Greens Bullshit: New Salesman For An Unchanged Product

THE SHOCK RESIGNATION of Communist Party Greens leader Christine Milne today will — despite removing one of the nastiest and most piously sanctimonious specimens ever elected to an Australian Parliament — change very little; the Greens have shown typical disregard for the “principles” they trumpet, and whilst we wish Milne no hard feelings as she slithers away, her departure will do nothing to bring common sense or sanity to her party.

Not being a creature of the hard Left and finding socialism and communism deeply distasteful at best, I find myself with very little to say about Christine Milne on one of the biggest days of her career that is remotely positive.

Even so, I am a great believer that credit should be given where it is due: and accordingly, I wish to acknowledge her resignation from the leadership of the Greens (with the accompanying promise not to recontest her Senate berth at the next federal election) in as fulsome and enthusiastic terms as I can muster.

I never thought to hear myself utter these words, but Milne has rendered a wonderful service upon Australia today.

Milne has said she is quitting politics for personal and family reasons, and to provide her party with “generational change.” We wish her no ill will in her overdue retirement.

A relic of a bygone era when “Greens” in name actually campaigned on environmentally based platforms, Milne cut her political teeth a quarter of a century ago in a fight over a proposed pulp mill in Tasmania, and whilst she proved to be on the winning side in that contest — entering the Tasmanian state Parliament in 1989 in the washout from those events — Milne will be mostly remembered by thinking people as little more than an inflexible socialist.

And in the spirit of giving credit where it is due, it would be remiss not to observe the excellent political obituary published in The Australian by Chris Kenny, who accurately characterised her as “a snarling, negative leader” whilst cataloguing the insidiously intolerant, belligerent outpost of Soviet-style brutalism into which the Greens have evolved during her tenure as their leader.

Christine Milne was not a “leader” for her times or, indeed, for any time; the illiberal and intolerant agenda advanced by the Greens under her leadership — on industry and energy policy, welfare, taxation, defence, immigration, media policy and social matters — would, if ever (God forbid) implemented, have plunged Australia into economic ruin and social chaos as anyone to the Right of Lenin was ostracised and persecuted as “extremists,” whole industries sabotaged and dismantled, indolence and apathy subsidised and rewarded, the defence forces neutered and the country’s borders thrown open, and any voice dissenting from the line of the junta involuntarily silenced.

In fact, Milne’s greatest achievement probably lies in the fact that such a noxious platform could develop under her malevolent, malignant gaze whilst still managing to fool a not-so-insubstantial minority of the Australian public into thinking that the Greens remained, at heart, an “environmental” party.

Quite.

I must confess I will miss Milne, and whilst we haven’t had cause to talk about her so frequently since the 2013 election — the dilution of relevance that comes with an election loss will do that — I know she has entertained and enraged my readers in equal measure over the years.

We’ve paid homage to Milne’s expertise in matters of military strategy and terrorism.

We’ve witnessed her inability to control her colleagues, as they argued over whether fuel indexation was an initiative to be supported on environmental grounds, or a political sledgehammer to be deployed against the hated Tony Abbott by blocking it.

We’ve giggled as she failed to explain the distinction between a genuine conflict of interest and a political roadblock her Greens found immoveable — in more ways than one.

And we’ve felt her anger, as at least one Liberal government elected by a thumping margin found the cojones to tell her, and her deeply objectionable political outfit, to piss off.

During the 2013 election campaign — and at least in part as a result of Milne’s efforts as Greens leader at a time her party served in formal partnership with Labor in government — this column advocated for the Greens to be wiped out at the ballot box, and readers can revisit those arguments here and here. And happily, the party shed 30% of its 2010 vote, and won two fewer Senators in 2013 than it had three years earlier.

That downward movement in Greens representation could have been more, and its effects will take time to be felt on account of the rotation of Senators. But it was a good start, and that too is something Milne can take credit for presiding over.

But my favourite encounter with her in this column came almost three years ago, as Milne used an opinion piece in The Australian to turn the issue of asylum seekers into mouth-foaming rant that was part partisan drivel, part justification, and part attempt to poke her nose (and that of her party) into things that had absolutely nothing to do with her, the Greens, or Australia at all.

Like cleaning up corruption on the docks in Indonesia, for which no methodology was offered, but which would almost certainly have started a war if any Australian government attempted to implement it.

In the end, that’s just what the Greens have become under Milne’s stewardship: sanctimonious, pious, dictatorial and prescriptive, and adept at interfering in matters which wiser heads would steer well clear of.

The adage about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread is particularly apt where assessments of Christine Milne’s leadership is concerned.

And as it drew to a close today — in typical fashion — the Greens, who have long trumpeted that theirs is a party whose leadership is determined by its members, acted swiftly to install a replacement based on the votes of its ten Senators, plus sole lower house MP Adam Bandt: to the total exclusion of their much-vaunted rank-and-file constituency.

Little time ought to be expended on pondering why now ex-deputy Greens leader Bandt did not replace Milne; it may, as claimed, have had to do with the imminent birth of his first child.

