New Politics: Australian Politics

New Politics

The best analysis and discussion about Australian politics. Presented by Eddy Jokovich and David Lewis, we go to all the places the mainstream media doesn't want to go.
The Last Days Of The House And A Labor–Greens Alliance?The Federal Chaos Continues And The Shady Sukkar CampaignMorrison’s rabble and the Civil Disobedience of the LNP
This term of Parliament is descending into chaos, and it’s almost as though the anarchist society has taken over the Senate and House of Representatives. But it’s not the anarchist society: it’s the Liberal–National Coalition which is now resembling a thoroughly disorganised rabble. The Voter ID and Religious Discrimination Bills are in tatters – legislation that is not needed and no-one has asked for – and the national integrity commission is no closer to formation. A new Speaker was installed in the House, and it was almost like a day with the relief teacher – or the work experience kid in charge. Chaos, division, floor-crossing and a Prime Minister who manages to speak many words in Parliament, without offering very much meaning. There’s another week – the final week – of Parliament to round off 2021, but it’s unlikely to get any better. This government is in disarray and it’s a familiar stench of incompetence and corruption that surrounds the Morrison government, that same stench that surrounded the Abbott and Turnbull governments. Is this the end of the Liberal–National Coalition? No, not by a long shot. ‘Rabble’ is more than an adequate term to describe this government but it has to be remembered that this disorganised and disastrous troupe of under-performers won the 2016 and 2019 federal elections. All it needs is to spruce itself up for the final three months of this term and it should be in with a chance, but there are strong doubts about whether it even has this low-level ability, or the stamina, to do this. This is one very lazy government. It’s not very often Australia hears politicians openly calling for ‘civil disobedience’ or throwing around the names of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao to boost their arguments. But that’s exactly what the LNP member for Dawson, George Christensen, did during the week. It’s usually in the domain of right-wing or left-wing extremists or those unsophisticated countries which resort to violence to resolve their political differences. And that’s where we are heading: a dark place which had the same feeling as the months before the Capitol Hill insurrection in the United States, earlier this year. This is a very disturbing development: if only Australia had the political leadership to avert this impending disaster.
29 mins
Morrison’s Slogan Roadtest And We Listen To The Voices Of Kooyong
It’s increasingly obvious the Prime Minister is using the final stages of this Parliament to roadtest a number of different election slogans. Last week it was ‘Australians taking back their lives’, followed by ‘Australians have had a gutful of being told what to do’, interspersed with ‘cost of living’ and ‘can-do capitalism’. This week it was ‘moving forward’. But where are we moving forward to? What’s the destination? What happens at this destination? Who’s going to be there when we get there? All of this is real-life mass focus group testing, to feed back into Liberal Party qualitative research, almost as blasé as the Colgate-Palmolive marketing division testing slogans for soap powder advertisements. That’s what politics has become for Scott Morrison: a marketing exercise and Parliament reduced to a forum to create political slogans and campaign marketing. It might not be politics as we know it, but it looks more like a Prime Minister at the last chance saloon: rolling two dice to try and reach 18, when we all know the maximum is 12. Also known as desperation. Of course, this may end up in an election victory for the Liberal–National Coalition, but it’s becoming increasingly unlikely. And in the psychological battle between the two leaders, Anthony Albanese laid a super-size bear trap for Scott Morrison, and he fell right into it. A normal leader would avoid a return to the scene of their biggest humiliation – in Morrison’s case, the holiday trip to Hawaii during the peak of the bushfire catastrophe in 2019 – but Morrison is no normal leader, and he has to win every single battle, even the ones not worth winning. He lied about providing the destination of his holiday to Albanese – easily refuted – when he should have just apologised (again), said that he will never do that again and he learned his lesson. And we all would have moved on. But it became the news of the day and magnified the issue Labor wanted to focus on: Morrison is a pathological liar and untrustworthy. Independents are likely to have a big influence in the 2022 election, and we speak with Hayden O’Connor from the Voices of Kooyong, a campaign which wants to unseat the Treasurer and current member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg. It’s a tough ask, but they have the determination to consign Frydenberg to the dustbin of history. And wouldn’t that be a sweet victory.
