A failure of the Left


This is a piece about politics but not the politics we normally discuss on TPS. It is a tale of two radical youth: one from the late1960s (me) and one from the 2010s (Jake Bilardi).

You probably know the story of Jake Bilardi, the young Australian who early in March became a suicide bomber for Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. For the media and the politicians, it raised questions about the radicalisation of youth, particularly of Middle Eastern background, and what could be done to counter it: why are ‘our’ youth running off to Syria and Iraq to join IS?

For me it raised a different question: where now is the radical Left?

I have read Jake’s alleged blog. My own reading of it is that much of it is probably his own work but there are parts which I think may have been ‘massaged’ by IS.

He appears a very intelligent young man. He writes that he was a 13 year old atheist in a working-class area of Melbourne when his interest in international politics was first aroused by his elder brother. He had hopes of becoming a political journalist, particularly in foreign trouble spots, and so did his own research into the world’s conflicts seeking to understand the reasons behind them. On Afghanistan, he wrote:
I saw the Taliban as simply a group of proud men seeking to protect their land from an invading force, while I did not necessarily agree with their ideology, their actions were in my opinion completely justified.
He also studied the violence of the street gangs in El Salvador, Brazil, Mexico and Los Angeles, and saw them in political terms:
The elite prefer to portray them as simply groups of young men looking to make some quick cash and who love killing and mayhem but when asked what the real reasons for the establishment of their gangs are, the founders of the these criminal organisations as well as their members always seemed to agree that they had the right to steal, rape and murder because the government and police force were doing the exact same to them in their communities. … They are predominantly from poor communities unfairly targeted by law enforcement and government policies and they are denied the opportunity to integrate into the system and build a regular life, so turning to a gang becomes their most viable option.
His research led him to question America’s role in many of the conflicts, including its attempts to introduce democracy into the Middle East, and it raised questions about democracy itself:
The reality of democracy became clear to me, place in people’s mind the idea of freedom and convince them that they are a free people while oppressing them behind the scenes.

On top of this the Western world throws celebrities and false reality into the spotlight to distract people from what is really going on in the world, hence the widespread political ignorance among Westerners.

This was the turning point in my ideological development as it signalled my complete hatred and opposition to the entire system Australia and the majority of the world was based upon.

It was also the moment I realised that violent global revolution was necessary to eliminate this system of governance …
When I read his words, I thought of my own years between 17 and 22 when many of my political views were formed and how close they were to Jake’s. And I was not alone. On March 13 ‘Kat’ commented on-line:
What is scary is how similar I was in my world view with him up until the point where he makes the transition from recognising the damage the west has caused to him thinking that blowing himself up to kill others would be a good idea. … I remember at that age exploring other religions as well. However, I came to the conclusion that there is no god. But what he has written I can completely relate to as far as a journey into realising what the world is really like at a young age.
Although I came to my own politicisation a few years later than Jake (perhaps a sign of the times), I can well imagine writing very similar words myself, expressing disillusionment with the mainstream system. I didn’t write such words but I certainly engaged in conversations about revolution. I supported liberation movements, as they were known then, and found myself supporting (at least in thought and speech) foreign fighters like the IRA, the ANC in South Africa, ETA in the Basque country, the Black Panthers in America, and the PLO. And I shared a similar disdain for America. Such radicalisation is a fairly normal process for at least a proportion of politicised youth. If you understand the system at a young age, understand its faults, and you have not yet been captured by the system, you have the youthful enthusiasm to want to do something about it.

I didn’t rush to join those overseas fights, not just because I may have had a sense of self-preservation, but because the Left then believed that those people deserved to fight their own fight, their own way, without foreign fighters interfering or, at worst, trying to tell them what to do. We saw those movements as liberation movements and that, almost by definition, required the people involved to achieve their own liberation — just as supportive males were not part of the ‘women’s liberation’ movement, nor supportive whites welcomed into the Black Panthers.

There was some talk of violence in my radical days. People knew how to make Molotov cocktails but saw no real need to use them in Australia. And their use could be counter-productive. One aspect of a genuine revolution is the need to win popular support. In the context of Australian politics, we weren’t leading a revolution but we were hoping to change popular perception of the system and seeking popular support to change the shape of Australian society. The radical youth and university students (who in those days often formed the majority of ‘radical youth’) may have led the way and brought issues into the public arena but, alone, we could be dismissed by government — but not if that wider community support was gained, as in the anti-Vietnam war movement.

While I can see similarities in Jake’s approach and my own, he turned to radical Islam and Islamic State: why?

His family background is not clear although one report suggests his family is of Italian background. He grew up in Melbourne and his mother died in 2012, which some suggest had an influence on his conversion to Islam.

And yes, it is Islam that is providing most of the revolutionary movements these days but in my terms many of them are Right-wing revolutions. I say that because, while I can accept Jake’s argument that freedom in the West is limited and a bit of a con, I cannot see how a strict system of Sharia law offers greater freedom nor that a system effectively allowing for male domination over women is a better system. If a revolution does not enhance freedom then it is not a true revolution, at least from a Left perspective: it is a Right-wing reactionary movement that will curtail freedom.

Jake did not use his best critical facilities to question the group he was looking to join. I had also come from a working-class background but I saw that many of the more radical leaders in my time came from upper-middle class families. To my mind, while they may also oppose the system I opposed, they did not oppose it in the same way because they did not really understand what mattered to the working class and, for that reason, I could also question their motives.

Jake does not appear to question whether IS was gaining popular support which, as I said from the earlier Left perspective, is considered essential for a successful revolution. IS does appear to have limited support from some Sunni groups, and in his blog Jake claims that it is ‘providing services to the people’, but IS, and similar Islamic groups like Boko Haram, also undertake mass killings of non-Sunni groups. In this context, the religious underpinning of IS is important.

In the West, our freedom and the ‘relativism’ of the post-modernist era have created ‘uncertainty’. Young people need role models to help determine what personal boundaries and values they will adopt: they go through a stage of looking for some ‘certainty’ in the values that will take them through life. Our society does not offer any one system of ‘certainty’ but says that we are free to determine our own values — within a few legal limitations. I recall that the famous poet T S Eliot became a Roman Catholic in his later years and the reason was the ‘certainty’ it offered in relation to worship and faith, whereas the Protestant religions said that each individual could find their own path to god.

If even a renowned poet can succumb in the quest for ‘certainty’, how much more so young people still searching for their adult identity? Apart from anything else, IS offers a ‘certainty’ of politics and backs it with a certainty of faith.

Jake wrote that he did research a number of religions, as he saw them as the key to many of the conflicts taking place in the world:
I found myself deeply confused by all of these outlandish and odd religious systems, that myself as an Atheist had never been exposed to. However, it was Islam that for me stood out as easy to understand and shockingly consistent with established historical and scientific facts ... Slowly but surely I began being drawn towards the religion and it was no longer a political interest for me but the truth I had been circling around for years … [emphasis added]
I, like Kat and Jake, also went through a period in my young life when I studied many religions. I still have in my library Buddhist scriptures, the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita, the works of Lao-tzu regarding Tao-ism (my personal favourite) and the Koran, not to mention the Book of Mormon and a Bible. But I also have many revolutionary works including Che Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare, Bobby Seale’s Seize the Time and Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.

