Fallout from the banking royal commission

Catherine Brenner, departed AMP chair

Unexpected fall-out from the bank royal commission … Feminism comes a cropper in the corporate world … Bill Shorten thinks he is cruising to election victory. Really? … British union leader lashes rats in the ranks … and much more …

Catherine Brenner has been ousted as chairman of AMP Ltd after the revelations of gross mismanagement, repeated lying to financial regulators, fee gouging and fraudulently robbing customers.

Ms Brenner has also stepped down as a trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW where she was appointed by friends in the Coalition.

Few will disagree with the view that Ms Brenner has received her just deserts. But why is a different standard being applied to Catherine Livingstone, chair of the Commonwealth Bank? Ms Livingstone is still raking in a vast salary of around $900,000 although the CBA has been found guilty of far worse corporate crimes than the AMP.

These include facilitating financial transfers for drugs cartels and global terrorists on thousands of occasions.

CBA’s CEO Ian Narev has gone but Ms Livingstone, seemingly oblivious to her fiduciary duties under the Companies Act, defies everyone.

Catherine Livingstone

At the Commonwealth Bank, the high-flying Ms Livingstone is a member of the risk, audit and remuneration committees. She formerly chaired Telstra and the CSIRO where she is remembered for gutting staff and living in a public relations bubble.

She learned her corporate approach at Macquarie Bank, aka the millionaires’ factory, which amassed a vast network of tolled motorways during the halcyon days of Bob Carr’s Labor government.

She is a former president of the Business Council of Australia, the trade union representing union haters and filthy rich boardroom seat-warmers.

The current CEO of the Business Council is Jennifer Westacott, head of Premier Morris Iemma’s Cabinet Office in 2006-08. She is currently raising tens of millions of dollars to fight the Labor Party, unions and lowly paid workers at the next federal election.

The dismal fate of Ms Brenner and the impending backlash against Ms Livingstone and Ms Westacott calls for a rethink of the existing strategy of self-declared male feminists and corporate 21st century feminists.

There is something incredibly cruel about urging millions of working-class women, struggling against low pay, real estate robbery and rising education and health costs, to “break the glass ceiling” and become millionairesses like Lisa Wilkinson of Channel Ten.

The agenda is socialism

During the past two decades, the mainstream feminist rallying cry has been “break the glass ceiling” and build gender quotas on all-male boards of directors in the finance sector, law firms, developer companies, mass media and associated high-flying enterprises.

And not before time. These were traditionally male-only preserves. Twenty years ago, no woman served on a major bank board. Of course not. It was a total preserve of the old boys’ network, aka the patriarchy.

So men and women used their new-found muscle to force corporate boards to accept women as CEOs, CFOs and directors. It was a welcome advance applauded by everyone.

However, although the strategy was correct, it brought unintended consequences. In many cases the female recruits turned out to be enthusiastic purveyors of capitalist “values”: they sacked experienced employees and replaced them with highly paid contractors; out-sourced core responsibilities; and adopted the whole fee-gouging mentality of the capitalist elite.

It seems to me, the corporate reform movement has lost sight of the fact that 19th century socialism gave birth to women’s rights. Social and economic equality has always been a socialist objective. It’s never been a capitalist one: capitalists have cynically stolen women’s rights to prolong the depraved life of capitalist exploitation.

Want to be a real feminist in 2018? Become a socialist and devote your talent to building a vibrant public sector to oppose capitalism!

Giving Bill Shorten a spine

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s malignant Coalition government has given an election-winning free kick to Bill Shorten’s Labor Opposition. But the federal Parliamentary Labor Party is suddenly short of kickers. No one wants to score a goal.

Bill Shorten

Let me explain. Turnbull, his Cabinet, the Coalition backbench, the Liberal Party and its National Party partners are all deeply implicated in opposing a royal commission into the banks and the finance industry.

For almost two years they fought tooth and nail against a royal commission, with Turnbull himself leading the charge. When a handful of Liberals and maverick Nationals threatened to cross the floor, vote with Labor and the Greens and potentially bring down his government, Turnbull collapsed (as he always does) and hurriedly appointed former NSW judge Ken Hayne QC to run a restricted investigation on a restricted budget.

But in record time, Hayne’s staff of barristers, solicitors, accountants and researchers have managed to produce a litany of crimes and misdemeanours in the banking and finance sectors. Evidence from the public hearings has exposed the greed, profit-gouging and arrogance of a financial class who consider themselves to be a new power elite which is above the law and common decency and the “fair-go” values of society-at-large.

How to take on Turnbull

Turnbull’s career-long link to the greedy banks (Goldman Sachs et al) is a gift to Labor election strategists (NOT phoney election consultants, advertising agents or public relations plonkers). The campaign themes almost write themselves:

Malcolm Turnbull, the multi-millionaire merchant banker, fought against holding a banks royal commission; he wanted to protect his mates in the banking industry; the Liberals wanted to hide the corruption scandals of Turnbull’s mates in the banks; Bill Shorten and the Labor Party championed the banking royal commission; Labor wanted to expose finance sector corruption and end it; Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals wanted to hide the scandals and keep the rorts going.

Ken Hayne QC of the banking Royal Commission

Instead of promoting this morale-raising approach, Shorten’s feeble social democrats are afraid of being accused of “class war” politics and “bank bashing” by Rupert Murdoch’s hirelings.

Murdoch’s scribblers make a huge amount of noise (that’s what he pays them to do) but they represent nobody. Is anyone reading Andrew Bolt in News Ltd rags or watching his programme on pay TV’s Sky News? Is anyone reading Peta Credlin or watching her programme on Sky News? And answer is not many or very few.

Labor has now won 31 consecutive Newspolls; the latest has Labor on 51 points with the Coalition on 49 on a two-party preferred basis.