34 mins
Attacking The ABC And Morrison’s Sympathy For The Devil
Once again, the Liberal–National Coalition is attacking the ABC, and doing the bidding of News Corporation in its quest to remove the ABC from government ownership and sell if off to the highest bidder. And several state divisions of the Liberal Party – and all the Young Liberal branches – have already passed resolutions to privatise the ABC and it’s also one of the key objectives of the Institute of Public Affairs. Yes, the ABC needs to be reformed and it shouldn’t just try to replicate what the commercial media outlets are producing, but it’s a key cultural, educational and essential services media broadcast, and one of the best in the world. But the ABC has no political friends left – the Coalition wants to privatise it and Labor, which turns up to every election promising more funds for the ABC – only for the ABC to propagandise against the Labor Party – might decide that it always campaigns for the ABC, but never receives any electoral benefit from its efforts. So it might decide it’s just not worth it. Whoever wins the next election, the future is not looking bright for the ABC. It took five days for Scott Morrison to make his response to the Melbourne protests, and when it came, it seemed half-hearted and expressed sympathy for the protestors. Morrison just cannot find it within himself to castigate his key supporters, even when they’re calling for the assassination of the Premier of Victoria. And it’s unclear why Morrison would want to claim this right-wing rabble as his own – these extremists are hardly going to vote for left-of-centre parties and expressing a clear condemnation of these protestors and their actions would have been the right thing for a political leader to do. But Morrison is purely focused on votes. After all, that’s what wins elections for a politician: votes. But some votes are not worth chasing, and it would have better to let those voters float away, which surely would have boosted support from other areas in the electoral. Sometimes, Morrison cannot help himself, and this was one of those occasions. Australia needs leadership from the federal govenment, but that might need to be delivered by another government, and a different prime minister, at some point in the future.
31 mins
The Anti-Vax Point of No Return And The Road To Liberal Party Oblivion
Australia is seeking national leadership at this point of time to ward off the threat of extremist behaviour in Melbourne but instead of trying to dampen the enthusiasm of QAnon, neo-Nazis, fascists, sovereign citizens and assorted fringe dwellers, Scott Morrison is hoping to hang onto their votes at the next federal election and he decided the best course of action is to just keep quiet, lest he upset his supporter base. The weekend protests in Melbourne attracted 5,000 people, primarily to voice their disapproval of the vaccine mandates – even though most of them won’t be affected by a mandate – but that wasn’t enough to stop them demanding the resignation of Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews, some actually calling for his assassination. And this wasn’t enough for Morrison to castigate their actions – these are his people, and it’s not up to him to say anything about it, or even lift a finger indirectly. For example, alerting the Australian Federal Police, or the Fixated Persons Unit. It’s not too much to ask, but Morrison is more interested in keeping votes, rather than acting in the interests of the community. And the latest round of polling is still pointing to an electoral demolition for the Liberal–National Coalition at the next federal election. That’s not to say Morrison can’t turn it around – after all, he was in exactly the same position in November 2018 and, six months later, he was on the victor’s podium on election night – but two elections in a row, while not impossible, is incredibly difficult. But one issue that won’t help is Morrison has decided to channel the 2004 election strategy used by John Howard – who do you trust?… But in typical Morrison fashion, he’s overpromised in areas that is almost impossible to keep a promise – the trifecta of low interest rates, low cost of living, and low petrol prices. We think it might be three lies too far and he’s foolish to make this promises. A one-off 0.25 interest rate hike, a CPI increase of 1%, or petrol prices going up by 5 cents per litre – any of these events will finish Scott Morrison off, especially if whatever he says isn’t matched by people’s lived experiences. He might be finished anyway, and we believe the only way Australia can move away from the current events in Melbourne is a change of government. It’s becoming more and more evident by the day.
34 mins
Morrison’s China Syndrome And Telling People What To Do
Paul Keating was a hit at the National Press Club address during the week, but members of the federal government were not so happy about this. Because he spoke positively and realistically about China and Australia’s place in the world: which rubs against the grain of the government’s narrative of depicting China as a massive threat to Australia. And the media is happy to jump in and offer their support, using every negative cliché about China in their reportage – falling short of using the “Yellow Peril” rhetoric from the 1900s, but coming close. Good things do come out of China, but you wouldn’t think so if you only listened to Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton, and their friends in the mainstream media. And we’re finding out more about the Coalition’s re-election strategy: lie about the past, lie about the future, lie about the lies. There can be no end to this. And there are two new election slogans to add to Scott Morrison’s reductive lexicon. “Labor wants to tell you what to do”, which, at eight words, is a massive improvement on the three-word version – and supporters of the shorter version slogan will not be disappointed. “Can-do capitalism” is the latest revelation, and it’s as empty as all of the previous slogans. But that’s not the point: this is a government that governs for the politically disengaged. Or, if we want to be more sophisticated, it’s what Mark Twain would call a paralysis of intellect, a label he placed upon Australia when he visited in 1895, a country which, to him, seemed quite incurious. And, 126 years later, an incurious Prime Minister who is afflicted with a paralysis of intellect is gradually being exposed as a marketing trickster. Anthony Albanese is becoming more assertive in his attacks on Scott Morrison, and in his attacks on journalists. And these actions suggest Labor’s internal research is giving them a greater level of confidence that they can win the next federal election.
