The government doesn’t understand


For those who have followed my comments on TPS, you will probably know by now that my working life was spent in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs — and I still prefer that nomenclature even though the government changed it to indigenous affairs some time ago. This piece is about a basic problem faced by government in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, although couched in a more personal account of those years.

The main problem most governments have had in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs is that they just don’t get where the people are coming from; they fail to understand what it is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people really care about. Or, if they do understand, it certainly does not seem to the people that it is reflected in government policy.

I will focus on Aboriginal people because there is a slightly different set of issues, although related, regarding Torres Strait Islander people.

I worked in this area for thirty years and like to think that I did develop a reasonably good understanding. Perhaps some of my old Aboriginal friends will tell me otherwise, but I was at times recognised as a whitefella that people could come to for assistance even if it was for matters that weren’t technically my responsibility within the public service structure. But I knew the importance of personal relationships to the people and I would chase up the issue and get back to them, or make sure the person responsible did. In some cases I was picked out as the go-between in negotiations between communities and government officials who were senior to me. I understood the importance of a go-between in Aboriginal culture: a person often used to avoid any sort of embarrassment for important people in the community (for example, to avoid having a senior elder speak only to have his ideas rejected by a young government official — I could take the views back and forth and save face for everyone). And they trusted me to present their views in the way they wished.

Too often governments and public servants have not understood.

One of the first examples I came across, and partly where my learning began, was the written minutes of a meeting between a community and government officials in the mid-1970s which referred to an elder of the community making a speech for his land. An Aboriginal officer, who had attended the meeting, pointed out that this was actually a significant and heartfelt speech in the best Aboriginal oratorical tradition but it had been dismissed in a single short sentence by the white official recording it.

On a later occasion I was accompanying a local departmental officer on a visit to a community in WA when we got word that the elders wished to speak to us. (I should point out that elders are not necessarily old. I have personally known of instances where men in their 20s and early 30s have become elders owing to deaths within the family.) We were led to the edge of the community where the elders were sitting in a circle in the red dust. We joined the circle and sat. One by one the men rose to speak. I recognised this as a traditional formal meeting. Each person would rise and state their view, often (at least in English) interspersed with phrases like ‘this is only what I think’ or ‘I might be wrong’. In such meetings, the most senior person is usually the last to speak. When he rises, he does not get up and say I agree with what has already been said, he, just like everyone else, makes a speech stating his view: if that view is the same as the others then an agreement has been reached but, if it is different, the meeting will break up and will come together again in a few days, or even a few weeks, and that will continue until such time as everyone expresses the same view. That traditional way does not contain the cut and thrust, and questioning and clarification that we are used to in meetings. I knew this, but I was surprised when the local officer, who supposedly knew these people, began interrupting those speeches and asking questions.

Another example arose after viewing artworks by a community in the east of WA. We were having tea and coffee afterwards and I was at a table with two of the old men and a young white woman who worked with a local Aboriginal organisation. She began asking one of the men about his painting — a painting about Aboriginal knowledge of Lasseter (of lost gold reef fame) — about its track and where it went. I could see both of the men avoided giving a clear answer and as the young woman persisted, I thought they looked uncomfortable while still not answering her. When she left the table, I continued talking with them and discovered, as I had suspected, that they could not talk about the other end of the track because that belonged to the ‘Docker River mob’. Traditional people can only talk about their own country — if the young woman wanted to learn more she would need to speak to people at Docker River (now Kaltukatjarar). I did mention the situation to the chairman of the organisation the woman worked for and he said: ‘She should know that.’

That capacity to only speak for one’s own country has been a problem for government in creating Aboriginal representative organisations, whether elected or appointed. Although a person may be chosen to represent all of Cape York, they cannot speak with authority or make decisions for people on other country, even within Cape York. I have witnessed situations where, like the old artists, the representative avoids giving a straight answer because he knows he must go back and pass the information to the right people and wait for their decision before he can give an answer. In some ways he is still like a go-between, although the government and many public servants think he is a representative in the political sense we use the word and are surprised that he will not make a decision.

I used to remind my colleagues that, as public servants, we go into meetings with other public servants not expecting firm answers immediately (that is, we don’t expect other public servants to have plenipotentiary powers) but expect that they will go away and consider the issues and come back with an answer when they have spoken to the right people and received approval for their answer. Yet, for some strange reason, we often expected Aboriginal people to give us an answer straight away and did not extend to them the same courtesy of needing time to discuss and confirm the decision they might need to make. Traditional decision making can take time, which was something the people were rarely granted. Government invariably wanted a quick decision so it could announce the next grand scheme.

Related to that is the issue that governments seem to want Aboriginal people to speak with ‘one voice’. Ministers have become frustrated that they can’t get a single decision, or even position, on an issue. I do not understand why that is so. After all, they are politicians and operate in a world of competing interests and yet, when it comes to Aboriginal people, they often seem to think there should be no competing interests.

The idea of ‘one voice’ seems to spill over into a ‘one size fits all’ approach to much of the delivery of services, which becomes almost integration by stealth. The emphasis on education, jobs and housing may not be as relevant to some of the more traditional communities as it is to urban Aboriginal communities. I recall a small group in the Kimberley who were allowed to design their own houses. What they came up with was a large concrete slab covered by a corrugated iron roof, with one or two small lockable rooms at the centre. The living and sleeping areas were the large verandah created by the design. It was what the people wanted at the time but not the sort of dwelling the politicians could show the media as a sign of ‘improvement’.

Similarly when one community was given local council powers to manage its own affairs, it was thought that this would create opportunities for local people to fill the management positions for council services. A few years later it was found that all those positions were filled by white people. Why? — because the local people saw that as ‘whitefella business’, while they were busy with important ‘blackfella business’.

Education, health, housing, economic development and so on are important but, unless government comes to grips with the differences between, and even within, communities, many programs will continue to fail.

Over the years the government has tried at times to bring an Aboriginal perspective to government policy and service delivery. It could be argued that the appointment of an Aboriginal man, Mr Perkins, as Secretary of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs was one such attempt.

ATSIC was another: although there were rumours that ATSIC was also a means of depoliticising Aboriginal affairs by allowing the minister to rise in parliament and say issue ‘x’ or ‘y’ has ‘nothing to do with me’, it is a matter for ATSIC.

ATSIC was heavily criticised but often for the wrong reasons. It had no control of Aboriginal health or education funding — they rested with mainstream government departments. Much of the funding it did receive was locked into programs determined by the government: so even if ATSIC thought the priorities for funding should change, it had little scope to do that without prolonged argument with the government. The government, in my view, was more often concerned about how things would appear to the wider electorate, rather than what the Aboriginal people actually wanted — such as the difference between a conventional three-bedroom house and the type of house I described above.

Despite that, ATSIC did bring a greater understanding (for the most part) to Aboriginal issues, and a large number of Aboriginal staff also helped. Even with ATSIC in operation, some traditional communities were still critical of its approach.

How to deal with the more traditional communities is a problem that has never been solved by the politicians or public servants.

When ATSIC was abolished in 2005 it was not only the Aboriginal commissioners who disappeared from the scene. What many may not know, is that there was also a purge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. It was claimed that many were not good enough public servants, ignoring the understanding they brought to dealings with Aboriginal people. For me, the attitude of some of the new staff who came into Aboriginal affairs was frightening: they knew almost nothing about Aboriginal people, their thinking or their values.

Now I come to the politicians themselves.

Politicians regularly visit Aboriginal communities, sometimes too often. One community I visited had had five fly-in-fly-out visits by federal and state politicians, and senior public servants, in the space of two to three weeks. Each visit disrupted normal community activities and it wanted the visits to stop or, at least, be limited.

Communities do view visits by prime ministers as significant but I don’t think the prime ministers understand the experience in the way they should.

The community acknowledges the high office of the prime minister but I think it is rare that prime ministers acknowledge the high office of the elders to whom they may speak. And our prime ministers fail to understand the significance of some of the gifts bestowed on them because they do not understand the depth of feeling behind them.

In 1998, John Howard visited Galiwinku in Arnhem Land and was given the great honour of having the group’s Dhulmi-mulka Bathi hung around his neck. These were the equivalent of their traditional ‘title deeds’. ‘By doing this the leaders hoped to impress upon him the inherent depth of Yolngu law.’ In my view, it was tantamount to making him an honorary member of the clan, giving him a responsibility to maintain those ‘title deeds’.

I recall thinking at the time that Howard had completely failed to understand the significance and value of what he had been offered: that he had been allowed to meet the leaders of a nation who also had their own parliament (the Ngärra), on their own land, and they had granted him access to their country and effectively welcomed him into their clan.

Once on a visit to a community in the Kimberley I had been taken by the old men and shown important objects. I understood the honour and trust that this bestowed and I did feel a sense of obligation to that community afterwards. Politicians should understand this. After all, they receive donations and then have a sense of obligation to the donors, but they are blind to the value of what Aboriginal people offer them.

Abbott is now promising he will, in September, fulfil his promise to spend a week in Arnhem Land. I have no doubt that he will be the same as previous prime ministers and completely fail to understand the experience.