Notice something? The gap is closing. With Labor basking in complacency, Turnbull’s Coalition is fighting for its life.

Shorten has switched to cruise control, while Turnbull is on steroids.

PS: By the way, why has Labor’s “rising star” and future prime ministerial prospect, Perth MP and former barrister Tim Hammond, 43, suddenly resigned provoking a by-election? It doesn’t demonstrate much faith in, or loyalty to, Shorten.

A blast from the past

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Britain’s largest trade union, Unite (formerly the Transport and General Workers Union), has defended British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a timely and compelling opinion piece.

Len McCluskey, right, with British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

The beleaguered Corbyn continues to enjoy great popularity among workers, old battlers, young people, trade unionists, unemployed people, and students, but he is consistently rubbished and ridiculed by the Tories, right-wing Labourites and the mainstream media.

The current attack, promoted by the Israeli Embassy in London, is that Corbyn and the British Labour Party are anti-semitic. The aim is to turn (often legitimate) criticism of Israel into the equivalent of anti-semitism.

McCluskey has not only refuted the fraudulent claims of the pro-Israel lobbyists, he’s named members of the Labour Party’s own fifth column.

“People holding anti-semitic views have no place in the [Labour] party, and they should be dealt with under rule as rapidly as possible.

“Let me say that I accept there are anti-semites in the Labour Party – few in number for sure, but any is too much – and the issue of combating their views is not merely legitimate but essential. Certainly, cleansing Labour of any trace of anti-semitism is critical. No party committed to equality can play host to this virus.

“I have fought anti-semitism and anti-semites all my life, including physically on the streets on occasion, and I need no lectures from anyone else on the subject. I am not sure that some of the voluble backbench critics of Jeremy Corbyn can say as much.

‘That leads on to the second issue we have to grapple with – the activity of a few dozen Labour MPs who appear to wake up each morning thinking only: ‘How can I undermine Jeremy Corbyn today?’ I do not doubt they are sincere in their opposition to anti-semitism, but they need to understand that if you attack your party leader about everything, it devalues your criticisms concerning anything in particular.

“If you look at the list of MPs who rebel on one issue after another you see the same names. There is, to say the least, a marked overlap between those who backed Theresa May in risking a new bloody intervention in the Middle East, and those who work overtime trying to present the Labour Party as a morass of misogyny, anti-semitism and bullying.

“How dare they try to toxify the Labour Party that has been the voice and hope of millions of ordinary working people for generations, including the nearly 13 million people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in 2017? His critics enjoyed dramatic increases in their own votes – and I have to advise them that this was down to Corbyn’s campaign and his radical manifesto, not their own personal charisma.” (New Statesman, 25 April 2018)

He concluded: “I look with disgust at the behaviour of the Corbyn-hater MPs who join forces with the most reactionary elements of the media establishments and I understand why there is a growing demand for mandatory preselection. To watch as these so-called social democrats tried to demean and attack, in front of our enemy, a decent and honourable man who has fought racism and anti-semitism all his life and who has breathed life and hope back into the hearts of millions, especially the young, made my stomach turn. To see Tory MPs cheer and applaud them was shameful.

“Promiscuous critics must expect to be criticised, and those who wish to hold Corbyn to account can expect to be held to account themselves.”

The Israeli connection

McCluskey singled out Avi Gabbay, current leader of the Israeli Labour Party, for special mention. Gabbay, a fierce Zionist, former army intelligence officer, ex-CEO of telecoms company Belzec and ex-Treasury official, denounced Corby for “hostility you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-semitic statements and actions you have allowed”.

McCluskey commented: “If no one else will say, I will. Gabbay is guilty of a cynical and outrageous smear. The idea that Corbyn has ever shown hostility towards the Jewish community, or allowed anti-semitic actions, is a disgusting libel of which Gabbay should be ashamed. In my view, withdrawing those remarks is essential for any resumption of normal relations with the Israeli Labour Party.

“Yet I have not heard a single one of the Labour leader’s critics on this issue, including my friends in the Jewish labour movement, acknowledge that Gabbay has gone too far.”

Israeli army soldiers with Palestinian prisoner

What is “too far” in Israeli politics these days? Leaders of Israel, settlers, lawyers, judges and politicians make racist remarks and direct hate speech against Palestinians (and Arabs in general) with complete impunity. With the honourable exception of Israel’s effective peace movement, the majority Zionist community welcomes their relatively new status as global pariahs. They actually enjoy notoriety as cruel oppressors and embrace their consequential victimhood. Israel has “the most moral army in the world”, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid reports that an unarmed Palestinian peace protester had been shot in the back demonstrating against the military occupation of their land.

But hey, Israel has Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch on its side, so what’s to worry about?

Press release of the Week

“TAFE NSW is experiencing a boom in barbering enrolments as the NSW Government opened new facilities to boost training for the State’s future barbers.”

  • Adam Marshall, Nationals MP for Northern Tablelands and Cabinet Minister for Tourism and Major Events and assistant Minister for Skills

Pseud of the Week

Monash and Me

  • Reporter Peter Greste’s title of his two-part ABC-TV series

Heard in the House

“Mr President, yesterday you directed me to withdraw comments made during questions without notice. I withdraw comments made in relation to the Minister for the Arts and Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Don Harwin, where I called him ‘a liar and a fibber’. I unreservedly withdraw the comments.’

Walt Secord, Labor’s shadow arts minister in the NSW Legislative Council, 2 May 2018

One comment

  1. Bravo! Immer trustworthy! Bloody Livingstone/Westacott – liars and rorter-supporters of privatised privilege! And yes, too – on the scandalous attacks of Corbyn by the anti-Semitic Israeli politicians – and their barbarous attacks via their IDF on Palestinians! Thank-you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *