Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Labor booby-trapped Australia's future

Paul Sheehan

When Joe Hockey was growing up and dreaming of becoming prime minister, he would not have imagined that his dream would lead him to joining a bomb disposal unit. Tomorrow, he will unveil the first bomb he must dismantle and it is almost nuclear in its capacity for destruction.

At 12.30 on Tuesday, Hockey, who has also been the stand-out thespian of the new federal parliament, will unveil the real horror, dysfunction and narcissism of Kevin Rudd's contribution to Australian political history, disably assisted by Julia Gillard.

Hockey will release the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, known in the trade as MYEFO, which will show a budget deficit much worse than Labor led us to believe, probably close to $50 billion, debt obligations much higher than Labor led us to believe, and unfunded liabilities that are so irresponsibly crushing the government will have to walk away from many of them. The most monumental folly is the National Broadband Network, whose economic rationale was worked out on a piece of paper by Rudd. The scheme subsequently created by former communications minister Stephen Conroy would cost more than $70 billion and never recover its cost of capital. The Abbott government will have to start again.

Rudd also authorised the spying on the President of Indonesia and his wife, a booby trap that duly exploded in the face of his Coalition successor. Rudd also poisoned the relationship with China, with his lectures to Beijing, which has also come back to haunt the Coalition government. Then came Gillard, who directed a decisive shift of funding and power to the unions. She exposed the Commonwealth to a massive unfunded financial obligation for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

She provided political cover for the disgraced union official Craig Thomson. And she set up and then stacked the Fair Work Australia bureaucracy with former union officials and Labor lawyers.

Labor booby-trapped the future.

It is also busy booby-trapping the present, putting improvised explosive devices everywhere, with the help of the Greens. Together, they have engaged in scorched-earth, rearguard, morally bankrupt obstructionism as if the 2013 federal election was a meaningless exercise, the will of the people has no moral authority, and the idea of a mandate, delivered by the only poll that matters, is an empty ideal to be ignored. The worst among equals in this cynicism are Labor's leader, Bill Shorten, his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, and the Minister for Gutter, Anthony Albanese, assisted by the deputy leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt.

Contrast their scorched-earth cynicism with the response of the defeated Coalition government in 2007, when it conceded the public had rejected its Work Choices industrial relations policies and Labor had a mandate to create what would become Fair Work Australia. This was the great issue in 2007 (after the unions spent millions to make it so) just as the carbon tax and curbing people-smuggling were the great issues of 2013.

For the past year the Coalition restricted itself to a small but emphatic range of policies that clearly differentiated it from Labor: repeal the carbon tax, repeal the mining tax, re-introduce temporary protection visas (which closed off asylum status), re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission and end Labor's deficit spending. This was the message. These policies became the mandate when Labor was thrown out of office in a landslide and the Greens suffered an even more emphatic 28 per cent plunge in their vote and lost the balance of power in the Senate.

And what do we get? Labor and the Greens opposing all four mandates, and everything else, and some of Labor's booby traps already exploding. Rudd's authorising of spying on Indonesia's President and his wife blew up on Tony Abbott, who suffered further damage as he doggedly covered up for Labor. Labor's multi-billion-dollar expansion into school education, a state issue, also exploded when Education Minister Christopher Pyne ineptly fumbled his attempt to rein in its costs and impositions.

The government must now wait until July 1 next year, when the new Senate is sworn in, and hope the independents and the eccentric Palmer United Party senators are more moral and pragmatic than the Greens, who think 8 per cent is a moral majority and a mandate to obstruct everything. Everything, that is, except removing the debt ceiling, where the Greens sided with the government, but only because they feared if they did not the government would start slashing spending with a chainsaw.

The key figures in dealing with Labor's booby traps are Hockey and Eric Abetz, the leader of the government in the Senate. Hockey has shown the most ticker in dealing with debt and deficit, and Senator Abetz has carriage of the crucial reform agenda in industrial relations. After Hockey, he has the most bombs to defuse.

