Tag Archives: Corruption

Corruption Is The New Governance

It’s Not “Corruption” If It’s Officially Sanctioned? Wow

Pleiades has been sending me material about Dick Warburton and his report. Naturally, as I pointed out yesterday, it is symptomatic of this government that it would appoint a climate change denier to head up a report on Renewable Energy Target. Predictably the Warburton report has recommended the we simply shut up shop on renewable energy. Of course he was savaged by Fran Kelly and promptly lost what little dignity he might have had in pretending he was somehow impartial.

I’ve been thinking about this a little more and it seems to me there is a much bigger problem than just the appointment of the eminently-wrong-person to review something that does not need to be reviewed, especially in the manner that an eminently-wrong-person may review such things. It’s basically handing out policy to be designed by the lobbyists – which is basically as corrupt an enterprise you can have, running a government. We saw this earlier in the year when they handed out the economic policy thinking to the likes of  Tony Shepherd and Amanda Vanstone. Basically, this government doesn’t have a thinking function, and glommed into government through nay-saying. Having put themselves in government it has dawned on them that they haven’t got any kind of coherent policy so they’ve decided to do the classic corporate thing to do and handed out the thinking to subcontractors who are lobbyists, as a company might subcontract out some tricky bit of business.

The problem is all these lobbyists are the most vested of vested interests and worse still are not accountable to the public in the way the politicians are meant to be accountable. So now, there is no denying that corporate lobbies pay money into parties to get access, and when they get access to the ministerial level, they return favours by saying. “look, you tell us what you want and we’ll just do it.” It genuinely is government by the lobbyists of the lobbyists for the lobbyists. And there’s no shame at all. There’s no need for corrupt little brown envelopes with cash in them because these Liberal Party government office-holders just want to openly do exactly what the lobbyists want and tell them. It’s like that joke: “what do you call a hamster with its own roll of gaffer tape?” – “A slut”. The only reason it’s not called corruption is because there’s nothing subterfuge about it. It’s a bit like how the hamster in the joke might not be considered a prostitute because it doesn’t take money.

It’s a classic case study in what happens when you substitute actual thinking with ideological slogans. It’s staggering, even if we knew this was exactly what we would get if this bunch of traitorous sell-outs got into power. Yet, that’s essentially what we’ve got – a government busily selling out the interests of its people in the name of doing and being open for business. They’re a truly repugnant lot.

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Everybody Hates This Budget

Everybody Except Ballerinas

Who decided that out of all the arts practitioners that ballerinas in particular were the most hard done by and could not be cut any more? Who’s daughter or niece is studying to be a ballerina? Didn’t they think we’d notice that everybody in the sciences, arts and manufacturing gets funding cuts but the ballerinas are going to get a special scholarship fund for their boarding needs? Has there been a bigger joke and probable cause for investigating a conflict of interest than this item in this year’s budget?

But no, there won’t be a federal equivalent of an ICAC, so we may never know. I sure hope the findings in the NSW ICAC about this North Sydney Forum brings down Joe Hockey. Screw him and the tutu and shoes he came dancing into town with.

How Do The Nats Cope?
It struck me that the budget would hurt the rural base of the national Party as much, if not more than people in urban areas. Consider youth unemployment is higher in rural areas, so these cuts to the dole and changes in arrangements would affect more rural families than city ones. Making tertiary education more expensive adds a burden on to families that have to send their university student children to cities to board and study. If at the same time the Federal government is pulling 80billion from healthcare and education from the states, then clearly they’re more likely to feel the pinch when the State governments cut health and education in far flung rural areas before they cut in urban areas.

Which ever way you dice this, this budget is not good for the bush at all, and even if they built all these roads, it’s the sort of spending that is one-and-done with nothing to follow up. There’s really nothing in it that helps the bush at all, and so you wonder what exactly keeps the Nationals in the fold with the Liberals except for an extreme kind of social conservatism. Even then you wonder how much the bush can take of this before they say, “bugger the principles, we’re not going along with this crap”; It may already be happening because the amount of support given to a rogue national party member like Bob Katter teaming up with mining magnate Clive Palmer suggests the rural vote is already looking away from the Coalition in search of a better choice

I spoke to Pleiades today who tells me people on the backbench on the government side are hopping mad at Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott is putting it on the MPs to go and sell this to their electorates, but the MPs weren’t consulted about any of these radical changes. If it’s not a fiasco, it sure is a looming disaster.

OMG, A Medical Research Fund?

