Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull haunted by spectre of Tony Abbott … ex-ABC chairman joins anti-Turnbull push … NSW Liberal Party unredacted … behind the census debacle … Why everyone’s sick of Jarryd Hayne … Street slayings encouraged by Manila’s “Duterte Harry” … Great Bores continued …
Tony Abbott: Rise of the Living Dead
When John Howard was removed from the Liberal Party leadership in 1989 he said it was the end of the Howard era and he would not return to the top job. He lied.
When Kevin Rudd was removed from the Labor Party leadership in 2010 he said it was the end of the Rudd era and he would not return to the top job. He lied.
When Tony Abbott was removed from the Liberal Party leadership in 2015 he said it was the end of the Abbott era and he would not return to the top job. He’s lying too.
This week’s Four Corners program “Man on a wire: How long can Malcolm Turnbull survive?” by award-winning reporter Marian Wilkinson is a work in progress. It informed a vast TV audience that, despite their denials, Abbott and his cronies are actively stirring against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who is clearly living on borrowed time.
This may not be startling news to readers of my commentary over the past nine months or so. I may have been slightly obsessive but events are proving my point: the Liberal Party is a divided party between conservatives (Abbott & co) and liberals (Turnbull & co); Turnbull is unable to administer the government, the Cabinet, his backbench or the Parliament; and he’s on the nose among a growing number of Liberal MPs, sections of the party-at-large and the right-wing commentariat led by Rupert Murdoch’s media and professional alarmist Alan Jones.
Turnbull’s post-election nightmare represents a challenge to Bill Shorten’s Opposition to step up its campaign for alternative policies: the full Gonski, fully funded Medicare, a royal commission into banking and the private wealth sector, a tax review covering negative gearing, superannuation, trusts and overseas tax havens.
But Shorten has obviously decided to switch to zombie politics: let the Turnbull government crumble and we’ll pick up the pieces. It is the height of laziness, opportunism and cynicism.
And dull-witted academics are writing hand-wringing pieces asking why people are disillusioned by the political class. Isn’t it obvious?
Abbott’s comb-over King
Maurice Newman, Australia’s king of comb-overs, plays a supporting role as propagandist for Tony Abbott.
It is an unpaid job for Newman, former CEO of the Australian Stock Exchange, chairman of the ABC and hardcore conservative.
When he is not lifting every strand of hair from one side of his bald head to the other, Newman writes Abbott promotionals for The Australian. His latest was a beauty.
“Since last September and with each passing day, the parliamentary Liberal Party’s folly in dismissing its sitting prime minister is on display.” (“Erratic, egocentric, divisive: Turnbull not suited to leadership”. The Australian, 5 August 2016).
It quickly becomes obvious that Newman favours the return of Abbott, who is also “erratic, egocentric, divisive”, but Newman doesn’t mention that.
“Successful leaders have empathy and a common touch,” he wrote. “They are appropriately humble and are willing to bury the hatchet.” [Yes, usually in the back of someone else’s head!]
“When the 54 members of the parliamentary Liberal Party decided to dump Abbott in favour of Turnbull, they let a genie out of the bottle that won’t go back.”
The Liberals – Old Country For Old Men.
NSW Liberal Party unredacted
Because I spent so many years of my newspaper career covering State politics, I am regularly asked for my views on the NSW division of the Liberal Party. So here goes …
In the dead of night you are walking down a country road when you reach a dead end. It is too late to go back so you step into the wetland in front of you.
The bottom is soft and your shoes sink into three inches of thick mud, or you hope that is what it is. Leeches slink into your socks and start sucking blood from between your toes.
As you tread forward, sharp-toothed piranha fish bite your legs and you hear the ominous sound of a crocodile thrashing nearby.
Then a bat flies out of the gloom and locks into claws into your scalp. You try to pull it off your head but the bat digs in.
Out of the darkness a lifeline appears. A rope ladder falls from an overhanging tree and you grab hold of it and start to climb. Peering through the gloom you see Aboriginal teenagers and refugee children hanging by the neck from overhead branches. They are motionless and all you hear is a frog croaking: it sounds hauntingly like a didge.
Only a few feet from reaching the safety of a treetop platform, two leering faces stare down at you, sniggering at your plight. It’s Tony Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop.
Standing behind them you can just make out leering figures of Rev Fred Nile, notorious homophobe, and Robert Borsak, the Shooters and Fishers MP who has shot and eaten juicy parts of eight elephants.
Abbott produces an army knife, cuts the rope and you fall back into the wetland. Just as you hit the water, you see a figure standing to attention on the bank. In one hand he is holding a Bible over his heart and he’s giving a military salute with the other. It is a Scott Morrison.
He is flanked by a chorus of developers and real estate agents in white surplices singing “Still call Straya home”.
You black out and wake up with inexplicable scratch marks on your face and head. At that moment you vow never to attend a NSW Liberal Party function ever again.
