Red red wine


It’s not news to anyone that Barry O’Farrell resigned as New South Wales Premier after giving ICAC (the New South Wales anti-corruption body) misleading information over a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange he received as a gift from Nick Di Girolamo, a person associated with a Sydney Water contractor — Australian Water Holdings (AWH).

There are two current enquiries by ICAC set up to investigate the allegations of corruption as well as solicitation, receiving and concealing payments in relation to public officials in NSW.

Opinions vary on whether O’Farrell did the right thing by resigning and there has been plenty of discussion in other places without repeating it here. Mike Carlton in the SMH was probably one of the best with an offering that commenced with:

Tasting Notes: The 1959 Chateau d'icac.

Celebrated vigneron Nick Di Girolamo has excelled himself with this rare and striking Premier Grand Cru. Selected from old grapes of wrath vines at the Obeid family's Mt Corruption vineyard in NSW and cellared in Rum Corps oak casks, the wine reveals hidden gifts of subtle complexity.

The brown nose offers a concentrated aroma of decaying cattle dung, complexed by persistent spice notes of rotten fish and more than a hint of unsavoury greased palm. An intense palate of bitter fruits displays weak backbone and piss-in-pocket acidity, with a lingering after-palate heightened by a signed "thank you" note of unmistakable provenance.

A wine not to be forgotten.

He then goes on to discuss Barry O’Farrell’s political career and where he went wrong, namely:

O'Farrell's true fault was his failure to keep his promise to root out the endemic corruption of the NSW Liberals. He baulked at bold political reform.

On top of that, a federal government minister has stated to the same enquiry that he didn’t see a problem with working for AWH for somewhere between 25 and 45 hours a year for a salary of $200,000. Senator Arthur Sinodinos, the minister in question, also disclaimed all knowledge of a $75,000 donation to the Liberal Party while he was a director of AWH and also treasurer of the Liberal Party.

Business Review Weekly relates the history of Australian Water Holdings from an inauspicious non-profit holding company to its ‘modernisation’ as a for-profit company — due to a badly written contract between the firm and Sydney Water, it planned to obtain a major contract without having to tender. Direct lobbying of ministers was part of the plan, so as to bypass Sydney Water processes in gaining the contract.

Most accounts of this affair so far suggest that Barry O’Farrell is a decent person and was concerned with the influence of corrupt public officials in NSW. David Marr, writing in The Guardian suggests:

But under O’Farrell Icac showed the deeply ingrained corruption of NSW didn’t begin and end with Labor. His own side was punished. Now the Liberals have taken the biggest hit of all.

There is a larger issue here. Since when is a bottle of wine estimated to cost $3,000 such a ‘routine’ occurrence that one would forget entirely to declare it at the time and completely forget about it when questioned by an anti-corruption body?

Lets face it, $3,000 is a lot of money for most people. While most Australians have heard of Penfolds Grange, very few would routinely go to the local bottle shop and purchase some from the year of their birth, if at all.

When the former assistant treasurer of Australia attempts to make a joke about travelling time when asked if $200,000 is reasonable compensation for 25 to 45 hours work in a year, it demonstrates the lack of understanding Senator Sinodinos has with the concept of living on or under the average Australian wage which is currently $1483.50 per week: that would allow the purchase of a single 1959 Grange bottle every three weeks or so, after allowing for tax and superannuation deductions.

Some might consider Senator Sinodinos to have been underpaid for the ‘influence’ he could muster for his employer. That is the real issue here. These politicians are perceived as being able to influence the actions of government and government entities so that firms are, firstly, comfortable employing them as lobbyists to identify ‘key stakeholders’ so as to influence decisions and, secondly, paying sums that are beyond the comprehension of most Australians to the identified stakeholders.

Barry O’Farrell is not the only one who has ‘fallen on his sword’ in the past 30 or so years for neglecting to declare a gift that could be construed as excessive.

From the Liberals’ Michael MacKellar’s false declaration that a television was a black and white model, rather than a colour model, to save on import duty in 1982, through the ALP’s Mick Young who failed to declare a Paddington Bear in 1984, with a brief detour to Queensland’s ‘moonlight state’ era in the 80’s and 90’s, Australian politicians have a long and infamous history of either believing they have an entitlement greater than that of the ‘mug punter’ who elects them or are so gullible they can’t see the compromises that accepting the gift or excessive salary implies they will make.

The Federal Finance Department publishes the value of ‘entitlements’ given to former politicians on their website. A link to the relevant page is here for the period 1 January 2013 until 30 June 2013. Other periods are also available from the website.

Politicians seem to believe that they have an entitlement greater than you or I. Otherwise why have they allowed themselves to be able to claim travel, communications costs and so on after they leave office? — and in some cases tens of thousands of dollars in a six month period.

According to the listing above, the taxpayer funds travel expenses for politicians who, in some cases, were voted out of office decades ago. In the case of former prime ministers some leeway is understandable as some groups that had dealings with the person while they were in power may need to finish up official business — it is hardly likely to be a requirement of the job even five years later, let alone 30 years. There is also an argument that politicians are ‘on call’ 24 hours a day — well, so are church ministers, doctors and a considerable number of people who work in essential or health care environments. In most other cases, part of the wage that the worker is paid is attributable to the ‘on call’ requirement rather than having the ability to gain some benefit from a former employer decades later.

Another variation, and the final example, of this sense of entitlement is shown in a Bruce Hawker article on The Guardian’s website:

After last week's controversy which led to the resignation of Barry O'Farrell, we started hearing complaints and calls from the Coalition for the corruption watchdog's powers to be reduced. This is not new: it happened very early in Icac's life.

ICAC’s first investigation was in 1990 when a number of Liberal and ALP State Members of Parliament were investigated and found to be creating a ‘climate conducive to corruption’ in relation to some land dealings in the north of the State. The Liberal and National Parties who were in Government at the time —

… launched a broadside against the body they had helped establish just a year before. As chief of staff to then opposition leader Bob Carr, I [Bruce Hawker] watched with a mix of bemusement and amusement as they fulminated, like Dr Frankenstein, against the monster who was meant to destroy Labor, not their own.