36 mins
Liar Liar, Liberal Branch Stacking and Defamation
There won’t be a federal election in the short term, but that doesn’t mean campaigning can’t start early. It feels like the election campaign has already commenced, with Scott Morrison wanting to ‘move on’ from all the errors from the past and present his best face to the public. But this depends on the fine art of the political lie, of which Morrison is happy to contribute to. In 2004, John Howard opened his campaign with “who do you trust on the economy?”, flushing out memories of continuous ‘mean and tricky’ lies, and helping him to roll Mark Latham and the Labor Party on election day. Morrison will use this same strategy but he’s not as clever as Howard, and he’s not up against Latham. Will it work? He’ll certainly try it out. Two and half years after Anthony Albanese decreed ‘no Labor MP will use “liar” to describe their opponents’, the term has become very fashionable and Labor is now calling Morrison a liar at every opportunity. Which means its focus group testing is suggesting Morrison’s propensity to lie and misrepresent everything in sight is become a serious problem for him. Branch stacking occurs in all political parties but it seems that there are different media rules when it comes to reporting Liberal Party malfeasance. The Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar has been accused of implementing a tax-payer funded system, where political staffers had the task of signing up Opus Dei, neo-Nazis and fascists as members of the Liberal Party, so Sukkar could hold control of the Victoria branch of the Liberal Party. The media has been reporting about these issues but, essentially, it’s just providing the facts without the running commentary which they always provide when the Labor Party is involved in branch stacking – ‘The MP needs to be expelled! Daniel Andrews needs to resign! Albanese too!’ But they’ve been strangely quiet in creating a link with Scott Morrison, and when Josh Frydenberg suggested there was nothing to see here, they shrugged their shoulders and ‘moved on’. Which is just the way the Liberal Party would like it. And in keeping with the Liberal Party’s form in terrorising women of all persuasions, two Liberal Party MPs – Christian Porter and Andrew Laming – have threatened defamation action against the academic, Gemma Carey, who posted offensive Twitter messages about these men, who then removed those messages and publicly apologised for these messages. For most people, this would be enough, but these Liberal Party MPs are glass-jawed and their action is all about shutting up the people who criticise the government and members of this government. And we’re seeing why the Liberal Party encourages illiberal people such as right-wing religious fanatics, neo-Nazis and fascists to become a part of their membership. They’re very happy to dish out the abuse, but will ensure that when members of the public try to return serve, they’ll use laws inappropriately to crush dissent.
37 mins
I Don’t Think, I Know: A Diplomatic Disaster and NSW Corruption
The Prime Minister was reluctant to go to the COP26 climate change conference and it’s obvious to see why. To say it was a diplomatic disaster is an understatement and the more Scott Morrison makes politics all about him, the more he is exposed as an ineffective prime minister who appears to be severely out of his depth. It’s one thing to create a diplomatic problem with a long-term European ally, but it’s another issue entirely to start leaking private text messages received from the French President. And as if to outdo his own stupidity, Morrison decided it would be a good idea to leak a confidential 15-page communications document to embarrass the US President. It’s hard to know who’s advising Morrison – he might be following his own advice – but it was an incredibly foolish action, and it may take years for the relationships with France to be repaired. An impassioned speech at COP26 by the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, was received favourably by the world community – Morrison was in the audience but it’s hard to know if he actually listened: he ruled out supporting a 30% reduction of methane gases by 2030, and refused to join the 40 countries wanted to phase out coal production. Best to go off to the Australian pavilion at COP26 under the banner of “Positive Energy: The Australian Way” and view the Santos carbon capture to see how well they’re spending the $220 million credit they’ve received from the federal government’s $4.5 billion fund to pollute the environment. The former Premier of NSW – who we now believe is deserving of the moniker of “disgraced former Premier” – has provided all the evidence she needs to present to the NSW ICAC, and their findings will be presented in the early part of 2022. With Parliament no longer a forum for accountability and the media deciding to never hold conservative governments to account, the role of the NSW ICAC is becoming increasingly more important, and it’s a model which should be implemented at the federal level. And the release of these findings – which could be incredibly adverse for the NSW Liberal Party – could severely derail the next federal election. And there’s also a SA General Election to be held in March 2022, as well as five byelections for the NSW Parliament in the early part of the year. For the Morrison government to be re-elected at the next federal election, everything needs to start going right for them and everything is going in the opposite direction. It’s going to be a tough election to win.