I will finish with a couple of quotes from Galarrwuy Yunupingu who, although he has moved in the highest political circles, remains a traditional man and these quotes give a glimpse of what the politicians and many public servants are missing:

The clans of east Arnhem Land join me in acknowledging no king, no queen, no church and no state. Our allegiance is to each other, to our land and to the ceremonies that define us. It is through ceremonies that our lives are created. These ceremonies record and pass on the laws that give us ownership of the land and of the seas, and the rules by which we live. Our ceremonial grounds are our universities, where we gain the knowledge that we need. The universities work to a moon cycle, with many different levels of learning and different ‘inside’ ceremonies for men and women: from the new moon to the full moon, we travel the song cycles that guide the life and the essence of the clan — keeping all in balance, giving our people their meaning. It is the only cycle of events that can ever give a Yolngu person … the full energy that he or she requires for life. Without this learning, Yolngu can achieve nothing; they are nobody.

My inner life is that of the Yolngu song cycles, the ceremonies, the knowledge, the law and the land. This is yothu yindi. Balance. Wholeness. Completeness. A world designed in perfection, founded on the beautiful simplicity of a mother and her newborn child; as vibrant and dynamic as the estuary where the saltwaters meet the freshwaters, able to give you everything you need.

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TPS Team

3/08/2014A very powerful piece today from Ken Wolff - we think many [i]TPS[/i] readers will fill in a lot of gaps in their knowledge of Aboriginal culture and tradition with this piece. Let us know what you think.

Ad astra

3/08/2014Ken Thank you for another splendid exposition on the attitude and approach of some politicians and bureaucrats to policy related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander welfare, using that word in its widest sense. From what you tell us, and from what we read, paternalism, perhaps sometimes quite benign, characterizes so many of the transactions that occur between governments and these people. As you point out so well, this is to some extent born of ignorance of their customs, laws and ways of approaching community issues. And it seems that sometimes it is not just ignorance, but also an unwillingness to even explore those crucial aspects, as if they didn’t matter. I believe that the disregard, even the disdain that ‘Westerners’ so often exhibit towards the traditions and ways of these people, and even their revered elders, generates much of the mismatch between what the politicians think is best, and what the indigenous people think themselves. It is as if politicians, and I suspect much of the public, believe that the Western way must always be right, must always be better, certainly more ‘civilized’, and therefore what the people need, even if they don’t want it. The ‘Father knows best’ attitude shows itself over and again. Coupled with the Strict Father model of morality that George Lakoff described so well, it leads to the situations you describe, situations that we as ordinary citizens have witnessed for ages. Only this past week we saw in the paper by Twiggy Forrest ideas that he believes will enable a better distribution of welfare payments to unemployed indigenous people. They were paternalistic, based on the assumption that bureaucratic decisions about how welfare money ought to be spent were bound to be better than the decisions of the recipients. No doubt Twiggy was well intentioned, and his suggestions might have merit. They are likely to muster public support, especially if confined to ‘blackfellas’. But when it was proposed that the idea be extended to [b]all[/b] on welfare, at least one whitefella, our PM, thought that was a bridge too far. I imagine he thought that while it might be a great idea for ‘dole bludgers’, it was politically far too dangerous for him. While Abbott’s Strict Father morality sees him apparently willing to go along with Eric Abetz’s 40 job applications a month for the unemployed as a suitable punishment for the offence of not being in a job, Twiggy’s idea is too radical for him, one he can’t yet stomach, yet. The ‘Father knows best’ attitude is still alive and well, and I predict that if public support for these punitive measures were to become widespread, as seems to have been the case for the punitive treatment of asylum seekers who come by boat, don’t be surprised if Abbott goes along with not just Eric, but Twiggy too.

Ken

3/08/2014Ad You are right in saying that the problem comes from a belief that the 'Western way' must always be right. What one has to do in meeting with and understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is to be open to a different world view. It doesn't mean that they reject everything that is Western but that their approach to things Western will be different because of their world view and their values. I know Aboriginal people have been flummoxed when they open their world up to whitefellas, including politicians, but the whitefella then goes away as if nothing has changed. We expect them to understand our world but seem (overall) not to make enough effort to understand theirs. If we actually tried, we might mutually find ways in which the two worlds can meld for the benefit of all. Without that greater understanding, and actually getting that inner feeling of their world, our approach will remain, as you say, largely paternalistic.

Ken

3/08/2014Fed up Thank you for the link at the end of the previous thread to Bill Shorten's speech at Garma. I hope to have time tomorrow to listen to it in full. Although not intended, it is appropriate that this piece has appeared on the weekend of the Garma festival.

Catching up

3/08/2014Ken, thanks for your words. I believe that Abbott has a rude awakening coming to him,, He heard a little of it yesterday. I have had little experience with these people myself from a young age., All you have said is spot on. One only has to take an interest in the people of Redfern and La Perouse, to learn, there is no such thing, as an Indigenous voice. One has to be careful, that one is not being told, what they think you want to hear. Forrester has by his report, shown that he has also miss much. I have another gripe, about the fantasy that much money has been spent, without any results. I have been unable to find any evidence for this. There does not seem to be any more spent, than is spent on others in the community. Thankyou. No way do I have your experience of knowledge.

TalkTurkey

3/08/2014Noam Chomsky, one of America's most respected socio-political voices, and himself Jewish, on Israel ... http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/outrage/

2353`

4/08/2014Ken, Thanks for a deeply insightful piece. I wonder if there will ever be a genuine understanding between the original immigrants (some 40,000 years or so ago) and the recent 'blow ins' from 1788 or later. On a purely rational level, you would think the original inhabitants would have a much better defined and accurate knowledge of the land and how it works - and a perfectly acceptable alternative to 'western' ways.

TalkTurkey

4/08/2014... Then they fight you ... THEN you win! https://newmatilda.com//2014/08/02/australian-accuses-new-matilda-role-plot-bring-down-abbott Well Done New Matilda!

TalkTurkey

4/08/2014Nobody who never gets sick, or anyone who intends never to grow old, needs to read/watch this. Recommended for everybody else. http://www.hightimes.com/read/myth-shattering-look-medical-marijuanas-impact-human-health

Ad astra

4/08/2014TT It seems that The Oz is facilitating even more scrutiny of the Frances Abbott scholarship. Its effrontery is astonishing. But what's new in Murdoch-World! NM has the Oz on the run.

Pappinbarra Fox

4/08/2014Ken, May I have permission to print your essay and insights and distribute to staff (about 16 all up)? I would greatly appreciate it and I am sure an incremental improvement in staff understanding can only be a good thing. A fine essay I might say. Regards

Ken

4/08/2014Catching up Yes, the more traditional Aboriginal people will often say what they think you want to hear. That relates to their concept of embarrassment. They perceive that it will be embarrassing for you if they don't accept what you are saying. This is what often leads to the vague answers I described in the piece. You are right about the money. That was an issue for decades. Whenever the old Department of Aboriginal Affairs or ATSIC spent money in particular areas, mainstream government departments would often reduce their funding in the same area, which meant no net improvement. That problem was used to justify the 'mainstreaming' of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander funding.

Ken

4/08/20142353 Yes, Aboriginal environmental knowledge is important and has been recognised to some extent. Patch burning was introduced in the NT as a fire management tool after CSIRO and other scientists worked with Aboriginal people and produced the scientific evidence that traditional 'patch burning' helped reduce the intensity of the regular dry season fires. And many Aboriginal people are now employed as rangers in our national parks and natural heritage areas. If we do not listen to what Aboriginal people actually want, and instead follow the Abbott and Forrest approach, we will lose that knowledge in the future.

Ken

4/08/2014Pappinbarra Fox Yes ,you may use it if you wish. One proviso is to explain that I have presented examples in this short piece. While the issues I referred to are fairly common, there are also differences between Aboriginal groups that need to be recognised. You may be interested in this piece by Stephen Harris. It was prepared in the 1980s for teachers going into Arnhem Land. Stephen gave me a copy of his book (published early in the 1990s), which included this. It is getting down to the nitty-gritty of language problems and manners. http://www.naclc.org.au/cb_pages/files/Stephen%20Harris%20-%20Have%20your%20manners.pdf In this regard, politicians don't have a clue.

Jason

4/08/2014Ken, A very enjoyable read! Your quotes at the end from Galarrwuy were also pertinent. Gove or Nhulunbuy was home for me for more than 20 years.

TalkTurkey

4/08/2014Greetings Comrades, I spend too much time altogether on Twitter these days, but this last little exchange crystallizes what is Good about Twitter, (and obviously, because I couldn't write about it on Twitter as I can here, The Political Sword blog, but also, every good political blogsite.] Twitter is Instantaneous. TPS is Eternal. Isn't that Powerful! (YES IT IS! ) Anyway here's this little *crystal* ... Crotchety and Quavery put many fascinating beautiful charming nature photos on Twitter. Someone asked what one of these animals was. I answered on behalf of C&Q that it was an Agouti, unless that was something else, but anyway I said, knowing I was correct, that it was the world's largest rodent, native to S America. (Is that an Agouti or is an Agouti something else? Yes I could find it in a flash but I'm writing!) Anyway C&Q wrote back saying [i]thanks TT for providing the questioner with the info,[/i] I replied [i]Well Thank You MORE C&Q for the stuff you provide[/i], (so we vibe good obviously), and then I said [i]That there are so many people good enough to share interesting pix & precious info,FREE, ennobles & uplifts us all. [/i]SleeplessInAustralia and Crotchety & Quavery @TheBroaditorium & a few others @planetepics @kncdaniels favorited my Tweet and retweeted me. That's always encouraging and empowering in itself.  But where it got [i]lovely[/i] for me, and summed up in a few words my fond hopes for the power of Social Media, and for my own tiny input, was this: Anusha ‏@anusha_srini • 12h @TheBroaditorium @TalkyTurkey A more perfect tweet, I've yet to read Wow! - See, it doesn't just pay me a priceless compliment, but far more importantly it implies broad-based cameraderie, shared aspirations for humanity and agreed belief in social media, that it is all about sharing knowledge and asserting the power of the People. Anusha feels it,[ All of that in 8 words!]SiN and C&Q feel it, I know we feel it here. So I replied: 10h: @anusha_srini [i]Thanks 4 the comment! Power to the People! VENCEREMOS! [/i] I will now go to Twitter and invite those who RTed me to come here and read this. Welcome, Comrades, if you do get here!