It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Brisbane Times reported in October 2012:

The [Queensland] state government has announced a review of the legislation which governs the crime and corruption watchdog claiming it has been used as a ‘‘political football’’.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the review — to be headed up by a former High Court judge and university professor — of the Crime and Misconduct Act 2001 would focus on allowing the watchdog to do its job without ‘‘being drawn into political debates’’.

This review is about depoliticising the operation of the CMC

The Queensland state government in October 2012 was led by Campbell Newman who was subject to investigation by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (Queensland’s version of ICAC), at the request of the then ALP government, during the 2012 election campaign. Ironically, Campbell Newman has been named in the current ICAC enquiries as receiving a $5000 donation to meet with people from AWH while in the role of Lord Mayor of Brisbane. His office claims that the money was returned.

In an era when people are being told they will not be able to claim a pension until they are 70, when in Queensland people are being asked to make ‘Strong Choices’ to help the state government set the budget, and the federal government is telling us we all will have to make sacrifices, how can politicians continue to claim they understand how the rest of us live when $3,000 bottles of wine, $5,000 fees for attending meetings or $200,000 salaries for under a week’s work per year are considered acceptable until the anti-corruption commission questions the motives? Are their values so warped or is there another explanation?

What do you think?

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TPS Team

4/05/2014Who remembers Barry O’Farrell? At one time he was ‘Barry who?’ but now will be forever remembered for his association with a $3,000 bottle of Penfolds Grange. In this week’s discussion starter, 2353 takes Barry’s fall from grace as a starting point to examine the seedier activities of our politicians, not the overt corruption of some but the inflated sense of entitlement of many and their apparent lack of understanding of those living on lower wages — they appear not to see the dichotomy between their grab for entitlements and the struggles of working people. The politicians appear to function with a different set of values to those who elected them. See what 2353 has to say and provide your thoughts.

Ad astra

4/05/20142353 What a timely piece you have written. Just when it seemed that the end of the corruption saga might be coming into sight, this week another example of influence peddling, illegal donations, and poor memory has cropped up. And it’s not just poor memory about such epochal occasions as receiving a $3000 bottle of Grange Hermitage that even the most devoted wine lover would remember; it is some politicians’ cultural sense of entitlement to the very best that astonishes the ordinary voter. That Arthur Sinodinos could believe that receiving a $200,000 annual salary for around a week’s work (~ $5000 an hour) is suitable for a retired prime ministerial chief of staff, illustrates starkly what a premium such people put on their own worth, and how much value is put on well placed individuals who can open doors to lobbyists seeking advantage for their clients. What is mind boggling is that such value appears to be accepted as the norm, so great are the rewards for the companies that engage lobbyists and pay them what seems to the rest of us to be exorbitant salaries. ICAC has opened up an alarming vista: the extent of influence peddling, the princely sums that such peddling attracts, the outcomes of lobbying, the extent of political donations and bribery, and the ends to which those involved will go to hide the malodorous facts from the voters who have put their trust in their elected representatives to ‘do the right thing’, to guard the common good. In my opinion, Sinodinos has condemned himself out of his own mouth by insisting that $200,000 a year is a reasonable payment for a week’s work, and then pathetically arguing that after all he had to spend some extra time travelling to meetings, and reading documents in preparation! How many ordinary people would relish being paid for their travel time, and doing homework in preparation for a meeting! Yet whatever time he spent toiling over documents seems to have had no dividend in the real-life activities of the company of which he was for a time chairman, and for the body of which he was treasurer. Despite his toil, he cannot remember crucial facts about the company: that Eddie Obeid was involved and made large contributions to enable the company to pay its bills, and that the company made large donations to the Liberal Party, although he was the Party’s treasurer at the time. He was on both the donor and recipient ends of the deal, but can’t remember anything. Did he remember his salary reaching his bank account? Maybe not! The ICAC Commissioner didn’t ask him! Some see Sinodinos as a reasonable fellow, who comes across as plausible enough during media interviews, but what of his memory, his credibility as a competent professional, even his honesty? In the face of the political damage the ICAC has inflicted on him, how can this man expect to be re-instated as Assistant Treasurer and thereby have an influence over the nation’s finances, and how could Tony Abbott accept him back to that, or to any other ministerial position? Only through breathtaking effrontery from both of them! In my view Abbott, even if inclined to reinstate Sinodinos, will not be able to muster the nerve, especially after the recent rejection by the public of some of his budget ideas, and in the face of mounting accusations of pre-election lying to the Australian people about his intentions. He would need an innovative collection of weasel words to explain why Sinodinos deserves to rejoin the front bench. In my view Sinodinos is finished. He is now on the backbench, where, in my view, he should properly remain. Although hardly neutralizing the damage to Labor resulting from the Obeid saga, the spate of recent revelations about Liberal Party shenanigans should persuade sensible politicians on both sides to call it quits. They should acknowledge that corruption has dangerously infected all sides of politics in NSW and likely everywhere else, and foster a bipartisan push to drastically curtail the amount and nature of influence peddling, lobbying, and political donations. The dirty mess needs cleaning up urgently; all decent politicians ought to take up their brooms, mops, chainsaws and explosives and get to work. Thank you 2353 for focussing on the endemic political disease - corruption.

2353

4/05/2014This piece was only written a week or so ago and events have overtaken it. As Ad Astra comments above; another NSW Liberal Minister has 'fallen on his sword' in the last couple of days after being mentioned http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/chris-hartcher-event-referred-to-icac-20140504-zr3u5.html. Federally, another Ministerial staffer is in trouble for not understanding a conflict of interest that is wider than the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship ->http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-government-faces-another-conflict-of-interest-scandal-20140503-zr2t2.html. This is in addition to the Department of Health Ministerial official that arranged for a 'healthy food' website to be pulled earlier this year -> http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/fiona-nash-alastair-furnival-and-a-sea-of-contradictions-20140226-33ill.html. In the words of the fourth estate (the Main stream Media) - the enquiry continues.

