Monday, June 16, 2014

Gillard’s union history is embarrassing on a global scale

“AUSTRALIANS have to worry,” said Tanya Plibersek this week, that Tony Abbott will be “embarrassing us on the world stage”.

The Oxford Dictionary says to embarrass is to “cause someone to feel awkward, self-conscious, or ashamed”. When I think about the possibility of being asked to give a summary of Australian politics “for the world stage”, here is what I am embarrassed about.

I am embarrassed that, despite her strong protestations of innocence, this week’s evidence in the royal commission directly contradicts Julia Gillard’s version of events. If investigators don’t eventually turn the torch on Gillard, well and good, but if they do, some of us will disregard fact and law and cast the matter as misogynistic persecution of an innocent woman and spread this perception across the globe. This immaturity is embarrassing.

In the conversations of some, comparisons between the incarceration of Pauline Hanson and any future prosecution of Gillard are being had now.

Commentators are already saying the royal commission into unions is just a mechanism to “get Gillard”. That we live in a country that is so willing to accept wrong-doing provided that wrongdoing is done in the course of politics embarrasses me.

I am embarrassed that the Labor Party allowed Gillard to become leader in the first place. The set of circumstances that led to her leadership were shameful. In June 2010, our prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was flicked out of his job as casually as a chess piece is taken off a board. As people abroad expressed bewilderment, asking how a prime minister can just be sacked, we Australians had no choice but to grit our teeth, duck our heads and bear it. We were powerless chumps at the mercy of the AWU faction. This was, I found, embarrassing.

I am embarrassed at how improper it was that a select bunch of union people with knowledge of damaging information on Gillard were allowed to rob our democracy, set an appalling precedent in our history and install her into the highest office in the land. When Australians awoke one morning to a new prime minister, not enough of us thought it outrageously improper that a bunch of people who might have something very big over someone might put that person into a position of power and be able to exercise control over that person, to the detriment of the country.

When a few people within the Labor party, union movement or media twigged and raised this objection, they were ignored, ridiculed or cruelly silenced. This is embarrassing.

I am embarrassed that the Labor Party thought we were all so stupid (and perhaps we are) that early last year, they were still putting Gillard up as leader for re-election into the role of prime minister even though they knew she was embroiled in an investi­gation by the Victorian Police Fraud Squad. The evidence of this investigation was there for all to see, but many in our media refused to cover or acknowledge it.

Indeed, some in the media spent considerable time denying the investigation was even occurring, and then when it was no longer deniable, admitted it was occurring but just wasn’t looking at the activities of Gillard.

I am embarrassed that in May last year, when a search warrant issued to Victoria Police named Gillard and authorised police to enter her former workplace to seize her employment records, somehow the general public didn’t become widely aware of it.

Gillard’s personnel files, the rec­ord of interview on her separation from Slater and Gordon and a raft of documents pertaining to her legal work for her boyfriend Bruce Wilson, the former AWU chief, were all seized. On this very day, when the implications of the warrant would have hit home, Gillard cried in parliament, and no one thought she might have been partly crying because unsavoury events long suppressed were ­finally being brought to light.

Finally, I am embarrassed that even after everything, when this week in a royal commission, witnesses have under oath given evidence with alarming implications for Gillard and the person being now put up as the alternative prime minister, there are still people in positions of influence, who instead of exhibiting desire to discover fact are trying desperately to avoid it.


Why did the ALP government give channel 7 $250 million?

A lot of criticism has been directed at the ABC and Fairfax Media and others for bias in regards to their reporting. Whether that is true or not could and should be debated but the worst of all, Channel 7 has been badly missed. Channel 7′s corrupt conduct involves hundreds of millions of dollars being stolen from the tax payer to boost the profitability and value of Channel 7.

So when you wonder why there is so much corruption and fraud and theft in government and why the media like Channel 7 fail to report a lot of it, why we have to now work to 70, why we have to pay for doctors and why pensioners have to tighten their belt etc.? One reason is to keep the likes of Channel 7 filthy rich.

