Letter to Bill Shorten - part 2

Here is the second part of a letter to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, written by an ardent Labor supporter, Ad Astra. 

The Hon Bill Shorten, MP Leader of the Federal Opposition 
Dear Mr Shorten

Health and disability 

Labor has a proud record in health care, one acknowledged by the electorate. It introduced Medicare, which LNP governments so far have been too timid to dismantle, so popular has it been, although the Commission of Audit would have it emasculated. Last term it introduced its groundbreaking and highly applauded Disability Care, which the Commission of Audit would slow down, leaving the disabled waiting yet again. 

Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world. Its maintenance and improvement is Labor’s task. The LNP’s focus is on the sustainability of funding for health and disability care, a laudable enough objective, but we know ‘sustainability’ will be used as a lever for cuts to services, as the Commission of Audit so vividly exemplifies. 

Labor should be formulating how it would sustain funding, rather than harping on LNP cuts. It should be leading the way, but so far we have seen almost no proactive leadership on health from Labor since the election. 

Aged care, dementia care, disability care and hospital care are becoming major areas of concern. The need for, and the cost of supportive services will rise inexorably. Labor must stress the importance of basing our health care system on first-rate primary care that offers emergency care, preventive care and chronic illness management via the nation’s well-trained general practitioners. This nation must prepare for these areas of escalating cost now, but not through counter-productive penalties such as a co-payment on bulk-billed services. 

Recommendation: That Labor seizes the initiative on health, aged and disability care, and not only widely promulgates its plans for enhancement, but also its detailed plans for sustaining funding in the decades ahead. It must take the lead in this, its traditional area. 

Education 

Here is another area where Labor has a fine record, which is consistently acknowledged by the electorate. Its Gonski initiative was widely applauded, so much so that the LNP was forced to endorse it pre-election, only to seek to dilute it post-election to suit its ideological position, and delay it, purportedly for budgetary reasons. Labor has always insisted on enabling education for all who might be capable of benefitting from it, be it at in the pre-school, school, tertiary or trade sectors. The LNP sees education as being for those who can pay for it, for the ‘better class of kiddies’ who deserve it most. The Commission of Audit would have the Gonski reforms disabled or even abandoned, and education handed to the states. Labor must counter this, knowing that education for all enhances the individual, increases productivity, and lifts the nation up. 

This nation simply cannot afford to fall behind its Asian neighbours. 

Recommendation: That Labor re-asserts its preeminence in education, insists on the full implementation of the Gonski recommendations, and fashions a funding schedule that will enable this, even if that requires additional levies or taxes. 

Taxation and transfer payments 

Labor has traditionally been sympathetic to the needs of the elderly, the retired, the disabled and the less well-off. It has supported and increased pension payments and other benefits. The cost is projected to rise inexorably. Labor must develop a plan to sustain these benefits where they are justified. That will not be easy. It will almost certainly require stricter means testing so that those who most need support receive it, and those who don’t, do not. Moreover, increased taxes are certain to be needed. Instead of pretending that Labor can manage to support transfer payments without tax increases, it should advocate increasing direct and indirect taxes. It should not play a political game by opposing discussion of GST changes. Whilst acknowledging that the GST is a regressive tax, which most hurts the less well off, it cannot be beyond the wit of Labor to propose changes that do not hurt the poor. For example, a GST on food, education and health care could be offset by a graduated discount system for those below certain income levels. 

Balanced economists identify PM Howard’s use of the deluge of revenue during the mining boom to buy votes through middle class welfare and tax cuts as a major cause of our current difficulties. Labor should make this clear whilst acknowledging its own contribution to the escalation of welfare. It should acknowledge that structural defects in the federal budget simply must be remedied. 

Labor ought to be echoing Joe Hockey’s mantra that the age of entitlement is over, but focus its attention on corporate welfare, welfare for those who do not need it, and other tax refuges of the wealthy, specifically negative gearing. Instead of shrinking from addressing this thorny issue, it ought to have the courage to insist its enormous cost to the budget be exposed, and that steps be taken to phase it out gradually. Superannuation needs graded boosting to 15% so that the less well-off become less reliant on the aged pension. Superannuation tax concessions that unreasonably favour the wealthy should be reduced and gradually phased out. Increasing the pensionable age, and taking steps to take into account the value of the family home and other assets in allocating a pension, must be considered. Let’s not play political games with tax issues, even if the LNP does. They are too crucial to be the subject of point-scoring skirmishes.

Recommendation: That Labor takes the lead in addressing the structural defects in the nation’s tax and transfer system, and insists on open debate to find lasting solutions.

Infrastructure

Labor ought not allow Tony Abbott to brazenly steal the mantle of ‘the infrastructure PM’. Labor has always given due prominence to infrastructure, and should ensure that its strong record and its future commitment to infrastructure is widely publicised. Anthony Albanese has been a vocal advocate for the infrastructure this nation needs. Labor should avoid the pointless ‘road versus rail’ debate that the LNP seems to enjoy. 

Recommendation: That Labor re-asserts its preeminence in infrastructure development and wrests the initiative from the Coalition and its ‘infrastructure’ prime minister.

Public debate 

The electorate’s perception of politicians is governed mainly by their public utterances inside and outside of parliament. 

Question Time, even for those who do not have the time to watch it directly, is publicised on every TV and radio outlet. Perhaps more than anything else, QT has weighed down politicians with the unseemly cloak of adversarial discord, abuse, anger, shouting, lies and deception. Politicians are seen simply as ugly point-scoring street fighters. Yet politicians ought to be admired and respected. The fact that they rate with used car salesmen and journalists as the least respected professionals shows how lowly they have sunk in the public’s estimation. This demeans our democracy. 

Labor should take the lead in elevating public discourse. In QT, instead of always seeking to score points that will be seen on the 6 o’clock news, why not ask questions of profound importance to our nation, and ask them in a sincere yet inquisitive fashion, free of angry rhetoric, nasty innuendo and finger pointing. If Labor must embarrass the government, ask penetrating questions that probe weaknesses in policy, dishonesty, lack of clarity, inefficiency, and malign intent, and do so benignly with everyday words uncontaminated with venom and anger. In my view, that would have a more shocking effect on the government and a more enthusiastic acceptance by the electorate. It would contrast with the angry outbursts and the sarcastic words we see from LNP politicians almost every day. 

Labor spokespersons should talk as statesmen do. They ought to move the standard of discourse from gutter talk to the uplifting language of the statesman and the diplomat. It can’t be that hard. 

This is not to say that exuberance, enthusiasm and passion should not suffuse Labor talk. These attributes are essential, but they can be conveyed without venom, nastiness, sarcasm, rudeness and disrespect.

Recommendation: That Labor reviews all the avenues it has for making public utterances, and refashions them in a way that will garner public respect. This is urgent.

Messaging 

Getting Labor’s messages across will not be easy. It will require skillful ‘marketing’ if I may use that awkward word, of the Labor ‘brand’, another uncomfortable expression. The LNP has been quite brilliant at marketing its brand and framing the political debate. It has used weasel words, words devoid of substance but with a glossy exterior, just as weasels suck eggs dry, leaving only the shiny shell. What Labor needs to do is expose the substance of its progressive policies, and dress it in attractive garb with words that are understandable, appealing and memorable. It can’t be that hard, yet Labor has regularly failed to do this. The result has been that good policies have been misunderstood, or not understood at all, have been poorly ‘sold’, have been countered with ease by Labor’s opponents, and have too often been rejected by the electorate. 

Labor simply must do better. There must be advisers out there who could help Labor fashion its messages, its purposes and its plans in a way that would match Coalition slogans such as: ‘stop the boats’, ‘axe the tax’, ‘we must live within our means’, ‘budget emergency’, and ‘we must all do the heavy lifting’, that have served the LNP so well. 

Words count. Persuasive words garner support. They don’t have to be erudite, only plausible. Framing the debate in a way that advantages Labor is essential.  Labor’s advisors need to study the works of George Lakoff, linguist and cognitive scientist, particularly Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives ThinkThe Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics; and Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate -The Essential Guide for Progressives. The insights these works provide ought to be applied to every aspect of Labor’s policy, but perhaps most of all to the economy, which is so central to the electorate’s thinking. 

Recommendation: That Labor takes the initiative in framing the debate on all policy issues.

A final comment 

I could write on and on, covering other policy areas, but this letter is already long enough. 

Suffice it is to say that in the view of this Labor supporter, and I suspect many, many others, Labor needs to make profound changes to its organisation, its governance, its membership base, its financial support, and the way it presents its policies and plans to the public. People like me support Labor because it is built on an ideological foundation stone of fairness, equal opportunity, equity, concern for the less well off and the disadvantaged, full employment, sustainable economic prosperity, and concern for the environment and the pursuit of its sustainability, and because its policies seek to make possible those worthy aims. These progressive ideals contrast starkly with many conservative ideals, which seem to favour the wealthy, disadvantage the poor and the weak, and foster a ‘survival of the fittest’ mindset, with those at the bottom of the pile receiving only the crumbs from the rich man’s table, a phenomenon glorified by the discredited theory of ‘trickle-down’ economics. 