Next week: NSW Labor Party
A Commonwealth-wide census was first held on 2 April 1911 and then intermittently (every five years became the rule in 1961) ever since.
They went off smoothly with an extraordinarily high participation rate (except in remote Aboriginal communities which were largely ignored and among white ferals from Lightning Ridge and Outback Queensland).
So what went wrong in 2016? First of all, it is clear that it wasn’t the “Chinese”, no matter what the Murdoch press says. It was probably vigilante hackers pissed off about privacy concerns.
This time around compulsory information gathering was introduced with names and addresses being stored indefinitely.
The changes were made on the insistence of private commercial interests – both foreign and local – who want to profile Australians in order to sell their products – food, real estate, insurance, private health schemes, private education, medicine etc.
Driving the culture change is Chief Statistician David Kalisch, a right-wing economist with a special interest in “labour markets, welfare-to-work strategies and health policy”. A former Productivity Commissioner and OECD executive, Kalisch, the stubbled wonder, was appointed to his $705,000-a-year job in 2014 by then PM Tony Abbott.
After this week’s clusterf**k, surely he will be looking for a new job soon. No worries, Goldman Sachs or Coca-Cola will have him.
The fact remains that under its Abbott-driven “new directions” mission, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is no longer an information-gathering agency for public policy; it works principally for profit-hungry big business and the private sector.
And people continue to ask me why we need a strong well-funded public sector in Australia? Get real, folks.
Hayne in the neck
Two words describe what is wrong with sports journalism in Australia – Jarryd Hayne.
For four years every twist and turn in Hayne’s football career has been covered super extravagantly in newspapers, on radio and TV.
While the public is suffering from Hayne overload, his PR agents must be coining it. Never has such a simpleton with modest sporting talent received such media coverage.
It began with a ruckus at his Parramatta Eels club, then shifted to his place in the NSW State of Origin team, then the Kangaroos, whether he would go to St George Illawarra or not, whether he would switch codes and join rugby union or Aussie Rules, whether he would go to France or the UK, then his move to the US to play gridiron with the San Francisco 49ers providing endless stories about his amazing talent and multi-million-dollar salary (that all ended in tears!).
Back home more stories broke about whether he would go to the Olympics, play Rugby Sevens, join the Roosters and then he eventually joined the team of broken-downers, the Gold Coast Titans.
With sporting oblivion staring him in the face, sports writers are still promoting him as Australia’s “greatest athlete”, when he is no more than a talented NRL fullback who occasionally drops catches, misses tackles and throws wild passes.
Give everyone (including Hayne) a break and stop giving him invented coverage. Sports writers are trashing the very thing they purport to love – sport itself.
“Duterte Harry” updated
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has published a list of 150 judges, police chiefs, politicians and public officials who, he alleges, are part of the country’s illegal drugs trade.
It is tantamount to being on a death list. Since his sweeping election victory in June, Duterte, aka “The Punisher” or “Duterte Harry” in tribute to the LA cop played by Clint Eastwood, has encouraged the killing of 500 alleged drug traffickers in vigilante slayings.
He has brushed aside human rights protests saying: “Fuck you, UN. Shut up all of you.”
During the election campaign he vowed that 100,000 people would die in his “war on drugs”. With so many bodies dumped in Manila Bay, fish will grow fat feeding on them, he argued. Observers say he’s on target.
This week the 71-year-old attacked US ambassador Philip Goldberg in a televised address saying: “As you know, I’m fighting with his [US Secretary of State John Kerry’s] ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a whore. He pisses me off.”
Goldberg has a chequered diplomatic history. He was chucked out of Bolivia in 2008 after allegations the US Embassy financed separatists in an attempt to create political crisis and civil war to destabilise the left-wing government of President Evo Morales, a “communitarian socialist”.
For the record, Duterte’s far right regime profits from aid supplied by the Australian government, the Catholic church and its aid agency Caritas. The Australian Defence Department, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIS) all provide on-the-ground support to the regime.
How is it presented in Canberra’s books? It’s probably listed as expenditure on the “war on terror”.
Great Bores – 9
At last we have some sensible people in the Senate. I mean to say, Pauline Hanson is heading a great team of senators. That Malcolm Roberts from Queensland knows what he’s talking about. When he says climate change is complete bullshit, I agree with him. The first thing he’s done is to call for two royal commissions – one into the global conspiracy on climate change and the other into whether Islam is a religion. I bet the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds stop him. They are the ones behind climate change; they’re making squillions from it. So is the queen of England and Vladimir Putin. Roberts is right about the carbon dioxide conspiracy too. There’s nothing wrong with carbon dioxide which occurs naturally. We can’t live without it. I once made a machine to produce carbon dioxide, I attached a hose to it and put it up my arse. I felt terrific afterwards. A bit lightheaded, so what? I’ve been told not to try any further home experiments particularly in a locked garage, but I’m writing to Pauline to see what she thinks.