29 mins
The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison – A Conversation With Sean Kelly
What is Scott Morrison? A brand name? A theme, a hologram, a Prime Minister, an advertisement, a football coach?… or just a person? It’s hard to know, because Morrison reveals so little of who he actually is. But does it really matter? We reveal all in a conversation with Sean Kelly, discussing his brand new book, “The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison”, published by Black Inc. Books. We try to pin Morrison down, but it’s so difficult. So, we start off with the “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?” campaign: was this the beginning of Morrison’s pitch to become Prime Minister? This advertisement was a segue from one disconnected idea to the next and, in hindsight, this is Morrison’s prime ministership in a nutshell: disconnected ideas, clichés, the good times, spin and marketing… and presenting the face of Australia that masks the unpalatable reality of life. Politics seems to be a game for Morrison but decisions made in Canberra have real-life consequences in the real world and affect millions of people, not just in Australia, but all around the world. There are many serious issues facing Australia and during a time of pandemic and climate change, the electorate is looking to government to ameliorate these issues. It’s not a game. But will Morrison change his strategy (or his marketing plan)? The ‘selling of a prime minister’ got Morrison to the 2019 election and it may well get him through to the next election. But people have begun to ask questions about who Morrison is. And many in the electorate have begun to ask, ‘what else is there? Where is the real guy?’ That will be one of the interesting points in the lead up to the next election campaign.
36 mins
The No-Action Climate Plan and Morrison’s Voter Suppression
The Plan To Deliver Net Zero is much like the Morrison government: it’s insubstantial, inadequate, filled with political marketing and spin and, ultimately, does very little to act on climate change. It’s all about politics and directed at those people in the electorate who might be thinking about switching their vote away from the Liberal and National parties at the next election, of which there is a substantial number. Morrison lacks intellect and he’s incurious about the world. But he has rat cunning and will do anything to hold on to power and win the next federal election. This, of course, makes him a dangerous Prime Minister. For him, climate change is not an environmental issue, it’s a political issue that he wants to swat away with a 20-page glossy document. It’s far easier to tell the electorate what they want to hear, not what needs to be done to secure the future of Australia or take the opportunities climate change presents to the Australian economy and industry base. The Morrison government is now like a wounded beast, bearing its teeth at anything it thinks can provide it with advantage. And Voter ID legislation is one of those issues. It’s not an issue that has been on anyone’s agenda during this Parliamentary term, yet Scott Morrison wants to convince the public that voter fraud is a serious issue – it’s not – and present himself as someone who wants to address a major problem. Like the history and culture wars, this is a solution seeking a problem – not even the friends of the Liberal Party – the Institute of Public Affairs – has called for this, saying that it’s a regressive move. But if Morrison can find an advantage in voter suppression, he will go there. How else would the most corrupt and incompetent government in Australia’s history cling onto power if they only depended on legitimate efforts? One person who has had enough is Tony Smith, who has resigned as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. After the humiliation of been voted down by his own government, he had no choice. But there was only one more week of Parliamentary sittings for 2021: what could all this mean? He wanted do his Christmas shopping earlier? Send a message to the government? Or clear the decks for a December federal election? We think it could be all three.
