prime Minister’s announcement today.

QUESTION:

You supported a levy on your paid parental leave scheme. Why won’t you support the people of Queensland?

TONY ABBOTT:

I am supporting the people of Queensland because I am saying that the money that is needed simply has to be spent and the money should be found without a levy. Now, if you are referring to my paid parental leave proposal, don’t forget that it was accompanied by a 1.5 per cent company tax cut, so effectively there was no increased burden on anyone.

QUESTION:

As prime minister, would your multi-billion broadband scheme be stopped or axed when an expensive crisis hits?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I wouldn’t have the sort of scheme that the Government has because I think that’s going to be an expensive and unnecessary white elephant.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible] billion dollars in cost as well.

TONY ABBOTT:

The policy that we took to the election was infinitely less expensive and infinitely less intrusive than the Government’s.

QUESTION:

Can you explain, Mr Abbott, to us how flood victims, you mentioned flood victims with businesses will have to pay, can you elaborate on that and why someone in that situation wouldn’t be exempt from paying this levy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Ok, well, the people who are exempted from the levy are the people who have received the Centrelink payment and to receive the Centrelink payment, your residence had to be seriously damaged or you had to be cut off or without power or water for a period of time. Now, there are lots of people whose residences were not in flood ravaged areas but their businesses were, they obviously face very great reconstruction costs that in many instances won’t be covered by insurance and they will still be paying the flood tax under the scheme that the Prime Minister announced today.

Thanks very much.


[ends]

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Jason

January 27. 2011 09:15 PM

Feral Skeleton

  I have dragged myself away from the Tennis for long enough to say, 'G'Day!' Smile
  A couple of quick points:
1. Ron Boswell will be as popular as a Pork Chop in a Victorian Synagogue with his 'Flood Pool Insurance' add-on. Just think about it, you have just survived a raging inferno which burnt down your town and your house in it, and Da Flood Pool Ron Ron, says, "Sorry, the special funds for rebuilding your life are only available to people whose houses are still upright but in need of new walls and carpet." Hmmm. 'Not Happy, Ron'. Hopefully even Antony Abbott will be able to see the folly of that situation.
2. Speaking of Antony, did anyone else see the delicious irony of Queensland being potentially blighted in the next couple of days by the approaching Cyclone Anthony?
As if once wasn't enough in the aftermath of the floods! I was wondering if someone at the Bureau of Meterology had a wicked sense of humour when they were naming the Cyclone?
3. I nearly fell off the couch in gales of uncontrollable laughter tonight when the Channel 9 Newsbreak cfame on and the newsreader, Peter Overton, announced in his best portentous tones, "The Prime Minister announced a new tax today",(with a heavy emphasis on the word 'Tax'), "to pay for the Queensland Flood damage. It will see Australians earning over $50,000/year paying an average $1.74 per week."
  "How did he say that with a straight face?", I thought to myself.
   Wow! A whole $1.74/week on average. That will really take food off the table, won't it? People may not be able to buy new cars in record numbers again this year, either, huh?
   I'm just waiting for Joe 'Blowhard' Hockey to come out tomorrow, and try for the same sort of stern concern re the $1.74/week. Should be 'Comedy Gold!'.

Feral Skeleton

January 27. 2011 09:25 PM

Miglo

As I've said elsewhere, why is it, that when the government gives people money the opposition and the right wingers scream that it’s going to end up in poker machines and the bottle shops, yet when the government takes money the same critics reckon they’re taking food off their table?

Most people will be paying around 97 cents a week. That's about the cost of a peach.  Families will starve without that peach.

Miglo

January 27. 2011 09:34 PM

Jason

FS,
  Well I hate to say I'm up for $250 a year with this new "Tax"  or $5 bucks a week I spill more than that at the pub after work on a Friday! And now that it's 12 months since I gave up the smokes that used to cost me $100 a week, yet no doubt those who will be ringing Hadley tomorrow wont have to pay but will carry on as though they do!
Even here in Adelaide pensioners are ringing up asking how can we afford this! does the shock jock tell them you don't have to pay? no!

Jason

January 27. 2011 10:12 PM

Feral Skeleton

Jason,
      They'll try any angle in the media to stir up enmity against the government's temporary flood levy. I just caught this on Channel 7 in a Newsbreak between sets at the Tennis:
  "Most Australians will have to pay $50 for the new flood levy." Which is meant to make it seem like a $50 hit, with an unexplained subtext of 'out of each paypacket'. As the newsreader gave absolutely no context to the initial statement and just left it hanging in the air, I can only assume something like that was the aim.