You are the appointed leader. Although the wider membership preferred Anthony Albanese, seeing him as a dyed-in-the-wool Labor man who performs so well in parliamentary debates and public speeches, your colleagues preferred you. So it has fallen to you to resuscitate Labor. You can be assured that this is what Labor supporters desperately want. They will support you as you restore Labor to its proper place in the political spectrum. 

Your task is difficult. You need all the encouragement and help you can get, and you need it from all Labor supporters. The purpose of this letter is to offer that support, and to offer some observations and advice from one who cares deeply about what progressive parties stand for. In Australia, Labor is such a party. The conservatives do not share Labor values. Although the Greens share many Labor values, they are too radical, too uncompromising, and too inflexible in their policies and politics. 

For me, it is Labor. 

Over to you! We have great expectations; we trust you are equal to the task. Help us help you to achieve Labor’s great potential as a force for good in this nation.
 

Yours sincerely

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TPS Team

1/06/2014Last week, Part 1 of Ad Astra’s letter to Bill Shorten focused on issues for Labor to address internally and introduced the first policy issues. This week, the letter completes discussion of the policy issues and concludes with suggestions regarding messaging and public debate. Now you have read the letter in full, do you think Ad Astra has paved the way for Labor, or are there other issues to address? Do you have other suggestions to help Labor? Tell us what you think and leave a comment.

Ad astra

1/06/2014Folks Take a look at Casablanca's latest innovation: ABBOTT'S REPORT CARDS: Lies & Unfair Policies - http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/Abbotts-Report-Cards.aspx She will update regularly this catalogue of Abbott lies, failures and deception.

Woodypear

2/06/2014Have you received a reply? (and not just one of those "your letter will be passed on to ....") Good work

Casablanca

2/06/2014 [b]Abbott On D-Day Anniversary: Now Can We Get Rid Of The Carbon And Mining Tax? [/b] Darryl Mason Australia's PM Tony Abbott, or 'Toxic Tony' as he is becoming known, used the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings in Europe during World War 2 to talk up his agenda of cutting the carbon tax and mining tax. And he used images of Australian World War 2 veterans to do it. The original media release is a perfect example of tawdry, cheap and cynical exploitation of World War 2 and its veterans by the prime minister. Our Australian veterans. That the Prime Minister's Office is trying to spin Abbott's way out of this disgusting use of veterans to push his political agenda just makes the whole thing even worse. http://theorstrahyun.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/abbott-on-d-day-anniversary-worst-press.html [b]A Message from the PM - Visit to France, Canada & United States [/b] Tony Abbott Abbott has used the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings to remind us that the Carbon Tax needs to be scrapped. The original video has been removed from the PM's Website but is still available on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=zwTgJCPtOXQ&app=desktop Bernard Keane ‏@BernardKeane 5h Abbott's office has removed the D-Day media release the page now times out http://bit.ly/1jJy89J . Original here: http://bit.ly/1pwyLvl George Megalogenis ‏@GMegalogenis 4h For those late to the D-Day movie, here's the deleted Saving Private Enterprise press release, via @BernardKeane http://media.crikey.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/14-06-01-A-Message-from-the-Prime-Minister-70th-Anniversary-of-the-D-Day-Landings-copy.pdf Marquis BK ‏@WEDeming 5h We’ve got to stop him before the 100th anniv of Gallipoli or he’ll regale the Turks with stories of Pink Batts and how he stopped the boats. julianburnside ‏@JulianBurnside 1h Abbott's speech for 70th anniversary of D-Day turns into an ad for Aus trade. Serious misjudgment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skqATdPRXxo … Duke of Martin Place ‏@lightonhill 3h #auspol Do Abbott & his advisers understand the significance of his outrageous misuse of D-Day commemorations? This must sicken everyone. Christine Milne ‏@senatormilne 4h .@TonyAbbottMHR has humiliated Australia on world stage under UNFCCC, UNHCR, World Heritage and Biodiversity Conventions and now D Day. [b]Dumb Ways to Lie[/b] Animation by The Sauce https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE9ZTtMjFsI&feature=youtu.be

2353`

2/06/2014A discussion on why no one wants to be at the dole office. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/blogs/unwritten-law/dont-ditch-the-dole-20140530-397yi.html

Ad astra

2/06/2014Woodypear Thank you for your comment. So far I have received no reply from Bill Shorten, which may be a sign that he is taking time to read the letter carefully so that he can make a considered response, rather than a 'form' reply.

Ad astra

2/06/2014Casablanca Once again, Abbott has covered himself with ignominy. But why should anyone be surprised? This man has no social awareness, no sensitivity, no nous. Neither have his advisers. 'Dumb ways to lie' was enjoyable. The authors should now write 'Dumb ways to push tired old Abbott lines'. 2353 Abbott ought have his face thrust into the poignant piece about the dole queues.

Ken

2/06/2014Ad Yes, health and education have always been Labor strengths and they need to build on that and create a clear difference with the LNP (which isn't hard on these two issues). Taxation is a vexed issue and as you say needs to be faced. Hockey goes on about ending the 'age of entitlement' but it is the Libs that have created middle class welfare and the expectation that we are all entitled to tax cuts. Governments cannot provide the quality of services we need if we keep cutting taxes. Or you do the LNP trick and cut income tax, only to increase taxes elsewhere: or, as in this Budget, shift costs to the States so that they are forced to raise taxes and the Federal government can say disingenuously, "it wasn't us". The result for the average person is the same - costs and taxes go up. Labor needs to expose the charade that surrounds the LNP's approach to taxation. And finally, as you rightly point out, Labor needs to get its messaging right. For whatever reason, the main people leading that under Gillard and Rudd in the last few weeks before the election, did not get it right. They seemed to misread what was required. They were supposed experts but, in that case, the experts the LNP were using were better (obviously aided by a media that either refused to display the Labor message or aggressively down-played it). There is no simple answer to that. I can only hope that Labor does find some communications experts who can actually do the job.

Michael

2/06/2014Abbott (re the D Day video) is shameless, surrounded by equally malicious and mendacious 'advisers', Credlin and Loughnane leading a hyena pack of crass manipulators each and all. Where the Hell is Peter Cosgrove, the invisible Governor General? He should hand in his resignation in protest, to truly display the cost and damage wrought on veterans and their families by Abbott's Coalition mainchancers. The man (Abbott, in case you've forgotten) who mistakenly called 'diggers' by their English nickname, 'squaddies', demonstrates yet again how little real knowledge or concern he has for the military-enlisted men and women of this country - cannon-fodder in conflict, political pawns in any other situation where uniforms and flags can be trooped out to further the Coalition's mean pursuit of a reduced and vicious Australia. The place we might have had and be living in if D Day had failed. A place that increasingly seems to be the 'vision' of this "man with a plan".

Khtagh

2/06/2014G'Day all, I'm still around, just. Ad Astra I hope you get a reply from the Op leader about this letter, so many great points you have outlined. We have to get some passion back into the public debate. I think having songs like this should wake some up, this should go viral. Well worth a 3 minute break. You Don't Speak for Me - Judy Small https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DEzt1B2Oo9A I had the immense pleasure of meeting TT in person yesterday, a lovely genuine man with overwhelming friendship, together with J, they make a dynamic duo.

42long

2/06/2014Yes Michael, I've never heard the term squaddie. He seems to look down on Australians. He was born in England. Does he still have aspirations to return to the fatherland. I will happily kick in some coin for the national good. He swore allegiance to the Queen. Does he carry DUAL citizenship. THAT is not allowed to sit in the Australian Parliament. I think these trips might be a bit of a "Junket" for the IN group. No SURPRISES.. ABot will continue to underperform in all the areas he has proven he can. Make Australia look stupid for electing this CLOWN..

Ad astra

2/06/2014Ken It seems to me that free from politics, the equation is straightforward. What do we want for our nation in terms of education, health and disability care, jobs and our economy, infrastructure, and so on; what is the cost, now and well into the future as we age and live longer; then how can we pay for what we want. Direct taxes applied to individuals and business, indirect taxes, superannuation contributions, levies (medicare and others), would need to be adjusted upwards, and unfair tax concessions, enjoyed mostly by the well-off, would need to be adjusted downwards. We can as a nation pay for what we want and need; but to do so we need to get rid of the unfairness in the tax and transfer system. Michael Good comment. Abbott is a shameless grub.