29 mins
Morrison’s Point Of No Return And The Net-Zero Scam
The latest opinions polls show Scott Morrison is still on the nose and might have reached the point of no return. It’s currently 46% to the LNP and 54% to Labor in the two-party preferred voting and while it’s always possible for governments to make up ground, it is a difficult task. Morrison is looking panicked and a panicked prime minister will always start rolling the dice more erratically, or look to filthy lucre to see if the election victory from May 2019 can be repeated. Lighting rarely strikes twice in the same location but that’s exactly what Morrison will be looking for. His opponent, Anthony Albanese, has a different set of issues. When he first became leader, in response to criticism that he wasn’t ‘taking it up to the government’, he suggested that in politics, you have to wait until the fourth quarter and then start kicking with the wind. We assume he’s talking AFL but in the football parlance, Labor has been ahead at three-quarter time by 10 goals in recent elections – and kicking with the wind – but has gone on to lose those elections. Albanese did suggest there’s a possibility of an election in December, so surely this must be the fourth quarter and the wind has started to blow. But where’s Albanese? Still in the changerooms, keeping his powder dry. It will be a pity if the final siren blows and Albanese remains in the changeroom still rehearsing his lines and warm-ups, because there’s the possibility Morrison may have completed his victory lap by then. And there’s a Coalition agreement for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050? Well, the media seems to think so, even though there is no change to policy, there is no detail, and there is no modelling. A sensible mainstream media would have picked up these anomalies, and quickly outlined the accommodation of the National Party into net-zero, is actually a net-zero scam, and all based around trying to win the next election. All Morrison had to do was wave a slick glossy brochure at the media, and they all seemed to agree that it’s all over: climate change is no longer a political problem for the federal government. Morrison decreed that he is the man of action on climate change, the ‘man with the plan’, and the media believed him. Will the electorate fall for it so easily? We don’t think so.
32 mins
When Too Much Corruption In The Liberal Party Is Never Enough
Recent events in NSW have shown that its Independent Commission Against Corruption is doing its job, despite the protests of Scott Morrison: the Obeids and Ian Macdonald have been sentenced to jail for attempting to embezzle $100 million through a coal mine lease licence between 2007-2009. It was the NSW ICAC which commenced proceedings against these former NSW Labor MPs; and it’s the same NSW ICAC which is currently investigating the arrangements between former NSW Liberal Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, and former Wagga Wagga MP, Daryl Maguire – who decided that getting a cut from a corrupt land deal wasn’t enough; he just had to get his hands on a corrupt cash-for-visa scheme through a 10% commission. And Maguire was also running this scheme through his Parliamentary office. Dispatching visas is the responsibility of the Department of Immigration. And who was the Minister of Immigration during the time Maguire was operating his cash-for-visa scheme? None other than Scott Morrison who, of course, has denied any involvement with the scheme. But Morrison is a pathological liar and it’s in his interests to deny any involvement. Perhaps this is an issue a federal ICAC could investigate… if only we had one. It gives us an insight into why Morrison isn’t keen on establishing a federal ICAC and confirms our suspicions that a prime minister who does everything possible to deter a body that investigates corruption in federal politics, is more likely than not, corrupt. The federal parliament saw one the most egregious acts committed against the Spreaker of the House of Representatives: the Morrison government ignored a ruling by the Speaker, which has never happened in the 120-year history of federation. We now have a federal government which ignores Parliament, it ignores convention, it ignores the Constitution, it now ignores the rulings of the Speaker – which is akin to a criminal ignoring the findings of the judge. It’s contempt, and it’s the reason why corruption is allowed to fester. And a complicit media who were happy to ignore one of the most scandalous incidents ever in federal Parliament. It seems a November election is out of the question… but December? We always felt Morrison would call the election for May 2022 because, as a procrastinator, holding the election on the last possible date on May 22 means the decision will be made for him. Or, at least, that’s what our theory was. Why December? It’s obvious: the success of Scott Morrison depends on distraction. NSW and Victoria are coming out of lockdown, it will be close to Christmas; people will be thinking about the end of year, Christmas shopping and everything else… except for politics. It’s a perfect remedy for Morrison: a seal of approval because the electorate is too distracted to carefully scrutinise his poor performance over the past three years. It’s cynical, but that’s Scott Morrison. And it might just work.
36 mins
Will Climate Change Sweep Morrison Out To Electoral Oblivion?