One difference is that the Left focus in my time was essentially economic, against the capitalist system, and opposed to governments and the politics they represented mainly to the extent that they supported capitalism and denied freedom to groups that suffered under the capitalist system. These new radical youth seem much more focused on the politics (if Jake is any guide). Radical Islam may be attractive because it is offering a different political system (or more correctly a politico-religious system): it doesn’t seem to discuss economics to any degree and the social aspects are set by Islamic teachings. With the demise of socialist governments (and even China now using a form of guided capitalism), the Left no longer really offers either political or economic alternatives, only variations to the existing system, a socio-economic alternative. That may also be a sign of the times. I could still see things around me in terms of the class structure, or, in Australia, the economic structure that created class. Jake appears to have been viewing things through the prism of political systems and appears to have failed to examine fully the social and economic consequences of his choice.

If I am right in suggesting that the current radicalisation is based largely on politics, not socio-economics, then the government, for all the noise it is making, will not be able to change this because it is the system the government represents that is the very thing the youth are reacting against. Changing social and economic circumstances may help but will not be enough.

I had available other ways of expressing dissent. I took part in protests, including the Vietnam Moratorium marches. I took part in sit-ins. I could express my disdain of the system and feel self-justified when police carried me roughly away from demonstrations and sit-ins. I could discuss my views with like-minded people before and after demonstrations; we could share tales of abuse by the police; the way police did not wear their numbers when they planned to ‘get rough’ with the demonstrators; of government seeking to stir a violent reaction from us for political purposes; and we could identify the then Special Branch officers who watched and photographed us. We could discuss how the system needed to change and we had an alternative socio-economic view of a future Australia. There was an outlet that didn’t have to result in violence — at least not here in Australia.

Where are the Left movements (if not revolutions) that such young people can join now? Where are the Left organisations that provide an opportunity to protest against the current system? Why don’t we have movements that can draw these young people to protest and express dissent against the political and socio-economic system here in Australia?

We have had many demonstrations against the Abbott government and its policies but it seems that, for many, they knew what they were demonstrating ‘against’ but not necessarily what they were demonstrating ‘for’. That raises the question: where now is the philosophic basis of protest? Some might argue that the Greens offer the best Left approach at the moment but they are now a mainstream political party, embedded within the political system which youth like Jake are rejecting.

So, these young people need not only a protest march or sit-in but an alternative narrative outside the mainstream political system — which is exactly what radical Islam and IS is offering them.

The problem is not just that IS is waging a successful propaganda war on social media but that the Left in Australia is failing to provide an adequate radical alternative for disaffected youth.

What do you think?
With a piece like this, is Ken still an ‘unreconstructed Leftie’ or does he have a point? Has the Left been so marginalised in our politics and replaced by a liberal Left or progressive approach, that groups like Islamic State are filling the void and attracting some politicised youth who see it as an avenue to express their radicalism? Could that radicalism be expressed more constructively if a radical Left still existed as a significant movement in Australia?

Come back next week for 2353's 'Where will we be in 50 years' which asks whether, in Australia, there is a connection between immigration and economic conditions.



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4/07/2015Ken What a thoughtful, well researched and challenging piece you have written for us to contemplate. The social and political conditions here and around the world continue to evoke anger among those who have a strong sense of social justice. There seems so much unfairness, so much injustice, so much inequality between nations, communities and individuals. Much of this is the product of economic systems, social systems, and of course, religious systems. One has only to read the offerings of the Fifth Estate, and the comments that accompany them, to sense the anger, frustration, and feelings of helplessness that people have. Trapped as they are in situations not of their own making, they lash out at those who have entrapped them. One has only to read the comments on this blog to feel the emotions that our own system of politics evoke. The Abbott government has ridden roughshod over much of the community through its words and actions. Repeated lies, multiple broken promises, policy that advantages the wealthy and penalises the poor, that widens the inequality gap, that takes funding from education and health, all heighten the anger of the socially conscious. Yet we have no official remedy but the ballot box. So between elections it is not surprising that there are protests, street marches, and strident comments through social media that focus on the injustices that the people perceive. Our languid media seem capable only of reporting such events rather than highlighting the very reasons that people are angry. They are reactive, scarcely ever proactive. Their editorial content reflects the views of their proprietors more than it reflects the views of the people. It is left to opinion polls to tell us what the people really think and want. When they do, politicians beat a hasty retreat when it is clear that the public is angry and upset, as was the case after the widely-perceived unfairness of the first Hockey budget. Against the background of punitive politics and the unrelenting adversarial discourse that bedevils us day after day, socially attuned thinkers ask why we have to put up with this situation? Is there no better way, they ask. They look around for systems where there is social justice, where the rich and powerful do not oppress the poor and helpless. They see what we have in this 'fair go' country as becoming increasingly unfair, unjust, even oppressive. They look for an alternative, but do not see one that suits. For the socially conscious, for progressive thinkers, Labor is but a pale imitation of what they want and need. [b]This to me is the 'failure of the Left'[/b]. What Labor supporters want is a strong progressive voice that articulates fairness, egalitarianism and opportunity in an economically strong society that takes its global responsibilities seriously. The Left, as represented by contemporary Labor, fails to do this. This is why some Labor supporters say they will no longer vote Labor, and take refuge with the Greens. Labor's obsession with where the votes are in the electorate results in it being dragged, albeit unwillingly, into LNP led debates about contentious matters such as asylum-seeker policy, but in the process it loses its humanitarian soul, leading its supporters to ask: "What do you really stand for?" Near the end of your piece Ken, you write: [i]"Where are the Left movements (if not revolutions) that such young people can join now? Where are the Left organisations that provide an opportunity to protest against the current system? Why don’t we have movements that can draw these young people to protest and express dissent against the political and socio-economic system here in Australia? We have had many demonstrations against the Abbott government and its policies but it seems that, for many, they knew what they were demonstrating ‘against’ but not necessarily what they were demonstrating ‘for’. That raises the question: where now is the philosophic basis of protest? Where are the Left movements (if not revolutions) that such young people can join now? Where are the Left organisations that provide an opportunity to protest against the current system? Why don’t we have movements that can draw these young people to protest and express dissent against the political and socio-economic system here in Australia?[/i]" [i]GetUp[/i] is trying to provide a forum for protest and has had some success. For me though it is the Labor Left that must be that forum. Bill Shorten needs to be more forthright, more articulate in expressing what progressives want, less obsessed with Abbott's manipulation of the political agenda to which Shorten too often lamely succumbs, ever fearful as he is of being wedged by this unscrupulous politician. Even if some of the positions he ought to adopt might not be popular with some sections of the electorate, he needs to express them with conviction. The public will recognise conviction even if they disagree with the position taken. What this country needs is courageous leadership, such as Malcolm Fraser gave over Vietnamese refugees. The people will follow a gutsy leader; they will despise the gutless. Shorten needs to articulate a strong clear vision for Australia, and thereby establish credibility and build trust. So rather than revolutions, rather than metaphorically 'taking up arms' in protest, I believe what is needed here is Churchillian leadership: strong, resolute, articulate, socially responsible and humanitarian national leadership. The sad state of affairs in this our wonderful nation is that there is none. This is why some think revolution. Thank you for making us think seriously.

Casablanca

5/07/2015Smart larks make a dawn start David Wilson. July 3, 2015 What time do you get up in the morning? An early start has long been seen as a virtuous choice, but it might also be a worthwhile one when it comes to your earning potential. Ample counter-evidence exists, however.....10 hours into their day, the night owls shone, quicker and more alert at the task. Despite being awake for the same length of time, the larks felt sleepier. Scans showed that the bits of their brains linked to attention were less active. It was a clear victory for the owls. "Night owls have been shown to be cleverer than larks, with quicker minds and better memories. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/money/saving/larks-leave-sleepyheads-in-the-dark-20150703-gi165z

TalkTurkey

5/07/2015Barnaby Joyce Has lost his voice In Xfire betw da 2 Tonys OK by me! 4 surely U c I reckon all 3 are just phonies!