Ad astra

2/06/2014KHTAGH Welcome back to [i]TPS[/i]. I'm so glad you were able to meet TT, a great man, and a good friend. I send you my best wishes. 42 long I'm glad to see you back also. 'Clown' is almost too good a descriptor for Abbott. One thing, he's not funny - just laughable.

Pappinbarra Fox

2/06/2014A group of men who, in their 50s have to declare themselves an adult group, are doing two things. First they are drawing attention to the maturity of their approach to decision making and by doing so immediately make it suspect. It is trite knowledge that a person or group that needs to assert a character trait about themselves almost definitely lacks that trait. Secondly they show that theory are indeed the hollow men lacking in substance. Adults are supposed to make wise decisions, adults are supposed to know the difference between reasoning and bullying, adults look after those who are unable to look after themselves, adults set up the conditions that the vulnerable in our society can make decisions for themselves that make them less vulnerable not make them more vulnerable. So if we are going to boast about how we are adult then maybe a quick look to see if we have the attributes that most people would see as being adult would be in order. An adult, having looked and found not one adult attribute would hesitate to start boasting about some trait that just was not there. The fact that the boasting proceeds apace is proof of the very opposite that the boast is about. Please god make this nightmare stop and I might start believing in you.

Casablanca

2/06/2014[b]Don't like the budget? Your options aren't limited to voting[/b] Mark Chou 30 May 2014 Is there anything that we, as citizens, can do to block the budget in our own right? There are at least two approaches. Democratic theorists, Jean-Paul Gagnon and Mark Chou, have come up with two peaceful ‘people power’ options to oppose the Coalition’s controversial first Budget http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/dont-like-the-budget-your-options-arent-limited-to-voting,6527

Casablanca

2/06/2014Pappinbarra Fox Here is yet another article referring to Abbott as juvenile: 'For someone who promised to lead an adult government, Tony Abbott is giving every indication that The Lodge is occupied by a student politician'. Abbott's views are also captured in the juvenilia of the second article below: [b]Tony Abbott wages a juvenile culture war on Australian literature[/b] Nick Dyrenfurth. May 30, 2014 For someone who promised to lead an adult government, Tony Abbott is giving every indication that The Lodge is occupied by a student politician. Whether it is the two royal commissions and other acts of political retribution dished out to the Coalition’s opponents, the appointment of assorted mates including a ‘‘freedom commissioner’’ on a salary of more than $300,000 a year without even the pretence of due process, or Abbott’s reinstatement of knight and dame honours, this is a prime minister who believes in government by trolling - like an internet user who intentionally angers someone to provoke a response. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-wages-a-juvenile-culture-war-on-australian-literature-20140530-zrtbz.html [b]Is this the Young Liberal vision for Canberra?[/b] Tom McIlroy May 30, 2014 Private schools caning pupils, the abolition of ACT self-government, licenses for cyclists, a privatised ACTION bus network and minimum sentences for child sex offenders. Is this what life in Canberra would be like if the Young Liberals were in charge? http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/is-this-the-young-liberal-vision-for-canberra-20140601-zrsz9.html#ixzz33OgmY1Ud

Ad astra

2/06/2014PF You are right. Far from being adult, this government is juvenile, nasty and vindictive. Casablanca Abbott's juvenile and vengeful nature is exemplified by his stacking of the PM's panel to judge literary awards. The ACT Young Liberals sound like an radical Tea Party version of the Liberal Party. Even the the IPA might be astonished at their right wing extremism.

Casablanca

2/06/2014 [b]Failing union of capitalism and democracy fuels rise in inequality [/b] Wolfgang Merkel "What is the point of elections if they cannot even solve the problem of socioeconomic inequality?" Australian prime minister Tony Abbott decided to break many of his 2013 election promises in his first budget. Many have rightly seen in that document an open assault on the economic welfare of low-income households, and more than a courteous nod to the rich. If the budget is approved, the divide between rich and poor in Australia will most likely increase. http://theconversation.com/failing-union-of-capitalism-and-democracy-fuels-rise-in-inequality-27217

Casablanca

2/06/2014And now for an article about that other sort of rat, non-politicus rattus. [b]How Portland Lives With, Not Against, Its Rats[/b] Merilee D. Karr The city's local, artisanal pest-control efforts have helped keep diseases in check. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/05/how-portlands-rat-control-efforts-helped-prevent-the-plague/371195/

Casablanca

3/06/2014 Tara Moss: author, activist and defier of labels Catherine Keenan As an author, activist, feminist commentator and former professional model, Tara Moss has faced a lot of the demeaning labels that are regularly slapped on women. She hopes her new book allows her and others to step out from beneath them http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-30/keenan-tara-moss-author-activist-and-defier-of-labels/5487394 Abbott free to push his North Shore politics Nigel Bowen Unless the inner-city leftists can get the Western Sydney types back on side, Tony Abbott will be left free to push measures that benefit his North Shore constituents to the detriment of others http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-30/bowen-abbott-free-to-push-his-north-shore-politics/5488208 Is this the Young Liberal vision for Canberra? Tom McIlroy May 30, 2014 Private schools caning pupils, the abolition of ACT self-government, licenses for cyclists, a privatised ACTION bus network and minimum sentences for child sex offenders. Is this what life in Canberra would be like if the Young Liberals were in charge? http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/is-this-the-young-liberal-vision-for-canberra-20140601-zrsz9.html#ixzz33OgmY1Ud The Left and Tony Abbott’s ‘inevitable downfall’ Dr_Tad • June 1, 2014 Eight months in and the Abbott government seems to already be at the point of no return. After the disaster of the budget, the government has hit a new low in polling — one that, given the political “skills” displayed, seems very difficult reverse. As I’ve predicted in the past, the Government has become beatable. As Abbott stumbles there is a real question of how the Left should react. What should we do to capitalise on the crisis of the Right? http://left-flank.org/2014/06/01/left-tony-abbotts-inevitable-downfall/#sthash.X8V33vBL.J80xPWSv.dpuf 10 reasons why the Liberals' end is nigh Alan Austin Resignations of prominent Liberal Party members last month highlight deep rifts within the party. They bring to ten the areas of failure which taken together suggest the party is in terminal decline... So the fact that the Liberal Party has been successful for some decades is no guarantee it will remain. Indeed, there are definite signs that its downfall may be imminent. http://www.pm.gov.au/media/2014-06-01/message-prime-minister Science going back to dark ages Ian Berryman May 28, 2014 The Climate Commission has gone. The carbon tax is to be rescinded. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is to be abolished. The promise of a "Million Solar Roofs" is broken. And in what can only be described as an ideological move, the Abbott government introduced bills to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, despite it making a profit last year. The Prime Minister has declared war on the Australian renewable energy industry, the environment and science itself. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/science-going-back-to-dark-ages-20140531-zrqmx.html#ixzz33PDcPt64 Tony Abbott wages a juvenile culture war on Australian literature May 30, 2014 Nick Dyrenfurth For someone who promised to lead an adult government, Tony Abbott is giving every indication that The Lodge is occupied by a student politician. Whether it is the two royal commissions and other acts of political retribution dished out to the Coalition’s opponents, the appointment of assorted mates including a ‘‘freedom commissioner’’ on a salary of more than $300,000 a year without even the pretence of due process, or Abbott’s reinstatement of knight and dame honours, this is a prime minister who believes in government by trolling - like an internet user who intentionally angers someone to provoke a response. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-wages-a-juvenile-culture-war-on-australian-literature-20140530-zrtbz.html The incredible shrivelling Joe Hockey Bob Ellis Across the nation, the news gets worse for this bunch of weirdos posing as a Government http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-incredible-shrivelling-joe-hockey,6534 Don't like the budget? Your options aren't limited to voting Mark Chou 30 May 2014 Is there anything that we, as citizens, can do to block the budget in our own right? There are at least two approaches.Democratic theorists, Jean-Paul Gagnon and Mark Chou, have come up with two peaceful ‘people power’ options to oppose the Coalition’s controversial first Budget http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/dont-like-the-budget-your-options-arent-limited-to-voting,6527 Captain Abbott and his Titanic climate stupidity Lyn Bender Tony Abbott is insanely bent on taking us down with the ship if he doesn't address global warming.. http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/captain-abbott-and-his-titanic-climate-stupidity,6531 Revealed: Monte Carlo address of donor linked to Liberal Party fund Sean Nicholls, Kate McClymont A short limousine ride from the famous Monte Carlo casino, the Les Caravelles building enjoys a dress circle position overlooking Port Hercules – a popular place for the world's mega rich to park their superyachts when visiting the Cote D'Azur. According to documents filed with the Australian Electoral Commission, it is also the mailing address for Akira Investments Ltd, a generous donor to the Free Enterprise Foundation (FEF), a mysterious entity closely linked to the Liberal and National parties. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/revealed-monte-carlo-address-of-donor-linked-to-liberal-party-fund-20140601-39ci7.html Our first decadal budget is shifty Ross Gittins A remarkably high proportion of the measures in the budget involve fiddling with indexation: suspending it for a few years, introducing it where to do so would favour the budget, changing its basis where that's what would favour the budget. You don't get this budget unless you get its preoccupation with indexation. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/our-first-decadal-budget-is-shifty-20140601-39cm3.html Invest in a science plan we can be proud of Ian Chubb Our science commitment historically has been the victim of on-again, off-again policies. That needs to change. We should invest in a national science plan that speaks to the aspirations of all Australians http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-02/chubb-invest-in-a-science-plan-we-can-be-proud-of/5493390 The Face of Science: How Albert Einstein became a celebrity Sam Kean It took six minutes, fifty-one seconds for Albert Einstein to become world famous. That’s how long the moon stood suspended before the face of the sun on May 29, 1919, eclipsing its light. Mind you, the astronomers below couldn’t sail back home and develop their photographs for weeks; they then needed months more to analyze the results. Within those few minutes that spring day, the scientists had captured the first hard proof of Einstein’s theory of general relativity—and with that, launched Einstein himself from the darkness of obscurity into the brightness, even glare, of celebrity. http://www.neh.gov/humanities/2014/mayjune/feature/the-face-science Pope Francis would be appalled by treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island Mario Christodoulou Pope Francis would be appalled at the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers, according to one of Australia’s most senior Catholics in an interview with Four Corners. Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said, "What is puzzling and indeed troubling in all of this is that you have politicians who are not themselves cruel people, quite the contrary, but they are presiding over a policy which has to be named cruel. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-02/pope-would-be-appalled-by-treatment-of-asylum-seekers-says-seni/5494828 Failing union of capitalism and democracy fuels rise in inequality Wolfgang Merkel "What is the point of elections if they cannot even solve the problem of socioeconomic inequality?" Australian prime minister Tony Abbott decided to break many of his 2013 election promises in his first budget. Many have rightly seen in that document an open assault on the economic welfare of low-income households, and more than a courteous nod to the rich. If the budget is approved, the divide between rich and poor in Australia will most likely increase. http://theconversation.com/failing-union-of-capitalism-and-democracy-fuels-rise-in-inequality-27217 Tony Abbott urged to keep away from Victorian election campaign Josh Gordon "Victorian government MPs have warned Tony Abbott to steer clear of the November state election campaign, claiming the prime minister has become ‘toxic’ for the Coalition brand in Victoria." http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-urged-to-keep-away-from-victorian-election-campaign-20140601-39ckt.html Tony Abbott is gutting science just when we need it the most Fairfax, Ian Dunlop "The federal government is taking anti-science to new heights. Its scorched earth approach discards virtually everything not in line with narrow, free-market ideology, centred on sustaining Australia’s 20th century dig-it-up and ship-it-out economic growth model." http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/tony-abbott-is-gutting-science-just-when-we-need-it-most-20140601-zru3j.html The second coming of Malcolm Turnbull Paula Matthewson "Malcolm Turnbull’s behaviour is driving leadership speculation, but Liberal MPs would only turn to the him if there was complete voter rejection of Tony Abbott’s extreme right approach." http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-02/matthewson-the-second-coming-of-malcolm-turnbull/5493006 The five stages of budget grief Mungo MacCallum .....we have already seen denial and anger from the Prime Minister, who is currently in the process of bargaining (which will doubtless end in depression). The only question remaining is, what sort of acceptance will we see come 2016? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-02/maccallum-the-five-stages-of-budget-grief/5494328