Or it could simply be that Bandt did not have the support of the fruit cakes inside the Greens party room whose bidding any new leader would be obliged to perform.

But great thanks can be given to whatever higher power you believe in that Milne’s replacement was not actual Communist, former Soviet propagandist and traitor to Australia, Lee Rhiannon; similarly, the imbecilic, juvenile, staunchly socialist Sarah Hanson-Young — whose cavalier attitude toward human life was evidenced by her dismissal of more than a thousand asylum seeker deaths at sea as proof that “accidents happen” — would have made a predictable choice for a party of the far Left that, happily, was not taken.

That said, the Greens seem to have appointed a “leadership group” and, just like a football team, now have a captain (Victorian Senator Richard di Natale) and two (2) vice captains, Queensland bleeding heart and compassion babbler Larissa Waters and enigmatic Western Australian Senator Scott Ludlam.

It is to be hoped only one of these deputies is to be paid the salary loading the position attracts under parliamentary entitlement guidelines, although then again — given what good little socialists the Greens are — maybe the two of them will split it.

I had high hopes that di Natale — a doctor, far more articulate than Milne and, by virtue of his profession, arguably more intelligent — might prove a surprise packet, and actually behave like a responsible political operator bent on more than just the spread of socialism and the obliteration of anything to the Right of Andropov.

Yet already — and despite his claim to aspire for the Greens to become a party of the mainstream Left — he has shown that he will play the same cracked record on social policy as Milne did, telling Tom Elliott on Melbourne radio station 3AW this afternoon that the Abbott government was culpable for the continued presence of children in immigration detention; when it was pointed out to him that some 1,200 children had been detained under Labor (and Greens) policy prior to the 2013 election, and that 90% of them had since been released, di Natale immediately parroted the Milne/Hanson-Young line that “10% is 10% too many,” apparently ignorant of and/or oblivious to procedural considerations that must — like it or not — first be followed.

It’s an inauspicious start, if I’m being nice about it.

I can’t wait to hear his ideas on other areas of governance, but those will be stories for another day. Initial appearances, however, suggest that even with Milne departing the asylum, it remains manned by an adequate contingent of lunatics for common sense, sanity, and rational political positions to be beyond the Greens in both comprehension and application.

It does rather seem that the more things change, the more they stay the same; but from this point onward the Greens will sally forth without the venerable Milne leading the charge, and soon — belatedly, but very soon — she will no longer sit in Parliament at all.

Good riddance.

 

For The Greens, What’s In A Name?

IT’S NOT SO much a surprise the Greens are considering changing the name of their party, but the motives for thinking of doing so; seemingly assured they can convince people to elect them as “a real alternative” if they were called something else, this tacit acknowledgement of the toxicity of the political brand they represent will find no panacea in a name change. In fact — perhaps surprisingly — the most inoffensive name is the one they have.

If I only had a name: it sounds like something from the Wizard of Oz.

And that’s where the Communist Party Greens belong too — in a fantasy fairyland accessible only when concussed — if they think changing the label on the packet will suddenly render them sufficiently appealing to the mainstream to barnstorm their way into government across Australia.

There was an article I read in The Australian yesterday morning that I wanted to make a point of coming back to, seeing yesterday at The Red And The Blue was given over to a candid and critical appraisal of what’s wrong with the dead horse — Joe Hockey’s budget — that the Abbott government continues to flog.

But on matters of dead horses, red herrings and false promises (and any other trite metaphor you care to use), the idea that the Greens could augment their quest for broad appeal and mainstream relevance with a name change is an opportunity for a bit of acerbic comment that is simply too appealing to pass up.

In a tacit admission that this party of the hard, hard Left has virtually nothing to do with any tree-hugging environmental concerns for which it might once have been mistaken as representing, some of its rank and file members have apparently started a debate on the party’s online Green Magazine website (no, I am not providing a link to such unadulterated rubbish) to consider changing the name because “most Australians still see the Greens as one-dimensional and many see (us) as naive and anti-industry.”

The debate has attracted the involvement of senior Greens’ figures, like the party’s NSW convenor Hall Greenland and veteran Queensland Greens identity Drew Hutton, so it’s certainly being taken seriously.

But in short, why would the Greens even bother?

Very few people are aware that the “environmentalism” movement had its genesis in Nazi Germany; set up by Adolf Hitler as an attempted foil to the Soviet Communist juggernaut that even then threatened to spread across Europe, the “original” Greens didn’t simply fail to deflect the Red Menace — they were ingested by it.

Some of those associated with the Greens in Australia (and particularly the party’s old hands like Hutton, or former federal leader Bob Brown) would likely quibble at this inconvenient reminder of whence the Greens originally were spawned.

But it’s no surprise at all that the Greens in Australia are awash with hardcore socialists, former Communists, and anyone else from the lunar left-wing fringe looking for a political vehicle upon which to mobilise.

Branded as they currently are, the Greens have themselves positioned as a “harmless” place to park protest votes, as well as offering latent appeal to those motivated by an “environmental conscience:” were the party to change its name, those tangible and easy advantages would be severely compromised.

