Malcolm Turnbull’s “terror” alert deconstructed … Why Canberra is absorbed with WA State Election … Mike Baird returns to banking vomitorium … Dr Gallop promotes laughably fatuous UK regulations … Great Crashing Bores …
ISIS missile system or AFP fantasy?
If you ever wondered what a home-grown piece of “fake news” looks like, turn to this week’s media coverage of the Moslem terrorist accused of building a missile system for ISIS in the western NSW town of Young.
The AFP story is so improbable it is laughable. Almost. Then recall what happened to Dr Muhamed Haneef, the Indian-born doctor working on the Gold Coast, which was no laughing matter.
In mid-2007, when prime minister John Howard was fighting for his political life, Dr Haneef was falsely accused of being implicated in a UK terror attack, jailed without charge, deported, then cleared of any offence and later awarded “substantial” damages by the Commonwealth government, i.e. the taxpayers.
Today’s “terrorist” is a Moslem migrant from Iraq who is married with young children born in Australia. This is a summary of the key elements of this Pythonesque/ Kafkaesque/Orwellian story:
- On Monday, February 27, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was delivered career-destroying polling figures. His Coalition’s primary vote sank to an election-losing 34%. On a two-party preferred basis, Labor is sailing to election victory with 55% compared to the Coalition’s 45%. Meanwhile, voter satisfaction with Turnbull’s performance tumbled from 33% to 29%, according to Newspoll. The figures are self-explanatory: Turnbull and his government are as smelly as a week-old fish head in a crab pot and Labor is on a roll.
- On Tuesday, February 28, Turnbull was informed of the “terrorist” arrest at Young by the Australian Federal Police. The AFP has become a propaganda agency for the party in power in Canberra, providing ready-made press releases on the “war against terror”, the “war on people smugglers”, the “war on drugs” and the “war on organised crime”. These press releases are revved up during the weeks leading up to the Federal Budget when the AFP leads the queue for more resources, more personnel and more equipment.
- Turnbull called a press conference at Parliament House in a desperation-driven move to convince the general public he was still in charge. In a breach of court procedure and legal precedent, the AFP released his Arabic name to the press provoking an anti-Moslem hysteria in the media. It was the leading item on ALL news broadcasts on Tuesday.
- It was originally stated that local police went to the home after neighbours reported an explosion. Later this was changed to say that “counter-terrorism” police had the accused under surveillance for two years. If he was building a missile system for ISIS why wasn’t he arrested a year ago? What they were waiting for?
- Wednesday, March 1: Rupert Murdoch Sydney Telegraph carried the front-page headline: “TERROR ARREST: Bush electrician accused of designing ISIS missile – YOUNG EINSTEIN. Two full pages followed inside: “BALLISTICS, BUSH & ISIS” with incredibly claims that the Iraqi-born tradie was building a “guided missile” for ISIS in Iraq. On the inside pages and in other papers the project became “a long-range missile” and then a “missile and laser warning device”. Turnbull added to the fantasia of the script by saying: “Police will allege that the man arrested has sought to advise ISIL on how to develop high-tech weapons capability”.
- AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin gave the media the quote of the day saying: “We will allege that he has been researching, designing and modelling systems to assist ISIL’s efforts to develop their own long-range guided missile capabilities.”
We had entered La La Land.
Questions the media didn’t ask
The media swallowed the AFP’s story hook, line and sinker and then added its own fearsome embellishments. No reporter asked the obvious questions: 1) Where did the tradie buy the materials to manufacture his long-range missile – Bunnings in the ACT? 2) Would the missile have reached Canberra which is 160km away? 3) What fuel was he planning to use – nuclear, diesel or ethanol-charged petrol? 4) Will you publish the plans of his rocket? 5) Why not? 6) How did he propose to transport the rocket system from Young in NSW to IS-held territory in the Iraqi caliphate – by Qantas or Australia Post?
Since the early 2000s Young has been regarded as the poster town for rural multiculturalism. Arab-born immigrants were first hired for the town’s abattoir and later as farm hands and service jobs in town. TV films were shot there and multi-culturalists took overseas delegations to the town to show them what successful social integration looked like. The white supremacists and One Nation racists hated Young and its emblematic stance. They’ve hit back with a warning to rural cities and towns across Australia – don’t accept refugees from Moslem countries or this can happen to you!!
Will the Iraqi tradie received a free and open trial? Will the press and public be admitted to all of the proceedings? Will all the police witnesses be named and identified and their evidence reported in the media? Or will their identities be concealed and their evidence heard in closed court on “national security” grounds to charge the court atmosphere with additional drama?
And finally, does anyone believe that Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull give a stuff about the Iraqi man in jail, his distraught wife and confused young family? They don’t.
Why WA Election scares Turnbull and Shorten
Canberra politicians are utterly absorbed by the WA State Election being fought on Saturday, March 11. None of the old timers can recall an occasion when the entire political class was so nervously focused on the outcome of a State election.
There is a reason for this. Both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten have so much skin in the outcome. Turnbull needs Premier Colin Barnett to win to consolidate his position as PM. Shorten needs a victory by Labor’s Mark McGowan, a 49-year-old former RAN legal officer, to consolidate his position as Federal Opposition leader and take a second crack at Turnbull at the next Federal election.
WA Labor needs to win a daunting 10 seats to form a government. Early calculations are that the ALP will win eight or nine seats although the Liberal vote is tumbling and Barnett is a bundle of nerves.
Also standing is a motley collection of One Nation candidates, old blokes with untreatable anti-Moslem phobias. By reaching a preference pact with Pauline Hanson, Premier Barnett has sent a bucketload of Liberal primary votes to One Nation which has evolved into a far right offshoot of the Liberal Party.