Ken

4/08/2014Jason Thank you. If you were at Gove and Nhulunbuy for twenty years then you know what I am talking about and what the politicians keep missing.

TalkTurkey

4/08/2014Mary~Jane Winning Her War! http://www.buzzfeed.com/austinhunt/marijuana-in-your-new-york-times [Recaptcha is easier with numerals but it isn't so much fun as with weird coincidence wordy things. But today the centenary of WW1 outbreak, my recaptcha number is 303 ...]

el gordo

4/08/2014'I have no doubt that he will be the same as previous prime ministers and completely fail to understand the experience.' It will offer a great photo opportunity, Cred will make sure of that, but at the same time Abbott will absorb the experience. He's an outdoorsy sort of guy and in that sparseness, its a time for reflection. Pragmatic policy decisions should follow in its wake.

2353`

5/08/2014Pragmatic policy will follow Abbott's trip to the NT - in a couple of years when he is consigned to the dustbin of history (unless Turnbull and/or Hockey don't get him first.

TalkTurkey

5/08/2014Since the 11th of September 2001 I have always believed, and argued, what so many here allege. https://www.google.com.au/search?newwindow=1&site=&source=hp&q=israel+did+911&oq=israel+did+911&gs_l=hp.3..0l3j0i22i30l7.2501.13653.0.18890.14.10.0.4.4.0.584.3157.2-7j1j1j1.10.0....0...1c.1.51.hp..0.14.3268.YcCcaWB05N4 '911' is the greatest confidence-trick crime - the greatest [i]crime[/i] - in history. Beyond argument.

Michael

5/08/2014I have never understood why anyone thinks more highly of Malcolm Turnbull than the famous phrase, "he's just Abbott in Armani", and this article http://www.zdnet.com/turnbull-ignores-looming-nbn-disaster-as-scales-weighs-in-7000032317/ complements my position. How much wool do Australians want LNP hacks to pull over our eyes??!!

TalkTurkey

5/08/2014http://t.co/nK9RSwhC5k You can't go round killing Israelis! But you CAN go round killing Nestles, Johnson&Johnson, CocaCola AND Pepsi et al ... #BoycottIsrael !

TalkTurkey

5/08/2014Check out the ZioNazi design! https://www.google.com.au/search?q=israel+did+911&newwindow=1&tbm=isch&imgil=ZwkIUDW3_HinlM%253A%253BMd1V2PlPhFEYGM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.veteranstoday.com%25252F2012%25252F09%25252F22%25252F9-11-false-flag-operation%25252F&source=iu&usg=__q23A1d_1mH9oAMgfcEVZduTcS98%3D&sa=X&ei=oiLgU-yKEZfs8AWt9ICoAg&ved=0CEEQ9QEwBQ&biw=1093&bih=470#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=ZwkIUDW3_HinlM%253A%3BMd1V2PlPhFEYGM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.veteranstoday.com%252Fwp-content%252Fuploads%252F2012%252F09%252FIsrael-did-911.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.veteranstoday.com%252F2012%252F09%252F22%252F9-11-false-flag-operation%252F%3B720%3B634

Ken

5/08/2014Michael thanks for the link. Excellent expose by David Braue on the Turnbull NBN farce.

Catching up

5/08/2014I think we seen today, that Turnbull did follow Abbott's directive, to destroy NBNCo.

Ad astra

6/08/2014Folks Jon Faine interviewed Tony Abbott on ABC radio 774 Melbourne this morning about the proposed changes to the nation’s security laws, and his abandonment of the promised changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. Of all the extraordinary comments Abbott made, even more extraordinary than the reference to his ‘Team Australia’, was his admission that he had phoned Andrew Bolt to explain why he had made a ‘leadership’ call to abandon his government’s undertaking to change section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Since when does the prime minister of this nation find it necessary to personally phone a rabid rightwing journalist, convicted of an criminal offence against the Racial Discrimination Act, to explain his government’s action? I think we know the answer. Which begs the question: “Who is calling the shots in the life of this country?” Casablanca Should you be able to post the link to this interview, I’m sure it will be of interest to our readers. They will be astonished.

Casablanca

6/08/2014Ad The Jon Faine interview with Abbott does not appear to be available yet. However, Abbott spoke of his obeisance to Andrew Bolt in an interview this morning with Michael Brissenden. The transcript appears on the PM's website. Here is the relevant interchange: MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Have you given any guarantees to people, like the commentator Andrew Bolt, who want 18C repealed that you’ll try again? PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s off the table, and look, I had a conversation with Andrew Bolt yesterday and I explained that it was off the table. I knew he would be disappointed… MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Off the table forever? PRIME MINISTER: Look, it’s off the table – it’s off the table, it’s gone, it’s disappeared. Our intention is to work as effectively as we can with the communities of Australia to ensure that we take a ‘Team Australia’ approach to countering terrorism and to building our nation. MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: So it’s off the table for now. PRIME MINISTER: [b]No, no – it’s off the table. It’s gone.[/b] http://www.pm.gov.au/media/2014-08-06/interview-michael-brissenden-abc-am Abbott also did an interview with David Koch on Sunrise where the decision to shelve the Racial Discrimination Act amendments was not even raised. http://www.pm.gov.au/media/2014-08-06/interview-david-koch-sunrise-seven-network

Casablanca

6/08/2014[b]Ditching ‘Andrew Bolt Protection Bill’ A Victory in Fight Against Racism & Hate Speech[/b] “The Greens are very proud to have been part of the community campaign against watering down race hate laws,” said acting Greens Leader, Adam Bandt MP.... http://www.adambandt.com/ditching_andrew_bolt_protection_bill_a_victory_in_fight_against_racism_hate_speech

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6/08/2014Casablanca Many thanks. Abbott seems to have given a similar interview to Jon Faine. Obviously he has learned his lines for the day, and all who interview him will get them as rehearsed!

TalkTurkey

6/08/2014Mike Carlton's SMH article re Israel's fascism, the backlash from which has led to his resignation from Fairfax! http://www.smh.com.au/comment/israels-rank-and-rotten-fruit-is-being-called-fascism-20140724-zwd2t.html Gee we view our own particular world with macroscopes and microscopes and telescopes don't we eh! Depending on which we use at any given time, many levels of events can seem terrible - the downing of a civilian aircraft, a famine in Africa, someone's wanton cruelty to a sentient beast, the loss of one's home to fire or flood - but for sheer bloodstained savagery, Israel's unrelenting bombardment of besieged civilians in tiny Gaza is the most horrifying I have ever seen. Pol Pot' regime, various African conflicts, terrible and bloody yes, but they were among peoples without the benefit of education, nor of modern means of killing. What Israel is doing is premeditated, utterly lopsided, having ALL the air power, ALL the tanks, ALL the ships, ordinance coming out of their ears, Thanks Yanks! And Yes Obama did it seems resupply them with bombs just a few days ago. FMD. I have long been intensely critical of Israel and over time quite a few have called me, Anti-Semitic. I'm quite proud of that now, because at least it means that I have spoken out, and not about Semites, but about Jews! Arab peoples all are Semites, and the worst Anti-Semites are manifestly Jews, who are killing their genetic kinfolk in Gaza, not because of difference in race but because of difference in religion! So much for my being anti-Semitic. WRT this I'm humanist, and that's all. I'm nontheist and I abhor all religion, and I certainly hold no for Islam. But it is a Jewish article of faith that theirs is the master [i]not[/i]-race-but-[i]religion[/i], the Chosen of God, and that the rest of us are [i]Goyim[/i], something very much less, almost sub-human. This allows the rabid amongst their number to treat non-Jews as non-people. You may witness that attitude in every contact between the settlers and those whom they have evicted dispossessed and usurped. And that is a pretty hard attitude to stomach. And the people who wanted Carlton sacked weren't upset at his F-words, they were upset about his outspokenness about Israeli barbarism.

