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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Enzed is a great little country, full of civic-minded folk. By the way, little is good. It’s a pity they decided not to join the new Commonwealth of Australia in the day, as it may have toned down that rapacious Oz mentality. Sir Robert Muldoon’s famous quote that Kiwis leaving for Australia raised the IQs of both countries, is a favourite of mine.

Media coverage of NZ election night on Saturday exemplified some admirable qualities in our Tasman cousins. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was shown sitting at home with her mum on the couch watching developments on TV. I couldn’t see whether she had her possum ugg boots on though. Her telegenic partner Clarke Gayford had probably gone fishing.

Outgoing PM Bill English rounded up a few more family members in front of TV in a public place at least. However, no hotel ballroom with thousands of supporters working themselves into mass hysteria for our sensible, modest, down-to-earth war buddies (remember the NZ in Anzac).

The Kiwi proportional representation voting system is more democratic and often involves negotiation with other parties to form government, as in Germany. And so to another election vignette. Veteran ‘kingmaker’ Winston Peters, who dislikes that descriptor, said he would consult his NZ First party members about which side of politics to join in government. Apparently no pre-determined plan and no hurry, or is that just Wily Winston?

The Maori Party looks like losing it’s seven seats to Labor. On a TV panel show veteran NZ Nationals ex-leader Don Brash said that the Maori party should disappear and even questioned Maoridom! Although fellow panelists were shocked they remained civil: a hallmark of NZ society. That wouldn’t happen on the other side of The Pond.

Imagine PM Jacinda meeting Canada’s PM Justin (such gen Y and X names) and joining him in taking over the reins of power from dreaded baby boomers. Add in Emmanuel, and it could be a trend, though 93 year old Zimbabwean Robert Mugabe is bucking it as he apparently lines up for another term!

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Not seven-year-itch, or bitch about the beloved partner. Actually that’s probably the average life span of a marriage these days? No, today’s sermon (appropriately) is about all the stuff and nonsense over marriage equality (ok I’ve removed the quotes now). That is, marriage of a gay (or LGBTI) couple. Why bother, has already been canvassed!

We already gave the thumbs down to the previous proposal for a wasteful $160m plebiscite on marriage equality, designed to cover the cowardly arses of some of the people’s representatives in our Federal parliament, who were trying to shirk their duty in a so-called conscience vote.

(Does that mean MPs otherwise park their consciences outside the House while they slavishly follow the literal party line?)

Occasionally I have a visceral reaction of repugnance and distrust of a public figure, like Howard and Pell, for example. Unfortunately I have the same contempt for Matthias Cormann, now Acting Special Minister of State, and Finance Minister in the so-called Turnbull government. He’s acting all the time, and he’s not at all special, so what a confusing new moniker.

That man’s superficial, leaden, soporific, moronic and robotic verbal offerings are insulting to any intelligence, and were particularly dire during the last election campaign when he thought he had mastered Tony Abbott’s repetitive three word mantra (see Jobson Grothe) technique. Now he’s put his name to the latest wasteful arse-covering, a $122m Federal postal survey on marriage equality.

It’s a half-baked voluntary thing, technically not even worth the reams of wasted paper to be mailed out. As a corporate marketing research manager in a previous life, I can assure you that the results cannot possibly be valid and reliable. The Australian Bureau of Statistics was given the survey gig against its mandate, as the government could not use the Australian Electoral Commission, although electoral rolls are being used for the mail-out of survey papers.

A survey without consideration of sampling error and bias is a complete waste of time. The ABS is scurrying to set up some analytic stats to accompany the results, but the bureaucrats must be professionally insulted by this abuse of government resources for partisan political manoeuvres. The head of the ABS is wonderfully titled the Australian Statistician, and he should resign in protest.

The High Court is hearing challenges to the constitutionality of the survey on grounds that the expenditure is not approved by parliament. Gormless Cormann is pretending that it is ‘urgent and unforeseen’ expenditure, so as to bypass parliament and plunder special contingency funds. Eminent law professor George Williams agrees with me (oh yeah) that the High Court will rule against him.