Scott Morrison has changed his mind and will now attend the COP26 climate change forum in Glasgow. It was obvious Morrison didn’t want to got to COP26 for a number of reasons: it’s all about climate change action, which is anathema to the Liberal–National Coalition; it’s an international meeting where Australia’s embarrassingly poor policies on climate change action – among the worst in the OECD community – will be the focus; it’s the first encounter with the French Prime Minister after the cancellation of the $90 billion submarine contract; and attending the meeting rules out the possibility of a November election. But Prince Charles said he would “be shocked” if Morrison didn’t attend and Queen Elizabeth II announced she was irritated about inaction on climate change and instructed leaders to not “just talk, act on climate”. Morrison is a monarchist – not as staunch as Tony Abbott, but a monarchist nevertheless. And if the Queen and the British Royal Family are showing their displeasure, then Morrison had to act. He’s in a bind: we’re still not sure if he will go to Glasgow, and we will only believe it is happening once the prime ministerial plane touches down on the tarmac at Glasgow International Airport. But Morrison is an opportunist and has skill in being able to manipulate any situation towards his advantage. Humiliation at COP26? ‘How dare the unrepresentative officials at the United Nations tell Australia what to do.’ Billboards at Glasgow and Times Square in New York shaming Australia on climate change inaction? ‘Those inner city socialists are trying to embarrass our national pride.’ Carbon tariffs that will crucify the Australian economy? ‘We will decide which products come into this country and the circumstances in which they arrive.’ The Bob Brown-led anti-Adani campaign in Queensland during the 2019 federal election campaign shamed the Australian government, but backfired when locals felt they were being told what to do by outsiders and interstaters, didn’t like being told what to do, and decided to show their displeasure by giving many seats in regional Queensland a 15% swing towards the government. Morrison would be looking at this to see if can swing things his way again. The direction for both parties in the lead up to the next election? If it is based on climate change issues, Labor will keep it simple: if you want action on climate change, vote Labor. The Coalition will do the opposite, and will try to make climate change action as complex as possible, distort as many issues as possible and then declare: if you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it. It worked for Paul Keating in the 1993 GST-influenced election; it could work for Morrison now. So, we’re headed for another climate change election – following on the election of 1990, where Labor slid back into government on environment preferences, and the 2007 election, which according to Kevin Rudd, was the issue that was the “greatest moral challenge of our times”. And if it is another climate change election, it could just be the issue that sweeps Scott Morrison out to electoral oblivion.
27 mins
Minimum wage mistruths and National Party climate change corruption
How many times have we been told by conservative business groups in Australia that minimum wages need to be kept low so businesses have more finances to employ more people? And not just minimum wages, but all wages? The only problem is this erstwhile neoliberal pipedream doesn’t actually work and there’s a recent Nobel Prize for Economics out there to prove it’s absolutely false. Since 2013, wages in Australia have stagnated – coinciding with the time of the Liberal–National Coalition government – and in 2018, the Turnbull government reduced penalty rates based on old economic orthodoxy. These were real-life experiments and the promised increases in job numbers never actually occurred – and corporate profits went up, while wages went down. It was a false elixir, and help to move Australia towards a recession in early 2020. New economic thinking is needed at this time, and the Coalition seems to hold onto old economic ideas, even when there’s new research to prove them wrong. And if new thinking is needed on economics, there’s certainly a need for new thinking on climate change in Australia – or at least, any kind of thinking because, there’s been a paucity of intellect on developing good policy for the environment in Australia. And the latest roadblock on climate change and sensible environmental policy? The National Party, whose intransigence has been like anarchic nihilists who aren’t quite sure about why they’re resisting so much, until we explore that link between National Party MPs, mineral and gas resource companies, and the mining industry. The National Party claims to act in the interest of regional Australia. If this was true, they would be at the forefront of climate change action and management of the environment, because it’s the people in the regions that will suffer the most through water supply issues, rising temperatures and drought. But they’re not: the National Party is the party of corruption and vested interests and are holding the country to ransom, even though only 4 per cent of the electorate voted for them. If the electorate really does want effective action on climate change and the environment, it won’t be provided by the National Party, or by the Liberal Party. It’s best if these people are voted out of office; that’s becoming more obvious by the day.