Michael

6/08/2014The Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales (just avoiding acronyms, folks) has heard the name "Brian Loughnane", AKA Mister Peta Credlin, and a member of Abbott's kitchen cabinet along with his wife, in regard to Liberal Party corruption relating to disguising the sources of political donations. The Royal Commission into 'union corruption' has exposed Kathy Jackson, nominated a 'whistleblower heroine' by Tony Abbott as she went about dobbing in Craig Thomson for a series of misusing union funds activities that stack up as very small beer beside what is now coming out about her own misuse of money meant directly to be paid to union members, aka workers, not money designated for Health Services Union activity. There is a distinction - Thomson was found to be rorting his expense account; Jackson misappropriated money meant to be paid directly to workers, or so she told the providers of it. One's a workplace offence, the second is out and out thievery from HSU members' pockets. Both investigations were fondly expected by their Liberal progenitors to 'catch' Labor big fish, the biggest of all being Bill Shorten. Neither has come close, but in Brian Loughnane the ICAC investigation is cheek and jowl with the leader of the Liberal Party, our own coach of Team Australia, T - T = Tony Abbott. Another example of Liberals not thinking things though. Or perhaps thinking that the Old Boys Network might just be as careless with facts and integrity as they are. The Abbott Error will end ugly. Plug ugly. And I, for one, will be very happy to be here to see it happen. ("Happen", when applied to matters pertaining to the Liberal National Party of Australia, a synonym for 'unravel'.)

2353`

7/08/2014A number of people here and elsewhere for some time have suggested that the 'real' immigration problem in Australia has nothing to do with unseaworthy boats - but people arriving in the 'comfort' of a 747 or A380. Here's the proof -> http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/terror-touches-down-20140806-3d8wj.html

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7/08/2014Folks If you can stomach watching the usually bombastic Brandis bumbling through an interview with David Spears, go to this link and play the YouTube offering near the end. The usually verbose and blustering Brandis embarrassingly stumbles his way through the entire interview, demonstrating convincingly that he has no idea at all of what he's supposed to be explaining - metadata. It is a classic that will be treasured in the archives of political calamities, will be often rebroadcast by journalists, and will provide rich pickings for Labor media people fashioning election ads. Don't miss it - you will not have seen anything quite like it before. http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2014/08/07/brandiss-car-crash-interview/ After his gross mismanagement of the government's hoped-for changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, his colleagues will question his competence and suitability to fill the high office of the nation's first law officer. Rumour is that they already are. Watch you back George! By the way, be aware that your visit to this YouTube clip will be recorded by the metadata sleuths and may be used against you, especially if you view the clip more than once. Be careful about whom you send it to - it may implicate them too! Remember George is watching and is ready to pounce.

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7/08/2014Folks If you want to go directly to 1 minute 54 seconds of sheer agony for Brandis, here is the direct link to his YouTube catastrophe. http://youtu.be/lt8u27a37n4 Note the last few seconds, where David Spears pauses, strokes his chin, and decides, wisely, that asking further questions would be pointless, and result in even more humiliation for our nation's top law officer.

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7/08/2014Folks If you were unable to watch the Multi Faith Memorial Service at St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne for the victims of MH 17, you might wish to view a replay of this sad, yet very moving tribute. Attended by clerics from many faiths, the service was adorned by beautiful singing and two renditions from a string ensemble with two magnificent soloists singing 'Don't be afraid' and 'We are one, but we are many…I am, you are, we are all Australians' Fine speeches were made by the Governor General, the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister. Official figures and relatives sombrely laid tributes on a magnificent wreath of wattle. 'Love' was a word often spoken, evoking the thought that if more of that was exhibited in public life, how much gentler and kinder it would be.

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7/08/2014Folks For those of you who cannot access Crikey, let me give you a taste of Guy Rundle's assessment of the government's disastrous foray into the Racial Discrimination Act and that mysterious commodity called 'metadata'. Here is a sample: [i]"Rundle: Team Australia would love to have free speech, but there's a war on Welcome now then, Team Australia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott launched the new meme on Tuesday, at the press conference where changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 18c "insult and offend" clause was dropped, and the catch-all spy powers, metadata, surveillance and anti-terrorism bill was introduced. With the new threat to Australia from 150 people who had journeyed to Syria -- allegedly to be jihadis, though we have been given no proof -- we all had to come together for Team Australia, and anything that disturbed that unity had to be ditched -- and that included 18c. Today we doubled down on that with memorial services for all 298 victims of the MH17 crash/shooting down, with the PM announcing -- on near-continuous loop on ABC morning news -- that "this is a day of national mourning". And on it will go for quite some time. The truth is that the government's record has been trashed on every single initiative. Every single one. The budget is a mess and is heading for a chaotic showdown, for which the only governmentally sensible course -- but a politically disastrous one -- would be a minibudget. Operation Bring Them Home is becoming a gruesome slapstick version of Antigone, with the area degenerating into an impassable war zone and making it impossible for Abbott to keep his promise. Asylum seekers have landed, briefly, on Australian soil, taking the gloss off that promise. And now, relatively minor but all the more significant as a political defeat, an abandonment of the changes to 18c -- and by that token the defeat of Andrew Bolt and News Corp. That last defeat has been the pivot on which the government has shifted its pitch. With a measure of desperation it has reached for national solidarity, the voluntary minimising of dissent, state measures as "beyond politics" -- all wrapped up in a green-and-gold Team Australia bow. This is the Right channelling the other side of its politics, the real business -- letting the market and capital run free, while using the heavy hand of the state to impose a single order based on a fantasy consensus. Mind you, there were pickings for political connoisseurs. I loved the way in which Abbott presented the abandonment of 18c changes as "a luxury we could no longer afford". It managed to evoke both the Blitz spirit of rationing and Churchill's "truth with a bodyguard of lies" remark. A more open public society -- what the Right call '"free speech" -- had been the principle we would stand for, Voltaire, rhubarb, etc -- and now that very principle had to be defended by relegating it to luxury status. For Abbott, channelling this is easier than most. He's from a tradition -- the Catholic Right -- that was as close to a clerico-fascist/Phalangist movement as Australia came. Abbott's mentor, B.A. Santamaria, was a supporter of both Franco and Mussolini, and the Team Australia rhetoric is simply a mild Australian repurposing of the corporatist-nationalist mindset that underlies those movements. Any self-respecting liberal should gag at the notion that a nation-state can be compared to a sporting team -- yet there this morning at Timmy Wilson's Free Speech Freedom Jamboree, there was Freedom Boy giving the opening address (Brandis was meant to do it but pulled out as following his Sky interview yesterday -- he had appointments all day curled up foetally at the bottom of a wardrobe, weeping) -- and referencing "Team Australia". Ironically? Didn't sound like it…"[/i] For the rest, try clicking here: http://media.crikey.com.au/dm/newsletter/dailymail_35884bbe3feed4ce59ebe97902294eab.html and scroll down a fair way.

Jason

7/08/2014Ad Guy Rundle – You wouldn’t want to to underestimate what a defeat this 18c stuff up is for the Right. Includes a lovely spray at Bolt. What Brandis meant by bigotry was people saying things he disagreed with about the carbon tax. David Leyonhjelm strikes the same note at the Freedom Jamboree today, saying that he “refuses to be a victim”. Oh really, white, male, professional First World man? You’ve withstood the terrible racism directed at Swedish-Australians, have you smorgy-boy? How brave you are. Well, that’s the end of the matter. This strain of self-pitying, self-satisfied white guy whining that presents as its opposite has been at the heart of the 18c push from the start — inevitably since it was constellated around Andrew Bolt, who embodies that European petit-bourgeois whining self-pity so absolutely, you’d think there was just a pile of clothes and a permanently on air horn where he sat. http://www.crikey.com.au/2014/08/07/rundle-team-australia-would-love-to-have-free-speech-but-theres-a-war-on/

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7/08/2014Folks I wonder what the government will make of the unemployment rate today of 6.4%, the highest in 12 years, and now higher than unemployment in the US. Once again, the economists got it wrong - predicting incorrectly that the rate would be stationary at 6.0%. How will this free enterprise, leave it to the markets government explain it away? Whatever they may say, since they formed government almost a year ago, the economic situation in Australia has deteriorated; some would say it has turned to slush. There must soon come a time when the Coalition can no longer sheet blame home to the previous government. After all the brickbats hurled at the Gillard government, after all the accusations of mismanagement and incompetence, after the all the ‘they can’t manage money or the economy’ slurs, what have they got to show for 11 months of Coalition government? Mismanagement, incompetence, a deteriorating job market, rising unemployment, dismal prospects for those seeking work in the time ahead, and penalties for the unsuccessful. What an appalling record has this ‘we know best how to manage the economy’ government! You may care to read the assessment of this result in [i]Business Spectator[/i]: http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/8/7/australian-news/disastrous-jobs-data-will-create-more-work-rba

Casablanca

7/08/2014[b]IPA supporters pour in cash to fund anti-Abbott ad as race discrimination act fury boils over[/b] Latika Bourke IPA Director John Roskam on Wednesday warned the government not to “underestimate the white-hot anger” of Liberals dismayed by the Prime Minister's decision to back down from repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Now it appears that anger has been converted into cash with the appeal topping $45,000 as of this morning, according to Mr Roskam. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/ipa-supporters-pour-in-cash-to-fund-antiabbott-ad-as-race-discrimination-act-fury-boils-over-20140807-3d9r3.html

Ken

7/08/2014The 6.4% unemployment is the highest since 2002. Guess who was in government then? It also means unemployment was lower between 2007 and 2013, when Labor was in power. As you say, Ad, it suggests something about the LNP's so-called better economic management. And when interest rates start going up again in the next 12-18 months, and those with mortgages start feeling the pain again, will Abbott still claim that interest rates will always be lower under an LNP government?