Feral Skeleton

January 27. 2011 10:15 PM

Grog

Good post Hillbilly. For mine “There is no such thing as Society” is the dumbest political statement ever made. It is even more so because it was made by a British politician. How did she think the British acted through the Blitz? As individuals or a society? I know what I think.

Grog

January 27. 2011 10:15 PM

Graeme

Jason,

I'm happy to say I'm probably up for about $100 a year, so that's a couple of slabs of pretty good frothies gone. As if I couldn't do without 'em. Why anyone would whinge about paying an extra five bucks a week is beyond me. Since 'Honest John' started buying votes with his middle class welfare tax cuts, I have increased the amount I give to various charities; so in effect I'm redistributing the money the way the government should have done in the first place  

Graeme

January 27. 2011 10:16 PM

Feral Skeleton

Miglo,
      The Opposition and their boosters, and their enablers in the media, are nothing if not opportunistic. And living in a parallel universe that has no connection to reality. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 27. 2011 10:45 PM

Jason

Graeme,
      If you look back at one of the question Abbott was asked at his presser "QUESTION:

Are you concerned that families will be left in further financial stress, given that we are seeing higher food prices, particularly those who are on $50,000, they are going to be taxed the same as those on $100,000. Most people who live in Sydney on $50,000 know that it doesn’t get you far."

There you have it! A typical example of a lazy journo turning up at a presser and can't even be bothered to understand the subject matter!

Jason

January 27. 2011 11:07 PM

Miglo

I have to pay $450 a year, but my accountant might be able to get that down to $200 a year thanks to some properties that are negatively geared.  I'll make a one-off donation of my $250 saving and claim it as a tax deduction.  The portion of my tax return refunded because of the donation will end up in a poker machine.

Abbott will be happy on two fronts:
1. Instead of $450 worth of food I'll have stolen from my table it will only be $200. My struggles will be minimised.
2. When I lose my small refund on the pokies he'll be able to say "Told you so. Any money people get from the govt ends up in the pokies".

Miglo

January 27. 2011 11:09 PM

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Jason
Thank you for the text of the Abbott presser.  Typical.  A monkey who had been listening to Abbott these last twelve months could have written it.  Repetitive, disingenuous, slogan heavy 'there is fat in the budget - the PM admitted it', and no positive suggestions about what he would do.  He's still flogging the $50 billion 'savings' they said they found in the last budget, which were largely fictitious.  Why does the MSM let him get away with this deception again and again?

Folks
Thank you for your enlightening comments.

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January 27. 2011 11:37 PM

Feral Skeleton

   Let me tell you, I live in outer Regional Sydney, and I survive on much less than $50,000/year. And I'm bringing up 2 children! Thus I can only say that those journalists making a statement about how hard it is to live on 'only' $50,000/year in Sydney, are completely out of touch with reality. Maybe if you've over-extended yourself with a Macmansion Loan, Private School Fees and a couple of cars. However, no one makes you take on that many financial commitments. Speaking of which, it's a bit hypocritical, isn't it, to bellyache about maximum $5/week to aid the Queensland Flood victims, when you can find up to $28,000/year, if you live in Sydney, to send your children to certain of our Private Schools? Not to mention the constant fund-raising drives that the Private Schools engage in all year on top of the fees. Of course, none of that ever contributes to 'taking food off the table'. Nope, 5 measley dollars/week does. Or, $1.74/week. Take your pick.
  I mean the whole, "I've already donated, why should I give more?", argument that the Regressives are running through people's minds is symbolic of the sort of society that they are trying to foster. One in which YOU are the master of your wallet, and the government has no say in how you spend YOUR money in it. No longer do they want to encourage an 'All for one, and one for all', mentality. Instead, a 'Keep your hands off of my stack!' mindset. How small-minded and petty.
   As I've said before and I'll say again, an individual is unable to build all the hospitals, rail, ports and roads we all need and use every day. Yes, Private Enterprise can do it, but they will always have the profit motive at their heart, as opposed to social outcomes that benefit us all.

Feral Skeleton

January 28. 2011 06:35 AM

Feral Skeleton

Here's an interesting point about the Flood Levy. An analyst with Westpac Bank was just on the radio talking about it and the effect it has had on markets overnight(positive due to the fact Reconstruction is fully-funded without borrowing or furthering the Deficit). However, the interesting point that he made was that it probably means that it will put the Reserve Bank of raising Interest Rates as soon as they otherwise would have.
  Which means, as the Opposition are against the Flood Levy, that they would prefer people's Interest Rates on their mortgages went up instead(using the sort of logic that the Coalition themselves use when they want to find a line of attack). Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 28. 2011 06:37 AM

Feral Skeleton

   Yup, I was up till late last night, then up again early this morning. I've got a big day of shopping for school uniforms at the local Mega Mall today. See you later, if I make it that far. Smile

Feral Skeleton

January 28. 2011 08:16 AM

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Folks
Here is the lovely piece of satire we heralded yesterday.  