Last year I wrote:

2010 Election Year Media Bribe

In February 2010 the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy announced a temporary reduction in “licence fees networks pay by 33 per cent this year and 50 per cent in 2011″.

“The issue has begun to gain traction in the electorate, as Senator Conroy has declined to discuss how his department came up with the formula that will generate at least $250m for the networks at the expense of taxpayers, and amid ongoing revelations about his private meetings with Seven Network executive chairman Kerry Stokes.”

Only a month before this was announced in 2010 Stephen Conroy met Kerry Stokes at Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado USA for a meeting and a few ski runs, as you do when on holidays. Also “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a previous recipient of Mr Stokes’s hospitality, staying in Mr Stokes’s mansion in Broome, WA, last year“.

Eventually the reduction was made permanent and in 2013 the license fees were decreased by another 50%.

“The Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2013 halves the annual license fee  for commercial TV networks, making it a maximum of 4.5 per cent of gross  earnings.”

“It passed the lower house unanimously.”

So the real reduction (money taken from tax payers) is probably valued at around $400 to $500 million. I know some educated guesses have it at $600 to $700 million.

I wrote at the time:

“It is not just Kerry Stokes who benefits from the reduction in licence fees, Channel 10 and Channel 9 do as well. But the reduction seems to have been driven by Mr Stokes in 2010 at least and most likely again now. If the government are trying to buy better election coverage, Mr Stokes and Channel 7 would be the target as they are unlikely to get better election coverage from Channel 10 with Gina Rinehart on the board. Ms Rinehart is well-known to dislike the Labor Government and apparently helped Andrew Bolt get his own show on Channel 10 which seems to spend most of its time attacking the Labor Government. Channel Nine did the infamous Mark Latham report on Sixty Minutes before the 2010 election which embarrassed the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, so one can hardly say they took a bribe then, although they now have new owners who might be swayed.”  (Click here to read more)

Channel 7 and the AWU fraud cover-up

A prime example of Channel 7 taking a bribe for better coverage for the Labor Party is the AWU fraud which Channel 7 has been extremely quiet on overall. In fact Channel 7 used its current affair program to attack Ralph Blewitt who is one of the key witnesses against Julia Gillard. That would be ok if they had also reported in a balanced way the evidence against Julia Gillard but they did no do that. It was almost like they were on the Labor Party payroll which given the reduction in TV fees they were on Labor’s payroll. Or as Abbott said they had taken “an election year bribe”. Channel 7 in effect tried to help the Labor Party cover-up the AWU fraud.

It is time for Channel 7 to pay their share

Channel 10 is almost bankrupt and Channel 9 are newly listed on the stock market and I do not know if they make a profit. But I believe Channel 7 do make a profit and could and should pay their share of taxes.

Everyone knows that large foreign companies pay very little tax in Australia and the government are planning on doing something in the near future to rectify it. Prime Minister Tony Abbott was reported on Wednesday while in the US as saying:

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott has given the US notice that he is serious about leading global efforts through the Group of 20 to stop tax ­evasion through profit shifting by multinationals, which would include some of America’s biggest companies.”

“Mr Abbott said international tax rules should be structured to capture income where it is generated – an indirect swipe at Apple, Google and other big companies that license intellectual property to their own subsidiaries to enable them to shift profits to countries with lower taxes.”

Here we are whingeing about foreign companies not paying their fare share of taxes yet the government turns a blind eye to Australian companies such as Channel 7 not paying their fare share. The television fees are a tax and should be increased to where they were previously and then some to make up for the billions of dollars that tax payers have lost since 2010.

I personally do not want to work to 70 just so I can help filthy rich people stay filthy rich. This is an issue that needs driving and I will be doing that.


Be careful what you wish for: bans and censorship tend to bite the hand that voted for them

Freedom is a bit like one of those pesky irregular verbs. I ­deserve liberty; you deserve a balance of rights and responsibilities; that bloke ought to be locked up. I am a rational autonomous adult; you are subject to external influence; that bloke doesn’t know what’s good for him.

When we seek to ban things, this problem arises acutely. I know when I’ve had enough to drink; you should probably slow down; that bloke can’t be served a neat spirit after midnight, drink from glass, have full strength beer at the footy or buy a round for his mates.