In truth, this is a party that has little concern for environmental factors; despite the party’s ongoing rhetoric, the Greens have long been a party of the hard Left: anti-industry, anti-business, anti-family, and in favour of a long list of doctrinaire policy postures encompassing everything from higher taxes to state censorship, from gay rights to republicanism, and from advocacy for rising and expanding welfare and foreign aid spending to the eschewing of traditional allies like the US in favour of China and other socialist regimes across the globe.

And remaining mute as Palestinian terrorists kill Israeli women and children, whilst demonising Israel because Palestinian women and children are killed when the Israelis shoot back. That’s real principle.

Nothing to do with the environment at all.

It’s often forgotten, too, that Brown — in his crusade against the Franklin Dam in Tasmania in the early 1980s — was once an ardent advocate not just of coal mining and coal-fired electricity generation, but their widespread expansion in Australia: an early pointer to the elasticity of “principle” for which the Greens have come to be renowned.

Without bogging down in the detailed history of this hypocrisy (and all in the name of the environment, remember), a quick glance on the party’s website reveals great rhetoric about the Greens’ commitment to “grassroots participatory democracy” to which I have two responses.

One, the Greens are so committed to “democracy” that they conspired and blackmailed the Gillard government to introduce a policy (the carbon tax) which arguably had been the explicit subject of a reverse mandate at the 2010 election; upon the election of the Abbott government — this time with an equally if not more explicit mandate to abolish it — the Greens’ position was that they would refuse to allow the repeal bills to pass the Senate on “principle.”

Any way the wind blows, it seems, so long as it suits the ideological mindset that underpins everything else about the party.

And two, let’s suppose I go off and join the Greens (it’s tough to imagine I know, but bear with me). I get active in the Victorian branch and work to build “grassroots” support for a Greens agenda of increased consumption taxes, slashed income tax rates, a crackdown on welfare and a halving of foreign aid, as well as a significant increase in spending on Defence. In this endeavour I’m assisted by several hundred “friends” who join Greens branches in Melbourne soon after I do, and before long we have “the numbers” to prevail.

Does anyone seriously think this basic conservative agenda would ever be permitted to stand as Greens policy?

I didn’t think so. So much for the Greens’ actual commitment to “democracy.”

I could go on tearing into the Greens until the cows* come home, but I think we all know the storyline.

So what should the Greens call themselves?

My readers know I make no bones about it: the statist, socialist pinkos masquerading as tree-hugging free spirits should be called for what they are: Communists.

Apparently, options that have been considered include the “Harmony” party, the “Future” party and the “Sustainability” party — all labels that seem designed to mislead and hoodwink people into voting for them even more than the current faux masquerade in the name of trees and rivers and birds and the ozone layer.

Chardonnay drunks and bleeding heart bullshit artists will continue to vote for this odious entity irrespective of what it calls itself, because after all, the hard Left always sticks together; the old slogan of “solidarity forever” was coined in the utmost seriousness.

The Greens can change their name to whatever “mainstream” option their participatory democratic processes might settle on, but no amount of work on the brand can change the fact that they are — and will remain — a dangerous, Left-wing political machine whose insidious agenda might befit Soviet Russia or East Germany, but has no place in this country.

At the end of the day, you can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter; when it comes to the Communist Party Greens, however, making shit sparkle doesn’t change the fact that it is, at its core, still just shit.

 

*Cows emit methane. The beef and dairy industries should be eliminated to combat global warming and climate change. The Greens said so.

 

 

In Dreamland: Greens Fight Their Way To Irrelevance

NOT CONTENT with the result of a dismal election campaign — which saw their party lose close to 30% of its vote — the Greens have burst into open conflict, with an apparent bout of leadership warfare their first item of post-election business. It confirms the Greens’ irrelevance to mainstream politics.

First things first: I’m heartily sorry to report that regrettable Communist Party Greens Senator from South Australia — Sarah Hanson-Young — appears to have been re-elected.

It seems the loud mouth from the South, spouting unbridled hatred for anyone or anything to the right of unreconstructed socialism — to say nothing of her filthy tantrums when not allowed to merrily say and/or do the first thing that enters her head — will continue to be heard for at least another six years. More’s the pity.

It is the opinion of this column that as a Senator, Hanson-Young fails to contribute a single meaningful syllable to reasonable governance, nor render an iota of service beneficial to anyone bar the rabid cabal of lunar-Left fruitcakes at the core of the Greens’ bedrock.

Still, we congratulate her on her re-election, and this would seem fitting by way of tribute.

It’s a particularly prescient auditory statement in light of the fact that stripped of the balance of power (and relieved, mercifully, of ongoing prescriptive input into legislation), it stands to reason the Greens have to do something to occupy their time.

And according to several accounts published yesterday by both the Murdoch and Fairfax press, Hanson-Young has been in the thick of the action, stirring up the red ants and the black ants within the Greens’ nest, in an abortive coup to elevate herself to a leadership role and to engineer the dumping of the pious, sanctimonious Christine Milne as leader.