Casablanca

5/05/2014CASABLANCA'S CACHE. 05 May, 2014. [b]Auditors are people who lack the wit & verve to become accountants[/b] Posted at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-05-02.aspx

Mal

5/05/2014Troy Buswell on European trip when WA lost AAA rating Former WA treasurer was using a taxpayer-funded credit card in Europe while researching light rail options when the state lost its AAA credit rating. Documents obtained under FOI showed the former transport minister and his chief-of-staff Rachael Turnseck spent almost $14,000 on hotels, food, laundry and airport transfers during a two-week trip last year. The Sunday Times reports Mr Buswell & Ms Turnseck toured the French countryside of Vrigny, and nearby Tinquex where their dinner bill with Public Transport Authority director Mark Burgesss totalled $780. The trip happened after last year's August state budget and in September when WA lost its AAA credit rating...Before the trip, Mr Buswell said non-essential government travel would be temporarily banned. A spokeswoman for Premier Colin Barnett said a report was submitted to the premier in January and would be tabled in parliament in the next couple of weeks. The cost will also be included in the government travel report for the September quarter, she said. Mr Barnett said on Sunday that overseas travel was expensive and such trips were often demanding on ministers who deserved to stay in good, but not excessive, accommodation. "They have to eat, they have to travel, they have expenses, and international travel at a ministerial level is by its nature expensive," he told reporters. Mr Buswell's trip to France, Switzerland and Germany, with stopovers in China, was his second trip investigating light rail, with a 2011 trip costing $33,559, The Sunday Times said. In December, the light rail project was shelved after a review of the state's finances. Mr Buswell recently quit cabinet and pleaded guilty to 11 traffic offences committed when he was driving home from a wedding in February. He will return to parliament this week. http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/troy-buswell-on-european-trip-when-wa-lost-aaa-rating-20140504-zr4dz.html#ixzz30nDOsZG3

Pappinbarra Fox

5/05/2014Corruption ... rolls off the tongue very easily, almost melodically. But what a destroyer of society can corrupt conduct be. Half the problem is that often those pursuing a corrupt course of conduct do not see themsleves or their conduct as corrupt. Remember Nick Greiner's defenc was ' I am not a corrupt person because that is not the sort of conduct that I engage in." He may have been right. But corruption can be found in all types of conduct - for instance does talking the economy down (chaos, emergency, unadult) to achieve an ideological agenda constitute corruption? I'd say it does. Mark my words - if even half the submissions of the Commission of Audit are implemented the Australian economy will be driven into recession. If all of them were it would be Depression. I must say I am strugglign intellectualy with understanding how a group of business men (were there any women on this panel - apart from Amanda?)can come up with an anti-growth course of action so comprehensively designed to trash the Australian economy - perhaps out of the ashes a new phoenix of business paradigm will arise? I doubt it. Corrupt? - you betcha!

Casablanca

5/05/2014 [b]Are we looking at another explosive LNP scandal?[/b] [b]Treasurer for sale: Joe Hockey offers privileged access[/b] Sean Nicholls Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities. The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their influence on political favours in NSW. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/treasurer-for-sale-joe-hockey-offers-privileged-access-20140504-zr06v.html [b]Cash for a chat is corrupting our democratic integrity[/b] Mark Kenny Nobody is suggesting Joe Hockey is corrupt. But it is increasingly clear the Treasurer is party to a process that is corrupting Australia's democratic integrity. Like the US, political representation increasingly turns on how much cash you have, and where you are prepared to direct it. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/cash-for-a-chat-is-corrupting-our-democratic-integrity-20140504-zr4fd.html

Ken

5/05/20142353 A prophet as well! Many reports afoot that the government is planning to cut entitlements for former MPs and PMs. As you suggest, while corruption is a major issue, almost as big, or bigger, is the attitude of politicians regarding what they should be entitled to. No doubt there will be a lot more scrutiny of their entitlements while Abbott and Hockey insist on making cuts for everyone else. Part of the problem is the way the system works. The reports of the fund-raising for Hockey whereby people can 'buy' time with the Treasurer. All the press gallery people are saying this is standard procedure, for both parties - but should it be? I think the system is broken when buying access to a Minister is considered legitimate fund-raising. I certainly can't afford $10,000 to attend a breakfast just to have a few minutes chat with a government Minister. So we have corruption, and potentially corrupt behaviour that politicians don't perceive as corrupt, an inflated sense of entitlement, and a system that sells time with a Minister. And they call this democracy!!!!

Curi-Oz

5/05/2014I think that, given today's facility of internet banking and the ATO in using computers to track financial information, all money donated to any political party could/should be reported within the month of it being spent. Two months at the outside! And all donations should be declared, probably above $100 (The US legislation limits it to $200 as an example). Because that is large enough for most individuals to afford, and small enough to be really annoying for "barrow-pushing" individuals, corporations and lobbyists to deal with. And there be no exceptions to the declarations either. If money is donated, it is then listed publicly for all to see somewhere like the ATO. (Might as well keep all the finance stuff in one place where there is already legislation about cross-checking!)

Ad astra

5/05/2014Folks There is a new name in the field of economics: Thomas Piketty, a French economist, who has recently written [i]"Capital in the Twenty-First Century"[/i], which addresses the issue of inequality in societies. It is near the top of Amazon’s best-seller list. Inequality is at the centre of the concerns that progressives have about contemporary societies. Joseph Stiglitz wrote extensively about it in [i]The Price of Inequality[/i] that was reviewed on [i]TPS[/i] in December 2012 in [i]Focus on political ideology – Joseph E Stiglitz[/i]: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2012/12/13/Focus-on-political-ideology-Joseph-E-Stiglitz.aspx He demonstrated the extent of inequality, its nature, and its causes. Now Piketty has examined inequality from a historical perspective, and shows how, after a pause, it is on the increase again. The blurb on Amazon reads: [i]"What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard to find for lack of adequate data and clear guiding theories. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality. "Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality--the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth--today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, Piketty says, and may do so again. "A work of extraordinary ambition, originality, and rigour, Capital in the Twenty-First Century reorients our understanding of economic history and confronts us with sobering lessons for today."[/i] As one would expect, the deniers, who don’t want to believe that inequality still exists and is increasing, are out attempting to denigrate Piketty. Read what the [i]New Yorker[/i] has this to say about this in a piece: [i]The Piketty Bubble is more than Hot Air[/i] http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2014/05/the-piketty-bubble-is-more-than-hot-air.html If you are interested, Amazon permits the download of the introduction, which will help you decide whether it is worth obtaining. It seems to be available in print, but is said to have sold out online. It looks like a most interesting and erudite addition to the literature on inequality, a subject that should be of interest to all progressives.