2353`

3/06/2014See the US "Last Week Tonight" review of Abbott here. It's worth it. I saw a promo that Sunrise was playing it this morning as well. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been roasted on a satirical US TV show that presented a highlight reel of some of his stickiest slip-ups and cringe-worthy comments. HBO satirical news program Last Week Tonight with John Oliver aired a segment mercilessly lambasting Mr Abbott, and presenting clips of his most embarrassing career gaffes in a tongue-in-cheek effort to explain why his personal approval rating may have plunged to 30 per cent. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tony-abbott-roasted-by-john-oliver-on-hbo-show-last-week-tonight-20140602-zrvl1.html

Pappinbarra Fox

3/06/2014Casa, Thanks for the links. The Allan Austin link does not take you to the article by Alan Austin but rather to some parody of the PM's office - was this meant to be the case?

Casablanca

3/06/2014PF, Thanks for letting me know about the wrong link in the Austin article. Here is the correct one: [b]10 reasons why the Liberals' end is nigh[/b] Alan Austin Resignations of prominent Liberal Party members last month highlight deep rifts within the party. They bring to ten the areas of failure which taken together suggest the party is in terminal decline... So the fact that the Liberal Party has been successful for some decades is no guarantee it will remain. Indeed, there are definite signs that its downfall may be imminent. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-liberal-party,6533

Casablanca

3/06/2014Senator Cory Bernardi was once an hotelier. Qualifications and occupation before entering Federal Parliament • Diploma in Financial Services (FPA). • Graduate Certificate in Business Management (Edinburgh Business School). • Self-employed hotelier 1992-96. • Investment adviser and fund manager 1996-2006. http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Parliamentarian?MPID=G0D

Casablanca

3/06/2014 [b]Need a 'whole of government' approach to science[/b] Emma Alberici Professor Ian Chubb, the Chief Scientist, discusses cuts to funding of science and research and says with science impinging on fourteen government portfolios there is a need for a plan for the future which prioritises investments.... After close to nine months or so in government, there's been no meeting of the PM's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4017442.htm

Michael

3/06/2014I know the answer to this question, I know you do too... But does Tony Abbott even think for a moment that the following quote (from the linked-to news story) does anything but clearly announce that he has no interest at all in 'governing for all Australians', another of his claims. Tony Abbott: 'We may not be the most popular government at the moment but we are the hope of our side.' Quoted from here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/03/tony-abbott-faces-uphill-battle-with-budget-sales-pitch

Bacchus

3/06/2014Casablanca, No doubt you're probably well aware of Clarence Girl at North Coast Voices and her work, now up to part 19, on 'The Lies Abbott Tells' (http://tinyurl.com/l5scjgd) - maybe another source for your innovative Report card page: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/Abbotts-Report-Cards.aspx

Paul of Berwick

3/06/2014For me, where the ALP should head with their values/messaging/policies/etc is on the concept of "true wealth for all". The principle of Eudaimonia. That is real happiness, real wealth, real satisfaction. Not just on financial wealth, but on a framework of real wealth. That is, building social capital, natural capital, organizational capital, human capital, emotional capital, and intellectual capital. Health policies would be more rounded, as would defense, finance and human services. Structure would be given to the environmental, regional development, education areas, and so on. It would mean a consistency of approach, a balanced line between all areas. It would add depth to arguments against a business-like bottom line philosophy. For, we are more than just economic units. We are people. A collection of men & women that value health, education, the environment, community and the future as well as the bottom line.

Casablanca

4/06/2014 'All politics, no policy; all complaint, no solutions': Tony Abbott nails himself Paddy Gourley. June 3, 2014 The Abbott government's once useful political mantras have turned it into a policy cul-de-sac. Unfortunately, reason and honesty are now being significantly displaced by deception, exaggeration and a willingness to speak in riddles. In the befuddling murk, the public interest is left gasping for air. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/all-politics-no-policy-all-complaint-no-solutions-tony-abbott-nails-himself-20140601-39ckd.html#ixzz33XTBY3QQ Uni fee changes will erase egalitarianism Paul Rodan An unregulated fee regime will result in an increase in course costs and will mean substantially larger debts for students after their periods of study. The prestigious Group of Eight institutions can be expected to exploit their reputational positions to charge top dollar. How does a 17-year-old decide whether selecting the degree from the prestige university over the same course at a newer institution justifies an extra decade of debt? http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=41489#.U41AuvmSySo Abbott Takes Another Step Closer To His Own D-Day Chris Graham Tony Abbott has done it again, linking D-Day commemorations to repealing the carbon tax - the latest faux pas from a PM who just can't cop a break. http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=79f50d9099&e=0a1e2bdeb8 Call to Arms Kaye Lee Make no mistake, we are under attack. The very fabric of our wonderful society is being torn apart to satisfy the ambition of [one] man…We have a government who thinks a 9th investigation into the Home Insulation Program is more important that the Royal Commission into systemic child sexual abuse... This attack on our country must be repulsed. It is up to every one of us to stand together and defend our way of life. TONY ABBOTT HAS TO GO! http://theaimn.com/call-to-arms/ What makes a good politican? Kaye Lee June 1, 2014 ...what makes a good politician? Is it their ability to [b]get[/b] the job or their ability to [b]do [/b]the job?... “The press and public often pay attention to what politicians say, but less to how well they do what they’re supposed to do.” I think Australians are entitled to feel let down in this most crucial aspect of being a good politician. Honesty, integrity, and a willingness to work together towards a solution should be the foremost criterion. http://theaimn.com/what-makes-a-good-politican/ What Abbott Taught Us Victoria Rollison I know it’s going to be really hard for most of Australia to be convinced that Tony Abbott has done us a favour, because everything so far that he has done for Australia since becoming Prime Minister has been the opposite of a favour. However, it has occurred to me that Abbott, unbeknownst to himself, has, through being the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, done us the favour of teaching us some lessons that I hope are taught well enough that we won’t forget. http://theaimn.com/what-abbott-taught-us/ The Clubbies Hillbilly Skeleton It really is Revenge of the Nerds....Back in the day, when I was… http://theaimn.com/the-clubbies/ Dr Hockey, Salesman Abbott and Glossy Brochures Rossleigh June 1, 2014 What concerns me is the idea being pushed that we have no choice. For example, couldn’t we – instead of a co-payment – raise the Medicare levy by one percent at the same time as raising the taxfree threshold from $18000 to $20000. That would effectively give every wage earner an extra couple of hundred while taking more than that away from people earning higher incomes. But no, there is no choice. http://theaimn.com/dr-hockey-salesman-abbott-and-glossy-brochures/ Labor's path must pass on Murdoch Rodney E. Lever 3 June 2014 The Labor Party under Bill Shorten must ensure it rejects any accommodation with Rupert Murdoch, says former News Ltd executive http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/labors-path-must-avoid-murdoch,6541 Sir Tony Abbott's D-Day Barry Everingham 3 June 2014 Tony Abbott has offended our veterans and plundered the Treasury through his bumbling, cynical, outmoded and self-indulgent approach to governing... http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/sir-tony-abbotts-d-day,6540 Hockey’s Thatcherite solution wrong vision for 21st Century Australia Andrew Warrilow 3 June 2014 Joe Hockey would find a better solution to Australia's economic problems by looking at the Japan of today, rather than the England of thirty years ago. In any case, in indulging in his Thatcherite fantasy, Joe Hockey is applying the wrong solution to the wrong problem at the wrong time. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/hockeys-thatcherite-solution-wrong-vision-for-21st-century-australia,6538 Clive Palmer the trickster The Palmer United Party are anti-politics wildcards in Parliament Amanda Lohrey He is a study in spontaneity, and many voters find this engaging. It’s the very opposite of the increasingly arid rhetoric of politicians from the major parties who present on the nightly news as robots, prepped by PR and marketing flacks to tout their slogan of the day.... When interviewed, Palmer can be incoherent for long stretches and then say something stunning in its candour. Tony Abbott’s faux honesty and Bill Shorten’s faux outrage have failed to convince anyone much of anything, but no one can accuse Palmer of faking it. (Metered access/subscription) http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2014/june/1401544800/amanda-lohrey/clive-palmer-trickster

Casablanca

4/06/2014 "Not Now, Not Ever!" (Gillard Misogyny Speech) Rob Davidson:16 Mar 2014 "When I heard Julia Gillard's parliamentary speech addressing misogyny, it struck me that behind the politics there was a lot of personal feeling being communicated. I wanted to put a frame around this slice of time, to heighten my perception of what was being said behind the words, in the intonation of the voice, and in the dynamics of what was being said in interjections and reactions. The resulting choral piece, in which the singers echo and support the Prime Minister's speech melodies, is initially quite humorous, as we are confronted with the melody that perhaps was not evident to us before. As the music goes on, it passes into something more serious, and (it is hoped) we hear the Prime Minister as a woman experiencing very real emotions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpavaM62Fgo

Casablanca

4/06/2014 KHTAGH Good to see you at TPS again. Here is an item you may have missed: Tasmania's relative freedom from most serious bee diseases has opened up a niche export trade in live bees. Rosemary Grant In the last three months 2,800 packets of bees have been air-freighted from Tasmania to Canada. The bees are helping to replenish hives destroyed by the varroa mite and colony collapse disorder. Tasmanian bees are free from the varroa destructor mite and another pest, the small hive beetle, which is spreading across mainland Australia. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-02/canada-bee-export/5493214

Curi-Oz

4/06/2014Went to buy honey last week and was amused by the note attached to the shelves that observed that "due to a very hot summer, there has been a reduction in the production of honey" To the older lady standing in front of those shelves complaining that her favourite honey is not available. I observed (with malice aforethought, I will admit) "Of course bees don't survive when their food source doesn't exist due to changes in drought conditions. And they are being sprayed with all those pesticides. Pity we are not investing any more in finding ways to deal with the losses." She responded with "But climate change is just rubbish!?" So even if it is being denied, the whole changes in the climate are being noticed and seeping into the subconscious of those who seem to be LNP constituents ...

Casablanca

4/06/2014Meanwhile down in the barnyard, Barnaby Joyce opens mouth, puts foot in.. He said Credlin answered the “fallacy” that there are no strong women involved in running the country. “Peta Credlin … certainly ticks all those boxes. [u]And I’m on good information from her husband that she is definitely a woman.”[/u] When one of the hosts, Carrie Bickmore asked Joyce to explain what he meant, he backtracked. “Sorry I’m saying … It was an attempt at humour, I apologise. That’s what Clive should have done.” [b]Barnaby Joyce backtracks after cracking joke about Peta Credlin[/b] Helen Davidson Nationals deputy leader apologises after saying: 'I’m on good information from her husband that she is definitely a woman' http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/04/barnaby-joyce-backtracks-after-cracking-joke-about-peta-credlin?CMP=ema_632

Michael

4/06/2014Here Greg Jericho skewers Christopher Pyne, exposing him as, well... a lying incompetent. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-04/jericho-governments-low-blow-on-higher-education/5496386 Yeah, I know, 'old news', but Grog has it down to a decimal point... around about Pyne's dribble-lips IQ.

DMW

4/06/2014Hi Ad, the rest has served you, and us, well. Great pair of articles. Thanks Are you a member of the ALP? To those who aren't consider a couple of aphorisms: [i]Will you have greater effect being outside the tent peeing in or, inside the tent peeing out?[/i] Ad, and swordsters the ALP needs thinking people of the type that mingle here on the inside helping create the changes that are needed. [i]Be the change you want to see[/i] What more can I say. Unless you are prepared to be on the inside, getting your hands dirty and helping create the change the ALP needs, to put it bluntly, [b]Shut Up[/b] http://www.alp.org.au/joinlabor

Ad astra

4/06/2014DMW Thank you for your kind comments. I want to be inside the tent.  I'm still waiting on Bill Shorten's response to the ideas for membership expressed in my letter.

Ad astra

4/06/2014Michael Greg Jericho's article exposes Pyne's incompetence, disingenuousness, and blather. Pyne's overriding fault is that he believes his own crass rhetoric, a fatal flaw.

DMW

4/06/2014Hi Ad I some small understanding of what you are saying I kept putting off re-joining until one rule in particular was changed. In the end I figured, with a little bit of wise counsel of my board of advisors, that best way to change it was to get on the inside and lobby for the change. Some wise (former) contributors here have had similar thoughts and realised that change is something that happens from the inside of both ourselves and organisations. Your wisdom and experience is too valuable to be wasted by [i]peeing from the outside [/i] you, and many other Swordsters would be valuable agents of change and renewal that Labor needs. With just a little bit of energy we can assist people like that valuable contributor Lady In Red topple the deadwood and assist in helping this country realise the potential it has for being a just, fair, inclusive and great country.

Ken

4/06/2014DMW Partly agree but to turn your analogy around (and add a little), being inside the tent peeing out doesn't help put out the fire. While I have never been a Party member, I was involved in union politics for a short time and discovered how easy it was to become tied into a faction, even unintentionally. While I had certain views, I quickly discovered there were other issues on which I did not have a strong view and so was guided by those around me, and because I was seen by others to be talking to certain people I was no longer considered as likely to support the others. I also discovered the use of meeting procedure (points of order, dissent motions, gags - yes, just like parliament) to stem debate when it wasn't going the way of the dominant faction or even used by the other factions to slow discussion and decision making. It somewhat put me off involvement. That was why I liked Ad's idea of a general membership where one can add to the general debate but not necessarily be drawn intop the factional debates.

Ad astra

4/06/2014Casablanca What a telling YouTube piece that was. Inspirational viewing. And 'this man' is now our PM. Oh dear!

Ad astra

4/06/2014Curi-Oz Nobody told the bees that climate change is rubbish.

Ad astra

4/06/2014Casablanca Thanks again for your links - great material.