Crucially, in addition to restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission, and tackling the tainted culture of Fair Work Australia, Senator Abetz must navigate the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment Bill into law. This is the bill that will drag the unions out of the 19th century. It establishes an independent watchdog, the Registered Organisations Commission, with powers modelled on those of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, to bring union governance into line with corporate governance.

The bill is designed to create a stronger, cleaner and more transparent union sector.

Labor and the Greens are opposing the bill at every step.


Liberal colleagues Cory Bernardi and Dennis Jensen criticise Malcolm Turnbull over gay marriage comments

Anger is rising within the Abbott government over Malcolm Turnbull's advocacy for gay marriage, with the Communications Minister publicly criticised by two backbench colleagues.

South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi has urged Mr Turnbull to either resign from the frontbench or stop commenting on "fringe issues outside party policy". And West Australian Liberal MP Dennis Jensen said Mr Turnbull's comments on gay marriage were "unhelpful" and not befitting a cabinet minister.

Mr Turnbull frustrated some of his more conservative colleagues when he told an interviewer on Sunday that Australia was getting out of step with similar countries on gay marriage.

He said Britain, Canada and parts of the US and South Africa had taken steps to allow gay marriage.

"So people of the same sex can get married in Auckland and Wellington, Toronto and Ottawa and Vancouver, in New York and Los Angeles, Baltimore and Cape Town, but not Australia," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Turnbull, who declined to respond to his colleagues' criticisms, also said he expected the Coalition to eventually allow a conscience vote – a key step in getting legislation through Federal Parliament.

"It does start to look as if we're the ones out of step," he said. "If a free vote is allowed, I will certainly vote in favour of a marriage equality bill."

Senator Bernardi, who himself lost a shadow parliamentary secretary position last year for suggesting gay marriage might lead to polygamy and bestiality, did not appreciate Mr Turnbull's intervention.

"If Malcolm Turnbull wants to talk about fringe issues outside party policy, he should resign from the frontbench," Senator Bernardi told the ABC on Monday.

Senator Bernardi expanded on his comments in a written statement to Fairfax Media.

"Our longstanding party policy is that marriage is between a man and a woman," Senator Bernardi said.

"We should expect that all frontbenchers will reflect party policy.

"Our principle has always been that frontbenchers argue for changes in party policy through cabinet whilst backbenchers are free to discuss any policy ideas they like. You can't have it both ways."

Dr Jensen said he agreed that Mr Turnbull's public support for gay marriage was inappropriate.

"I think Malcolm sees himself as a little bit above the frontbench when he speaks about some sociological issues if you will," Dr Jensen told Fairfax Media.

"It's unhelpful. [Gay marriage] is something we decided on not long ago ... even if you had a conscience vote, it still would not have got up."

Dr Jensen said cabinet ministers should "stick to their knitting" and not veer outside their portfolios unless the Prime Minister directed them to do so. Backbenchers had more freedom to speak across a range of issues, but frontbenchers relinquished that liberty, Dr Jensen said.

"Malcolm should be sticking to his portfolio," he added. "There are clearly a lot of problems within the NBN that require addressing."

On Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott repeated his position that a conscience vote for the Coalition on same-sex marriage would be up to the party room.

"If there is a proposal put into the Parliament it will be dealt with by our party room in the normal way," he told ABC's Radio National.

"In the end, its up to the party room to decide what our policy is."



Larry Pickering reports:

A senior Government official stationed on Nauru has described the current state of affairs as alarming, and in some cases almost comical, with costs running completely out of control.

“There are no port facilities here, we have to use barges and the only crane keeps breaking down”, he said

Daily 737 flights carrying supplies between Brisbane and Nauru are costing $114,000 each and often they transport as few as 3 or 4 people for specialist care. “People don’t realise that Nauru is half way to the US (I presume he meant Hawaii) and the larger C17s are burning up $400,000 a week in fuel”, said the official.