Casablanca

6/07/2015A hilarious Monty Python sketch helps explain why Greece is in a huge crisis Max Ehrenfreund. July 5, 2015 - 8:51AM http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/world-business/a-hilarious-monty-python-sketch-helps-explain-why-greece-is-in-a-huge-crisis-20150704-gi5boo.html

Ken

6/07/2015Ad Thank you for your comment. What you suggest is part of the answer but perhaps not the whole answer. Even though Whitlam had been instrumental in destroying the Victorian Left in the ALP he did adopt many Left policies (more than any ALP government since) which had been pursued by demonstrators in the streets. So, in that sense, the need for protests and 'manning the barricades' was reduced. But it is fascinating to read what attracts young Muslims to radical Islam. There was an interview with a Rashid Ali on Lateline on 26 June: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4262944.htm "First, intellectually, that actually I wasn't part of a minority religion that didn't belong, I was part of a global Muslim diaspora that was 1.5 billion people, that actually I had an intellectual belief system, one that rested upon a sound logic, a sound rational belief in God, a sound rational belief in the divine system of Islam. ... Islam is a very narrow, simplistic political ideology. And they put that in contrast to capitalism and socialism. So someone who was growing up who was interested in politics and economics, they kind of expain it well: the alternative to the failed communism of the '80s ... and the failure of market economics ... that actually what they had was a very simple narrative that Islam has a 1,300-year-old civilisational, economic, political alternative that was ended by the Crusaders in 1924 with the destruction of the Ottoman state. So actually what you had is, I guess, capturing those political aspirations, the identity politics, an aspect of religious identity, putting it together in a way that captures young people, that makes them feel confident about their belief, that makes them feel that they belong to a global Muslim population ... that makes them believe that they actually possess solutions to economic, social, political problems ..." In essence, radical Islam is adopting a Left-ish position against the problems of the Western politics and economics and offering a "solution" which also provides a confidence boost to young people who feel they are a "minority group" in the societies in which they live. It is not an easy lure to overcome unless there is s strong Left approach offering alternative solutions. Clearly Abbott's current "Team Australia" approach is only fuelling the sense of young Muslims as outsiders, more likely to fall under the spell of radical Islam. A strong Left approach, addressing social, economic and political problems, that is inclusive of Muslims appears the only option to counter the "attractive" package that radical Islam is offering.

Ken

6/07/2015Casablanca I really enjoyed the "philosophic" explanation of the German approach to economics - something of which I was not previously aware. And fo course I love the Monty Python philosophers' football match - had to watch it twice.

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6/07/2015Ken Thank you for your comment, which underscores the complexity of Islamic thinking. You mention Rashid Ali's view that's young people feel they belong to a global Muslim community that makes them believe that they actually possess solutions to economic, social, political problems... 'Social' and 'political' I can imagine, even though I know little about Islam, but 'economic' intrigues me. Where might I read about their solutions to economic problems? I too enjoyed the Monty Python sketch and the Canberra Times article.

Ken

6/07/2015Ad I don't know. As I said in my piece I don't see that radical Islam discusses economics. I can only think that what Rashid Ali was referring to is the basic problems that arise from our economic system (such as in creasing inequality) rather than economics per se.

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6/07/2015Casablanca Thank you for the Canberra Times link and the accompanying Monty Python sketch, which is such a clever piece of satire. To me, it captures some of the complexities of thinking about economic policy, and the way philosophical positions bear upon economic thought. It, along with the substance of the article, explains why we ought not to be surprised at the events surrounding the 'Greece crisis'. What appears to be chaos, now likely to exacerbated after the strong 'No' vote in Greece at the weekend, seems to defy resolution. One could be excused for concluding that economists who advise governments, banks and monetary funds about the Greece crisis don't know what they are talking about. Why is this so? Are they entrapped by their preferred theory of economics and unable to move outside the Procrustean bed in which that have chosen to lie? Are they, as the article suggests, constrained by a particular historic philosophical position, which manacles them? Or are they one with the creditors, who Shylock-like stubbornly insist on their 'pound of flesh', no matter how much pain that will cause? Is it any wonder nobody seems sure about what to do next? The next week, post referendum, will be fascinating to watch.

Casablanca

7/07/20151. The normalisation of lying in Australian politics John Warhurst. 05 July 2015 The terms 'lie' and 'liar' have become so completely devalued that there are now far worse sins in modern politics. That is why it's hard to get excited about Opposition Leader Bill Shorten choosing to lie on air to Neil Mitchell about his involvement in discussions with Kevin Rudd to unseat Julia Gillard as Prime Minister. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45166#.VZqvkfn4hM4 2. Intimidated ABC embraces self-censorship Fatima Measham | 06 July 2015 Nine days after the Zacky Mallah Q&A episode, the ABC Board said it had censured the program's executive producer. It could have been a failure of the producer's editorial judgment, but there is a worrying sense that it was really a matter of the ABC appeasing the Government. There is a chilling echo of the Philippine media under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The media came to anticipate direct interventions from Malacañang Palace; eventually, none had to be made. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45195#.VZqwMPn4hM4 3. Tony Abbott's Q&A boycott smacks of a petulant 'captain's call' Michael Gordon. July 6, 2015 - 4:41PM Tony Abbott's decision that ministers will not appear on Q&A smacks of a pointless and petulant 'captain's call' that will hurt the government more than it hurts the ABC. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tony-abbotts-qa-boycott-smacks-of-a-petulant-captains-call-20150706-gi5xjn.html 4. ABC in a bind: Tony Abbott's Q&A boycott a masterstroke of media manipulation Michael Lallo. July 6, 2015 - 4:45PM Tony Abbott has put his foot down. No more Q&A 'til I say so! At first glance, it seems our prime minister – in ordering his frontbenchers to boycott the ABC show – had an ill-tempered outburst. In fact, he's cooly punishing a program he views as a long-running headache for his government. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/abc-in-a-bind-tony-abbotts-qa-boycott-a-masterstroke-of-media-manipulation-20150706-gi62je.html 5. Voters in blue-ribbon Liberal seats strongly support ABC, poll finds Matthew Knott . July 6, 2015 - 7:34AM Voters living in electorates held by some of the Abbott government's most prominent ministers support the ABC so strongly they would vote to change the constitution to protect it from political interference, new polling shows. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/voters-in-blueribbon-liberal-seats-strongly-support-abc-20150705-gi5eaq.html 6. Tony Abbott and Zaky Mallah: The story so far Bob Ellis. 5 July 2015 It's now clear Q&A did nothing wrong, and Abbott's demand that "heads should roll" was unjust and he should apologise for it... https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/tony-abbott-and-zaky-mallah-the-story-so-far,7901 7. Abbott & Co. employ Karl Rove tactics over Q&A and Shorten Bob Ellis 4 July, 2015 The level of hypocrisy in the Australian political landscape has sunk to an all time low since Abbott & Co. took to using Karl Rove's faux shock and horror routine, https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/abbott--co-employ-karl-rove-tactics-over-qa-and-shorten,7893 8. The Border Force Act's disquieting parallels Andrew Hamilton | 06 July 2015 On July 1 the Australian Border Force Act 2015 became law. Detention centre staff are now forbidden to speak about human rights abuses, with a two year jail penalty applying. It is perhaps appropriate to recall the secrecy of the security apparatus of Stalinist Russia, Apartheid South Africa, and Chile and Argentina under the Generals, where victims were denigrated and information prevented from leaking out. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45107#.VZqwbfn4hM4 9. The notional debt. Chris Wallace, 12th June 2015 Where does the idea of an Australian debt crisis come from, and what does it mean? http://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/chris-wallace/2015/12/2015/1434063062/notional-debt 10. Fasten your seatbelts Satyajit Das 6th July 2015 Divergent central bank policies and unstable money markets mean a bumpy ride ahead http://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/satyajit-das/2015/06/2015/1436161948/fasten-your-seatbelts 11. Australia’s Chief Scientist on getting our research priorities right Ian Chubb, July 6, 2015 https://theconversation.com/australias-chief-scientist-on-getting-our-research-priorities-right-43833 12. The future of manufacturing in Australia is smart, agile and green Alan Finkel, Cathy Foley, and Veena Sahajwalla, July 6, 2015 6.16am AEST Australia has a bright future in advanced manufacturing, but it will be a turbulent transition that we need to manage carefully. https://theconversation.com/the-future-of-manufacturing-in-australia-is-smart-agile-and-green-43645 13. The Australia Tree Victoria Rollison, July 6, 2015 A metaphor occurred to me today about the Abbott government and I felt it was good enough to share. There’s nothing like a good metaphor to clarify how you feel about something; in this case to remind us how destructive and dangerous the Abbott government is for our country. Imagine that… http://theaimn.com/the-australia-tree/ 14. You don't stand for me Kaye Lee. July 6, 2015 When Tony Abbot gave his address to the 58th Liberal Federal Council in June he said 'From ‘Menzies’ forgotten people’, to the ‘Howard battlers’ and ‘Tony’s tradies’ – we have always been the party that ‘turned on the lights’; that stood ‘for all of us’; and that seeks ‘hope, reward and opportunity’ for everyone. Today, I can report to you that our plan is working.' I wonder if the 745,200 unemployed people or the 8.5% of the population who are underemployed or the more than 2.5 million Australians who are living below the poverty line agree. http://theaimn.com/you-dont-stand-for-me/ 15. Value for money? Kaye Lee, July 5, 2015 When it was revealed that, on top of his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance, Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson had claimed $77,763 for expenses in his first year, his response was “You’d rather I sit in my office all day?” http://theaimn.com/value-for-money/ 16. 'Memo to Eric: we've already got children': Penny Wong's blunt message on gay marriage Lisa Cox, James Massola. July 6, 2015 - 11:59AM She's the South Australian senator who keeps her private life private. But as debate about same-sex marriage in Australia heats up, senator Penny Wong delivered a blunt message for the government's Senate leader Eric Abetz: "Memo to Eric: we've already got children, all you are doing is saying the parents can't be married." http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/memo-to-eric-weve-already-got-children-penny-wongs-blunt-message-on-gay-marriage-20150706-gi5v2t.html 17. Abbott Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place on… John Lord, • July 5, 2015 One of the more illuminating aspects of Abbott’s predictable reaction to the co party sponsored legislation on same-sex marriage is that it highlights just how conservative the Coalition has become. And it’s not only on this issue. They have adopted many of the base instincts of American Republicanism and its nutty offshoot, The Tea Party. They are now so far to the right that they are in danger, if they go any further, of falling of the flat earth they believe in. To illustrate just how out of touch they are with public opinion on the issue consider this: 82 (three quarters) of Government members oppose marriage equality, 18 are for it and 23 are undecided. http://theaimn.com/abbott-caught-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place-on-marriage-equality/ 18. We should call arguments against marriage equality what they really are - hatred Michael Koziol. July 6, 2015 - 6:18PM ....people opposed to same-sex marriage must find some other, more palatable explanation for their prejudices. And so we must endure the increasingly ludicrous reasons why Australia can't embrace gay marriage, such as our newfound regard for the sensitivities of our northern neighbours. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/we-should-call-arguments-against-marriage-equality-what-they-really-are--hatred-20150706-gi5ybd.html 19. Liberal right is all bark, no bite on same-sex marriage Paula Matthewson. 6 July, 2015 It's time for Tony Abbott to recognise the hollowness of the Liberal right's threats and to call their bluff on marriage equality http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-06/matthewson-liberal-right-is-all-bark-no-bite/6596846 20. Barnaby Joyce's 'decadence' dog whistle over same-sex marriage is pure desperation Richard Ackland. 6 July 2015 The proponents of marriage equality should be sending bouquets to Barnaby Joyce and Eric Abetz, for their timely intervention in the discussion on proposed amendments to the Marriage Act. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/06/barnaby-joyces-decadence-dog-whistle-over-same-sex-marriage-is-pure-desperation 21. Carbon tax repeal sparks jump in Australia's electricity emissions Australian Associated Press. 5 July 2015 A 4.3% rise in electricity emissions counters Australia’s credibility in the lead-up to the Paris climate talks, the Climate Council says http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/05/carbon-tax-repeal-sparks-jump-in-australias-electricity-emissions?CMP=ema_632