Acerbic Conehead’s piece on Australia Day TOE-KNEE’s Australia Day has now been posted. www.thepoliticalsword.com/.../...ustralia-Day.aspx

We welcome you Acerbic Conehead as an original author on TPS.

BTW, my son-in-law will be working on upgrading the website today, so there may be some interruptions to transmission for which we seek your indulgence.

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January 28. 2011 01:00 PM

Jason

From QandA last year:

TONY JONES: So when you propose it it’s not a tax, it’s a levy, but when…

JOE HOCKEY: Well, can I tell you I think…

TONY JONES: …you do it it’s a tax?

JOE HOCKEY: Look there are a vast number of levies. There have been gun buyback levies, sugar levies, Ansett levy. Remember that levy that was in place for a lot of travellers, and you would hope and expect and we have a history of it, that when you get the budget to surplus you get rid of levies. That’s what we do. We did that. We had the gun buyback levy. We had the Ansett levy and we got rid of them. We got rid of them once they had raised the funds necessary.


http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s2895474.htm

Jason

January 28. 2011 01:36 PM

nasking

Min noted that on SKY a talking head put across the idea that Gillard is "losing it".

My response:

That’s the Murdoch-related media for ya. Take passion & determination & turn it into “unhinged” or “bullying”…by using snippets, certain camera angles, out of context material, distortion of voice, biased & BSing commentator’s opinions stated over & over again…

We’ve seen them do this for years…to Gore, Kerry, Rudd…on & on.

An evil empire.

W/ plenty of gutless copycats, kowtowers, lazy-arses & wannabees.

I sure hope Julia can stand up to the head kickin’.

It was awful what the media did to Rudd.

Julia Gillard has to reach inside herself & find that tough girl who made it to the top.

Even Maggie Thatcher, Bob Hawke, Ronald Reagan, John Howard, Paul Keating & Bill Clinton had their tough days…but they kept on goin’.

Julia can’t afford to let doubt & fatigue & lies eat into her.

She has to put up a SHIELD. And use her SWORD expertly.

Make the young girls of this country proud.

And the ALP need to fully get behind her. No more of this RAT stuff.

If Abbott gets in…it will be a bloody religious-driven, greedy-arse, community dividin' dominated disaster. HUP HUP HUP!

N’

nasking

January 28. 2011 01:41 PM

nasking

As for the NEGABORE flood levy response:

...the ABC QLD newsreader last nite opened the news w/ the word “slugged” related to the flood levy.

It’s just not on. It’s manufacturing negative perceptions…and/or hopping on the negabore bandwagon…

and all objectivity is thrown out the window.

Poor news reporting.

There are a number of arguments people can make for takin’ an alternative approach to the levy (I disagree w/ them…but only just…Grog & Billy Blog & others can be persuasive…and it’s useful to have real debate, differences, discussion)…

but so much of the media prefers to go w/ the Abbott negabore & Hockey bellowin’ & Barnaby hotheaded approach…and far too many apathetic, or overly busy, readers/listeners/viewers fall for that reductionist, mean-spirited approach.

It really is quite depessing.

I’m hearing alot of MEME ME…”I’ve done my bit…so why should I pay more?” stuff…

Just undermines the whole altruistic thing…and I’m certain some speakin’ out are just sh*t stirrers, cheapos & some politically-motivated who have really done bugger all.

Reconstruction & aiding those effected by natural disasters takes many years…it’s not just a few days effort.

You only have to look at New Orleans to see that.

check out the comments here:

www.heraldsun.com.au/.../story-e6frfhqf-1225993905769

including:

I for one have deferred donating to the flood appeal – something I would normally do for a couple of hundred dollars – till I know if the government is going to take the money from me whether I donate or not. I suspect there are many like me out there.

Now, my wife & gave to the flood appeal whilst I supported the levy.

How tight-arsed can people get?

The fact that the government used taxpayer’s money to help w/ the tsunami didn’t stop us from donating as well.

This is sad stuff. Political nonsense spread by cheapo radio jocks, tabloids w/ cheapo owners...and political opportunists

N’

nasking

January 28. 2011 08:45 PM

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