29 mins
The Murdoch Greenwash and a Cynical Freedom Day
The most surprising part of News Corporation’s greenwashing of the Liberal Party is not so much that it’s occurring right now, but the fact that it’s happening so quickly. The Liberal Party – working hand in glove with the Business Council of Australia, and their erstwhile friends at News Corporation – has resisted all action on climate change ever since they returned to government in 2013: they repealed the carbon price scheme, abolished the Climate Commission, reduced funding programs for renewable energy, used funding allocated for renewable energy programs… for fossil fuel programs. And claimed that electric cars were the death of the weekend. Can eight years of climate change denialism – or 25 years if we include the Howard years that commenced in 1996 – be overturned within a few months before the next election? Obviously, the Liberal National Coalition believes all of this is possible and the public will believe that the party that brought coal into the chambers of Parliament is the new champion of climate change action, and is the best friend of the environment. It’s a big ask, but let’s see if there’s enough collective amnesia within the electorate to accept the biggest greenwash and about-face in Australian history. NSW has ended its lockdowns and is promoting itself as the Australian leader out of the pandemic and providing direction to all the other states and territories around the nation for how to ‘live with COVID’. This is a surprise to the people of Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory, who have living without lockdowns, curfews and restrictions for most of the past 15 months, and have only had a handful of COVID cases during that time, compared to the 69,552 cases in NSW. And why were so many politicians of all persuasions so adamant about going to a pub to celebrate the first day of the lifting of restrictions? It’s like Australia is a nation of alcoholics: NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and senior ministers in the front bar of a pub (sans women); Anthony Albanese sucking on a schooner at another bar; Dave Sharma toasting with a middie – and with another bloke. It looks like it’s just a pathetic blokes’ world until you realise the Australian Hotels Association donates substantial amounts of money to the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. And they’ve been actively promoting the end of lockdowns. And this is all neatly dovetailing into the divisive message the federal government wants to promote in the lead up to the next election: the Liberal Party is the party of freedoms, the breaker of lockdowns, the opener of the economy. The fun guys. Whereas Labor is the dull party of further restrictions, lockdowns at the sneeze of half a COVID nostril, and the denier of business and the economy. Labor has to keep focusing on the eight years of poor government and incompetence provided by the Liberal–National Coalition while, of course, the Coalition wants us all to forget about this and focus on freedoms. Does Labor have the skill to prosecute the case for change or will collective amnesia win out again?
30 mins
International Failures and Morrison Attacks the West and the North
There’s continuing fallout from the broken French submarines deal, and a humiliated country will seek retribution in other ways. Australia didn’t learn the lessons given by China, where the Australian government pressured the WHO to investigate the origins of coronavirus and Defence Minister, Peter Dutton, decided to directly blame China for releasing the virus to the rest of the world. The result: China placed tariffs and sanctions on Australian exports and caused billions of dollars of damage to the local economy. The French government has instructed its diplomats to ‘go hard’ on Australia in the upcoming free trade negotiations with the European Union, and to go even harder when it comes to the imposition of carbon tariffs. Australia is going to be whipped at the upcoming COP26 climate change meetings, and it’s probably wise for Scott Morrison to not attend. It’s going to be a humiliation like no other. And if diplomacy on the international stage is not the Morrison government’s forte, it displays even less on the national stage. Instead of making soothing tones to try an appease difficult negotiations on GST reform and increased hospital funding, Scott Morrison’s natural reaction is to create division and seek opportunities. The ‘divide and rule’ philosophy worked very well for the Roman Empire – until it no longer worked and caused a long-term force in Europe to crumble. And it happened relatively quickly. This might a portent for the Morrison government: the pandemic has been a time for unity, whereas all they’ve provided is division and argument at every turn. It’s almost as though their willing on their own demise. Attacking the governments of Western Australia and Queensland is not a vote-winner for the federal government; in fact, it works in reverse. It’s easy for Western Australia and Queensland to whip up a frenzy against the federal government – and perhaps it only the residents of those states who can understand this phenomenon. And it’s a whole lot easier when the national leader is seen as the ‘Prime Minister of New South Wales’. The state and territory governments have requested more funding for hospitals – $8 billion each year until the end of 2023. But Morrison and Josh Frydenberg say ‘no’, even though they gave $21 billion in JobKeeper support to corporations who made profits and increased their bottom line during the pandemic. It’s always a question of priorities but this federal government always seems to choose the wrong ones. Another piece of advice for Morrison: stop attacking state governments. It might appeal to the base of the Liberal Party and the conspiracy theorists in the community that despise all governments (but might be partial to a Prime Minister who kicks into regimes he doesn’t like) but, overall, it’s a net vote losing act. And it might provide Morrison a massive loss at the next federal election.
31 mins
The aura of Saint Gladys and which corrupt MPs will a federal ICAC investigate?