Casablanca

8/07/20151. Redeploy your lanyards, Defence public servants urged Noel Towell. July 5, 2015 Professionals Australia official Dave Smith said he launched his protest because focusing on lanyards and acronyms sent the wrong message to workers in a department facing big challenges. "Defence has real challenges and the main one is its people," Mr Smith said. "Not the superficial ones such as the move to one lanyard or to change all the Defence organisational acronyms...."Employees deciding to redeploy their lanyard have the opportunity to send the minister and secretary a message that they want them to focus on the real issues not the trite ones," http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/redeploy-your-lanyards-defence-public-servants-urged-20150705-gi4g3d.html 2. Death by slogan: how Tony Abbott can resuscitate his wayward prime ministership Paddy Gourley. July 6, 2015 - 11:45PM The PM said he could do better than Rudd and Gillard. He hasn't....Still the systemic malaise persists. While there are many responsible for it, including an over-tolerant citizenry, governments can take a lot of the blame, often aided and abetted by "the media" – perhaps most notably the Murdoch press, which has tried vainly to make a virtue of playing favourites and bullying those it dislikes. The New Yorker's editor, David Remnick, said recently it's one thing for politicians to be stupid but quite another to assume that electors are. In subordinating much of policy, process and public institutions to politics, Abbott and his ministers are treating electors as mugs who can be brought to their side – the side of Team Australia – by sloganeering pitched at the lowest common denominator of public sentiment. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/death-by-slogan-how-tony-abbott-can-resuscitate-his-wayward-prime-ministership-20150706-gi3lol 3. Wrestling with Sir Ken Dean Ashenden. 24 June 2015 Ken Robinson is perhaps the most celebrated of schooling’s growing band of global gurus, presenter of the most-watched talk in the history of TED, commander of seven-figure speaking fees, profiled in Vanity Fair, and knight of the British realm. He is a prominent advocate of a “revolution” to “transform” schooling. http://insidestory.org.au/wrestling-with-sir-ken 4. The privatisation of political life James Panichi 1 July 2015 When politicians start invading their own privacy, it’s not surprising that the media follow their lead... But what soon [becomes] clear is that once your private affairs are in the media, it’s hard to get them out again.... Which raises the question: when journalists agree to ignore newsworthy events in the name of a higher principle, who audits those decisions? What principle is higher than telling the public that it is paying for a leader’s complicated family arrangements?...If Tony Abbott offers up his wife and daughters for interview, it’s because he wants to short-circuit the media narrative which says he has a problem with women. http://insidestory.cmail2.com/t/r-l-akjzuk-iktjluhjhu-p/ 5. It might say free trade on the label, but what’s in the tin? Tom Westland. 1 July 2015 Big numbers have a tendency to take on a life of their own http://insidestory.org.au/it-might-say-free-trade-on-the-label-but-whats-in-the-tin 6. Labor urges intellectual property review before TPP deal Ben Potter and John Kerin. Jul 7 2015 In a harder line on trade deals, Labor is calling on the Abbott government to have intellectual property rights reviewed urgently by the Productivity Commission before it signs the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership...Trade Minister Andrew Robb has dismissed Labor calls for a review of intellectual property rights before the government signs up to the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership accusing the Opposition of "playing politics" with Australia's economic prosperity. http://www.afr.com/news/economy/trade/tpp-labor-urges--intellectual-property-review-20150707-gi68vp 7. Intellectual property rights set for new review Ben Potter Jul 4, 2015 The Abbott government is preparing to submit intellectual property holders and users' rights to a review by the Productivity Commission, just as the vexed issue takes centre stage in negotiations for a US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. http://www.afr.com/technology/intellectual-property-rights-set-for-new-review-20150705-gi4ra1 8. Forget the TPP, does a secret global court spell the end of democracy? (Video 5.57m) The Undercurrent. 2 July 2015 With a series of murky international trade agreements like the TPP being negotiated, will a secret court give corporations the power to erode the rights of nation states? http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2015/jul/02/the-undercurrent-tpp-icsid-tisa-ttip-video 9. The Liberal Party’s faction problem Norman Abjorensen. 6 July 2015 One of the enduring myths of Australian politics is that only the Labor Party has factions, and the unhealthy tribalism that often goes with them. Wrong: the Liberal Party is just as factional, albeit in a looser sense, and just as tribal, if not more so... The NSW branch exerts a powerful hold over the Abbott government. Speaker Bronwyn Bishop, a former NSW Liberal branch president, is as tribal as they come and scarcely bothers to conceal her disdain for those on the other side of the chamber, whom she regularly ejects. As one Labor MP said to me, “This is not political. It is visceral. She hates us and everything we stand for.” http://insidestory.org.au/the-liberal-partys-faction-problem 10. Malcolm Turnbull: we must not amplify threat of Isis Katharine Murphy, 7 July 2015 Communications minister’s Sydney Institute address contrasts with Tony Abbott’s recent comments that Isis is ‘coming for us’ Malcolm Turnbull said: ‘We should be careful not to say or do things which can be seen to add credibility to those delusions.’ http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/07/malcolm-turnbull-we-must-not-amplify-threat-of-isis 11. Tony Abbott's promise not to solve our superannuation tax problem Richard Denniss, 7 July 2015 Our Prime Minister has painted himself into an increasingly impossible fiscal situation by promising to never solve the fastest growing problem in his budget http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-07/denniss-abbotts-promise-not-to-solve-our-super-tax-problem/6601112 12. Politics podcast: Tim Soutphommasane on ‘Team Australia’ and racism (Video 22.32m) Michelle Grattan, 7 July 2015 Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane talks about Dawn Fraser's comments, "Team Australia", the government's approach to terrorism and asylum seekers, racism in Australia and more. https://theconversation.com/politics-podcast-tim-soutphommasane-on-team-australia-and-racism-44365

Ken

8/07/2015Casablance Thank you. I particularly liked the articles from "Inside Story". But Turnbull's comments are also very interesting. Clearly distinguishing himself from Abbott. Is he positioning for another go at the leadership. It will be interesting to watch. The next episode will be whether or not he fulfils his commitment to appear on Q&A. Perhaps there is already some checking of numbers going on in the background.

Ken

8/07/2015Here's one worth a read as a follow up to my earlier piece "The unhappy marriage of democracy and capitalism". George Monbiot - always worth a read. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/07/greece-financial-elite-democracy-liassez-faire-neoliberalism

Casablanca

8/07/201513. Malcolm Turnbull seethes with style, nicking Abbott's artery. By mistake, of course Tony Wright. July 8, 2015 - 1:49PM Malcolm Turnbull does a seethe with some panache. Ever so politely, his barrister's voice purring, he finds a jugular and gives it a bit of a nick. Oops....Oh, dear. Delusions. He was referring to the delusions of Islamic State, of course, or Daesh, which has become the preferred non-state term. Not Mr Abbott's delusions; good gracious no. This is the sort of construction known in legal circles as plausible deniability. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/malcolm-turnbull-seethes-with-style-nicking-abbotts-artery-by-mistake-of-course-20150708-gi7m4f.html 14. Don’t overestimate Islamic State threat: Turnbull Michelle Grattan, July 7, 2015 Malcolm Turnbull has warned against overestimating the Islamic State threat and amplifying IS’s significance, in a speech contrasting sharply with Tony Abbott’s declarations. https://theconversation.com/dont-overestimate-islamic-state-threat-turnbull-44385 15. The 'height of arrogance': When Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey opposed boycotts Matthew Knott. July 8, 2015 - 12:13PM Before there was the Q&A boycott there was the Alan Jones boycott. It was 2012 and the talkback king was under fire for telling the Sydney University Liberal Club that Julia Gillard's father had "died of shame". Spooked by the social media fury, advertisers fled from the program. Labor MPs refused to be interviewed by Jones, with none appearing for at least six months (many have never gone back on the program). It would be "the height of arrogance to say you're going to boycott some sort of radio show that has an audience of 5, 6, 700,000 Australians", Mr Hockey explained. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/the-height-of-arrogance-when-tony-abbott-and-joe-hockey-opposed-boycotts-20150708-gi7hxf.html 16. Does Abbott really want a battle of trust with the ABC? Peter Lewis. 8 July, 2015 9.00am The Prime Minister's stoush with the ABC can be traced to his political heritage as a cultural fighter for the right. But it's a dangerous game for a leader still struggling to win the trust of the Australian public http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-08/lewis-does-abbott-really-want-a-battle-of-trust-with-the-abc/6602980 13. A Tale of Two Tonys: Whose side are you on? Lyn Bender 7 July, 2015 When Tony Abbott called for heads to roll at the ABC, he invokes the “death [...] In this tale of two Tony’s, one – an incompetent, self-serving liar – has declared war on the other – a brilliant journalist who has managed the tantrums of governments who don't distinguish between propaganda and high quality public broadcasting. I stand with you, Tony Jones and Q&A. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/border-force-tony-jones-and-the-abc,7909 14. Ray Martin urged to step down from Q&A review after calling boycott silly Matthew Knott. July 8, 2015 - 9:05AM Television veteran Ray Martin is facing calls to step down from an editorial audit of the ABC's Q&A program, after he described a government boycott of the program as "silly" and backed the impartiality of host Tony Jones. Mr Truss said ministers were boycotting the program because they "couldn't be assured that the ABC had in fact done anything to improve the way in which the program was put together and delivered to the public" since Mr Mallah's appearance. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/ray-martin-urged-to-step-down-from-qa-review-after-calling-boycott-silly-20150707-gi75x0.html 15. Bill-in-the-box Sean Kelly. 8 July, 2015 Bill Shorten showed some unexpected fight today... Shorten has some fight in him. Many people have been underwhelmed by Shorten’s public persona as opposition leader. Today, under pressure, and on familiar ground, he looked as strong as I’ve seen him. He bit back when he needed to, looked genuinely angry at times, but managed to explain complicated matters calmly. Labor supporters will be hoping to see more of that – though not at the Royal Commission, obviously. http://themonthly.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=04a8a28afded33a63164e316f&id=5997f5f7e7&e=ca60273192 16. Bill Shorten feels the slow burn of royal commission's interrogation Paula Matthewson 8 July, 2015 4.15pm Opposition Leader Bill Shorten might not have to be caught red-handed to be damaged by the union royal commission's inquisition. If he slips up on a key detail, his party will lose whatever faith they still have in him. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-08/matthewson-bill-shorten-feels-the-slow-burn-of-royal-commission/6604484 17. Distractions Mungo MacCallum. 8th July 2015 “‘Same-sex marriage is just another distraction,’ scream the conservatives distractedly. Well, if it is, why don’t they just shut up about it? The answer is because they in fact take it very seriously indeed – probably rather more than the vast bulk of Australians, who simply aren’t too fussed about it.” http://themonthly.us2.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=04a8a28afded33a63164e316f&id=5d1aca5c2e&e=ca60273192 18. Tony Abbott's blueprint for electoral success Roswell. 7 July, 2015 With Tony Abbott and his government trailing miserably in the opinion polls and seemingly rudderless in turning their fortunes around, will they take a leaf out of the history books if all else fails?... David Clune’s outstanding paper Back To The Future? The November 2001 federal election gives us all the answers. What follows is an extract from Clune’s piece . . . http://theaimn.com/tony-abbotts-blueprint-for-electoral-success/ 19. We're paying a high social price for material success Ross Gittins. July 8, 2015 - 10:50AM On the face of it, we're doing fine. Look deeper, however, and cracks are apparent. The survey measured our "subjective wellbeing" by asking people to assess their overall satisfaction with life – not how they feel at the moment, or how they feel about particular aspects of their life – on a scale of nought to 10. Our average answer was 7.6, which is significantly higher than the average of 6.6 for all the countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It was also up on what we said four years ago. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/were-paying-a-high-social-price-for-material-success-20150708-gi6n3i 20. Resource productivity: four ways Australia can keep the good times rolling Nick Florin, Damien Giurco and Elsa Dominish. July 8, 2015 9.51am Australia’s relative share of global economic opportunity derived from smarter use of materials, energy and water could be $26 billion each year by 2025. Here are four ways Australia could make the most of the circular economy boom. https://theconversation.com/resource-productivity-four-ways-australia-can-keep-the-good-times-rolling-44087 21. Go Gadget Kaye Lee. July 8, 2015 In looking back over the previous ten years, the IPA Review published in March 1960 described the 50s as the decade of growth, industrial peace, and political stability. But even more importantly, it was “the decade of the gadgets”. “At the beginning of the decade there were, for every 100 Australians-10 motor cars, under 10 refrigerators, well under 10 washing machines, 14 telephones. Today there are, per 100 people-18 motor cars, 30 refrigerators, 20 washing machines, 20 telephones. In 1950 there were no T.V. sets; in 1960, 2 out of 3 homes (in Melbourne and Sydney) had television.” http://theaimn.com/go-gadget/ 22. Happy? Consider how giving builds a life of meaning Thomas William Nielsen. July 8, 2015 A philosophy based on giving of ourselves to others may help us live more meaningful and fulfilling lives, while helping to bridge the extremes of our emotions and beliefs. https://theconversation.com/happy-consider-how-giving-builds-a-life-of-meaning-43776 23. How Labor can create a humane refugee policy without reviving boat arrivals Alex Reilly Labor has little to gain politically from deviating from the Coalition’s harsh asylum seeker policy, and yet there is urgent need for reform. https://theconversation.com/how-labor-can-create-a-humane-refugee-policy-without-reviving-boat-arrivals-44132 24. The Meaning Of ‘Terrorism’ Bob Ellis. 8 July 2015, 1:30pm Under the Abbott Government, it is hard to work out what ‘terrorism’ actually is. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-meaning-of-terrorism,7915

Casablanca

9/07/20151. Greece is the latest battleground in the financial elite’s war on democracy George Monbiot. 8 July 2015 From laissez-faire economics in 18th-century India to neoliberalism in today’s Europe the subordination of human welfare to power is a brutal tradition. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/07/greece-financial-elite-democracy-liassez-faire-neoliberalism 2. Greece votes No: experts respond July 6, 2015 6.13am AEST The Greek people have voted, saying a resounding No to the terms of the bailout deal offered by their international creditors. What will this mean for Greece, the euro and the future of the EU? Our experts explain what happens next. https://theconversation.com/greece-votes-no-experts-respond-44231 3. Five things you need to know about the IMF’s stance on Greece André Broome. June 26, 2015 11.10pm AEST As negotiations go down to the wire, the IMF is once again being cast in the role of dictator. It is the enforcer of controversial structural reforms to a country experiencing severe economic distress, the social consequences of which have been disastrous over the last seven years. In many ways, however, the IMF is used as a scapegoat for promoting unpopular policy choices by the elected politicians and unelected bureaucrats of the eurozone who are well aware of the organisation’s fundamental commitment to favouring fiscal consolidation. https://theconversation.com/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-imfs-stance-on-greece-43936

TalkTurkey

9/07/2015Greetings Comrades All Most particularly Thank You Casablanca, I can't possibly keep up with all your Links but as always they include the best reading there is. I only cherry pick but the pickings help to give me heart - We are not alone ever now. Now Ken ... Gee you take me back to my own memories, of my rage against the Liberals of those days, first, the bully Menzies, then Harold Holt involving us ever-deeper into the horror of the war on Vietnam ... for which to our eternal shame the Australian Government conscripted young men, even inventing a form of Russian Roulette where lads were selected on the basis of birthdated balls. I was too old, by a bare year, but I was furious at the whole Government, and devoted a lot of time to the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. On one day there was a huge Moratorium March in Adelaide, followed in the evening by a Thugby match at Norwood Oval. Bjelke-Petersen had invited the racially-pure-white South African Springboks team to tour Australia, as a deliberate ploy to arouse hatred and division, and I must say it worked a treat. (I hold Bjelke-Petersen to be Godfather to both Howard and now Abborrtt.) So after being in the march earlier, I got myself arrested at the Oval for "throwing fireworks in a manner calculated to damage injure or annoy" and I ended up with a $20 fine and $3 costs and having a champagne with my lawyer Robyn Layton who was SA Labor Premier John Bannon's partner and herself became Chief Justice ... for which, of course, I must modestly only claim a little credit ... Things got better immediately Gough was elected, but that was for just 3 years. Then 7 years under Fraser ... By that stage I was pretty soured at Australian stupidity and I must say I have never really sweetened all that much! We have an interregnum of Labor Government, during which decent sensible policies are introduced and hopeful believers make a fresh start, then a bloody LNP mob seize power (by the Power invested in them by Murdoch), and they destroy and sully all Labor's good work. Time and again. But there has never been such a destructive nasty mob as this. But on a brighter note: Bill Shorten showed some fight today and moreover gave an impressive demonstration of his ability to grasp and respond to questions. And Comrades, a feisty combative Labor party now is all I need to get my mojo back.... ... Like Bookaboo when someone's read him a story! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khGDOhb_jj4

Casablanca

9/07/2015Ken, That is a very powerful article by George Monbiot. I have listed it again above along with two other ones that I thought would interest you. I have also included a couple more article on the Turnbull speech. Very interesting move. Some see it as having saved the Abbott government from itself. And now Barnaby is criticizing the government over approval for a mine in prime agricultural territory.

Casablanca

9/07/20154. Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce slams Abbott government over Shenhua coal mine approval Nicole Hasham. July 8, 2015 - 5:59PM Minister declares 'world has gone mad' after his own government approved mine over his protests. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/agriculture-minister-barnaby-joyce-slams-abbott-government-over-shenhua-coal-mine-approval-20150708-gi7yh8.html 5. Look past Bill Shorten – this was an interrogation of our political system Gay Alcorn. 8 July 2015 18.55 AEST The true value of the Labor leader’s appearance at the trade union royal commission may have been the glimpse it gave into the workings of power http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/08/look-past-bill-shorten-this-was-an-interrogation-of-our-political-system

Ad astra

9/07/2015Casablanca and All Today we begin the long journey south from Port Douglas, so I won't be online much until we reach SE Qld next weekend. Your links look most inviting; I look forward to reading them when I can.