Casablanca

5/06/2014 [b]Pyne's Education Reform Fiasco[/b] [b]Bill shock for students and graduates[/b] Jason Om. Video + Transcript 1-point-8 million Australians who still owe the government billions of dollars in university course fees may have to repay much larger amounts as they will be subject to a higher interest rate from 2016 http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4018217.htm [b]UNSW calls for 'rational debate' on education reforms [/b] ABC The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is calling for a "rational debate" about proposed changes to higher education, rather than what it is describing as "misleading assumptions". http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-04/unsw-calls-for-rational-debate-on-higher-education-changes/5501240 [b]CEO of Universities Australia discusses the Federal Government changes to University fees.[/b] Emma Alberici. Video 10m and transcript Universities Australia released exclusive data to Lateline, outlining the implications of the Budget changes on the cost of university education. Belinda Robinson, CEO of Universities Australia discusses the implications of modelling done on the Budget proposals. http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4018219.htm [b]Government's low blow on higher education[/b] Greg Jericho The radical shake-up of higher education funding and HECS/HELP loans represents a fundamental lie by the Government that will hurt poorer students and smaller institutions... The Government's changes to higher education is perhaps the best illustration that it lied to the electorate and is completely befuddled by policy. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-04/jericho-governments-low-blow-on-higher-education/5496386 [b]Pyne's dubious interest in former students' HECS debts[/b] Bill Mavropoulos Tax specialist Bill Mavropoulos considers HECS debts and concludes that it is highly doubtful whether the Abbott Government could legally change the rate of interest for former students unpaid debts http://www.independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/pynes-dreamin-if-he-wants-to-up-interest-for-former-students-hecs-debts,6543 [b] The scholarship fig leaf: they won’t improve access for all[/b] Laura Perry Alongside higher fees and real interest rates on student debts, this year’s federal budget announced 20% of universities' additional revenue will go towards equity scholarships. But will this measure increase the proportion of underrepresented students in Australian universities, or is it a fig leaf to sell a budget package that would otherwise be seen as an attack on equity and access? http://theconversation.com/the-scholarship-fig-leaf-they-wont-improve-access-for-all-27321 [b]Fact Check: what do students contribute to their own degrees?[/b] Gwilym Crouche & Gavin Moodie Are Christopher Pyne’s assertions that students contribute 40% of their tuition and make 75% more money than non-graduates correct? http://theconversation.com/fact-check-what-do-students-contribute-to-their-own-degrees-27280

Curi-Oz

5/06/2014AdAstra, I just find it fascinating that one can make a comment about the science of why something is in short supply, like honey, that the Agriculture Departments are saying is affected by the changes in the climate and other things, and yet 'climate change is crap' because there is this faux debate about it. The bit towards the end of this video says it all, I think https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjuGCJJUGsg

2353`

5/06/2014It would have been good to see Hawke & Howard together at the National Press Club. From the report below, it seems that both can clearly see the flaws in their successors. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/john-howard-rebukes-tony-abbott-over-fairness-20140604-39jgi.html

DMW

5/06/2014Good Morning Ken, take your point and yes there the sorts of problems you describe about your experiences within the union movement and as you would know it is also a problem of office politics as well. Factionalisation (is this really a word?) is in some ways a natural process. Once a group of three or more people gather there will be tendency toward sub grouping. It may be boys vs girls, black vs white or long hair vs the baldies, whatever, it happens. When factions are vehicles to encourage the contest of ideas they can be a benefit to an organisation. Where factions become a problem and a blight is when they become vehicles for patronage and nepotism. Patronage is part of the problem that both political parties have and it takes bold people and numbers to change that. The ACT Branch of the ALP appears to have less of a problem with this than other branches as evidenced by the solid victories in preselection by both Gai Brodtman and Andrew Leigh who were up against candidates preferred by the National Office and others from various factions. There appears to be a growing independent or unaligned 'movement' within ACT Labor which could happen elsewhere but it takes people of that mind to join in the fray rather than be on the outside waiting for it to happen. Joining the party isn't the answer for everyone but what can people like that do as an alternative. It may be that the could form another group and call themselves something like [i]Friends and Advisors of Labor [/i] but I suspect it would pointless. There are other alternatives and particularly for those who have a policy 'bent'. One that some could consider is the [b]Australian Fabians [/b] http://fabians.org.au/ which has among its' aims [i]... to promote greater equality of power, wealth and opportunity.[/i] Here is a challenge / opportunity for ACT Swordsters: [b]Why Equality Matters: Getting Outcomes in Today's Society[/b] [i]Does equality matter? What counts as a good outcome, and for who? What is the role of Government in addressing disadvantage? In the rise of the 1% versus the 48% of Mitt Romney, Occupy and the double Dutch Irish Sandwich, to say nothing of the superstar appeal of a French economist called Piketty, we discuss the social and economic impacts of inequality, including gender inequality, and consider whether progressive governments worry too much or do too little to address growing disparity of outcomes. Join [b]Dr Andrew Leigh[/b], Member for Fraser and Shadow Assistant Treasurer, noted Labor historian [b]Humphrey McQueen[/b], and media and policy commentator [b]Paula Matthewson[/b] to discuss these big issues over a drink and canapes.[/i] Tuesday, 10 June 2014, 6.30pm - 8.00pm http://www.fabian.org.au/985.asp?eventId=2625 Once only special offer: contact me (d [dot] mick [dot] weir [at] gmail [dot] com) and I'll shout the entry charge for a strictly limited number but be fast as I will have to RSVP for the (non-factionalised) group we form to attend.

Casablanca

5/06/2014[b]Turnbull: above the fray of student politics[/b] Jonathan Green It's a characteristic of that sort of closed tribal environment that its rhetorical excesses are encouraged by the echo chamber of surrounding approval. It's as true for the left as for the right. But now it's the right in power, and drifting further in that direction as it applies the sometimes viscous calculations of studentish politics to the bigger game of running a country. The thinking is too narrow, too inflexible for the real work of government, work that requires more than seemingly quixotic obsessions with things like the Racial Discrimination Act at a time when people, rightly fret over their jobs, the education debts of their children, the costs of their healthcare. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-05/green-above-the-fray-of-student-politics/5500790

Ken

5/06/2014DMW Have replied to you by e-mail. But on the points about factions, agree that they do form naturally and can add to debate. But what happens is not just patronage but insistence on toeing the factional line. That results from "the numbers". As any political process, even democracy itself, depends on the numbers, there is a greater tendency for the factions to become centred on how they can manipulate the numbers. Or, as in my union experience, if they can't control the numbers, use and manipulate the procedures to make it difficult for the other factions. The idea of the Fabian Society as a vehicle for policy discussion is appealing. Many Labor members over the years have been Fabians and still appear at Fabian gatherings - Penny Wong spoke on inequality to the Fabians on 18 May.

jaycee

5/06/2014Here, in historical writings, is the hard, irrefutable evidence of the measurement of civilisation...AND, likewise, the irrefutable evidence that the current LNP. government, by it's abandonment of the civic duties of the state is a barbaric government. " It was the Attic (Greek) civilisation that first developed, in the Salonian and subsequent legislation, the principle that it is the duty of the community to provide for it's invalids and for the poor generally ; and it was Caesar that first developed what in the restricted compass of Attic life had remained a municipal matter into an organic institution of state, and transformed an arrangement which was a burden and a disgrace to the commonwealth into the first of those institutions -in modern times equally numerous and beneficial - where the infinite depth of human compassion contends with the infinite depth of human misery." That bit from Theordor Mommsen's "History of Rome" displays the known requirements of "duty of care" by the state from two thousand years ago to this day, to be now ripped apart by this barbaric government!.....after two thousand years!!...some have learnt nothing!........let their disgrace be written into history!

jaycee

5/06/2014And may it be noted for future consideration...: Since this government is but a marionette for the corporate oligarchs that have put them in power to break the back of the "social society", and in doing so have placed both the financial burden and deprived the social necessities that were to be financed by the mining tax and the carbon trading scheme on the backs of the citizens of state....then it be only fair that when Labor once again resume control of the borse, a levy be placed on the personal estates of those oligarchs that have deprived the tax office and in consequence ; the state of the equivalent amount of moneys lost!....by imposing on them and their personal estate, the defrayment of cost of re-establishing those civil infrastructure and social programs .