The very fact of a leadership stoush within the Greens is a curious development.

On the one hand — despite maintaining their overall representation at nine Senators and an MHR — the Greens went backwards at last month’s election in an effort which, if repeated three years hence, would see the party’s parliamentary numbers slashed.

On the other, those unchanged numbers — relative to those of the Greens’ former coalition partners over at Labor — could be said to have withstood the conservative election assault, and the overall swing to the right it heralded.

But whichever way you cut it, the notion of a parliamentary leadership coup (among 10 elected representatives, no less) would seem to sit strangely at odds with the Greens’ oft-trumpeted claims to democracy on the basis their leaders are elected by their members.

Hypocrisy, however, is nothing new where the Greens are concerned.

Following a party room meeting at which the Greens’ leadership team was re-elected, Hanson-Young is said to have remarked to waiting journalists that her party had reconfirmed a leader who would see her party ”marching to a slow death.”

The incident followed reports Senator Hanson-Young attempted to challenge for the deputy leader position on a ticket that would also see the member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, assume leadership of the Greens, with Senator Milne dumped.

Clearly, these moves amounted to nothing.

But the damage control effort was in full swing yesterday, and the entire episode reveals just how amateurish the Greens are as a political outfit.

Milne tried to play the episode down; of enmity with Bandt she claimed that “the only tension between us is that I supported Hawthorn on Saturday” in the AFL Grand Final.

And of Hanson Young, she simply said that “Sarah has said yesterday that she supports the leadership team. I think that is about all that needs to be said about it.”

Bandt, for his part, denied actively canvassing to be elected as leader, but pointedly refused to comment when it was suggested he had been approached to replace Milne.

We have discussed Christine Milne’s leadership of the Greens (such as it is) many times in this column; if anyone has trouble finding past articles on the subject, leave a comment and I will repost some links.

But the denials of the Greens simply don’t stand up, and closer scrutiny shows just what a rabble this allegedly professional political operation really is.

For starters — whether Hanson-Young did or did not make any moves on a leadership role — it wouldn’t be the first time she has attempted to do so; it’s clear she fancies herself to some day lead her party based purely on her past actions.

And whilst Milne insisted the party was firmly united behind her, she refused to say whether Hanson-Young would be disciplined for her remarks to journalists — which suggests, of course, that she will be.

NSW Greens Senator (and actual Communist) Lee Rhiannon injected an element of farce into proceedings, claiming ”I figure if someone is going to mount a challenge, they’re going to lobby for numbers. I wasn’t lobbied. I just do not believe there was a challenge.”

With no apparent sense of irony, Rhiannon went on to observe that ”I think what we need to be looking at is how we project our message to voters.”

And all of this comes as the Greens have lost several of their most senior political staffers; the unspoken but very clear impression has been that conflict with Milne directly has been responsible for the departures of at least some of them.

If this is how the Greens are behaving, just a couple of days after the election results have been finalised, it hardly augurs well for the next three years.

The political, policy, personnel and PR defects that characterise the Greens are well-known and again, we don’t need to rehash those at length today.

But I do think the fact this fracas has taken place at all could well signal that the decline of the Greens has commenced; after all, even a minor party subsisting on Senate quotas has a limited lifespan if it can’t or won’t refrain from bickering in public.

And here’s some food for thought, too.

The Australian Democrats began the slide down the slippery slope after doing a deal to pass the GST; it is very easy to argue that a parallel event lies in the Greens’ ill-fated coalition adventure with the ALP in government.

Yes, that misadventure has damaged the ALP, and the wounds will take time to heal.

But readers should be under no illusions: the ALP is a resilient beast, and it will — eventually — recover and bounce back.

Nobody knows what will happen to the Greens.

But one thing is clear: the recriminations and infighting — to say nothing of leadership wrangles — that characterised the Democrats in the wake of their GST deal undoubtedly hastened their demise.

Time will tell, and we will as ever keep an eye on things, but the same fate may ultimately befall the Greens.

In a delicious irony, it’s a fair bet that the lamentable Hanson-Young will be right in the thick of that event, too, should it indeed come to pass.

 

 

Sham Debate: Charade Of “Live On Newstart” Discussion Masks Need For Reform

This week has seen one of the most inane and pointless “debates” of recent times in Australian politics: can you live on Newstart, the $38 per day jobseeker benefit? Of course not. Yet again, a meaningless fracas has wasted the opportunity for sensible discussion of an increasingly urgent issue.

I really should be taking the opportunity to score a partisan free hit, and to blame Families minister Jenny Macklin for skipping away from a diversion she created.

After all, it was she — at a press conference on the issue of taking single mothers off the parenting payment when their youngest child turns eight, and placing them instead on the significantly lower Newstart allowance — who started the rot, firstly by claiming she could live off Newstart, and secondly on account of the doctored transcript, issued by her office, which sought to edit her dubious claim out of existence.

But I won’t; readers know that I believe far too much money is spent on welfare in this country, and that much of what is spent is misdirected, and so Macklin’s comments should at least receive credit for potentially opening a very necessary can of worms.