Ad astra

5/05/2014Folks The Amazon link to Thomas Piketty's book is: http://www.amazon.com/Capital-Twenty-First-Century-Thomas-Piketty/dp/067443000X

Ken

5/05/2014Ad I had already written a piece on inequality when I discovered Picketty a week or two ago. The book was actually published in France a year or two back but the big impact has been its release in an English translation. As would be expected, he has been labelled a communist or a Marxist by the Right in America, although he is following a long tradition of economists in France examining inequality. The Anglo-Saxon speaking economists are much too influenced by economic rationalism to pay any attention to inequality, seeing it as normal!

Bacchus

5/05/2014You've given me a earworm with the title of this piece 2353, so I thought to share it... http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HyQUCChT_5U

TalkTurkey

6/05/2014Bottle of Wine eh! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVY75G7Qu-Q 2353 That is a pretty thorough wrap of the issues. But one point, $200000 for a strenuous (ha) week's work sounds exorbitant yes indeed, but then compare it with Rinehart's income of over $1 million per day every day and it sounds like petty cash! The miners are not enriching Australia. On the contrary, they are sending most of the huge profits involved overseas, keeping the rest themselves, and worst, they are using the very best, easiest-to-access, richest ores and gas sources, after which come the secondary sources, with ever-diminishing returns and poorer grade ores. The huge profits to be made in land speculation and mining are the drivers for all this corruption of course: greed, pure and ugly. And Obeid's questionable loyalties aside, the crooks are almost all on the Right. ICAC's daily delights are indeed changing the landscape though, as you say events moving almost faster that one can gazette. The reasons Shorten does not push for a Federal ICAC - on the contrary ruling it out it seems - can be guessed at, but there must surely be more political mileage in supporting such an investigation, even at the price of revealing some further dirty Labor laundry, because if it's there it needs scrubbing, and Labor would get critical kudos for pressing for such a clean-out ... but mostly, revealing the huge level ofskulduggery in the Federal LNP - including Ashbygate - would do them righteous damage, and reverse the (corrupt) MSM-promoted notion that the Unions and Labor are the ones riddled with corruption. Trivioli and her toyboy Rowley on @ABCNews24 breakfast are talking superficially about the issue now. Chins up Comrades. The Libs are losing, even if Labor isn't doing much winning. The LNP will come to regret that they ever won the last election on the back of these fools and crooks.

2353`

6/05/2014The ABC gives the LNP a bit more ammunition in the current 'shoot the messenger' game. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-06/has-the-government-doubled-the-budget-deficit/5423392 TT - you're right, $200,000 is nothing like millions a day. Are political operatives underpricing themselves?

Casablanca

6/05/2014 [b]Tony Abbott's popularity plunges, latest polls show[/b] Daniel Hurst Labor's lead over the Coalition has strengthened to 53%-47% after preferences, according to the Newspoll published in the Australian on Tuesday. A separate ReachTEL poll published on Monday put Labor's two-party lead at 54% to 46%, while the latest Morgan poll put the lead at 55% to 45%. They follow a Galaxy poll published in News Corp’s Sunday papers which put the two-party split at 52% for Labor to 48% for the Coalition, with 72% agreeing with the proposition that a mooted “deficit tax” for higher income earners would represent a broken promise. The Liberal-National Coalition attracted 53.5% of the two-party-vote at the September election. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/06/tony-abbotts-popularity-plunges-latest-polls-show?CMP=soc_568 [b]Abbott has dug himself into a hole over paid parental leave[/b] Anne Summers What do you call a man who sticks with a policy that he can't afford, that hardly anyone likes and that will not deliver the outcome he expected? Principled? Obdurate? Stupid? http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/abbott-has-dug-himself-into-a-hole-over-paid-parental-leave-20140505-zr4r4.html#ixzz30t1tir7L

TalkTurkey

6/05/2014[b][i]Clench the fist! Set the jaw! Summon up the blood! Unite! RESIST! It's Time to ROAR! THIS GOVERNMENT's A DUD![/i][/b]

TalkTurkey

6/05/2014It's a Stomp Chant see. You go: [b][i]Clench the Fist! Set the Jaw! Summon up the Blood! UNITE! RESIST! It's Time to ROAR! THIS GOVERNMENT's A DUD! Chorus: This Government's a DUD! This Government's a DUD! UNITE! RESIST! It's Time to ROAR! This Government's a DUD![/i][/b] Abborrrtt is really on the skids at last I feel, on the skids and on the nose. I think there is no way back up for him now. Never minf the loss of the NBN, Gonski, Carbon Pricing, MRRT and its treatment of Asylum Seekers, (that was all OK with the MSM) but now he's talking about a Great Big New LEVY on THEM and that's DIFFERENT! Dog Albitey! Practice your stomping Comrades.

Ad astra

6/05/2014Casablanca Thank you for your links to the Piketty book. Some would not open - page not available - but those that did applauded his revelation that inequality retards economic growth, not the other way round. As increaing inequality will be the outcome of Joe Hockey's Budget, we can expect growth to slow, not accelerate as he confidently predicts. He seems to have his eye to the wrong end of the telescope.

jaycee

6/05/2014"He seems to have his eye to the wrong end of the telescope." Yes...but which "eye"?

Ad astra

6/05/2014Folks if you want a boost; if you want to know how much serious trouble Tony Abbott/Joe Hockey are in, read this week's Essential Report. http://essentialvision.com.au/category/essentialreport

2353

6/05/2014Bacchus - I was thinking of this person's version when I wrote the piece. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JWD038wSSA

Bacchus

6/05/2014Good news Ad. I'll add Newspoll and Morgan to the mix :) http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/05/newpoll-roy-morgan-hammer-coaltion/

Casablanca

7/05/2014 CASABLANCA'S CACHE. 7 May 2014. [b]Contracting out & privatizing - robbing the people to pay the greedy.[/b] Posted at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-05-02.aspx

TalkTurkey

8/05/2014Bob Ellis! Oh yeah the bloke can write! http://www.ellistabletalk.com/2014/05/03/the-stupidity-of-joe-hockey-an-occasional-series-1/ Look out Joe, we're coming for you and all your scaly mates. Your poll figures will never look good again. From now until whenever the election is we will harry you. You will not sleep soundly ever again. Our malice will astound you. We will overwhelm you. The Tendrils of ICAC will get you all.