When bans are proposed, be they on pornography, swearing, drug use or the characterisation of certain kinds of people based on race, it’s easy to kid ourselves that any rules we make are for that third group of people. These are not people we usually know by name, they are the abstract theoretical people whom we imagine ­really do need to be told how to ­behave. Bans tend to bite the hand that voted for them.

In 1955 the NSW, South Australian and Victorian governments took action to ban comic books, generally blamed for corrupting the morals of the young. Publications were deemed ­obscene if they “unduly emphasised matters of sex, crimes of violence, gross cruelty or horror”.

Edward Massey, a director of the Institute of Political Science, wrote at the time that these conditions would exclude half the works of Shakespeare.

He further noted there was, “as far as I am aware, no evidence that the reading of books has ever led anyone into a life of crime”.

Few books are censored now and the censoring of literature is properly regarded as philistine. But culture more broadly is still censored and there is still a worthy fight to be had defending artists from the gag.

Earlier this year, ArtsHub reported that a line from Jonathan Biggins’ new play had been cut following complaints on opening night. Reports don’t specify the ­offensive content but indicate it was a joke whose punch line was “Campbell Newman”.

Whatever one thinks of Newman, the restriction of Biggins’ imaginary citizen’s freedom to say what he pleased about the Queensland Premier should have been anathema to any political ­descendant of Mill, Locke or Milton.

In the visual arts, leading artists Paul Yore and Bill Henson have been subjected to charges for works depicting children in ways deemed pornographic by police. In both cases, while you might argue for an eternity about the worth of the art, this stretched credulity and in neither case were any children exploited.

The impact of the Henson case was such that in 2011, a work by ­Archibald Prize winner Del Katherine Barton which depicted a shirtless boy was subject to a similar complaint that saw a $200,000 charity auction cancelled.

In the world of television, comedian Dan Ilic’s commercial for Dick Smith, featuring the cheekily laboured innuendo “I like Dick” was refused broadcast. “Apparently” said Smith, “you can’t have lovely old ladies saying ‘dick’. I’m angry. I don’t like this being censored when it’s just good fun.”

Good fun also leads to trouble on radio where the biggest category of complaints is bad language, which has made airplay especially difficult for hip hop, an important cultural outlet for young people. And heaven help the kids who sing along with a rude pop tune: Australian laws against offensive conduct generally stipulate that a person who, “sings an obscene song or ballad” near a school, “shall be guilty of an offence”.

Which also means that kids sharing the songs I learned in the schoolyard about sailors going to see, see, see and that limerick-loving man from Newcastle would all be in breach of the law. A defence can be made that the swearer had a reasonable excuse. Sadly for most school kids, the excuses don’t ­include making your mates laugh.

While a well-placed swear can add sizzle to a pop song, it’s half the steak for many comedians.

Black humour, bad language, and irreverence are stock in trade. Consequently offence is never far away, but if comedians worried too much about it they wouldn’t be very funny. As Ben Pjobe wrote in Meanjin last year: “Everyone has a perfect right to take offence at anything, and I’ll defend that right, but nobody has a God-given right to go through life without being offended.”

I don’t need and certainly don’t demand the freedom to be a racist. But I do want freedom of ­expression for a lot of people who are often deemed offensive. I struggle to see how one kind of free speech isn’t materially affected by the progress or regress of another.


Leftists think defamation is free speech

It never has been  -- in any jurisdiction

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s decision to sue Fairfax Media for defamation over the now-notorious front-page story “Treasurer for sale” raises interesting questions about politicians suing to protect their reputation, allied with the protection of freedom of speech in Australia.

Hockey claims the newspapers in question – The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times – alleged that he accepted, or was prepared to accept, bribes; that he corruptly solicited payments in order to influence his decision; and that he corruptly sold privileged access to businesspeople and lobbyists in return for donations to the Liberal Party.

A debate is underway about the balance between freedom of speech and protection against racially offensive conduct. There similarly needs to be a debate in Australia about defamation law.


Leftists only call for a debate over something when their view is a minority one.  Otherwise they try to shut you up

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