Ken

7/08/2014Interesting!! Someone charged over the info about Abbott's daughter getting her 'scholarship'. https://au.news.yahoo.com/nsw/a/24647649/student-charged-over-frances-abbott-leak/

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7/08/2014Casablanca I can't wait to see the IPA funded attack ad against Tony Abbott over his reneging on the repeal of section 18 c of the Racial Discrimination Act.

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7/08/2014Ken The pro-Abbott forces will leave no stone unturned to discredit anyone involved with the leaking of the story of the Frances Abbott 'scholarship'.

Michael

7/08/2014re the MH17 memorial... A true multi-faith interdenominational service should have been held on open ground somewhere the traditional owners had OK'd for the event, with no religion's particular symbols or iconography heavily associated with the only way to grieve. Abbott has, as always, screwed it up. He only has one idea, and he keeps pushing it down our throats, whatever the issue it's applied to.

TalkTurkey

8/08/2014Ken, Your experience, sensitivity and humanity shines through your latest article, reminding me with some shame of how little direct contact I have had with Aboriginal people. Not none, but not nearly so much as you. What has always impressed me about those with whom I have had dealings is their egolessness. I've never met any that puff and posture, that put themselves first, the way blue-ties do. And their forebearance, after all the invaders have putthem through, they are still not haters. On the contrary, for the most part. Respect. One time long ago, when the word Assimilation was very much to the fore, I was waiting for my girlfriend who was a social worker to come out from a meeting who was representing a group of Aboriginal women over some issue or other to the then SA Attorney-General, Don Dunstan QC MP, my local Member. As the women came out the door one of them said, in a voice just so endearing, [i]"Ahhh, but he's got a nice face hasn't he!" [/i]It sort of summed up a great deal about Don, and equally much about the women, who after all white people had put them through, were still prepared to trust him on the basis of his word. Don Dunstan was the real beginning of the modern era for indigenous people: after him, 'assimilation' was replaced with notions of [i]integration[/i], signalling a new valuing of indigenous culture in its own right. Thank you Ken for this gentle powerful writing.

TalkTurkey

8/08/2014Ad astra Your output and your wisdom continue to amaze me ever more, day by day. You are an inspiration to us all.

Ken

8/08/2014TT If you do not have as much experience with Aboriginal people, you certainly have the perceptiveness to understand what you have witnessed. Yes, traditional Aboriginal people are generally self-effacing and very accepting of others, forgiving our faux-pas and not criticising our mistakes. But they do know who they can trust and who they can't.

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8/08/2014TT Thank you for your kind comments. The never-ending cascade of incompetence emanating from our federal government, now almost one year old, has precipitated my several forays into the Comments section. Having continually labelled the Gillard government as incompetent and chaotic, it is ironic that the accuser, the Abbott Coalition, is now exhibiting these very flaws, and in abundance. Just take the ‘metadata’ shambles. Why did Abbott and Brandis think they were the most suitable ones to explain the concept of metadata as it applies to our personal electronic communications? Why did they not even consult their own Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, about the announcement they were preparing to make, when that announcement clearly involved explaining the technicalities? They ended up making an awful mess of their efforts to communicate with the public, arising in my view from lack of clarity in their own minds of what they were intending to do, as much as their incapacity to explain the concept of metadata. They didn’t know what they wanted, or how to explain what they thought they wanted. It takes consummate incompetence to make a bigger mess than that. Malcolm Turnbull was reportedly, and justifiably, furious about being left out of the loop. I suspect that was done deliberately to avoid him getting any kudos in an area where he has acknowledged expertise. If that is not the reason, it is even more astonishing that they would omit the expert on communications, when communications was a central issue. When he came on ABC radio this morning, Turnbull explained lucidly what was intended. Abbott and Brandis could have avoided getting tied up in technicalities they did not understand. Instead we first saw Abbott stumbling through his explanation of the need for such surveillance, then exhibiting ignorance of the concept of metadata, which he tried to explain with an ‘envelope’ metaphor, and then complicating the issue by throwing in ‘Team Australia’, a comment that has distracted from his central message. This was followed by the appalling stuttering performance of Brandis on Sky TV trying to explain metadata, which has evoked ridicule, and has raised the uncomfortable question as to whether our first law officer is competent to fill that important role. If this episode in itself is not an exhibition of gross incompetence and chaos, please tell me what it is. There are many more!

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8/08/2014TT Here’s another example of incompetence. After 11 months of Abbott government, we see 6.4% unemployment, a level not seen since for 12 years, and youth unemployment at a frightening 14%. As expected, the Coalition is blaming the Senate for this, claiming that if it only passed all of Hockey’s budget measures, it would all be OK. How that would be so is not explained, but of course explaining assertions is unnecessary when simply stating them is enough. Of course, the Coalition, and particularly Minister for Employment Abetz and our illustrious PM Abbott, will hope that the figures will be better next month. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/political-blame-flies-as-jobless-rate-rises-20140807-3dbii.html Then we hear that people working here on 457 visas number around a million, while, according to the Bureau of Statistics’ latest figures, we have 789,000 unemployed Australians. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6202.0 Then we learn that there is gross rorting in the 457 visa process, allowed by a Department of Immigration that has become so preoccupied with its ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ that is has no time to properly vet applications for 457 visas, instead just checking if all the boxes are ticked. This morning [i]The Age[/i] exposes the fraud in an article by McKenzie and Baker, the two who pursued Julia Gillard so relentlessly, now using their talents more productively. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/visa-fraud-suspects-fled-after-wiring-1m-overseas-20140807-3dbmu.html Of course these problems existed in the Department under Labor, a point that Morrison was quick to make. But although he has had 11 months running his department, the rorting continues under his very nose. Is that incompetence? How long is it supposed to take him to wake up to the rorting, and stop it? He can blame Labor all he likes, but what about his stewardship? This morning Tony Shepherd, Abbott’s hand-picked chair of his pre-election Commission of Audit, came on ABC 774 Melbourne radio, yet when confronted by Jon Faine with these facts, and the strong trend to outsourcing and offshoring carried out by Australian firms, overlooking as it does locals seeking employment and exacerbating unemployment, he was cavalier about it, justifying it as an acceptable, even necessary business practice. It’s hard to take seriously the Abbott government’s concern about unemployment when it seems unable to stem its rise and is allowing a million 457 visa holders to come to Australia to take jobs here that Australians could do. Is this incompetence, or as the government would prefer to paint it, just bad luck?

Jason

8/08/2014 Insiders ABC @InsidersABC · 49m Barrie Cassidy is back & will interview Sen. John Madigan, 9am on Sun. On the panel is @PhillipCoorey, @dwabriz & Gerard Henderson. #auspol

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8/08/2014TT Here is another astonishing example of ministerial ineptitude, and irrationality to boot. Instances keep raining down from the Coalition’s stormy sky. Is there any wonder I keep writing comments? You will have heard about Eric Abetz’ assertion on [i]The Project[/i] that there was evidence that abortion predisposed to breast cancer. Medical people know this is nonsense, but our Minister for Employment does not, and was foolish enough to voice this on a widely watched evening TV program. I thought Guy Rundle had a perspicacious take on this ‘blooper for the day’. Here’s how he began on [i]Crikey[/i] in [i]Abetz and the sleazy switch from campaign to scientific irrationalism[/i]: “[i]Good god, government watching these days is turning into an Augean stables-type gig. No sooner have we had the unveiling of Team Australia, the call to suspend debate and dissent, the co-option of the dead, the 40 jobs a month farrago, than we now have Senator Eric Abetz reviving that most discredited of charges: the spurious, discredited and mendacious suggestion of a link between abortion and breast cancer. “Revived by Abetz on The Project last night, the abortion-breast cancer hypothesis -- the suggestion that having an abortion results in a higher risk for breast cancer -- has a long history in Australia. One of its decade-long champions has been Babette Francis, chair of the Endeavour Forum, one of the myriad of quasi-independent front groups set up around Bob Santamaria and the National Civic Council in the 1970s and hosts of the Congress on Families conference, where this stuff will be aired. “The Australian anti-abortion movement latched onto the abortion-breast cancer hypothesis more strongly than elsewhere for one simple reason -- abortion, once it began to be de facto decriminalized in Australia, steadily acquired substantial public support. In the United States, it’s at the centre of the culture wars; in Australia, by the '90s, it was decisively shoved to one side. The anti-abortion lobby was then faced with a choice -- they could stick to their guns and maintain their religious-ethical objects without hope of victory, or engage in subterfuge and propaganda. Guess which? The abortion-breast cancer hypothesis had emerged in the late 1950s in Japan, but began to be examined more systematically in the 1980s, based on rat studies. The proposed mechanism was that pregnancy and raised oestrogen levels stimulate the growth of breast cells, which remain immature when the pregnancy is terminated, thus exposing them to higher risk of cell mutation. While full-term pregnancy does associate with a lower risk of breast cancer, there is no higher risk of breast cancer from abortion, relative to non-pregnancy. Much of the work done to put the hypothesis front and centre was led by a single endocrinologist, anti-abortion campaigner Joel Brind, who banged the drum for it through the 1980s and into the '90s. Brind published a meta-analysis of research in 1996 and used it to claim a significant correlation. Though the research was found to be widely flawed, it became the core of a new push for an abortion-breast cancer link. Following the non-crediting of his 1996 research, Brind set up the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute with Dr Angela Lanfranchi, who’s speaking at the Melbourne conference. The continued agitation for a link -- ultimately taken up by the Dubya administration -- led to a 2003 US National Cancer Institute conference on the matter, in which 99 of 100 experts agreed that no link was demonstrated. The dissenter was ... Joel Brind. That does not mean no more research should be done on this, or any, line, but the absence of evidence for any correlation means that, as a principle of public medical practice, the debate is over. Eric Abetz is now trying to wiggle out of the remarks he made on The Project -- using the Tony Abbott model of denying blind what you’re caught on tape saying, and hoping that News Corp will muddy the waters for you. It worked in the election, stopped working soon after that, and doesn’t have a hope in hell with The Project’s audience. The truth is that Abetz is using the irrationalist, anti-science model of reasoning that the Right has adopted for climate change denial -- and which is spreading to their whole approach to science. Science of the type that involves mass epidemiological studies generates many easily falsifiable hypotheses and relatively fewer useful but as-yet unfalsified ones (which is the closest physical science gets to verification).[/i]” Here is the link to the entire article: http://media.crikey.com.au/dm/newsletter/dailymail_c4f53aa0fdeb7c4e5d28e2733ed73b9e.html#article_30944 In my view, the Abetz stance is the result of his religious objection to abortion plus his anti-science attitude that enables him to ignore all the evidence about global warming and maintain a denialist mindset. And this is the leader of the government in the Senate! With Abbott as the leader in the House, what hope have we that science will prevail over prejudice and entrenched beliefs, many religious?