Even so, it’s unlikely to result in a serious debate among parliamentarians, and that — yet again — it a triumph of the politics of spin, stunts and slogans over the real business of what we elect governments to do.

Clearly, it is not realistic to expect people to be able to live on $38 per day.

Just look at the modern world around us: the cost of housing, which has ballooned in the past 10 years; the cost of utilities and transport, which have rocketed well beyond any remotely realistic measure of increase in the cost of living; add in costs of running and maintaining a vehicle, food and clothing, and healthcare, and Newstart — the dole — is so ridiculously inadequate that anyone with real-world obligations who finds themselves in need of it may as well declare bankruptcy and engineer their eviction from their homes.

The fraught issue of welfare — or, more specifically, the overall excess of it coupled with the problem of more effectively targeting it — has long been a bugbear of mine, and it annoys me greatly that, once again, a series of stupid stunts are likely to kill off any meaningful attempt to deal with it.

First things first — the week’s unedifying and, frankly, obscene events on the issue.

I actually welcome the initiative to move single mothers off parenting payments once their youngest child turns eight — with a couple of qualifications.

I understand that some women find themselves on the single mothers’ pension through no fault of their own; marriages (or relationships) that end, sometimes involving a violent or otherwise abusive man who also happens to be the breadwinner, leave women in such circumstances not just in dire need of financial assistance, but also well-deserving of it.

It is just such women for whom I feel great sympathy for, and for whom the changes taking effect in their welfare payments will inflict a disproportionate and undeserved hit.

But others, who simply walk out of marriages (or relationships) because they have simply become bland and loveless, or no fun any more, or to evade financial responsibilities or because they want to run off with a new partner, are a different kettle of fish.

And a third group, obviously, are those serial single mothers with a string of illegitimate children, sometimes born to a string of different fathers, who opt to eke a living out of a career of having children and pocketing taxpayer money.

Are these three groups the same?

One thing I feel compelled to point out is that we shouldn’t be shying away from discussing such issues; just because the Prime Minister is playing the gender card like crazy and seeking to demonise anyone who disagrees with her (or her government) wherever a link, real or imagined, to “misogyny” can be claimed, does not mean these matters should be tiptoed around or quarantined from discussion.

But by the same token, Australia’s welfare system, as it stands, is predicated on a basis of lowest common denominator, one-size-fits-all assumptions, and if the assumption being applied is that women should be able to get a job once their youngest child is at school, it at least should be trialled, evaluated, and refined or later abandoned if proven unworkable.

In that sense, I have no problem with moving women in such circumstances off a far more generous welfare benefit — paid by working taxpayers — as an incentive to look for work.

But the initiative has been trivialised this week; Macklin’s remark that she could live off the dole — deemed “inaudible” in the official transcript issued by her staff — is not only an insult to those affected by the very measure she was talking about, but has been allowed to hijack “debate” that might otherwise have been beneficial.

Communist Party Greens MP Adam Bandt, frankly, should have had more brains than to claim he could live off the dole; further, his promise to do so for a week is one of the emptiest and more offensive attempts of recent times by an MP to put himself in the shoes of a particular interest group: Bandt’s parliamentary salary is available both before and after such a “trial” and simply renders the exercise pointless.

Julia Gillard, of course, refused to be drawn; in one way a sensible approach, but in another perhaps inadvisable given the sidestep of a women’s issue it represented.

But whether we’re talking about single mothers, or debating the merits of whether on an individual basis they are deserving or undeserving, or whether it’s even possible at all to live off what  a welfare payment delivers, there’s a bigger issue.

Simply, is Australia’s welfare system doing what it is intended to do?

Are we as a country — literally — getting value for the money we’re paying?

I don’t think so.

I have been on the record previously as stating that were it possible to weed the bludgers out — and there are many of them — the remaining, needy people could and should be paid more. It’s a position I stand by.

But, as ever, the devil is in the detail. How do you weed the bludgers out?

Certainly, it isn’t going to happen in a system based on lowest common denominator assumptions and fixed criteria that utterly ignore the personal circumstances of a given individual.

Age pensioners, obviously, deserve their money; again, were it affordable, I think they should be paid more.

Likewise disability and illness recipients who are assessed as being totally and permanently incapacitated — that, too, is a no-brainer.

But for most of the remainder of what is spent on welfare payments, a huge grey area exists.

And — at the outset — it has to be emphasised that a welfare payment has, in fact, been paid for by someone: be it a portion of the profits of business, or the taxation paid by other individuals on their income, people who have worked hard to generate wealth and income are the only reason such payments even exist.

There are those who believe it’s “government money” — ultimately, there is no such thing.

If we use the single mother scenario as an example, there is a clear difference between the woman on the run from a violent partner, with few if any skills, and the woman content to live off free payments until they eventually, some day, run out.

Or between the single mother with multiple young children whose time must clearly be spent in the home, and the woman whose children are all at school, who left the workforce to have children, and whose only real justification for doing no work is that she must be available at home at all times on the off-chance something happens with her kids at school.