Falling into Labor’s lap
Bill Shorten’s ALP has a readymade federal election campaign:
- Vote Labor and we’ll restore Sunday penalty rates;
- Vote Labor and we’ll pass legislation to legalise same sex marriage.
With those two promises, the ALP will score millions of votes from younger voters, older voters and gay voters. They comprise such a significant part of Australia’s 21st century demography, that Labor should win enough seats to form a majority government.
The prospect of Labor’s majority victory is terrifying one person – Shorten, who fears that once in The Lodge he will run out excuses for doing nothing. “Little Billy” is congenitally afraid of doing something. I guess that’s why he is always empathising with Turnbull.
As the AWU’s national secretary Shorten was the Terminator of Low Wage Workers rights and a notorious dealmaker with the biggest employers. He promoted the investigation of weekend penalty rates by the Fair Work Commission and vowed to support its “independent” findings. WPA chairman is Justice Ian Ross AO, a former senior ACTU official and a FOB, aka Friend of Bill.
In an election – which some predict will be forced this year – the current crowd of Liberals, Nationals and assorted crazies from One Nation and other “independents” will be left standing. They will garner the votes of old crones, the misanthropic, the malevolent and the backward-looking – a minority of the population.
If Turnbull’s Coalition is so confident that its “jobs and growth” strategy is working – why doesn’t call an election to improve its single-vote majority in the Reps and build a majority in the Senate? But I guess asking Turnbull to show some ticker is a total waste of time. He doesn’t have any.
Baird goes back to banking
Mike Baird is a dyed-in-the-wool banker so there were no surprises when he returned to the vomitorium in Martin Place after resigning as NSW premier in January.
For the time being he’s taken a secondary job at NAB as chief customer officer on between $1 and $2 million-a-year. However, his sights are set on the top job as NAB CEO when his friend and former classmate, Andrew Thorburn, stands down. Then he can get into the real money: Thorburn’s salary is $6.7 million-a-year which is about 80 times the average fulltime wage of $81,900.
Baird will use his networking influence to persuade the Liberal federal government to turn the banking “four pillars” into “three pillars”. He will receive a colossal bonus of millions of dollars if he can merge NAB with one of the other players, ANZ or Westpac (but not the Commonwealth).
His mission will be made smoother by the appointment of another former premier, Queensland Labor leader Anna Bligh, as CEO of the Australian Bankers Association, the lobby group representing the greed, profits and privilege of Oz bankers. His other task is to stop the ALP and the labor movement from demanding a royal commission into the banking kleptocracy.
Gallop promotes UK “model”
Yet another former premier, WA’s Dr Geoff Gallop, has been busy this week offering a shallow defence of Baird’s move to NAB and suggesting Canberra politicians examine Britain’s Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba).
By all accounts, the committee is a howling joke. Chaired by Baroness Angela Browning, a right-wing Tory, Acoba has failed abjectly to regulate the retirement of ministers and MPs into the world of big business. Its oversight committee consists of three peers, three former Whitehall mandarins, a retired City of London lawyer and a former banker: just the kind of top drawer people who “won’t rock the boat” and will simply allow ex-politicians to slip seamlessly into corporate life.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information reveal that the committee is drawn from candidates with “senior level experience of at least one of the following sectors: the Diplomatic Service; the Military; Business.”
As an example of Acoba’s track record, let’s take its involvement in smoothing the career path of former chancellor George Osborne who resigned last year in the wake of the Brexit referendum. A few months later he joined the finance company, BlackRock, although he had taken decisions at No 11 Downing Street which greatly benefited the company’s profits.
Baroness Browning’s committee approved his new job and ignored all the glaring conflicts of interest saying “that there were no specific policy decisions from your time in office that would have specifically affected BlackRock, and the permanent secretary [of the Treasury] has no concerns about you taking up this post.”
Describing this as “Trump-level bollocks”, Private Eye revealed that Osborne removed all tax restrictions on how pensioners can access their pension [i.e. retirement] nest eggs in the 2014 budget. The company was drunk with excitement saying: “BlackRock is uniquely positioned [to take advantage of this change] because of our multi-asset strategies and our product development specifically tailored to the retirement area.”
For the record, BlackRock also employed Osborne’s chief economic adviser, Rupert Harrison, the neo-con who designed the pension-plundering policy.
Dr Gallop, who lives in a fantasy world of Blairite New Labourism and rabid Christianity, is also talking “Trump-level bollocks” when he recommends the Acoba model. Let’s be absolutely clear: retired prime ministers, premiers, ministers, MPs and civil servants are entitled to whatever jobs they can find.
Ethical questions come into play when they are offered outlandish salaries simply because they have retained personal contacts in government and are willing to pass on Cabinet plans, policies and budgets with which they are familiar.
These days, most large businesses are aware that ex-politicians aren’t worth hiring and they are right. Can their post-politics employment be regulated? It’s probably a waste of time: the best thing is to name them and shame them.
Great Crashing Bores*
I used to think that Donald Trump was a neo-fascist loudmouth. The way he carried on during the US election campaign was disgraceful. I’ve never heard anything like it. I thought that Jeb Bush was the much better candidate – his father George H W and his brother George W had both been presidents – so he was perfectly suited for the job. Having said that, Trump has improved his style since the inauguration. This week’s State of the Union speech to Congress was fantastic. He has repealed the Clean Water Act, banned Moslems from entering the US from seven Islamic nations, cut federal funding to “sanctuary” states which welcome migrants, frozen funding to international organisations that conduct abortions, requested funds to build a wall with Mexico and started to tame the Environmental Protection Agency. I’m telling everyone I meet: Go The Donald!
* GCB is a work of satirical fiction