Ken

8/08/2014Ad The article is spot on about the Right having an anti-science model of reasoning and they grasp at any little thing to justify their view. I found this in the New Yorker back in January. It arose because Dr Stephen Hawking had said he had been wrong about black holes (more at the end). [quote]Rep. Bachmann [Republican Minnesota] unleashed a blistering attack on Dr Hawking, who earlier referred to his mistake on black holes as his"biggest blunder". "Actually, Dr Hawking, our biggest blunder as a society was ever to listen to people like you," said Rep. Bachmann. "If black holes don't exist, then other things you scientists have been trying to foist on us probably don't either, like climate change and evolution."[/quote] The article refers to other Republican Representatives saying things like "Going forward, members of the House Science Committee will do our best to avoid listening to scientists." But, in fact, all Hawking was admitting to was a mistake about what is known as the "firewall paradox" regarding the "event horizon" of black holes. Of course, the US Republicans, and we have many here in OZ sitting on the government benches like to twist such scientific clarification into the sort of comments Bachmann.

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8/08/2014TT They keep coming! Take a look at what Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer had to say in [i]Crikey[/i] today in [i]Stop whining and focus on fairness: a letter to Joe Hockey[/i] “[i]Dear Joe, We couldn't help but notice your outburst this week, in which you complained that the media was "polarised" and against you, Labor weren't providing bipartisan support for you, and the business community was "weak" in its support. As you're the steward of our economic fortunes and a successful Treasurer is an important part of a successful economy, we thought we'd offer you some thoughts on how, with your first anniversary in the job looming, you can make the rest of your time in the job more successful. 1. Stop whingeing. Even your colleagues are starting to notice that you're given to complaining about your lot. There are plenty of them who would happily have your job. No one cares about a politician lamenting how tough his job is, anyway. Being Treasurer is supposed to be tough: you are looking after the 12th or 13th biggest economy in the world, with a AAA credit rating. You are not entitled to anything other than the pay and perks. And you have to earn those. 2. Accept that your economic challenges aren't that great compared internationally or even to your predecessors. There's no Asian financial crisis, like Peter Costello had. There's no global financial crisis, like Wayne Swan had, or the task of landing a mining investment boom without an inflationary breakout. In fact, some of your problems, like a strong dollar, are ones that reflect Australia's economic success. You have a low inflation, low interest rate, low public debt, high-skilled economy with low trade barriers positioned next to the growth region of the 21st century. Ask your visiting counterparts in November how many of them would like to swap places. 3. So stop talking down the economy. Henny Penny is a terrible look for any minister, but especially a treasurer. You must remember how Kevin Rudd continued sounding like an opposition leader long after he became prime minister. You're doing the same, looking for the cloud in every economic silver lining and blaming your opponents for it. If you want to know what impact a Treasurer talking down the economy can have, look at what you did to retail sales in May. 4. Acknowledge the budget is unfair. Seriously, your stoush this week with Peter Martin was utterly unbecoming and brought to mind your attempt to bully David Peetz over WorkChoices in 2007. You are not Paul Keating, not even Peter Costello, who both liked to pick up the phone and hector journalists. You've already lost the fairness argument, probably lost it before you'd sat down on budget night. Time to admit yes, the budget is unfair, but it's because low- and middle-income earners receive far more from the government than high-income earners and companies and cuts to government outlays are inevitably going to hurt the former more than the latter. 5. Flag that the tax review will directly tackle the rapidly growing cost of superannuation tax concessions, which flow disproportionately (wildly disproportionately) to high-income earners, and that high-income earners will in the future benefit less from super. That will do something to offset the perceptions of unfairness dogging you. 6. Yes, the media environment is polarised. You say you've never seen that before -- maybe because you benefited from the polarisation when you were in opposition. Media outlets that "abandon the argument for good reform" because they're being partisan is exactly how News Corporation behaved from the moment Labor was elected, so don't lament something that you benefited from (similarly, stop demanding bipartisan support for your policies, when you gave zero support to Labor's reforms or budget cuts). Remember that when John Howard decided the Press Gallery was against him, he innovated and went around them. 7. So, for example, understand that in an increasingly fractured media environment, effective communicators have to simplify their message to cut through. Assembling a long list of controversial reforms and trying to run them all at once, which was your budget approach, is never going to work in such an environment because you can't concentrate on making the case for individual reforms while fighting spitfires across a number of fronts. 8. Forget about business support. Voters already think your party are too close to business and mainly interested in doing its bidding, ahead of what would be best for ordinary Australians. The support of business carries no weight outside the tiny readerships of the national dailies. And the quality of the contribution of business peak bodies to public debate is lamentable. It's either the same incessant whining about IR, or rent-seeking demands for handouts and winner-picking. 9. Smile. You used to be very popular with voters because they could see a decent bloke poking through the political exterior. The plummeting in your approval numbers has coincided with an angrier, harder public persona. If nothing else, people are more likely to listen to you if they see a bit more of the Hockey of old rather than a beetle-browed fiscal disciplinarian. So use your one-year anniversary to press the reset button. Much depends on your performance -- not just the government's fortunes, but more important things too, like the economy, the jobs of 12 million workers and our 23 years without a recession.[/i]” http://media.crikey.com.au/dm/newsletter/dailymail_c4f53aa0fdeb7c4e5d28e2733ed73b9e.html#article_30944 That sums up the situation pretty well, doesn’t it. Let's hope Joe reads it, and puts his ego away long enough to take notice.

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8/08/2014Folks Vladimir Putin must be shaking in his boots; Tony Abbott is coming after him: “[i]A tit-for-tat trade ban between Australia and Russia is emerging, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealing Australia is working towards imposing stronger sanctions over the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 disaster. Mr Abbott, who says Russia "has been a bully", has called on president Vladimir Putin to hold back his forces from crossing the border into Ukraine or risk becoming an international outcast. "Right at this moment, Russian forces are massing on the border with Ukraine," Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney. "If there is any movement by his forces across the border, it won't be a humanitarian mission, it will be an invasion. It will be an invasion."[/i] The Abbott world simplistically comprises only goodies and baddies. And the baddies can expect no quarter from him. Julia knows that, as does Kevin. Now it’s Vladimir that’s for it!

Curi-Oz

9/08/2014If Mr Abbott had not joined the sanctions against Russia, Australian farmers would not now be facing the dumping of European Union produce into our markets. If he had kept his mouth shut, we may have had EU products dumped here still, but our farmers might have had a chance to pick up some extra markets in Russia to offset the loss of local or other overseas markets to the EU. Sanctions, the way they are currently being played, are only going to destroy yet more Australian producers (and how many are LNP supporters?). But that's okay, because they are obviously leaners if they can't cope with the challenge of finding new markets when their old ones are compromised by events outside their control.