These are different situations; why should the “solution” be uniform?

Or, looking to a scenario based on unemployment benefits rather than parenting payments, there is a major difference between someone with a family, obligations totalling perhaps thousands of dollars each month and great difficulty finding new work, and some bludger who has plenty to offer in employment but who opts to live in public housing, receiving every type of low-income assistance available, and is one individual who actually can live off the miserly stipend the dole represents.

And what of households in which one partner works part-time whilst the other, primary income-earning partner has lost their job; their savings exhausted and no employment being forthcoming despite frantic attempts to secure same, Newstart isn’t payable because the part-timer brings a few hundred after-tax dollars in each week, and the household faces bankruptcy and eviction as it collapses under the weight of its financial obligations?

Who are we kidding here?

And before anyone talks about pie-in-the-sky initiatives such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme — such as it is — it needs to be remembered that that actually needs taxpayer funding as well.

Perhaps one way to talk about moving ahead with welfare reform is to get case workers to do precisely that: actually evaluate cases based on the circumstances of the individual, rather than against some set criteria that don’t even reflect reality, let alone provide any assistance in any truly meaningful sense.

It might be that — parenting payments aside — a time-limited system based on, say, the minimum wage (several times the present rate of Newstart) provides a solution, whereby benefits are paid at a higher rate that more closely reflects the circumstances of the recipient, but which cut out after, say, six months.

The point is that this is a complex issue; there are no easy answers and, indeed, none of any value forthcoming from the present government.

The Coalition at least appears to be tossing around a plan to increase the amount dole recipients can earn before they start losing money from their welfare payments, but this is only marginally better than what is presently in place.

I don’t have the answers, of course, but I do believe that even on the handful of scenarios canvassed here, it’s obvious that drastic reform of Australia’s regime of welfare payments is urgently and critically overdue.

Rather than simply tinker with the existing reality, it may well be that the whole thing needs to be turned on its head and started again; reformed in such a way that genuinely needy people get real help, and that those simply with their hands out are given short shrift.

But the one thing I’m certain of is that half-arsed stunts about living off $38 per day and semantic squabbles over who said what will achieve nothing, and should be viewed as an indictment of whichever elected representative/s, of whichever political stripe, think it’s a good idea to engage in them.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

Flipping The Bird: Angry Wilkie Dumps Gillard

“That Sir which serves and seeks to gain/ And follows but for form/ Will pack when it begins to rain/ And leave Thee in the storm.” — from King Lear, by William Shakespeare

At the risk of mixing metaphors — or at the very least, classical authors — the events of the past couple of days could almost be described as Machiavellian.

Yet the little speech of sage advice from the Fool in King Lear sums it up for me.

Developments over the weekend that Julia Gillard has abandoned her agreement with key Independent Andrew Wilkie to introduce mandatory pre-commitment legislation to govern poker machines, and that Wilkie in turn has withdrawn his support for the Gillard government, smack of political expediency in the most hypocritical and noxious of fashions.

18 months ago, Australia ground to a halt for 17 days whilst it waited for Gillard — supposedly Bob Hawke’s heir when it came to building consensus — to cobble together a hotchpotch of alliances to bridge the gap between the pitiful 72 (of 150) seats Labor garnered at its first attempt at re-election and the 76 in total required for the barest of functional majorities.

75 votes on the floor of the House is good enough: the body in the Speaker’s chair makes the total number of voting MPs 149, so 75 wins.

It’s an important point.

But back to the deals that kept Gillard and the ALP in office.

Everyone was bought off with something: for the Communist Party Greens, it was effective control of the government’s operational agenda, along with a number of specific undertakings to indulge their lunatic Stalinist platform; for conservative Judases Oakeshott and Windsor, it was barrels of cash for their electorates; and for Andrew Wilkie, it was the implementation of mandatory pre-commitment at poker machines around the country in an attempt to tackle problem gambling.

Thus far, Gillard has kept the faith with Messrs Oakeshott and Windsor, but they must be wondering uneasily when their turn will come. Certainly, they are all too aware that this government and this Prime Minister do not act in good faith when it comes to their supposed allies.

Having realised how electorally lethal the Greens and their God-forsaken agenda are to the mainstream majority in this country, yet beholden to its alliance with them out of sheer numerical necessity, the ALP has gone out of its way in recent months to distance itself from, belittle, frustrate and betray the Greens in an attempt to differentiate itself from its Coalition partner.

Completely innocent of any principles rooted in decency or propriety, Labor exercised the miniscule degree of persuasion required to convince Liberal Party turncoat, serial non-performer and generally contemptible excuse for an MP, Peter Slipper, to abandon his Party (which he abandoned the National Party for some 25 years ago) and accept a hefty pay rise — tarnishing the august role of Speaker in so doing — to buy another vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

And to enable the right and royal shafting of Wilkie and his poker machine reforms.

I’ll be honest — I have always thought Wilkie’s approach to this issue was characterised with more than a little of the “light in the eyes” syndrome; even so, I fully concur that the issue itself is one that requires something to be done, and urgently.