Casablanca

9/07/20151. Why Abbott's approval rating is bad for the economy Alan Kohler. 9 July, 2015 Australia's high cost base is one reason businesses are not investing. The other two are political instability that frequently crosses into dysfunction, and the direction of the currency. Tax reform is entirely off the table, even though a formal process to consider it is pointlessly under way. The Productivity Commission has recommended reforms to superannuation; forget it. Infrastructure investment by government is both minimal and hopelessly politicised. Significant reform of the health and welfare budget is also out of the question, so that the federal budget will be in deficit for at least a decade. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-09/kohler-why-tony-abbotts-approval-rating-is-bad-for-the-economy/6606144 2. Bill Shorten should resign after failing to properly disclose donations, says former ALP national secretary Bob Hogg Tony Wright. July 9, 2015 - 9:28AM A former national secretary of the Australian Labor Party, Bob Hogg, has called for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to resign, accusing him of failing to understand the concept of conflict of interest. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bill-shorten-should-resign-after-failing-to-properly-disclose-donations-says-former-alp-national-secretary-bob-hogg-20150708-gi895f.html

Casablanca

9/07/20153. Unions royal commission: Bob Hogg's call for Bill Shorten to resign as Labor leader backfires Tony Wright. July 9, 2015 - 11:56AM Bill Shorten's praetorian guard has returned fire following a call from former ALP national secretary Bob Hogg for the Labor leader to resign, circulating news stories from 1991 about Mr Hogg's own court appearance for failing to disclose political donations. The stories note Mr Hogg was placed on a $1000, six-month good-behaviour bond for failing to declare individual donations of less than $1000 to the Labor Party ahead of the 1990 election - an amount totalling almost $143,000. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/unions-royal-commission-bob-hoggs-call-for-bill-shorten-to-resign-as-labor-leader-backfires-20150709-gi8e7p.html 4. Bill Shorten Failed To Disclose He Was Opposition Leader, Royal Commission Finds The Shovel. July 8, 2015. Many people who attended the hearing, including members of the Labor Party, were shocked at the revelation. “I was expecting to hear about casual corruption and dodgy payments, but not this. Who knew Bill was Opposition Leader? I’d been wondering what he’s been up to,” one Labor insider said. http://www.theshovel.com.au/2015/07/08/bill-shorten-failed-to-disclose-he-was-opposition-leader-royal-commission-finds/ 5. Bill Shorten's credibility as a witness a 'concern', union corruption inquiry head says; Labor leader denies involvement in 'bogus' invoices Brad Ryan, Paul Donoughue. 9 July, 2015, 3.30pm Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's "extraneous" answers at the union corruption royal commission are putting his own credibility as a witness in jeopardy, the inquiry head says. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-09/corruption-inquiry-head-questions-shortens-credibility/6606092

Ken

9/07/2015Casablanca Love the links but am having trouble keeping up. I was out today and came back to more links. I find it interesting that the majority of comment on the Greek 'crisis' is about finances and it takes someone like Monbiot to give it a wider context. I also saw some of those comments that Turnbull (and the earlier Cabinet revolt) was saving the Abbott side of the government from itself. I certainly hope not - would rather see some 'blood-letting' on their side or cries that 'Turnbull is coming to get us' - that phrase sounds familiar!! TT Thanks for the comment. Yes, they were good days and we actually had an ALP then that supported a lot of the protests.

Casablanca

10/07/20157. This Is Not The End Of Bill Shorten Ben Eltham. 9 Jul 2015 A trade union witch-hunt has failed to discredit the Leader of the Opposition. Will he emerge stronger than ever? https://newmatilda.com/2015/07/09/not-end-bill-shorten 8. Barnaby Joyce's Facebook Page Flooded With Criticism Over Shenhua Mine Approval Max Chalmers. 9 Jul 2015 The Minister tried to get through to people via social media. It didn't turn out so well. https://newmatilda.com/2015/07/09/barnaby-joyces-facebook-page-flooded-criticism-over-shenhua-mine-approval 9. Australia now a rogue middle-power under Abbott Clancy Wright. 9 July 2015, 5:30pm Since the Abbott Government came to power in 2013, it has fundamentally altered Australia’s international reputation by reforming policy on climate change [...] https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/australia-now-a-rogue-middle-power-under-abbott,7916 10. Tour de Ashes Lachlan Barker. 6 July 2015, 5:30pm Tour De France has begun and it must have been killing Tony Abbott if he was watching... https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/tour-de-ashes,7907 11. Australia’s Two-Party System Has Failed Us; Here’s How We Can Fix It Jane Gilmore. 8/7/2015 There actually is something we can do; something that we know works, because it’s been done before. http://junkee.com/australias-two-party-system-has-failed-us-heres-how-we-can-fix-it/60812 12. For once I agree with Tony Abbott Roswell. July 6, 2015 The issue isn’t important. But his message was. http://theaimn.com/for-once-i-agree-with-tony-abbott/ 13. Tony Abbott puts his faith in an onion Roswell. July 8, 2015 I have been rummaging through articles at The AIMN looking for totally bizarre comments from Tony Abbott but I downed tools when I read this on the Prime Minister’s own web page (from a doorstop interview): http://theaimn.com/tony-abbott-puts-his-faith-in-an-onion/ 14. Government Frontbenchers Are Boycotting ‘Q&A’, Ironically Making It Vastly More Watchable Alex McKinnon. 6/7/2015 All of which leaves Q&A with the near-impossible task of making thoughtful, intelligent television without the help of great modern-day thinkers like George Brandis, Eric Abetz and Peter Dutton. Who will tune in to Q&A if they know they’ll be deprived of watching Barnaby Joyce call marriage equality “decadent” or threaten to kill a celebrity’s dogs? You know, besides absolutely everybody. http://junkee.com/when-will-it-end/60632