There’s been far too much adulation from the media for the former Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, who took the decision to resign from Parliament, after the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption declared she is a person of interest in a corruption investigation. Politicians are not rock stars, and journalists are not their groupies, even though that’s how they behave: too close to action; too close to the people they seem to love. And too close to report and analyze without fear or favour. And their love of Berejiklian means that they mourn her resignation like the loss of a close friend, rather than focusing on the allegations of corruption. As Paul Keating once said, if you want a friend in politics, get a dog. Politicians are not rock stars; they are there to do a job in the interests of the public, and we want them to be competent. Leave the rock star business (and the song and dance) to the real rock stars, and then the media can investigate what political leaders get up to behind the scenes. And it’s an untidy and messy sight. Perhaps if the mainstream media performed the job they are supposed to do – make powerful people accountable to the public – Berejiklian might have thought twice about engaging in activities that are now the focus of the NSW ICAC. And all of this has resulted in a new Premier in NSW, Dominic Perrottet. We’re not sure how long he’ll last – because he might also be receiving a few phone calls from the NSW ICAC over the iCare state insurance scandal – and NSW might be looking for another Premier before the next NSW election, due in March 2023. And why is the federal government so fearful of a federal commission against corruption? We’ve estimated that if a federal ICAC was created according to existing state and territory guidelines, at least 11 sitting government Members of Parliament would be the subject of inquiries – and that’s just based on the information that’s publicly available. So, it’s obvious why they’re not introducing a federal ICAC – they’d be the first ones to appear in dock. That’s the only reason they’ve been so reluctant to create a federal ICAC with retrospective powers. It might be up to Labor to introduce such a body – but only if they’re sure that none of their MPs will be dragged into such a commission – and, obviously, a federal ICAC can only happen if they win the next federal election. It will never occur under a Liberal–National Coalition, they have too much to lose.
33 mins
The Stench of Corruption in NSW and the Turnbull–Morrison War
It happened quickly but it wasn’t really a shock when the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, resigned after it was revealed that the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption was commenced proceedings to investigate whether she acted corruptly in the award of community grants between 2012 and 2018. There were many tears and Berejiklian resigned reluctantly, giving the impressive that the ICAC was just a minor irritant that shouldn’t be standing in her way. Her greatest supporters – the mainstream media – have been reporting her departure as though she is resigning because of family circumstances, or some other misfortune, and completely neglecting the fact that there are serious allegations of her behaviour as Treasurer and Premier. Perhaps it’s a sign of how low the threshold has become within Australian politics: a Premier resigning under the shadow of corruption is lauded as “one of the greatest Premiers ever”. It’s almost as absurd as suggesting the disgraced Labor MP, Eddie Obeid, is one of the greatest Minister for Resources ever (if only we can ignore the $100 million worth of corruption). There is no fury greater than a Prime Minister ousted in a leadership challenge, and Malcolm Turnbull has arrived on the public stage with a vast array of verbal artillery to fire off at the incumbent: Scott Morrison. The botched French submarines deal; the poor vaccination rollout; inaction on climate change: everything is a target. On the day before Morrison ousted Turnbull, he said that he was “ambitious for my leader”. It seems Turnbull won’t be reciprocating, is totally unambitious for his leader and doing his best to repay the humiliation Morrison afforded to him on that fateful day in August 2018. This will be a story that has some way to play. Several weeks ago, Kristina Keneally was inserted as a preselection candidate in the South-West Sydney seat of Fowler. It’s better for candidates to be preselected by the local membership but, sometimes, it‘s better to choose the best person, even if they are from outside of the area. This is an issue within politics, but all political parties do it: nevertheless, we assumed the issue would blow over, but the mainstream media has decided to revisit the seat of Fowler, no doubt to create problems for the Labor Party in the lead up to the next federal election. Adrian Boothman was a long-time resident in the seat of Fowler and a former Labor Party staffer and advisor – we spoke to Adrian to see if there’s a different perspective to the one presented in the mainstream media. And – can you believe it – yes, there is perspective that is closer to the facts on the ground.
35 mins
The COP-out on Climate Change and a COVID Roadmap to Where?
The United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26 – is coming up soon, but Scott Morrison is toying with the idea of not attending the event in Glasgow. This is the most important climate change conference since 2015 – and possibly ever – but Morrison isn’t interested, too busy fondling the lump of coal he dragged into federal Parliament, a rock which has become symbolic of his prime ministership. Or too busy remembering his trip last week to New York – a UN meeting that he really didn’t need to be at, but did allow him to meet with the bosses of News Corporation. Why bother about rescuing the planet when there is an election to be won? And politics is never too far from COVID – the Victoria and NSW governments have almost identical roadmaps out of COVID, but it’s the Victoria government Morrison is taking aim at. And while he’s at it, the Western Australian and Queensland government on borders. Morrison thrives on division and chaos for two reasons – because he does not have a bone of decency in him and knows no other way, and it helps to mask his mismanagement of COVID during 2021 and the corruption and incompetence that has riddled his government since he became Prime Minister in 2018. But the independents may have a say in this: they’re coming for the Liberal Party, they mean business and they’ve had enough of a lack of action on climate change, and they’ve had enough of incompetency, corruption and indecency. The next federal election might end up being Independents Day.
30 mins