More to the point, I’m old-fashioned: a deal is a deal, and I take a dim view of people who do not operate on the same basis.

Gillard’s excuses, and her “reasoning,” are not only wrong, they are inexcusable.

“There is inadequate support in the House of Representatives to pass the reforms Andrew Wilkie was seeking,” she droned.

Really? Then why do the deal in the first place?

Methinks it has more to do with the fact nervous Labor MPs, facing outrage from the services clubs and sporting clubs that often constitute the hubs of the communities they represent, are more concerned with their seats.

And let’s look at the numbers: there are 72 Labor MPs, all with a vote given Slipper now sits in the Speaker’s chair; the Greens’ Adam Bandt and Wilkie are an additional, guaranteed two more.

For Gillard’s assertion of “insufficient support” to be true, what she is really saying is that she couldn’t round up a single extra vote from Oakeshott, Windsor, Coalition-inclined but independently minded Bob Katter, or WA National Tony Crook.

Or, put another way, she’s so poor a leader she literally couldn’t convince one person to vote for the laws, given the ruthlessness with which the ALP caucus is bound to support parliamentary policy.

Of course, as a leader Gillard is abysmal, but we’re talking about a sales job here with the odds stacked in her favour: two of the four gentlemen I have mentioned are in alliances with her!

And a third — Crook — confirmed today that he had only ever been approached once on the issue of pre-commitment: once, once, after 18 months of the issue being canvassed.

Clearly, little or no serious attempt was ever made to honour the deal.

It was all about keeping Labor bums — I use the term advisedly — in ministerial jobs, holding onto ministerial salaries and perks, and bugger anyone who got in the way.

In other words, standard Labor Party operating procedure.

Gillard claims her “compromise solution” (read, two-tenths of nothing) is superior: it replaces a mandatory, legislated national reform with a trial confined to Canberra and not due to be further proceeded with until 2016 — thus effectively kicking the issue a term and a half down the electoral road, by which time Labor will likely be attempting to regain a handful of the dozens of seats it lost on its way into Opposition.

Or in short, a “solution” providing a clear road map to doing nothing.

I have very little time for Andrew Wilkie; others can make their judgements about his party-hopping and lack of integrity, but for once I feel for him.

He is angry, and rightfully so; and he has conducted himself with quite some dignity on having discovered, to quote Richard Nixon, the exact length, depth and breadth of the shaft.

Certainly, his attempt to be neutral (not supporting no-confidence motions unless misconduct is involved, maintaining good relations with the government and so forth) is noble, but unconvincing; and he has already warned the government of “consequences” should it attempt to shaft him a second time.

Any idiot can see Wilkie is livid, and justifiably so.

But it gets worse.

Labor MPs have been issued with what is known politically (and elsewhere) as a “shit sheet” offering direction on how to deal with the issue of Gillard’s latest act of betrayal.

“Say that politics isn’t perfect,” the shit sheet says. “Say that often compromises need to be found.”

Er…no, not in this case. It is a lie, and it is a flagrant breach of a written contract.

It suggests talking about John Howard needing to remove GST on food to deliver most of the GST package.

Dangerous ground here:

  • Howard was actually delivering on a promise (as opposed to running away from it);
  • Removing food was the only way politically possible to deliver the other 85% of the GST package;
  • Far from running away from something he promised, Howard did everything he could to honour that commitment; and
  • The example is completely flawed in any case — in any meaningful sense, Gillard is delivering, effectively, none of what she committed to deliver.

You have to shake your head and laugh…not from amusement, mind, but out of sheer cynicism.

And remembering Gillard is increasingly obsessed with threats to her leadership, it’s pretty obvious she’s more concerned about the stormy weather she has wilfully headed into over the past 18 months than she is with anything of any real consequence to anyone except herself.

Here in Australia, we have a worthless, useless, gormless and spineless government, led by a worthless, useless, gormless and spineless Prime Minister.

But we have more than that.

We have a government — not merely content with spin, glib slogans, smug stunts and empty rhetoric — that is fundamentally dishonest, wilfully deceitful, inherently untrustworthy, and downright dangerous.

Add into that the fact that whilst it can’t honour any good faith shown to it by others — be it the voters who trusted Gillard and Labor, the MPs who re-installed it in government on what should have been binding undertakings, or anyone else — Gillard and Labor are happy to loyally protect and entertain folk from other quarters.

Folk like Craig Thomson, accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars from an employer to feed a penchant for hookers, and who is the subject of multiple criminal investigations.

(To say nothing of a Fair Work Australia investigation that has mysteriously taken years not to be finalised…join the dots…)

Folk like Peter Slipper…we all know the stories — if I go down that track again, I’m going to lose my temper.

It’s one thing for there to be “honour among thieves;” it’s another matter altogether to operate under the watchword of “dishonour among murderers.”

Perhaps the ALP slogan at the next election should be “Treachery Is Everything.”

It would neatly sum up Labor’s approach to government.

Wilkie, whichever way you cut it, has flipped the PM off — and rightly so, in my view.