Michael

8/05/2014Removing indexation on fuel. Huge tax cuts for the middle class. Selling off the gold reserve. Privatisation left right and centre... Almost every negative aspect of the so-called 'budget emergency' this country confronts right here and now can be traced back to Howard and Costello. Bitch-irony that Abbott and his hapless crew are reaping the wild winds of the previous conservative governments, and yet are attempting to 'solve the problems' with tactics already exposed as virtually impotent in terms of setting up the nation for a fair and equitable future. No surprises there. And no excuses, either. But the booklet the government has already had printed up (at taxpayers' expense) demonstrates (ha!) that it's all Labor's fault. So, you watch, this won't be Hockey's first budget, it will be sold as "Labor's last budget", the budget Abbott and his incompetents, the 60 per centers, will try and tell us is so hard because of what Labor "did". Well, even if some sadsacks buy that BS, the 'repair job' will still be undertaken with broken promises, and people will remember who made them and who broke them, not who the promise-breakers are blaming. Abbott has to remember what Howard never forgot (till he was bedazzled by Workchoices) - voters care most about their own hip pockets (except when they're cheesed off about what's in the pockets of welfare recipients). You can buy governing Australia - the last election proved that. But once you've bought, you have to meet the terms of the contract. For the party of business to forget that basic fact just reiterates how unprepared for and useless in government Abbott's 60 Per Centers are.

TalkTurkey

8/05/2014My late Uncle Sam, a farmer on Yorke Peninsula, used to tell some funny anecdotes about the locals. One was of a bloke he knew that had some chooks that he kept in a fowlyard at a decent distance from the house, a good thing due to the highly intelligent method he had developed of feeding them. What he did, he would hang up a dead sheep, or calf offal, or kangaroo or emu, on a piece of wire netting suspended from the rafters, and go away. Soon maggots would start dropping to the floor through bodily orifices, with eager hens scurrying to gobble them. Sammy said they'd stand there with their heads cocked, waiting for the *gentle rain from heaven*, (oh nice pun Turkey! :) ) Several weeks later there would be little left of the cadaver, while the egg supply was fine and the chooks really glossy. Point of this story : - Here [i]I[/i] am just like those chooks, waiting for yummy maggots of scandal falling from the stinking cadaver of the LNP at the #ICAC proceedings, c/o the journalists there sending them down to us via Twitter. It's sure better than relying on MSM, but it's still intermittent, like the maggot supply: I can't wait for each new delicious drop. I likened it to listening to those radio broadcasts of Ashes in England in the early '50's when the clever ABC developed a sound-effects system where white sound was played as if it were cheering and the bat-on-ball was in fact a pencil-end tapped on the desk. That description seemed to resonate with fellow #ICAC junkies: several played with the notion, like, there's star batsmen like O'Farrell & whatshisname NSW Police Minister losing their wickets ... "Here comes [Counsel Assisting] Watson, Oh he's bowled another bouncer! ..." That sort of thing, I love it, vinaigrettes a l'anglaise, with ice-cold schadenfreude ... Meanwhile at #ICAC the Primary Strike Green Blowflies are homing in on the shitty bums in the NSW Liberal Party - Abborrrt-, Pyne, Brough, Tinkler, Sinodinos, Queenslanders too, the list goes on and on - and many will feed off the busy little operatives when they hatch. Goodie Goodie Yum Yum!

Casablanca

8/05/2014CASABLANCA'S CACHE. 8 May, 2014 62 items. [b]Dr No has morphed into Dr Do Little except for his trademark falsehoods & Knighthoods [/b] Posted at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-05-02.aspx

Casablanca

8/05/2014[b]Audit costs $2.5m[/b] Nick Butterly They may be lecturing Australians about the need for belt-tightening but the Government's Commission of Audit could not keep to its own budget to produce its landmark stocktake. The coalition predicted in its midyear Budget update that the commission would spend about $1 million examining the innards of government spending. Publicly available figures show it cost taxpayers about $2.5 million to produce the audit. https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/a/23208047/audit-costs-2-5m/ [b]Has the Government doubled the budget deficit?[/b] ABC Fact Check Treasurer Joe Hockey is the "Masterchef of cooking the books" according to his Opposition counterpart Chris Bowen, who has repeatedly accused the Coalition of using "voodoo economics" to create a sense of crisis to justify dramatic spending cuts in the May 13 budget. Bowen's claim checks out http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-06/has-the-government-doubled-the-budget-deficit/5423392

TalkTurkey

8/05/2014Come On Investigative Journalists, This is the raison d'etre of your genre! [i]GET ABBORRRRTTT![/i] http://www.afr.com/p/national/icac_probe_inches_closer_to_abbott_tlnRTpGLPgO4FzI08Ha5BO

Casablanca

8/05/2014Lateline: Commonwealth insurance scheme needed for 80-100 year olds Paul Keating is giving Tony Jones an Economics lesson with special reference to superannuation. Vintage Keating. video (24m 10s) & transcript at: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4001033.htm

TalkTurkey

9/05/2014At the ICAC hearing, Lib MP Marie Ficarra said that on a particular day and at a time in question she was not campaigning after all (as she had earlier claimed), instead she was picking up her miniature Schnauzer Leisl from the vet. It became the joke of the day at the hearing. https://www.google.com.au/search?q=schnauzer+icac+mp&newwindow=1&source=univ&tbm=nws&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=sRRsU43cFoTHkwWW4wE&ved=0CCkQqAI&biw=942&bih=224 And it reminded me of a funny if bit naughty joke. Woman comes to Vet with a miniature Schnauzer, it is virtually deaf. Vet points out that hair has filled its ear canals and ear wax has completed effective plugs. He snips out the hair, cleans out the wax, little dog can hear good as gold. Vet says, [i]Look to stop it happening again, get some VEET depilatory cream from a pharmacy, every few weeks put a drop on a cotton bud and gently clean out her ears. But then rinse out all the VEET, it's a bit corrosive to sensitive skin OK? [/i] Next time she's in the chemists she buys a bottle of VEET. Pharmacist helpfully says, [i]Look this stuff works really well but it's a bit corrosive to sensitive skin, so if you're using it for your underarms, rinse it off and don't use any deodorant for a few days, it'll sting OK? [/i] Woman says [i]No, it's not for my underarms[/i]. Pharmacist: [i]Oh, well if it's for your leg hair don't spend much time with bare legs in the sun for a couple of days, the skin will burn very quickly ... [/i] Woman, getting a bit nettled with info overload says, [i]No, it's not for my legs ... If you must know, it's for my little Schnauzer! [/i] Pharmacist looks quite boggled, but gets it back together to say, [i]Oh really, well you better not ride your bike for at least a week![/i]