Cormann is also arguing that he has sole discretion to decide what is ‘urgent and unforeseen’. Our Matthias takes hubris to another level! So if he loses I reckon he should be hoisted by his own petard and resign as minister. Obviously that would be an honourable course of action, which by definition he will blithely ignore.

It’s a pity he’s not caught up in the dual citizenship kerfuffle – surely this adornment to his Belgian origins actually still owes allegiance to King Philippe or some such? (Dutch joke: Q. how do you recognise a Belgian pirate? A. he wears two eye patches.)

An unintended consequence of survey preparations has been the rush to electoral rolls by a young cohort of presumably pro marriage equality voters, which may come back to bite the Federal government on the bum at the next election. Oh, sweet irony indeed. Meantime parliamentarians should dust off their consciences and get ready to do their voting duty on marriage equality.

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In this post-truth Trumpian world we now all inhabit, public interest in unveiling the falsehoods, falsity, fictions, fabrications, fibs and flim-flams of political discourse seems greatly diminished. Of course Australia has followed the trend, taking mendacious pollie-speak to new heights (depths?) of untruthing. The old expression a ‘trumped-up story’ is somehow prescient.

A prevailing ethos of bald-faced lying means that pollies are encouraged to flagrantly and shamelessly parade their untruths in full view of voting punters. The fourth estate and public opinion rarely bring serious offenders to account.

The latest lying by Australian federal politicians about their dual citizenships and therefore constitutional unfitness for office is an egregious example of decline in political morals.

Matt Canavan, erstwhile coalition minister still literally holding onto his seat, and Malcolm Roberts, One Nation senator, have both gone off to the High Court to defend their parliamentary positions against Section 44 of the constitution. Whereas Canavan was previously unaware that his mum had requested Italian citizenship for him when he was 26 years old, now his barrister says that he was Italian from birth or some such. Let’s not even mention the hapless kiwi Barnaby!

Climate change denialist and serious whacko Roberts, who apparently never had dual citizenship, now says that he renounced his UK citizenship just as he was entering parliament, but isn’t sure if it was accepted by the British government. Or some such. It’s amazing how hiring QCs as barristers in the High Court (acting as Court of Disputed Returns) flipped their stories around.

Puh-lease!  In olden days, MPs would be drummed out of the service for misleading parliament, let alone blatantly lying. Imagine if the High Court could charge the scoundrels (no, the MPs not the lawyers) with criminal lying and put them on the stand with a bible. Or apply the polygraph? Problem is they’ve had so much practice lying they’d probably pass with flying colours.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that immigrants could not lose their citizenship because of lying about ‘irrelevant matters’ in their applications. So maybe it’s ok after all for our pollies to lie too in this 51st of the United States?

Oh, and you’ve gotta admire the chutzpah of our serially-lying erstwhile PM Abbott, who just confessed, eight years later, that he was indeed too drunk to attend parliamentary votes in the house, despite strenuously denying it all this time! This unreconstructed ex apprentice priest is the epitome of deceitful hypocrisy.

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Fellow pundit Mungo McCallum, the oracle from Billinudgel, has clearly debunked the Australian Christian Lobby’s use of God’s fine words to justify its virulent opposition to gay marriage. I mean ‘marriage equality’.

Unfortunately fine words were not matched by deeds, and Mungo outlines God’s deficiencies in the parenting of his son, and the neglect, even abuse, of the boy’s mother. It’s not a pretty saga, and hardly a role model for Christian naysayers of gay marriage today.

I have to confess that I’m not that fussed about the idea of encouraging more marriages, but I understand that it somehow means a lot to some gay/etc folk. And if civil union or other ersatz marriage substitutes don’t suffice, then by all means let them join the happy matrimonial club. No skin off anybody’s nose. But I do find ‘equality’ a strange label.

And of course we don’t need a $160m national plebiscite to change the laws. Just get on with it in parliament with so-called conscience votes all round, and stop wasting everyone’s time. Particularly as we could put that energy into more pressing matters, like boat-stopping and opening new coal mines.

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During this interminable Australian Federal election campaign the Coalition has shortened their notorious three-word slogan format previously practised by the erstwhile Tony Abbott. Maybe due to the short attention span of voting punters, Coalition candidates have been parroting a two word catchphrase (exclude the joining word):  Jobs and Growth.