It’s pretty clear the current Libs have attitudes that date back to when Galileo started moving the earth and Darwin conjured humanity from monkeys. The thing that has Pleaides incensed is that this mob have come to power and shut down the environmental agencies, cutback the CSIRO, and research areas an starved science of funding in the name of budget surplus. They say it’s about the budget surplus, but actually they just don’t like science for embarrassing the church. Pretty soon they’ll be ramming (un)’Intelligent Design’ into the classroom and wanting to support the church through public funds – in fact they’re already paying for chaplains to be in schools.

These people don’t really believe in science. Think about that for a moment. They don’t even have a minister for science. Their vision for the future revolves around building roads and presumably keeping driving fossil fuel vehicles as if the world does not change. Not only are they in denial about Climate Change, they’re in denial that anything changes at all. so how much credibility is there when the very same people who have taken an axe to science turn around and say they are going to have a medical research fund?

It immediately begs the question qui bono  – who benefits? It’s no conspiracy. It has got to be the pharmaceutical companies who have been lobbying the government to keep their entitlements under the current medical entitlements even if the Australian people lose theirs. Oh that, and maybe Joe Hockey doesn’t want to die of an obscure cancer.

It will be too late to reach for your torches and pitchforks when they start giving out textbooks with humans and dinosaurs cavorting together. You heard it from me right here.

Captive To Idiocy

I know name-calling doesn’t help but it’s worth calling things by their proper name: The Liberal Party in Australia has transformed itself into the Conservative party and are decidedly Tory in their bearings. Just as with their overseas conservative counterparts, there’s nothing terribly liberal about this Liberal Party at all. It’s no coincidence that Tony Abbott wanted to bring back Knights and Dames. However when it comes to economic policy the only textbook they had to go on was the austerity practiced by the UK Conservatives and the sort of belt tightening imposed on Greece.

Of course, austrity has not worked at all, and Greece saw its economy shrink to such an extent that it ended up owning more money as against their GDP. The experience in the UK has been such that they couldn’t run austerity program enough to sustain infrastructure so they only half implemented it and mostly talked about doing it. The very notion that austerity would lead the economy back to health is built on the simple assumption that if government debt is reduced to zero and goes to surplus, the economy would once again be free to make capital investments.

It’s a lie. It’s stupid. And quite frankly it’s so wrong and stupid, it’s evil and a danger to society. And yet that’s our federal government

The problem with our economy and what has hindered our recovery is that people have not been able to deleverage their private debt from their peak in 2007. That’s it. Even if the Australian government went back to zero debt, as long as Australian households are in debt up to their eyeballs and Australian industry is in debt up to their eyeballs, there won’t be any more big capital expenditures in the wake of the mining boom subsiding. That’s really it in a nutshell.

But the desire of industry is always to privatise profits and socialise losses so to this end they lobby  governments for special treatment. In the current government we have a bunch of idiots who want to do exactly as the lobbyists ask, believing this is the remedy to a problem that does not actually exist, when in fact it utterly fails to address the problems that do exist. And if that’s not captive to idiocy it’s hard to imagine a better example.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 19/Mar/2014

Scandal-A-Day Government

Arthur Sinodinos has been forced to step down from his cabinet role thanks to having his name linked in the ICAC surrounding more of Morbid Obeidity. Turns out Eddie Obeid was making ‘political contributions’ (read: Bribes) to the Liberals as well as to strategically placed Labor Party people. In that sense Eddie Obeid was colour-blind. This reminds us of Kakuei Tanaka and his penchant for bribing everybody who was running for office, regardless of party, affiliation or faction  because “in the end they’re all people and people need a little help sometimes.”

While Sinodinos has not been accused of a crime, what’s become clear is that the company for which he was a director, Australian Water Holdings, was charging Sydney Water money, and then was using that money to make political contributions to the Liberal Party, where Sinodinos was also treasurer. This has meant that although circuitous, the tax payer was making contributions to the Liberal Party. What’s breathtaking is the massive conflict of interest of being the both the company director for Australian Water Holdings and being the Liberal Party treasurer at the same time. One can only guess at the sums of money involved but you can be assured it wasn’t exactly nickels and dimes because Sydney Water wanted to know why they were being charged these special fees and all their attempts to find out hit a brick wall. We can be pretty sure it was much more than the sum Craig Thomson racked up with hookers on the HSU credit card.

What Other People Are Saying

Walk-Off-HBP sent me this link about the people who marched the other day.

If Tony Abbott hadn’t cut the ribbon on the floodgates of senseless ridicule in Australian politics, maybe my sign could be considered distasteful. If the Liberal party had renounced rather than adopted mockery in Australian politics, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this right now.