This tawdry little episode is further proof (if any were required) of an intellectually and morally bankrupt government that must be shown the door at the earliest available opportunity for the good of the country.

What do you think?

Dirty Deeds? DONE DIRT CHEAP!

Who would have thought that AC/DC would feature in my column? I didn’t expect to ever use this headline. But the Communist Party Greens say that any effort to preference against them is a dirty deal…and if it is then frankly, the Greens can go root my boot.

The Greens have held their party conference today; one of the key items for discussion, it seems, is preference allocations at upcoming elections.

Stung by the possibility of both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party preferencing against them, they have described the prospect as a “dirty deal.”

Wow…I’m shaking in my boots.

Aren’t you?

Apparently the Greens truly believe they are not only a force to be reckoned with, but also a force to be beckoned, cajoled and seduced, in return for the grand prize of their preference flows at elections.

If they were such a force, they wouldn’t be auctioning preferences. They would be winning seats in their own right.

At last year’s state election in Victoria, now-Premier Ted Baillieu declared early in his campaign that the Greens would be preferenced last in every electorate in the state.

It was a bit of a no-brainer, really; the Greens have never done anything for the Liberal Party in Victoria (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Chatterati in the media said Ted had slit his own throat, but the simple fact is that the Liberal Party receives — at best — 30% of Green preferences anyway.

And the Greens rarely, if ever, direct preferences to the Liberals; even when they have “serious” issues with the ALP.

There was nothing to lose, and as it transpired, Baillieu and his Liberal-National coalition won government.

Politics is so many things; where the numbers are concerned it’s also a game of strategy and tactics, which is why it is no surprise that other divisions of the conservative parties around the country are looking to replicate the tactic.

And so is the Labor Party.

The Liberal and National parties owe the Greens absolutely nothing; for the entire 30-year existence of the Greens in this country, they have gone out of their way to frustrate, thwart, and otherwise deny government to any right-of-centre entity anywhere in Australia.

The exception was Tasmania for 18 months 1996-1998, where the Greens propped up a minority Liberal government before forcing an election, which ended in a voter revolt against the arrangement and a landslide ALP win).

It’s dawned on Labor types that they, too, owe the Greens nothing.

Look at the federal government: it’s basically a Greens government. The voters are deserting it in droves and despite the ALP’s leadership woes, Labor figures are realising that they, too, don’t owe the Greens anything.

They certainly don’t owe them their continued tenure in government: the idea Greens would support a Liberal government is laughable.

And watching their electoral support run down the toilet and around the S-bend as a direct consequence of the price Labor paid for Green support — the implementation of carbon taxes, media inquiries and so forth — does little to engender fondness in the ALP for their supposed buddies.

Based on support of the Liberal strategy in Victoria in 2010, it’s fairly clear that the Liberal and National Parties — nationwide — will not preference the Greens again for the foreseeable future.

It’s increasingly likely that Labor, which privately is becoming desperate to distance itself from its so-called allies, will do the same.

In “retaliation” the Greens “threaten” to issue open tickets across the country — in other words, double-sided how-to-vote cards instructing people how to allocate preferences to the Liberals on one side, to the ALP on the other, and no endorsement of either side whatsoever in any media, correspondence or speech.

In the short term, this would damage the ALP and assist the Liberals; robbed of its 70/30 advantage on preferences (I’d guess 60/40 would be the resultant figure) a lot of marginal ALP seats won “last time” by miniscule margins would fall to the Liberal Party.

In the longer run, however, it would be a neutral equation; if both major parties adopted the same strategy, the Greens — on current voting patterns, trends and history — would be obliterated.

Obliterated everywhere, that is, except proportionally elected upper houses where a red chook with a few family members in tow could get elected if its preference flows were adequate.

If the Greens want to play the electoral game, they have to accept that politics in this country is conducted under the system that is in place.

For the last few decades they have deliberately and wilfully caused conservative parties across the country a great deal of trouble; they have also caused their traditional friends and recent government allies in the ALP problems in the last year or so as well.

And the Greens are no more and no less subject to the electoral laws of the land than is any other political party in Australia.

If they can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, then perhaps the ought to get out of the game.

Empty threats from the Greens are very interesting.

To hear them call an arrangement between the major parties to preference against them a “dirty deal” is very gratifying.

After all, the Greens have been going out of their way to do the dirty against this country ever since an odd young doctor called Bob Brown stuck his head over the parapet 30 years ago in the name of the environment.

Does anybody know that Bob Brown was a passionate advocate for coal-fired power stations in the 1980s?

What hypocrisy.

No no no, the Liberal and Labor parties can preference whoever they like; each other, the Warm Tomato Party that existed some years back, or even the man on the moon — if he fills in a nomination paper.

If both major parties now want to issue preference recommendations against the Greens, I’d say, “bloody good show.”

And if such an arrangement is a dirty deed, then I’d say it’d been done dirt cheap.

If the Greens can’t get their shit together and really are just the amateurs most thinking people know they are, then frankly they can get out and go to hell.

What do you think?