DMW

9/08/2014Good Morning Ken, excellent writing sir which I have come to late because every time I tried to connect this past week I have picked times when I got a [i]Website Unavailable [/i] message. Grrrr! It seems to me that one of the key misunderstandings that occurs between blackfellas and whitefellas is around time. We have differing concepts of time and particularly 'urgency'. A guess, but when a whitefella hears 'deadline' they would immediately think '4:00pm this afternoon' or similar, whereas a blackfella would more likely think about the fishing line he put in the creek earlier today. My limited experience of spending time amongst our first peoples is now ancient. As an infant (from about 2 yrs to 5 yrs old) I was part of the tribe that lived opposite us being looked after by and playing with the kids there. It influenced me quite a lot particularly around 'going walkabout' and still finding wonders just looking at the trees and the nature that surrounds us. I don't know how we communicated and if I learned any of the language of my friends. I certainly can't recall any words now but it has often occurred to me since that there would be great benefit if more people could speak the native tongue of one or more of myriad of different tribes that are amongst our first peoples. It was interesting to hear discussions along those lines on this weeks Q&A (which I only caught a small part of). Your anecdotes about how some people 'dealt with' various situations between the two worlds reminded me of an old 'joke'. [i]The young bull bolts up the old bull and says "Quick the fence is down. Let's race over and do a couple of heifers." The old bull looks up and replies "Let's walk over and then we can do the whole lot"[/i] If only we could find the right mixture of the innocence of childhood, the enthusiasm and exuberance of youth and the wisdom of elders we may have a better shot of creating a better understanding between both worlds. Thanks again for an excellent article and leading us to another window to look at our own backyard.

DMW

9/08/2014Ken has highlighted some of the dangers when inexperienced and/or gung-ho people bowl into areas outside their own world or experience. It happens in all sorts of areas and places and some of the biggest pitfalls can be in Foreign Affairs. There are some people, in other places, who have been praising, even heaping high praise upon the PM and Foreign Minister for their handling of the MH17 thing and for their 'excellent work' and even 'brilliant negotiating skills'. I have been sceptical but accepted that it was possible they may have actually done something close to right and maybe, just maybe done some good. My scepticism has been confirmed by an excellent article by Paul McGeough, Faifax's Chief Foreign Correspondent. [b]MH17 search in Ukraine turns into mission impossible[/b] [i]While Abbott and Bishop opted for megaphone diplomacy against the rebels’ sponsors in Moscow, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak quietly made phone calls to the rebel leadership in Donetsk, in which he achieved essential outcomes – the release of the refrigerated train on which the rebels had stored the 200 or more bodies and the handing over to Malaysian officials of the Boeing 777’s black boxes, which are essential for crash investigators.[/i] Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/mh17-search-in-ukraine-turns-into-mission-impossible-20140808-101wxf.html I doubt there is any Australian journalist, or, for that matter, any Australian politician, who has a better understanding of the intricacies of Middle Eastern and East European politics than McGeough. For those who haven't read much of McGeough's work and maybe wanting to get a better understanding of the Israeli/Gaza/Hamas imbroglio I highly recommend his book [b]Kill Kahlid [/b] a brilliant read and an excellent primer for gaining a better understanding of the politics in the area.

Ken

9/08/2014DMW You are right about time. Without double checking, I think I'm right in recalling that many Aboriginal languages do not have a future tense. Their time is based on the immediate, the here and now. For that reason, traditional children do not understand hypothetical questions in the classroom. I referred to Stephen Harris in an earlier response and he points out that if you ask someone whether they would prefer a banana or an orange, may be just trying to ask their hypothetical preference, they are more likely to assume that you actually have one of each to offer. Yes, there are many avenues for misunderstanding to occur unless one makes real effort. Fly-in-fly-out visits by politicians add nothing to their understanding.

Ken

9/08/2014DMW Enjoyed McGeough's article. I can understand that publicly Abbott and Bishop had to deal with the government of the country but a bit of quiet contact with the rebels behind the scenes never goes astray. After all, the Easter peace deal in Ulster was negotiated in secret contact between the UK government and the IRA. The initial contacts between the Yanks and the Vietcong were also behind the scenes. As you point out, Malaysia obviuosly understood that well but we had to follow the EU/US line of taking the opportunity to attack Putin - which may well be justified but does not achieve the outcome we actually want at the crash site.

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9/08/2014DMW Thank you for the link to the Paul McGeough article. He is an accomplished journalist, familiar with foreign relations. If only Tony Abbott would listen to the counsel of people like McGeough. Coping with the nuances and niceties of international diplomacy is a challenge for Abbott. Three problems beset his forays into that problematic world: - His mindset divides the world into goodies and baddies (no shades of grey allowed), and bullies and the bullied (again, nothing in between). - His gung-ho, macho, hairy-chested approach is always on show. - His predilection for slogans results in incongruous formulations. Kiev are the goodies, along with its backers, and the rebels are the baddies, along with their backers, Putin and Co. There’s nothing in between. Putin is the bully and Ukraine and Kiev the bullied. It’s as simple as that. The hairy-chested one feels he can label people and groups in this simplistic way, and believes they will heed his words of wisdom and his grim words of warning. He believes Putin will take his threats of sanctions seriously. He is unaware that he is deluded, and that the likes of Putin would be more likely react adversely to being threatened (bullied) by the likes of Abbott. As McGeough points out, quiet private diplomacy beats the megaphone variety hands down, but Abbott thinks he knows best. Maybe he is turning on his tough man act for his domestic audience – one can hear the ‘good on ya Tony’ echoing from the front bar. His Operation ‘Bring Them Home’ may evoke a responsive chord in some of his followers; maybe that’s all he’s seeking. The more sceptical will see yet another three word slogan. The bravado Abbott exhibited when he launched Operation Bring Them Home has turned out to be misplaced because it failed to assess how very difficult that operation would be. Because he is prone to exaggerate how potent Australia is in difficult situations such as this, he evokes false hope. We saw that first with MH 370, still undiscovered, now with MH 17, a long way from finalization. As we watch Abbott in power, what is emerging is a picture of a man successful in opposition applying the same techniques to governing – a simplistic view of the world (goodies and baddies, here and abroad), a red-blooded, loud-mouthed, tough guy approach to any difficulty he faces, and blind faith in the power of slogans to win over the masses. These attributes limit his reach, his influence, and most of all, his credibility. Con men can get away with their confidence tricks so long as their subjects remain gullible. Abbott now faces the reality that the people are becoming wary, suspicious, untrusting, even rebellious. The Hockey budget has heightened their apprehension and distrust. The MH 17 episode may have temporarily assuaged the people, but as time and events unfold, even this will be seen by many to be inept and hollow. It’s not possible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

DMW

9/08/2014Ken I really have to wonder who has the unenviable task of advising the ministers in these matters. Abbott has a tendency to pick up the megaphone with much of his communications so the advisors would have been stuck between that big rock and the accompanying hard place. Another aspect that is puzzling to me is with Abbott being the bully par excellence one would think he had some small understanding of how to deal with bullies, instead, he dealt with Putin with what appears to be very little understanding or nuance. I have, in the past, tended towards choosing (accidental) stuff up over conspiracy and now I don't know quite what to believe as it appears ours 'leaders' are involved in some form of a conspiracy of stuff ups.

DMW

9/08/2014Hi Ad, I have difficulty believing that any of our pollies would willingly and knowingly deliberately land us in the poo out there in the big wide world, yet, somehow, this appears to be happening. The division of the world into 'goodies and baddies' seems to have more in common some form of late fifties, early sixties, world of cowboys and indians on black and white television than a world full of colour and nuance that sometimes appears on our television and/or computor screens now. Given that a lot of Abbott's world view has been informed and highly influenced by the late Bob Santamaria I guess we can't expect very much different to his very clunky modus operandi on matters international. There is good reason to celebrate the fifties as there were some wonderful people born in that decade but to believe, as Abbott appears to do, that the world hasn't changed since then is not only delusional it is downright dangerous. Mr Abbott often shows signs of delusion, we can only hope that he doesn't actually turn out to be dangerous.

Ken

9/08/2014DMW Yes, difficult for advisers, especially tyhe public servants, when you have a PM who seems to think he understands best. I think the difficulty is deciding which is our main priority. Abbott sprukes that it is about bringing the victims home but his actions are about attacking Putin - which could also be a strategic decision to ingratiate us with our allies. But as we have discussed, the latter does not necessarily achieve the former. That is always interesting to watch with any politician, but especially now with Abbott - guessing what their words are really about because they rarely mean what they actually say.

DMW

9/08/2014[i]... they rarely mean what they actually say.[/i] Umm, dare I suggest with this bloke [i][b]never [/b] mean what they actually say.[/i] ... and for enlightenment from reCaptcha bingo [i]description areseal[/i]

Robert Henry

9/08/2014Thanks Ken Beautifully written and the quote from the impressive Galarrwuy Yunupingu was the most informative way to end this so special piece. Because they come from such a different culture, in no way means they are inferior, they just look at things in a different way. Beautiful people, sadly neglected, by all facets of Government. Let's hope Jenny Macklin can make a significant difference, in consultation with the people, for the benefit of all Australians.

DMW

9/08/2014... and just when I said above: [i]I have difficulty believing that any of our pollies would willingly and knowingly deliberately land us in the poo out there in the big wide world, yet, somehow, this appears to be happening.[/i] I am alerted this tweet: @cpyne [b]Christopher PyneVerified account[/b] ‏[i]Let's hope the USA gives ISIS one helluva belting for everyone's sake #auspol[/i] 1:15 PM - 9 Aug 2014 What can I say? *shakes head and begins search for bomb shelter*

Ken

9/08/2014Robert Henry Thank you for your kind words and I am glad you enjoyed the piece. Also I do not recall you commenting before, at least not in recent times, so also a warm welcome. Yes, Galarrwuy captured what needed to be said and, of course, it was best for an Aboriginal person to say it.

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10/08/2014Robert Henry Welcome to [i]The Political Sword[/i] family, and thank you for your comment. Do come again.

Michael

10/08/2014This piece by Lenore Taylor at The Guardian is scarily illuminating. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/08/everyone-has-a-piece-of-advice-for-tony-abbott-some-of-it-could-even-help Especially about Abbott's cabinet room aggressive reaction to a "junior minister" referring to the government's perceived broken promises. Equally illuminating the many comments made by the article's readers.

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10/08/2014Folks The Abbott government must be in trouble. On [i]Insiders[/i] this morning, Gerard Henderson used most of his comments to defend Abbott, Brandis, Abetz, Hockey and the Abbott Government generally. In his archetypical whining way, he filled his habitual role as a sycophantic apologist for the Coalition, and today for the senior members who had made such bloopers, some humorous, some serious, during the week. The pinnacle of his whining was when he asserted that everyone was against the Abbott government: Labor, the Greens, PUP, and a gaggle of cross benchers, all trying to obstruct the government's agenda, the government's mandate. He even went to say that by comparison Julia Gillard had it easy - because she had the Independents on side in the House and the Greens in the Senate! He asserted that this was why she ran the most successful government in history, getting around 600 pieces of legislation through (an amazing concession from Henderson). According to poor old Gerard, she succeeded only because of this support. Presumably having a hung parliament and a minority government to manage, and having to negotiate every piece of legislation through against a most hostile and vicious opposition, had little to do with her success! It was classic illustration of the [b]halo effect[/b], so well described in Daniel Kahneman's [i]Thinking, Fast and Slow[/i]. Because Henderson agrees with the Coalition’s ideology, likes Tony Abbott who is a personal friend, and believes he has a mandate to do what he wants, everything he does is fine, or at least rationally explicable, and the gross mistakes his ministers have made this week are understandable, have been exaggerated or over-played, and should not be held against them. Nor should they be the subject of ridicule or frivolous and ribald humour. Few and far between were his concessions that maybe they might have conducted themselves differently, or used different words, or consulted more widely, This morning Henderson demonstrated how powerful the halo effect is, how it distorts rational thinking and discourse, and how it destroys one’s reputation as an authoritative and reliable political commentator. Who believes him now? Who can in the future?

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10/08/2014MIchael Thanks for the Lenore Taylor link. It is indeed frightening to have a PM with such a tin ear, especially since he is no genius at an array of political areas, notably international relations, economics and negotiation.

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10/08/2014Michael You are right – the comments following Lenore’s article in [i]The Guardian[/i] are revealing. I thought this one summed them up well: “[i]Abbott’s main problem is that as he attempts to milk whatever tragedy is in the headlines his nutty front bench won’t give him clear air. Whether it be Brandis or Hunt, Abetz or smokin Joe and the Belgian waffle. It’s wall to wall idiots. There is a distinct smell of desperation in the Govt. and I suspect they are aware that one term may be their lot.
 Abbott is as good as finished and the moderate Libs will now feel empowered to begin transitioning to a new leadership.”[/i] Isn’t it an extraordinary reversal that the very criticisms the Coalition endlessly heaped on the Rudd and Gillard governments of chaos and incompetence, are the very ones now being showered on the Coalition, and rightly so.

Ken

10/08/2014Michael, Ad The article also reveals Abbott's narcissism. Who else but a narcissist could insist that he hasn't broken a single promise. It also goes back to his comments during the education funding fiasco when he insisted the electorate hadn't listened to what was actually said or had misunderstood. A narcissist always blames someone else for their mistakes, [i]ipso facto[/i], they have not made one, or in Abbott's case has not broken a single promise. He has kept his narcissistic word and it only others who have misinterpreted those words. I think I feel another article coming on.

Curi-Oz

10/08/2014If Mr Abbott had not joined the sanctions against Russia, Australian farmers would not now be facing the dumping of European Union produce into our markets. If he had kept his mouth shut, we may have had EU products dumped here still, but our farmers might have had a chance to pick up some extra markets in Russia to offset the loss of local or other overseas markets to the EU. Sanctions, the way they are currently being played, are only going to destroy yet more Australian producers (and how many are LNP supporters?). But that's okay, because they are obviously 'leaners' if they can't cope with the challenge of finding new markets when their old ones are compromised by events outside their control.

TalkTurkey

10/08/2014•http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJHJAkhacGU • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJHJAkhacGU Hi Comrades Haven't read comments for a coupla days, I will catch up later because I know Ad has added and added and added again, Man Oh Man, That MAN! Fact is I been a bit diverted by writing the scintillating parody below! :) Its inspiration came thusfully: I was talking to Lynnie la Tweet on the telling~bone a couple of days ago and I happened to say "All you hear on TV is [i]AbbottAbbottAbbottAbbott AbbottAbbottAbbott[/i]" and if you say that fast it sounds just like that awful old song with Debbie Reynolds as the Chimp and some flunky as her Monkey. Here's the original lyrics: Way down in the Congoland Lived a happy chimpanzee She loved a monkey with a long tail (Lordy, how she loved him) Each night he would find her there Swinging in the coconut tree And the monkey gay at the break of day Loved to hear his chimpie say [i]"Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab" [/i]Said the chimpie to the monk [i]"Baba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab" [/i]Said the monkey to the chimp All night long they'd chatter away All day long they were happy and gay Swinging and singing in their hunky tonky way "Aba, daba, daba, daba, daba, daba, dab" Means 'Monk, I love but you' 'Baba, daba, dab' in monkey talk Means 'Chimp, I love you, too' Then the big baboon one night in June He married them and very soon They went upon their aba daba honeymoon ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Way down in LaLa Land Lives an Amazon Chimpanzee She guards a Monkey With a pea brain (Lordy how she guards him) Each night she tucks him up tight Wipes his widdle bum each day And the Monkey dumb Thinks that she's his Mum But all he has learnt to say is [i]AbbottAbbottAbbottAbbott AbbottAbbottAbbott[/i] Says the Monkey to the Chimp [i]AbbottAbbottAbbottAbbott AbbottAbbottAbbott [/i]He's a stupid little wimp All night long she lets nobody pass All day long she covers his arse Pissing in his earpiece As she tells him what to do: [i]AbbottAbbottAbbottAbbott AbbottAbbottAbbott [/i]Means Monk It's time to POO! [i]Abbott!Abbott!Abbott![/i] in Monkey Talk Means [i]I DON'T MEAN NUMBER TWO! [/i]Then the News Tycoon With his loony tunes Elected him, and all too soon We found ourselves misgoverned by a gang of goons! BUT [b][i]Abbott AbbottAbbottAbbott AbbottAbbottAbbott[/i] We're coming after you! [i]AbbottAbbottAbbott[/i] Take a Monkey Walk Take all your Apemen too! Take your hoons and goons and news tycoons We'll POO on your crew very soon And Screw You and your [i]AbbottAbbottAbbott[/i] Screw You and your[i] AbbottAbbottAbbott [/i] Screw You and your [i]AbbottAbbott[/i] Honeymoooon! [/b]

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10/08/2014Ken You raise the intriguing diagnostic formulation of narcissism as one that might apply to our PM. The Mayo Clinic describes narcissism thus: “[i]Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders. Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include: Believing that you're better than others Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness Exaggerating your achievements or talents Expecting constant praise and admiration Believing that you're special and acting accordingly Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans Taking advantage of others Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior Being jealous of others Believing that others are jealous of you Trouble keeping healthy relationships Setting unrealistic goals Being easily hurt and rejected Having a fragile self-esteem Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional."[/i] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20025568 Tony Abbott exhibits some of these attributes, specifically: Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans Setting unrealistic goals Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional. Perhaps that is why he can say to his Party Room that he has not broken a single promise, when it is so manifestly evident to virtually everyone that he has broken many. He lies repeatedly and apparently without compunction. That is not normal behaviour, and his colleagues know it. Another diagnosis that might apply is one that Jacqui Lambie asserted recently: that our PM is a political sociopath. Rossleigh has written a delightful satirical piece on [i]The AIM Network[/i] ‘refuting’ Lambie’s diagnosis. http://theaimn.com/tony-abbott-sociopath/ Read though what Davia Temin, CEO and President of a company that specializes in crisis management, writes in [i]Forbes[/i]: “[i]…science now is questioning whether there is any difference at all between sociopaths and psychopaths, and that those with narcissistic personality disorder also have some of the same characteristics (an inability to care about anyone but themselves)... Sociopaths lie with impunity, cast blame where it does not belong…[/i] http://www.forbes.com/2010/11/19/sociopath-boss-work-forbes-woman-leadership-office-evil.html Whatever Abbott’s ‘diagnosis’ really is, there are plenty of possibilities for explaining his bizarre behaviour; maybe he has a complex mix of psychopathology. Psychiatrists would find it challenging to nail down a diagnosis. One thing we can be sure about: Abbott is not your average ‘normal’ bloke.

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10/08/2014Curi-Oz I wonder how much longer long farmers, the rural lobby and the Nationals will be able to tolerate Abbott's gung-ho behaviour on the international front, as their markets evaporate or are subject to even greater competition.

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10/08/2014TT You’ve really let your lyrical hair down! What a pleasant reprise of Aba,daba,daba! I must say the movements of the monkey bore a striking resemblance to the gait of our PM.
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?