In the garbage dump you’re trying to help turn Australian politics into, I obviously feel it was appropriate to call the Prime Minister a dickhead. I can’t speak for everyone who dislikes the Prime Minister, but I think he needs to know how strongly that sentiment is felt. You can’t just sell off parcels of our country without being told you’re a dickhead. You can’t dredge our reefs, chop down our world heritage listed forests and kill our animals without being told you’re a dickhead. You can’t abolish our important scientific and social institutions, oppress minorities or defund education, health and welfare without being told you’re a dickhead.

I think it’s fair to call him a dickhead. I hope that it sticks, and that for the rest of his life, Tony Abbott is known as Tony Abbott the Dickhead PM. I hope people who meet his daughters say “Oh, your dad is the famous dickhead!”, and I hope his Wikipedia page ends up with an entire chapter dedicated to the dickhead aptronym. I hope it stains his life in such a way that it makes every Australian politician worry about what they’ll be called.

I thought it was worth sharing just to say, “so you thought I was being mean yesterday!”

Clusterfuck Of Doxa

I have to say I don’t really know Lena Dunham and her work. From what I understand, she makes TV shows about young women having a devil of a time in the dating scene. As such it surprises me none that she wants to come out swinging on behalf of Dylan Farrow who dredged up her old accusations against Woody Allen. Lena Dunham says she’s nauseated by Woody Allen. I’d normally walk by these kinds of puff pieces but it caught my attention that Dunham makes an explicit demarcation between the man and his art.

“In the latest Woody Allen debate I’m decidedly pro-Dylan Farrow and decidedly disgusted with Woody Allen’s behavior. But for me, when people go through his work and comb through it for references to child molestation, that’s not the f*cking point.”

“I’m not gonna indict the work … I think that you can decide that you don’t want to support the work of somebody who has molested a child. That’s a completely appropriate choice. But going through it and saying, ‘Look, he’s told us in 57 ways that he rapes kids.’ That’s not the thing. The thing is to look at the actual evidence that exists in the world, which I think strongly suggests that Woody Allen is in the wrong. But for me the point is not to go through his one-act plays looking for references to child molestation. Because I’m not comfortable living in a world where art is part of how we convict people of crimes.””

Now, that’s the right conclusion to come to at the end there. It’s interesting she gets there because she’s a public person creating works that are out in the public sphere; so presumably this is laying down a line to protect herself from being seen through the prism of her won work – even though she created exactly such a space where Lena Dunham actor and creator are all rolled up in her show. It seems more than a little self-serving to be arguing that line.

Be that as it may, a free kick at the venerable director still is a cheap shot. The man took a polygraph at the time of the accusations and came out clean. Something Mia Farrow refused to do when asked if she was coaching her kid to accuse Woody Allen. Colour me unimpressed when it comes to this business of Dylan Farrow’s open letter. But I’m always surprised at the people who “yes but” me with “we have to believe the victims” or “but she really believes it, so there must be some basis in reality”. I have to say this kind of cavalier attitude towards facts that have already been verified just as vexing as Dunham’s nausea from the man himself.  If you’re going to throw out polygraphs because they can be unreliable, what good reason is there to hold on to the testimony of somebody who might have been coached as an infant to believe what she says she believes?

Anyway. I figure it’s worth grumbling about. I understand people not liking Woody Allen as a result of all this; I’d have to say I wouldn’t want to particularly meet the man. I just don’t see how you can be pro-Dylan Farrow given the reports. Oh, and by the way I thought Cate Blanchett handled all this really well by not talking about it, when asked about it.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 18/Mar/2013

Tin Ear Drum, Tin Ears, Tone Deaf

It’s a new week and a new poll says Julia Gillard’s got to go. As far as the electorate’s concerned, she’s a Dead Leader Walking.

The Prime Minister conducted a live-in campaign tour of western Sydney, announced $1 billion for the WestConnex expressway, promised a brace of benefits for workers, pledged $1 billion for aged care staff, attacked foreign workers on 457 visas and championed ”Aussie jobs,” and presided over strong growth in the number of people in jobs.

All for no electoral gain. The only movement in Labor’s primary vote was a 1 per cent rise, which is within the poll’s margin of error of 2.6 per cent. Neither offers to meet voters’ needs nor appeals to their prejudices made any discernible difference. The evidence of the last month is that, as a campaigner, Gillard is ineffectual. So if Gillard can’t do it for Labor, who can?