“The Salvation Army has been infiltrated by pink-haired, tattooed people with rings hanging from every orifice and boy, are they are causing havoc”, said the informant.

“The transferees are getting their clothing via the Salvos who in turn get it from Aussie collection bins. Thing is that they refuse to wear anything other than big brand name stuff like Dolce, Levi, Nike, Adidas etc.

“So the Pink Salvos are picking out the best stuff and giving it to the boaties while needy Aussies back home are getting left with crap”, he said.

“Iranians and Afghans, who are banned from having cigarettes since they burnt the place down, are dealing in contraband and, assisted by the Pink Salvos, are now getting all the smokes they want from down town.”

The official described the tolerated sexual behaviour of the all-male Iranians as disgusting and they have now been isolated in No. 2 Centre for health reasons.

“The Tamils are the best behaved and mostly follow Hinduism which does not allow masturbation, so it was arranged that they form circles on the floor and masturbate each other. Apparently that's permissible”, he said.

“The Pink Salvos also supplied inmates with hundreds of jars of Vegemite saying the vitamin B component would act as a repellent to the mosquitoes.

“Unfortunately none of them liked the taste so they smeared it over every part of their bodies. All you could see was their teeth.

"It then attracted every creepy crawly on the island and the whole camp had to be fumigated the next day.”

But the official had high praise for Minister Morrison, “At least he has been up front with us as to where this is all going”, he said.


Immigration minister quiet on future of asylum seeker humanitarian services

If you've read the above you will know why

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has shied away from spelling out what arrangements the government will make for humanitarian services provided to asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus once a $74 million contract held by the Salvation Army expires next year.

Questioned at his weekly media briefing in Sydney on Friday, Mr Morrison said a range of contracts for provision of services to offshore processing centres would expire soon and were "in the process of being determined with a view to improving our operational effectiveness at all of those centres".

He repeated claims of a $1.2 billion blow-out in the cost off-shore processing, blaming it on under-provision by his Labor predecessors.  "They clearly didn't have their heart in it because they clearly didn't put the dollars into it," he said.

He said he was not surprised by a report released by Amnesty International this week heavily criticising conditions on Manus Island, because this was to be "anticipated from groups or politicians or others who have long opposed the policy of offshore processing".

But he said the government would respond to "practical observations that can be verified that would improve the operations of these centres".

He denied there were restrictions on the amount of water asylum seekers could receive on Manus, or that treatment of those living in the camp amounted to torture.

Mr Morrison also denied reports that detainees suspected of homosexual activity on Manus were being automatically reported by Immigration staff to local police, though he added that "service providers provide clear advice to transferees on the relevant laws of Papua New Guinea".

"The department is unaware of any claims or declarations of homosexuality or any reports of homosexuality being investigated by police at the centre," he said.

During the so-called operational section of the briefing, the military head of Operation Sovereign Borders, Major General Angus Campbell, made a point of quashing what he said were rumours being fanned by people smugglers that the government was going to change its stance on asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Saying he wanted his message heard directly by those in transit countries, General Campbell turned mid-conference to Mr Morrison to ask him pointedly whether the government was considering any change in policy.  "Absolutely not," Mr Morrison said.

General Campbell sidestepped questions about the effects of continuing tensions between Jakarta and Canberra on combined efforts to defeat people smugglers, saying "those are issues at the moment for government-to-government discussions".

General Campbell said there had been two arrests on Thursday in relation to people-smuggling.

One, a 28-year-old Iranian, was arrested in Werribee, Melbourne, charged with aggravated people smuggling in relation to a vessel that capsized en route to Christmas Island on March 25.

The second man, a 25-year-old Indonesian, was arrested at Villawood in Sydney, charged over his role in crewing a boat that had capsized in August, with the suspected loss of five people whose bodies were never recovered. 


1 comment:

Paul said...

So there you have it. The genesis of Turbull's push to regain the Liberal Leadership for his bosses at Goldman Sachs will come on the backs of the LGBT crowd, who are to vain/stupid/emotional to see how they are being manipulated.