Casablanca

6/06/2014 [b]CASABLANCA'S CACHE 6 June 2014 34 items[/b] RISING INEQUALITY 1. You don't know what you've got till it's gone Tim Dunlop. 6 June 2014 Australia's record on the "fair go" is far from perfect and shouldn't be exaggerated, but what this budget does is assault the very things that this nation has gotten right... the verdict is in: we don't want to be America. Or England. Or most of Europe. We certainly don't want to be Tony Abbott's Petri dish. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-05/dunlop-fair-go-australia/5499240 2. An Australian take on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century Andrew Leigh "Australia’s history is one of a constant belief in the value of egalitarianism, amid changing levels of inequality." http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2014/june/1401544800/andrew-leigh/australian-take-thomas-pikettys-capital-twenty-first-century?page=1 3. Piketty questions on Australian Inequality Paul Frijters. May 28, 2014 The French economists Thomas Piketty recently published a long-prepared book on the growth of inequality in the Western World over the last few centuries. His main contention, as I see it, is that wealth inequality is rising rapidly again and that we are returning to 19th century levels of inherited inequality, complete with ‘upper class’ behaviour and dismissive attitudes towards the poor. His work finds an echo in this recent book by Andrew Leigh on Australian inequality that similarly notes the increase in inequality over the last few decades. http://clubtroppo.com.au/2014/05/28/piketty-questions-on-australian-inequality/ 4. Are Pensions Being Cut? Matt Cowgill The government announced in its recent budget that pensions (including the Disability Support Pension and Age Pension) will no longer be pegged to wages. Instead, they’ll only rise in line with the CPI. http://mattcowgill.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/are-pensions-being-cut/ 5. Welfare reform without the welfare sector El Gibbs. 04 June 2014 The recent budget, and its vicious attack on the poor, may have repercussions the Government didn’t consider. Discounting the power, the reach and the respect the community sector has spent decades earning in Australian communities could be a costly mistake. By ignoring the community sector before and after the budget, and hurting the people they care for, the Abbott government may have woken a sleeping giant. http://www.kingstribune.com/index.php/weekly-email/item/2020-welfare-reform-without-the-welfare-sector 6. The house wins Kaye Lee June 5, 2014 While everyone reels from the worst budget ever, a lot of other very insidious work is flying under the radar. One of the most blatant examples of STUFF YOU from our current government came from our Social Services Minister, Kevin bloody Andrews. http://theaimn.com/house-wins/ POLITICS 7. Does the Coalition understand its own policies? Evidence says no Van Badham What is informing the policy agenda of Abbott’s government is not expertise, practicality or even research – something which is clear from their worrying lack of clarity. So the Abbott government’s proposal to drug-test welfare recipients has vanished from the table with the speed at which it apparently appeared. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/05/does-the-coalition-understand-its-own-policies-evidence-says-no 8. Victorian crisis primer Crikey, William Bowe "A rough and ready guide to the situation in Victoria." http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/2014/06/04/victorian-crisis-primer/ 9. Victorian Parliamentary Circus Remains A Shaw Thing Ben Eltham. 4 Jun 2014 The intriguing tale of how a guy with the balance of power, a parliamentary allowance and a big grudge held an entire state to ransom. Ben Eltham reports on the media circus that surrounds Geoff Shaw MP. http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=4483a0cb36&e=0a1e2bdeb8 10. A reformed federation to match the needs of modern Australia Brian Galligan, University of Melbourne The federal budget reignited debate over federal-state relations with a decision to cut some $80 billion in funding for the state responsibilities of schools and hospitals over the coming years. So how… http://theconversation.cmail1.com/t/r-l-xhrhtjt-trhltityg-v/ 11. What a Circus! John Kelly Why is there a sense of foreboding whenever Tony Abbott travels overseas? Probably because one's immediate reaction is, "Oh God,… http://theaimn.com/circus/ 12. Abbott’s Groan-Up Government! Rossleigh June 5, 2014 ‘The defence minister, David Johnston, has blamed the previous Labor government after Tony Abbott’s departure for Indonesia was delayed by technical problems with his RAAF jet on Wednesday. http://theaimn.com/abbotts-groan-government/ 13. Clive and Credlin: Mainstream media finally spots some sexism Noely Neate 4 June 2014 The Coalition and mainstream media have blasted Clive Palmer over his stupid and sexist comments about Peta Credlin. Noely Neate wonders where they were during Julia Gillard's prime ministership. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/clive-and-credlin-media-finally-spot-some-sexism,6544 14. The guns of Singapore Andrew Elder 03 June 2014 The fundamental failure of conservative political judgment is partly, but not entirely, Abbott's fault. Internally, he is safe. Externally, now that the threat to this government has manifested itself in ways the smarties failed to predict, nobody in this government knows quite what to do other than unite and keep making the same mistakes. http://andrewelder.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/the-guns-of-singapore.html 15. The rise and fall of the minor parties Andrew Tiedt. 4 June 2014 Minor parties have long played a role in Australian politics, but they’re becoming more powerful and, with that, more vulnerable. How is that going to play out in the battle over the budget? http://www.kingstribune.com/index.php/weekly-email/item/2021-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-minor-parties 16. Attacks on Malcolm Turnbull have been linked to a reshuffle of the Abbott ministry Heath Aston and James Massola June 6, 2014 The public undermining of Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and questions over his loyalty to Tony Abbott have been linked to expectations inside the Coalition that the Prime Minister is heading towards a ''mini-reshuffle'' of the ministry. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/attacks-on-malcolm-turnbull-have-been-linked-to-a-reshuffle-of-the-abbott-ministry-20140605-39lzc.html 17. Private 'For Profit' Colleges: More Liberal Links Emerge Wendy Bacon, Chris Graham 5 Jun 2014 A free trip to India, political donations to the Liberal Party and an $820 million shift from public to private funding. Wendy Bacon and Chris Graham continue the New Matilda investigation into higher education. http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=80940eb2c1&e=0a1e2bdeb8 5 Jun 2014 18. Open For Business: The Liberal Links Keep Coming Chris Graham, Wendy Bacon 5 Jun 2014 A tiny inner city travel agency attracts celebrities and a prominent Liberal Party councillor to its official opening. Now that's pulling power http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=2813cd6069&e=0a1e2bdeb8 19. Queensland budget shows why the federation is broken John Rice, Griffith University As Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls released the state budget yesterday, one could be excused for not really noticing. Long the poor cousin of Australian Federalism, state budgets rarely get much press… http://theconversation.cmail1.com/t/r-l-xhrhtjt-trhltityg-n/ ECONOMY + BUSINESS 20. Australians want to tax rich, spend on health and schools, leave own tax as is Helen Davidson Poll finds support for public spending and a perception that the nation’s wealthiest are not doing their fair share of heavy lifting http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jun/05/australians-want-tax-rich-spend-health-schools?CMP=soc_568 ENVIRONMENT + SCIENCE 21. Happy World Environment Day PM... Now Put Down That Axe Larissa Waters. 4 Jun 2014 A personal appeal to a Prime Minister with a penchant for chopping stuff down http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=71746ea97a&e=0a1e2bdeb8 22. Cool US Reception Could Be Abbott's Best Effort Yet On Climate Change Ben Eltham Tony Abbott may not be known for his efforts in tackling climate change, but in his defence, he's done plenty to ensure a frosty reception when he arrives in Washington later this month http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=666d423220&e=0a1e2bdeb8 23. Abbott's worst nightmare in charts Tristan Edis 5 June 2014 To put this recent news all into some context, it’s worth having a look at some of the numbers surrounding these two nations' use of thermal coal. These numbers suggest that investors in Australia need to be thinking very carefully about their exposures to thermal coal mining in Australia. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/6/5/energy-markets/abbotts-worst-nightmare-charts 24. When the lights go out in bureaucrats brains Tristan Edis 4 June 2014 There seems to be a great degree of consternation being expressed by some government officials and energy suppliers that the RET is a major problem because it will drive oversupply in our electricity market. This is an argument the Victorian Government is pushing in its submission to the RET Review. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/6/4/energy-markets/when-lights-go-out-bureaucrats-brains 25. New data reveals coal's health pollutant risk Tristan Edis 3 June, 2014 Newly released National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) data indicates that coal burning is the biggest source of small particulate emissions known as a high risk carcinogen. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2014/6/3/science-environment/new-data-reveals-coals-health-pollutant-risk 26. Trapped in Abbott's bizarre parallel universe Tristan Edis 3 June, 2014 Tony Abbott, in a speech to the Minerals Council, made an incredibly revealing but little noticed comment: “.. if there was one fundamental problem, above all else, with the carbon tax was that it said to our people, it said to the wider world, that a commodity which in many years is our biggest single export, somehow should be left in the ground and not sold. Well really and truly, I can think of few things more damaging to our future.” Now, maybe he’s discovered some miracle fix that will enable us to inexpensively clean-up coal’s CO2 emissions. Strange he hasn’t mentioned it. Otherwise, this is pretty much a polite way of saying ‘climate change is crap’. Sometimes it feels like we’re engaged in some elaborate and surreal charade at present. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/6/3/policy-politics/trapped-abbotts-bizarre-parallel-universe 27. The cost of losing renewable energy Evan Beaver. 29 May 2014 What will happen to energy prices if the government is successful in it's attempt to wind back the renewable energy market? With barely contained http://www.kingstribune.com/index.php/weekly-email/item/2016-the-cost-of-losing-renewable-energy 28. Science funding cuts are generating fears for jobs and research output Ben Eltham 4 June 2014 Australian scientists, including chief scientist Ian Chubb, are concerned about a lack of coherence in Coalition science policy http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/04/science-funding-cuts-are-generating-fears-for-jobs-and-research-output HIGHER EDUCATION 29. What Will My Degree Cost?: A Ready Reckoner Senator Lee Rhiannon The Abbott Government's cuts to higher education will lead to increases in undergraduate student fees and an increased interest rate for all student debt www.whatwillmydegreecost.com.au/ 30. Behold, The Student Calculator Of Doom! Max Chalmers Thinking of bettering yourself? Maybe going to university? Before you sign your life and economic future away, take the Greens' 'Calculator of Doom' challenge. Max Chalmers did, and it didn't do him any harm. http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=b0d35573ba&e=0a1e2bdeb8 31. Higher education reform clarifier #6: How realistic is the Greens’ university cost website? Andrew Norton. June 5, 2014 The Greens’ What will my degree cost? website is aimed at politics rather than real education choices, but the idea of an education finance website is a good one. As I argued in The Conversation this morning, we also need to start helping people choose between vocational and higher education. But of course the information in a political website needs to treated with scepticism – even if I am the source of some of it. http://andrewnorton.net.au/2014/06/05/higher-education-reform-clarifier-6-how-realistic-is-the-greens-university-cost-website/ 32. The Dumb And Dumber Of Higher Ed Policy Antony Freeman The Abbott Government's higher education policy spells disaster for equal and fair access to tertiary education across Australia http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=8f854c5d77&e=0a1e2bdeb8 33. What are the likely consequences of HECS fee liberalisation? Paul Frijters. June 3, 2014 we can look at the consequences of a similar fee deregulation in the UK in 2010: at least a doubling of fees at the top and a proliferation of discounters at the bottom...One should expect both elements to occur here even more strongly because in our case there are less alternatives for students and hence a greater potential to increase fees and have chaos at the bottom http://clubtroppo.com.au/2014/06/03/what-are-the-likely-consequences-of-hecs-fee-liberalisation/ 34. Fees and higher education: does social class make a difference? Andrew Norton, Grattan Institute In contemporary Australia, post-school education is necessary for most well-paid jobs. And so who gets access to education is important. University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis echoed many people’s… http://theconversation.cmail1.com/t/r-l-xhrhtjt-trhltityg-z/ OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Casablanca