TalkTurkey

9/05/2014I haven't read this yet but it's topical because NSW Central Coast seems to be THE hot spot for crook LNP politicians. #ICAC presently quizzing Marie Ficarra LNP MP for one local seat. (And she's FUKT!) Peter Wicks ‏@madwixxy · 2h My post today is a look at Abbott's dodgy donations and a post-Thomson update on the seat of Dobell http://wixxyleaks.com/?p=5061 #auspol #icac

Casablanca

9/05/2014[b]Australia’s future Republic Day — the 9th of May[/b] Glenn Davies When Australians finally decide we must finalise our independence, the obvious day of the year to inaugurate the Republic of Australia is today ‒ the 9th of May. . on 9 May 1901, the newly minted federal parliament was sworn in at the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne. . on 9 May 1927, Old Parliament House in Canberra ‒ known formerly as the Provisional Parliament House ‒ was opened. . on 9 May 1988, the Federal Parliament transferred to the new Parliament House on Capital Hill, Canberra. http://www.independentaustralia.net/australia/australia-display/australias-future-republic-day--the-9th-of-may,6459

Patriciawa

9/05/2014Thank you TT, your naughty joke gave me a good belly laugh!

Casablanca

9/05/2014TT Same as Patriciawa. I'm sure that Geoffrey Watson would also be amused along with journalists covering the ICAC hearings.

DMW

9/05/2014What would the jernalistic fish bowl do without the ALP? It is almost like every second article in the papers and nearly as many blog posts are about what the ALP needs to do to become selectable or something like it. A persons' entire reading life could be consumed in the topic. So I am going to take some coal to Newcastle and put my two penneth worth to add to the pile. I choose coal to Newcastle for obvious reasons. With all intrigue that comes from there and nearby it seems the best place to go. There is talk of some form of Federal ICAC or something similar and that may (or may not) be a good thing. If it is to happen my personal choice would for it to be called an Integrity Commission as it would give scope to a wider array misdemeanours that could be investigated. I suspect the best course of action on that in my mind is for Labor to let others make the running on that and back it at an appropriate time. I reckon that Federal Labor should do a bit of a Latham on what'sisface and paint him into a corner just as Latham did to Howard over pollies' super. I gather (but have not confirmed) that Labor declares all donations over $1,000 even though the legislation is such that donations below $12,500 (approx) do not have to be declared. Labor also attempts to track down the original source of third party donations (like those the Libs get through 8 x 5). What Labor could do is go another step and declare all donations on it's own website within (say) seven days of getting the donation. It the right times (which could be numerous) Labor could then put it up thingymebob and say 'we are transparent about where the many come from. The other corner the could paint whosywhatsit is over who meets who and what for. Labor should immediately implement a programme of publishing the diaries of (at a minimum) all shadow ministers online within seven days (or so) of the meetings. I would prefer that all members and senators publish their diaries but that could be phased in. These two simple and fairly easy things to do would be excellent steps towards transparency and would (hopefully) help restore credibility and create some trust amongst the great unwashed pool of ordinary voters. Maybe those amongst us who are members of the party could whisper in some ears or even put up a motion at their next sub-branch meeting.

Patriciawa

9/05/2014Thanks for that Paul Keating link, Casablanca www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4001033.htm Watching last night's Lateline. Wasn’t Keating fine! Made me pine For ‘auld lang syne.’ What I most recall Was feisty Paul So on the ball, Nine feet tall In 1993 Leading the ALP So easily To a record breaking victory.

Ken

9/05/2014DMW Like your ideas and the approach that Labor can use. A broad Integrity Commission could be a problem but only for the reason that a breach of a promise cold also be seen as an integrity issue and there are circumstances when election promises cannot be kept - telling genuine changed circumstances from artificially created ones (such as the current budget crisis) could be exceedingly difficult. I would like to see it but don't think it will happen. Patriciawa Yes, Keating was brilliant last night. Managed to put Hockey, the Treasury and Tony Jones in their place. He seems to be the only politician who understands all the nuances of economics, including the social implications which many mainstream economists ignore. His mentor Jack Lang was the same: in the early 1970s, a few years before it happened, Lang was warning that the biggest danger facing Australia was inflation. Yes, Lang and Keating heroes of 'the west' (western suburbs of Sydney)

DMW

9/05/2014Hi Ken, the problems with 'breach of promise' did occur to me however the broadening I have in mind is more related to the currently very flexible interpretations of Ministerial Code of Conduct and possibly some things like Winery Tours & [i]Weddings, Parties, Anything[/i]

TalkTurkey

10/05/2014The Israeli Zionist lobby in Canada! Read not only the article but also the comments. http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/04/11/358137/canada-criminalizes-criticism-of-israel/ You will remember that I too have railed here against Israel, and though all forms of religion are repugnant to me, it is international Zionism that everywhere leads the dance of war.

Ken

10/05/2014' morning DMW The travel rorts and such are a case of 'misleading' reasons being given for travel. It's a bit difficult for mere public servants to challenge the reasons given and these things are usually only picked up when audits are undertaken - that is, when someone has the time to look into the claims in more detail. I'm not sure that a Commission should bog itself down with such claims (unless they find someone who has a consistent history of such claims, eg the current PM!) but stricter guidelines could help, or a semi-independent travel/expenses unit that is two or three steps removed from the politicians. Even as I write that, I realise that such a unit could possibly be attached to your 'Integrity Commission'. So I'm coming back to the idea: a Commission that investigates corruption and such but also has attached to it, or sitting next to it, a unit that handles politicians' entitlements claims. Even politicians could sell the idea as ensuring their entitlement claims are independently assessed and most of the electorate would be happy to see that.

Michael

10/05/2014Did you see on the news last night Hockey and Cormann smoking huge cigars, looking smug and self-satisfied after their morning 'power walk'? I hope so. I hope all Australia did. These two and Abbott and co appeared very happy with themselves, just about to deliver swingeing impact on all Australians, very few of whom could afford (or would be stupid enough to smoke) the rolled leaf cancer stogies Hockey and Cormann were smirking around. Where have we got to in Australia where a Federal Treasurer can boast he is going to whack everyday citizens in their daily cost of living? To vaunt and flaunt that he will impose massive spending cuts on services to citizens and reduce the role of government to... what, border patrol and guests of honour (sic) at Liberal Party fundraisers? The biggest spending cuts of all will come from Australians no longer buying anything more than basic foodstuffs and minimal domestic necessities. That's when Hockey and Abbott will learn how spending cuts really affect an economy - when they've dragged this nation down to the mud of 'who do we blame now?' Tea Party fundamentalism.

Bacchus

10/05/2014While I'm sure most Swordsters would never consider listening to 2GB, let alone Alan Jones, this is a must hear: http://www.2gb.com/audioplayer/43916#.U218BSgRUwf

Ad astra

10/05/2014Bacchus What a revealing audiotape, especially coming from Alan Jones, usually a LNP supporter. Everyone should listen to this recording throughout.

TalkTurkey

10/05/2014Jeez Bacchus, I just came here loaded with the same link! (I think) http://www.2gb.com/audioplayer/43916#.U22EJmeKDfT ...and Ad astra, [i]I was going to say the same as your last line! [/i]

Bacchus

10/05/2014Yep TT - it's certainly dynamite!

DMW

10/05/2014... by the way 2353 forgot to say thanks for bringing back out of the closet so to speak with your fine missive. Your blowing a fine whistle ... Toot Toot

DMW

10/05/2014Ken take your point on having whatever organisation that happens getting bogged down on the little stuff. Having pondered further I am coming down on the side of [i]... from little things, big things grow[/i] There is a decent body of research that is showing that people are often more persuaded by the 'little gift' than the big bribe. The medical profession/drug industry relationship shows this with gifts of things such as a nice pen and other little personalised 'gifts' often has a bigger effect than a 'free symposium' in an exotic resort. While it would be next to impossible to guarantee that all our elected representatives are squeaky clean we need to know that the overwhelming majority are not there rorting the system. I am coming at this from a few angles but the principle angle is that history shows that in the majority of cases oppositions need to show that they are ready to govern and be capable of doing it.* Labor will serve itself well if it can show that it is able to operate in an ethical way without rules being in place. There are some other things that will need to be put in place and hopefully the party can discover and implement them. *The current mob bluffed the people on the 'ready to govern' score as is becoming increasingly obvious to even some of its' most fawning acolytes in the press and elsewhere which, in my mind, will require Labor to prove itself even more because those acolytes will demand it.

Casablanca

10/05/2014 [b]Let's have a levy on self-interest to fix the deficit[/b] Ross Gittins, May 10, 2014 If you want to see a classic example of selfishness posing as high principle, look no further than the fuss big business's high income-earners are making over the deficit/debt levy/tax expected to be imposed in Tuesday's budget. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/lets-have-a-levy-on-selfinterest-to-fix-the-deficit-20140509-3812d.html