The poll tested the standing of four alternative leaders – Kevin Rudd and the three Gillard ministers most commonly touted as leadership material, Bill Shorten, Greg Combet and Bob Carr.

Asked whether they would prefer Gillard or Rudd, respondents chose Rudd by exactly two-to-one, 62 per cent to 31. His edge over Gillard on this measure has risen by 5 percentage points in the last month. Asked to choose between each of the other three and Gillard, respondents chose Gillard every time.

”The voters are saying, ‘if we can’t have Kevin Rudd, we’d rather have Julia Gillard over any of the alternatives’,” Stirton concludes. In short, there is no realistic option of a ”third candidate” to lead Labor.

That’s sort of the problem, though, isn’t it? It’s too late to go back to Kevin Rudd because even if they did, they’re not going to win. That choice was way back in February 2012, so as far as we can tell, the ALP is accepting it’s going to go down with all hands, thank you very much Captain Improbable.

Julia Gillard defiantly says she won’t flinch. Well, neither does a corpse, so I don’t know how not flinching is going to help.

”I’ll just keep getting on with it and dealing with the issues that actually matter and all of this kind of side-commentary can do whatever it does. It’s not going to deter me – or distract me.”

Ms Gillard has just emphatically ruled out any prospect of her stepping down before the election, insisting Labor made its decision on leadership when it rejected Kevin Rudd’s challenge last year. ”I haven’t revisited it since and I won’t be revisiting it. The decision’s made.”

But, in an expansive exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, Ms Gillard said Mr Rudd would play a prominent role in the election campaign, saying he would be ”asked to participate in the campaign more broadly than his own electorate”.She also indicated she would not resist a return by Mr Rudd to the front bench after the next election, saying: ”It would obviously be a matter for him that I would deal with in the circumstances of the time.”

Good heavens! After the next election when the ALP gets decimated in the polls, it might be only Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard remaining. She sure as heck won’t be keeping the leader’s seat after she presides over a mess that is likely to go down in history as the mother of all drubbings.

One of the more awful trends in the last few months has been the growing acceptance that come 15th September, it’s going to be Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. It’s like the 5 stages of grieving. We’re done ‘Denying’ it. We’ve been ‘Angry’ for 3years now. Some people are trying to ‘Bargain’.

The optimistic conclusion is this: Life under Tony Abbott may not be as bad as we fear. Perhaps. If we’re lucky. Assuming he’s fair dinkum and his mates don’t succumb to the power aphrodisiac.

I forgot to mention the other finding from the German research was things never turn out as well as optimists predict.
Such is life …

This is what we have been reduced to. I guess I’m going straight to ‘Depression’. It’s going to be very hard to accept Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. There’s something so insidiously  wrong about that – but what can you do? Vote of Julia? Puh-lease!

How Rotten Is NSW Politics?

If anything has been busily hammering the nail into the coffin of the Federal ALP, it’s been NSW ALP with all the horrible bits and pieces coming out of the ICAC inquiry. For a start, the Morbid Obedity that is being explored doesn’t just cover coal; it turns out it covers Ron Medich and the Michael McGurk murder. It even goes far back as Offset Alpine. Eddie Obeid’s right in there with Rene Rivkin. (In fact, that mess of course leads to the Caroline Byrne thing but we won’t go into that here.  The point of all this is that there was a cabal of people in and out of each other’s deals, cleaning up on the scraps left over by government; and Eddie Obeid made sure that he left big scraps on the table and that a sizable portion of the scraps went into his own pockets.)

I seriously wonder if the ALP will survive this scandal. They may not come back for over a decade, both in NSW and Federally. We may be witnessing the end of the ALP. And they would only have themselves to blame.

Oh, let’s never forget that Eddie Obeid’s support and sway over the NSW Right Faction swung the numbers for Bill Shorten and Mark Arbib to oust Kevin Rudd. Julia Gillard may well wonder why she does so badly in NSW. If she could get her head around our deep disgust, then she might even get her head around flinching in revulsion and resigning.

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Morbid Obeidity

‘Obeidity’: A New Word For Rampant Corruption

We knew the NSW branch of the ALP has been very odd for a long time. The depths of the corruption that is coming out in the ICAC hearings is at once unsurprising and yet so repugnant. From what we are to understand from the hearings, Eddie Obeid held the NSW Right faction hostage, placed Ian MacDonald (‘Sir Lunch-a-lot’) in a position where he would have inside knowledge, then used that inside knowledge to stake out a position wherein they would have to be bought out in order for a coal mine to be built, finagled his family trust into owning the mining concern that would win the tender on the back of knowing where the coal was, and by having Ian Macdonald decide who would win the tender. In the process, Ian Macdonald had side deals with Greg Jones and a cast of characters have either opted in (and out); all of it as a result of the shenanigans carried out by Obeid and Ian Macdonald.

