Tag Archives: Federal Government

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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The End Of Enlightenment

The Dark Ages Beckon Once More

I’ve been thinking that maybe one of the things the Abbott government wants the Federal government to do is get out of education; And as with such ideas, it always is worth asking what one might mean by ‘out’ and ‘education’. The growing trend in Australian society since the reintroduction of fees in the early 1990s has been to measure the value of a course against the earning capacity of the graduates. Then, trying to figure out “if it is worth doing the course.” Unsurprisingly, a great many courses cease to commend themselves once you apply the Return-On-Investment line of thinking and if one is truly driven by money alone, it is easy to suggest arts courses are not worthwhile. Why would somebody do Fine Arts if it were about earning capacity? How many jobs can there be, in something like curating for a gallery?

There are any number of courses for which graduates would find an inordinate amount of difficulty in placing themselves in employment in that field. Like, graduates in music or archaeology or theatre or literature or philosophy. In fact there is a vast shortage of jobs that specifically require arts education and pay well enough. The dirty secret of the stat that approximately 90% of graduates do not work in the area of their tertiary study is that the jobs simply were not there to absorb those graduates.

The great irony is that in trying to put a value on education, we’ve managed to destroy the worth of education. It didn’t exactly start with Tony Abbott’s current horror budget. It started when we started conflating vocational training with getting an education – and for that we can lay the blame at John Dawkins and his reforms where they started to hand out bachelors  degrees for test-tube washing. With the Dawkins reforms came the vast delusion of mass professionalism in the workforce when really, the politicians just wanted to keep Gen-X off the unemployment statistics.

The legacy of it is the expansion of tertiary places accompanied by the devisement of fees to off-set the expense. While it might have been the smart move at the time it commodified the education into a grand vision for vocational training for everybody. It was ‘Educating Rita” on a grand scale as part of that bargain. And with it came the unfortunate other irony that you can put a price on the education through projected future earnings. It was a crock – but for some reason we all bought it. Maybe we didn’t choose to look too closely lest it reveal the fundamental asymmetry that the education you get has very little to do with the money you end up making.

The thing that really stands out with this notion of  deregulating the universities so they can charge whatever they like, is that it squarely places education out of reach from people. The only way in which you can successfully assess the worthiness of a course hinges on it vocational merits. And if our society were to commit to that vision of education, then we may as well kiss the enlightenment goodbye. Of course, this would suit the fear mongers and hate mongers of the Murdoch press; They keep baying for this kind of vision that locks in inequality.

IPA Stands For ‘Ideological Propaganda Agency’

If you watch ‘the Drum’ like I do occasionally, you’ll notice they always aim to get some commentator to explain just what is good about the so-called *thinking* of the Liberal Party. They usually get some right-wing toad from this ‘Think Tank’ (and you would have to use the term ‘think’ very loosely when it comes to these people) called the Institute for Public Affairs to parrot the official line. It’s often unapologetic Thatcherite pap that it makes you scream at the television set the way Sophie Mirabella used to make us scream whenever she was on TV.

The IPA is full of terrible suggestions and explanations it makes you wonder if they actually grew up on the same planet as the rest of humanity, let alone in this country. Just how crazy are these people? You should look at a sample. Walk-Off HBP was kind enough to send this link today and well… it’s pretty self explanatory.

Top of their list is abolishing the ‘Carbon Tax’, followed by abolishing the Department of Climate Change and the Clean Energy Fund. Clearly they’re climate change deniers. What other possible explanation could there be? And this is an important point. Climate Change deniers have no science to back them up except for those soul-less sell-outs in the employ of the oil lobby who cherry pick stats to make it look like the world is cooling. It’s not a scientific position. So it really makes me wonder why ‘The Drum’ has to invite such intellectually deficient cretins to argue this kind of insane oppositional view just to make it look balanced. Especially when the same said cretins are calling for funding cuts and breaking up the ABC. Why give this bunch of Morlocks any airtime at all? Would the ABC give a Holocaust denialist or KKK member ‘equal time’?

No.

Then why this mob? The only thing that makes them respectable enough to talk to is the fact that they haven’t hurt anybody – yet. But if they had their way, they would hurt a whole bunch of people. If we were to follow their pan-Galactically stupid recipe, it would cause so much damage to our society we may never recover. I don’t know why the rest of Australia is being made to take this cretinous collective seriously.

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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 10/May/2013

Not Wilton, Surely Not Wilton

The Federal Government and transport minister Anthony Albanese in particular has been leading a strange crusade of his own to put an airport at Wilton. To that extent his department has somehow deleted references to an old study done into Wilton which categorically rejected Wilton as a site for Sydney’s second airport; then commissioned a new study based on the fact that Wilton was about the 9th best candidate in a field of 9, and then finally released those findings to find that there is yet another reason to do another study.

Chief executive of Urban Development Institute of Australia Stephen Albin, who is backing another airport at Badgerys Creek, said the further studies into Wilton were a waste of time and the public had ”report fatigue”.’

‘They don’t believe what they are hearing from the politicians,” Mr Albin said. ”Decisions need to be made to ensure that community confidence in government plans is not eroded.”

Mr Albin, as well as the NSW Business Chamber and the Tourism and Transport Forum, said Badgerys Creek was clearly the best option.

”The biggest surprise out of this report was that they’ve said they’re going to do another report,” Mr Albin said.

That’s exactly it.

It’s all pretty strange with its fixation on Wilton if it didn’t keep costing millions in tax money to keep conducting these studies that basically keep saying Wilton is a bad idea. Even if it were an average idea, the Federal Government already owns land to what everybody knows is the right idea, which is Badgerys Creek. But no. They’ll do another report into Wilton. So here’s another one of those facepalm moments you can chalk up with this ALP government.

Anyway. Crikey has this piece here, thanks to Pleiades.

Labor is under suspicion of protecting someone’s pecuniary interests in not building Badgerys Creek, which a brand new suburban railway line, the SW Rail project, could be extended into at trivial cost  on its completion to Leppington in less than two years time.

It can’t possibly be acting to protect the public interest in depriving western Sydney from having its own airport, and the jobs and additional public transport infrastructure that come with it.

Labor even sponsored a supposedly independent federal/state study into a site for a 2nd Sydney Airport which overwhelmingly endorsed Badgerys Creek, which the Commonwealth owns, and the minister, Anthony Albanese, trashed its independence in about 20 minutes after its official release by rejecting the finding as incompatible with party policy. That development, a year ago, then lead to today’s ridiculous and useless quest to ‘independently’ come up with a Wilton answer that would justify turning over the Badgerys Creek site to whatever private interests will benefit from such a decision.

Minister, the answer is not another or further studies. The answer is change the policy.

That about sums it up. But of course this government is pathologically incapable of doing the obviously correct thing. As with the other white elephant study – the one into a high speed rail link they have no intention of building – this one has sucked a lot of government money and public confidence. I’m amazed that Julia Gillard gets given so much credit for her policies when in fact her ministers are off creating this miasma of nonsensical studies and non-decisions.

For those of you short of a laugh, here’s something you might like: Some black-humoured wags are saying that the reason Anthony Albanese is insisting on Wilton is so that Badgerys never gets built. The reason why they don’t want to build on Badgerys Creek is because that’s where all the corpses are buried by hitman Lucky Gatellari and hitman-hirer-about-town Ron Medich, so it would be a terrible thing to dig anything up out there. That sort of thing just might fit the bill of pecuniary interests, no?

Jokes aside, you do wonder what on earth the ALP is up to with this charade. If they want to build the second airport in Badgerys, they should just come out and say so. Everybody knows it’s the only real choice.

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