Its mechanical repetition by all their candidates has given rise to the idea that a messianic figure is coming to save our greedy asses, in the person of Jobson Grothe. Apart from the moronic and insulting nature of this tactic, my problem is that both those key words are so yesterday.

In reality the government has little control over jobs, apart from the public service, which it is busy down-sizing. Okay, it wants to reduce company taxes to encourage investment, trickle down effect, blah, blah, but critical economists have debunked that impoverished idea. In this post-industrial society, where are jobs meant to come from? Oh yeah, the services sector of call centres, hospitality, digital thingamajig, health, etc.  Hmm!

As for Growth, another impoverished concept well past its use by date, it has taken us on a merry ride of exponential destruction of our natural environment. Sorry, I meant operating environment for business, aka corporate profits. Folks, we’ve got to get our brains into some existential thinking: where will endless growth and despoliation of our planet and atmosphere get us?

In this marathon election campaign politicians of both major parties have ignored, to use econo-speak, the huge ‘externality’ of economic growth known as climate change, which is almost a euphemism for endangering our own life support systems. Ditto any mention of our renewable energy future. So, without further ado and need for explanation, I’m launching a new campaign counter slogan identity: Colleen N. Green.  Go girl!

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(French, present participle of revenir, to return – when used in English curiously it is more dramatic, from the dead, like the recent film or book.)

Ok, you’ve been afraid to ask, why has the strident voice from Kookynie been quelled since this time last year. Rumours that KC was bought out by Murdoch almost came true as we were very willing to sell out for a small consideration, but negotiations fell over when Rupert insisted we go quiet on his Jerry Hall liaison. I wonder what fine qualities he has to keep pulling these babes, huh?

Nah, we’ve been too busy realising the Great Orstralian Dream out here in the back of beyond. With no shortage of deserted blocks to snap up, we decided to DIY a new shack, thus expanding Kookynie’s housing stock by about 25%. So it’s done, home beautiful is extant. We’re here for the long-haul, mate, not speculation, unless of course a property developer offers a motza. Have a gander below and swing by when you’re next heading north from Coolgardie.

So time now for keeping you abreast of the latest wonderings, which brings us inevitably to today’s sacred rendez-vous with history, and the temptation to recycle last year’s Anzac Day diatribe. But I’ll resist it, and simply mention ‘Unnecessary Wars’ by Henry Reynolds, just released, which traces Australia’s ignominious tradition of uncritically joining in faraway imperialist or neo-colonial wars at the behest of our great and trusted allies. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s bound to add more grist to my over-full mill of anti-war resentment and resistance.

So instead of wallowing in the faux sentimentality and over-wrought nationalism of ‘remembrance’, I recommend that we do ourselves and future soldier generations a service, by reading Henry’s book. And think about what was actually achieved in those foreign lands where our boys made the supreme sacrifice. Yeah, that was think, not feel.

Have a trawl through KC’s archives on our most recent war in Afghanistan. Objective conclusions about Australia’s involvement are rarely discussed, and the lack of debate when we commit to war perplexing indeed. Henry may help to elucidate these blind-spots in the national psyche and political DNA.

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The Abbott Australian government was quick out of the starting box in its environmental demolition derby. Any government body with climate or science in its name is good for the chop. As are annoying environmental protections, otherwise known as red tape. Which of course means that approval processes for development applications, aka mining, have to be streamlined. Already the Abbott Pack have an impressive list of all the above, but they ain’t done yet.

No Science minister in the Federal cabinet. Climate Commission abolished. Ditto the Climate Change Authority. Legislation to abolish the carbon price. Ditto Federal environmental safeguards for biodiversity. Murray-Darling off the threatened ecosystems list. Rolling back no-fisheries provisions in Australia’s marine national parks. Review, that is reduce, Australia’s renewable energy targets. Approval of the world’s largest coal port construction near the Great Barrier Reef. Cuts to CSIRO staff scientist numbers. Abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Extract 74,000 hectares of World Heritage listed Tasmanian forest for logging.

Wait till Abbott’s merry band of environmental thugs really get in their stride, and pull the whips. We’re all in for a rough ride, so this list will no doubt grow much longer. Unfortunately Abolish Abbott day is three years away!

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