Alex Mitchell’s WEEKLY NOTEBOOK – Tony Abbott’s peculiar idea of “mature debate”

How many “mature debates” has Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for?
The High Priest of Negative Destruction is suddenly desirous of steady, serious, sophisticated discussion.
“That is my hope,” he told Parliament recently, “that just for once it might be possible for us in this Parliament, one side and the other, the national government and the state and territory governments, to have a mature debate rather than a screaming match.”
Imagine for a moment if Julia Gillard had asked for a debate on Commonwealth relations and taxation redistribution. It doesn’t bear thinking about. Abbott and his malevolent crew (in and out of parliament) would have monstered her.
But is this a sound enough reason to avoid a discussion on taxation? Probably not. The present system is out of kilter, relying too heavily on (1) the massive contribution made by PAYE wage earners (wherein tax is directly taken from their pay packets – by their tax-rorting bosses) and (2) the congenial voluntary tax system that applies to most foreign corporations, such as mining companies and Rupert Murdoch, and IT behemoths like Google and Amazon.
A welcome start would be to tax the bogus Church of Scientology, but that is a very subjective gripe.
Abbott, of course, wants to set the boundaries of his “mature debate” so that it considers only one thing – raising the level of the GST. That isn’t a “debate” at all; it’s a rigged device to reach a pre-determined outcome.
A tax debate of lasting significance would investigate the GST as well as company tax, personal income tax, taxation of overseas corporations, private family trusts and all branches of organised religion which are hoarding billions (while also receiving billions from hard-pressed taxpayers). Former Treasury boss Ken Henry delivered such a report in 2010 and it was ignored by all sides of politics.

Flogging Medicare Private

The Abbott Government has begun flogging Medibank Private, Australia’s largest private health insurance scheme, to the private sector with support from one of Labor’s foremost public health policymakers, John Menadue.
A dyed-in-the-wool Whitlamite, a former ALP candidate, general manager of News Ltd, managing director of Qantas and ambassador to Japan, Menadue is a long-standing advocate on public health issues.
Imagine the surprise of his many admirers (me included) when he filed a long article entitled “Privatising Medibank Pte – who cares?” on his blog Pearls and Irritations on 28 November 2013.
“I won’t lose any sleep if the Abbott Government proceeds to privatise Medibank Pte,” he began.
In case you found his opinion unclear, he added: “I am quite indifferent to whether Medibank Pte is publicly or privately owned.”
He didn’t stop there: “I have been a member of Medibank Pte for 37 years. It has been a waste of money.”
Gathering steam he argued: “I don’t really care whether Medibank Pte is public or privately owned. It makes no difference.”
For the record, Medibank Pte was established by the Fraser Government after Gough’s administration created Australia’s universal free health scheme. Fraser’s state-owned health insurance scheme provided an alternative to the private funds as well as putting a brake on wholesale profiteering by the private funds sector.
Medibank Pte quickly became Australia’s largest health insurance scheme – claiming almost 40% of the market – and contributed several hundred million dollars a year in dividends to the Treasury. Many Labor supporters joined Medibank Pte because they could afford it and they saw it as a “ladder of opportunity” to rising social and economic opportunities.
Following Abbott’s privatisation of Medibank Pte, the whole industry will belong to the private sector. No more brake on premiums, but a free-for-all in which the major companies – most of them US or European – will fleece policy-holders.
Those who think that government regulations will control premiums, know nothing about Abbott’s worship of the free market. He and the barmy Belgian, Matthias Cormon, will “let the market decide” annual premium increases.
History shows that privatisation is a wedge aimed at the heart of public policy and destroying the rational hope of a mixed economy with a public and private sector.

Sick of ABC “experts”

Every time the ABC runs short of someone to talk about war against Moslems in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan they reach for their (only?) Washington contact, Colonel David Kilcullen, the Australian-born adviser to the Clinton administration on “counter-insurgency”.
He appears regularly to talk vaguely and inconclusively about imperialism’s failed attempts to destroy Islamic fundamentalism by military extermination.
Kilcullen has perfected the art of appearing to be a critic while preserving his calling card as a White House adviser.
Counter-insurgency is an utterly discredited military strategy. It flourished during the Vietnam war when it was unleashed on the Vietnamese population in Operation Phoenix. Its chief advocates were President Richard Nixon’s advisers, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
It resulted in the murder, incarceration and torture of hundreds of thousands of “VC suspects”, the napalm destruction of villages and the chemical bombing of thousands of hectares of rice fields.
To this day, the American psychopaths who masterminded, organised and conducted Operation Phoenix remain unindicted war criminals.
“Counter-insurgency” retreated after Vietnam but re-emerged with the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. US, British and Australian Special Forces ran assassination squads and a village-by-village “pacification” programme in the tribal areas they occupied.
The operation, costing billions of dollars, failed totally and Western forces eventually gave up and went home. The architects of this murderous project were Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Kilcullen is smart enough to give the Cheney-Rumsfield “death cult” a wide berth but nor does he condemn it. If the ABC insists on giving Kilcullen free publicity in his homeland, the least it could do is interview him with some vigour.

Pro-Israeli blowhard

Another Aussie-born carpetbagger who has a permanent slot on the ABC is Martin Indyk. He still advances the romantic notion that Israel is a plucky little Labour-Zionist state where war-ravaged survivors of WW2 live on kibbutzim, grow flowers in the desert and tend olive groves.
A former US ambassador to Israel during the Bill Clinton era, Indyk accepted President Obama’s 2013 appointment as peace negotiator between Tel Aviv and the PLO. Then he walked off the job within a year without explanation.
His revolving apologies for Israel’s brutality and its recurrent sabotage of peace talks are so predictable they’ve become a sick joke.
Please pension off Indyk who retails yesterday’s compromised diplomacy and let us hear a voice dealing with today’s realities of a disintegrating theocratic/apartheid state controlled by Zionist fundamentalists.


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