Casablanca

11/05/2014 [b]CASABLANCA'S CACHE 11 May 2014[/b] FINITO: THE BRIGHT SHINING PLEDGE OF NO SURPRISES, NO EXCUSES 1. First Dog on the Moon on ... the art of raising taxes Tony Abbott swore not to raise taxes ... but went for it anyway. So how is the nation responding, asks First Dog on the Moon http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cartoon/2014/may/09/australian-politics-australia?CMP=ema_632 2. Trust me Kaye Lee In light of the deficit levy and the PPL levy and the increased medicare levy to pay for the NDIS and the increased fuel excise and the co-payment for doctors and medications (aka sick tax), I thought it might be interesting to revisit Tony Abbott’s words. http://theaimn.com/2014/05/09/trust-me/ 3. Abbott, Hockey and Cormann threaten permanent damage Even the pro-Coalition media are now alert to blunders and broken promises by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey — but are they alert enough http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/abbott-and-hockey-threaten-permanent-damage,6461#.U22oVtr8Bp8.twitter 4. Phoney Tony Russell Marks After making political honesty his highest value – his most "core" commitment – before the election, prime minister Tony Abbott is set to break a series of specific promises in next Tuesday's budget. The key question is: why? http://www.themonthly.com.au/node/12752 5. Budget 2014: the Abbott Government makes it mark Marius Benson ...talking to The Australian....Joe Hockey made it clear that tax increases, for all the protests and cries of "broken promises", would be just a sideshow when the full budget was revealed. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-09/benson-the-abbott-government-makes-it-mark/5441548 6. Tuesday's federal budget is Abbott's biggest gamble Michael Gordon The man who promised no excuses and no surprises is poised to offer an abundance of both. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/tuesdays-federal-budget-is-abbotts-biggest-gamble-20140509-zr801.html#ixzz31IbPxUGh 7. Keep spinning Mike Carleton ..there is evident panic in the ranks of the government's media toadies, who are nonplussed as to how they'll explain Abbott's slew of broken promises on Tuesday...an electorate which is thoroughly – and justifiably – scared and angry at the budget betrayal that is looming. The government's opinion poll figures are cactus, with worse on the way. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/how-to-join-the-mike-carlton-forum-20140508-zr6yr.html#ixzz31IcJC0Pc 8. Joe Hockey waves goodbye to the Medicare Kingswood Peter Hartcher On Tuesday night, the Abbott government will announce that the free visit to the doctor for most people is to become a historical artefact of Australian life. It will be one of the most controversial decisions that the government will take. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/joe-hockey-waves-goodbye-to-the-medicare-kingswood-20140509-zr89z.html#ixzz31Icz3il4 9. Longer hours means lower productivity for the public service Warwick Smith So, will making public servants work longer hours improve productivity? In short, no. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/longer-hours-means-lower-productivity-for-the-public-service-20140509-zr5ly.html#ixzz31IdSG7Fn 10. Hockey's Commission of Audit anything but responsible` Peter Martin the Commission of Audit wants to hit Australians moving from the dole back into the workforce with an effective marginal tax rate of 94 per cent on wages of $19,0000 to $32,000. This would stall their reward from work at close to $19,000 even as they took second and third part-time jobs. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/hockeys-commission-of-audit-anything-but-responsible-20140505-zr4nz.html WHAT THE GREAT & THE GOOD OF THE LIBERAL PARTY SAY 11. Will Tony Abbott's first budget launch Fightback II? Peter Reith A key part of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey’s pitch is that they will produce jobs and grow the economy but they still do not even know what they will do on tax or the labour market or when or if they will do anything. Throw in a reorganisation of federal/state relations and the government’s three white papers could easily end up as three explosive time bombs for the 2016 election. Because the Abbott team was so wary about policy in the lead up to the last election, they already have a big policy backlog to confront in 2016. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/will-tony-abbotts-first-budget-launch-fightback-ii-20140505-zr4qg.html#ixzz31IdxrTfC 12. Former treasurer Peter Costello says 'debt tax' would have 'no economic benefit' Judith Ireland Mr Costello's voice has now been added to the mix of criticism over the prospect of a levy...arguing that the proposed levy would "detract from growth by reducing consumption". "It will produce no interest rate reducation," he said, adding that it would not save enough money. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/former-treasurer-peter-costello-says-debt-tax-would-have-no-economic-benefit-20140506-zr57t.html 13. John Hewson urges reform of tax concessions on super Elizabeth Jackson ...you can't...look at the expenditure side without looking at the tax concessions side in my view and there was an audit, Australian National Audit Office report back in about 2008 that said whenever you review expenditure, you should also review tax concessions. I don't think they have. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-24/john-hewson-urges-reform-of-tax-concessions-on/5409400 14. More backbenchers urge Abbott to axe the 'debt tax' James Glenday A temporary tax hit on the rich is believed to be favoured by the Treasurer, but many of his backbench aren't on board. http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2014/s3999533.htm INFLUENCE PEDDLING BY THE RIGHT+ LARGESSE 15. Probing the political culture of corruption in NSW John Warhurst | At the heart of the donations scandal is the laundering of donations to the Liberal Party for its 2011 election campaign through the use of dodgy front companies. The MPs in question have set out to breach the 2009 rules specifically outlawing donations from developers. In general they have laundered up to $700,000 in donations by passing them through front companies, Eightbyfive and the Free Enterprise Foundation... It is unclear just how respect for political life in NSW can be recovered. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=40343#.U2wmYbVzBZY 16. ICAC probe inches closer to Abbott. Neil Chenoweth The Independent Commission Against Corruption’s investigation is inching closer to the Prime Minister’s office. Questions have emerged over Tony Abbott’s role in selecting Karen McNamara as Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Dobell despite doubts over her fund-raising claims. http://www.afr.com/p/national/icac_probe_inches_closer_to_abbott_tlnRTpGLPgO4FzI08Ha5BO 17. Move over Lance Armstrong, the Budget is coming Andrew Hamilton In Australian politics the cult of competitiveness has led to a rigged competition in which the national interest will not be served. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=40383#.U2wn57VzBZY 18. Running On Empty – Calls for NSW Premier Mike Baird to resign, already… Peter Wixxy With so many Ministers, MP’s and even a Premier being forced to either step down or resign you would assume that the Party would take care when it came to appointing a new NSW Premier. http://wixxyleaks.com/?p=5050&cpage=1#comment-5689 19. Alan Jones dumps on Campbell Newman (audio 23m) Alan talks to Heather about her battle against corruption in Queensland http://www.2gb.com/audioplayer/43916#.U23thLVzDX7 20. Alan Jones, Heather Pascoe, I am with you Kaye Lee As the silent tentacles of Eddie Obeid were, piece by ugly piece, exposed to public view, we listened in horror. The party that allowed this to happen was rightly punished at the polls sending NSW Labor into political oblivion, and… http://theaimn.com/2014/05/10/alan-jones-heather-pascoe-i-am-with-you/ 21. A Brilliant Plan To Give Billionaires Who Try To Buy U.S. Elections A Taste Of Their Own Medicine Mansur Gidfar How bad has the money-in-politics situation gotten? A new study by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern universities found that, and I'm quoting directly here: "When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”...In other words, if you can't afford to hire a lobbyist or raise money for politicians, your opinion literally does not matter. http://www.upworthy.com/a-brilliant-plan-to-give-billionaires-who-try-to-buy-us-elections-a-taste-of-their-own-medicine?c=apstream

Casablanca

11/05/2014 Casablanca's Cache 11 May 2014. 21 items. [b]Abbott trashes his bright shining pledge of no surprises, no excuses.[/b] Posted above and at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-05-02.aspx

Ad astra

11/05/2014[b]HAPPY, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY[/b]

Michael

11/05/2014http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2014/may/09/budget-cuts-revenue-interactive?google_editors_picks=true Worth a visit and a 'go'. I saved the Federal government as representatives of the Australian people (remember that quaint notion?) 207 billion dollars, and reduced the deficit across the next 4 years by 103 billion dollars. The exercise doesn't include how to reallocate such savings, but I can tell you right now 'Australia Border Force' would be no more than a punchline to sick jokes, Manus Island would be returned to the exclusive use of Manus Islanders, ditto for Nauru, and the Coalition parties' members would be invited to join in a social experiment in a Western Australia gated enclave run on the political, economic and sociological principles of Honorary Professor Gine Rinehart.

2353

11/05/2014DMW - My pleasure. The problem is the lack of integrity in political parties. It seems to me admittedly as an outsider that there is a need for considerable amounts of number crunching and smooching with the 'players' that is required to get anywhere inside a political party that by the time someone gets tapped on the shoulder for a 'safe seat', favours, payback and warped ideas on 'normal' behaviour are inbred into the person. So, they see nothing wrong with taking a $200,000 annual wage for a weeks work (admittedly over a year), $5000 for a meeting with someone that they shouldn't be meeting with anyway (surely its a conflict of interest to make decisions on water assets after accepting a fee for meeting with a stakeholder), or even sitting out the back of Parliament House smoking cigars while proclaiming a horror budget is coming (in the words of a famous Aussie movie "its the vibe").
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?