Casablanca

10/07/201515. The Framing of The ABC, Bill Shorten and Why We’re Being Invaded! Rossleigh. July 10, 2015 Everything is about framing. That’s why we end up thinking that any money Shorten’s election campaign received is “a conflict of interest”, but any money that the Liberals received from businesses – even family businesses – presents no “conflict of interest”. http://theaimn.com/the-framing-of-the-abc-bill-shorten-and-why-were-being-invaded/ 16. Culture War Two: conservatives get high on their own supply Jason Wilson. 9 July 2015 15.12 AEST Culture war began as a cynical strategy but became a deeply held belief during the Howard years. Now it’s the only option for a government with no ideas http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/09/culture-war-two-conservatives-get-high-on-their-own-supply?CMP=ema_632 17. Bill Shorten at the royal commission: no killer blow, but now for the aftermath Katharine Murphy. 10 July 2015 11.44 AEST Despite hammering away for the best part of two days, the precision prosecutorial onslaught couldn’t penetrate Bill Shorten’s epic waft. All that could be done was call the waft out, which commissioner Dyson Heydon did on Thursday when, with some dour showmanship and an impeccable instinct for timing, he called into question Shorten’s credibility as a witness. http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/10/bill-shorten-at-the-royal-commission-no-killer-blow-but-now-for-the-aftermath 18. Of clowns and treasurers: Joe Hockey and the myth of Coalition economic management Richard Denniss. July 2015 The Monthly is one of Australia’s premier political current affairs magazines. The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss provided the cover article for the current edition, titled: OF CLOWNS AND TREASURERS. The response has been staggering. As of Thursday, over 18,000 people had shared the article through their social media accounts (follow facebook or twitter). The reach and readership is enormous. The Monthly have now made it free to access the article online. Thankyou everyone who has shared the article, posted kind words or contacted us with feedback. www.themonthly.com.au/.../clowns-and-treasurers 19. Economic theories that have changed us: experimental economics Andreas Ortmann, July 10, 2015 2.34pm It's not a new theory, but it's an essential component to the toolbox of modern economists - experimental economics. https://theconversation.com/economic-theories-that-have-changed-us-experimental-economics-44004 20. Grattan on Friday: Abbott’s lucky to have a damaged Shorten Michelle Grattan, July 10, 2015 6.07am Bill Shorten's appearance at the royal commission has not only damaged him but diverted a good deal of attention from the signs of division and tension at senior levels of the Abbott government. https://theconversation.com/grattan-on-friday-abbotts-lucky-to-have-a-damaged-shorten-44469 21. The Australian gangs up on Pope Francis Bruce Duncan | 09 July 2015 In a series of articles, The Australian newspaper has strongly criticised the new encyclical Laudato Si', with editor-at-large Paul Kelly charging that the Pope has 'delegitimised as immoral' pro-market economic forces. This is wrong. Pope Francis is not opposed to the free market in principle, but insists that it be well regulated to ensure social justice for all involved. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45203#.VZ9WD_n4hM4 22. The challenge of education for social justice Frank Brennan. 07 July 2015 I suspect Pope Francis had some of our Jesuit alumni in mind when he wrote in his encyclical Laudato Si': 'A politics concerned with immediate results, supported by consumerist sectors of the population, is driven to produce short-term growth... True statecraft is manifest when, in difficult times, we uphold high principles and think of the long-term common good. Political powers do not find it easy to assume this duty'. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=45213#.VZ9UsPn4hM4 23. Green-left Pope Francis endorses flawed view of progress Paul Kelly. June 24, 2015 12:00AM This is an astonishing document. Page after page reveals Francis and his advisers as environmental populists and economic ideologues of a quasi-Marxist bent. The language is vivid, almost hysterical. Profound intellectual ignorance is dressed up as honouring God. Forget the apologias that play down the historic import of this encyclical... For conservative Catholics in Australia such as Tony Abbott and his Catholic backers this document offers only a relentless ¬repudiation of their ethical framework and policies. This sweeping interpretation of Catholic moral¬ity demands a searching criticism to offset the wild applause. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/green-left-pope-francis-endorses-flawed-view-of-progress/story-e6frg74x-1227411655636 (subscriber only) 24. Fourth Estate: The third political force Dr Geoff Davies 7 July, 2015 The Australian commercial media are the unacknowledged third force in Australian [...] https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/fourth-estate-the-third-political-force,7911 25. Australia now a rogue middle-power under Abbott Clancy Wright. 9 July 2015, 5:30pm Since the Abbott Government came to power in 2013, it has fundamentally altered Australia’s international reputation by reforming policy [...] https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/australia-now-a-rogue-middle-power-under-abbott,7916 26. How the mainstream finally discovered the truth about Kathy Jackson Peter Wicks 10 July 2015, 12:30pm FOR THOSE who rely on mainstream journalism for their news, it must have come as a rather nasty shock to hear about Kathy Jackson – Tony Abbott’s heroic union blower – spending like a drunken sailor on the dime of some of the countries lowest paid workers. https://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/how-the-mainstream-finally-discovered-the-truth-about-kathy-jackson,7924 27. Who will rid us of this turbulent priest? Dr Geoff Davies 10 July 2015, 8:30am To reclaim the lawful, liberal, decent society we once were, we must soon rid ourselves of the turbulent priest, along with those like him, those who support him, and those who appease his kind... IS THERE no-one with eyes that see how the best of Australia is being destroyed? Is there no-one with the will to name it, and the courage to call on our better angels? https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/who-will-rid-us-of-this-turbulent-priest,7920 28. Perspective is missing on Bill Shorten's royal commission appearance Opinion Barrie Cassidy. 10 July, 2015 Of all that is wrong with Australian society, why should Bill Shorten's union activities of a decade ago take precedence?... Whatever the evidence against Shorten, he performed well under the white hot glare of a nationally televised Royal Commission. On the other hand, counsel assisting, Jeremy Stoljar SC, repeatedly ended Shorten's contribution with the condescending question: "Have you finished?" (Memo to Mr Stoljar: when he stops speaking, you can assume he's finished.) http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-10/cassidy-bill-shortens-royal-commission-appearance/6607714 29. With Shorten on the ropes, are we facing a snap election? Norman Abjorensen. 10 July, 2015 With Bill Shorten taking heat after his royal commission appearance, an early election could be on the cards. One of three scenarios could then play out, and none is good for Labor... Tony Abbott, according to persistent poor polling, might not be everyone's ideal Prime Minister, but as a politician he is seldom lacking in ingenuity - and it might just be the case that he has set a carefully contrived trap for Bill Shorten and the Labor Party, and Shorten has walked right into it. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-10/abjorensen-are-we-facing-a-snap-election/6609178 30. Jones 'inaccurate' on UN climate report Nicole Hasham. July 10, 2015 - 1:03PM He declared a UN climate report "got it wrong by almost 100 per cent", but Alan Jones blundered, Australia's media watchdog has found. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/alan-jones-comments-on-un-climate-change-report-inaccurate-media-watchdog-20150710-gi9fqi.html

Ad astra

11/07/2015Casablanca You are gifting us with such a wealth of fascinating links. I look forward to catching up with them over the next few days. Today we travel from Sarina Beach to Gladstone then onto the Sunshine Coast tomorrow for a couple of days before returning to Brisbane. I then hope to get some travel-free time to read your links. Thank you for your continuing sterling efforts on our behalf.

totaram

11/07/2015Ken: Your original post is too deep and too complex for a simple response. So, even a whole week later, I'm unable to give a response that I would be happy with. Suffice it to say that it is not only a failure of the "left", but rather a failure of "science". If Jake Bilardi had been given a sound education in science, he might have avoided whatever happened next. In my young days I was confronted with many ideas from the "left" but rejected many of them because they flew in the face of science. Just as an example, orthodox Marxism (in the 60's) rejected Quantum Mechanics as "bourgeoise pseudo-science" because of its basis in Probability (Einstein's famous quote "der gute Gott wuerfelt nicht" and so on) and they also rejected "feedback control theory" because it seemed to contravene the "historical inevitability" of socialism" and there are many more examples that you can dig up. So in spite of the claim of" scientific socialism" made by the Marxists of that time, most of their ideas were actually antithetical to science. The same would be found true of many of the ideologies of today, including ISIS, "Neo-liberal economic rationalism", racism, etc. That is why the "right wing" engage in culture wars (basically anti-science) and even oppose the teaching of evolution in schools. It is so clear that "anti-science" is the way to go for all the ideologies that we find reprehensible.

Ken

12/07/2015totaram Thank you for a very thoughtful comment. You offer an interesting thesis yourself - one I hadn't really thought about before but I can accept the logic of it. Even though I was a '60s Leftie, I have always been fascinated by science and love quantum physics because it raises so many strange phenomena. (Actually I wasn't aware that orthodox Marxism had rejected it.) If you go to the link I provided to the Lateline interview with Rashid Ali, you will see that he comes to a similar conclusion to you, not in terms of science, but that if one thinks these things through one can see the illogicality of them, that they are simply ideologies that don't stand up to scrutiny. My main point, however, is that we can expect a small proportion of youth to be attracted to radical positions and it would be better they were attracted to a radical Left position than the current Islamic radicalism.
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?