The surprising thing in all this is that the fast and furious chopping and changing of Premiers from Morris Iemma to Nathan Rees to Kristina Kenneally may have been done to preserve Obeid’s advantages in the various deals and had nothing to do with:

  • Points of public policy
  • Policy differences on public policy
  • Inner ALP politics and machinations for political advantage
  • Inner NSW Right factional politics for political advantage.

No, no, no, no, no! Eddie Obeid was pulling strings and throwing his weight around just so he could have his snout firmly entrenched in the comings and goings in these deals. That all the public incredulity and angst about the state of the ALP over these changes had sweet fuck all to do with anything of actual importance. It was all about the Obeids getting more out of the public purse. So, it may well be that since Bob Carr left office as Premier, NSW politics has essentially stood still, unable to do anything because these corrupt toads were  busy filling their own pockets and making out like bandits. And if nothing else it explains how the extremely insufferable and stupid Kristina Kenneally came to be our Premier. The Obeids played us all for suckers and stuck a muppet with hair up there, knowing full well that voting was just some kind of popularity contest when the real deal was the deal making to stuff one’s own coffers.

The true tragedy in all this is that the ICAC can’t lay charges, and that the DPP won’t be able to prosecute the Obeids unto a conviction because the ICAC evidence won’t necessarily fit through that tight door into the courtroom. That’s right. Eddie Obeid and his family just might get away with all this. I *hate* saying this but the Angry Fat Man is right: this is moral turpitude at its most flagrant worst.

And we’re all the poorer for it. All those policy points we’ve argued about and waited for our government to action, such as public transport or infrastructure spending never really took any part of Eddie Obeid’s greedy little mind. It didn’t matter who lobbied whom, none of it was ever going to happen (and didn’t) because frankly this guy did not give a shit about public policy – at all – And he just rope-a-doped his way through office, hardly turning up, pulling down his salary (and the Parliamentarian superannuation now), just being generally obstructionist so that nothing that got in his way, got done.

So the question today is this: given the Obeid/ICAC thing, the Craig Thomson thing, and the Nova Peris/ Trish Crossin thing, (not to mention the Rudd removal) how can we bring ourselves to even contemplate voting for the ALP in all good conscience? How do we know the next candidate they put up in Dobell to replace Craig Thomson won’t be some union hack or some low grade party apparatchik? How do we know Nova Peris won’t become a corrupt politician with her snout firmly embedded in the public purse, and un-removable by dint of her ethnicity? Forget high ideals and lights at the top of the metaphorical hill; where the heck are we supposed to find any faith in this mob?

It’s bad enough that we’re confronted with a 2-Tax Systems Tony Abbott and his attack-poodle-of-death Christopher Pyne. Just what the hell are we supposed to do? Vote for these muthers?

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How To Hand Over Bribes

The Kakuei Tanaka Way

Alrighty you bribe-delivering political aspirants, here’s the grand master’s lessons on how to hand out political bribes. Read it carefully because you will need to execute this perfectly.

1. Everybody you will hand over the bribe to, thinks they are a good person. They might even be a good person, but the important thing is they think they’re good people. So to them, needing this money is the worst feeling in the world. It’s particularly bad at the very moment when they receive the money packet.

2. Therefore when you hand the money over, be very careful, because this is the moment that counts. Don’t toss it over the table as if it doesn’t matter. If you even have half a thought like that, the other party will recognise it in you. Then it won’t matter a penny that you’re handing over 100million yen. Instead, you should get down on your knees and grovel as you hand over the money. At least, approach it that way.

3. Hand over the bribe to the target and nobody else.

4. Always hand it over where there is nobody else there. Even if it has to be done in a toilet cubicle.

5. Never, ever, ever hand it over to their campaign manager or secretaries. This is because you’ll hurt the integrity of the bribe-receiver in the eyes of his subordinates. They shouldn’t have to know where the money comes from or why.

6. If you have no choice, hand it to their spouse, but you have to make sure they’re tight. You have to be the best judge of character to decide it.

7. The point of this is politics, and the point of politics is to lessen your enemies and create a great field of intermediates who are favorably disposed towards you. It’s more important to have fewer enemies than to have more allies.

Good luck with the package, son. Then again, there’s always Beth Morgan who was happy just to get a good shagging.

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