6/06/2014 CASABLANCA'S CACHE 6 June 2014. [b]Abbott/IPA Coalition aim for a less fair, less egalitarian Australia [/b] Posted above & at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-06-06.aspx

Casablanca

6/06/2014 Adam Bandt Buzzfeed has collected some of the best tweets with the ‪#‎WhatAbbottWillSayToObama‬ tag. (And not one of them is "Please put climate change back on the G20 agenda when it meets in Brisbane in November"!) Take a look. A-Team. http://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/things-tony-abbott-might-say-to-barack-obama

Michael Taylor

6/06/2014Just dropping in to thank TPS for its support over the years. Cafe Whispers couldn't have been the success it was without you good people. Bur sadly, the Cafe is closing. It has been a good innings and now it's time to pull up stumps.

Casablanca

6/06/2014[b]ELITE EDUCATION AND SCHOLARSHIPS[/b] Private schools and their moral failings Katherine Wilson June 6, 2014 My grandparents thought they were buying a ticket to social mobility, a well-rounded education, and above all nurturing of good character. They had no idea what a damaging experience the culture of such schooling can be for kids from the wrong side of the tracks. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/private-schools-and-their-moral-failings-20140605-zry5k.html#ixzz33oKnC9yz Who’s your daddy? Myths of merit and elite education scholarships Jane Kenway, Monash University Please answer all questions. 1. Who’s your daddy? _______ Thank you for your application. We will take a cursory glance at your folio and inform you of our decision. This is from a fake application form… http://theconversation.com/whos-your-daddy-myths-of-merit-and-elite-education-scholarships-27165 Schooling Effects On Subsequent University Performance: Evidence for the UK University Population Robin Naylor and Jeremy Smith We estimate that, on average, a male (female) graduate who attended an Independent school is 6.5 (5.4) percentage points less likely to obtain a `good' degree than is a student who attended an LEA (that is, state-sector) school, ceteris paribus. http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/88/

DMW

6/06/2014Hi All, my exceedingly generous offer to shout any Swordsters to attend an ACT Fabians function is now closed. Those clever people who responded and will be joining me will now doubt have an informative and entertaining evening. If you feel like you have missed out you could still go by sending an RSVP at either of these web sites: https://www.facebook.com/events/1425440061059788 http://www.fabian.org.au/985.asp?eventId=2625 Go on you know you really want to do it :)

Patriciawa

6/06/2014Thank you, Miglo, for introducing me to The Political Sword, Lyn, Talk Turkey and so many other good friends here. I've already said my thank you over at http://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/all-things-must-pass/ but it has reminded me to explain again my own seeming departure from blogsites like TPS and CW where I spent so many happy and creative days. I am still lurking as a daily reader, making the occasional comment, but this last year, coinciding with a return to the ALP of the loathsome Rudd, a couple of brushes with mortality have reminded me to make practical use of my time. Please be assured Ad Astra, Talk Turkey and other Swordster friends I still appreciate your perspective here, but it will take someone very special and doing something very special leading the ALP for me to waste time on our current political scene.

Catching up

6/06/2014I am an optimist, I believe there will be more coming, I noticed that Albo, along with others are coming more animated. One can see this at the estimations during the week. Some are expressing, what one can only call, pure anger, Yes, there us now plenty to be justifiable angry about. I think that carbon emissions, are again becoming a concern. I am not too sure, if Labor can just forget about carbon tax, and et out and sell the full CEF suite of legalisation. Yes, and also point out how successful many of the results have been, Yes, show the results of research that has already Benn achieved. Show the many industries that have transform to a CEF. Show that the CEF legalisation is much more, than a tax. it is also about what the money is spent on. Much of what Hunt is closing down, could be transferred to his DA. The main difference in how one pays for their scheme, and how the money is raised. I believe once the public understands that, they might want to keep the toxic tax. This is one area, Labor should take a stand. Could be seen as negative, that could be turned into a positive. It would pull the at from under Abbott for all time. I think the penny is beginning to drop, that there is no budget emergency, no debt crisis. I also think, that many are remembering, we are one of the richest, not poorest countries in the world I really believe Abbott has contrive this world tour, as Grattan describe it, to run away. Could be that the powers to be are allowing him one last fling.

Catching up

6/06/2014Has one notice the industries that this government are let going to the wall, all have strong union workforces. Auto and ship STC

Ad astra

7/06/2014Miglo I have just logged into TPS and see that Cafe Whispers if closing. That is sad. It has been an inspiration to many over the years. We at TPS have regarded it as a sister site. We are kindred spirits, always willing and happy to support each other. Thank you for all you have done to promote sensible dialogue, hold politicians to account, contribute to progressive politics, and support TPS. We shall miss Cafe Whispers and your gentle guiding oversight. We wish you well in any future adventure into the Fifth Estate.

Ad astra

7/06/2014Patriciawa You are quite right to put your health first. Thank you for all the support that you have given TPS over the years. There is little pleasure now following the destructive path that Abbott and his neoliberal, economic rationalists are dragging this nation along. We can only hope the people revolt and reject their ideological thrust, one that is leading us to greater inequality and unfairness.

Michael

7/06/2014Here: http://www.afr.com/p/opinion/why_budget_reforms_are_now_in_intensive_j1fK5bsqU7EQNG6UP8kWeI Laura Tingle explains just how wrong Abbott and Hockey have got the Budget with but one example of checks and balances so out of whack they may as well have tossed spitballs at a whiteboard with random policies written on it to get the same result. In fact, it almost seems that if someone set out to bring down a government through its Budget, what we've seen over the last few weeks is precisely how you would go about it. You don't think...? No, not possible, is it? Let's just stick with the "they're too stupid to put together an Ikea sofa let alone a Federal Budget" line. It makes more likely sense. Or does it?

2353

8/06/2014I like the image of being to stupid to put a sofa together Michael. I wonder if the 'Tea Party' through Abbott and Bernardi are really in control and using Australia as the prototype for the US if the 'liberal' Republicans don't wrestle control of their party back. The thing about prototypes is that they usually break.

Catching up

8/06/2014http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DEzt1B2Oo9A

Catching up

8/06/2014Nigel No-Friends: out on his left at photo shoot with world leaders https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKr9xUtMUhY
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?